Alp Arslan from Nizam al-Mulk Tusi by S. Rizwan Ali Rizvi

Posted July 21, 2007 by gift
Categories: History

Alp Arslan after the capture of Romanus IV, reached the Oxus, and there the prisoner Yusuf Barzami OR Narzame or al-Khwarazmi, mortally wounded him with a dagger. Alp Arslan lingered on for a day or two after he had received his fatal wound and gave his dying instruction to his faithful minister, Nizam al-Mulk about his brother and sons. He chose his son Malik Shah to succeed him. Alp Arsaln was a devout Muslim and this, in great measure, must have been due to Nizam al-Mulik’s influence on him. His dying words according to Ibn al-Athir are

    “Never”, said he, ” did I advance on a country or march against a foe without asking help of God in mine adventure, but yesterday when a stood on a hill, and the earth shock beneath me from the greatness of my army and the host of my soldiers, I said to myself, ‘I am the King of the world and none can prevail against me’ ; wherefore God Almighty hath brought me low by one of the weakest of his creatures. I ask pardon of him and repent of this my thought”. He died with utmost resignation and was buried at Merv with the following epitaph quoted by Sir Percy Sykes, History of Persia, Vol. II, op. cit., p.33

Thou has seen Alp Arslan’s head in pride exalted to the sky;

come to Merv, and see how lowly in the dust that head doth lie

notes from sunnipath lesson, with shaikh Faraz rabbani, on the Rank and Rights of the Prophet

Posted May 28, 2007 by gift
Categories: Education

did not take notes from the beginning  There was an expalination of the Prophets name Mohmmad= praiseworthy one. This name by the majority of scholars (not consnsus) was not given to anyone but the prophet among the arabs. That the paraents of the Prophet were Devinely inspired to give this name to him. A Prophet is someone Honoured by given Devine Revelation, then he is also a Messenger if commanded to deliver it 

  1. Devine electhood; pity can be gained through works, but not with prophethood, imam laqani, jawhara
    1. Mustafa= the selected one
    2. Selected servant, honoured by given message, and conveyed
    3. His learning not acquired but given through Devine command, by Allah Himself
    4.  Quran3;164 blessed the believers, a messenger from themselves, reciting to them verses,  purifying them, teaching them the book and the wisdom, before that they were in heedlessness
    5. The emissary of Allah, for this is abetter word, messenger just means carrying a messenger, but emissary is in himself a great being is what Abd Al Hakim Murad says is a better word for the Prophet.
  2. the Prophet
    1. conveyed Devine revelation, what it meant, teaching and showing how to imply it, the wisdom is the sunnah in that it is rightfully applied in the right place and time saying and doing what is appropriate
    2. wisdom is the capacity to act in the right way in each situation, shown through the prophetic methodology, for the prophet never told the samehitng to anyone, each given what they required
    3. explained, how to live it
    4. propose of revelation, has an optimum purpose, that to purify oneself, not just rulings halal, and haram, rather a Devine purpose of realizing the Devine in life AHM told me at the conference at essex ‘if his sight does not change you his words will not change you’ from Imam Qushayri
  3. Hadith ‘gift of mercy’ prophet to all the worlds. Mercy is a person that implies the religion in
    1. Religion is reduced to half sunnah and quran, but the prophet showed us how to live that quran and sunnah, and this is what is lacking. They do not see that the sunnah is meant to TRANSFORM the way one is (is meaning the very being of oneself), making good relationships with Allah, Prophet and those that live on earth. Showing mercy to all Allah’s creation. ‘be merciful to those on earth and the lord of heaven will show mercy to you’ transmitted to us by sh.faraz the first Hadith that a teacher will transmitt to one. Shkh Faraz was given the hadith by Mufti Usmani, Mufti of
    2. The Prophet is discribed as Gift from Allah, to make us servants of Allah; and hence they tread lightly on earth. Manifestation of mercy, and good
  4. two revelations; Quran and Sunnah; being the exemplified revelation, living it and being transformed by it to make good our relationship with Allah
  5. attributes of the Prophets
    1. can a Prophet be not trust worthy, liar
    2. 4 attributes of the Prophets;

