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Hisham Kabbani
  Exposing Kabbani 10 : Kabbani's Slander of Tajseem Against Ibn Taymiyyah
Author: Abu Hudhayfah
Article ID : NDV070010  


Another unfounded allegation thrown in the direction of ibn Taymiyyah is that he considered Allaah to be a body (jism). This ancient argument has, sadly, also been repeated by Kabbani in our time as well as Hasan as-Saqqaaf who wrote in his notes to Daf’ Shubhah at-Tashbeeh (pp. 245-246):

"Entering into this category is al-Harraanee (ibn Taymiyyah)... who has affirmed a jism (body) for Allaah in many of his books. From this is his saying in at-Ta’sees (1/101): ‘There is not in the Book of Allaah, nor in the Sunnah of His Messenger, nor a statement from any one of the Salaf of this Ummah and its Imaams that He is not a body, and that His Attributes are not bodily, consisting of organs...’"

The falsity of as-Saqqaaf’s allegations can be explained in the following ways:

i. The previously mentioned quote that he ascribed to ibn Taymiyyah is not from his own words. Rather, ibn Taymiyyah was quoting the saying of the people of kalaam (theological rhetoric) in explanation of their views. However, in order to bring about his accusation, as-Saqqaaf conveniently omitted the beginning of ibn Taymiyyah’s words where he began by saying: "They say...."!

How ludicrous then are the words of Kabbani: "We warn the reader not to be deceived by the disclaimer invoked by some of Ibn Taymiyya’s admirers that he did not really hold all these beliefs but merely quoted them in his review of the positions of those he criticised." (Kabbani, p.66)

ii. Ibn Taymiyyah has repeatedly spoken against describing Allaah as a body or with organs: "Indeed, the term body (jism), organs (‘arad), extent (mutahayyiz) and their like are all newly-invented terminologies. We have mentioned many a time before that the Salaf and the Imaams have not spoken about such things, neither by way of a negation nor by way of affirmation. Rather, they declared those who spoke about such matters to be innovators and went to great lengths to censure them."

(refer to ibn Taymiyyah, Majmoo’ al-Fataawaa 3/306-310 and 13/304-305, Minhaajus-Sunnah an-Nabawiyah 2/134-135, 192, 198-200 and 567)

iii. Ibn Taymiyyah also wrote in Sharh Hadeeth an-Nuzool (p. 71) that describing Allaah as a body is: "An innovation in the Sharee’ah, a corruption of the language and a contradiction to the intellect. Rather, it is repudiated by the Sharee’ah, the language and the intellect."


Even Dr. Sa'eed Ramadaan al-Buti, who Kabbani happily quotes (pp. 117-134) because he wrote what was in Kabbani’s view a ‘landmark study of the ‘Salafi’ innovation’, is quick to point out the fallacy of the accusations against ibn Taymiyyah:

"We are amazed when we see the extremists declaring ibn Taymiyyah, may Allaah have mercy upon him, to be an unbeliever. And also at them saying that he was one who held Allaah to be a body (mujassid), and I have studied long and hard as to where I could find a statement or a word from ibn Taymiyyah that he wrote or said which would indicate his holding Allaah to be a body as was quoted from him by as-Subki and others and I have not found anything from him like this. All I found was him saying in his legal rulings, 'Indeed Allaah has a Hand as He said, and has risen over the Throne as He said, and He has an Eye as He said'."

Al-Buti adds to this:

"I referred to the last work written by Abu al-Hasan al-Ash'ari, 'al-Ibaanah', and I found him saying exactly what ibn Taymiyyah said..." (Nadwa Ittjaahaat al-Fiqr al-Islaamee, pp. 264-265, of al-Buti)


Another distortion of ibn Taymiyyah’s views, again repeated by Kabbani (p.96), is what ibn Batootah (d.779H) alleges in his Rihlah (1/110):

"I was present in Damascus on Friday where he (ibn Taymiyyah) was admonishing and reminding the people from the pulpit of the congregational mosque. During his speech he said: ‘Indeed Allaah descends to the lowest heaven of the world just as I am descending now.’ Then he descended one step of the pulpit..."

