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Virginie Lamotte
Institute of IsIamic Studies
McGiII University
November 1994

A thesis submitted to
the Faculty of Graduate Studies and Research
in partial fuifiiment of the requirements of
the degree of Master of Arts

@ Virginie Lamotte

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ISBN 0-612-05400-4

Page ii


AUTHOR: Virginie Lamotte

TITLE: Ibn Taymiyya's Theory of Knowledge

DEPARTMENT: Institute of Islamic Studies, McGiII University


This thesis highlights a new Interpretation of the writings of Ibn Taymiyya. Previous

scholarship has stressed the legalistic, social or religious aspect, olten at the expense of

the philosophical content of Ibn Taymiyya's works. The explanatory insight of a study on

the theory of knowledge, hitherto neglected, is evidenced by its capability to demonstrate

the convergence of elementary, religious, intuitive and rational principles. The theory

iIIustrates the concems of a synthetic mind whose attempt was to broaden and not

restrict the domain of knowledge vis-à-vis the Divine. Knowledge is not man's privilege

and is available to ail of creation. Ali created entities have the capacity to know their

Creator. This thesis attempts to shed Iight on the mechanisms of the acquisition of

knowledge about the Divine in their modes of availability to the creatures and to man.

Tensions of the human predicament thus participate in the logical framework of the

discussion. The attempt is to define the domain of knowledge, ils components. and its

parameters in the quest for a perlect acquisition of knowledge.

Page iii

Auteur: Virginie Lamotte

Titre: La Théorie de la Connaissance chez Ibn Taymiyya.

Département: L'Institut des Études Islamiq..'es, Université McGiII

Niveau: M.A.

La Théorie de la Connaissance chez Ibn Tayrniyya met en lumière une nouvelle

interprétation des écrits du maître Ijanbali. Les études précèdentes ont souligné l'aspect

juridique, social ou religieux de ses oeuvres bien souvent au dépens du côté

philosophique de ces dernières. La valeur explicative d'une étude sur la théorie de la

connaissance, jusqu'à présent négligée, est la mise en évidence d'un esprit de synthèse

cherchant à élargir et non pas a restreindre le champ de la connaissance de Dieu.

L'espace du savoir n'est pas limité à l'homme et inclut tcute la création. Toute entité

créée à la capacité de connaitre son Créateur. Cette thèse tente d'élucider les

méchanismes d'acquisition du savoir aussi bien chez les créatures que chez l'homme par

rapport à Dieu. Certaines tensions de la condition humaine participent donc au cadre

logique de la discussion. Mis en perspective, l'objectif est de cerner le domaine de la

connaissance, ses composantes, et les paramêtres d'un acquis parfait du savoir.



Abstract Page ii

Résumé ..........................•.....................................................................................•......•...... i i i

Acknowledgments vi

Technical Details ...................................................................•..........................................vii

Introduction: An Integrative Approach to K01owledge Page 1

Chapter One: The Nature of the Believer's (Mu 'min) Transcendent Universe.....•....•..8

1.1 Divine Self-Evidence ...•••.•.......................................................................1 0

1.11 Uncompromised Divine Unicity 13

1.111 Sacred Meaning of the Credo.....•..............................•.............................•.•1 9

I.IV Grievious Misconceptions of the Divine Reality 23

Chapter Two: The Nature of the Believer's (Mu 'min) Immanent Universe ........••....2 9

Il.1 The Nature of the Qur'iin 30

Il.11 The Qur'iin as a Particular and Discreet Source of Knowledge 33

11.111 The Human Valorization of the Divine Guidance 40

11.1 V The Agent of Prophecy..........•.••••.•...••....................•.........••.....•...••••........•.4 1

Chapter Three: Fitra the Anti-Intellectual Element of Knowledge.•.............•....•..•.....51

111.1 Fitra: Innate Knowledge.••••.....••••.........•........................••.••.......•.••••.•••••.•..5 3

111.11 Firra of the World •..............•.••.......••••.......••..••........................................55

111.111 Human Particularity of Fitra 59

111.1 V Modes of Knowledge Acquisition 63

Page v

Conclusion: 74


Appendix 1: Glossary of Terrns 79

Appendix Il: Short Titles for Ibn Taymiyya's Works 85

Select Bibliography 87


Diagram 1: Gradient of Knowledge 50

Diagram Il: Quadrapartite Division of the Individual 71

Diagram 111: The Total Dimension of Knowledge 78

Page vi


Now that this thesis is finally written. 1would like to express my indebtedness to
a number of people, without whom the completion of this work would have been further
delayed. First and foremost, 1 would Iike to acknowiedge my gratitude to my two thesis
advisors. Dr. U. Turgay and Dr. W. Hallaq.

Over the years at the Institute, Dr. Turgay has always proven to be a great source
of encouragement and support. Throughout the entire course of research, 1 have been
able to rell' on him for advice, guidance and ail around assistance, whether personal or
academic. 1have been fortunate to have benefrted from his kindness and patience.

To Dr. Hallaq, befell the painstaking task of reading, correcting and editing this
work. He has had to toil with several tedious rough drafts and by raising problems in my
writings, he has been responsible for awakening my understanding of Ibn Taymiyya. fiis
input has e!evated my work to a higher javel. 1 am truly grateful for ail his time. effort
and guidance.

My special thanks to Salwa Ferahian for her assistance in providing me with the
necessary materials to complete my research. Her kindness and understanding meant a
great deal to me during the summer of 1994. 1 also thank Wayne St. Thomas for his
patience at my sometimes misguided requestsl Rnally. 1would Iike to recognize the help
of Violette Masse. She has made the past four years more enjoyable and has walked me
through McGiII's bureaucracy.

To ail the significant others, Samira, Annie, Paul, Boustan, Eric, you know what
you mean to me.

Page vii


1. Transliteration. Ali transliterated Arabie words are italicized; with the notable

exception of anglicized Arabie nouns such as Sufism which are neither italicized nor

transliterated. Hence, Sufi is rendered as $ufi, yet Sufism remains Sufism. The

Institute of Islamic Studies transliteration system for Arabie has been followed:

the 'ain is transliterated by (') e.g. 'aql;

the hamzah is transliterated by (') e.g. Qur'iin

and the long vowel is indicated by a macron over the vowel e.g. Islam.

Il. Citation. Ali authors except for Ibn Taymiyya have been cited in the following

manner: the name of the author followed by the date of publication of the relevant teX!,

and the page number(s)- e. g. (Netton, 1992, pp. 34-35). This style of referencing is

used in the main tel.1 of the thesis and in the footnotes, with the exception of Ibn

Taymiyya's works for which short titles (see Appendix Il) are used. Ali titles of tel(ls

are italicized in the thesis teX! and the footnotes.

III. Short TItles. Short titles have been provided for Ibn Taymiyya's works; a Iist of

which can be found in Appendix II. The title is cited along with a page number e. g. (al-

Jawiib al-$al;!ïQ, p. 162). The page number quoted refer to the pagination of the edited

Page viii

• Arabic text in the language of translation with the exceptions of al- WJsiriyya and

Majmû"ac aJ-RilsJïl wa al-MasJ'il where the page numbers refer to the pagination of the

arabic text itself.

IV. Translations - references made to translated works of Ibn Taymiyya are cited under

the arabic short title of the text, see Appendix Il and Bibliography. When a reference is

given as to a commentary or an annotation by the translator of the work, it is cited under

the translator's name e.g. Laoust, 1986, p. 37 n. 1.

V. Capital Lettering. Ali nouns and adjectives used interchangeably with AJJiih are

capitalized e. g, the Divine; nouns or noun phrases of a technical nature referring to the

nature of Allfih are not e, g. divine unity (taw1Jïd),

VI. Dates, Dates for the relevant events are given according to both Muslim and

Christian calendars where possible.

VII. Proper Names. None of the names of historiai figures mentioned in the thesis are

italicized e. g. Ibn Taymiyya. The names are transliterated with the notable exception of

Ibn Taymiyya e. g. a1-Ash'ari.

5i ma grand·mère, et à mon grand·père

qui aurait sûrement pensé que c'était
"fium...pas mauvais..."

Introduction: An Integratlve Approach to Kncwledge

A study of Ibn Taymiyya's (661-728/1263-1328) epistemologyl is perhaps

best served by excising one religious conviction out of his syncretic view of the universe

and assigning to it a subjective position of primordiality. The belief is thatthe existence

of Alliih is self-evident2 and that it is in the realization and intemalization of His will

O'Connor :.nd Carr define epistemology as the theory of knowledge concerned with
the notion of knowledge in a number of ways. "First and foremost it seeks to give
an account of the nature of knowing in general...A second concern of epistemology
is with the sources of knowledge. with the inve.:igation of the nature and variety of
modes of acquiring knowledge The third concern. with the scope of knowledge. is
clearly related to the other two The fourth concern of epistemology has been. and
for many still is. to defend our criteria for knowledge against the attacks of
skepticism" (O'Connor & Carro 1982. pp. 1-2) cited in Netton (1992. pp. 34-35).
The exhaustive application of the definition of epistemology is beyond the scope of
the present thesis. The present work concerns itself with only two aspects of the
definition provided above. It will address the second and third concern enunciated
in the definition. Whereas concerns one and four will be touched upon (only when
necessary) to create a c1earer understanding of the overall discourse.

2 Ibn Taymiyya's underlined or stated assumption is that the existence of AIlih is

ontologically self-evident. Yet. his theological discussions prove that the existence
of AIliih is not so readily obvious.

Page 1
Introduction: An Integrative Approach to Knowledge Page 2

• that the Islamic tradition lives. The fabric of Reality3 is unveiled by the interplay of

faith and obedience to the injunctions of revelation. From this interweave emerges the

figure of a transcendent unitary God who chooses to covenant with His creation. The

doctrine of divine unity (CawQÏd)~ will be used as a point of departure in the

investigation of Ibn Taymiyya's allempt to conceive of the prefect believer (mu'min)

whose raison d'être is based on the centrality of the Divine-human encounter.

The notion of divine unity (tawQid) undergirds Ibn Taymiyya's entire system of

thought and punctuates every temps majeurs. By re-stating the necessary injunctions

of a moral order. he hopes to remedy the moral decay of the community brought forth by

confused times. 5 This leads him to address the perennial questions of how should man

3 Reality. understood as the Sacred or Divine. is assigned a capital lctter to contrast it

to reality (Iower case) which in this case is synonymous with the profanc.

4 Ibn Taymiyya does not subscribe to a monovalent definilion of divinc unity

(cawQid). He divides the nolion into three distinct fonns:
cawQid a/-ulühiyya
cawQid a/-rubübiyya
cawQid a/-asmii' wa a/-$ific
He assigns. however. more importance in his wClllngs to thc first two fonns of
cawQid and discusses them at length. more 50 in fact than the third concept which is
based on the exposition of a positive theodicy. References to these can be found in
Faciiwii Shaykh al-Islam. vols l and II. and aI- Wiisiriyya. TawQid will be discussed
in the following chapter.

5 During Ibn Taymiyya's Iifetime. the political climate was dominated by the
Mamluks. "it was characterized by tlle dictatorship of the ruler. the monopoly of
government by the ruling family. the insecurity of the throne as a rcsult of the
rivatry between the ruling family and other aspirants. and the constant conflict and
frequent violence among rivais themselves" (Makari. 1983. p. 8).
The extemal threat was two fold. consisting of the aggression of the Tatar in the East
and the offensive of the Crusaders in the West.
InternaI disillusionment was fostered by governmental corruption. the 'u/amifs
acquiescence and collaboration with the ruling power. and the prevalcnce of $ufj
notions of non involvement. Together. these factors furthered a sentiment of apathy
and passivity among the population. The existential realities favored the
individualization of society as opposed to a sense of solidarity.

• For a full discussion of the historical background see Laoust. 1939. Essai sur Ics
Doctrines Sociales cC Policiques de Taqi D-Din AQmad B. Taymiya. pp. 5-150;
Introduction: An In:egrative Approach to Knowledge Page 3

interact with the world in which he lives and what is the proper relationship between

man and his Creator? Caught up in the turbulence of his time, Ibn Taymiyya feels the

need '0 defend and universalize revelation, and utilize the traditions, which he considers

his heritage, to provide an answer to these questions.

During the Islamic middle ages, the classical taxonomy of Islamlc sciences

reunited the divergent branches 6 of the traditionallreligious sciences and the

philosophicallrational sciences (or "foreign"). The former were rooted in the revealed

teX! while the latter advocated the primordiality of observation and human reason.7 The

curriculum of the traditionallreligious sciences included Iinguistics, the study of the

Qur'iin and the traditions (iJadith) ,dialectical theology (kaliim ) and jurisprudencE

(fiqh). It is within the corpus of this branch of knowledge that Ibn Taymiyya excels; he

Makari. 1983. Ibn Taymiyya's Elhics: The Social Faclor. pp. 7-21; Murad, 1968,
Mi/.Jan of Ib~ Taymiyya to cite but a few.

6 Thc legitimacy of the rational sciences as an approach capable of yielding certain

and acccptable knowledge was nothing short of controversial. From the orthodox
position which refused to accept knowledge underived from the revealed texlS to the
philosophers and mystics for whom knowledge couId be grounded in extra-
revelatory sources, the spectrum of opinions was far ranging. The polemic resulted
in sharp divisions and culminated in the inquisition (mi/.Jna). U1timately, the
orthodox position gained the upper hand, and the traditional sciences "had total
control over the institutions of learning" (Makdisi, 1981, p. 75). Ibn Taymiyya
adoplS an intennediate position. He rejeclS the claims of the philosophers in the
field of metaphysics but acceplS the validity of the rational sciences in the field of
the natura! sciences.

7 The philosophic/rational sciences were based en the Greek philosophers and in

particular Aristotle. The influence the Greek philosopher had on the Islamic World
led to the recognition and acceptance of an Aristotelian taxonomy of the philosoohic
sciences. In Arislol1e. Ross gives an account of the Aristotelian curriculum. It
comprised the theoretical sciences, (i.e. mathematics, physics and theology). the
practical sciences, (i.e. ethics, politics. and economics), and the productive sciences
(Ross. 1964, pp, 20 in conjunction with 62). The absence of metaphysics from the
curriculum is not as unexpected as it might seem. The conventiJnal opinion is to
attribute to Aristotle's' editors the coinage of the tille of metaphysics. Andronicus of
Rhodes is usually cr~"ited as being the, first to have used the tille. He m"'ll11 to refer

to a series of texlS wnich follow the Physics. (Saint-Hilaire, 1991, p. il; (Maciceon,
1941, p. xviii).
Introduction: An Integrative Approach to Knowledge Page 4

shuns the philosophically Aristotelian based sciences and adopts a nominalist position

which refuses to give any credence to the idea that abstract concepts have a tangible

reality outside the mind (Laoust, 1979, p. , 9).

The guiding principle which governs his endeavors is his deeply felt desire to

create, as much as possible, a doctrine based on objectivity, devoid of personal

interpretations and innovations. The demands of objectivity and exactitude which he

places on human knowledge leads him to create a hierarchy of sorts. The apex, the

Qur'iin. AIIiih's uncreated word, represents the highest level of certainty,8 followed by

the Sunnah of the Prophet, and finally Consensus or Ijmâc of the Salaf (Laoust, 1979,

pp. 19-20). In this conceptualization, the religious law (ShariCah) acquires a

multifarious nature. Instead of being monolithic in its meaning and Iimited to a legal

understanding, it is morally and eschatologically conditioned and capable of a variety of

senses. These meanings are in tum grounded in the lundament that AIIfih must be served

in the fashion in which He prescribed.

ln the absencl' of a clear line of conduct vis-à-vis his society or AIIiih, man has

to tum to introspection. Ibn Taymiyya equates the Islamic notion of titra with a form of

a priori knowledge (Hallaq, 1991, p. 61). As titra is engrained in ail human beings.

and represents an innate disposition towards truth, the sincere individual can tum to

this latent potential for private inspiration (ilhâIn) and intuitive perception (dhawq).

8 The Qur'an is not intended to be a trcatise about Allah and his nature. The existence
of Allah in the Qur'iin is strictly functional. however. il is intended 10 provide
knowledge and guidance for mankind. "Those onto whom We have given the
Scripture, who read it with the right reading, those believe in it. And whoso
disbelieveth in it, those are they who are the losers" (Sürah II. AI-Baqarah. versc
121); "The month of Ramadan in which was revcaled the Qur'iin. a guidance for

mankind. and clear proof of the guidance, and the Criterion (of right and wrong)"
(Sürah II. AI-Baqarah. verse 185).
Introduction: An Integrative Approach to Knowledge Page 5

T~e primary intention of this thesis is to demonstrate the integrative approach

that Ibn Taymiyya chooses in order to ascertaln know:edge. It is an ail inclusive method

which aims to integrate what Ibn Taymiyya considers the purely Islamic heritage into a

comprehensive whole. Far from rejecling the mystical dimension 0' Islam. 9 he makes it
an integral part of his epistemology. Knowlecl;,~ for Ibn Taymiyya acquires a

soteriological dimension, and it is the reunion of Shar'j principles with fi{ra that

constitutes on,; of the vital keys to salvation and hence to paradise itself. By, in effect,

creating the ar-:hetype of the perfect believer, he causes a relationship to be establistled

between the transcendent and the corporea1.

Ibn Taymiyya was a prolific writer, and the fabric of his thought. not to mention

his life. was influenced and invaded by twin factors of instability and change. It was

against a disruptive backdrop that Ibn Taymiyya Iived. taught and wrote; yet his

endeavor represents a striving for order in an environment of turmoi1. His feeling of

urgency vis-à-vis the pervading instability of the surrounding background leads him to

pronounce conflicting opinions on occasion. in an effort to address the immediacy of what

he perceives as a threat to the community at large. While keeping these contextual

circumstances in mind, the J?resent thesis does not pr3sume to present an unshakable

account of Ibn Taymiyya's epistemology, but a plausible one based on a number of his


9 It has long been assumed by traditional scholarship (Goldziher. 1981. p.240;

MacDonald. 1903. p. 273) that as a I;lanbali. Ibn Taymiyya had to be the swom
enemy of sulism. This opinion is based on an un-examined acceptance of the verdict
of history and a number of writings by the master himself. Veto upon c10ser
examination. Ibn Taymiyya's condemnation of sufism is specifically targeted
towards one group of $ufis; the advocates of monism. Studies by Laoust. 1939.
Essai sur les Docuines Sociales cc ,Ooliciques de Taqi D-Din ~mad B. Taymiya and
Makdisi. 1973. "Ibn Taimiya: A $uli of che Qadariya Order" have shown that not

only did he accept $ufi doctrines with the exception of waQdac al-wujüd. he
frequented $ufi orders and might have beionged to the $ufi lariqah of the Qadiriya.
Introduction: An Integrative Approach to Knowledge Page 6

• A research such as this one lends itself to !wo methods of investigation. namely a

historical/horizontal approach or an ideational/vertical one.\ 0 Although relied upon

where necessary. the historical approach is not the central methodological instrument 01

this thesis. As an approach. it will be subordinated to the analytical study and will be

used only to clarily an intellectual engagement either by Ibn Taymiyya or by the

prevailing environment where necessary. The discussions the thesis ollers 01 discreet

historical relerences will occur in the lorm 01 lootnotes. such as the discussion 01 the

conneetion be!Ween the prominence 01 $ufi ideals and the political instability 01 the

Ummah. It is intended to delineate a spatial relerential. yet it does not purport to

speculate on the intrinsic importance of such malters. As mentioned above. this

investigation will be essentially based on an analysis of relevant passages authored by

Ibn Taymiyya. Subsumed under the generic title of "ideational approach" are

cosmological, ontological and anthropological speculations and each category 01

speculation can be used as a full lIedged, autonomous approach. For the purposes 01 this

investigation. however, the three aspects will be combined in an atlempt to recognize

their inter-dependence, as they contribute to the formulation of a terser, more focused


Emphasis will be placed on the arbitrary isolation of elementary conceptual

parameters as it is the valorization of these elementary principles which iIIicit and

construct knowledge. They, as essentials to the continuous elaboration of themes,

represent the creative units upon which paradigmatic configurations are superimposed.

10 The concept behind the caption historicallhorizontal approach is onc of a Iinear

continuum. where historical evenlS contemporaneous with the author arc used as
the backdrop against which his thought is imbucd with meaning. The
ideational/venical method relies only on the textuai evidence as the sole guarantor
of the thought of the author. It is not time constrained nor docs it necessarily assume

that the ideas expressed in the text arc tainted by extemal factors. Il posits the
fundamental imponance of the thought and the ideas exprcssed by the author.
Introduction: An Integrative Approach to Knowledge Page 7

ln other words, the re5ulting construct should represent an illustration of Ibn

Taymiyya's theory of knowledge and its mode of acquisition. This thesis will include

three chapters and each one will center on one or more elementary principles. Chapter

one will discuss A//fih. His nature, His will and His unity; chapter IWo will give an

account of the importance attributed to the Qur'iin and the agency of prophecy; and

finally. the last chapter will analyze the characteristic elements of intuitive/natural

intelligence (fi{ra) and reasonlintellect ('aqI).

Before elaborating on Ibn Taymiyya's theory of knowledge, his fundamental

methodological assumptions have to be highlighted. Ibn Taymiyya's doctrinal ideal

locates the essence of ail positivity in the historical beginning of Islam. The young

community under the guidance and leadership of the prophet was the most accomplished.

The ensuing generations progressively strayed from the initial ideals and betrayed their

beginning. This represents a crucial methodological component; eventhough. the pivotai

element remains the Qur'an. For Ibn Taymiyya. it is at once the ostensible fount and

explanatory principle of ail that can be termed Islamic. As a matter of principle. Ibn

Taymiyya altempts to revert ail things to a golden mean in an effort to explain, correct

or measure their degree of authenticity.