                                                               i.      Sidq being true, real                                                             ii.      Trustworthy, prophets did not commit sin, actions correspondence with their teachings. The qurash used to call the prophet the truthful before he was given to deliver his message, that he never lied                                                            iii.      intelligent, able to explain, defined and uphold that which they revealed                                                           iv.      Conveyed the message, did not tell everyone all the things at once, rather in time, different things in different situations.1.       conveyed the message as commanded to do so2.       AND all the message was conveyed

  1. opposite of these message is that it is lying, betray, not the qualities or attributes of the prophets
  2. Prophets are share in the human treats but not humans, for being choosen to be Uphold the Devine relvelation
  3. the seal of the prophets, leader of the pious, and the prophets
    1. someone who affirms a prophet after the Prophet has left the Islam, for negating quran and clear hadiths mass transmitted hadiths
    2. Prophet ‘I am the very last one and none shell ever be after me’
  4. faith is that accepting everything that the prophet cames with
    1. if ignorant then explained to them, otherwise anyone can claim to be doing the right thing
    2. takfir is left to the ulama, the point is not to just do something and say something rather defering our own judgement in favour of those who know well the deen
    3. rather good is done, or remaining silent
    4. saying good is that when said its consequence is good as well, wisdom lies in the greatest benefit
    5. the Devine command is to ask those who know if you know not
  5. follow the imam, worthy of following
    1. anyone can be correct or wrong except Allah
    2. absolute is Allah’s command and the prophets who convey it and relative for the Imams
    3. imams being worthy of following for their learning is what we follow as they have speacilize in understanding the deen
    4. Prophets are followed unconditionally, Imams are followed conditionally

                                                               i.      He leads people to the way of guidance the Prophet, our very existence is begging for guidance…the imam of guidance is the prophet                                                             ii.      The pious our imam, because piety is the protector of guidance                                                            iii.      ‘In this book there is no doubt but guidance for those seeking pity’ the gift of guidance is protected, shielded, by taqwa                                                           iv.      taqwa avoiding sins, that which Allah has prohibited1.       doing that which preserves our guidance2.       imam, baydawi ‘that we protect ourselves from disbelief, and acting upon

  1. I am the master of the children of Adam , and that is not a boast’ in relative world, in that he was the leader and the best in all on this earth
    1. The prophet lead all the prophets
    2. Not differentiating between the prophets; meaning not excepting some, talking about them in befitting their rank, as they received the Devine command
    3. Q ‘these are the messengers we have proffered some above others’
    4.  Why Mohamed is the select, leader, master of all
  2. duties toward the prophet, for Allah has granted us with a gift of Mohammad
    1. following the prophet
    2. taking him as our imam in life
    3. excellence, doing best in everything
    4. the path, the sunned, if you follow him you will be guided
    5. benefit knowledge
    6. learn about the prophet,
    7. seeking blessings on the Prophet

                                                               i.      the thanks being expressed for the prophet what he has done, and thanking allh for such a gift                                                             ii.      NEVER LOSING HOPE when ever one falls short one should turn to Allah, AHM ‘Hope is the way into religion, dispair is the way out’ 

A heretic never claims to be a heretic, he claims to transcend orthodoxy

Posted May 21, 2007 by gift
Categories: Education

Learn that you are the merest shadow of Another’s act; thus you will learn humbleness, which is the beginning of understanding

‘For Allah created the English mad – the maddest of all mankind.’ (Kipling)

To learn truth is always to relearn. To lapse into falsehood is not always to relapse.

42.       ‘What can I say – it must have been the will of God.’ (Mikhail Gorbachev)

43.       Use words in your preaching only if absolutely necessary.

The road to God is paved with laughter at the self. The road to Hell is paved with laughter at others.