Again, the falsehood of this claim can be shown from a number of angles:

i. Ibn Taymiyyah was not the khateeb of the aforementioned masjid, rather it was Qaadee al-Qazwaynee. Ibn Batootah himself says in his Rihlah (1/107): "At the time of my entering it (Damascus) their Imaam was Qaadee Jalaal ad-Deen Muhammad bin Abd ar-Rahmaan al-Qazwaynee from the great legal jurists, and he was the khateeb of the masjid."

ii. It is a clear contradiction of ibn Taymiyyah’s way concerning the Attributes of Allaah. Ibn Taymiyyah clearly states the forbiddance of likening Allaah to His creation: "It is a must to affirm that which Allaah affirms for Himself, whilst negating any likeness to Him with His creation." (at-Tadmuriyyah, p.20, of ibn Taymiyyah).

iii. Ibn Taymiyyah has also said: "Whoever considers the Attributes of Allaah to be like the attributes of the creation, such that the Istawaa of Allaah is like the ascending of the creation, or His Descending (Nuzool) is like the descending of the creation or other than that, then he is a deviated innovator." (ibn Taymiyyah, Majmoo’ al-Fataawaa 5/262).

iv. Ibn Taymiyyah has a separate book concerning the hadeeth of Allaah’s Descending - Sharh Hadeeth an-Nuzool - and in it there is no trace of the anthropomorphic beliefs which Kabbani and others have falsely accused him of.

v. It is not possible that ibn Batootah witnessed ibn Taymiyyah deliver this speech since ibn Batootah states in his Rihlah (1/102) that he entered Damascus on the 9th of Ramadhan in the year 728H. However, ibn Taymiyyah was in prison at this time as ibn Katheer states in al-Bidaayah wan-Nihaayah (14/135) that he was imprisoned on 6th Sha’baan 728H and remained there until his death on 20th Dhul-Qa’dah 728H.

vi. Ibn Batootah did not write the book Rihlah with his own hand, rather it was collected by Muhammad bin Jazee al-Kalbee who writes in the introduction: "I have quoted the meaning of the words of Shaykh Abu Abdullaah (ibn Batootah) with words that give the meaning of what he intended."

The author of the infamous Al-Albani Unveiled deemed it necessary to say (pp. 112-113):

"Even if one was to denounce Ibn Battuta’s account as being a false and fabricated statement, one may wish to know that the greatest scholar of Hadith in his time, Shaykh al-Islam al-Hafiz Ahmad ibn Hajar al-Asqalani (Rahimahullah) has reported an incident in al-Durar al-kamina (1, 164) where again ibn Taymiyyah descended the steps of the minbar in order to illustrate his understanding of how Allah descends (nuzul) as early as the year 705/1305 AH (some 21 years before Ibn Battuta’s account). Hafiz Ibn Hajar’s source for this incident was one of Ibn Taymiyya’s own disciples by the name of Sulayman Najm al-Din al-Tufi al-Hanbali (d.716/1316)."

These words of al-Tufi al-Hanbali are also repeated by Kabbani (p.96).

However, it is clear from what al-Tufi says (i.e. "... they mentioned that he had cited the hadith of Allah’s descent...") that he is merely relaying what others have said, not that he is necessarily agreeing with the correctness of the accusation.

Incidentally, the author of Al-Albani Unveiled believes that the event referred to by al-Tufi took place 21 years before ibn Batootah’s account whereas Kabbani seems to think that it is a report of one and the same event!