Chapter One: The Nature of the Believer's Transcendent Universe

The declared raison d'être of Ibn Taymiyya's theodicy is to infuse a notion of

purposiveness into divine behavior. 11 Distressed by the appeal of a passive approach to

a belief in Allah which the philosophersl 2 championed, he vehemently advocates a

practical dimension to his conception of tawQïd (Oneness of Allah). He also aims his

11 F. Rahman (1979, p. 114) commenlS on the notion of purposiveness of divine

behavior, stating that the concept of Allah's implication in human desliny was a
controversial issue. It compromises the concept of Allah 's omnipotence and
dissimilarity to His creation, as held by the Ash'arites, the Maturidites, and

12 T. Michel in his article "Ibn Taymiyya's Critique of Falsafa" (1983, p. 4) (this article
in reproduced in Miche!'s translation of a/-Jawiib a/-$a/;Ji/;J) anributes to Ibn
Taymiyya a categorization of the philosophers. He assigns the term of "fa/iisifa -
philosopher" proper to the adeplS of the Aristotelian and Neoplatonic traditions,
namely, al-Farabi (257-339/870-950), Ibn Sina (370-429/980-1037), Ibn Rushd
(520-595/1126-1198) and Na~ir al-Din al-Tüsi (598-673/1201-1274). AI-
Suhrawardi (549-587/1154-1191) and the followers of the Ishraqi schools are
qualified by a different label, that of a/-mutafa/sifa which Michel translates as
"would be philosophers". Hallaq (1993, p. 4 n. 3) rejeclS Michel's categories of

fa/asifa and mutafa/asifa, as he argues that Ibn Taymiyya's writings do not support a
semantic difference between the two terms.

Page 8
Chapter One: Nature of the Believer's Transcendent Universe Page 9

• criticisms at the mystics 13 who had adopted as a framework a hellenistically derived

philosophical dogma, Ibn Taymiyya's condemnation (aJ-Nabuwwiit. pp. n-79) of t!lis

approach is evident in his address to Abü I:lamid a1-Ghazâlï whom he believes to be at

the crossroads of both trends, He writes: "[al-Ghazalï's] statements are a bridge

between the Muslims and the philosophers...This is why in his works Iike the 11Jyii' he

teaches that the goal of ail action is only knowledge which is also the essence of the

philosophers' teachings. He magnifies the renunciation of the world which was his

greater pre-occupation than taw1Jïd which is the 'ibiida 14 of Alliih alone." This

indictment of a1-Ghazâlï clearly demonstrates that the purpose of human existence does

not lie in philosophical speculations about Alliih nor is it a passing away in the

witnessing of His divine lordship {taw1Jïd al-robübïyya wa al-fanii' fi-hi J. Philosophical

contemplation and mystical love of Him are targeted by Ibn Taymiyya as the two

"courants de pensée" responsible for the doctrine of wa1;ldat al-wujüd (unity of

being).15 According to him, through a process of infinite regress Alliih becomes one

with the world resulting in the inanity of both Alliih and His creation.

13 M. Ansari (1986. pp. 131-32) describes Ibn Taymiyya's crltlClsms of the Sufis in a
category based account. Ibn Taymiyya discerns three types of Sufis. the mashii'ikh
al-Isllim. the ones who experiences fanli' (annihalation) and sukr (intoxication).
and the adepts of wa{!dar a/-wujüd. To Sadr aI-Din aI-Quniiwi (d. 729/1329). Ibn
Sab'in (614-66911217-1270). Tilimsiini (d. 690/1291) and Ibn 'Arabi (560-
63811165-1240), who expounded this doctrine. he addresses his strongest
indictment. Michel gives a similar Iist with the exception of Sadr al-Din al-Quniiwi
(1983, p. 3).

14 'Ibiida for Ibn Taymiyya is more than the act of worship or ritual: it is an a11-
encompassing response of obedience, love and servitude [0 the Commander. In a/-
Wiisitiyya. (a/- Wiisitiyya. p. 13). Ibn Taymiyya states:
.l..-J1 .j .:.L:...l ~ .;..l'il .l .l..-J1 .j .:1."..1
The author's translation is: "Your command is in the hcaven and the carth as your
mercy is in hcaven".

15 Ibn Taymiyya ascribes to Ibn 'Arabi the doctrine of wa{ldar a/-wujüd. This
attribution seems historica11y incorrect, Ibn 'Arabi is not believed to have used the

term (Landolt. 1970. Simniini on wa{ldar a/-wujüd. p. 100). The relevance
however. rests with the doctrine itself as it became a central and fundamental aspect
of sufism. It postulates the existence of a single Being, outside of which nothine
Chapter One: Nature of the Believer's Transcendent l'nivr .;e Page 10

• 1,1 Divine Self-Evidence

The limited knowledge bestowed by Ailiih on human beings begins by having laith

in the Ineffable Reality. Hence. the point of departure is imiin (faith)(FaCiiwii Shaykh a/-

ls/m. Volume II. pp. 1-14). Ibn Taymiyya does not debate the existence 01 Alliih as a

possibility, rather he posits it as eviden::e. It should be noted that his conception of the

term kiifir (unbeliever) dces not convey the meaning 01 atheist. one who denidS the

existence 01 Al/iih. but one who out 01 sheer vice, or perverse ingratitude reluses to

honour the Divine Reality.16 His position is derived Irom numerous Q'Jranic passages in

which the kiifir bi n; 'mac AlIiih (unbeliever in AlIiih's grace) is characterized by his

ignorance. malevolence and exaggeration (ghu/uww); "and when Our revelations are

recited unto them they say: We have heard. Il we wish we can speak ths like olthis. Lo!

this is naught but lables 01 the men 01 old" (Sürah VIII. aJ-Anfli/. verse 31). To ward

against the erring ways 01 the unbeliever. Ibn Taymiyya insists that the tarïqa (path) to

a knowledge of Alliïh is through a proper understanding of His caw1)ïd.

Ibn Taymiyya's pietist investigation 01 faith is founded on the beliel that lsliim

is the religion 01 unity, a subject which is synthesized in the wording 01 the double

exists. The One is absolutely indivisible and homogenous. yet He chooses to malce
Himself known in His entirety through a multiplicity of forms and representations.
Allah and creation being in fact one renders the notion of cause and effect
untenable. As the Knower and the known. the Creator and the created. AJJiih is
experienced by Sufis as absolutely transcendent yet absolutely immanent. (Ansari.
1986. pp. 102-106) and (Glassé. 1989. p. 414).

16 Ibn Taymiyya sees in the denial of man's indebtedness to Ailiih. the seed of
divisions. He endeavors to demonstrate that it was the most active factor in the
emergence of schismatic doctrines. He gives accounts of heresies in passim in ail of

his works. but there is an overall description of the sects' development in a/-Furqiin
which can be found in a/-Rasii'il a/-Kubrii.
Chapter One: Nature of the Believer's Transcendent Universe Page 11

• Shahada (shahfidacayn).17 Ibn Taymiyya asserts not only that Alliih exists but that He is

the only real existent. No one shares in His unicity and unity (caw1Jïd) and none can be

associated with Him (la sharika lahu). He flrmly subscribes and atlestto Muhammad's

role as the messenger (rasiil) and servant ('abd) of Allah (al- Wasirïyya. p. 37). The

"pure creed" (Shahada) (al-Iqciçfa'. p. 89) is more than the straight forward affirmation

of divine existence; it is also the admission that Allah is the only true reality. the One

Existent. He is the only dimension of the real, and He is perfection. He is mirrored in

His creation, in as much as the created beings participate in His essential self. Ta

accept this definition of the Divine demands an active integration of divine principles in

ail aspects of life on the part of the believer. 18 Alliih becomes the sole priority and the

only focus of the believer's {mu 'min) existence. The ail encompassing nature of Allah

renders the worship of any other deity (Banat-Allah = the daughters of Allah) 19
blameworthy and impedes the believer's atlainment of salvation. Ta acknowledge the

oneness of Allah is less an arithmetical definition than it is an organic one. It translates

into a moral imperative which is to be the driving force of the Iife of the "one who

submits· (muslim). To grasp the Divine as He defines Himself is not a mere national.

17 Lii iliiha iJ/ii AlIiih Mu(lammadu rasül Alliih - is the kalimah or the Muslim
profession of faith. which can be translatcd as; "there is no God except Allah.
Mu\lammad is the Messenger of Allah."

18 To accept the principles enunciated by the double shahada mandales the adherence to
four moral actions which ensue from it: ~aliih (rituai prayer). zakah (alms). ~a wm
(fasting) during the month of Rama#n and (lajj (pilgrimage) (Tanbihiit. pp. 279-
280 found in al- Wiisiliyya. p. 73).

19 In al-Ikhlii~ (p. 53 cited by Michel. 1983. p. 6). Ibn Taymiyya draws a

rapprochement between the emanationist system of the philosophers and the worship
of pagan deities by the Arabs during Jahiliyya (age of ignorance). He claims that
the procession of intelligences. souls and celestial spheres which directly or

indirectly emanate from Alliih are false objects of divinity. and p:.rallels the cult to
lhe daughters of Alliih for which he uses the term of al-ghanariq.
Chapter One: Nature of the Believer's Transcendent Universe Page 12

• cerebral cognition;

it actualizes a transformation, an inner conversion to one's true

To bolster this view. Ibn Taymiyya unequivocally states that the transcendent

reality that infuses ail things is most obviously manifested in Sürah al-Ikhlfi~:20 AJlfih

is one. unique(al-$amad), He does not beget nor is He begolten. None came before Him and

none is born of Him. He is ulterly dissimilar to creation. Ibn Taymiyya writes that the

comprehension it imparts on the reader is equivalent to a third of the QU"'fin (a 1·

Wfisipyya. p. 40). As the uncaused cause of ail beings. al-$amad. He is "the supremely

independent • sell-sufficient being endowed with ail the altributes of perfection in which

ail else turns in need (lor existence. lile. guidance. help, forgiveness)" (Michel. 1984,

p. 6). Hence, Allah is best characterized by al-$amad, a name which appeals to a

dimension 01 reality bGyond history or time. The emphasis Ibn Taymiyya places on

grounding his works on a lirm definition 01 God's ra wQid constitutes an attempt to distill

a lormula in which and through which Allah is elevated to a unique status free of the

limitations inherent to human beings (whether mental or physical). In proper I;fanbali

fashion. this amounts to an acl of worship and cannot be assimilated to an investigation

or an exploration into the divine nature. His metaphysics is less intended to prove the

existence of the Ineffable. !han it is bent on removing Him lrom human contamination.

Allah is to be separated lrom His creation, indeed dissociated lrom the cosmos and its

occupants. The mu'min must accept the proper ontological value assigned to Allah and

must come to appreciate !hat He is the only one in possession of normative positivity in

20 M. Pickthall's rendition of it is: "Say: He is Alliih the One! Alliih, the cternally
Besought of ail! (Al·$amad) He begetteth not nor was begotlen. And there is none
comparable unto Him." He mentions in his commentary that Sürah al-Ikhlii$
m~aning "sincerity" is also known as "al·Tau/lïd" and is generally credited as the

expression of the essence of the Qur'iin. A notion which is obviously shared by Ibn
Chapter One: Nature of the Believer's Transcendent Universe Page 13

• His absolute fullness. As such, He is tha unknowable whose polar position places Him

beyond human intelligibility. Ibn Taymiyya wants to say that whereas He exists utterly

and absolutely (al-wujüd al-Ijaqq), everything else emerges to existence by virtue of His

perlect self and command (amr).

Lli Uncompromised Divine Unjcitv

H. Laoust points out in his commentary on al-Wlisi[ïyya (al- Wlisip~vya p. 37) that

Ibn Taymiyya more or less explicitly holds to three concepts of tawQïd: 21 tawQïd al-

rubübïyya. tawQid aI-ulühïyya. tawQïd al-asmli' wa-al-$ifiïc. The subject of tawQïd al-

ruoübïyya is AI/lih, not the believer. and the affirmation of His unicity, as it implies an

acquiescence and assertion of His divine unity and divine lordship. He is al-MiïIik or al-

Rabb (Sovereign Lord) and al-KhiïIiq (Creator) which concretely defines AI/iih's nature

and relationship vis-à-vis the universe. There is no creature (makhIüq). who does not

owe ils existence to AI/iih. AI/iih is the creator (al-Khiiliq) of ail on earth as weil as in

the heavens. He is the supreme lord (al-Rabb) of the Universe and He alone (aI-

Wasipyya. p. 72). Ibn Taymiyya links the other worldly concept of rubübiyya to a human

dimension through his usage of the Cubüdïyya. The term cubüdiyya confers to the initial

pronouncement a moral dimension as it highlights creation's dependence upon. and

enslavement by the divine entity. In his treatise aI-ijisbah. Ibn Taymiyya grounds his

exposé in the fundamental principle that ail social interaction (wilayat) must reflect

man's adoration and total servitude to the Divine. Once again, his argumentation is

21 As a concept which undcrgirds Ibn Taymiyya's entire system of thought. the notion
of cawQid permeates most if not ail of his works. Specific references to the first two
types of unity can be found in volumes one and three of Faciiwii Shaykh al-Isliim
(Faciiwii Shaykh al-Isliim Volume 1. pp. 20-36. pp. 37-39 and Faciiwii Shaykh al-
Isliim Volumc III. pp. 101-104). These references are also given by Laoust in :11-
Wislfiyya (al- Wisifiyya. p. 37 n. 1). A definition of cawQid al-rubübiyya is also
given in Memon's translation of al-Iqci#' (al-IqCiç/ii'. p. 327). Finally. of the last
catcgocy of cawQid. al- Wisifiyya is in itself a perfect representation (al- Wiisifiyya.

• pp. 37-63).
Chapter One: Nature 01 the Believer's Transcendent Universe Page 14

• lirmly entrenched in the word 01 the Qur'Jn (al-lfi"bah p. 26). .4.11Jh ordains a complete

surrender to His reality.

Whether man or demon, ail must worship and adore Him

Ibn Taymiyya has a !wo-lold objective when he defines divine

lordship as astate (!JJl) and as an action. The initial intention is to emphasize once more

the immutability, eternity and oneness 01 the divine dimension and secondly to affirm the

dissimilarity of AllJh from what He creates. AllJh does not re-create Himself, and yet

ail of the universe ensues from Him. It results in a creation stigmatized by a degree of

privation. To Him only belongs full and absolute existence, His will (as enunciated in

the Qur'iin) is the determining factor against which creation's degrees of excellence are

measured. In such a contex!, the value and fullness of existence becomes a relative

matter. Unable to equal Alliih, creation can, nonetheless, strive to achi'3ve its own

created perfection as it is conceived and demanded by Alliïh. 23 ln this process, creation

must remain vigilant and avoid elevating the impertect to a status where it would

compete with Allah as a parallel deity. From Ibn Taymiyya's perspective, the failure to

do so results in shirk fi rubübïyatihi;

(assigning a share to others in the lordship of Gad), whereby govemance

(of the universel is ascribed ta others alongside of Gad (i.e. the creation
of other Gods;24, as is indicated by the Koranic verse (34:22);25 but
this verse makes it abundantly clear that these (people) carry no weight

22 Sürah U. AJ-Dhiïriyiïl. verse 56 which M. Pickthall renders as "[ created the jinns
and humankind only that they might worship me".

23 This panicular understanding of perfection and ilS availability to ail of creation

easily tics in with the concept of filra as will be iIlustr3ted 1ater in this thesis. [t
constitutes a fund3lllen131 concept in the comprehension of Ibn Taymiyya's theory of
knowledge in which the believer has the capacity to mature or develop into the
perfect mu'min.

24 Author's own clarification and emphasis.

25 "Say (0 Mul;lammad): Cali upon those whom ye set up beside Alliïh! They possess

not an atom's weight either in the heavens or the earth, nor have they any share in
either, nor hath He an auxiliary among them" (Sürah XXXIV, Sabiï, verse 22).
Chapter One: Nature of the Believer's Transcendent Universe Page 15

• at ail, not even the weight of a particle, nor do they participate with God
in anything, nor yet assist Him in the management of His dominion (al-
IqriçJii'. p. 28/).

As in the relationship between the effect and its cause. creation being an effect. it

cannot partake in the Divine and to believe otherwise is a delusion which leads the

believer away from the straight path (~jrii{ aI-mustaqim). As aI-Rabb. Alliih is the

beholder of Infinite power and the guardian of the secrets of creation. Through the

exercise of His exclusive preserve. namely the act of creation. He hence, unveils his

omnipotence rendering the IWO notions correlative.

Ibn Taymiyya's insistence on proving the unparalleled status of the creative act

is not simply a theological position. It has another dimension, one riddled with polemical

overtones. As a "dialogical thinker" (Michel. 1984. p. vii), he intends to discredit the

philosophers and by extension the monists whom he believes obscured the fundamental

separateness of Allah and the universe. In the emanationist vision, the world proceeds

from a series of emanations. Allah is the immediate cause of the First Intellect,

however, His direct involvement in the process of creation is henceforth non-existent as

everything progresses down a Iinear gradient from the First Intellect to the Active

Intellect from which emerges the world of generation and corruption. 26 Ibn Taymiyya

writes that "the would-be philosophers-Aristotle and his followers--hold that He does

not do any1hing, will any1hing, know any1hing, or create any1hing. For what, then,

should He be thanked? Or for what is He praised or worshipped?" (Jiimi' aI-Rasa'il. p.

26 Netlon (1992. pp. 50-52) refers 10 al-Farabi's cosmology as a c1assie emanationist

system in whieh he assigns to the active intellect (a/-'aql al-fa"iil) the action of
bridging the supra- and the infra-lunar worlds or the transcendant and corporeal
dimensions. Michel argues that Ibn Taymiyya never accuses the Neoplatonist
philosophers of making the active intellect one and the same with the Creator
(Michel. 1983. pp. 6-7). The reason for what seems to be unseemly is aceording to

Michel due to the fact that Ibn Taymiyya c1aims the philosophers utterly deny the act
of creation. rendering the accusation superfluous.
Chapter One: Nature of the Believer's Transcendent Universe Page 16

• 104 cited by Michel, 1983, p. 7). From a monist perspective, as mentioned above, the

essence of Allah is undifferentiated from substance and matter. This point is illustrated

by Ibn Taymiyya's appraisal of the monist representation of the issue; "the real nature

of the belief of the $ufi renegades like Ibn 'Arabi and Ibn Sab'in is that this world has

been necessarily and pre-etemally existent. It has no maker other than itself. They say

that existence is one, and the real nature of their view ;$ that there is not in existence a

creator as another existent being"(al-Ikhla$. p. 56 cited by Michel, 1984. pp. 12-13).

ln both cases. therefore. the true act of creation is compromised and Allah ceases to be

"the transcendent One. who stands outside the universe but who is in constant interplay

with its destiny through His freely chosen activity as creator. commander and judge"

(Michel. 1984. p. 22). This depiction highlights Ibn Taymiyya's belief in a two-faceted

Alliih: one hinges on His relationship with creation. and consists of His manifestation in

the world through His signs: and the other is Allah as He is in Himself. His innïya.

which remains utterly incomprehensible. His strength and potency are derived from

this double dimension. In His absolute knowledge. He is at once the possessor of the

secrets which secure the ordering of the universe and the arbiter who guards against

mankind's conceit.

Taw1)ïd al-ulühïyya completes the definition of Alliih. The subject of this second

taw1)ïd is the believer on whom is conferred not only the responsibility to adore Allah

but also the obligation to serve Him in the fashion which He commands. The reunion of

these two principles of subservience in turn defines Ibn Taymiyya's concept of 'ibiïda

(Laoust. 1986. p. 37 n. 1). The acceptance of the notion of taw1)ïd al-ulühïyya is an

admission that Alliih is al-I;faqq (the Truth) (al- Wiisifïyya. p. 87) and al-Amir (the

Commander) (al- Wasipyya, p. 57). Once again. one connotes astate while the other is

representative of an action. Alllih enjoins and entrusts man to strive for the good and as
Chapter One: Nature of the Believer's Transcendent Universe Page 17

• a result of this moral imperative, the eminciation of regulative ideas from the Divine

must be uttered for the process to become purposeful. In other words, to be meaningful,

real morality has to be cast against the divine command as it is expressed in the Qur'an.

It results in a ceaseless struggle to serve the Truth (al-lfaqq). and in effect becomes the

raison d'être of man's normative existence. This raises the key notion of anteriority. In

a system where the apex is the generative cause of ail creation, anteriority becomes

correlative with self-sufficiency. The moral function acquires value once the

consciousness of the Divine Reality in the individual has been awakened, emphasizing

again that in such a vision, dependence is wholly unilateral. Creation is totally

subordinated to Alliih, the telos.

Taw1)id al-rubübiyya is the basis for taw1)id al-ulühiyya, yet Laoust (al-

Wasipyya. p. 37 n. 1) indicates that Ibn Taymiyya refuses to consider a believer one who
proclaims Allah 's divine lordship but refrains from practicing the obligations which a

belief in taw1)id al-ulühiyya entails. Moreover, to associate with Alliih another is to

commit the sin of "shirk fi ulühiyatihi (making others share in the divinity of Alliih) by

praying to others as in worship or for a need...The harm emanating from these is greater

than the benefit accruing therefrom, as Alliih has made our worshipping Him alone and

our seeking of assistance from Him alone the source of ail good" (al-Iqtiçla'. p. 282).

Laoust writes that between the two notions a reversibility exists. Here is his statement

to this effect:

La reconnaissance d'un seul Dieu implique l'unité d'un seul

culte...Admettre, une pluralité de dieux, c'est introduire la multiplicité et
l'associationnisme dans la vie morale. Inversement, on ne saurait
admettre l'unité de la toute puissance, et en même temps, vouer un culte à
un autre qu'à Dieu; détoumer vers un prophéte, un saint, à plus forte
raison vers un chef de confrérie ou un souverain temporel, une partie du
culte que l'on doit exclusivement à Diou, c'est en arriver, à son insu, a

• associer a Dieu une autre divinité et, a sa tlJute puissance, une puissance
étrangère (Laoust. 1939, pp. 472-73).
Chapter One: Nature of the Believer's Transcendent Universe Page 18

• The proper harmonization of the !WO concepts of WWQid leads, however, to the fostering

of a deep seeded consciousness of Allah in the individual self. In an ideal system, this

awareness is creatively and organically responsible for the founding of an ethical social

order. Ibn Taymiyya jeels it is necessary to emphasize the notions of service and

submission in the apprehension of the Divine if one is to become a moral being. In

such a context, the divine law (shar' J, the scriptural expression of His command, is

paramount. Observance and compliance to the divine injunctions are the keys to the

emergence of a unified self which can integrate its awaited place into the macrocosmic

scheme. Ibn Taymiyya's theology is one where moral Imperatives are stressed, and the

complete fulfillment of the law represents the attainment of a higher self.

