Author’s Introduction

Posted on December 9, 2006. Filed under: 202 - Advanced Asma wa Sifaat |


1. Praise be to God in due proportion to His gifts and with due thankfulness for His bounty. I testify, with the testimony of a person sincere in declaring the unity of God (tawhid), that there is no god save God alone, and that He has no associate. I testify that Muhammad—God’s blessing and peace be on him—is His servant and Apostle, Seal of the Prophets and the best of His servants. May the blessings of God be on him, on his family, on his Companions and on all those who cling to his Sunna and follow his example.

2. To proceed—I have come upon the scandal (fadiha) of Ibn ’Aqil which he had called “a good counsel;” (nasiha) and, having considered what it contained of vile heretical innovations and atrocious slander against those who pursue the clear and true path, I found it to be a disgrace to its author, for which God had dishonoured him and laid bare his depravity. Had he not returned to God in penitence for it, had he not cleansed himself and renounced it, had he not asked God’s forgiveness for all the heretical innovations which he had uttered, or written in his own handwriting, or composed into books, or for those of which he had been accused, we would certainly have reckoned him in the ranks of the zanadiqa[1] and associated him with the schismatic inventors of heretical innovations. But since he has returned to God in penitence and amended, this heretical innovation and error of his should be regarded as having occurred before he had made his retractation, while he was still in the state of his heretical innovation and zandaqa. Moreover, he did return after his retractation to the authoritative text of the Sunna and with the best of arguments and the most efficacious of procedures he applied himself to the refutation of those who upheld his former doctrine, giving answer in the best possible way to the false arguments which were cited. His treatment regarding this subject is extensive, committed to large and small books and separate tracts, of which we have a considerable number.[2] So, perhaps his right-doing will blot out his wrong-doing, and perhaps his repentance will blot out his heretical innovation; for God accepts repentance from His servants and forgives the evil deeds.

3. I used to wonder at the Imams among our companions who, before Ibn ’Aqil had made his retractation, declared him an unbeliever, deemed his blood fit to be shed, issued legal decisions to permit the taking of his life, and pronounced him a zindiq. But I could not imagine what it was that rendered this procedure necessary in his regard, nor what required that they pursue it to such extremes, until I had come upon this scandal. I knew then that it was because of it, and the likes of it, that they deemed permissible the shedding of his blood. I had already lighted by chance on some bad slips of his; but I have not found anything proceeding from him comparable to this one in which he employed himself in the reprobation of the Sunna, to a degree so excessive as not to have been equalled by a Mu’tazilite, nor by anyone else.

4. Our companions used to accuse him of zandaqa. The Shaykh Abu al-Khattab Mahfudh b. Ahmad al-Kalwadhani[3] said in reference to it in his poem:

Never have I ceased, since a member of Ahmad’s School,
To speak in defence of their honour and protect it;
No object of desire averted me from upholding the truth,
Nor was I ever a zindiq, controversy’s confederate.

—alluding to Ibn ’Aqil, inasmuch as he was accused of being one.

[1] Zanadiqa is the plural of zindiq, which technically refers to a heretical hypocrite who pretends to adhere to Islam while hiding his true beliefs. The word is originally Persian which was Arabized after the conquest of Persia.

[2] Ibn Rajab lists four theological works by Ibn ‘Aqil; i) al-Irshad fi Usul al-Din (Guidance in Religious Foundations), ii) al-Intisar li Ahl al-Hadeeth (Championing the Traditionalist Cause), iii) Nafiy al-Tashbih (Negation of Anthropomorphism) and iv) Mas’ala fi al-Harf wal-Sawt (On a creedal issue pertaining to Divine Voice and Letters), a rebuttal of the Ash’arites. For further information on this treatise refer to footnote #10 (Ibn Rajab, al-Dhayl ‘ala Tabaqat al-Hanabila 1/345-6, ed. Dr. al-‘Uthaimin, Maktabat al-‘Ubaikan 2005)

[3] Mahfudh b. Ahmad al-Kalwadhani, commonly known as Abu al-Khattab, was one of the well-known Hanbali jurists of Baghdad. His teachers include al-Qadhi Abu Ya’la, while his students include ‘Abd al-Qadir al-Jaylani. He died in year 510/1116. (Ibn Rajab, al-Dhayl ‘ala Tabaqat al-Hanabila 1/270, ed. Dr. al-‘Uthaimin, Maktabat al-‘Ubaikan 2005

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