63.       Sufism: don’t think that you can dive without lowering yourself.

‘All true Reformers are by the nature of them Priests, and strive for a Theocracy.’ (Carlyle, on Knox)

59.       Do not think that anything has any purpose other than to point to God.

60.       Idolatry, at best, is the unbalanced fixation on an Attribute.

65.       Wisdom consists mainly in the ability to recognise human weakness.

66.       God’s mercy is not limited; but He is not limited by His mercy.

67.       For each karama that takes you forward, there are ten which will take you back.

68.       Only those who know themselves to be unworthy are worthy.

69.       If you do not sanctify the dawn, the day will not sanctify you.

70.       Against Modernism: between signs and science there is neither rhyme nor reason.

71.       Islamism: untie your camel, and trust in God.

86.       Do not fear any extremist; fear the consequences of his acts.

87.       Do not be complacent. Most people judge religions by their followers, not by their doctrines.

93.       Being at ease in the company of scholars is a proof of faith.

94.       Nobility is the aptitude for seeing beauty.

97.       Let the next hours be an apology for the sunna prayer. Let the sunna prayer be an apology for the fard. Let the fard be an apology for separation.

98.       In the fight against the Monoculture, the main sign is the hijab, and the main act is the Prayer.

99.       It’s quite a hard thing to respect
             A God who our prayers would accept,
            We splash and we preen
            Then we fidget and dream,
            So proud to be of the Saved Sect.

100.     ‘May I not prove too much of a skunk when I shall be tried.’ (Wittgenstein)

Approach the teacher as the comet approaches the sun. AHM

Posted May 21, 2007 by gift
Categories: Education

burn, burn….and burn

greater jihad

Posted May 17, 2007 by gift
Categories: Uncategorized

Documentation of
“Greater Jihad” hadith

(upd. Feb 28, 2005)

The “Greater Jihad” hadith comes to us
•  marfu` (as a Prophetic saying),
•  mawquf (as a Companion-saying), and
•  maqtu` (as a Tabi`i-saying or later).

I. Marfu`

As a Prophetic saying this hadith has two similar wordings from Jabir:

1. “Some troops came back from an expedition and went to see the Messenger of Allah MHMD sallallahu `alayhi wa-Sallam. He said: “You have come for the best, from the smaller jihad (al-jihad al-asghar) to the greater jihad (al-jihad al-akbar).” Someone said, “What is the greater jihad?” He said: “The servant’s struggle against his lust”(mujahadat al-`abdi hawah).

Al-Bayhaqi narrated it in al-Zuhd al-Kabir (Haydar ed. p. 165 §373 = p. 198 §374) and said: “This is a chain that contains weakness” (hadha isnadun fihi da`f). One might cautiously conclude from this that al-Bayhaqi himself does not consider it a forgery in view of his shart [ie. condition] that he does not narrate forgeries in any of his books except he indicates it.

2. “The Prophet MHMD upon him and his Family and Companions blessings and peace returned from one his expeditions and said: “You have come for the best. You have come from the smaller jihad to the greater jihad.” They said, “What is the greater jihad, Messenger of Allah?” He said: “The servant’s struggle against his lust.”Al-Khatib narrated it in Tarikh Baghdad (13:493=13:523).

Both their chains contain Yahya ibn al-`Ala’ al-Bajali al-Razi who is accused of forgery as per Ibn Hajar in the Taqrib, in addition to Layth ibn Abi Sulaym – Ibn Hajar said he was abandoned as a hadith narrator due to the excessiveness of his mistakes in addition to being a concealer of his sources (mudallis). (Al-Bukhari and Muslim did narrate three hadiths from him but only as corroborations of established chains.)

This shows that the statement of Ibn Taymiyya in Majmu` al-Fatawa (11:197 = his anti-Sufi tract al-Furqan bayna Awliya al-Rahman wa-Awliya al-Shaytan) “La asla lahu” is inaccurate, as this expression in their terminology denotes chainlessness. Al-Zayla`i also could not find it but, instead of positively denying the existence of hadiths he does not know like Ibn Taymiyya, he uses the expression “gharib jiddan” (extremely solitary/odd) as he does here in his Takhrij Ahadith al-Kashshaf (2:395 §825).

