Hafiz Ibn Kathir and Sufism

Translated by Ismaeel Nakhuda

Translator’s foreword: Below is the fourth chapter of the incomplete yet ongoing translation of Shaykh ‘Abd al-Hafiz’s Mawqif A’immat al-Harakat al-Salafiyyah min al-Tasawwuf wa ‘l-Sufiyyah. In this chapter, the author, a student and khalifah of Shaykh al-Hadith Mawlana Muhammad Zakariyya al-Kandhalawi, produces a series of excerpts from the writings of Hafiz Abu ‘l-Fida ‘Imad al-Din Isma‘il ibn Kathir al-Dimashqi al-Shafi‘i that demonstrate the positive manner by which the shaykh regarded Sufism and the Sufis. All of the excerpts in this section are from Hafiz Ibn Kathir’s Al-Bidayah wa ‘l-Nihayah.

1. Hafiz Ibn Kathir mentions in Al-Bidayah wa ‘l-Nihayah[1] (part 11, p. 180) regarding those eminent individuals who died in 322 ah:

Muhammad ibn Ahmad ibn al-Qasim Abu ‘Ali al-Rudhbari — it is said his name was Ahmad ibn Muhammad and also said [that his name was] al-Husayn ibn al-Humam; the first is correct. He was originally from Baghdad and lived in Egypt. He was from the offspring of leaders, viziers and learned men.

He remained in the company of Junayd,[2] heard hadith [from him] and memorised much from him; he learned fiqh from Ibrahim al-Harbi and Nahw from Tha‘lab. He would give plenty of sadaqah and charity to the poor. When he would give something to the poor, he would place his palm below the person’s hand and the person would take. He wished that the hand of the poor did not come below his hand.

Abu Nu‘aym said: “Abu ‘Ali al-Rudhbari was asked regarding the person who listens to musical instruments and says that he has reached a station in which the changing of situations does not have an effect. Al-Rudhbari responded, ‘Yes, he has reached. However, that is to hell…’ He also said: ‘Surely, those who are desirous of Allah find the sweetness of [their] desire — at the time when the essence of connecting to His proximity (qurb) is revealed to them — sweeter than honey…’ He also said: ‘In earning the world lies the disgracing of souls, and in earning the hereafter is its honour. How strange is that person who opts for disgrace in seeking that which shall perish over honour in seeking that which shall remain?”

Among his poems there are:

There is no wonder if all of that (wealth) which I have was to go,

Wonder is only in that small amount — how did it remain behind?

Take hold of the remainder of your soul which has become ruined,

Before separation comes, for this is the last breath.

Among those eminent individuals who died in 332 ah there was:

Muhammad ibn Isma‘il — who was popularly known as Khayr al-Nassaj (Khayr the Weaver) Abu al-Husayn al-Sufi; he was from among the major shaykhs who were of excellent spiritual states (hal) and known for famous miracles (karamah). He met Sarri al-Saqti and others from the shaykhs of the community. He lived a hundred and twenty years.

When the time of his demise came, he looked at the corner of the house and said: “Stop, may Allah have mercy on you, for you’re a slave who has been given an order and I am also a slave who has been given an order. That which you have been ordered to do shall not pass whereas that which I have been ordered to do will pass.” He then stood up, performed ablution, offered prayer, lay down and passed away — may Allah have mercy on him. Some people later saw him in a dream and asked him: “What did Allah do with you?” he replied: “We gained respite from your wicked world.”

2. Hafiz Ibn Kathir mentions in Al-Bidayah wa ‘l-Nihayah (part 11, p. 334) regarding events that occurred in 394 ah. After mentioning some amazing stories regarding the qaris (reciters of the Quran), he writes:

When those two qaris returned, the ruler assigned them to Abu Bakr ibn al-Bahlul, who was also an excellent qari, so they may lead the people in the Tarawih prayers in Ramadan. The crowd behind them was large on account of their beautiful recitation. They would also lengthen the prayer a lot and would take turns in leading. They would recite thirty verses in each rak‘ah. People would not leave the Tarawih save when a third of the night had passed or close to the middle of the night. Ibn al-Bahlul had one day, in the al-Mansur Jami‘ Masjid, recited the verse: Has the time not yet come for those who believe that their hearts should be humble for the remembrance of Allah and for the truth that has descended (through revelation)?” (57:16), when a Sufi stood up. He was swaying and said: “What did you say?” Ibn al-Bahlul repeated the verse and the Sufi said: “Why not? I swear by Allah.” He then fell dead, may Allah have mercy on him.