Taw1)id al-asmii' wa al-$ifijt consists in the affirmation of ail of Allah's

particulars and the negation of broad generalizations;27 it is an exercise in what Laoust

terms "a positive theodicy" (al-Wiisiriyya. p. 37 n. 1). It is an attempt to perceive the

unity of Alliih in the exhaustive details provided by the Qur'iin about the Ineffable since

Allah has entrusted His prophets and messengers with the positive task to portray Him
through the medium of an explicit affirmation of His attributes (ithbiit muf3$$l'l) .. nd

through the recourse to a general negation (nafy mujmalJ of ail analogy which would

equate the Divine with His creation (Ibn Tümart. p. 174). The divine names and

attributes represent a substantiated verbal reality of the divine t~nscendence and must

be accepted on laith.28 The letter of the te::! embodies the textual meaning to the effect

27 The implication of such a method is a refutation of the philosophers' approach. As

will be explained, the philosophers' approach is based on the notion of a simple
existent. Their proof of Al/ah 's transcendence consislS in a negation of the divine
paniculars and the assertion of an expurgated concept of Al/ah.

28 Ibn Taymiyya's refusai to question the discription that Al/ah gives of Himself in the

• Qur'an and Sunnah is in perfect consonance with standard l;lanbaU teachings. Ibn
Qudiima (d. 620/1223), in his Ta/;Jrim (para. 73), advocated "a faith which accords
with the leller of the text which is indubitable and whose veracity is inconslCstable,
Chapter One: Nature of the Believer's Transcendent Universe Page 19

• that it requires no further specification or elucidation. 29 ln this context the path to a

knowledge of AIliih is to believe absolutely, without recourse to an intellectual

argumentation(cakyïf). Fo' the individual who abides by the Sunnah. to question.

interpret without deviation(cahrïf), elaborate or refute(ca'{ïl). the description(wa?f)

AIlfih has given of Himself throLigh the medium of the Qur'iin and through His messenger

Mu/;1ammad is beyond human capability and hence intolerable. Since Al1iih is omniscient

and incomparable. His word cannot be subjected to argumentation and the description He

gives of Himself cannot be altered in meaning. It is pointless and dangerous of man to

deny (nafy) the description Al1iih has given of Himself. Hence the Sunnah min:fed do not

ascribe errcneous meanings (caPri!) to the sacred words. nor do they extrapolate on the

intended meanings of the names (asmii') and the signs (ayac) sent by Allah to His

creation. The way in which Alliih has described Himself is pro~r to His divine nature

and cannot be shared in by the created (al- Wiisipyya, p. 38). He is unique and hence his

description is also unique. Man must accept it faithfully as incomparable. true and


1 III Sacred Mean;ng of the Credo

Ibn Taymiyya places an obvious importance on the sacred word. on the

pronouncement of the credo in its elocutionary mode. The I;fanbalï entrenchment behind

and whose meaning is known best to Him who ullered il, and in which we believe
according to the meaning He intended for il,.. and we thus joined the requirement of
faith with a refusai to concur with the proscribed anthropomorphism." G. Makdisi
states that Ibn Taymiyya received the $ufi cloak from Ibn Qudama's nephew (G.
Makdisi. 1973. p. 123).

29 Ibn Taymiyya is aware of the opacity of certain Quranic passages and acknowledges
the difficulty with which the Interpreter of the text is faced if the Qur'an is to
address ail the questions that might arise out of what might be conceived as a society

in flux. He accepts the Jegitimacy of a recourse to other canonical statemenlS and to
an educated persona! judgment in an effon to understand ilS meaning.
Chapter One: Nature of the Believer's Transcendent Universe Page 20

• the alciom of bila kayfa.3 0 the nonfigurization of Alhih. heed the Quranic statements on

Allah as fully exhausted by their letter. The attitude behind the avowal of bila kayfa is

less related to the knowledge which transpires from the tex! than an interdiction of any

qualification or specification of scriptural elements beyond that which is clearly

stipulated by the tex! and in terms other than those of the tex!. The word as a

devotional instrument is of essential importance and its function has to be protected. Ibn

Taymiyya believes that once a religious statement leaves the devotional mode of

signification, it becomes emptied of its literai meaning, opening the door to vain

speculation about the nature of the Divine. This method has allowed the philosophers and

the mystics to raise inappropriate questions. Inappropriate in the sense that Ibn

Taymiyya feels that they refer to realities that lie beyond the realm of words, and are

thus constitutive of the exclusive preserve of Allah. His mistrust of theological and

philosophical speculations is grounded on the Qur'an 31 itself which dismisses it as self

indulgent guesswork about notions that human reason cannot fathom. Speculation

acquires an intrinsic value solely when the required knowledge is not readily available,

leaving Ibn Taymiyya to re-assess the place speculation occupies in the hierarchy of

knowledge. Speculation is doubled with the notion of the necessity seen in a particular

knowledge. If pursued for ils own sake, speculation is at bes! of trille value and at worst

deluding in nature. Nevertheless, if a necessary science can only come to fruition

30 The ~anbali school was not the only one to have recourse to this slogan, al-Ash'ari
and bis followers advocated the classical theologieal position of "ask not how" as a
central tenet. For additional information on al-Ash'ari's theological positions rerer
to: Fakhry, 1983, A Hiscory of Islamic Philosophy; and Fakhry, 1991, Echical
Theorie! in Islam.

31 The Qur'iin dismisses it as [.anna; to thi~k without cenain knowledge. 10 surmise.

As a verbal noun it translates as guess work. opinion. thought without certain
knowledge. One such example is Sürah VI, AI-An'iim. verse 116 .. If thou obeyedst

most of those on earth they would mis1ead thee far from Alliih's way. They follow
naught but an opinion, and they do but guess".
Chapter One: Nature of the Believer's Transcendent Universe Page 21

• through a recourse to speculation, then speculation is indeed of a necessary nature. This

intellectual investigation can proceed only if there is no immediate way to achieve the

same knowledge (al-Fitro. p. 52). Once again the primacy of the text and reliance on its

excellence is asserted as fundamental and as the key to becoming a Muslim with whom

Alliill is pleased. The apprehension of Alliill consists of the understanding of the Qur'fïn

from within and not as the philosophers and the mystics tried to do through the

imposition of a man made system of intellection. 5ince Alliih chooses to make Himself

known through revelation, unlike the God of the Philosophers who can be discovered

through the use of reason, faith is the criteria for knowledge. Ibn Taymlyya specifically

argues against the improper reliance on speculation and reason. It would be wrong to

believe that IsIiim condones the use of speculation as a means to reach a certain

knowledge of Alliih. Had Alliih wanted to elevate reason above revelation, He would have

rendered the recourse to it a duty and an obligation on the part of the believer. On the

contrary, the first obligation of the Muslim is to affirm his faith in the Divine through

the pronouncement of the double creed (shahiidatayn) (al-Firra. p. 52).

The instrument used in the acquisition of certain knowledge becomes the point of

contention between Ibn Taymiyya and his opponents. The notion that the metaphysical

reality exists prior to its conceptualization combined with the belief in its

responsibility for the origination of ail things including knowledge is of fundamental

consequence. It suggests an uppermost limit endowed with absolute knowledge, what

might be called Allah and his spiritual domain. Allâh then decides to share the

knowledge of Himself with His creation through the artifice of revelation. As the direct

testimony from the Divine about the Divine, it is the most perlect instrument of

knowledge given to mankind and it must not be unmade by ignorant discourse. Ibn

Chapter One: Nature of the Believer's Transcendent Universe Page 22

• Taymiyya is convinced that the rational man who forgets Alliih torgets himself;3~ and

the threat this forgetfulness represents for the believer is an invalidation of reason as

the ultimate and most adequate medium for a vision of the Divine. The mind. or reason

is an instrument of the enslavement to the Iimits of humanity and it cannot partake of

Alliih's spiritual dominion (i.e. His knowledge). Logically then. the dissimilarity of the

Divine to the rest of creation renders the acquisition of knowledge about Alliih through

analogical inference an impossibility (Hallaq. 1991. p. 53). As an impertect faculty.

reason cannot behold the Divine and thus cannot sit in judgment of revelation. Ibn

Taymiyya envisions a downward transfer of knowledge; Alliih occupies the uppermost

Iimit of the descending scale of knowledge. while the ignorant man resides at the other

nadir. Inside the Iimits exist various stages which correspond to stations in the

integration of the self. these coincide with the prophetie and the mu'min components.
The line of descendance in this vision is one towards growing ignorance and unawareness

of Alliih.3 3

The fideist position Ibn Taymiyya espouses was the objee! of denunciations from

influential contemporaries who saw in it the seeds of anthropomorphism.3 4 To the

32 Sürah LIX. AI-Ifashr. verse 19: "And be not ye as those who forgot AlIlih. therefore
He caused them to forget their souls. Such are the evil-doers".

33 The continuum implied by a descending gradient from a state of unblemished

excellence to one of imperfection is not the continuity of an invarianl essence. Ta
affinn that it is. is to adopt the pantheistic position that there is an unvarying
substance unifying the multifarous expressions of creation. Ibn Taymiyya does nol
fall prey to that vision. and although he does advocate a descending continuum. it is
truly structured by a duality. Al/lih and creation are two separale enlilies unlike
each other.

34 The Ifanbali school has often been the target of slanderous accusations of
anthropomorphism. To accept these as a true refiection of Hanbali doctrine is not
appropriate as the charge of anthropomorphism was frequently atlached to political

and social considerations. Like philosophy. it was a negotiable loken open 10
atlacks or praise depending on the climale of the time.
Chapter One: Nature of the Believer's Transcendent Universe Page 23

• anacks, he responds by levying his own accusations against the philosophers and mystics

for their respective beliefs in the notions of

cashbih (to make comparisons).

ra'ri/ (exaggerated transcendence) and

!.IV Gdevoys Mjsconceptjons of the Divine 8eality

The (a'ril of philosophees. Iike that of al-Farabi. was founded on Aristotelian and

Neoplatonic principles. In Aristotle's t>ierarchy of existence. Allah. the Unmoved

Mover, occupies the uppermost peint of the scale. He is absolute being and as such,

perfect, immobile and etemal. He is also pure intellect and at one and the same time the

object and the subject of the intellection process. By virtue of His perfection, the only

activity worthy of Allah is the etemal contemplation of Himself. the source of ail

knowledge. The Neoplatonic dimension. according to 1. R. Netton is "epitomized in a

negative vocabulary which signais a dimension of knowledge where one records.

paradoxically. what cannot be known and cannot be truly articulated except in negatives

(Nenon. 1992, p. 40). The fusion of the two philosophical traditions form the

Saon after its inception. Damascene Hanbalism gained great authority and control in
a city which had been traditionally influenced by ideals foreign to Isliim. The
influence of the l;lanba/i creed spread to Baghdad and acceded to full rccognition
during the rule of the Caliph al-Qadir (991-1031) when he officially endorsed it
(Lapidus. 1988. p. 172).

By the founheenth century. the Mamluks had taken over the reins of power and
spread their influence over Egypt and Syria. To its opponents. Hanbalism was to be
contained and kept from influencing the decision making of the state now
dominated by an Egyptian and Damascene intelligentsia with strong connections to
the $ufi movements (Little. 1973. pp. 311-327). Little argues that the periodic
harassment (trials. detentions) of Ibn Taymiyya by Mamluk authorities had less to
do with the man man with the doctrines he preached. Believed to he a menace. key
figures tried to disc~edit him levying anthropomorphic charges against his credo.
The accusation of anthropomorphism was used as an instrument of retaliation by the
adepts of wa/ldM aI-wujüd against Ibn Taymiyya's vocal attaek on their heterodoxy.
ln 70S. he was brought to trial and asked to defend aI- Wiisiriyya. this was the first
of what would become a long series of scrutinizing sessions. trials and

imprisonments. Ibn Taymiyya's Iife came to an end while being in confinement
(Laoust. 1986. pp. 9-36). (Murad. 1968. pp. 74·112).
Chapter One: Nature of the Believer's Transcendent Universe Page 24

• emergence of a vacuous entity with which the First PrinciplelAllJh is equated. Ibn

Taymiyya plainly condemns the philosophers description of AllJh. He asserts that they

contradict themselves in their attempt to define the Divine. Their refusai to define Alliïh

through a recourse to His true positive attributes leads them to describe Him only in

terms of their own negative attributes (salbiya). AIIJh in their vision is neither this

nor that, yet the only entity which can effectively be described through the use of a

negative approach is nothingness (maCdüm). Ultimately. their methodology serves to

assimilate AIIiih to nothingness as the difference between the two no longer exists.

Having equated AIIiih with nothingness. they nevertheless still maintain that He exists.

The philosophers are therefore. in obvious contradiction with themselves (lbn Tümart.

pp. 177-78). To Ibn Taymiyya. it conjures up an image of a self·centered God, estranged

from creation. who neither wills, nor creates and who in His absolute knowledge. is

unaware of the particularia of His universe. It seeks to convey AIIJh as pure essence.

stripped of ail positive attributes (bi·shart nafy aJ-umür al-thubüti"yya), and in doing so

raises the fundamental issue of the relationship between dhiit (essence) and ~jfiir


ln the Avicennian tradition, essence qua essence is self·sustaining and is in no

need for a connection to existence. Existence can be conceived as a super·added

attribute. unconnected to quiddity. The concepts of essence and existence can be co-

joined in the mind or in an extemal reality. although. there is no necessary compulsion

for that to occur. In other words, essence strictly considered can exist in the absence of

a connection to either (Hallaq, 1991, p. 50). A similar mental exercise is practiced in

an effort to conceptualize the relationship between the notions of universal and

particular and the essence; not unlike existence they are considered separate attributes

• which are affixed to the essence without being constitutive of il. Similarly to existence,
Chapter One: Nature of the Believer's Transcendent Universe Page 25

• Ibn Sïna insists on the verity of an external reality for the concept of universal. His

postulate is grounded in the human capacity to abstract "that which is common to the

many in external reality" (Hallaq, 1991, pp. 50-51).

Ibn Taymiyya fully rejects the possible existence of universals outside the mind.

His arguments. based on an empiricist approach. clearly state that the extemal world is

inhabited by individuated particulars. ail of which are definite and unique. To conceive

of an external universal under which individuals could be subsumed is to give in to an

illusion created in the number of visible similarities, in spite of the fact that reality is

other as no Iwo entities can be absolutely identical. A truth based on the observation of

extemal existents can only be philosophically demonstrative, if it is grounded on the

exhaustive and absolute compendium of its constituent particulars. The multiplicity of

creation does not allow for such a possibility and thus does not sanction the elevation of

an empirical truth to the status of a philosophical truth.· Ibn Taymiyya thus concludes

that as absolute essence, the God of the philosophers is unthinkable and as absolute

existent, He is equated to a universal which has no extra-mental reality. In other

words; "the contemplation of Pure Essence. stripped of ail attributes••. is a mistake. and

absurd at that. Not only an Absolute Being devoid of attributes is unthinkable and

logically impossible. since it cannot subsist for a moment in the external world, it also

cannot be the Creator of the Iwo worlds and the object of man's devotion" (al-Radd • p.

518. cited in Memon. 1977. p. 33). Ibn Taymiyya condemns the philosophers for using

a human based methodology in their investigation of the Unseen.

When they hear the information of the Prophets about angels. the Throne.
the Chair. the Garden. and the Rre. they start from the presumption that
nothing exists except that which they know. Then they become confused
and interpret the teaching of the Prophet according to what they [think
they) know. even though there is no proof for it and they cannot base their
original denial on sound knowledge. Absence of knowledge is not knowledge

• of an absence (al-Ikhlii$. pp. 82-83 cited in Michel. 1983. p. 10)•

Chapter One: Nature of the Believer's Transcendent Universe Page 26

• Allah cannot be contained by the philosophers' simplistic definitions and categories.

emphasizing that the human dimension cannot be a point of departure in the

apprehension of the Divine. Ibn Taymiyya argues that the philosophers use a reason

based conceptual framework foreign to the scripture and from it emerges a gradient of

ascendance towards knowledge. 35 It amounts to a debasement of the role of revelation in

favour of discursive reasoning. From Ibn Taymiyya's perspective. it is a sterile

exercise which cannot yield the intended cognizance.

Tashbih is to draw an analogy between Allfih and His creation. In the Qur'an.

Allfih is described by attributes which have a resonance in the created world, since the

manner in which He is designated is on occasion identical to the way in which man defines

himself and his universe,36 Allfih is coined in terms of attributes and notions which are

35 ln al-Farabï's philosophy. man comprehends the principles of being through the

medium of intellection or by imagination. Faith in any concept is in turn clicitcd
through cither demonstration/proof or by persuasion. The combination of thcse
clements create three fields of knowledge to which is associated a hierarchy of being
as they shape the charncter formation of the individua!. Philosophy is the reunion
of intellection and demonstration, external philosophy is the expression of the
combination of intellection and persuasion and finally religion is the outcome of
imagination and persuasion. Al-Farabi assigns the gift of philosophy to the elect,
and to the most capable among them. he cntrusts the position of supreme ruler. He
considers religion to be an imitation of philosophy and as such. the religious
minded is relegated to the lowest stratum in the hierarchy. In between these two
poles. AI-Farabi inserts external philosophy, to it belongs the individual who has
left the realm of religion but has not yet anained the exalted status of the elect
(Nanji, 1990. pp. 53-55).

36 ln aI- Wiisiriyya, Ibn Taymiyya restates the common place humanization of Al/oh in
the Qur'iin:
vw.......,. .1 ... Jt
<.5)~ ~I L.S:... ..fI
.;.~I Jo <.5".:-1 ~ t~1 .... .j ...,..~~I ~ ...I~I-JI ~ ~.:.JI Y'
The authorS translation of the above three Iines is as follows:
But His hands are open (111- Wiisiriyya, p. 6).
1 am with you, 1 hear and 1 see (al. Wiisiriyya. p. 6).

• He is the One who created the Hcavens and the Earth in six days and then sat on the
throne (al- WiisiiÏyya. p. 9).
Chapter One: Nature of the Believer's Transcendent Universe Page 27

• verbally identical to the ones used to ascertain the human domain)7 The human defining

process l'ses a vocabulary endowed with a human referent and with the limitations that

human intellection imparts on the terms. Therefore, on the premise of an identical

terminology, the danger rests in the assumption that the knowledge imparted by human

categories translates into a corresponding knowledge about the Divine. Il equates AI/ah

with His creatures, and in effect strips Him of the perfection of His altributes. The

deception inherent in the process of analogy causes Ibn Taymiyya to be acutely aware of

the conceptual reality which underlies terminological conventions.

The scrutiny to which Ibn Taymiyya subjects language is driven by his claim that

the use of multi-valent terms, which admit an array of proper and figurative meanings,

deceive people from the uniqueness of the Divine Dimension. Present in Ibn Taymiyya's

mind is the wa1)dat al-wujüd school of thought to which he ascribes the erroneous

doctrine of pure tashbih. As stated above, the wa1Jdat al-wujüd school of thought proceeds

in the affirmation of AI/ah 's union with the universe, His existential identification with

His creation. as the created multiplicity is but a reflection of His oneness.

Whether it is the pure ta'tif of the philosophers or the pure tashbih of the

mystics. Ibn Taymiyya claims it is an exaggeration (ghuluww) of the conception of Allah;

ta'tI7 is an exaggerated transcendence while tashbih is an exaggerated immanence. Ibn

Taymiyya reaffirms that without faith the human mind is incapable to fathom the Divine.

The aeeept:lOce of the literai ascnptlon of human characteristics ta Alliih by Ibn

Taymiyya led ta charges of anthropomorphism. He dismissed his detractors as
misguided in their understanding of his credo.

37 f t ':/1 J:.UI .:.t ~ .:r:a. ~ J! l.:'..J1 .L... JI ~~ J.l-':!

The authork leanslation of the above is as follows: Our Lord descends ta the sky
closest ta the woeld each night. in the last third of the night (a/-Wiisiriyya. p. (2).
Chapter One: Nature of the Believer's Transcendent Universe Page 28

• As it is the case with the philosophers and the adepts of "'abdac aJ-lI'll;ud, AlIJh ceases to

be dissimilar and distinct from the other creatures and appears to be just like another

being. .4.l/5h becomes either a figment of one's reason and imagination or He is

incarnated (1;wl1) as a human being. In cases of extreme exaggeration. Ibn Taymiyya

claims that these !wo groups have made All5h the existential fount of the creatures

themselves (wujiid al-makhliiqat) (Ibn Tiimart. p. 178).

To reiterate, All5h is one, yet His oneness internalizes a multiplicity of

attributes. The One is a totality to which the attributes contribute, synthesized in an

internai unity. The multiple expression of the Divine is real (iJaqiqi) in spite of the

human incapacity to understand and explain how. The attemptto usurp AllJh's secrets is

not only futile, it is an innovation (bidà ) and should not be tolerated.

Ultimately, to foliow the truth is to foliow a via media ($ir5{ aI-muswqim).

T. Michel defines the attainment of knowledge of the Divine Reality as the affirmation

of tanzih38 without ta '{il, and tamthi139 without tashbih (Michel, 1984, p. 3). The only

assurance, however, that one is keeping to that narrow path is through the observance of

the only reliable account which has been entrusted with man; namely, the Qur'5n and

the examplar of the prophet.

38 Michel defines tanzïh as "the proper expression of divine transcendence which

preserves God's constant. active relation to creation" (Michel. 1984. p. 458).

39 Michel defines tamthil as "the proper expression of divine immanence which avoid.

both essential identification of God with creation and His dependence upon it"
(Michel, 1984, p. 458).

