Ibn Taimiyyah: The Sufi Sheikh Part 2

Do not mix truth with falsehood and do not deliberately hide the truth.” (Qur’an 2:42) 


Those who have not read part 1 may be interested to read that here:


Before I begin this part 2 I would like to begin with the conclusion from part 1.

There are a number of reasons why many different groups (especially those who want division and discord) among Muslims would keep this information hidden.

#1) Sunni Muslims who belong to Sufi groups and associated with the Ashari theological school don’t want people to know Ibn Taymiyyah who was Athari in his school was a Sufi.  This gives the impression that Sufism is a monopoly of those who follow the Maturdidi or Ashari theological positions.

#2) Those Sunni Muslims who belong to the theological schools of the Maturdidi and Ashari and also follow Sufi tariqat have high esteem for Shaykh Abdul Qadir Al Jilani (who was Athari in creed) don’t want people to connect the dots.  The reason being is it takes the wind out of the sails of those who make takfir upon the Atharis. They dare not do this with Sheikh Abdul Qadir Al Jilani!

#3) Those who say they follow the ‘Salafi Manhaj‘ -they rely heavily upon Ibn Taimiyyah and they are harsh in their critique of Sufism and Tassawuf in general. They would not want any of their followers to even get the slightest whiff that Ibn Taimiyyah belonged to a Sufi order.

#4) It is a useful tool in the heads of those who have machinations upon Muslim lands and have a vested interest in keeping the divide going among Muslims; especially Sunni Muslims (the largest group).


What Ibn Taymiyyah Says About the Term ‘Tasawwuf’? 

Here we will mention what Imam Ibn Taymiyah, mentioned about the definition of Tasawwuf, from Volume 11, “At-Taswassuf” of “Majmu’a Fatawa Ibn Taymiyyah al-Kubra, ” Dar Ar-Rahmah, Cairo:

“Alhamdulillah, the pronunciation of the word Tasawwuf has been thoroughly discussed. From those who spoke about Tasawwuf were not just the Imams and Shaikhs, but also included were Ahmad bin Hanbal, Abi Sulayman ad-Daarani, As-Sirr as-Saqati, al-Junayd al-Bahgdadi, Hasan al-Basri, Ma’auruf al-Karkhi, Abdul Qadir Jilani, Bayazid al-Bistami [one of the grand Shaykhs of the Naqshbandi Tariqat] and many others. This is a term that was given to those who were dealing with that kind of science [tazkiyyat an-nafs and Ihsan].”

Imam Ibn Taymiyyah says:

“Tassawuf has realities and states of experience which they talk about in their science. Some of it is that the Sufi is that one who purifies himself from anything which distracts him from the remembrance of Allah and who will be so filled up with the knowledge of the heart and knowledge of the mind to the point that the value of gold and stones will be the same to him. And Tasawwuf is safeguarding the precious meanings and leaving behind the call to fame and vanity in order to reach the state of Truthfulness, because the best of humans after the prophets are the Siddiqeen, as Allah mentioned them in the verse:

“(And all who obey Allah and the Apostle) are in the company of those whom is the grace of Allah: of the prophets, the sincere lovers of truth, the martyrs and the righteous; Ah! What a beautiful fellowship.” (an-Nisa’, 69,70)

Ibn Taymiyyah continues: “as-Sufi hua fil-haqiqa naw’un min as-siddiqeen. Fahua as-siddiq alladhee iktassa bil-zuhadiwal-‘ibadada.” which translates:

“And the Sufi is, in reality, a kind of Siddiq (Truthful One), that  Siddiq who specialized in zuhd and worship.”

He continues about the Sufis,

“Some people criticized the Sufiyya and Tasawwuf and they said they were innovators, out of the Sunnah, but the truth is they are striving in Allah’s obedience [mujtahidin fi ta’at-illahi], as others of Allah’s People strove in Allah’s obedience. So from them, you will find the Foremost in Nearness in virtue of his striving [as-saabiq ul-muqarrab bi hasab ijtihadhi]. And some of them are from the People of the Right hand [ Ahl al-Yameen mentioned in Qur’an in Surah Waqiah], but slower in their progress. For both kinds, they might make ijtihad and in that case, they might be correct and they might be wrong. And from both types, some of them might make sin and repent. And this is the origin of Tasawwuf. And after that origin, it ha been spread and (tasha’aabat wa tanawa’at) has its mainline and its branches. And it has become three kinds:

1.) Sufiyyat il-Haqa’iq-the True Sufis

2.) Sufiyyat il-Arzaaq -the Professional Sufis (Those who use Sufism for personal gain)

3.) Sufiyyat il-Rasm -The Caricature Sufis. (Sufi by appearance only).”