Ibn al-Jawzi said: “A similar incident occurred to Abu al-Hasan ibn al-Khashshab Shaykh Ibn al-Raffa, who was a student of Abu Ibn al-Adami who has been mentioned earlier. He was also excellent in reciting the Quran and had a beautiful voice. This Ibn al-Khashshab recited, in the Jami‘ Masjid of the al-Rusafah districts, this verse: Has the time not yet come for those who believe …’ (57:16), when a Sufi went into ecstasy (wajd) and said: ‘Why not? The time has come.’ He sat and cried for a long time, and then became silent; he had died, may Allah have mercy on him.”

3. Hafiz Ibn Kathir mentions in Al-Bidayah wa ‘l-Nihayah (part 11, p. 84) regarding events that occurred in 287 ah:

Among those who died this year was Abu Bakr ibn Abu ‘Asim, the man of sunnah and [author] of many books. He was Ahmad ibn Abu ‘Asim al-Dahhak ibn Mukhlad al-Nabil. He has many books in hadith, including the book Al-Sunnah in relation to the hadiths containing the attributes of Allah according to the way of the predecessors. He was a hafiz of hadith and in charge of the judiciary in Isfahan after Salih ibn Ahmad. He visited many lands before that in search of hadith and stayed in the company of Abu Turab al-Nakhshabi and other Sufis shaykhs.

An astonishing miracle (karamah) once occurred to him. He, along with two major pious men, was in a journey when they descended on some white sand. Abu Bakr began kissing the sand with his hand and said: “Oh Allah grant us some khabis[3] that can be our lunch and let it be the colour of this sand.” It had hardly been uttered when a Bedouin came with a dish within which was khabis the colour of that white sand. They then ate it.

He used to say: “I do not want an innovator, or one who makes false allegations, or a slanderer, or one who curses, or one who uses obscene language, or one who is abusive, or one who has digressed from al-Shafi‘i and the people of hadith to attend my gatherings.”

He died this year in Isfahan. Some of them saw him after his death and he was offering salah. When he finished they asked: “What did Allah do with you?” He said, “My Cherisher Most High was friendly to me.”

4. Hafiz Ibn Kathir mentions in Al-Bidayah wa ‘l-Nihayah (part 11, p. 97) regarding events that occurred in 290 ah:

[Among those notables who died this year there was] Muhammad ibn ‘Abdullah Abu Bakr al-Daqqaq.[4] He was one of the Sufi imams and heavy worshippers from among them. He narrates regarding Junayd that he said: “I saw Satan in a dream and it was as if he was naked. So I said: ‘Don’t you have any shame from the people?’ He replied: ‘These people? I play with them as a child plays with a ball. The real people are a group apart from them.’ So I asked: ‘Who are they?’ He said: ‘They’re a people in the Masjid al-Shuniziyyah. They have weakened my heart and exhausted my body. Each time I target them, they signal unto Allah and it is close that I might be burned.’” Junayd said: “When I woke up, I dressed and went to the mosque that he mentioned. In it were three men who were sitting and their heads were [lowered] in their tattered clothes. One of them raised his head towards me and said: ‘Oh Abu ‘l-Qasim, do not be deceived by the words of the wicked.’ They were Abu Bakr al-Daqqaq, Abu ‘l-Husayn al-Nuri and Abu Hamza.

5. Hafiz Ibn Kathir mentions in Al-Bidayah wa ‘l-Nihayah (part 11, p. 113) regarding events that occurred in 298 AH:

[Among those notables who died in this year, there was] al-Junayd ibn Muhammad ibn al-Junayd, Abu ‘l-Qasim al-Khazzar. He was also called al-Qawarir. His origins were in Nahavand; he was born in Baghdad where he was also raised. He heard hadith from Hussayn ibn ‘Arafah. He studied fiqh from Abu Thawr Ibrahim ibn Khalid al-Kalbi and would issue fatwas in his presence when he was twenty years old. We have mentioned him in Tabaqat al-Shafi‘iyyah. He became famous for remaining in the company of al-Harith al-Muhasibi and his maternal uncle Sarri al-Saqati. He would remain firmly in worship and so Allah opened up for him, on account of that, much knowledge. He would speak of the way (tariqah) of the Sufis. Offering three hundred rak‘ah of prayer and thirty thousand tasbih was part of his daily wird. For forty years he did not retire to bed and thus, such beneficial knowledge and pious acts opened to him which was not attained by others from his era.

He used to know all types of knowledge. When he would take a subject, then there would be no opportunity for him to stop or stumble until he would say regarding one issue many different points which had not occurred to the ‘ulama. This was also the case with Tasawwuf etc. When death came close, he began to offer prayer and recite the Quran. It was said to him: “Why don’t you be gentle with yourself at a time like this?” He replied: “There is none more in need of this than me at this moment. This is the time of the folding of my book [of deeds].”

