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To the Muslims who have read thus far, may Allah subhanhu wa ta'alaa bless your sincerity with strength, and your knowledge with the ability to apply that knowledge wisely. Aameen.

The Lofty Virtues of Ibn Taymiyyah - Ch. 2  

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The Lofty Virtues of Ibn Taymiyyah - Imam Abu Hafs ‘Umar bin ‘Ali al-Bazzar

Chapter 2: - His Abundant Knowledge, Writings, and Excellent Memory -

As for his abundant knowledge, this includes his knowledge of the sciences of the Holy Qur’an, his ability to derive the smallest and most minute benefits from it, his knowledge of the statements of the scholars in explaining it, his way of using these statements as evidence, as well as the ability Allah gave him to expose its wonders, the beauty of His legislations, its rare and amazing gems, its linguistic miracles, and its clear grace. In all of this, he was a leader and example that everyone strove to imitate.

If someone were to recite some verses of the Mighty Qur’an in one of his classes, he would proceed to explain them, and his class would end with this. His class would last for a good portion of the day, and he did not have a designated person to recite for him predetermined verses that he would prepare for. Rather, any random person who was attending his class would recite what was easy for him, and Ibn Taymiyyah would then explain whatever was recited. He would usually not stop except that those in attendance would know that were it not for the lack of time, he would have delved into what he was explaining from many, many more angles. However, he would stop in order to allow his listeners to rest.

For example, he delivered a tafsir of {“Say: ‘He is Allah, One.’”} that took up an entire huge volume. Also, his tafsir of {“The Beneficent ascended the Throne.”} filled around 35 volumes, and I have been told that he began compiling a tafsir that would have taken up fifty volumes had he completed it. As for his knowledge and insight into the Sunnah of the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him), his statements, actions, life events, battles, armies, the miracles that Allah granted him, his knowledge of what is authentically narrated from him as opposed to what is unauthentic, as well as the statements, actions, events, and legal verdicts of the Companions (may Allah be Pleased with them), their struggle for the sake of this Religion, and the virtues that they
were granted in exclusion to the rest of the Ummah – in all of this, he was the most precise and had the most expertise, and was the quickest in retrieving whatever information he needed regarding this. He would never mention a hadith or fatwa that he would use as proof for something except that he would reference it to its proper source in the texts of Islam, or indicate if it was sahih or hasan, etc., or mention the name of the Companion who narrated it, and he was rarely asked about a narration except that he would clarify its authenticity.

And from the most amazing things that occurred is that during his first trial in Egypt, he was taken and jailed such that he was prevented from having access to his books. During this time, he authored many books - small and large - and mentioned in them a great number of ahadith, narrations, statements of the Companions, names of the scholars of Hadith, authors,
and their works, and he attributed each of these to their proper sources, specifically by name.

He also mentioned the names of the books in which each narration was found, as well as where in the books to find them. All of this was purely from his memory, as at the time he did not have a single book with him to use as a reference. These books were then published and looked over, and - praise be to Allah - not a single mistake was found in any of them,
nor did anything need to be changed in them. And from these books is ‘as-Sarim al-Maslul ‘ala Shatim ar-Rasul,’ and this is from the virtue that Allah - the Exalted - reserved especially for him. And Allah also blessed him with the ability to know the differences of opinion amongst the scholars, their statements, their ijtihad in various matters, and what was recorded of the strong, weak, accepted, and rejected opinions of each scholar of each era. He had deep insight into which of their opinions were the most correct and closest to the truth, and was even able to ascribe to each scholar in what location he had come to each opinion. This was
to the point that if he were asked about any of this, it was as if every single saying of the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him), his Companions, and the scholars – from the first of them to the last of them – was a projected image in his mind, with him picking what he wanted and leaving what he wanted. This is something that everyone who ever saw him or came across his knowledge and was not overtaken by ignorance or desires agreed on.

