Violence of Ibn Taymiyyah … Rooting and Review Violence of Ibn Taymiyyah … Rooting and Review
Prof. Muhammad Abdul Fadeel al-Qousy
Member of Authority of Senior Scholar of al-Azhar
If it were true what was said about al-Mutanabbi that "he had enjoyed a special status in his time and attracted attention of the people", it would be more reliable and applicable to Ibn Taymiyyah to say so. It is worth noting that Ibn Taymiyyah had lived in an age that was full of grave events. In fact, he lived his life fighting Tatars, experiencing successive trials, making consecutive journeys, and raising fierce controversies that had not been ended by his death in the mid-seventh Hijri century. His opinions have continued to provoke the most heated debates until now. The young generations that are straying at this time are being greatly affected by his opinions or traces of those opinions either by close association, indirect affiliation or deliberate distortion.  

The cornerstone of the intellectual thoughts of Ibn Taymiyyah was his constructive stance refusing "interpretation" of divine attributes and acts in the Holy Quran and Sunnah, such as hand, face and settling on the throne, etc. In addition, he insisted on understanding these attributes literally, refusing to understand them in a metaphoric way that is offered by the Arabic language and is accepted by minds. He was one of the prominent refusers of "metaphor" in the Holy Quran. He even rushed to accuse those who understand these attributes and acts "rationally", inspired by esthetics of Arabic language and its idiomatic linguistic styles, of misinterpretation and alteration.  He called them "those whose hearts are given to swerving from the truth". Thus, he closed the door totally in the face of the rational understanding that delves through its clear implications and correct meanings. Rather, he closed the door in the face of spiritual inspiration which is felt by the delicate hearts towards the Holy Quran. Such inspiration that clears away the density of the substance and darkness of the veils!!!

Think not that this "literal" approach that refuses the rational understanding is only restricted to the Quranic text; in fact, this "literalism" becomes later an "approach of life" and a "perspective of vision". Those who adopt this approach use it to look through all affairs of universe and the dimensions of existence; their subconscious resorts to facets and superficial aspects away from profundity. If you return your sight and scrutinize those who inherited the legacy of Ibn Taymiyyah's approach, you will find obviously its impact on their behavior, appearance and interior. In addition, you will find that this heavy verbal "gate" closed the mental horizons in their faces. They only have one inflexible direction that is full of tense entries abounding with declaring fellow Muslims of infidelity, polytheism, inventing novelty, practicing lewdness, since their perspective of "verbal" vision has no capacity for other terminology on which they only depend!!!

The second issue of Ibn Taymiyyah was closely associated with the previous one, on the grounds that the simple sense of "monotheism" Tawheed, through which general public of the Ummah have entered the broad arena of "faith" since the prophetic age, exists in acknowledging of the obvious truth, which is the inner adhesion and credence of Theism and the divine message by mind and soul. This deep and simple concept at the same time is the sense of the "testimony" which is considered the main pillar of faith. Thus, the Asha'ari school of thought was responsible, throughout its history, for the mental foundation of this concept and its lawful rooting. This concept guarded faith and creed of the Ummah and its social peace as well. Such concept restricted polytheism and disbelief only to those who deny Theism and the divine message by mind and soul, however these are innermost feelings and thoughts that are known only by the Knower of  the things unwitnessed.

On the other hand, the previously mentioned verbal and literal approach of Ibn Taymiyyah, replaces this simple and tolerant concept of Tawhid, with a complicated one that is divided into three branches: Deism (belief in the Oneness of the Lordship of Allah), Theism (belief in the Oneness of the worship of Allah),  and the Names and Attributes of Allah. Each of these branches contains and includes details, twists, and conditions, that shifted Tawhid from simplicity to complexity; and then, other followers of Ibn Taymiyyah, added to these branches another four concepts, burdened with intellectual and dynamic loads, that are also exhausted with loaded concepts about: God, Deity, Worship and Religion. Hence, the simple and easy concept of Tawhid, has become, at the hands of Ibn Taymiyyah and his followers, contaminated with the thorns of Takfir (declaring fellow Muslims as disbelievers) and accusing others with Polytheism (Tashrik); thus, the door was wide open for disbelief, allowing bloodshed and theft. Desperately, the issue of "Fighting the Abstaining Group" was raised, which the strayed Takfiri groups exploited to practice Takfir while claiming that they are calling for Jihad. These Takfiri groups are not ashamed of practicing Takfir, since all the tools and privileges were at their hands.

Unfortunately, the successors of Ibn Taymiyyah add to these burdened concepts what they called "Fiqh al-Dyar", where the world map was split, in their perspective, into two halves: Dar al-Harb wal Kufr, and Dar Dar al-Islam wal-Aman, which only includes the areas where the Islamic Shari'ah prevailed.

It seems that the flowing demonstration of Ibn Taymiyyah did not stop to that miserably fierce limit; however, the approach of Ibn Taymiyyah has been back, after this accumulated momentum of the violent way of thinking, to take a path that contradicts with violence. The person who follows this new path or approach believes in the "Extinction of Hell"; hence, we are now dealing with a different way of thinking, that embraces mercy, an optimistic tone and possesses a great heart. Strikingly, this person takes this direction, while bearing in mind that his situation could contradict with the majority of the predecessors who believed of the "Eternity of Hell". This concept also contradicts with the literal meaning which occurred in the Qur'anic verses, which established that the people of hell will be tortured eternally in hell, as Allah Almighty says:
"Which will be their requital and journey's end" {Q 25:15}.
At the same time, that person finds no shame to give an "Interpretation" to these Qur'anic verses, as if he/she was not a denier of such "Interpretation", while he/she or their mouthpieces, do not stop repeating the Qur'anic verses and the Hadiths that disseminate optimism and deal with mercy and charity, and even the manifestations and the aspects of beauty in the universe, as God Almighty says: "And My mercy embraces all things" {Q:7:156} Again, they rely on the Sacred Hadith al- Hadith al-Qudsy that: "My mercy proceeded my anger", while arguing such issue. Thus, if going to hell comes as a result of God's wrath, then, going to heaven comes as a result of God's mercy, as God's mercy embraces everything, and precedes his wrath. As a matter of fact, some of Ibn Taymiyyah's followers and those who quote his words, claim that "it is illogical that God, the wisest and the most merciful of all, will create a kind of people to punish them with an eternal, everlasting torture".

I would say that: can the rich and fertile experience of Ibn Taymiyyah, raise in those  violent  groups existing in our contemporary society, a similar kind of reconsideration and patience, to reject Takfir, to stay away from violence, and to benignantly, return back to tolerance and to possess clemency and gentle spirit?
I would say again; can the experience of Ibn Taymiyyah, -either in his absence or recurrence-, raise fatal questions and deliver answers in the minds of  those groups, on the "Absolute Values", of mercy, charity, clemency, justices, and the other noble values, that Islam has ordered us to follow?

Is this experience capable of introducing the model of "the Servants of Allah, the Most Merciful", whom God has mentioned in the Holy Qur'an, as his Almighty says:
"The servants of the All-merciful are those who walk in the earth modestly and who, when the ignorant address them, say, ’Peace’;" {Q:25:63}

Is it possible for such an experience to take away the instincts of death, hatred and violence, from their souls, and to cultivate, the Fiqh of Wisdom, justice and clemency, instead of "Fiqh al-Dyar"?