After all this, it comes as no surprise that those who argued with ibn Taymiyyah about the contents of his books found that indeed his beliefs where exactly those held by the Salaf of this Ummah. Ibn Katheer writes that when the scholars of his time gathered for a sitting with ibn Taymiyyah to discuss his work al-Aqeedah al-Hamawiyyah that ibn Taymiyyah’s replies to their accusations were not able to be rebutted (al-Bidaayah wan Nihaayah, 14/5). And likewise he mentioned that when the scholars sat to argue with him regarding his Aqeedah al-Waasitiyyah the argument ended with them accepting all that was contained in the book (Vol. 14 of al-Bidaayah under the heading 'Aqd al-Majaalis ath-Thalaatha').


Nevertheless, the allegations continue. Kabbani lists (via al-Haytami / Taj al-Din al-Subki) eleven cases wherein ibn Taymiyyah has supposedly violated scholarly consensus (pp. 101-103). The author of Al-Albani Unveiled (again via as-Subki) mentions twenty-two examples (pp. 114-116). It is not intended to look at the accuracy or otherwise of any of these assertions (with the exception of one below), this will be dealt with elsewhere if Allaah wills. However, it is fitting to mention what Kabbani quotes at the end of his list of allegations:

"Some said: ‘whoever looks at his (ibn Taymiyyah’s) books does not attribute to him most of these positions..." and in Al-Albani Unveiled it reads: "Some scholars said that most of the above quoted statements did not belong to ibn Taymiyya..."

This begs the question: If it is the case that there are serious doubts as to whether ibn Taymiyyah even held such views then why bother to mention them in the first place? Is it so that people will begin to have doubts implanted in their hearts and minds about this exemplary scholar?

Anas ibn Maalik reports that the Messenger of Allaah sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam asked: "Do you know what calumny is?" They said: Allaah and His Messenger know best. He then said: "Conveying the words of some people to others in order to create mischief between them."

(Al-Bukhaaree in al-Adab al-Mufrad and al-Bayhaqee in Sunan al-Kubraa. There is a similar report from ibn Mas’ood in Saheeh Muslim)

Shaykh ‘Alee Hasan al-Halabee comments on the hadeeth:

"Tale carrying is a foul disease. When it enters the heart it corrupts it, and when the heart is corrupt the rest of the body becomes corrupt and one’s actions are destroyed. How may people there are today whose evil actions have been made alluring to them by their devils, so they think that their deeds are good and free from blemish! How many there are today who think that tale-carrying is a good deed and a righteous action which they are performing! However, these people who circulate amongst the servants of Allaah, the One free and far removed from all imperfections, spreading mischief, falsehood and leading hearts astray, then the sincere Muslim should not give them any chance to operate but should rather turn away from them and keep away from them! This is the least punishment possible for these people!" (Al-Halabee, translated as Forty Hadeeth on the Islamic Personality, p.46, 1995)

And the Messenger of Allaah sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said:

"It is sufficient falsehood for a person that he narrates everything which he hears."

(Muslim in the introduction to his Saheeh, as well as Aboo Dawood, Ibn Hibbaan and al-Haakim)

Here is one of the eleven accusations Kabbani quotes against ibn Taymiyyah:

"that the world (al-’alam) is of a pre-eternal nature (qadim bi al-naw’) and that it existed with Allah from pre-eternity (wa lam yazal ma’ Allah) as an everlasting created object (makhluqan da’iman), thus making it necessarily existent in His Essence (fa ja’alahu mujaban bi al-dhat) and not acting deliberately (la fa’ilan bi al-ikhtyar), elevated is He above that!"

(Kabbani, pp. 101-102)

Kabbani adds a footnote, saying: "These are of the crassest expressions of kalam and speculation in which one could possibly indulge."

Conveniently there is no reference given by Kabbani for this statement from the works of ibn Taymiyyah so that its accuracy could be assessed. We have already seen clear examples of how ibn Taymiyyah’s views have been misrepresented. Nevertheless, how does Kabbani view the following words of his teacher Nazim al-Qubrusi?

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