Imam Ibn Taymiyya mentions in volume 11, page 190 of Majmu’a Fatawi Shaikh ul-Islam Ibn Taymiyya, edition published in Egypt by Dar ar-Rahma:

“A servant of Allah ‘azza wa-Jal’, cannot be considered a saint unless he is a true believer. Allah mentions in the Qur’an:

“Now surely the friends of Allah-they shall have no fear nor shall they grieve. Those who believe and guarded (against evil):” (Yunus, 61,62)

He then quotes from the famous hadith from Bukhari:

“My servant draws not near to Me with anything more loved by Me than the religious duties I have enjoined upon him, and My servant continues to draw near to Me with supererogatory works so that I shall love him. When I love him I am his hearing with which he hears, his seeing with which he sees, his hand with which he strikes and his foot with which he walks. Were he to ask [something] of Me, I would surely give it to him and were he to ask Me for refuge, I would surely grant him it. I do not hesitate about anything as much as I hesitate about [seizing] the soul of My faithful servant: he hates death and I hate hurting him.”

Imam Ibn Taymiyyah About Miracles Of Saints

In his book al-Mukhtasar al-Fatawa al-Masriyya, published by al-Madani Publishing House,1980, page 603:

“The miracles of saints are absolutely true and correct, by the acceptance of all Muslim scholars. And the Qur’an has pointed to it in different places, and the Hadith of the Prophet (s) have mentioned it, and whoever denies the miraculous power of saints are only people who are innovators and their followers.”

He continues in Majmu’a Fatawai Ibn Taymiyya:

“What is considered as a miracle for a saint is that sometimes the saint might hear something that others do not hear and they see something that others do not see, while not in a sleeping state, but in a woken state of vision. And he can know something others cannot know, through revelation or inspiration.”

All that Imam Ibn Taymiyyah says about the subject of Tasawwuf is found in a large book (volume 11) consisting of 704 pages only about Tasawwuf. And we would like to mention briefly what he said on page 314, about the hadith Qudsi [i.e related form Allah Himself]:

“Whoever comes against one of My saints is challenging Me for fighting.”

Imam Ibn Taymiyya says:

Which means that Allah is expressing: I will seek revenge against anyone who comes against My saints like an aggressive lion.'”

He continues on p. 314 quoting Prophet’s saying about the saints: “You are the martyrs of Allah on Earth.”

Imam Ibn Taymiyyah About The Unveiling Of Appearances

He said: “Allah Almighty will unveil to his saint’s states that have never been given before and give them support without measure…If that saint will begin to speak form the things of the unseen, past, or present or future it is considered from “Bab al’ilm al-khaariq” the miraculous unseen knowledge…..Anything that a saint does which is form unveiling to people or to listeners or curing or healing or teaching knowledge, it is accepted….and we have to thank Allah for it.”

Imam Ibn Taymiyyah Mentions Some Great Shaikhs of Sufism

And we wish to mention some of the shaikhs, who Imam Ibn Taymiyya accepted from the well-known Sufi shaikhs. This is found in his volume entitled ‘Ilm as-Sulook [The Science of Travelling the Way to Allah], which consist of the whole volume 10 of Majmu’a Fatawa Ibn Taymiyyah which is 775 pages in length, all of which is about the knowledge of the ways of true Sufism, the Science of Traveling to Allah, [‘ilm us-sulook].

On page 516, the third paragraph he says:

“The great Sufi shaikhs are the best shaykhs to be known and accepted, such as Bayazid al-Bistami [a grand shaikh of the Golden Chain of the Naqshabandi Tariqat], Shaikh Abdul Qadir Jilani, Junayd bin Muhammad [the most well-known Sufi]. Hasan-al-Basri, al-Fudayl ibn al-Ayyad, Ibrahim bin al-Adham [very famous Sufi, known as Sultan of the Ascetics], Abi Sulayman ad-Daarani,

Ma’ruf’al-Karkhi[a well-known Sufi], Siri-as-Saqati, Shaikh Hammad, Shaikh Abdul Bayyan.”

And Ibn Taymiyya continues:

“Those great Sufi people were the leaders of humanity and they were calling to what is right and forbidding what is wrong.”

In Majmu’a Fatawa Ibn Taymiyya, published by Dar ar-Rahmat, Cairo, Vol, 11, page 497. Book of Tassuwuf), Ibn Taymiyya says:

“You have to know that the rightly -guided shaikhs must be taken as guides and examples in the Din, as they are following in the footsteps of the Prophets and Messengers. And the Way (tariqat) of those shaikhs is to call people to Allah’s Divine Presence and obedience to the Prophet.”