As for his books and writings, they are more than I can mention or think of all their titles. In fact, I doubt that anyone can name them all, as they are many in number, are of varying lengths, and are spread throughout the lands. In fact, I never visited a country except that I saw one of his books in it. Some of them reached twelve volumes in length, such as ‘Talkhis at-Talbis ‘ala Asas at-Taqdis,’ etc. Some of them are seven volumes long, such as ‘al-Jam’ Bayn al-‘Aql wan-Naql.’ Some of them are five volumes long, such as ‘Minhaj al-Istiqamah wal-I’tidal.’ Some of them are three volumes, such as ‘ar-Radd ‘ala an-Nasara.’ Some of them are two volumes, such as ‘Nikah al- Muhallal’ and ‘Ibtal al-Hayl’ and ‘Sharh al-‘Aqidah al-Asbahaniyyah.’ Some of them are just a single volume or less, and these are too many to encompass. However, I will try my best to
mention a few to satisfy the curiosity of those who wish to know: ‘Tafsir Surat al-Ikhlas,’ his commentary on the verse {“The Beneficent ascended the Throne.”}, his book ‘as-Sarim al-Maslul ‘ala Shatim ar-Rasul,’ ‘al-Furqan al-Mubin Bayn at-Talaq wal-Yamin,’ ‘al-Furqan Bayn
Awliya’ ar-Rahman wa Awliya’ ash-Shaytan,’ ‘Iqtida’ as-Sirat al-Mustaqim fi Mukhalafat Ashab al- Jahim,’ ‘al-Kalim at-Tayyib,’ ‘Ithbat al-Kamal,’ ‘ar-Radd ‘ala Ta’sis at-Taqdis,’ ‘al-Jam’ Bayn al-‘Aql wan-Naql,’ ‘Naqd Aqwal al-Mubtadi’in,’ ‘ar-Radd ‘ala an-Nasara,’ ‘Minhaj al-Istiqamah,’ ‘Ibtal al- Hayl wa Nikah al-Muhallal,’ ‘Sharh al-‘Aqidah al-Asbahaniyyah,’ ‘al-Fatawa,’ ‘ad-Durr al-Multaqit,’ ‘Ahkam at-Talaq,’ ‘ar-Risalah,’ ‘I’tiqad al-Firqah an-Najiyah,’ ‘Raf’ al-Malam ‘an al-A’immah al-A’lam,’ ‘Taqrir Masa’il at-Tawhid,’ ‘al-Istighathah wat-Tawassul,’ ‘al-Masa’il al-Hamawiyyah,’ ‘al-Masa’il al-Jazriyyah,’ and ‘al-Masa’il al-Mufradah,’ and it is enough to mention these few examples of his writings. Otherwise we would have to list over 200 titles, and this isn’t the time or place to do so.

As for his fatawa and the answers he gave to various questions, these are more than can be counted. However, seventeen volumes of them were compiled and arranged according to Fiqh topics in Egypt, and this is a well-known and famous collection. Also, his companions compiled more than 40,000 issues that he answered. It was very rare that an event would occur that he was asked about in which he would not reply in the quick and immediate style that he was famous for. This answer would then be turned into a book that anyone else would require a long time sifting through many references to put together, and even then,
they would still not match his expertise and efficiency in answering.
I was told by the righteous Shaykh Taj ad-Din Muhammad bin ad-Dawri that he attended one of Ibn Taymiyyah’s classes in which a Jew had asked him about something related to the Qadar. The Jew had presented his question in the form of a poem consisting of eight lines. So, when Ibn Taymiyyah looked at it, he thought to himself for a moment and proceeded to write a reply. He kept writing, and we thought that he would come out with a scattered, unorganized response. When he finished, his companions looked over what he’d written to find that it was a 184-line poem interspersed within the poem presented by the questioner.
His knowledge was so clearly evident in this poem that if one wanted to explain just this poem, he would need to write two large volumes in doing so.

This is just one example of his extraordinary abilities, and how many such answers and fatawa of his remain unparalleled! As for his classes, I never missed a single one during my stay in Damascus. He would not prepare anything specifically to present. Rather, he would sit after praying two rak’at, would praise Allah, invoke blessings and peace upon His Messenger (peace be upon him) in a manner so sweet and pleasant that I never heard from anyone else, and would then proceed to speak. Allah would open up on him such knowledge, gems, hidden benefits, details,
narrations, extraction of evidences from verses and ahadith, statements of the scholars and comparison between them, as well as an ability to supplement what he was saying with old Arabic poetry (and he would sometimes even mention the name of the poem’s composer).
In all of this, his speech was as smooth as a flowing river, and he would move as the ocean moves. From the beginning of his speech to the end of it, he would appear to be in another world, his eyes closed. This was all done unintentionally, and he didn’t try to speak in a certain way to give off this effect. Rather, it was something divine that was evident to
everyone who was watching or listening, and he would remain in such a state until he was finished speaking. I saw him at such times, and he looked like one in the presence of someone preoccupying him from anything else. When he did this, he would have such an amazing presence that it would shake our hearts and grab our attention. And he would never mention the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) without invoking peace and blessings on him, and - by Allah - I never saw anyone who revered the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) or was keener in imitating him and supporting what he came with than Ibn Taymiyyah.

Whenever he came across a hadith in a particular issue and was sure that it was not abrogated by any other text, he would act upon it and would judge and issue fatawa accordingly, and would not turn to the statement of any other person, no matter who he was. He (may Allah be Pleased with him) would say: “Every person requires proof for his statement, and his statement is not itself a proof, except Allah and His Messenger (peace be upon him).”
When he finished his class, he would open his eyes and go mix with the people with a cheerful, vibrant face as if he was meeting them for the first time, and he would sometimes even apologize to some of them for what he saw as shortcomings in his talk. Each class he gave in those days took up many notebooks. What I have mentioned here regarding his classes is something well-known that anyone who attended them would agree on, and such people are many - thanks to Allah - and their number cannot be calculated: scholars, officials, recitors of the Qur’an, Muhaddithin, Fuqaha’, poets, and everyday Muslims.

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