Ibn Taymiyyah: A Short Biography

بِسْمِ اللهِ الرَّحْمٰنِ الرَّحِيْم

     The name of Ibn Taymiyyah was Ahmad ibn ‘Abdul-Halim ibn ‘Abdis-Salam. He was born in 661 AH and died in 728 AH. (May Allah have mercy on him.) He is also known as Sheikh ul-Islam which is an honorary title and he is held in high esteem by the scholars of Islam, in past and in the present.

Al-Matroudi says that Ibn Taymiyyah,

“was perhaps the most eminent and influential Ḥanbalī jurist of the Middle Ages and one of the most prolific among them. He was also a renowned scholar of Islam whose influence was felt not only during his lifetime but extended through the centuries until the present day.” Al-Dhahabi praised him as “the brilliant shaykh, imam, erudite scholar, censor, jurist, mujtahid, and commentator of the Qur’an..

Ibn Taymiyyah was an inspiration for modern day Shaykhs and scholars, for example Ibn Rajab who wrote a book called, “Al-Qawa’id al-Fiqhiyyah” about Hanbalism. Others who were influenced were Hajib of  Damascus, Al-Mansouri, the viceroy of Egypt Arghun al-Nasiri and the 16th century Jerusalemite Palestinian historian and qadi, Mujir al-Din.

If one were to study his early life, one can see that he had an incredible memory. He was very time wise as a young lad, as we can see how he became a person that spent his time doing good things such as engaging in teaching, jihad, writing and defending the religion.

He was known to be very effective in his arguments when it came to presenting Islam correctly that it was recorded that a Jew accepted Islam at his hands even as he was young in age.

Ibn Taymiyyah played a great role in preserving the correct Aqeedah as you can see by his efforts. For example, perhaps because of his deep understanding of the Arabic language, he was known to understand the tafseer of Qur’an very well, making clear the subtle points others failed to recognize. He was a very knowledgeable man that offered what he learned as he was a great memorizer of hadeeth. When it came to giving fatwas, he wasn’t rigid in sticking only to the views of one mathhab. Rather he always went with what had the stronger evidence.

Another role he played in preserving the Aqeedah was that he studied the works of other philosophers and refuted their arguments, warning the people about their heretic beliefs. He showed us those people whose ideas transgressed the truth and now because of this we know what and whose ideas to avoid. Thus this is one way the people safeguard their understanding of Aqeedah. That way the people could know not to mix the philosophers ideas with their current understanding of Aqeedah. You could say Ibn Taymiyyah helped others know what to stay away from. He showed us those ideas that would pollute the correct understanding of Aqeedah and warned against them innovative philosophers and their philosophies.

Ibn Taymiyyah was very politically active and an outspoken man. He was man who thought for himself and as a result, he was jailed for not complying with the doctrines and practised of his time. He was very perseverant and stuck to what he believed in. He wanted to spread the real Islam and did not like what was happening around him. Many people of his time were accepting Islam. However, these same people were adding to the religion what shouldn’t belong. He didn’t accept this. He was against this and made it clear that Islam is perfect and complete the way it is. He was basically openly against innovation and warned against it.

He was also against a few specific people that made claims about Allah that were not true. For example, he was against the Ibn ‘Arabee’s philosophy. The good things about this is, while refuting Ibn ‘Arafee, the people now know what innovating philosophies to stay away from.

The good thing about Ibn Taymiyyah was the way he fought with the innovators, and standing up for what was true without fearing the people. He lived in a time when the people denied the Attributes of Allah. He however made it clear that this was not the teaching of Rasulallah (s). Although the Ash’arites did not favor him for his beliefs he still stood his ground.

Although Ibn Taymiyyah was jailed for his beliefs, he was still steadfast. Eventually those that learned from him began to grow  in number and eventually an upright government took place called the  “Ayyubis” and it still thought well of today and it upholds the teachings of Ibn Taymiyyah.

His role in upholding the correct Aqeedah still plays a big role today because we know study Aqeedah from his books and from the books of students who became great scholars such as Ibn Qayyim and Ath-Thahabi.

He was also known to speak out against the excesses of the Christians and was one the best to debate with them about their false beliefs. Al-Jawab Al-Sahih Liman Baddala Qaula al-Maseeh  was a book he wrote against the Christian missionaries

Ibn Taymiyyah was a man who believed in Allah and who was steadfast, even in the face of enemies. He was known to have said,

What can my enemies possibly do to me? My paradise is in my heart; wherever I go it goes with me – inseparable from me. For me, prison is a place of retreat; execution is my opportunity for martyrdom; and exile from my town is but a chance to travel.”

This showed that he was brave. We need people to be brave when it comes to upholding the religion, because only the brave will be able to uphold the truth courageously without fear. And he did uphold the truth even if he had to spend time in jail for that. This bravery played a key role in the preservation of the correct Aqeedah.

From this quote you could see that he made good out of the difficult situations in life. He basically encouraged optimism and patience in the face of trials. And the great thing is that he managed to overcome to obstacles that came his way and was such a huge impact on the preservation of correct Aqeedah that those that opposed began to see how true his teachings were.

You could tell his main aims were not for this world, but for the life to come and that he was willing to give up his life in martyrdom. Even this quote benefits the people of today because it encourages others to aim for what is long lasting, the gardens of Paradise and that one should be willing to even give up his life for the sake of Allah. And he was brave, and willing. Something that can inspire the youth of today, to teach them that death is not the end of everything.

Ibn Taymiyyah is a great man, may Allah have mercy on him, who sacrificed a lot in his life to uphold the correct Aqeedah, bravely standing up to those who were adding innovation to the religion and using his intellect, body and heart to defend and protect the true teachings of Islam. Indeed he did help in reviving the correct understanding of Aqeedah.

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