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Izhr'ud Dn

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بِسْمِ اللهِ الرَّحْمنِ الرَّحِيمِ
Advice to the Students of Knowledge
Shaykh'ul Islm Ibnu Taymiyyah*

This is the first of two letters especially written for the benefit of his students and brothers in Damascus. It is apparent that this letter was sent after the first release from gaol where lbn Taymeeyah was imprisoned for 18 months from the beginning of 705 AH. Upon his release, the Deputy Sultan asked the Shaykh to stay in Cairo which he did, proclaiming the Da'wa and contacting people. Also apparent in this letter, is his forgiveness towards his opponents, asking his brothers not to harm them because of him. These are the manners of the intelligent and chivalrous scholar. He said after praising Allah and conveying blessings upon the Prophet (salallaahu alayhi wa salam):

In the name of Allah, Most Merciful, Dispenser of Mercy

Truly Allah, the most worthy of praise, Has bestowed upon me great rewards and immense merits that oblige me to thank Him, and be steadfast upon His worship, and be patient at all times in fulfilling the obligations. Patience is an obligation in itself, commanded by Allah in times of ease more than at times of unease. Allah says:

"Thus it is, if We let man taste some of our grace, and then take it away from him - behold, he abandons all hope, forgetting all gratitude (for our past favours). And thus it is if we let him taste ease and plenty after hardship had visited him, he is sure to say: "Gone is all affliction from me" - for, behold, he is given to vain exultation, and glories only in himself. [And thus it is with most men] save those who are patient in adversity and do righteous deeds: it is they whom forgiveness of sins awaits, and a great reward." [Al Qur'an 11:9-11]

My brothers, you know that Allah, the Exalted in Might, had favoured me in this matter1, with favours He usually reserves for the assistance of His soldiers in order to elevate His Word, aid His religion, strengthen Ahlul-sunnah wal Jama'ah, and humiliate the people of innovation and deviation2. The guidance of the Sunnah was proclaimed conclusively with proofs. This lead to the truth prevailing to so many people, and their returning to the way of Ahlus-sunnah wal Jama'ah. You should know that one of the great principles of this religion is the bringing of Muslims' hearts together and unifying their call. Allah the Glorified says:

"Remain conscious of Allah, and keep alive the bonds of brotherhood among yourselves." [Al Qur'an 8:1]

"And hold fast, all together, to the rope of Allah, and do not draw apart from one another." [Al Qur'an 3:103]

"And be not like those who have drawn apart from one another and have taken to conflicting views after all evidence of the truth has come to them." [Al Qur'an 5:105]

Similarly, one of the fundamental themes of the Sunnah is obedience to the Messenger (salallaahu alayhi wa salam). Therefore the Prophet (salallaahu alayhi wa salam) said in the authentic Hadith related by Muslim on the authority of Aboo Hurayrah:

"Allah is pleased with you on three occasions. (Firstly) when you worship Him and do not associate any partners with Him. (Secondly) when you hold fast, all together to the bond of Allah and do not draw apart and, (thirdly) when you advise the good rulers whom Allah had placed in charge of your affairs."

Furthermore, in the Hadith of Zayd bin Thaabit and Ibn Mas'ood, who were both among the scholars from the companions that RasulAllah said:

"May Allah brighten the face of a man who hears me and then relays to another who has not. It impossible that a carrier of knowledge is not himself knowledgeable, or that the carrier of knowledge will deliver it to someone more knowledgeable. Three things purify the heart of a Muslim. The sincerity in working for the sake of Allah, taking-up the task of advising the rulers, and not departing from the group of Muslims."

In order to implement this principle on a personal note, I say that it is not my wish for any Muslim to be harmed because of me overtly or covertly. This applies to all Muslims, but more specifically to our companions and acquaintances. Neither do I want any of them to be blamed or condemned, as they are still worthy of honour and respect. Indeed, man does not escape being classified into one of three categories: a correct mutjtahid, a wrong one, and a sinner. The first is rewarded and praised, the second is rewarded yet forgiven for his blunder. Regarding the third, I ask Allah to forgive him, us and the rest of the Muslims.3

Therefore, we shall turn a new leaf on those who had erred and not fulfilled this forementioned principle4. Yet I know of some who say "this man erred" and "this man did not do what he should have", or "the Shaykh was harmed because of this man."

Those words that have harmed some brothers I do not condone, nor do I pardon those who utter them.

You should also know that we are all joining to assist one another. It is obligatory upon us to aid each other, more so now than before. So whomsoever thinks that harming some brothers as a result of the hardship experienced in Damascus and Egypt, then he is wrong. It is true that a believer to a believer is like the two hands, one cleans the other. And it is also true that some kinds of dirt can only be washed by hard scrubbing, yet this treatment will be justified when the outcome appears to the restoration of that brotherly love. Let no one think that the believer can be economical with helping their brothers, and in aiding them. If some of our companions had neglected us before, they came to us, their status will rise higher than before. You might also know - may Allah be pleased with you - that issues like this one often occur due to a difference of opinion and variations that might even befall the people of eemaan due to the whispers of shaytaan. Allah says:

"Yet man took it [the trust] up - for, verily, he has always been prone to the most wicked, most foolish. [And so it is] that Allah imposes suffering on the hypocrites, both men and women, as well as on the men and women who ascribe divinity to anything besides Him. And [so too, it is] that Allah turns in His Mercy unto the believing men and believing women: for Allah is indeed much forgiving, a dispenser of grace." [Al Qur'an 33:72-73]