Chapter Two: The Nature of the Believer's Immanent Universe

Manifest in Ibn Taymiyya's religious belief is the focal importance with which

the divine fiat is vested. 40 AIliih's creative activity leads to the disclosure of His

nature, which is but one of His modes of revelation. 41 Still, whereas each creative aet

is an act of self-unveiling, it is only upon the disclosure of His will that revelation

forces a covenant. The enunciation of the divine will presupposes the hamessing of the

Creator and His creation in a mutual although unequal relationship. Once articulated, the

revelation of the divine will forces the object of its divulgence to respond. The

40 "The Originator of the Heavens and the Eanh! "'"ben He decreeth a thing, He saith
unto it only: Be! and it is" Sürah Il. AI·Baqarah, verse 117.

41 The revelatory activity of Al/ah is multi-faceted and grounded in the concept of

khalq. The primordial act of creation permeates ail levels of the generative world.
from the emergence of the universe to the font of human reason ('aql). The creative
act is in effcct one and Inseparable from the revelatory act, since to create is me sine
qua non condition to being known by the created. The following example
iIlustrates a point which the Qur'an corroborates at length. In Sürah XVII. Bani
lsra'i1, verse 44. it is stated that "the seven heavens and the eanh and ail that is

therein praise Him. and there is not a thinll but hymneth His praise; but ye
understand not their praise. Lo! He is ever Clement, Forgiving".

Page 29
Chapter Two: The Nature of the Believer's Immanent Universe Page 30

• disclosure of the divine will confronts man with a binary choice which he cannot

consciously ignore. It represents the enslavement of man to Allah, as man can choose 10

be guided by the divine injunctions or refuse to abide by them. In either case, the

objective is the destruction of a possible plane of reality outside of the divinely ordained.

or in other words. a deliverance from ignorance. The world becomes fully

comprehensible only in the event of a participation of creation in the true realityl2

divulged by Allah. The Divine-human encounter is not only central but fundamental to

the partaking of creation in His revealed reality. To consciously partake in this reality.

forces a process of becoming truly real on the part of the created. This awareness, in

tum, necessitates the articulation of the conformity of human acts to the divine will

through a literary agency and a human archetype. In other words. the correspondence of

human action to a sacred nomothetic discourse must be mediated through the written teX!

of the Qur'iin and the exemplar of the Prophet. as both provide the outer expression of

particular and discreet knowledge.

11.1 The Nature of lbe Qur'iin

Centuries after the Mi.;na43 • the orthodoxy44 had won and managed to firmly

42 As previously mentioned (see Introduotion. footnote 2). Reality is used to convey a

double dimension: (1) AJliih's paradigmatic act of creation; and (2) the creation o.'
an alternative plane of reference. th~ '·Thou encounter. which is at the center of ail
meaning. The 1-Thou encount~r not only forces an irrevocable vertical
accountability of man to AJliih. it also creates an horizontal dependence as man is
forced into a divinely preordained relationship with his fellow man. It imposes a
moral dimension on human existence.

43 Traditional sources usually cite al-Ja'd b. Dirham (executed for the heresy of his
theological opinions in d. 12Sn43) and al-Jahm b. Safwiin (killed in a rebellion in
d. 127n4S) as evidence for an interest in the createdness of the Qur'iin Ihat
antedated the public debate which began at the beginning of the nineth century. The
Mi/;lna. also referred to as the Inquisition. is nevertheless of importance as it
symbolizes the political crisis which engulfed the community over Caliph AI-

Ma'mun's (813-833 A.D.) official endorsement of the dogma of the creation of the
Qur'iin. The notion became the benchmark of one of the few officially promulgated
definitions of orthodoxy and provided the impctus to the force which was 10 take
over the ascendancy. The voice of opposition was that of Ibn l:Ianbal and his own
Chapler Two: The Nature of the Believer's Immanent Universe Page 31

• entrench as a vilal part of the Sunnite creed, the notion that the Qur'ân is the uncreated

speech of Alltib (AllfLlj ghayr makhlüq). The man most responsible for the adoption of

that particular credo is Al:tmad Ibn /:lanbaI. Three centuries later. Ibn T~ymiyya

sanctions the views and arguments of the founder of his madhab (school). He aHirms

that Ibn /:lanbal's traditionalist doctrine of the uncreated nature of the Qur'ân is founded

on the position held to by the Companions of the Prophet, the salaf.45 Theirs (the salafj

is a negation of the possibility that the sacred word of the Qur'fin be an independent

entity. existing outside and alongside of Alliih (khalaqahu fi ghayrihi). The rational being

that if the word is net separate from Him and there is nothing of Him which is created.

inlerpretation of the question was eventually adopted by the Sunni majority. (Sec
footnote no. 44 for a brief outline of the dynamies of orthodoxy). Seen from a
broader perspective. lhe eontroversy is also indicative of a willingness on the pan
of the carly muslim theologians to apply the Greek-defined notions of essence and
attributes to the concept of the Divine. For a full discussion on the anteeedenlS to the
controversy over the ereatedncss of the Qur'iïn scc. J. M. Barral. pp. 504-525.

44 F. Rahman raises an interesting point on the nature of the orthodoxy in Islam. He

states the following: "lt is indeed a curious and striking fact about religious history
of Isliïm. that at cach critieal point of ilS eareer the force that cornes to the forefrent
and lakes over the situation is not the then forroalized established orthodoxy but
rather something that presenlS ilSelf at every juneture as the raw material of the
orthodoxy subsequently to be forroed. ln ilSelf this force is something ncndescript
and for want of a better designation is called by such terros as Ahl aJ-I;ladich or Ah1
al-Sunna. But the Ahl a/-I;ladich or the Ahl al-Sunna is not the name of any
partleular group. sect or party. and if there is an 'orthodoxy' or a 'conservatism', this
is surely the one in ascendancy at the point of time concemed. lt develops not by
self-propulsion. so to say. but by watching. adjusting and absorbing within ilSelf
that which moves within. lt is a synthetic activity" (Rahman. 1979, p. Ill).

45 The author will use the lerro salafism -- a rendering of the Arabie salafiyya -- to
typify Ibn Taymiyya's rhird methodological component (Sec Introduction for a
referenee to the first twc methodological elemenlS). As a generic terro, it represenlS
an appeal for a retum to pure and pristine Islam through the actualizZlion of the
salutary example of pious epigones (the sa/af). Ibn Tayrniyya uses a regressive
methodology, as he endows the Qur'iïn with a notion of summum bonum. The
exemplar of the prophet followed by the one provided by the salaf sirnply represent
ilS human valorization and in general a trickling down of the guidance. This

rendition does not make any reference to the ninetheenth century Egyptian reforro
movement of Mul)ammad 'Abdu (1265-1323/1849-1905). lt is used here to invoke
a theologica! position not a political orientation.
Chapter Two: The Nature of the Believer's Immanent Universe Page 32

• then logically, the Qur'5n cannot be created. 46 As the speech of A/l5h, the Qur J5n is

thus expressive of the divine essence and is ascribed a similar ontological status as is

His will, and His knowledge ('ilm). The word of Al/5h is an eternal attribute4 7 not in the

manner of an aniculated or spoken speech but as the divine logos of the Hellenistic and

Christian traditions. To the doctrine 01 the divine logos is customai'ily attached the

notion of temporality versus the notion of eternity. Whether in the Christian tradition

or in the post-Mi1Jna period, it became generally accepted to adjoin a temporal

dimension to the word "created" while the word "uncreated" became affixed with the

concept of eternity. Ibn Taymiyya denies this equation which forces the resultant of one

to be the affirmation of the other (uncreated - -.. eternal)48. He attempts to qualily the

notion of eternity (qadim) in an effon to provide a theory consistent with the pious

ancestors' affirmation of the uncreated nature of the Qur'5n and their unwillingness to

46 Ibn Taymiyya quotes the following statement with approval (al-Ras'l'il. Volume 111.
pp. 133-34):
~J~ .;,-> ~I ..,.L.....I ~ ~~I " - ~ .l:.. ..,.L:JI ~ ~~I :JL:; ~~~ ' " .,-&

~..... <:lI J l::~ "- :<ÎJ r'lS ,,1; .;,I.".LJI ~I ,j"J.;.. .1.... 1.. J ..;Jt.;J1 <ÎJ. v~~
The author's translation is: "'Amr bin Dinar said: For seventy years 1 have found
the companions of the Prophet and those after him saying that Allah is the creator.
and everything except Him is created. And the Qur'an is the speech of Allah. From
Him it emerged and to Him it returns.

47 This contention was first aniculated by Ibn I:Ianbal. He saw in it the way in which
he could challenge the Mu'tazilite nolion which equated the speech of A lliih with
an attribute of action. The Mu'tazilites' insistence on the createdness of the word of
AllEh. presumed an origination in lime. It debased Allah to something less than
Himself as it Iikened Him to His creatures. The implication is that there was a time
when Allah did not speak. and hence it introduces a change in His fundamental
nature (Barral. 1985. p. 517).
Ibn Taymiyya adopts his predecessors formula which guarantees Allah's freedom of
speech: (al-Rasa'il. Volume III. p. 44)
.~ 1::'1 ~ <ÎJ J;" ~
The author's translation is: "AllEh does not make a mistake as a speaker when He
wills" .

48 Ibn Taymiyya's poslllon represents a disavowal of his own I:Ianbalite school. and a
re-examination of his famous predecessor's views (Ibn I:Ianbal).
Chapter Two: The Nature of the Believer's Immanent Universe Page 33

• assert its eternity. According to J. M. Barral (Barral, 1985, p. 524), Ibn Taymiyya

advocates a restrictive understanding of the notion of eternity which allows him the

freedom to affirm the eternity of the divine logos in its species (jins). but not in its

particular materialization ('ayn). The attempt consists in a re-consecration and a

revitalization of the salars recognition and acceptance of the view that the Qur'an was

indeed uttered by Alliih in time and hence uncreated but not eternal.49

11,11 The Qur'iin as a Part;cular and Djscreet Soyrce of Knowledge

To understand the role played by the sacred text, it is necessary to introduce

briefly the concept of reason ('aqI).SO Reason or intellect,SI if taken to signily the

49 Ibn Taymiyya does not uphold the sa/af's positIon out of a nostalgic sense of
antiquarianism. Rather. he conccives of the exemple provided by thc salai as a
paradigmatic construct. As a clear arehetype of actualized guidance. the salai as a
group, is seen by Ibn Taymiyya as a rcpository and a guarantor of continuity and
tradition. In this. he assumes that tradition is not a static entity, but a flexible and
permanent claboration of themes and conceptions which are only putatively
original. This position allows him to draw on the elementary principles which
guided the salai to issue a judgment. but also entitles him to give a personal
rationale for his advocacy of it. This dynamie technique is what explains his
willingness to moderate the concept of eternity.

SO The Arabic noun 'aq 1 is conventionally translated in English to mean

"intelligence". It is not apparent to the author. however, that the Arabic 'aql makes a
semantic difference between intelligence. intellect. or reason.

SI It is possible to argue that Ibn Taymiyya chooses to posit reason as a point of

dcparture of knowledge to avoid the threat of cireular reasoning. Were he to assert
the priority of revelation as the sour:e of ail knowledge about the Divine. his
argument would indeed become circular as the authenticity of revelation would
have to he based on itself. In fact. he claims that if reason as an intellectual process.
were to find an internai contradiction in the teachings of the Qur'iin, it would
indicate that the sacred text is not a revealed book. (Michel. 1984. p. 107). While.
if reason is taken to Mean an intuitive fonn of apprehension. it has the capacity to
discern the divine signs as they are perceived by the faculty of sense perception.
This implies a connection between the signs and a transcendent being who is
understood to be their origi:1ator. In sum, the perception of the fonner gives
credibility. legitimacy and authority to the latter.

Eisewhere. however. Ibn Taymiyya explicitly asserts that the Qur'iin aflinns that it

was revealed by Al/iih. and that it is the sign and the proof of its revelation.
(Ma'iirij al- Wu~ül, pp. 79-80). This is precisely the circular argument mentioned
above. whereby the authenticity of the sacred text is advocated on the basis of its
own merits. A possible way out of this entanglement may rest with Ibn Taymiyya's
Chapter Two: The Nature of the Believer's Immanent Universe Page 34

• inclusion of ail natural channels of knowledge, represents a point of departure of

knowledge in Ibn Taymiyya's epistemology. Ibn Taymiyya upholds the notion that human

beings are bom "free of particularized knowledge",52 even though they are endowed with

sound faculties of sense perception and intuitive disposition (tï{ra53 .- an aggregate of

necessary knowledge)(Hallaq, 1991. p. 58). These inbom, in potentia, capacities are

fully actualized after birth. and can yield extensive knowledge. if as rational methods,

they are not corrupted. Their function is ta apprehend Alliih 's signs. as these alone yield

conclusive knowledge about the Divine. The most important knowledge attained through

the sound use of this particular form of reasoning is the preamble of revelation. It

triggers the human awareness of the existence of A,lliih as a self·evident truth, even

though. it does not force the realization of the contingent nature of the created's

existence. The relationshil= of dependency of the created on the Divine becomes apparent

with the articulation of a message through the medium of revelation. Accordingly, Ibn

Taymiyya approaches revelation as the sole source of normative ethical knowledge

The proper delineation of the relationship between Alliih and His creation relies

on more than an innate awareness of the Divine and the immediate knowledge that it

infuses in the created. Ibn Taymiyya argues against the human capacity ta acquire.

belief in the perfection and exalted status of the sacred text. He does not ehoose one
method of proof over the other. but rather Ibn Taymiyya adopts an inclusive
approaeh. Reason. in all of its fonns. will prove the authenticity of the text. yet the
text itself is so superior to human faculties that a cJaim about itself wiU not only
confinn the results of the other methods but legitimize their claim.

52 Man is not born free of aU knowledge. He is imprinted with a diffused sense of the
Divine. His fitra. which can be equated with the notion of Isliim, eontains the
intuitive knowledge of the existence of Alliih. It is latent and man needs to recaU it
to inteUeetuaUy become aware of the Divine (sec Chapter Three).

53 Fitra is a repository of non-inferred knowledge. as will be demonstrated in Chapter

Three. It can he defined. as above. as an aggregate of necessary infonnation. yet the
l;Ianbalite schoal of thought prefers to refer to it as a fonn of innate knowledge.
Chapter Two: The Nature of the Believer's Im~'anent Universe Page 35

• through the use of reason, an understanding of the divine will. Lelt to its own devices,

creation (mankind) cannot 1athom its obligation of gratitude along either the vertical

axis (Allah) or the horizontal axis (man). Ibn Taymiyya's theory is clearly based on

the assumption that obligation is intelligible and unveiled to the created's consciousness

only in terms of commands. They in turn are clearly enunciated in the sacred text

(Memon, 1977. p. 330). This reverence for the Qur'an iIIustrates the correlative
assumption of absolute knowledge by the Divine and the partial knowledge of its creation,

but it is at one and the same time. combined with the concept that human reason is also a

partial and Iimited capacity. Actions have an epistemic counterpart. and Allâh 's

knowledge is quite literally synonymous with His power. Man. as he is endowed with

restrictive capacities cannot hope to emulate the Divine in his acts. Hence, man's reason

as an instrument of knowledge cannot "sit in judgment [of revelationj54 and be the

arbiter of its Iimits and prescriptions· (Michel. 1984. p. 3). Ibn Taymiyya's vision

consists in assigning a status of non-Inference and self-evidence to the scriptural

truths: however. they have to be revealed to be recognized as such by the created, as

creation cannot arrive to them independently (Naqç1. p. 33).55

The sacred text56 represents Alliih's direct speech. and ·speech is either insha'.

i.e. commands about what should and should not be done as weil as what is permissible.

54 Author's insertion.

55 This argument is derived from N. Madjid's translation of Naqt/.. p. 33 in his doctoral

dissertation. (1984. page 77). He states the following: "The Qur'an and Sunna are.
in general and in every respect, the only proofs that would lead people to lnIth."

56 Ibn Taymiyya does not approach the Qur'an from a holistic perspective. He docs not
scek to envision the sacred text as a concatenation of sequential subjeclS. where the
unit of knowledge is the stringing together of ail the sequences of knowledge. He
cl,early partitions the Qur'an into three sub-headings: "one third rawQid. one third

parables. and one-third commands. positive as weil as negative" (AI-Iqrilja'.
p. 330).
Chapter Two: The Nature of the Believer's Immanent Universe Page 36

• and ikhbiir. i.e., accounts either about the Creator or the creatures" (Memon, 1977, p.

330). The knowledge which the Qur'iin intends to impart on creation is accessible

through the proper exegesis of the text. Michel (Michel, 1984, p. 3) argues that Ibn

Taymiyya validates a proper and untainted reflection and commentary upon the

unambiguous (?iihir) signification of the Quranic text as an acceptable foray i'nto a

dimension of knowledge made available by Alliih through His discourse. The intent is to

consciously equate the unit of knowledge with a unitary expression. The word through

the idea or concept it evokes, signifies a single entity in its entirety. The relevance of

the?iihir lies in its immediate "sense" accessibility. It is the most direct. unobstructed

and evident access to knowledge. as it reflects a direct disclosure of the Divine. almost

its physical/verbal translation.

Proper exegesis consists in collating to the written words of theQur'iin. the true

meanings of the term in the way Allah has intended. Its fundamental objective

translates as an atlempt to seek out the analogue of the initially posite.:l meaning of the

term. It calls for a retum to the original signification and application of the word as the

sense embodies its pristine truth and simultaneously. knowledge. A correct

understanding of language is critical to an accurate comprehension of the text.

Yet language antedates the revelation of the Qur'iin. as Allah endowed mankind

with a mean of verbal communication at the time of His creative command.57 Language

is an instrument given to man by the Divine to compliment his natural makeup of

intelligence. Through the processes of the intellect. man is able to comprehend. speak

57 Sürah XXX. AI-Rüm. verse 22: "And of His signs is the creation of the Heavens and

the Earth. and the difference of your languages and colours. Lo! Herein indeed are
portents for men of knowledge".
Chapter Two: The Nature of the Believer's Immanent Universe Page 37

• and transform his God-given mode of communication. The Qur'ân, as an individual

manifestation of the divine discourse, does not provide the created with the signification

of the primary vocabulary it chooses to employ. The assumption is that the concept-

laden words will be interpreted and understood in their original divinely intended


The truth of a text may still fall pray to the Interference of satanic forces. In

Naqlj (p. 34). Ibn Taymiyya argues that in spite of the purity of the exegete's intent, he

may still misunderstand and/or improperly contextualize the Quranic expressions

(Majdid, 1984. p. 79). It results in misguidance as the truth becomes transformed into

a falsehood. From a theoretical perspective. the satanic dictation is no less then a

displacement of the originally intended correspondence between word or expression and

its attached meaning. and in ail cases, it forces a distortion of the object knowledge.

Nonetheless, the knowledge which can be derived from revelation is dependent on

elements of reason if the meaning of the scriptural text is to become transparent. Ibn

Taymiyya. Michel argues, envisions reason as a corollary to revelation. Michel

interprets the role Ibn Taymiyya assigns to human reason as being associative and

systematizing in nature (Michel. 1984. p. 3).

To avoid a possible confusion over the role played by reason as opposed to

revelation, a comparative statement is necessary. The implicit contrast which

permeates Ibn Taymiyya's thought. between the knowledge associated to the meanings of

concept-Iaden terms and the knowledge derived from the specifie contents of ethical

value. has to be pointed out. The former is accessible to mankind through a recourse to

the intellectual faculty, understanding arises from it and prior to revelation as it's

• function (revelation) serves only to confirm the already known. The latter, from which
Chapter Two: The Nature 01 the Believer's Immanent Unive..s& Page 38

• virtues. commands and obligations stem. is the exclusive domain 01 revelation and cannot

be known through another medium. The intellect is not entirely irrelevant to the

acquisition 01 knowledge. but its interpretative laculty is stringently regimented. Ibn

Taymiyya measures the merits 01 the activity against the potential benefits it can reap.

He arrives at the conclusion that knowledge is 01 value il it is strictly subordinated to

the lundamental obligations 01 the religion (Laoust. 1979, p. 74. n. 1).

According to Ibn Taymiyya, the truth expressed by the Qur'an. il conceived as an

object of knowledge,58 is singular. The nature of the knowledge expressed by the sacred

text is in no way repetitious, each sentence embodies a meaning which is not to be lound

anywhere else (Macfirij al- WU$ül. p. 71). Truth. then, being whole and unitary, is lully

accessible, except lor the intended ambiguity (mutashabih) 01 certain passages. These are

inelfable 59 for reasons known to Allah only, however, the occasional opacity of the

Qur'iin does heighten the utter dissimilarity of the Divine (Macfirij al-WU$ül, p. 73).60

It is a whole encompassing entity which expresses the fundamental tenets 01 the laith

(u$ül). As such, it also expresses in no ambivalent terms, prools (bariihin), signs (ayat)

58 SÏJrah VII, AI-A criif. verse 52: "Verily We have brought them a Scripturc which Wc
expound with knowledge, a guidance and a mercy for a people who believe".

59 SÏJrah m, AI-'lmriin. verse 7: "He it is Who hath revealed unto thee (Mubammad)
the Scripture wherein are clear revelations. They are the substance of the Book-and
others (which are) allegorical. But those in whose heans is doubt pursue. forsooth.
that which is allegorical seeking (to cause) dissension by seeking to explain it.
None knoweth its explanation save AI/iih".

60 The ambiguous nature of certain verses in th' Qur'iin is a fact which even the sacred
text acknowledges. The ambiguity of the Quranic language is universally accepled
by Muslims. Sunni Muslims wouId, however. deny Ihe possibility for any human
being to know the truc meaning of these passages. with the possible, yet notable
exception of Mubammad. Shi'i Isliim approaehes the topic from a different
perspective and entrusts its imiim with faeulties absent from the rest of humanity.

Through their special girts, the Shi'i imiims may know the truc meaning oi the
mutashabiha verses.
Chapter Two: The Nature of the Seliever's Immanent Universe Page 39

• and arguments (adiIla). elements which yield certain knowledge of the Divine ReaHty and

Divine will (Ma'5rij al- Wu~ül. p. 72).61 Ibn Taymiyya insists on the inner uniqueness

and incomparability of expressions in the sacred teXl. The unicity of meaning of each

Quranic expression is the rational foundation on which Ibn Taymiyya grounds his avowal

of the multiple descriptive tilles affixed to the Qur'fin. Whether called, Qur'fin. Furqfin.