Ibn Khallikan said: “He took fiqh from Abu Thawr. It was said that he learned fiqh according to the madhhab of Sufyan al-Thawri. Ibn Surayj would remain in his company and study by him. At times he benefitted from him in issues of fiqh that had not occurred to him. It was said that he once asked him regarding an issue and he gave numerous answers. So Ibn Surayj said: ‘Oh Abu ‘l-Qasim, I only knew, in this matter, three answers from those that you mentioned. Repeat them to me.’ So he mentioned some more answers apart from them. So Ibn Surayj said: ‘I have never heard of the like of this. Dictate them to me so I can write them down.’ So Junayd said: ‘If it was coming from me then I would dictate it. Meaning that it is surely Allah who allows it to flow on my heart and my tongue speaks it. This is not gained from books or from learning. This is only through the grace of Allah Most High. He inspires me with it and allows it to flow from my tongue.’ So Ibn Surayj said: ‘From where did you learn this knowledge?’ He replied: ‘Through my sitting in front of Allah for forty years.’ What is correct is that he was on the madhhab of Sufyan al-Thawri and his way, and Allah knows best.

Ibn Khallikan said: “Junayd was asked regarding the ‘arif, he said: ‘Who speaks regarding your secret while you remain quiet.’ He also said: ‘This way of ours is bound by the Book and the Sunnah. He who does not read the Quran and writes hadith should, according to our madhhab and way, not be followed.’ Some of them saw him with prayer beads (misbahah), so it was said to him: ‘You, in spite of your nobility, carry prayer beads?’ He replied: ‘I shall not leave the way by which I reached Allah.’

“His maternal uncle Sarri al-Saqati once said to him: ‘Preach to the people.’ He would, however, not see himself in the position [to do so]. In a dream he saw the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) who told him: ‘Preach to the people.’ In the morning he went to his uncle who said to him: ‘Why didn’t you listen to me and now it is that the Messenger of Allah has had to tell you.’ He then preached to the people.”

Ibn Khallikan said: “One day a Christian youth, in the appearance of a Muslim, came to him and said: ‘Oh Abu ‘l-Qasim, what is the meaning of the saying of the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace): Fear the insight (firasah) of a believer for he sees with the light of Allah?’ Junayd lowered his head and then raised it and said: ‘Become a Muslim, it is time you became one.’” Ibn Khallikan said that the youth accepted Islam.

Junayd said: “I have never benefitted from anything in the way I have benefitted from these couplets which I heard from a slave girl who sang them in a room. She said:

When I say: Abandoning [of others for your love] has given me threadbare clothes,

You will say: If there was no abandoning [of others] then love would not be pleasant,

And if I were to say: This heart, passion has burned it,

You will say: Surely passion is the honour of the heart,

And if I were to say: What sin have I committed? She would say,

Your life is such a sin that no other sin can compare with it.

Junayd said: “I became stunned and screamed. So the owner of the house came out and said: ‘Oh master, what has befallen you?’ I said: ‘It happened on account of what I heard.’ He said: ‘She is a gift from me to you.’ So I said: ‘I accept and she is free for the sake of Allah.’ I then married her to a man, and she gave birth to a pious son who performed the Hajj thirty times on foot.”

6. Hafiz Ibn Kathir mentions in Al-Bidayah wa ‘l-Nihayah (part 11, p. 192) regarding events that occurred in 328 ah:

From among those notables who died this year was Abu Muhammad Ja‘far al-Murta‘ish, he was one of the shaykhs of the Sufis, as mentioned by al-Khatib. Abu ‘Abd al-Rahman al-Sulami said: “His name was ‘Abdullah ibn Muhammad Abu Muhammad al-Nisaburi. He was a man of wealth, which he relinquished, and adopted the company of Junayd, Abu Hafs and Abu ‘Uthman. He remained in Baghdad until he became a shaykh of the Sufis. It used to be said: The wonders of Baghdad are three — the allusions (isharah) of al-Shibli, the expressions of al-Murta‘ish and the stories of Ja‘far al-Khawwas.”

I heard Abu Ja‘far al-Sa‘igh say that al-Murta‘ish said: “Whoever thinks his actions shall save him from the fire or take him to Allah’s pleasure (ridwan), then he has placed his self and actions in danger. And he who places trust in the bounty of Allah, then Allah will take him to the utmost stations of His pleasure.”