Most accurate is the verdict of Ibn Hajar: “its chain contains weak narrators” in his Takhrij Ahadith al-Kashshaf (p. 114) while al-Ahdab in his Zawa’id Tarikh Baghdad (9:309-311 §2077) says “isnad talif” (a worthless chain).

All of the above negative verdicts concern the chain. The hadith in its meaning is confirmed by the Qur’an and established reports, at least two of them explicit in the preference of the mujahada or jihad of the ego over any other type but without using the specific term jihad akbar. This has been discussed elsewhere:

Yet, Shaykh `Abd al-Fattah Abu Ghudda mentioned in his marginalia on al-Lacknawi’s al-Ajwibat al-Fadila (p. 156 bottom) that his teacher Shaykh Ahmad al-Ghumari authored a monograph titled Tahsin al-Khabar al-Warid fil-Jihad al-Akbar (“The Fair Grade of the Extant Report on the Greater Jihad”) – presumably from an isnad standpoint but I have not seen this monograph by the Moroccan muhaddith mirabilis.

II. Mawquf

As a Companion-saying Ibn Rajab attributes something similar to `Abd Allah ibn `Amr ibn al-`As in Sharh Hadith Labbayk (p. 128) but without chain nor reference.

III. Maqtu`

1. As a Tabi`i-saying this report is narrated as a statement of the brilliant Tabi`i Imam of Palestine Ibrahim ibn Abi `Abla by al-Nasa’i in his Kuna as mentioned by al-Mizzi in Tahdhib al-Kamal (2:144); Ibn Hajar in Tasdid al-Qaws, Tahdhib al-Tahdhib (1:142), and al-Kafi al-Shaf fi Takhrij Ahadith al-Kashshaf (p. 114); and al-Zayla`i, op. cit.

Al-Dhahabi in the Siyar (Fikr ed. 6:486) says Muhammad ibn Ziyad al-Maqdisi said it was the habit of Ibrahim to address whoever came back from ghazu with that phrase. (Also among his sayings: “Whoever carries strange and unusual knowledge carries much evil.”)

2. As an Atba`-saying al-Bayhaqi also narrates it in al-Zuhd from Ibrahim ibn Ad-ham (p. 152)

3. and Abu Hatim al-Asamm (p. 286).

Ibn Taymiyya himself leaves no doubt as to the fact that jihad al-nafs comes first and is the precondition sine qua non of military jihad as he states it in and as related from him by Ibn al-Qayyim toward the very end of Rawdat al-Muhibbin: “I heard our Shaykh say, ‘The jihad of nafs and hawa is the foundation of jihad of the disbelievers and hypocrites; one cannot do jihad of them before he first does jihad of his nafs and hawa, then he goes out and fights them.'”

As for Ibn al-Qayyim then haddith wala haraj, he goes on and on about the jihad of the ego as the “prime” (al-muqaddam) and “most obligatory” (al-afraD) jihad in al-Fawa’id, Zad al-Ma`ad, al-Ruh, Ighathat al-Lahfan….
But neither he nor his teacher uses the term al-jihad al-akbar.

GF Haddad

the hijacked caravan

Posted May 17, 2007 by gift
Categories: Extracts, Modernity

Ihsanic Intelligence, the think tank behind a highly controversial study, have spent two years studying suicide bombings by Islamist terrorists and their conclusions are both timely, controversial and intended for a global readership.

Titled ‘The Hijacked Caravan: Refuting Suicide Bombings as Martyrdom Operations in Contemporary Jihad Strategy’, the study systematically analyses al-Qaeda’s literature for recruiting the potential suicide bomber, refuting the Islamic evidences used in their favour and provides greater evidences from fourteen centuries of the Islamic legal tradition to refute the suicide bombings as a whole.