Bayfin. Hudfi Ba~fi'ir. Shifli' Nür. Ra(lma. RÜ(l each altribute conveys its own

differentiated and unrepeated 62 meaning (Ma"5rij al-WU$ül. p. 71). The sum tolal is the

verbal expression of absolute and universal knowledge available to the created realm.

although it is but a fraction of the knowledge of Allfih.

61 Laoust (1939. p. 68 n. 3) attempts to see in Ibn Taymiyya's belief. whieh claims that
the logical universality of the Quranic affirmations represent proofs (burhiïniya) in
themselves. a parallel to the Isma'ili belief that the Qur'iïn is the exhaustive source
of knowledge. His argumentation is based on Ivanow's translation of Tiïju'l al-
'Aqii'id (written by Sayyid-na 'Ali b. Mul)ammad b. al-Walid. ob. 61211215). He
refers specifically to aniele 53 which states:
The Coran conlains ail religious knowledge (al-'uliimu al-diniya), bOlh in letter
and spirit (ammiï laf?an wa ammiï manü). Philosophy, /;Iikma, is whal is contained
in the Coran (hiya ma'iïni miï üdi' fi al-Qur'iin). It contains ail Ihat mankind needs
10 be guided in religion and in wisdom (shar'an wa 'aqlan) (Ivanow, 1936. pp.

62 To ilIustrate Ihe nuances in the knowledge each attribule convey. Nasr highlights
two names, al-Furqiïn and al-Hudiï. He states that "the names of the Book, refer to
the fact that it contajns ail Islamic doctrine. and in fact, the root of ail
knowledge...as al-Furqiïn. Iilerally th~ "discernment" is that which enables man to
distinguish between truth and falsehood. good and evi!. The Book is also known as
al-Hudiï. the Guide, since it contains the knowledge that the muslims possess in
order to remain upon the suaight path (al-$iriït al-Muscaqim)" (Nasr, 1991, p. 6).

Chapter Two: The Nature of the Believer's Immanent Universe Page 40

• 1L III The Human ValQrizatiQn Qi The Divine Gujdance 63

The intuitive perceptiQn (fÏ!ra) man has Qf the Divine is due tQ a direct

relationship between Alliih and His creatiQn. A.lliih chooses tQ establish an intangible

awareness of His existence in the heart of men even though, this direct relatiQnship does

nQt bring abQut a cQgnitive knQwledge Qf the Divine. An intellectually derived knowledge

of the Divine can Qnly be altained through the creation Qf an indirect yet primQrdial

relationship between Alliih and humanity. For Ibn Taymiyya. this linkage between the

Divine and tempQral realms does not indicate an QperatiQnal or even functional unity as

the $ufis might argue, but rather suggests an intrinsic unity of purpQse and

signification. The unveiling of meaning and purpose represents knQwledge which the

Divine wants imparted to His creation and which necessitates the advent of a prophel.

The prQphet represents the gate to religio perennis. and withQut him. no path exists to

an understanding of the Divine and hence. salvation. Primarily then, the prQphet is one

who is fully receptive to Alliih 's presence and who perfectly surrenders to il. FrQm this

transcendental experience results the imparting of knowledge. but beYQnd the mere

cQgnizance of the unveiled dimension of the Divine. lies an even greater knowledge; the

knQwledge Qf Alliih's will or cibiida which must be translated into actiQn. Man is ordered

to comprehend and actively implement Alliih's will intQ his profane existence. 64 The

63 H. Laoust and F. Rahman argue that the l;Ianbalite scholar's lrcatmcnl of thc issuc of
prophecy (nubuwwà) is convcntional and confines itself to a striCI rcliancc on thc
traditions and the text of the Qur'iin (H. Laoust. 1939. pp. 179-180) and (F.
Rahman. 1958. p. lOI). In addition. both H. Laoust and V. Makari point ouI thal
Ibn Taymiyya's discussion of prophethood is less conccrnce with an elucidation of
the concept itself than it is with its theological-juristic function (H. Laoust. 1939. p.
179) (V. Makari. 1983, p. 47).
Michel argues that Ibn Taymiyya wrote thr:e works on the topic of prophecy. Kieiib
a/-Nubuwwiie in which he a::ldresses the doctrine of prophetic inspiration: its
uniqueness and characteristics. His argumentation is based on the Qur'iin and the
traditions. T3khjil Ahl a/-lnjil and AI-Jawiib a/-$a/;!J/;!. both are a treatment of the
cbaracteristics of prophecy. Michel believes Takhjil Ahl a/-lnjil to have preccded

the authorship of a/-Jawiib a/-$a/;!J/;! (Michel, 1984, p. 103).

64 According to Ibn Taymiyya, philosophers and mystical scholars like Abu l;Iamid al-
Chapter Two: The Nature of the Believer's Immanent Universe Page 41

• communication of the divine will results in the definition of both Allfill and His creation.

A covenantal reJationship emerges in Iight of the Divine's desire to be known. It forces a

vertical relationship since to receive knowledge of the Divine forces the awareness of the

contingent nature of human existence. The prophetie cali is thus the exoteric and human

manifestation of this I-Thou encounter.

Il IV The Agent of prophecy

The prophet's elect status is totally removed from human operations and tha

human referents and Iimits which always accompany them. Alliih in His

unmanipulatability has the absolute freedom to choose and inform any prophet of His

designs (Nubuwwiit. p. 185). Furthermore, the choice of an unlettered (ummï)

individual as prophet not only confirms the absolute power of Alliih. but also stresses

the miraculous nature of the revelation and hence of ils originator (AI-Jawab al-$aQïQ.

p. 174). The illiteracy of MuJ:1ammad ensures the impossibility of a humanistically

coloured agency as revelation cannot be qualified by any form of human input. The

singui:arity o. MuJ:1ammad's mission is further evidenced by the terminology used to

define il. Mul:tammad is called "rasül", "the one who has been sent". The Arabie language

uses !WO terms to refer to the concept of prophecy, one is rasül while the other is nabï.

Rasül derived from the roots r-s-I, can be referred back to its fourth verbal form.

arsala. which means "to send". The noun "messenger" is, however. associated with a

Ghazali are misguided in their belief that the ultimate purpose of any aetion is the
imparting of knowledge (a/-Nubuwwiit. pp. 77-79). To seek knowledge qua
knowledge is to go beyond what eould be termed "a suffieient point of referenee".
This point symbolizes the limit whieh sets apan neeessary and suffieient knowledge
from intelleetual ventures which are sterile and fallacious ("anna). Ibn Taymiyya
argues that the thinker commilS the error of "anna and is deterred from the ultimate
goal of thought which is to bring the individual to a consciousness which demands
action. Sufficient and useful thought" enables man to transcend the plane of thought

as such ar.d enables the believer 10 rise to the ultimate challenge which is to live out
the knowledge provided by the Divine.
Chapter Two: The Nature of the Believer's Immanent Universe Page 42

• specifie doctrine of prophecy (nubil,,·w;J). F. Rahman defines the term n;Jbi as "giver of

news"65 while A. Jeffrey interprets it to mean "one who summons or call"M> A subtle

distinction separates the IWo terms. Ibn Taymiyya confirms their separateness through

his adherence to a categorization of the prophets. A prophet belongs to the category of the

legislating-prophet (rasill) or to the heralding-prophet (n;Jbi) or both. 67 The

legislating-prophet brings with him a new revelation while the heralding-prophet does

nol. The nabi prophesizes within the context of an already existing revelation. 68 ln

Fatiiwa Shaykh al-Islam. Ibn Taymiyya declares the legislating-prophets to be live in

number; Noah. Abraham. Moses. Jesus and MUQammad (Fatawii Shaykh al-Islam.
Volume XI. pp. 161 in conjunction with 369). The Qur'an refers to them as <ulu ;JI-

<a?m, "the possessors of constancy·69 and states that MUQammad is the seal of the

prophets and the best among them (AI-Jawab al-$a/;IiJ). pp. 162 in conjunction with

357). From a strictly methodological perspective. Ibn Taymiyya does not in fact

65 F. Rahman argues that as opposed to the Judeo-Christian tradition. the nabi does not
foretell the future. He is solely entrusted with the mission to advoeate the good and
to warn against evil (F. Rahman. 1980. p. 81).

66 A. Jeffrey. argues that the Hebrew substantive of nabi is a eognate of the Arabie
naba'a with the Akkadian nabu (Wansborough. 1977. pp. 54-55).

67 A legislating prophet combines the herolding and legislating funetions. The rasüJ is
also a nabi. however. the reeiproeal is untrue.

68 In AJ-Nubuwwâc. Ibn Taymiyya gives an aeeount of his conception of the two

categories. F. Rahman gives the following rendition of A J- N u b u w w ii C.
pp. li2-173: "a prophet (nabi) ris] a man whom God sends a message. The
ordinary prophet is a reformer: he brings a message to a people who do not contest
the truth of the message but are simply morally not living up to what they recognize
as true. The prophet's function is to reform them morally. But when a people
refuses to accept the very truth. the task of the prophet is of a revolutionary chameter.
His funetion is that of a socio-moral crusader (like Moses and Mul)ammad) and very
often such a kind of prophet (ealled rasüJ) brings with him a new Shari'a - a socio-
moral code to establish a new order of society" (F. Rahman. 1980. p. 104).

69 M. Pickthall renders Sürah XLVI. AJ-A1Jqiif. verse 3S as "then have patience (0

Mul)ammad) even as the stout of hem among the messengers (of old) had patience
and seek not to hasten on the doom for them" .
Chapter Two: The Nature 01 the Believer's Immanent Universe Page 43

• altempt to argue lhal the nalL:re of the revealed message is unique 70 (even lhough he

ccnsiders il 10 have been perfecled with Mu~ammad's prophelhood (AJ-Jawab aJ-$a1;iJ;l.

p. 355)), bul ralher that the uniqueness rests wilh the recipient. Ibn Taymiyya's beliel

in the universality 01 lhe message is evidenced in his usage 01 the substantive "Book". He

submils that every believer must surrender to the guidance engrained in the "Book". In

this conlext, the connotation is one of generality, the "Book" relers to ail scriptures

revealed by Allah and it includes the Torah, the Gospel and finally the Qur'an. The

commonality 01 ail scriptures lies in the cO:1tent they expre:;s; namely Al1ah 's will and

guidance (AJ-Jawab aJ-$a1)iJ;l. p. 148). If a theory of revelation is to hold on the grounds

of a universal me,ssage entrusted to a select le", then the simplest rationale is to argue in

favour of the extraordinary nature of the recipient. Hence, the simplest explanation to

the emergence of a single or a discrete series of individuals is to claim the prophet's

uniqueness among creation.

ln agreement with the fundamental concept which ascribes to the recipient a

unique nature, Mul).ammad as portrayed by Ibn Taymiyya is defined by the

superabundance of his skills (eloquence, arbitration, etc...).71 Yet, the level of

70 Revelation as an original VIsIon or intelligible is untenable to reason. since by

definiùon the revealed message is nothing short of the unveiling of a fundamental
and primordial reality. The religion intimated by the prophet does not begin with
his calling but originates on the day of genesis. Sürah II. AI-Baqarah verse 117:
"The Originator of the heavens and the earth! When He decreeth a thing, He saith
unto it only: Be! and it is".

71 As the prophet of the Arabs. Mul)ammad displayed a mastery of the skills prevalent
among his people. One such skill Mul)ammad capitalized upon was the Arabs' love
of discourse. Mul)ammad is known to have had a loquacious disposition and his
eloquence eased Ihe acceptance of his message by his people. Sürah XVI. AI-Na/;l/,
verse 125: "Cali unlO the way of thy Lord with wisdom and exhortation. and
rcason with them in the better way," Ibn Taymiyya broaches the subject of
exhortation as an essential part of a prophet's mission in Ma'iirij al- W"$ül (Ma'iirij

:1I- WU$ül. pp. 66-67).

ln AI-f3wiib al-SaQ/Q. Ibn Taymiyya resorts to the traditions to depict the perfection
to the messenger: "1 was given preference over the prophets in six things: 1 was
Chapter Two: The Nature of the Believer's Immanent Universe Page 44

• receptivity of Mu!:lammad to All5h is due not only to his natural talents but also to a

super-eminent nature (khuluq "i!?im) to which the Qur'5n testifies. n The ultimate goal

is the total infusion of A1l5h's message and its accu rate recitation by His messenger. It

implies an absolute surrender to the Divine and that demands a profound tranquillity of

being. It intimates a temperament and disposition in perlect harmony and equilibrium.

devoid of human passions, the prophet's character s'Jblimates his humanness.

Mu!:lammad shares with ail mortals a temporal physical form, however, none of the

internai conflicts which prey upon them. affect him. The sublimity of the prophet's

personality is the minimum necessary for a transfer of knowledge from the sacred to the

profane. What can be termed "the mu!:lammedan substance"73 is the guarantor of the

divine promise as its worldly presence represents the access to the Divine from which

the rest of humanity is barred due to its inadequacies of mind and nature.

At the time of revelation. the Divine is observably involved in the realm of the

created through the commission of the prophet. He. as the recipient of kn Jwledge. must

convey the received information without any distortion of the divine intent. Hence. the

verbal expression of the message is something which could at times be agonizing and time

consumming for Mu!:lammad. The information cannot be sullied by human

contamination. Mu!:lammad is at the mercy of the inarticulate meaning until Allah in

His absolute freedom triggers the emergence of pure and pristine words in the prophet's

mind. The prophet's responsibility is to refrain from second-guessing the Divine. He

given comprehensiveness in utterance: 1 was dclivered from fcar: 1 was permittcd

booty: for me the earth was made a pure mosque; 1 was senl to mankind in ilS
entirety: with me the prophets were concluded" (AJ-Jawàb aJ-$a!fi!f. p. 155).

72 Sürah LXVIII. AJ-QaJam. verse 4: "And lo! thou an of a lremendous nature."

• 73 Term coined by Frithjof Schuon.

Chapter Two: The Nature of the Believer's Immanent Universe Page 45

• must wait in a state of "wise-passiveness",74 for ti1e meaning to become embedded in

scriptural form.7 5 ln this theory of revelation, the prophet is removed from any direct

involvement in the creation of scripture. As the first person to receive the message

from among the created, his role is Iimited to a degree of intimacy and proximity to il.

ln AJ-Nubuww5t, Ibn Taymiyya grounds his exposition of the existence of three

revelatory modes on the Qur'5n. He argues that the prophet acquires his knowledge

through the agency of direct speech, the intercession of the angels and the inspiration a

vision or a dream triggers in him (AJ-Nubuww5t, p. 168) (refer to Diagram 1). An

example of the first instance is the prophet's night journey (al-mi cr5j) during which

Aliiih impressed upon MUQammad the importance and obligatory nature of a specifie

religious duty: prayer ($aJah). The second and third modes of revelation are based on the

modified classical definition of man which stipulates that man is a "rational, mortal

animal". The fundamental role of the prophet is to convey otherwise inaccessible

knowledge to the rest of humanity. This function forces a modification of the definition of

man as the ~rophet must be an "insplred, rational, mortal animal". To the prophet

descends the holy spirit (aJ-ruQ al-qudüs) and for an instant the distinction which

separates the sublime from the mundane is abolished. Free of material contingencies,

the prophet is able to welcome the angelic form of the holy spirit (Jibnl) and receive the

divine message (Ibn Tümart, p. 174). In the case of oneiromancy or visions, the

rational faculties of the proilhet behold a glimpse of the divine reality as the veil which

usually obscures this dimension is lifted. Ali three modes of revelation result in a

74 Tcrm coincd by W. Wordsworth.

75 Sür:lh LXXV. AJ-Qiyiimah. verses 16·19: "Sûr not thy tongue herewith to hasten it.
Lo! Upon Us (resteth) the putting together thereof :lnd the reading thereof. And

when We re:ld it. fol1ow thou the reading; Then lo! UpOh Us (resteth) the
exp1anation thereof.
Chapter Two: The Nature ot the Believer's Immanent Universe Page 46

• transcending ot sheer humanity and the elevation ot the prophet to a superior station of
being. The admission to this plane is obviously highly restricted and the knowledge one

derives trom it is, by detinition, divinely sanctioned. The consequence ot the prophet's
exaltation is the reception ot inspired truths which, Ibn Taymiyya would argue, are not
removed trom common knowledge but rather constitute the ultimate consummation ot il.
Knowiedge runs para!lel to "the sequence 01 beings·, since it lollows a downward gradient

trom Alliih to man, and an upward gradient Irom man to prophel. The prophet beholds a
unique and exclusive epistemology since he symbolizes one man's entry into a realm

which transcends reason. The prophet ceases to require his senses or his reason to

internalize knowledge. Knowledge is Immediate to such an extreme that the distinction

between being and knowledge becomes blurred. Mul:tammad is living knowledge.

An integral aspect of the phenomenon of revelation is the occurrence of miracles.

As a constitutive part of the prophetie disposition, they represent intuitive and

spontaneous epistemological occurrences which corroborate an individual's claim to

prophethood. They can be equated with an internai prool of the agency of prophecy, and

not unlike revelation, they occur independently of the senses and reason (AI-Jawiib al-

$abïb, pp. 173-174). The miracles produced by the prophet76 are due to an inner

prophetie disposition even though, it has to be supplemented by the power of the Divine,

otherwise they cannot occur. Contrary to aets of magic,77 miracles have beneficial

76 In AI-Jawab al·$a(lï(l, Ibn Taymiyya gives an extensive Iist of the miracles

performed by MuJ:tammad. To illustrate the point, MuJ:tammad is said to have
multiplied food, to have caused water [0 spring from his fingers and to have
disclosed knowledge to which no human was privy (AI·Jawab al·$a(lï(l, pp. 173·
181 ).

77 Although occult acts, Iike miracles occur as a result of a spiritual entity unconnected

with the core upon which they take effec!. they are generally of :n evil nature and
malign in intent.
Chapter Two: The Nature of the Believer's Immanent Universe Page 47

• consequences and "cannot be duplicated by either man or jinn nor can they be proven

fa Ise" (AJ-Jawab aJ-$a1;Jf1;J, p. 179). Miracles faU within the specifie context of

revelation and the laner's import on the human psyche is one of irreversibility. The

human spirit is totaUy and unerly transformed by AIIah's power as it is expressed in

its revelatory form. This innate power remains embedded in the scripture even alter

the demise of the prophet. The permanent efficacy of AIIifh's power in the created

dimension is tantamount to a testimony of the miraculous nature of the Qur'ifn.

The power of Allah is channeled into words and symbols and the intangibility of

His wisdom (1;Jikma;7S acquires the oulWard manifestation of a law (sharfCa). Once the

law subsists independently, outside of its stricUy spiritual dimension through the

acquisition of a scriptural structure, it becomes statutory. In addition, the law runs

paraUel to the agency of prophecy, and in the same fashion must represent the perfection

of a long process of law codification79 . The shari'a brought down by Mul:tammad is above

ail others, just like Mul:tammad is a prophet above ail others. 80th are the sealsSO and

perfections of their respective functions (AI-Jawifb al-$a1;Jïl;!, p. 354). Yet, whereas the

person of the prophet is temporaUy bound through his mortal, physical form, the law is

not. Alter the demise of the prophet, the law assumes the role of surrogate-prophet in

as much as its function is ta guide mankind by commanding the good and forbidding the

7S Ibn Taymiyya draws on an carly connotation attached to the concept of çikma. He

ascribcs to it a practical and voluntary value of which the tenn had long been
emptied. At the time of Ibn Taymiyya's writings. the tenn had come to mcan a fonn
of wisdom derived from the study of Hellinistic philosophy.

79 The implication here is a reference to the Torah and the Gospel which were given to
the prophelS Moses and Jesus (AJ-Jawiib aJ-$açïç. p. 354).

SO Thc Qur'iin clearly states that the agency of prophccy has been perfectcd and scaIcd
with the advent of Mul;lammad. The Pentateuch and the Gospel indirectly testify to

the imperfection and un·ended succession of prophelS through their prediction that
an un-Iellercd prophet was yet to come (AI-8isba).
Chapter Two: The Nature of the Believer's Immanent Universe Page 48

• evi!. In effect. the internai excellence of the law and its efficacy bear witness to

Mul:tammad's claim to prophethood.

Ibn Taymiyya's epistemological scheme results in creating Iwo distinct domains

of knowledge. The first, ir which knowledge is handed down to the created by the grace of

Al/lib: and the second, in which the passive reception of knowledge exists but it is

combined with an active seeking of knowledge on the part of mankind. It can be qualified

as a passive mode of transference for the former while the latter involves an active

participation by the seeker. Alliih stands outside of these Iwo spheres. even though He is

their originator as the sole fount of absolute and perlect knowledge. This first

conceptual domain is grounded in the spiritual dimension, as it encompasses the angels,

(Jibril. Mikal. Israfil...) and the exalted component of humankind. namely. the

prophets. 81 Knowledge received by the subject is immediate and devoid of a codilied

structure. It is what might be termed "the spiritual 82 Qur'iin". The "spiritual Qur'lin"

exists only belween Alliih's deliberate utterance and Mul:tammad's verbalization of il.

The secon'"! domain comprises the entirety 01 the corporeal world to which man

belongs. Man is the best Irom amongst those in his realm. although his passions Iimit

his aceess to the exalted sphere described above. As the seeker of knowledge. he has to

rely on Iwo natural dispositions. his mind (CaqI) and his intuitive knowledge (fi{ra). In

81 Both the Qur'iin and the /;ladïth repons claim that the number of prophets sent 10
humanity is so large that man cannot argue 10 have not been adequately granted the
necessary knowledge to obtain salvation. Sùrah X. YÙnus. verse 47: "And for
every nation there is a messenger." This verse is further corroborated by the /;ladïth
which state that there have been one hundred and twenty four thousand prophets
sent to mankind.

82 The intention behind the use of the terrn spiritual is not to argue that once codified

the revelation loses any spiritual <Iepth. Rather. it is employed to mean the non-
verbal expression of the di vine message.
Chapter Two: The Nature of the Believer's Immanent Universe Page 49

• addition, he has received the scriptural form of revelation from the prophel. His

natural dispositions must, hence, be harnessed to comply with the divine guidance. If he

is able to meet human perfection in his horizontal (man to man) and vertical (man to

Gad) responsibilities, he becomes the perfect believer (refer to Diagram 1).

