Ibn Taymiyya

Islamic scholar, jurist and philosopher (1263–1328)

Taqī ad-Dīn Ahmad ibn Taymiyyah (Arabic: تقي الدين أحمد ابن تيمية, January 22, 1263 - September 26, 1328), known as Ibn Taymiyyah for short, was a medieval Sunni Muslim theologian, jurisconsult, logician, and the Mujaddid (reformer) of the 7th century of the Islamic calendar. He is known for his diplomatic involvement with Mongol Ghazan Khan and for his victorious achievement at the Battle of Marj al-Saffar (1303) which ended the Mongol invasions of the Levant.

Quotes

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  • Better a century of tyranny than one day of chaos.
    • Kitab al-Siyasa al-Shar'iya, as quoted in Oxford Dictionary of Proverbs, Oxford University Press, p. 19.
  • God does not create pure evil. Rather, in everything that He creates is a wise purpose by virtue of what is good. However, there may be some evil in it for some people, and this is partial, relative evil. As for total evil or absolute evil, the Lord is exonerated of that.
  • If God—exalted is He—is Creator of everything, He creates good and evil on account of the wise purpose that He has in that by virtue of which His action is good and perfect.
    • Ibn Taymiyyah, A. (1986) Minhaj al-Sunnah. Edited by Muhammad Rashad Salim. Riyadh: Jami’ah al-Imam Muhammad bin Saud al-Islamiyah. Vol 3, p: 142.
  • Guidance is not attained except with knowledge and correct direction is not attained except with patience.
  • This whole religion (of Islam) revolves around knowing the truth and acting by it, and action must be accompanied by patience.
  • The more the servant loves his Master, the less will he love other objects and they will decrease in number The less the servant loves his Master, the more will he love other objects and they will increase in number.
  • The jihad against the soul is the foundation for the Jihad against the disbelievers and hypocrites.
  • The objective of asceticism is to leave all that harms the servants Hereafter and the objective of worship is to do all that will benefit his Hereafter.
  • Sins are like chains and locks preventing their perpetrator from roaming the vast garden of tawhid and reaping the fruits of righteous actions.
  • What can my enemies do to me? I have in my breast both my heaven and my garden. If I travel they are with me, never leaving me. Imprisonment for me is a chance to be alone with my Lord. To be killed is martyrdom and to be exiled from my land is a spiritual journey.

Quotes about ibn Taymiyyah

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  • The power of the Al-Sauds still rested on their alliance with clerics upholding the legacy of the holier-than-thou preacher Ibn Abdelwahhab. Born in 1703, Ibn Abdelwahhab had been inspired by the dogmatic teachings of a literalist, medieval theologian, Ahmad ibn Taymiyya, who belonged to the Hanbali school of jurisprudence, the strictest of the four Islamic schools. A complex character with a rich legacy who had lived at the time of the Crusades and sanctified war against the Christian invaders, Ibn Taymiyya would be quoted mostly for his edicts allowing war against a Muslim ruler in certain cases. He would inspire generations of activist and jihadist Salafists who ignored the nuances of his teachings.
    • Kim Ghattas Black Wave: Saudi Arabia, Iran, and the Forty-Year Rivalry That Unraveled Culture, Religion, and Collective Memory in the Middle East (2020)
  • Ibn Abdelwahhab had taken Ibn Taymiyya’s pronouncements stripping Islam down to absolute monotheism and began to enforce them in Najd. He went further still by declaring war against anyone who didn’t follow his teachings—non-Muslims but also Muslims. The Najdi preacher had taken theology and turned it into a political and military mission. Ibn Abdelwahhab was so extreme that his own father and brother denounced him. He sent missives around the Arabian Peninsula and beyond to scholars and notables of the Muslim world, appealing to them to follow him and what he claimed was the true version of Islam. He was rejected and mocked in scathing responses coming from as far away as Tunisia, where the scholars of Al-Zaytuna, one of the oldest, most important centers of Islamic learning, undid his arguments one by one. The locals in his desert settlement accused him of heresy and tried to kill him.
    • Kim Ghattas, Black Wave: Saudi Arabia, Iran, and the Forty-Year Rivalry That Unraveled Culture, Religion, and Collective Memory in the Middle East (2020)
  • Ibn Taymiyya digested the “poison of philosophy” – yet, his brilliant mind turned the poison into honey. This very honey, extracted from the hive of his writings, can accordingly nourish a new era of modern Islamic philosophy. That Ibn Taymiyya himself, no doubt, would have taken umbrage at this sort of labeling of his work demonstrates how rich in irony the history of ideas can actually be!
 
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