When you hear the name Imam Ibn Taymiyyah, you may know he was that kind of person that has an insatiable thirst for knowledge and a deep faith. If we travel back in time and imagine him seeing studying for hours and hours, teaching and being active in the society, it will motivate us to study more. We will get encouraged to develop in our children a drive to study and achieve. The work of Imam Ibn Taymiyyah is a wealth of inspiration especially under the circumstances he lived, he can show us to be resilient and to persevere.
Ibn Taymiyyah was born in 662 A.H. During those days a lot of different schools were deviated from the straight path by allowing all kind of lowly practices to mix with divine ones. It was for example common that an intellectual Sufi leader would cast magicals spells and was influencing the masses with these disastrous tricks. It needed a courageous man to shake up the Muslim world with truth and sincerity.
A refugee child
As a child Imam Ibn Taymiyyah had experienced chilling times under the Tartar oppression. He had to flee from Herran, his hometown in Iraq. As a 15 year old he did saw though the example of a strong and pious leader ruling Egypt and Syria; Al Malik al Zahir Baibers. Even under several decades of religious leaders, Islamically many injustices were done to lower classes. Large numbers of converting Tartars did stick to the pillars of Islam, but followed in all other matters still their Mongol traditions and laws. The free mixing of converted Tartars with Arabs led to integrating a lot of un Islamic beliefs, so those who were concerned about these developments, were quite rigid and inflexible which didn’t support creative thinking.
Revivor of the religion with intellect
It was Imam Ibn Taymiyyah, who lived under these circumstances and caused a genuine revival of religion. His deep study and intelligence allowed him to win over those who attacked the religion with clarity in explaining the faith principles which made even his most severe opponents grunge in despair. He surpassed scholars even on their specialised topics. It was when his father died in 682 A.H. that Ibn Taymiyyah took his father’s place among the leading scholars of Syria. His explanations left no choice to those who were intellectually misguided and they were overwhelmed to accept the true faith by his masterly convincing manners of criticising their deviant philosophical thinking. When in 699 A.H. The Tartars are about to invade the city of Damascus, Ibn Taymiyyah and other ulama decided to meet the Tartarian leader Ghazan and sue for peace. Ibn Taymiyyah made a astounding impression on him and made him understand conquering with violence would be unjust.
Courageousness and patience
Ibn Taymiyyah’s had encyclopedic knowledge and mastered fields of sciences that contemporary and succeeding scholars named him as ‘The Crown of scholars’ and The Master Spirit of the age and other exceptional names. Like in scholarly disputes, Ibn Taymiyyah was exemplary in courage and patience as well in the battlefields, but made therefore many enemies as well as he challenged their comfortable positions. Undoubtedly has above all his inquiring mind led him to untangle scholarly messes and guide people with his coherent thinking and supported them with clear course of explanations. Ibn Taymiyyah did not let him stop enquiring within the limits set by leading scholars. He dared to go beyond their ruling red lines and feared only Allah SWT which made him rise above the four leading orthodox juristic schools. His works were all based on the Quran, Hadith and the practice of the sahabah. His sincerity pushed his mind tirelessly to search for truth. His independent mind combined with anxiety to state that which is true, made him a man like no other. His literary works are of immense value for today’s religious issues. His works are for Muslims today extremely useful. His works are appealing by being excessively detailed, eloquent and brilliantly informative, but require from the students of knowledge elaborative efforts. He wrote to scholarly describe and abolish the fals practises of saint and tomb worshiping, dignity of prophets and misguided rituals as tomb pilgrimages. He reformed with his writings those who were gone astray and educated them with his extensive writings and lectures on opening the understanding of the Quran and sunnah. He tackled intercessions which was widespread in many forms to ban once again superstition out of the lives of Muslims by explaining with certainty the Words of Allah SubhanAllah wa ta Ala and His Last Prophet Salahu alahi wa salaam.
Ibn Taymiyyah could with his enlightened mind and deep study overcome the extreme influential Greek philosophers by concise explanatory writing and exposing their works as being filled with opinions based upon incomplete information and ideas taken to be true, but in fact they are just adopted false analyses. Ibn Taymiyyah points out their wrong thinking extremely powerful which shows their ignorance. Ibn Taymiyyah also refuted Ibn Sina, a chief aristotelianism philosopher who claimed that one of potentialities of the soul is prophethood. He wrote about the mistakes in Ibn Sina’s thinking which was based on philosophical principles and had no idea of the true nature and reality of Prophethood.
Ibn Taymiyyah writes in An Nubuwwat about the dialecticians who did defend Islam, but used philosophical methods to explain them which he criticised by pointing out that the Quran and Hadith are the best to convince and bring clarity in one’s thinking and beliefs. He also points out that their course of explanations is complicated while many fundamentals are easy for man to understand as Allah Subhana wa ta Ala says in the Quran:
And We have certainly made the Qur’an easy for remembrance, so is there any who will remember? Quran 53:17
Ibn Taymiyyah writes: “Knowledge of the reasons advanced by the Quran as well as the self-evident marks and signs adduced in support of the existence of God, His sustentation of the world, His Oneness, His Knowledge and power and the possibility of resurrection and retribution in the Hereafter is essential for acquiring the noblest human qualities.
Determination defines his character
His vast work are an immense treasure of knowledge for Muslims today to benefit from and help the ummah. At the first place to build our character with courage and determination to pursue a path of knowledge and character training. His trials (childhood refugee, imprisonment, status, abstention from desires and worldly life and the many intellectual opposers of the truth he had to face, are for us a way to motivate us. His works are for us learn, connect and understand the Quran and sunnah and its application fully and resort to them at all times. May Allah SWT forgive his and our shortcomings and reward us according to our efforts.