Chapter Two: The Nature of the Seliever's Immanent Universe Page 50

OIAGR....M 1: Gradient of Knowledge

Modes of Knowledge Transmission

A =Angels as intermediaries
B =Direct mode ofknowledge
C =Dreams or visions


Animal Realm


Physical existants

Chapter Three: Fitra, the Anti-Intellectual Element of Knowledge

Independently from the evidence provided by the revelation of the existence of

Alliih and thus knowledge of Him, Ibn Taymiyya posits Iwo alternative but subordinated

avenues to the acquisition of knowledge; namely what can be termed a form of intuitive

perception, fi[r:J, on the one hand, and a recourse to man's reflective capacity, c:JqI, on

the other. 83

Ibn Taymiyya sees no redeeming quality to the acquisition of knowledge for its

own sake. Knowledge qua knowledge is not only pointless, it has no quiddity as such. 84

Knowledge is to be conceived as an activity Md hence, is not embued with a privileged

ontological status as of itself. The relevance of knowledge is in the content of the activity

83 ln his article, Hallaq mentions that Ibn Taymiyya did conceive of numerous ways of
knowledge acquisition (Hallaq. 1991. p. 54). However, the non-intuitive
acquisition of knowledge is necessarily bound to a form of intellectual knowledge.
As such. il falls under the category of knowledge channe1ed and/or inferred by the
mind. which from a larger perspective cao be subsumed under the broad category ;,f

84 ln al-Nubuwwiil. pp. 77-79. Ibn Taymiyya clearly condemns the philosophers in
their efforts to make knowledge qua knowledge the fount of happiness.

Page 51
Chapter Three: The Anti-Intellectual Element of Knowledge Page 52

• as it runs parallel to. and against the ontological reality of the Divine. Knowledge does

not exist as an empty receptacle. and it can never be removed from or disassociated with

the medium of signification on which it relies.

Such a position assumes a two pronged hypothesis, namely, that meaning or

signification is the ultimale evidence of knowledge as weil as the mechanism necessary to

its acquisition. Signification is multifarious not only in function, but it is also multi·

faceted as an agency conducive to the understanding of the Truth, the Real. Signification

in its most manifest form is the unambiguous correspondence between an object and the

word or thought which encompasses il. As such, it faUs under the sphere of influence of

the reflective human capacity (Caql). The knowledge derived thereupon is non·immediate

or inferred and relies on instruments Iike language and logic to convey a measure of the


Ibn Taymiyya does not hesitate to belabor the point that the rational and/or

verbal correspondence to reality is at best an approximation,8S far removed from

perfection. Ils imperfection is created by a flawed quantitative nature since the

criterion of fullness of correspondence between the observed subject and its definition is

unaltai!'lable. To insist that signification is based on unequivocal meaning and

unambiguity is at the root of the concept of signification's defective nature and to elevate

this definilion to a normative stanàard of knowledge is absurdo The collation of such a

rigid definition to knowledge empties the lalter of its benefits. Ibn Taymiyya accepts

that knowledge can, nonetheless, be derived through this approach although it is

8S Ibn Taymiyya refutes the believed benefits inherent in the discipline of logie. He
adamant1y believes in a fundamental disjunetion between reality and logie. The
two ean never be in full eorrespondenee. Logie is thus always defeetive in its

expression of the true reality. See Hallaq, 1993, "Ibn Taymiyya Against ti.e Greek
Logieians", where he translates Jahd aJ-Qari/;Ja fi Tajrid aJ-N~i/;Ja.
Chapter Three: The Anti-Intellectual Element of Knowledge Page 53

• impertect and Iimited in ils essence. The realization of human knowledge through the

active mean of reason places man in the position of agent.

Moreover, man's aptitude in his search for knowledge is not monovalent, his

being is doubled with a passive or receptive nature which allows for the existence and

the Inherence of volitions essentially ditterent from the reasoned ones. He is the

receptacle of a substrate wherein inhere an innate. intuitive knowledge ([itra). This

aggregate of necessary knowledge derives its signification from the immediacy of its

nature combined with the completeness of the signification which can be derived from it.

As a potential embedded in human nature, distinct and unchanneled by reason, this

substrate is potentially a form of knowledge which can be in full. though non-verbal.

correspondence with the perception the Divine has intended for it. The actualization of

this type of knowledge is based on the faculty of inwardness (qaJb) and inner sensitivity

or more specifically sapience (dhawq). Such perception is by definition inexpressible

and always diminished by allempls to express ils nature through the medium of language.

III 1 Fitra;86 !nnate Knowledge

At the risk of stating the now obvious. Ibn Taymiyya's epistemology is shaped and

erected on the basis of his religious convictions. As an integral and tundamenlal element

of his religiously motivated epistemological framework. Ibn Taymiyya's discussion of

the notion of fi[ra. is grounded on the Quranic8 7 reference and allusion to the concept as

weil as to a traditional recourse to the 1)adith reports. 88

86 Ibn Taymiyya discusses or alludes to the concept of firra in a number of his works.
Naq{i a/-Manriq. Kiriib a/-Radd 'a/à a/-Manriqiyyin. Tawhid a/-Rubübiyya., to Cite
but a few. These works are used when signilicant to the argumentation of 'he
chapter. However. the primary text on which the chapter relies upon is RisiiJa fi a/-

Ka/lim 'a/Ii a/-firra. itself a pan in the larger volume Majmü'at a/-Rasà'iI al-Kubra.

87 ln a/-Firra. Ibn Taymiyya grounds his expose on the following Quranic verse:
Chapter Three: The Anti-Intellectual Element of Knowledge Page 54

• ln an attemp: !~ express the signification he attaches to the cC'ncept of tïira, Ibn

Taymiyya initially anchors his argumentation in a semantic examination,

upon the concept questions the position taken by dogmatic theology, which had adopted a
His outlook

definition of firra which equated it to an aggregate of necessary knowledge Iimited to

mankind and the realm of the jinns, Ibn Taymiyya's assessment of tïrra does not

essentially differ on the definition of the term but rather questions the Iimits imposed on

it. Firra is derived from the verb {arara which Lane translates as meaning to come forth

or to originate,89 The word {irra in itself is embued with a sense of intuition. It can be

most adequately rendered as a natural perception or an innate sensual knowledge. It is

devoid of any intellectual referent, the knowledge derived from it is not of an inferential

nature and as such it eludes acquired methods of reflection. Conceptua1ized in this

. manner, it was maintained by theologians and thinkers that fitri knowledge was the

exclusive preserve of man and jinn. Ibn Taymiyya challenges that premise and insists

on broadening the scope of the concept. He universalizes the concept by declaring it

Inherent in ail created agents. 90 The altempt results in the existence of a created

.1l Jl>.l ...k"': '1 ~ ..,..WI .,.... .rJ 1 .1l ..:..,.... Li.,..:.. v<.l.!J 4 J r'u
Pickthall's renders the verse as: So set thy purpose (0 Mul)ammad) for religion as a
man by nature upright-the nature (framed) of Allfih. in which He hath created man
(Sürah XXX. a/-Rüm. verse 30).

88 Ibn Taymiyya resorts to the "ku// maw/üd /Jadith". a tradition first transmitted by
Abu Hurayra. G. Gobillot trG..slates it as follows; "Tout être humain nait selon la
firra et ce sont ses parents qui en font un Juif. un Chrétien ou un Mage: de même
que l'animal donne naissance à un animal complet. en trouvez-vous qui soient
mutilés (à la naissance)?" (G. Gobillot. 1984. p. 33).

89 Edward. W. Lane, 1980, pp. 2415-2416. Hallaq gives a similar lexicographie

definition of the term in his article "Ibn Taymiyya on the Existence of God" (Hallaq,
1991. p. 55).

90 Agent is used in this context to convey an active participation of the created world as
it is differentiated in multiple strata of existence in its praise of the Divine. Ibn
Taymiyya ascribes to inanimate objeclo and animate creatures a firra. Concretely, it

means that minerais (rocks. mountains). plants. animaIs have a fi;ra. It inheres in
them with the purpose to induce them to praise Allfih (a/-Firr•• p. 41).
Chapter Three: The Anti·lntellectual Element of Knowledge Page 55

• universal 91 and places the theory of knowledge on a new and original plane as this

development is conditioned by the expansion of a .emantic definition of the term fi{ra.

II!" Fitra of the World.

Ibn Taymiyya encapsulates the notion of fi!ra in a stratified structure. Ali of

creation possesses a fi!ri disposition. still, the quiddity of that capacity is not a

monolithic entity as its "quality" is nuanced by the existents in which it dwells. The

notion of fi!ra varies from a pure active existent embedded in the inanimate or in the

creatures to a natural ability capable of seeking and acquiring knowledge when it is

engrained in mankind. Hence. Ibn Taymiyya ascribes the epithet of fi{r:J to a principle

inherent in ail levels of existence; though. the nature of the principle differs with the

object of inherence's position on what might be termed "the sequence of beings".92

Ali the constituents of the created plane are innately aware of the Divine's

invisible immanence through their engrained fÏ{ra faculty. The certitude in Allàh 's

existence is thus immediate, unreasoned and represents a form of imposed knowledge

91 The use of "ereated universal" seems to contradict Ibn Taymiyya's belief iil the non-
existence of universals outside of the mind; in reality it does not. The point being
put forward is the commonalty of fifra to ail of creaùon. which by definiùon can be
termed a universal. but the term as it is understood by Ibn Taymiyya has another
dimension. Ibn Taymiyya does not abdicate his criticism of Platonic idealism by
accepting the universality of lilra. His form of universal a1l0ws for individual
vanaùons which leads him to re·affirm his rejection of the philosophers notion of
universal wh.i~h postulates a fixed and unchanging concept. It is true that lilra
inheres in of a1l of creation but Ibn Taymiyya negates the idea which would render
the nature of filra idenùcal in a1l objects of Inherence. The individuality of the
recipient rauses the individualization of its fifra.

92 The sequence of beings symbolizes a linear gradient of knowledge and complexity.

It can al50 be typified as a pyramidal structure where the base consists of the
physical existents (earth. water. fire. air). on top of which are superimposed the
plant realm f01l0wed by the animal realm and ultimately ma~kind (refer to Diagram
1). Ail of the consùtuents are be!ieved by Ibn Taymiyya to ,ossess filra. It would

be interesting to study Ibn Taymiyya's theory of creation to understand his concept
of chaos. Does chaos exist in his theory and if it docs. is it endowed with a fifr3?
Chapter Three: The Anli-Intellectual Element of Knowledge Page 56

• inasmuch as it self-proclaims the Divine Reality. Ideally. ail of creation participate in

this reductionist form of knowledge of Al/ah and it can easily be equated with an

"original state" of existence. To postulate the reality of a pristine original state in

which ail of creation partakes. through its fi rra faculty. is the equivalent to the premise

which stipulates that ail of creation is existentiaied under the aegis of [sIam.

Firra and Islam become interchangeable and are representative of a natural state

of existence, unburdened and uncompromised by the individual endowments and

capacities of the recipient (al-Firra, pp. 34 in conjunction with 35. p. 41). It is only in

this purely abstract domain that a universal 93 does exis!. The perfection of the natural

state occurs in the instant of existentiation for the creatures while mankind's in potentia

knowledge of Allah is engrained at the time of a Divine-man encounter which can be

called the pre-etemal covenant94 (GC/billot. 1984, p. 41 n. 1). Ibn Taymiyya thus

clearly stipulates a reciprocity of meaning between the two terms firra and Islam.

This equation firra =Isliim is acceptable if examined from Ibn Taymiyya's

approach ta semantics. The emphasis here is on the usage of firra and Islam. Ibn

Taymiyya argues in favour of a distinction between the absolute mode of application and

93 The perfection of the original state is a vision of the mind which attempts to locale
the actualization of firra in both the creatures and mankind. In this ideal state. none
of the created distinguishes itself. henee. particularity of behavior is none existent.

94 This pre-eternal eovenant or mirhaq to which Ibn Taymiyya refers and uses as the
time referential to the indwelling of filra in man is depicled in Quranic passages.
One such reference is Sürah. VII. a/-A'riif. verscs 172; "And (remember) whcn thy
Lord brought forth from the Children of Adam. from their reins. their seed. and
made them lestify of themselves. (saying): Am 1 not your Lord? They said: Yea.
verily. We testify. (That was) lest ye should sayat the Day of Resurrection: Lo! of
this we were unaware." G. Gobillot points out that Ibn Taymiyya accepts the
assimilation of the filra to the mithaq. as long as it foreshaàows what can be termed
Islam firri. Ibn Taymiyya insists that the stale be characterized by an absence of

individuality which would set man apart from one another (Gobillot. 1984. p. 41-
42. n. 1).
Chapter Three: The Anti-Intellectual Element of KOlowledge Page 57

• the delineated and conditioned mode of usage of a panicular term. When. for example,

the Qur'ân refers to the word fi.cra in the former way, i.e. in its absolute dimension,

then it must be understood in its natural, broadest sense. The absence of any

delimitation 'lilows for its synonymity with the term lslâm. which is also embued with

the absolute unconditioned meaning of one very specifie aspect of the creed, namely, what

can be loosely stated as "there is no Rabb other than al-Rabb,"95 Fitra and lsiâm are

one if the meaning is one that recognizes !l1at ail of creation is dependent on the Lord (al-

Rabb) (al-Fi{ra, p. 40). To believe in this manner, is not only to believe intuitively but

also to acknowledge the Divine-creation relationship thrcugh the actualization of a

contingent act which the belief intimates, namely, a proclamation of the divine existence

through the medium of laudation {al-Fitra. p. 42).96

95 Thc notion implicd by thc usagc of the attribute al-Rabb is one of non-specificity,
An awareness of divinc lordship is common to ail the monotheistic religions and it
is not usually assumed to mean that it is neccssarily Islamic in ovenones. Allah is
not yet assimilated with the Divinity of one scriptural religion. Nevenheless, the
implication is that firra is not synonymous with a vacuity of knowledge. The
intuitive awareness of the Divine is present but it is not constrained to the confines
of a single religion defined in its particulars. It is in astate which Hallaq depicts as
neutral (Hallaq. 1991, p. 58. footnote 46). Yet. Ibn Taymiyya nuances his concept
of neutrality in al-Firra, He realized the theological danger of equating firra with
an unqualified sound disposition. In the absence of an original dimension of Islam
attached to the notion of firra. the danger is that Islam becomes one among other
religions deprived of a divinely ordained privileged Status. His preemptive answer
10 the challenge is to typify firra through the adjunction of the qualifier of Islam
prior to it. Il becomes Isliim fi(ri which he intends to mean the inclination to glorify
Allah. His adoration ""d man's prostration in front of Him. namely. the recognition
of His lordship. His position is based on the prophet's attribution of blame unto the
parents for making unbelievers of their children and his enumeration of the
religions gone astray (al-Firra. p. 38). Ibn Taymiyya interprets the absence of Islam
from the list as a proof of its grounding on a rightful cause devoid of any similarity
with unbelief. The obvious conclusion is that each individual is bom pure and
Muslim. fre~ of unbelief. This in cffect, is the definition of 1)anif. If one is to
follow Ibn Taymiyya's 10,l:ic, Abraham symbolizes man's natural disposition
towards Islam due to his tl(ri capacity. Sy paying attention to his inner nature.
Abraham expresses his muslimness even :!lovgi: he is unaware of the scriptural
injunctions of a religion still unreveiiied. SL'rah m. Ali <[mran. verse 67;
"Abraham was not a Jew, nor yet a Christian; but he was an upright man (1)anif)
who had surrendercd (to Allah) and he was not of the i~:>laters:'

• 96 Ibn Taymiyya's grounds his argumentation on the Quranic passage taken from. Sürah
XXXVIII. Sad. Verse 18 states; "Lo! We subdued the hills to hymn the praises (of
Chapter Three: The Anti·lntellectual Element of Knowledge Page 58

• This act precedes in time creation's consciousness of Allah as the sole Divinity.

Hence, the creed which is traditionally expressed as La ilah:J illa Allah ",a·Mu~l:Jmm:Jdu

f:Jsül Allah 97 is not initially an integral part of creation's awareness of the Divine

Reality. It is an aposteriori knowledge which is transmitted to the created through the

intermediary of the messengers (rusül). The messengers unveil the continge:lt nature of

creation on the Divine and the prescriptions such a relationship entails (:JI-Firf:J, p. 40).

Physical reality acquires its meaning through the disclosure of a formai relationship

between the Creator and the created. The knowledge which the messengers. and more

specifically MlIi).ammad. unveil to creation is of course Isliim. However, the term is no

longer embued with the meaning mentioned above.

The substantive Islam is henceforth imbued with a new meaning. In other words,

the signification domain of the term becomes delimited and constrained in time98 and

space. The spatial referential of the term Islâm is diametrically altered as its meaning

changes. Wher. Islâm conveys the meaning of titra. il discioses an inward dimension of

belief. The laudation of Allah is the inward act of the heart (qalb) and thus the spatial

referential is one of interiority. This is no longer the case when Islam ceases to signily

titra. Islâm becomes attached to a spatial referential which is outside the matter it used

tlleir Lord) with him (David)" at nightfall and sunrise." "Indicates author's

97 This nominal sentence is usually translated as "There is no deity except Alliih and
Mu!)ammad is His messenger". The syntaetie whole "M'I!)ammad is the messenger of
Alliih" is preceded by (wa) to highlight ilS subordination to the first syntactic who!e
even though the two are contingent.

98 The notion of time is not reiterated here. as it has been discussed above in

conjunction with the notion of creed. It suffices to say that the first mentioned
connotation of the term Islâm precedes the second in time.
Chapter Three: The Anti-Intellectual Element of Knowledge Page 59

• to indwell. The externalization of the concept ties it to the prescriptions brought down

by Mul:tammad. lsliim becomes synonymous with external works which Ibn Taymiyya

details as the witnessing to the Oneness of Alliih, the messengership of Mul:tammad, the

standard obligations of worship, zakiie, fasting, pilgrimage as weil as the divinely

imposed prohibitions as they are itemized by the shar'.

111 III Human PaOjcylarjty of Fiera

To discuss the human dimension of the concept of {ifra results in the re·

assessment of ilS quiddity. What is a natural disposition to praise the Divine among the

inanimate and the creatures becomes a moral proclivity in mankind as a result of its

indwelling. Alliih does not endow his creation with a virgin disposition inclined neither

towards the truthful nor the harmful. He specifically permeates the state with a

propensity towards the truthful and the useful. As pure and untainted, {ifra is an

instrument of discernment; it innately and immediately perceives and distinguishes the

fa!se from the true, the Divine from the satanic. D:Je to its own positive nature, flrra is

drawn to the "knowledge of truth anù its attestation of it" while simultaneously

apprehending falsehood and rejecting ;t (Naqçl, p. 29).

This natural disposition forces man into a unique status in the order of creation.

His position is characterized by a level of responsibility which had initially been offered

to the inanimate realm. Frightened by the implications of entering into a covenant with

Alliih, they declined99 the offer, only for man to accept the burden of obligations and
answerability (al-Fifra, p. 47). In effect, this refusai forces a telescoping of the

99 Sürah xxxm, a/-A/lziib, verse 72: "Lo! We offered the trust unto the heavens and

• the eanh and the hills. but they shrank from bearin;.l it and w~re afraid of it. And
man assumed it. Lo! he hath proved a tyrant and a fwl".
Chapter Three: The Anti-Intellectual Element of Knowiedge Page 60

• meaning a'lributed to the notion of rÏrra atthe level of mankind. Firra assumes in the

inanimate and the creatures a natural disposition of laudation of the Divine whose

purpose is to confirm and acknowleège the Divine's existence. In man, it is imbued with

the added dimension of a moral act since the potential guidance is kneaded into man's

primordial nature insofar as the distinction between good and evil is engrail1ed in his

heart (qaIb).IOO Firra is thus never a neutral entity; it is tixed by AlIfih (arkazahfi

AIIfih) (aI-Firra, p. 44) within the individual to represent HirT! and to instill the

sentiment of His lordship over creation albeit as a global discerr.ment without particular

except for the broad distinction between the truthful and the harmtui.

The immediacy of the knowledge which firra conveys to the beholder can only be

apprehended through the senses, it is necessary knowledge (çlarüri) which the recipient

cannot escape due to its sel!-imposing nature. Yet, in spite of placing the benefits of fitra

on an experiential plane, Ibn Taymiyya attempts to convey this intangible dimension

through a recourse to semantics. Hallaq observes that Ibn Taymiyya frequently resorts

to a juxtaposition of the terms firra and çlarüri as in 'ilm fitri çlarüri to express the notion

of indwetling on the human sense of perception. Hallaq goes on to contrast it to the

possible antonym of muktasab, which in traditional medieval IsUim was used to convey
the notion of reasoned or inferred knowledge (Hatlaq, 1991, pp. 55-56). The

100 ln ~:-firra,p. 48. Ibn Taymiyya resorts to a saying attributed 10 Al)mad Ibn !;Ianbal
10 argue that the seat of the knowledge of the Divine is in the hean (qalb). Ibn
!;Ianbal's statement also depiets the hean as a source of knowledge acquisition which
can expand and re-enforce an already "known" notion. One of Ibn Taymiyya's
intention is to confirm the absence of inference in the process. an approach which
when pushed dissolves into sensualism.

Chapter Three: The Anti-Intellectual Element of Knowledge Page 61

substantive block of 'ilm fiVî ç/arüri is thus, an allemptto verbalize 101 the mechanism

of Immediate apperception of Al/Iih's existence obtained through fi{ra. This implies the

following postuiate: direct knowledge as in fi{ri knowledge is sensuous and intuitive.

while indirect knowledge of the self and the Divine, although possible, falls under the

dominance of a conceptual order.

