Ibn Taymiyyah’s approach to disbelief (2 / 2)
Ibn Taymiyyah did not accuse any Muslim of disbelief:
Shams Al-Islam Al Dhahbi said that Ibn Taymiyyah told him that he never accused any Muslim of heathenism, as he was actually well known for rejecting and renouncing such accusations. He also established a significant principle of jurisprudence against accusations of disbelief: ‘Accusing an article of disbelief doesn’t equate to accusing its writer of disbelief.’ He also said that, ‘We must distinguish between labeling and branding, since this was the first issue of dispute amongst the great jurists of the community; for Quranic texts in this warning are absolute, such as: “Those who unjustly eat the wealth of orphans”… as well as other verses which use informative statements, such as ‘Who does this will have this’; this is absolute and general, which acts in accord with the ways of the early companions who said, ‘Who said this, then he’s this and that.’ However, the appointed person’s penalty is pardoned once he repents, have erasing good deeds, atoning misfortunes, or accepted intercession.’
Likewise , it was conveyed that Imam Ahmad didn’t accuse Jahamis of disbelief, where he said, ‘Ahmad didn’t accuse Jahamis of disbelief, nor anyone who says that he is a Jahmi falls into heathenry, and not all of who approved Jahamis in some of their heresy become disbelievers. Even more, Imam Ahmad didn’t accuse anyone who prayed behind Jahamis – those who relentlessly punished people who disagreed with them – of disbelief, but believed in their faith and imamate, prays for them, regards praying behind them in prayers permissible, pilgrimage, conquest with them, and banned people from revolting against them, but at the same time disapproves of their heresies, regards their quotes great polytheism, even if they didn’t realize it themselves, and refuted them as much as possible, thus he combines between, obeying Allah and His Messenger in manifesting Sunnis path, disapproval of Jahamis’ heresies, and between protecting Muslims’ rights of imamate, even if they were ignorant, or sinners.’
He even defended Amr ibn al-Obaid, widely recognized for his virtues and attributes, despite being a Jahmi and one of the Isolationists first Shaykhs, and which fifth caliph Omar bin Abdul Aziz praised: ‘All of you want to hunt down Amr ibn al-Obeid…’ Ibn Taymiyyah, may Allah have mercy on him, said about him, proving his innocence against charges of fanaticism, and the fanatics of his time and our time: ‘Amr ibn Obeid and his likes, didn’t initially intend to disagree with the Prophet peace be upon him.’
These are the good intentions he had: defending great scholars, respecting the right to disagree in matters of ijtihad, and other causes of the rules governing capital in Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah’s thought and heritage, may Allah have mercy on him. Feelings of hatred, intolerance and revenge never tainted his thought, despite great tribulations. Thus, what we mentioned is our attempt to clarify and fend off the suspicions raised against the scholar by defilers who attempt to accuse him, or to reformulate his quotes, in order to serve their whimsical desires, yet in the end up distorting his sincere approach, originally known for its moderation.
He says in another place that some sects’ heresy or some of their practices and articles, which violated some matters of belief, do not mean it is outright disbelief; this was an attempt – may Allah have mercy on him – to mitigate accusations of disbelief as much as possible, which some deviant groups in our time have been hooked on: ‘Not everyone who violates something of this belief must be doomed, as the one disputed may be a jurist in the wrong, who Allah may forgive for his mistake, since he may not have gained enough knowledge, yet has good deeds that erase his sins. Even if words of warning are addressed to him, interpretation and good deeds aren’t included in the warning, hence, it’s better to say that, he who espouses this belief survives, and he who was against might not survive, as they say: he who remained silent survived.’
In addition, despite Shaykh al-Islam ‘s relentless disposition towards violators, he was sometimes lenient with them, as in his book ‘Prophecies’, and relentless in others, as in his book ‘Approaching the Sunnah’ in which he responded to Al Mutahar Al Hili, and his book ‘A Dignified Approach’ against the Jahmis and other Islamic sects. The Shaykh was not wont to accusations disbelief, but sought excuses in order to cancel this verdict. He said in one of his fatwas : ‘A man may be a new Muslim, or grew up in a remote area, and that person, doesn’t become a disbeliever because of denial, not until proven so, as he may not have heard of these texts, or heard it and didn’t understand it, or opposed it in front of another opponent who incorrectly interpreted it; and so I always mention the Hadith of the man who said, “If I die, then burn, crush me, and scatter my remains in the sea, for if Allah gets hold of me, he will torment a torture that no one in the world has felt.” They did so. Thus, he believed that Allah can’t resurrect him, and this is disbelief by Muslims’ consensus; however, he was an ignorant man who didn’t realize that, yet a believer who feared Allah’s punishment, so Allah forgave him. Hence, the people of ijtihad, who are keen on following the Prophet peace be upon him, are also worthy of this forgiveness.’ Thus, through such an understanding Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah didn’t ever resort to takfir, rather leaving this case to Allah, who knows what hearts conceal deep within.
Despite his relentless disposition towards Jahamis and their treatise, may Allah have mercy on him, he only refuted them
Moreover, Ibn Taymiyyah says elsewhere in his rejection of takfir : ‘Although I’m always as everyone knows me, as one of the people who forbid accusing an individual of disbelief, licentiousness, or sin; it remains that if there is a sound religious argument against someone who violated certain proofs, he might only be an infidel one time, and licentious sometimes, and a sinner in another.’
Furthermore, most texts confirm the approach of moderation, which Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah launched in its principles, and that proves his innocence of those who misused religion to serve their emotions and actions, and wanted the texts to serve their whims.
Thus, it has been proved to everyone that Ibn Taymiyyah was a moderate who renounced aggression in everything, was relentless in his critique of deviants albeit not in a manner of resorting to takfir; he was tough in his criticism of Jahmia yet not forceful, he advised rulers and gave warnings in his advice, but wasn’t a revolutionist who called for sedition; he criticized treatise espousing infidelity and heresy, but was never one to openly pronounce disbelief.