Even the excesses that took place in this issue5, including the misconceptions, both desires and also the lies and fabrications, were all a bonus and benefit as Allah says:

"Verily, numerous among you are those who would falsely accuse others of unchastity: [but, O you who are thus wronged,] deem it not a bad thing for you. No, it is good for you. [As for the slanderers,] to every one of them [will be accounted] all that he has earned by [thus] sinning; and awesome suffering awaits any of them who takes it upon himself to enhance this [sin]." [Al Qur'an 24:11]

Those who erred towards me, I pardon. As for those who abused the rights of Allah, then let them repent and Allah will forgive them. If they do not, then Allah's Rule should be imposed upon them. For if the human were to be thanked for his errors, I would have thanked everyone responsible in this matter for the subsequent benefits in this life and in the next6. But Allah is the most worthy of praise, and the believer seeks the good in all of His decrees. Similarly, those with good intention are thanked for that, and those who do good are praised for their work. But to those who perform bad deeds, we ask Allah to forgive them. And this is what you are accustomed to of my manners, and what I know of this matter and I what I have  experienced is great and more grave than what you perceive.

Nevertheless, the rights of people to one another, and the rights of Allah upon them, are all under His Rule, and He will be the eventual arbiter.

Let us not forget the incident involving the Sideeq (truthful one) Aboo Bakr during the trial of Ifk7 about which some verses of the Qur'an were revealed. In it, Aboo Bakr promised that he would no longer assist the companion Mistah ibn Athathah. The reason behind Aboo Bakr's decision to exclude Mistah from the many Muslims he helped on a regular basis, was based on the latter's involvement in the spreading of lies. So Allah revealed:

"Hence, [even if they have been wronged by slander,] let not those of you who have been graced with [Allah's] favour and ease become remiss in helping [the erring ones among] their near of kin, and the needy, and those who have forsaken the domains of evil for the sake of Allah, but let them pardon and forbear. [For] do you not desire that Allah should forgive your sins, seeing that Allah is much forgiving, a dispenser of grace." [Al Qur'an 24:22]

The reaction of Aboo Bakr when this verse was revealed was, "Of course! By Allah, I wish for Him to forgive me." Aboo Bakr, the father of the wrongly accused promptly returned to helping Mistah.

"Allah will in time, bring forth people whom He loves and who love Him humble towards the believers, proud towards the disbelievers. They strive hard in Allah's cause and do not fear to be blamed by anyone who might blame them: such is Allah's favour, which He grants unto whom He wills. And Allah is infinite, All-Knowing. Behold, your only helper shall be Allah, and His Messenger, and the believers - those that are constant in prayer, pay Zakat and bow down before Allah. For, all those who ally themselves with Allah and His Messenger and those who believed - behold, it is they, the partisans of Allah who shall be victorious." [Al Qur'an 5:54-56]

Wasalaamu 'alaykum wa rahmatullaah!

And praise be to Allah, the Lord of the worlds, and may His Blessings and Peace be upon our leader Muhammad.


* Ibn Taymeeyah's Letters from Prison, Letter Two

1- Referring to his trial and subsequent imprisonment in Egypt. In it, a virtuous quality became known, even though it was through the work of the envious. So, although he was tried and punished, a great benefit shone through the bars of his prison, and his Da'wa became known in that place as never before.

2- Ibn Taymeeah referred to them as Ahlu-Bid'a wal-Firqa.

3- There is nothing beyond this forgiveness, and it can only come from a scholar who has undoubtedly inherited the tradition of the Prophets.

4- He is probably referring to some of his brothers and companions in Damascus who grew weak during his trial, and who did not continue on the methodology of their Shaykh. He is barring his companions from harming them, and at the same time excuses them showing that he has no ill feelings towards them in his heart. Instead he values them and loves them for the Sake of Allah.

5- The issue refers to his being falsely accused in the subject of 'aqidah, and the envious shaykhs ill treatment towards him, and his subsequent imprisonment as a result, although his opinion was correct.

6- He is referring to his exposing innovation and the many lessons he taught in masjids and Schools.

7- Al-Ifk here denotes a false accusation of unchastity. It refers to an incident, which occurred on the Prophet's return from the campaign against the tribe of Mustaliq in the year 5AH. The Prophet's wife 'Aaishah, who had accompanied him on that expedition, was inadvertently left behind when the Muslims struck camp. After spending several hours alone, she was found by one of the Prophet's companions, who led her to the next halting-place of the army. This incident gave rise to malicious insinuations of misconduct on the part of 'Aaishah, daughter of Aboo Bakr. These rumours were short-lived and her innocence was established beyond all doubt in the Qur'an 24:11-20.
Shaykh'ul Islm Ibnu Taymiyyah Rahimahullh stated,

والعالم يعرف الجاهل؛ لأنه كان جاهلا، والجاهل لا يعرف العالم لأنه لم يكن عالما

"The lim (scholar) recognizes the Jhil (ignorant) since he was once a Jhil. The Jhil does not recognize the lim since he has never been an lim." (Shaykh'ul Islm Ibnu Taymiyyah, Majm'ul Fatw, 13/235)


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