An untainted fi{ra can thus be equated with an ev;dence of truth. It embodies a

primary knowledge of the existence of the Divinity and as such represents an

unparticularized truth. It is the fou:1t of ail human knowledge of Al/ah which can be

built upon by the individual through his observations of the particulars in existence in

the world around him (TawQid al-Rubübiyya. pp. 9·10 in conjunction with 74). Hence.

to find Allah through a recourse to one's fi{I'a is not a personal discovery of an unknown

entity. but rather it is the remembrance 102 of an undifferentiated knowledge. The

mechanism of initial remembrance is in ail cases recursive. as [i{ra is the divine

element in man 100king inwards. The recursivEt nature of the process ceases whence man

advances from this initial remembrance to an active seeking of the Divine's existence

through observation. It forces the process into an outward active mode where upon the

individual can expand and specity the pre-existing. undifferentiated knowledge of Allah

which he arbours. It is no more than the realization of the spiritual l03 and intuitive

10 1 The verbalization attempts to depict a mechanism or process of knowledge

acquisition and does not pertain to the result of Immediate and unmediated
apperception. which is by definition beyond verbal expression. This is based ",.
the rationale that since the result cannot be fully assimilated by its concept, language
is systematically defective in expression.

102 ln this case. remembrance does not indicate the dhîkr of the $ufi; it is closer to Ibn
Sinii's Platonic understanding of the term. It refers to a loolcing inward to recall
one's divinely implanted clement.

• 103 Spiritual is used here to convey an immaterial faculty whose only function is to
remember and expand its understanding of AII:!h. Fîtr. is of a spiritual nature
insofar as it is reminiscent of AlIah's imparting of His breath to the clay from
Chapter Three: The Anti-lntellectual Element of Knowledge Page 62

• component of humanity. Ibn Taymiyya does not contemplate the possibility of a de.

corporealisation of man's firra. l04 Firra, the element of residual divinity is always tied

to the physical dimension as the corporeal l05 and the spiritual are grounded in

mutuality. Due to the spiritual's concomitance with the physical, its essence is shaped

and altered by the corporeal's inclinations.

ln the course of his life, the individual's natural drive for virtue and the

attestation of truth is challenged by the demands of his corpcreal nature. The mind and

the body are easily influenced by temptation and attracted to the inauthentic. The

weakness of the physical dimension in man leads him to succumb to the appeal of flawed

religions e.g. Judaism, Christianity. The adoptio,l of any one of the religions other than

Islam tamishes and taints the individual's fitra leading the individual away from a true

understanding of AIliih. Ibn Taymiyya attributes to malevolent forces the doubts to

which the human being might succumb (al-Fitra. p. 50). The whisperings of Shaytiin

gives the appearance of truth to falsehood, thus blinding man to the true nature of his

aet. The deiusions lead to a rejeetion of the truth and consequently man strays from his

intended faith; Isliim. Once doubt filled, man can no longer appeal to his fipj disposition

to arbitrate and sway him towards the straight path. Having contaminated his source of

necessary and intuitive knowledge, he has no other choice but to turn to an alternative

whence Adam originated. It is not to imply that filra is man's soul, the allempt here
is to highlight a similarity in essence and process.

104 Ibn Taymiyya does not intend to ponray the concept of filra as a divine element
longing to be re-joined with the spiritual realm. e.g.. the soul in the Aristotelian
and Platonic systems. It is a spiritual element whose object is man. Il is thus
necessarily tied to the corporeal since ilS function is to crcate an awareness of the
Divine's existence in man.

\05 Under the notion of corporeal are subsumed the physical body as wel1 as ;he mind
and the intel1ectual processes it engenders.
Chapter Three: The Anti·lntellectual Element of Knowledge Page 63

• method of knowledge acquisition, i.e., one which relies on the inferential capacity of the

mind (raql) (a/·Fi[ra, p. 49). Doubts serve to neutralize lt1~ guiding principle of the

/ï[ra, once inhibited in its imparting of knowledge, it can no longer serve the individual

as an objective reference of the Divine's existence or as a moral imperative. Ibn

Taymiyya not only attributes the dysfunction of an individual's fi [ra to forces

external l06 to the subject but also accepts that an individual's own ego 107 or lower self.

i.e.• an internai factor, may be the agent of corruption. In ail cases. once the fi{ra is

corrupted it is no longer a reliable mechanism through which a certain knowledge of

A/Hih may be attained. As the repository of necessary knowledge. it is tainted and as the

individual is shaken in his faith, speculation becomes necessary (aJ-Fi{I'a, p. 44).

"UV Modes of Acquisition of Knowledge

Ibn Taymiyya ascrib6S to mankind a nobility and superiority in which the other

creatures do not share. The exaltation of man's status vis-à-vis the created realm

ensues from the specifie conceptior, (yuf{ar) A//ah has intended for him (aJ-Fi{I'a, p. 44).

Man is created from a mold which allows him a knowledge of Al/ah which he derives from

elementary and superior mechanisms of knowledge acquisition. Ibn Taymiyya's

106 The extemal forces at playon the individu..! vary from demonic to human b nature.
e.g. one's non Mus/im parents. Both serve :0 confuse the believer since both
transform truth into falsehood. Their intervention results in a deviation in the
intended signification of the knowledge the believer is entitled to receive. If the
meaning is not entirely falsified by their· efforts and the individual is led astray. the
mean result is nonetheless a measure of doubt to which the individual's only
response is an appcal to a less certain form of knowledge; inferential knowlcdge.

107 Such an individual is no longer God·fearing. The motivating factor to his existence
is the belief in the superiority of his own capacity over the rest of his kind. Conceit
leads this subject to a suspicion of anyone else's claim to a comprehension of the
Divine and a reliance on his own intelligence and reasoning capacity (al-Filra. p.
49). This typifies the inability to recognize the Divine's lordship over creation and
is [he evidence of a corrupt filra. Such an individual is abandoned by AIIEh. (Sürah
XVIII. Al·Kahf. verse 17; "He whom AIIEh guideth. he indeed is led aright. and he

whom He sendeth astray. for him thou wilt not find a guiding friend.") and his only
solace is to turn to speculation in an atlempt to know Him (al-Filra. p. 50).
Chapter Three: The Anti-Intellectual Element of Knowledge Page 64

• construct is in effect based on an engrained dichotomy within the nature of the human


On the one hand, man is empowered with the unique faculty of the mind ("aqlJ:

on the other, he is endowed with the faculty of volition (a/-irJçfai. This first disposition

rules over a finite number of capacities through which knowledge-engendering data is

channeled. The Divine has in effect endowed the human being with the attributes of

reason «aq/), lOS discernment (Camyiz) and sagacity (firna)109 (a/-Firra, p. 44).

Sroadly speaking, ail human sources of cognition can be summed up into Iwo categories:

sense perception (/;liss) and reason (a/-na+ar), although the Iwo mediums of knowledge

acquisition can be combined by the individual to form a third hybrid category

(khabar).IIO Within this structure, Ibn Taymiyya's theory allows for further sub·

divisions of the category of sense perception. 111 The faculty of sense perception is dual

in nature, and can be divided into an experiential category (cajribi) and an intuitive

lOS 'Aql in this context is synonymous with the capacity one has to <ef1ect and to
speculate. It translate the notion of theoretical thought removed from experiential
knowledge. It can be kindred to the notion implied by the Arabic a1-na?ar.
Derived from the root " q • l, Lane defines it as intelligence. reason. intellect or
mind (Lane, 19S0, pp. 2114-2115). une renders the meaning of the root n. ~. r as
speculation. investigation by thought (Lane. 19S0. p. 2S12). When translated by
the English mind. it is taken to mean the physical organ. not the function it

109 The overtone conveys by the term is one of sense perception. Sagacity is taken in the
context of a keen discemment based on the senses.

110 Ibn Taymiyya ascribes to man a third source of cognition which he terms khabar
(report). It represents a cembination of sense perception and mind (Hallaq. 1991. p.
62) and constitutes an intermediary between the two poles mentioned above in the
quality of the knowledge one derives From it.

111 The discussion that ensues on the divisions within the category of sen.e perception
is also analyzed by Hallaq (Hallaq, 1991. pp. 63-64).
Chapter Three: The Anti-Intellectual Element of Knowledge Page 65

• faculty (/:Iadsi).112 ln the allempt to prove the existence of the Divine, the experiential

dimension's function is to extract the necessary knowledge from the existing external

realilies while the intuitive faculty's design is to look inward. The practical experience

derived from the experiential category is !WO fold as the observation of sense data i!. of

an external nature (?fihir) as weil as of an intemal one (bfi{in). In Naqçf, Ibn Taymiyya

defines the nature of each; the ?fihir derives its data through a recourse to the senses

themselves e.g. touch, smell, and taste while the bfi{in is emotion based, e.g., hate, jove,

and fear (Hallaq, 1991, p. 63). Both can be combined to provide the individual with the

highest level of extemally observed certainty of the existence of Allfih (refer to Diagram

Il). Short of a recourse to his intuitive faculty, the identification of Signs in the

external physical world is the sole avenue through which the human being can

experience with Any degree of certainty the Divine's eXistence.! 13 Although processed

by the mind, the information derived from sense perception does not require a form of

speculation to acquire a meaning. The data collected by the sense perception is directly

translated into cognition as the information it channels is so persuasive that the imbued

meaning becomes self-eviden!. As the highest degree of certainty of the Divine's

existence that the human being can experience without remembering r,is primordial

knowledge, sense perception is the apex of a gradient of knowledge certainty. The other

1 12 Although Ibn Taymiyya ranks intuition among the assets of the sensory faculty
(Na q (1, p. 194), it does not fall under the broader of category of reasoned
apprehension. 1 believe that there is a difference in the process of apprehension
hence eliminating intuition as a component of 'aql. Ali the constitutive elements
enumerated under the label of mind. are channeled and reflected upon by the
intellectual faculty before the object becomes assimilated by its concept and vice-
versa. In the case of intuition, one seizes the immediacy of the object of knowledge
directly. Although it passes through the mind for the awareness it creates to be
known. it is not inferred by the mind. The knowledge embedded in firra is
remembered through the recourse 10 the intuitive faculty.

1 13 Author's tr:Inslation: "in all things resides a sign which proclaims His oneness" and

• "the exislenee of this world is the certain sign that there is an Architee!. a Creator and
an Organizer (mudllbbir)" (al-Firra, p. 44).
Chapter Three: The Anti-In:ellectual Element of Knowledge Page 66

• nadir which symbolizes the highes: degree of uncertainty is occupied by the faculty of

reason (refer to Diagram Il).

To simply focus on a narrow argumentation of the concept of firra obscures the

reason why Ibn Taymiyya engages in discussing it in the first place. Firra is a corollary

to a wider area of interest for Ibn Taymiyya: namely a rellection on the workings of the

human mind ('aql). As discussed previously. Ibn Taymiyya attributes to the mind a

natural inclination to veer to the general. hence. the mind's capability to formulate

generalizations or universals. This tendency forces the question of how does an entity

which is conceptualized as an instrumental mold perceive and understand the particulars

constitutive of tne created dimension. From this initial question arises the subordinate

problem of how sense apprehension, which acquires its ft:nction through the perception

of particulars participate to the cperations of the mind. il.;:l Taymiyya's answer is that

reason alone cannot discern and integrate meaningfully the divine sign which a

particular, temporal object represents. Sensory perception and intuition are the !wo

faculties capable of discemment. the mind is simply left to channel and process the input

of information. This creates in the human being what might be termed "intelligent

knowledge" as opposed to ?anna or purely speculative reflection. Il is the latent reason

behind Ibn Taymiyya's vehement condemnation of the schools of thought 114 which

attributes to reason alone the capability to uncover the truth of religion and knowledge of

Alliih. Speculation is not required of man to attain knowledge of Alliih. essential

114 Ibn Taymiyya accuses the mu'tazilite of having championed reason as the ultimate
facu1ty of knowledge acquisition. He extends his critical attitude to a number of
individuals whom he feels were influenced by mu'tazilite thought. This anack
targets al-Ash'ari. and legal scholars who belonged to the four major schools

(madhhabs); QaQi Abü Ya'ia and his disciples. Abü al-Khaniib. Ibn 'Aqil and others
(al-Fi/ra. pp. 50-SI).
Chapter Three: The Anti-Intellectual Element of Knowledge Page 67

• knowledge is only to be found in faith not in gnosis (ma'·rifah).!15 imân is self-

sufficient and does not need to be supplemented by reason. Ibn Taymiyya titters on the

edge of a "puritanical" 116 definition of sufism in his advocacy of necessary knowledge

acquisition through a recourse to private inspiration (i/hâm) and purification techniques

of the soul (tJ.~/iyyat a/-nafs) (aJ-Fi{r.l. p. 51).

The intellect is thus dichotomized in its essence; it can provide a source of

comfort and aid to the individual in his time of doubt (al-Firra, p. 47) but it can also

distract the human L·;:ing away from the true religion. As the weakness in man. it is

particularly sensitive to delusions. and thus can veer away from the straight path.

Alone. it is a sterile disposition, unable to grasp the external reality in its objective

quality. Because of its natural disposition towards the abstract and the general. it

always has an impoverished cognizance of the other. Deprived of a divinely intended

function if relied upon independently from the superior means of cognition entrusted to

1 15 Ma'rifah. literally knowledge acquired a super-added dimension in religious

writing and came to mean an esoteric knowledge of Allah. At the hean of which
lies a concern for the unveiling of the hidden jimension that would free the seeker
frcm the fragmer.ted and illusionary corporeal existence and open him to the origin
of the spiritual 10 which he naturally belongs. Ibn Taymiyya attaches a speculative
dimension to the gnostic concern and deplores the am~iguity of its nature. Even if a
true form of knowledge acquisition. the methoc of knowledge derivation is too
ambiguous to be relied upon. The resulting cognition could be interpreted in ways
inimical to Islam due to the ambiguous nature of the process. Certain knowledge of
Allah comes from a faith informed intuition (aI-dhawq aI-imani).

116 The intent is to convey a strictness and auslerity in the treatment and approach to
religious mallers. what F. Rahman defines as neo-sufism (Rahman. 1979. p. 112).
Ibn Taymiyya's view of sufism is one expurgated of the excesses which he
considered to be in direct conflict with the ideals of his concept of pure Islam. The
practices of fana'. dhikr. sukr ail have to be harnessed within the strictly delimited
context of the Qur'an and the Sunnah. To ilIustrate the point. Ibn Taymiyya
believes the best dhikr is the voicing of the tirst shahadah. and the best fana'. is the
fana' of Allah. namely fana' iradi (aI-I1)rijaj bi aI-Qadar. p. 25 cited by Michel.
1984. p. 33). In both cases. the believer can feel secure that in spite of his loss of

• control and hence his inability to trust his sedsibilities. he will not be susceptible to
demonic delusions.
Chapter Three: The Anti-Intellectual Element of Knowledge Page 68

• man. it is misguided and unable to grasp the meaning of human existence: the service and

worship of Al/fih (al-Firra. pp. 52-53). The destructive dimension of the intellect can

be neutralized if the mind recognizes and accepts its limitations. As an e"tity made

subservient to the divine residual in man (firra). it unvails a constructive nature. The

speculative cognition derived by the mind brings forth true knowledge upon its

transmutation by the sound tïrra. This essential change transforms intellectual

knowledge. sterile by nature. into a divinely sanctioned cognition about His existence and

the extemal world: it can be typified as a knowledge of the heart.

Broadly speaking. the intellect is limited by its essence as it is deprived of a

faculty of volition (al·irfiçla). The natural inclination toward the knowledgeables (al-

maCrüfat) combined with an intuitive propensity to circumvent what is beyond the

knowledgeables (al-munkariit) is absent from the faculty of reason. This disposition is

beyond the competence of the mind. as it falls under the intuitive. innate faculty of

discemment of which firra is an expression.

The primary knowledge Inherent in firra is the guiding principle which must

permeate and orient ail acquired human cognition. As the repository of the basic concept

of Allah 's existence. it is the expression of the highest truth and must be recalted to

serve as the fountainhead of ait human reflection. Ibn Taymiyya emphasizes the

mechanism of recalt (dhikr) to highlight once more the utter dissimilarity of the Divine

with his creatures. Man does not reflect on his firra since reflection is grounded on the

mechanism of comparisons, extrapolations, metaphors and Inferences derived from the

observation of created elements with whom the subject is familiar. Reflection

Chapter Three: The Anti-Intellectual Element of Knowledge Page 69

• rcafakkur;117 is a human process, available to man to ponder human issues. The object

of reflection is mankind, since reason cannot behold the divine dimension. Dhikr is not a

proce::s whose o!'ip':t is mankind, it is a facully wnose nature is to recall a realm which

is beyond the grasp of cafOlkkur, namely, God. To recall does not intimate a human

contamination, it is the remembrance of the imposition of an external realily inside a

substrate of a different nature and hence can be unveiled in its pristine form. Dhikr is

therefore the preserve of Alliih, while mf<lkkur can never do justice to an entily beyond

itself. 118

Ultimately, absolute human knowledge about Alliih is a knowledge of H:s

altributes of perfection and power, the knowledge of His names, of what He has ordered

and forbidden, of what He has offered in guidance, of the law which He has entrusted to

His messengers and finally an awareness of what He has denounced and disliked from

among His servants and what He has done once and will never reiterate (al-Firra. p.

48).119 The process of knowledge acquisition mirrors the Divine at the human level in

a particular way. Just like Alliih does not suffer any internai contradiction, the way to

Truth is integrative and the various components 01 the system cannot be in conllict with

one another. At the apex 01 human cognition, ail elements are grounded on the firra and

participale in their positive dimension to the unveiling of the Real.! 20 To the total

1 17 Derived from the root f. k. r. tafakkur can be trans!ated as cogitation. speculation.

reflection. Lane renders fikrun as the arranging of known things in the mind in
order to attain to the knowledge of an unknown thing (Lane. 1980. p. 2431).

1 18 Ibn Taymiyya's position finds credence in the Qur'an. Sürah xxn. OlJ-HOljj, verse 22:
"They measure not Al/ah His rightful mcasure. Lo! Al/iih is strong, Almighty".

1 19 The above passage summarizes the mcaning Ibn Taymiyya attaches to the substantive
of mOl'rifOlh. It departs from the $ufi interpretation of the same term as was described
in footnote 33.

• 120 Firra has ultimately two dimensions. it has a core dimension which is the inborn
knowledgc of Al/iih. from which ensues a corollary, namely the ability to discern
Chapter Three: The Anti-Intellectual ElemGnt of Knowledge Page 70

• integration of the self are added the extemal elements of guidance of the Qur'an and the

exemplar of the prophet. ThEl reunion of the micro-Ievel (man) and the macro-Ievel

(Qur'an and Sunnah) complete the epistemological structure.

the Divine signs in external particulars through sense apperception. Sense

perception then becomes the instrument of a disciplined reason. Ali of these
clements combined with the divinely sent guidance constitute the entire scope of
knowledge available to man in his quest for Allah. It is in the instant of total
integration that man knows Allah and obtains a glimpse of his accomplished
humanncss. The circular clement in Ibn Taymiyya's concept of filra. which Hallaq
bring5 ror,b in his article on the existence of God. does not seriously Oaw Ibn
Taymiyya's theory of knowledge (Hallaq. 1991). The statement that Allah created
filra. and through filra. the human being knows that Allah exists is clearly circular,
still in this case. the who!e is very obviously <lreater than the sum of its parts. Ibn

Taymiyya's ultimate purpose is to create the model of a moral individual through the
medium of knowledge acquisition.
Chapter Three: The Anti·lntellectwal Element of Knowledge Page 71

DIAGRAM II: Quadrapartitc Division of the individuaJ

1. Al-Fitra
Intuitive - AbstraCt

. -:
~.=-: ...... :~

...... : .. :.:.:
,,-:..: ••--:-=.:..:...:.:.:
••••••• :+:-:.:.:.,;.:-:

:' •qo:qo:.• '.,.' . qo:~:
............. .

............ .
' •• t • • • • • • • • • • • :-1::-1::±;-:-:
..... ' : ~
......... "

. .. .. .. :
~.~.~.,.:.: .. :.: -r"
~=-:·.··.· ..:T·.:.:.:.:· .
•:." .:...::.:.:-=.0:.:..: •••••••••.:-:
· . ·.·.·:.·:-=·:·:T=-:.·:·:·.
'.,.•••••••.• , ••• :-1:•••
'7'-..·.·.· ..:.:·.~
~ : .,.:.,

)JI . . :.,.'.'..... :.,......

~ .. . ......
Il~: . :..::.::-:+:



2b. Extemal Sense

Physical cognizance

----.....;;;::;--......:::::;..---_ _..... , =
2a. + 2b. Sense

The information necessary fc.lr this summary was in part derived from Hallaq, 1991,
~Ibn Taymiyya on the Existence of God~.
Chapter Three: The Anti-lntelJectual Element of Knowledge Page 72

• 1 - AI-FifrB - represents the non-inferential. abstractive form of cognizance.

2 - Sens ory Perception - Experiential in nature -!Wo kinds :
Internai (biitin)
Based on an emotlonal mode of cognizance e. g.
hate. love. fear.
ExternaI (?iihir)
The senses are the agents of primary reception
e. g. touch. smelJ. taste.
3 - AI-Na+Br - Faculty of Reason - Th~oretical in nature.

Degrees of Certajnty in Knowledge aboyt the Divine Existence and His Anrjbytes

1 - Highest Degree = (1) + [(2a) + (2b)]

The abstract notion that Allah exists (1) is further confirmed and particularized
through a recourse to the sensory perception. The external apprehends the signs and the
internai channels the input at an emotional levaI. Both categories of sense perception
are processed by the rnind (CaqI).

2 - Intermediate Degree = (2a) + (2b)

The elernent of titra is removed. The individual relies exclusively on the observation of
the external world and the emotions it generates to come to an understanding of the
Divine. Both forms of sensory modes provide sense data which the mind channels.
Empirical observation bn."gs about a degree of certainty greater than reason. Sensualist

3 - Lower Intermediate Degree = (2b) + (3)

Combination of external sense perception and reasoned cognizance. The intangibl6
insight provided by (2a) is removed and replaced by an evident form of rational thoughl.
Conclusions are based on Inferences which are derived from the experiential data.

4 - Lowest Degree = (3)

Pure intellection. Intellectual exercise in a vacuum which yields conclusion based
entirely on a human based methodology.

ln degrees (3) and (4). the absence the element of ti{I71 may be due to its contamir.ation
by forces internai or external to the individual. Once tainted. it cannot function as a
reliable source of knowledge.