The study concludes on the landmark ruling, to be presented at the United Nations Social and Economic Council, which Islamic scholars worldwide are being urged to become signatories to: “The technique of suicide bombing is anathema, antithetical and abhorrent to Sunni Islam. It is considered legally forbidden, constituting a reprehensible innovation in the Islamic tradition, morally an enormity of sin combining suicide and murder and theologically an act which has consequences of eternal damnation.”
The Hijacked Caravan

Some of the major findings of the study into suicide bombings are:

  • ‘The Hijacked Caravan’ is the first and only Islamic legal ruling which unequivocally condemns suicide bombing in all circumstances.
  • Suicide terrorism has no precedent in fourteen centuries of Sunni Islamic tradition
  • Islamist terrorist groups like al-Qa’eda have adopted the use of suicide bombings from the Hindu-Marxist terrorist groups like the Tamil Tigers and kamikaze pilots from Japan
  • Islamist terrorists killing Muslims are considered to be in the tradition of the khawarij, an ancient Islamic heretical sect which also assassinated Prophet Muhammad’s cousin, Imam Ali
  • Suicide bombings invoked under the rubric of Islamist terrorism, outside Israel and the Palestinian Territories, grew three-fold within the space of three years after 9/11, killing twice as many people as had been killed over two decades.
  • Within the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, a case often given global exception by some scholars for using this tactic, suicide bombings doubled as did the number of people killed in the three years after 9/11 compared to the previous seven years of suicide terrorism. Worldwide, in merely three years after 9/11, the number of suicide bombings had increased three-fold than it had over two decades, whilst the number of people killed had doubled.
  • Worldwide, for every person who undertook a suicide bombing prior to 9/11, 18 people were likely to be killed. After 9/11, this figure fell to killing of 14 people on average, which was only as a result of the disproportionate rise in the “export” of this practice to groups worldwide.
  • Suicide bombing in the name of Islam has occurred in more than 20 countries: Lebanon [1981], Kuwait [1983], Argentina [1992], Panama, Israel and Occupied Palestinian Territories [1994], Pakistan, Croatia [1995], Saudi Arabia [1996], Tanzania, Kenya [1998], Yemen, Chechnya [2000], USA, Kashmir, Afghanistan [2001], Tunisia, Indonesia, Algeria [2002], Morocco, Russia, India, Iraq, Turkey [2003], Uzbekistan and Spain [2004] – and possibly United Kingdom [2005].

If you would like more information about Ihsanic-Intelligence or provide feedback for The Hijacked Caravan, please email us at

Definitive articles and statements within the Islamic tradition, condemning suicide bombing:

1. “Examination of an article claiming to legitimise suicide bombings” Bookwright, Denmark

2. “Bombing Without Moonlight: The Origins of Suicidal Terrorism” Abdal-Hakim Murad, UK

3. “RE: Accusations on Shaykh Hamza Yusuf” Gibril Haddad, – Ask'”RE: Accusations on Shaykh Hamza Yusuf”

4. “America’s Tragedy- An Islamic Perspective” [transcript] Shaykh Hamza Yusuf, zaytuna Institue,, 30 September, 2001. Formerly at

5. “Recapturing Islam From the Terrorists” Abdal-Hakim Murad, UK

6.Wide Angle. Suicide Bombers | PBS

7. Conference for Civilisational Dialogue held at University of Malaya,
15-17 September, 1997
Professor Syed Hussein al-Attas, Malaysia “Such suicide bombings are unIslamic. How does anyone justify throwing a bomb into a bus filled with people who are non-belligerent, let alone kill oneself in the process? And we know from the primary sources [Qur’an and Hadith] that women and children, the old and the sick are to be spared during battle. These suicide bombers are different from the Japanese kamikaze, [whereby] the latter would commit an act of selflessness, brought about by desperation against legitimate military targets.”

8. Tenth Session of the OIC, Putrajaya, Malaysia, October 16, 2003, Dr Mahathir bin Mohammad, outgoing Malaysian Prime Minister “Is there no other way than to ask our young people to blow themselves up and kill people and invite the massacre of more of our own people?”

10.Fatwa on Suicide as a Tactic
Shaykh Dr. Abdalqadir As-Sufi, UK

“Suicide bombing is a terrorism.”

A comprehensive fatwa from an eminent Islamic leader condemning suicide bombing by Muslims against all.

“Every terrorist act and every self-exploding suicide is the licence for the continued fascistic control of the world’s masses in the name of democracy.”