It was said to al-Murta‘ish: “Such a person treads on water.” He replied: “Surely, disobeying the desires is greater than walking on water and flying in the air.” When his death came nigh at the Masjid al-Shuniziyyah,[5] they calculated his debts which were seventeen dirhams. He said: “Sell these tattered clothes of mine and pay it off with that. I have hope in Allah that He will grant me a shroud. I have surely asked Allah for three: that He grants me death as a poor person, grants me death in this mosque for I have remained in the company of the people within it, and places me with those who I am friendly with and whom I love.” He then closed his eyes and died.

7. Hafiz Ibn Kathir mentions in Al-Bidayah wa ‘l-Nihayah (part 11, p. 193) regarding events that occurred in 328 ah:

[From among those notables who died there was also] ‘Ali ibn Muhammad, Abu ‘l-Hasan al-Muzayyin al-Saghir. He was one of the shaykhs of the Sufis. He was originally from Baghdad and remained in the company of Junayd and Sahl al-Tustari. He resided in Makkah until his death this year. He would say regarding himself: “I came to a well in the land of Tabuk. When I drew close to it, I slipped and fell into it and there was none who saw me. When I reached the bottom, there was a stone bench [on the side] which I clung to. I said: ‘If I die then I shall end up ruining the water for people.’ My soul then became restful and it started to yearn for death. I was in this condition when a serpent descended upon me and wound itself around me. It then raised me to land and slithered away. I knew not where it went and from where it came.

Among the other shaykhs of the Sufis there is one who is called Abu Ja‘far al-Muzayyin al-Kabir who resided in Makkah and also died there. He was among those known for their worship.

Al-Khatib has narrated from ‘Ali ibn Abu ‘Ali Ibrahim ibn Muhammad al-Tabari from Ja‘far al-Khuldiyy who said: “I bade farewell to Muzayyin al-Kabir when leaving for some pilgrimages and said to him: ‘Provide me with some provisions.’ He told me: ‘When you lose something then say: O He Who will assemble all people on the day in which there is no doubt. Surely, Allah does not back out of His promise. Join me with whatever it is [that you have lost]. Surely Allah will join you with that thing.’ He also said: ‘I went to al-Kattani and bade him farewell and asked him to provide me with some provisions. He gave me a ring on whose stone was an inscription. He then said: “When you are in distress then look at this stone, your distress will be removed.” I would supplicate with this prayer and it would surely be accepted and I would surely look at this stone and that feeling would go. Once, when I was in a ship, there was a severe wind so I took out the ring to look at it. However, I had no idea where it went. So I began supplicating using that supplication for the entire day. When I returned home, I searched my belongings at home and found the ring in some clothes which had been in the house.’”

8. Hafiz Ibn Kathir mentions in Al-Bidayah wa ‘l-Nihayah (part 13, p. 93) regarding events that occurred in 617 ah:

[From among those notables who died this year was] Shaykh ‘Abdullah al-Yunini who was given the title The Lion of the Levant (Asad al-Sham), may Allah have mercy on him and be pleased with him. He was from a village in Baalbek called Younine. He had a zawiyah which people would travel to and visit. He was from among the major pious individuals, and famous for worship, spiritual exercises (riyadah), and commanding good and forbidding vice. He was very high minded in terms of his asceticism and piety in that he would not keep anything for himself; he did not have wealth or clothes, but would borrow what he wore. He would not wear more than one tunic (qamis) during the summer and would wear a fur overcoat over it during the winter. He would wear a cap made from goatskin, the hair of which would be on the outside.

He would never remain behind from participating in battles. He would shoot a bow that weighed eighty ratl.[6] He would sometimes live in the mountains of Lebanon. He would, in the winter, come to the springs of al-‘Asriya at the foot of the mountain overlooking the village of Douma situated to the east of Damascus on account of the warmth of the water. People would, hence, head for him there to meet him. He would at times come to Damascus and stay at the foot of Mount Qasyun close to al-Qadsiyyah. He was of [high] spiritual states (hal) and of righteous kashf. He was called the Lion of the Levant.

Abu ‘l-Muzaffar, the maternal grandson of Ibn al-Jawzi has narrated from Qadi Jamal al-Din Ya‘qub, the governor of Al-Karak al-Biqa, that he once saw Shaykh ‘Abdullah performing ablution in the River Tora close to the Jisr al-Abyad (the White Bridge) when a Christian passed by him and with him was a mule carrying wine. “The animal stumbled on the bridge and the load fell. He then saw the shaykh who had finished his wudu who did not know him. He asked him for help to raise the load on to the animal so the shaykh called me and said: ‘Come here oh faqih, help us place this load on the animal.’ The Christian then left. I became astonished by this and followed the animal as I was heading to the city. The Christian took it to the ‘Uqayba [neighbourhood] and went to a seller of wine there where it became clear that it had suddenly become vinegar. The wine seller then said to the Christian: ‘Woe unto you. This is vinegar.’ So the Christian said: ‘I know where this has come from.’ He tied his animal in a rest house and returned to a group of pious people. He asked regarding the shaykh and came to know of him. He then came to him and accepted Islam at his hands.”