Ibn Taymiyya speaks of an intuitive (1)adsi) form of sense perception in addition to the
experiential sensory perception described above. He assigns a theoretical (Ci/mi) nature
to il. Its function is ambiguous and its relationship to the concept of ti{I71 is unclear.

Chapter ïhree: The Anti-Intellectual Element of Knowledge Page 73

• AxjQmatjc CQnyeyance of the Certainty Qf Alliib's Exjstence

Fi!ra - A!::stract notion A/Wh exists + {[(Vision of Allah in External Signs) -->
(feelings of love, fear and acceptance - internai )) --> acceptance in the heart} =
AbsQlute Certainty Qf Alliih's Existence.

--> to generate

The certainty of Allah 's existence is henceforth established, yet the Divinity remains
undefined to a large extent. The particularities of the Divine as weil as the obligations
and prohibitions vested on man can only be known through revelation (see Diagram III).

Conclusion: The Perfect Balance

This thesis has revolved around lour questions w;th the purpose 01 delining the

parameters of the cognitive space open to creation and more specilically to man, th~

attempt being the investigation of an epistemological method through which the human

baing is able to grasp his funetion at the microcosmic and macrocosmic levels -- what

should be known by whom, how and why. The analysis has tned to remain aware 01 the

constant underlying m. ,thodological parameters against which Ibn Taymiyya weighs and

r.ontrasts ail theories and arg:Jmentations. An investigation under that name is possible

if the initial assumption is one which credits the mind behind the theory to be an

intelligent teacher concerned by the human predicament and condition. Throug~, a

reliance cn the traditions which permeated his environment, Ibn Taymiyya constructed a

conceptual framework of knowledge acquisition. The analytical con::truet which he

fashioned. can then be used as a tool through which the possibilities and limitations of

human cognition can be tested and explored.

• Page 74
Conclusion: The Perlect Balance Page 75

• concern.
01 course, the purely cognitive goal 01 human Iile is not Ibn Taymiyya's primary

He tailored his theory 01 knowledge with a more ambitious design in mind;

namely, to undermine the intellectualism 01 the philosophers and to re-emphasize the

absolute character 01 the moral imperative. His investigation 01 knowledge is not

intended to lormulate an ethereal analytical myth devoid 01 practical implications.

Rather, it seeks to endow knowledge with a dimension 01 purposiveness which dissolves

into activism at the societal level. Knowledge has no Inherent worth, but as an

instrument, it can participate to the construct 01 the soclo-moral and ethical loundation

01 human existence and be endowed with positivity. The intent 01 knowledge acquisition

is not the passive contemplation or awareness 01 Allah, which is just the one sided ascent

towards the realization 01 man's contingent nature. To come to absolute lruition, the

process must retum, through a descent to the human level, whereupon the individual

becomes conscious of his horizontal and vertical obligations and i: willing to fo!low

Alltih's cibfida.

The full Integration of the divinely ordained horizontal and vertical demands by

the individual, create a true and golden mean, namely, virtue. It is after ail the perlee!

balance on the human continuum between two extremities which are exaggerations.

Virtue elevates the individual closer to his Creator, as virtue's sphere of action is

unbeholden to matter. Once it inhabits the self, it takes full control of the lower soul and

its appetitive capacities, and curtails the prel9nsions of the laculty of reason. In short,

it brings about a Iiberation process from which emerges the virtuous man. Due to the

balance of proper knowledge combined with rightful behavior and the capacity of

discernment between the truthful and the harmful, man releases himsell from his

appetites and becomes moral and jus!. Once released from the demands of his self, the

• believer accepts to absolutely submit to the Divine and to fulfill the divine. will. The
Conclusion: The Perlect Balance Page 76

• actualization of these !Wo actions ereate in man the highest level of reeeptivity to A JJ::ih.

It represents the perleet integration of the I-Thou eneounter within eaeh individual.

Obviously, the absolute Integration of the self, the perleet balance is neeessarily

and indissolubly dependent on the Divine. The ~erfeet beli.;ver. or virtuous individual

must surrender to the influence of AIIiih's transcendent potency. Although allied to the

transcendent purpose, man is limited in its knowledge white the Divine is not. Man's

knowledge ean be absolute and certain in his own realm t'ut cannet partake of the realm

of Divine cognition. Ultimately, it means that the relative subject (man) does not need

to know absolutely. 8eyond his own cognitive realm, man's quest for knowledge is

inadequate and dangerous. Total knowledge certainly exists, but it is the exclusive

preserve of Alliih. The meaning of which lies beyond the compiementarity be!Ween the

notions of object and subject, in an ineffable dimension created by the ontological essence

of the !wo substantives. Simply stated, total human cognition is the awareness that

absolute knowledge belongs to the absolute knower, Alliih, as He alone knows and

understand Himself fully, eombined l'.'ith the consciousnass that there is within each one

an imprint that opens onto His knowledge within one's self, yet also beyond one's self.

ln such a epistemological scheme, the modality of cognizance is relative to the

apprehension, not to the object under scrutiny. It justifies an integrative approach to

knowledge, as the recognition is made that a number of methods lend themselves to

knowledge acquisition. The importance lies in the necessity to recognize the

speci!'.Iization ",nd autonomy of each method, Hence, reason, revelation, fitra, sense

p~rception ... each have their domain of preponderance. Revelation simply happens to be

the one mode to which the other dimensions have no access. It is particularly closed to

• reason as its viability in its own realm does not sanction it viability elsewhere.
Conclusion: The Perlect Balance Page 77

• Ultimately, if properly used, there is ne contradiction in the knewledge derived from

each method of cognition. Ali are

model the perlect believer.

componen~s of an integrative whole whose funeticn is to

Conclusion: The Perfect Balance Page 78

DIAGRAM Ill: The Total Dimension of Knowledge

God: Absolute Ineffable Knowledge

....... ,
Capacities in existentia through the Divine ' .......
creative command
, ......
Nomothetie Discoursa of Prophetie Origin

(3)Ambiguous Knowledge
(1)FilIa-Knowledge in potentia
Intuitive knowledge (4)Unambiguous Knowledge
Theoretical ln nature

{4a)Man-Man Obligations
Horizontal Axis


(4b)I-Thou Obligations

Vertical Axis

InternaI External

(1) + (2) =No consciousness of Man's contingent (3)-Proof of the Divine's inaccessible knowledge
nature on the Divine Beyond interpretation
(! )·if sound. provides innate knowledge of the Divine. (2) + (3) =Realization of the Divine's Absolute
knowledge and therefore power.
=:; Signifies processed by the mind (3) + (4) =Totality of knowledge available (0 man.
(2) + [(3) + (4)]=Realization of man's contingent
(3) + (4) > (2b)-Revelation is always superior lO
reason. Revelation encompasses
reason yet reason confirms il.

(1) + (2) + [(4a) + (4b)]= Perle':t Knowledge=Perfeet Bellever

Micro-Level Summary Macro-Level Summary


Terms of a general nature, such as, Qur'ân. Islam. Sunnah. l:Iadïth, etc..•, have not been
included in this glossary. ïhe reader is assumed to have an a priori knowledge of the
meaning conveyed by such terms. The glossary does not purport to be inclusive of ail the
meanings a term might convey. The aim is to provide the reader with the Interpretation
Ibn Taymiyya applies to each term.

'Abd Derived from the verb 'abada; to serve. Literally meaning
slave. Refers to a state of complete dependence and
receptivity to Allah. One of the epithets of Mutlammad.
Adilla Arguments.
Amr Literally commando Refers to Allah's creative principle.
Passage from the unmanifested to the manifest.
'Aql Intellect • reason.
(1) CAqI aI-faccaI • element of the Neoplatonic
emanationist system. The active intellect's role is to bridge
the supra and the infra lunar woods.
Asma' Epithets of Allah.
Ayat Signs manifested by Allah.
'Ayn Particular materialization.

• Page 79
Apperodix 1 Page 80

• B
Banat Allah
Literally "Daughters of Allah". False objects of divinity.
Plural of burhan. Literally prools or demonstralions.
Plural of ba~îra. Epithet of the Qur'an meaning
Baçin Internai, or inner disposition. Connotes an esoteric form of
knowledge in ~ufi Islam
Bayan Epithet of thG Qur'an. Implies the clarity of the
Bid'a Innovation, not sanctioned by the Qur'an, the prophet and or
the Salaf. Ibn Taymiyya considers any innovation to be
Bila Kayfa Classical thec'ogical position uf "ask not how".

parun Necessary
Dhat Arabic philosophical equivalent of the latin essentia.
Dhawq Intuitive perception. A distinct form of knowledge which
stands in contrast to the knowledge acquired through

Falsafa Hellenistic philosophy
(1) aI-faisafa bi aI-!}.aqïqah" the true philosophy.
Faliisifa Plural of failasüf. Philosophers. Adept of the Aristotelian
and Neoplatonic tradition. See also mutafalsifa
Fana' Mystical principle which is defined as the annihilation of
one's ego.
Fiqh Jurisprudence. See 'ilm
Fitra Derived from fatara; to create something. Form oi !'l priori
knowledge common to ail of creation. Innate dispo&:tion
towards truth.
Furqan Epithet of the Qur'an. Symbolizes the scripture as the
criterion of determination between truth and lalsehood.

Ghuluww Literally exaggeration. Exceeding the proper limits 01
beliels and praclices.

I:Iadsi Intuitive sense perception.

Appendix 1 Page 81

Plural; al)wal. In a mystical context refers to spiritual

states along the Su fi path. In this case it is devoid of its
mystical connotation and simply represents a state or
l:Iaqlqi The real. reality.
l:Iikma Wisdom. Given a practical and voluntary value. Stands in
contrast to the Hellenistic understanding of the word.
l:Iiss Sense perception.
Hudti Epithet of the Qur'an, meaning guidance.

'Ibada Derived from the verb 'abada; to worship. Literally

translated as devotional service to Allah. In Ibn
Taymiyya's framework, the implication is one of
surrender to the will of Allah
Ijma" Consensus of the Community. Accepted by Sunnis as a tool of
Ikhbar Parables about ,he creator and/or the creatures.
lIham Private inspiration. In theory, accessible to ail, as opposed
to revelation which is the special domain of the prophet.
'llm Literally translated as knowledge. Acquired the meaning of
rationaVdiscursive knowledge. To be opposed to intuitive
knowledge, ma'rifah.
(1) "!lm al-fiqh - science of jurisprudence.
(2) "Um al-kalam - science of dialectical theology.
Iman Literally faith. Encompasses faith in Allah, His angels, His
revelation, His prophets and the day of judgment.
Inniya Not to be confused with Ibn Sina's understanding of the
term. To be taken as Allah as He is in Himself.
Insha' Commands regarding the permissibility of actions.
aI-Ïriida Faculty of volition.

Jins Plural; ajnas. Literally meaning species.

IGi:fir Unbeliever.
KaIam Dialeetical theology. See 'lim aI-kaiam.
Khabar Information derived from both the mind and the sense
Khuluq "lI:?im Super-eminent nature.

Appendix Page 82

• M

Non-existent, nothingness as opposed to existent mawjud.
Literally created being.
Aiso relerred to as tlle Inquisition. Political and theological
crisis which engulled the community over AI-Ma'muu's
endorsement 01 the createdness 01 the Qur'an.
Mi'raj Prophet's night journey. Direct discourse between God and
the prophet.
Mu'min Active participle 01 the verb amana; to believe. One who
~ractices the true laith. In the case 01 the "perfectO
believer. the implication is one 01 perfection along the
horizontal and vertical axes 01 obligations.
Mutafalsifa Would be Philosophers. Scholarship is divided over whether
or not Ibn Taymiyya makes a semantic distinction between
fàliisifa and mucafalsifa
Mutashâbih Intentionally ambiguous.

Nahi Heralding prophet. Does not bring lorth a new revelation.
a1-N~ Faculty 01 reason. reflection.
Nubüwwa Prophecy. prophethocd

Qadim Notion of eternity.

Qalb Heart - inward faculty.

Rasül Prophet 01 Allah. Indicates a messenger endowed by Allah

with revelatory scripture.
Rü~ al-Quddüs The Holy Spirit. Equated with the angelic entity of JibrïI

Salaf Forefathers. Represents the tirst three generation of Islam.
Their practice and beliefs are taken to be correct.
Salbiya Negative attributes.
Al-$amad Curanic epithet of Allah. Indicates his absolute independence
from creation and the dependence of the created upon
Shar< Revealed law.

Shifâ' Epithet of the Qur'an.
Shirk fi rubübiyatihi - - To assign to others than Allah a share of His divine
Appendix 1 Page 83

• Shirk fi uluhiyatihi

Sirat al·Mustaqim

To worship others than Allah and thus stripping Allah of His
absolute divinity.
Via media as it re;>resents tanzih without ta'li! and tamthil
without tashbih.

TaJ:uif Literally distortion or deviation.

Tajnoi Experiential sense perception
Takyif The error one commits by affirming that what can be known
of Allah can also be rationally explained.
Tamthil * The proper expression of divine imminence which avoids
both essentiai identification of God with creation and His
dependence upon il.
TamyIz Discemment.
Tanzih * The proper expression of divine transcendence which
preserves God's constant, active relation to creation.
Tariqa Mystical progression or path. Can also refer to a $ufi order.
Understood by Ibn Taymiyya in its strict theological
meaning devoid of mystical overtones.
T::shbih To equate or Iiken Allah to His creation. Anthropomorphic
Ta'ÇiI To empty of meaning or to void the Divine attributes.
Tawl;üd Verbal noun of wal).l).ada; to make into one. Doctrine
central to Islam which professes the unity of Allah. From
the concept stems a sense of exclusivity and inclusivity.
(1) Tawl;1ïd al-ulühi~'ya - ulühiyya is generally
translated as divinity. When compounded with tawl).ïd, it is
translated into the recognition that Allah is the only one to
whom adoration is owed.
(2) Tawl;1ïd al-rubübiyya - rubübiyya is generally
translated as lordship. When associated with tawl).ïd, it
implies a recognition of the unity of the Ali Mighty.
(3) Tawl;1ïd al-asma' wa al-~ifiit - is to claim Allah's
unicity through a recourse to a positive theodicy.

'Ubüdiyya Derived from the verb 'abada; to worship. Dependency
relationship between men and Allah. Implies complete
surrender and obedience to the Divine reality.
Ulü al-'azm Possessor of Constancy. Refers to the legislating-prophets:
Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus, and Mul).ammad.

• • NOle: The definitions for the lerms lamlhil and lanzih are lhe ones used by Michel in his
book A Muslim Theologian's Response CO Chrislianity.
Appendix 1 Page &4

WaI:ldat al-wujüd Literally translates as "oneness of being". Can be succinctly
defined as existential monism. A ~uti doctrine.
Wa.)f Depiction of properties and anributes.
WiHiyat Social interaction.
Wujüd aHlaqq Reference to Allàh. as He exists unerly and absoJutely.

Uterally meaning manifest. Represents the evident exoteric
meaning as opposed to the esoteric meaning. b5.~in.
Sterile and fal1acious intellectual exercise.


Below is a Iist of short titles for Ibn laymiyya's selected works. as used by the author of
this thesis or by authors of other works.

Fattiwa Shaykh al-I~liim - Majmü' Fatfiwti Shaykh al-Isliim A1)mad Ibn Taymiyya

Al-Fifül Risfila fi-I-Kaliim 'Alti al-Fi[ra

Futüh al-Ghayb Sharl) Kalimtit ü-'Abd al-Qtieiir fi Kitfib "Futüh


Al-J:fisba Al-I;lisba fi al-Isliim.

Ibn Tümart Une Fetwa d'Ibn Tairruya sur Ibn Tümart.

Al-Ikhlfi$ Tafsir SÜl7lt al-Ikhlfi$.

Al-Iqtù;Ja'" Kital> Iqtic;lfi' al-$irat al-Mustaqim MukhiiJafat A~l)tib

Jahd al-QariI)a Jahd al-QaIil)a fi Tajrid al-NilIjilJa.

Jiimi' al-Rasa'il - IR Jiimi' al-Rasa"'iJ.

Al-Jawiib al-$a1}il) Al-Jawiib al-$a1)ïl) Ii-man Baddal Din al-Masil).

• Page 85
Appendix Il Page 86

lvla'"arij aJ- Wu~ül i15 Ma'"rifac anna U~ül

al-Din wa Furu'abu Qad Bayyanahà al-Rasül is
che tirsr treatise found in Conriburion il une Étu1e
de la Méthodologie Canonique de Taki d-Din
A1)mad Taymiya. The second treatise found in this
work is AI-Qiytis Fi al-Sharc al-Jslfimi (not referred
to in this thesis).

Naqçi Naqçi aJ-Manpq.

Al-Nubuwwâc Kiciib al-Nubuwwtir.

Al-Nu~ayriyya Al-Faewii fi aJ-Nu$:J.yriyya.

Al-Radd Kitiib al-Radd cala al-Manpqiyin.

Al-Rasii'il aJ-KubrJ - MRK MajmüCac al-Ras:I'l1 al-Kubra.

AI-Rasii'iJ - MRM MajmüCae al-Rasii'il wa al -Masa-'il.

Volumes J. II. m.

AI-SamâC Kicao al-Samac wa al-Raq$.

Al-$üfiyah Al-$üfiyah wa al-FuqanP.

Tanbih The Tanbih of Ibn Ta.imïya on Dialectic: The

Pseudo- CAqï1ian Kiœb al-Farq.

Al- WiL5#iyya Al-CAqida al-Wiisipyya.


Although there are available a number of english translaùons of the Qur'an. this thesis
relies on a single version: M. Pickthall. The GIonous Qur'an. Chicago: Iqra' International
Educaùonal Foundaùon. The concem to adequately render the meaning of arabic tenns into
english has been addressed by relying on H. Wehr. (1976). The Hans Wehr Dietionary of
Modem Wnrren Arabie. ed.• J. M. Cowan. New York: Spoken Languages Services Inc.as
weil as on E. Lane. (1980) An Arabie-EngIish Lexieon. volumes 8. Beirut: Librairie du

Ansari. M. (1986). Sufism and Shari'ah. Leicester: The Islamic Foundaùon.

Aristotle.(1941). The Basic Works. ed.• R. Mckeon. New York: Random House.

Aristote. (1991). La Méraphysique. tr.• 1. Barthélemy-Saint-Hilaire. armotated. P. Mathias.

introducùon. J. L. Poirier. England: Agora. Les Classiques.

Armstrong, K. (1992). Muhammad: A Western Arrempr ro Understand Islam. London:

Victor Gollancz Ltd.

Barral, J.M. (1985). "The Origin of the Controversy Concerning the Creation of the
Koran", in W. Madelung (ed.), ReIigious SehooIs and Seets in Medieval Islam.
London: Variorum Reprints, pp. 504-525.

Brohi, A. K. (1991). ''The Spiritual Significance of the Quran", in S. H. Nasr (ed.),

. '
IsIamie Spirirua/iry: Foundations. New York: Crossroad Publishing Compagny,
pp. 11-24.

Page 87
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Frank. R. (1978). Seings and Their Attributes: The Teaching of the Basrian School of the
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Gauthier, L. (1909). Ibn Thofail: Sa Vie. Ses Oeuvres. Paris: êmest Leroux.

Glassé. C. (1991). The Concise Encyclopedia of Islam. New York: HarperColIins


Gobillot. G. (1984). "L'Épitre du Discours SUT la Fiçra", tr.• with a commentary by G.

Gobillot. Annales Islamologiques. 20. Le Caïre: Institut Français d'Archéologie du
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Goldziher. I. (1981). Introduction ta Islarnic Theology and Law. tr.. by Andras and Ruth
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H:.iIaq. W. (1991). "Ibn Taymiyya on the Existence of God". Acta Orientalia

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translation] This fatwa can be found in a collection called Kitâb al-Kawâkib al-
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----------. (1961). Majmü' Facawii Shaykh al-Isliim A.1)mad Ibn Taymiyya. eds., 'Abd
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Rabat: Maktabat al-Ma 'W.
(1) Volume 1: Tawl:üd al-VIühiyya
(2) Volume II: Tawl:üd al-Rubübiyya
(3) Volume ID: Al-'Aqïda al-Wasitiyya
(3) Volume X: Sharl) Kalimat Ii-'Abd al-Qadir fi Kitàb "Futül) al-Ghayb·
(4) Volume XI: Al-$üfiyah wa-l-Fuqara'
(5) Volume XVII: Tafsï! Sürat al-Ikh1~
(6) Volume XXVill: Al-I;iisba fi al-Islam

- - - - . (1905). Majmü'at al-Rasa-'il al-KubrJ, ed., Rashid RiQii. 2 vols, Cairn.

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bayyanahà al-Rasül. H. Laoust gives a french translation of this work in his
Contribution à une Ewde Méchoclologique.
(2) Volume 1: Al-I;iisba fi al-Islam
(3) Volume 1: Al-'Aqida al-Wasitiyya
(4) Volume II: RisàIa fi l;Iukm al-sama' wa al-raq~. J. R. Michot has written a
french translation and commentary.
(5) Volume II: Risàla fi al-Kalam cala al-Fiçra. A french translation of this risàIa is
available due to G. GobilIot's work on Ibn Taymiyya

-------. (1972). "The Tanb,h of Ibn Taimïya on Dialectic: The Pseudo-'AqiIian

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al-Jîlâl~î". selected tr and commentary. Th. F. Michel. Hamdard Islamicus
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Faeiiwii Shaykh al-Isliim AiJmad Ibn Taymiyya.. 10. pp. 455-548.1

--------------. (1984). A Muslim Theologian's Response to Christianiry. ed., and tr., with
an introduction by T. F. Michel. New York: Caravan Books. A translation of Ibn
Taymiyya, Al-Jawiib al-$aJ:ülJ Ii-man Baddal Din al-MasiiJ.

--------------. (1984). "L'Épitre du Discours sur la Fi!fa". tr.• with a commentary by G.

Gobillot. Annales Islamologiques. 20. Le Caire: Institut Français d'Archéologie du
Caïre. pp. 29-53. A French translation of Ibn Taymiyya, (1385/1966). Risfila fi-l-
Kaliim 'Alii-I-Fi?fa, pp. 333-349.

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