Muslims under non-muslim rule by Yahya Michot,; oxford

Posted May 17, 2007 by gift
Categories: Muslims, Uncategorized

Book Review – The father of Islamic radicalism?

Muslims Under Non-Muslim Rule, by Yahya Michot, Oxford: Interface Publications, pp. 190, 2006, HB.

Born in 1263 in Harran (located close to Damascus) into a family of Islamic scholars and Hanbali jurists, Ibn Taymiyyah received his early education in Arabic and traditional Islamic sciences at home under the tutelage of his pre-eminent father. According to Yahya Michot, the author of the book under review, Ibn Taymiyyah was around seven when his family was forced to flee to Damascus due to an imminent threat of Mongol invasion.
In Damascus he studied under the guidance of some of the city’s leading theologians and jurists, and was barely seventeen when Shams al-Din, the city’s Chief Justice, granted him ijaza (certification) to issue fatwa. As an omnivorous reader, he claimed to have read more than two hundred different tafâsir (commentaries on the Qur’an) and became a leading authority on tafsir, hadith (Prophetic traditions), fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence) and ‘ilm al-kalam (dialectic theology). He knew the Qur’an and hadith literature probably better than any other scholar of his generation so much so that his books and treatises on Islamic sciences, philosophy, logic, comparative religion and heresiography are replete with references to the Qur’an, Prophetic traditions and the sayings of the early Islamic scholars.
Ibn Taymiyyah was not only an outstanding Islamic scholar and jurist, he was also a prolific writer and critic. According to Shams al-Din al-Dhahabi, the author of Tadhkirat al-Huffaz, he ate little and did not marry, and remained a confirmed bachelor all his life. This enabled him to read extensively and write prolifically on a wide range of subjects. Indeed, according to some of his biographers, he authored as many as five hundred books and treatises on all aspects of Islam and also actively participated in jihad (military struggle) against the Mongol invaders. However, to understand Ibn Taymiyyah, his religious ideas and thoughts, one has to thoroughly examine the social, political and intellectual condition of his time.
He was born five years after the Mongol sack of Baghdad, the capital of the Abbasid Caliphate. It was a time of considerable socio-political uncertainty and upheaval as the Mongols threatened to overwhelm the entire Islamic East. Likewise, most of the prominent Islamic scholars and jurists of the time were in the service of the ruling elites and this created a culture of blind imitation (taqlid) rather than promote intellectual creativity and fresh thinking. To make matters worse, the Sufis, he felt, had deviated from the original, pristine Prophetic norms and practices (sunnah). Thus, living as he did at a challenging and unpredictable period in Islamic history, it is not surprising that Ibn Taymiyyah’s life and thought also reflected the difficulties and contradictions of his time.
That is why it is imperative to study and explore his writings in the existential condition in which they were produced otherwise one is not only likely to misunderstand but also misinterpret them. His Mardin fatwa (which is the subject-matter of the book under review) is a good example. Mardin, as the author explains, is a Turkish town which “occupies a strikingly strategic location. It is dominated by a fortress reputed to have been unassailable, from which the view reaches deep into the vast plain of upper Mesopotamia.” (p1) And although the precise date of this fatwa is not known, Ibn Taymiyyah issued it in response to a request to clarify whether Mardin was a domain of peace (dar al-salam) or domain of war (dar al-harb).
In his own words, “Is [Mardin] a domain of war or of peace? It is a [city of a status] composite (murakkab), in which both the things signified [by those terms are to be found]. It is not in the situation of a domain of peace in which the institutions (ahkam) of Islam are implemented because its army (jund) is [composed of] Muslims. Nor is it in the situation of a domain of war, whose inhabitants are unbelievers. Rather, it constitutes a third type [of domain], in which the Muslim shall be treated as he merits, and in which the one who departs from the Way/Law of Islam shall be combated as he merits.” (p65)
Ibn Taymiyyah’s refusal to say whether Mardin was a domain of war or peace is most significant, not least because in the West he is increasingly considered to be the real inspiration behind many radical groups including al-Qa’ida.