Here we find Ibn Taymiyya calling for people to take a guide and mentioning that each guide has his own method (tariqat) in calling people to the Prophet’s ways.

Ibn Taymiyya says on page 499 of the same volume:

“And the shaikhs whom we need to take as guides are our examples that we have to follow, as when on the Hajj, (the pilgrimage) one needs a guide [daleel] to reach the Ka’aba, these shaikhs our guide [daleel] to Allah and our Prophet (s).”

Ibn Taymiyyah quotes from Bayazid al-Bistami, who said, on page 510, Volume 10:

“….the great Sufi shaikh Bayazid al-Bistami and the famous story about him when he saw Allah in a vision (kashf) and said to Him: ‘ O Allah what is the way to You?’ and Allah responded ‘Leave yourself and come to Me.'”

Ibn Taymiyyah continues quoting Bayazid al-Bistami, “I shed my self as a snake sheds its skin.”  This quotation is an indication of the need for zuhd (self-denial or abstention from the worldly life), as that was the path followed by Bayazid al-Bistami.

So we see from the above quotes, that Ibn Taymiyya was accepting many shaikhs by quoting them and urging people to follow guides to show the way to obey Allah and to obey the Prophet (s).

Imam Ibn Taymiyyah Explains Those Who Are Speaking About Fana’ 

In Book 2, volume 2, pages 396-397 of Majumu’a Fatawi Ibn Taymiyyah, published by Dar ar-Rahmat, Cairo, Ibn Taymiyyah speaks about the subject of fana’ also known is Sufism as annihilation, He said,

“This state of love is the state of many people that are from the people of Love of Allah ‘azza wa jall, they are the people of the love of Allah and the People of the Will (al-Irada) of Allah (it is typical of many of the people who love Allah and seek Him.) Because that person has vanished in his lover, in Allah ‘azza wa jall-through the intensity of the love, because He vanished in Allah’s love, not his own ego’s love. And he will recall Allah, not recalling himself, he would remember Allah not remembering himself, visualizing Allah [yastashhid], not visualization himself, existing in Allah, not in the existence of himself. When he reaches that stage, he no longer feels his own existence. And that is why he says in this state, ‘Ana al-Haqq” ( I am the Truth), or “Subhanee. (Glory to Me!)” And he will say “maa fil jubba ill-Allah” (there is nothing in this cloak except Allah) because he is drunk in the love of Allah and this is a pleasure and happiness that he cannot control.”

Further on Ibn Taymiyya says:

“This [matter] has in it Haqq and there is in it Batil. But when someone will enter a state with his fervor intense love (‘ishq) to Allah, he will enter a state of absentmindedness, and when he enters the state of absentmindedness, he will find himself as if he is accepting the [concept] ittihad. I do not consider this a sin. Because that person is excused and no one may punish him as he is not aware of what he is doing. Because the pen doe snot condemns the crazy except when he is restored to sanity. And when that person is in that state and he was wrong in what he did, he will be under Allah’s address:

“Rabbana laa tuakhidhna iin-nasseena aw ak-htaana” “O  Our Lord, do not take us to task if we forget or make mistakes.” (Baqara, 286)

“And Allah says in other verse, “wa laa junaaha ‘alwaykum fimma akhtaatum bihi” “there is no blame on you if you unintentionally do a mistake.”

On page 339, in Volume 10, he says:

“There is a story of two men who were so respectful and loved each other very much. One of them fell in the water [of the sea] and immediately the other threw himself behind him. Then the first, one who was sinking asked, “what made you throw yourself here?” He said, “I vanished in you. And when I vanished in you I thought you were me and I was you.”

And further on he continues:

“As long as he is not drunk through something that is prohibited, it is accepted, but if it were prohibited, (the intention was bad) then he is not excused.”

And he continues (vol 2,, page 397):

“And because of that  [situation] many of the saints, like ‘Abdul Qadir Jilani, have an excuse, because they are in a state of love (‘ishq).”

That subject is also mentioned in a whole chapter in detail from page 337 page 343, entitled:   al-Fana’ alladhee yujad fi kalam as-sufiyya yuffassar bi-thalathat umur.

This title means: “the Word of Annihilation found in Sufism explained in Three Ways.” This chapter describes in detail the concept of fana’.

This is the conclusion of the 2 part series. It is now up to you the reader to do your own research and reflection on this matter.

All praise be to Allah! 






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