In addition to Western writers like Gilles Kepel (Jihad: The Trail of Political Islam, Cambridge, 2002) and Malise Ruthven (A Fury for God: The Islamist Attack on America, London, 2002), the US 9/11 Commission Report identified him as an intellectual champion of contemporary Islamic radicalism/militancy. But is he the real inspiration behind these radical groups? His refusal to say whether Mardin was a land of war or peace proves, if proof was required, that his religious ideas and thoughts were far from being black and white. Indeed, according to Michot, “Crass howlers about Ibn Taymiyyah have long been in circulation – one might think as far back as the tittle-tattle about him hawked around by Ibn Battuta. Since 9/11, however, the situation has worsened. The most ignorant untruths are reproduced apace, not only in the media but even in supposedly serious studies.” (p123) He then takes prominent academics and writers like N J Delong-Bas (Georgetown University); Bernard Haykel (New York University); Menahem Milson (Hebrew University of Jerusalem) and Guy Sorman (University of Paris) to task for disseminating untruths about Ibn Taymiyyah.
If Ibn Taymiyyah is grossly misunderstood by Western scholars and writers, then many contemporary Islamists have also failed to understand and appreciate his ideas and thoughts, argues Michot. He proves his case by examining six modern Muslim readings of Ibn Taymiyyah’s Mardin fatwa; he shows how five of the six writers and activists (namely, Muhammad Abd al-Salam Faraj, Abdullah Azzam, Muhammad al-Mas’ari, Abd al-Aziz al-Jarbu and Zuhayr Salim) have singularly failed to understand the full thrust and complexity of his religious ideas and thought. A closer examination of Ibn Taymiyyah’s vast corpus of writing demonstrates, argues Michot, he was in favour of resisting foreign invaders but completely rejected internal rebellion and insurgency. So, far from being a champion of religious radicalism, he was a sophisticated and pragmatic Islamic scholar and thinker, argues Michot. If this is true, why is he so readily misunderstood and misinterpreted – both by the Western scholars as well as the Islamists?
Michot, who is a lecturer at Oxford University and prominent authority on Ibn Taymiyyah, argues both the Western scholars and the Islamists have advertently or inadvertently emphasised his political thought at the expense of his moral and ethical teachings. This has led to the increasing politicisation of his complex and sophisticated writings on Islamic moral, ethical and legal thought. This raises an interesting question, namely, were there two different Ibn Taymiyyahs, an “Islamic reactionary and jihadist” or Islamic thinker and pragmatist?
Michot has no doubt that he was a pragmatist who carefully examined the ideals and realities of his time before he authorised military action or issued a legal decree to the contrary. To him, Ibn Taymiyyah was a multi-dimensional Islamic scholar and thinker, whose writing needs to be studied and explored in their totality if one is to understand and appreciate them fully. Although I could not agree more, it may nevertheless be possible to argue, for instance, that Ibn Taymiyyah the jurist was very different from Ibn Taymiyyah the critic. The reason for this is because his Islamic moral, ethical, legal and economic thoughts are much more polished and restrained in their tone than, for instance, his refutation of the Sufis, falasifah, mantiq’in, qadariyyah, the Christians, etc. Thus, as a polemicist, he was not only uncompromising but also very dogmatic. This naturally led to his incarceration on more than one occasion, but Michot is right to say Ibn Taymiyyah bore all his trials and tribulations with great patience and dignity. He eventually died in prison in 1328.
Having said that, Yahya Michot should be congratulated for writing this book; it is a powerful and cogent defence of Ibn Taymiyyah against the charge of radicalism/militancy. Originally written in French and meticulously translated into English by Jamil Qureshi, Ibn Taymiyyah’s Mardin fatwa is rigorously referenced. The author’s commentary and exploration of the fatwa is both extensive and enlightening, even if at times one feels he is all too eager to give Ibn Taymiyyah the benefit of the doubt
Muhammad Khan
M Khan is author of The Muslim 100: The Life, Thought and Achievement of the Most Influential Muslims in
History (forthcoming).