He was a man of many spiritual states and miracles. He would stand for no one who entered on him and would say: “People only stand for the Cherisher of the Worlds.” When al-Amjad[7] would enter on him, he would sit in front of him. The shaykh would then say to him: “Oh al-Amjad, you did this and you did that.” He would then command that which he needed to command him to do and forbid him from that which he ought to forbid him from. Al-Amjad would obey all that he would say to him and that was only on account of the shaykh’s sincerity in asceticism, piety and way.

He would accept the spoils of war and would not keep any of it for the next day. When his hunger became severe he would take the leaves from an almond tree, which he would rub and press and then eat till his fill. He would then drink cold water on top of this. May Allah Most High have mercy on him and make pleasant his resting place.

They mention that he completed the Hajj some years in the air [by flying]. This has happened to a large group of ascetics and pious worshippers. This has not reached us regarding any of the major scholars. The first regarding whom this is mentioned is Habib al-‘Ajami, who was from among the companions of Hasan al-Basri, and then some pious individuals after him — may the mercy of Allah Most High be on all of them.

On Friday, 10 Dhu ‘l-Hijjah of this year, ‘Abdullah al-Yunini offered the morning prayer and the Friday prayer at the Jami‘ Masjid of Baalbek. It is correct that he had visited the lavatory that day before the prayer. After completing the prayer he said to Shaykh Dawud al-Muadhdhin who would wash the dead: “See how you will be tomorrow.” The shaykh then began to ascent towards his zawiyah and spent that night awake in the dhikr of Allah Most High. He remembered his friends and those who were good to him, even if that goodness was a little. He would supplicate for them. When the time for the Morning Prayer came, he offered the prayer with his companions. He then sat leaning while doing the dhikr of Allah and in his hand was his prayer beads (subhah). He then died in this condition while sitting and did not fall. The prayer beads also did not fall from his hand. The news reached al-Amjad, the ruler of Baalbek. He came and saw him thus. He then said: “What if we were to build a structure around him and he was to be kept like this so people could see a sign.” So it was said to him that this is not from the sunnah. The shaykh was moved, washed, shrouded and prayed upon. He was buried beneath the almond tree under which he would sit offering the dhikr of Allah Most High – may Allah have mercy on him and may He fill his grave with light.

He died on Saturday and he was over eighty years of age. May Allah Most High have mercy on him and make pleasant his resting place. Shaykh Muhammad al-Faqih al-Yunini was from among his students and from among those who served him. He was the grandfather of all of those shaykhs in the town of Baalbek.

9. Hafiz Ibn Kathir mentions in Al-Bidayah wa ‘l-Nihayah (part 13, p. 137) regarding events that occurred in 630 ah.

[Among those who died this year was] Shaykh Shihab al-Din al-Suhrawardi,[8] the author of Awarif al-Ma‘arif, ‘Umar ibn Muhammad ibn Abdullah ibn Muhammad ibn ‘Ummuwayh. His name is ‘Abdullah al-Bakri al-Baghdadi, Shihab al-Din Abu Hafs al-Suhrawardi, the shaykh of the Sufis in Baghdad. He was from among the major pious individuals and leaders of the Muslims. He would leisurely come and go between the caliphs and kings, and he gathered great wealth which he distributed among the poor and needy. He once offered the Hajj and in his company was a group of ascetics the condition of whom only Allah Most High knew. In him were the qualities of generosity, aiding those who are in trouble, supporting the needy, and commanding good and forbidding vice. He would deliver lectures wearing threadbare clothes. He once recited this poem [a loose translation of which is as follows]:

There is not among the companions a man of divine ecstasy (wajd) with whom we may speak regarding the lofty way. Nor is there a man afflicted with divine love with whom we may vie.

He began repeating this and went into ecstasy (wajd). From among those who were present was a youth who — dressed in a tunic and wearing a small turban — stood and said: “Oh shaykh, how many ecstatic statements will you utter (shatahat) and reproach the people. I swear by Allah there is surely in them those who are not pleased to vie with you, nor will you understand that which they say. If only you recited [the following poem]:

There is none among the riders — and it is that their animals have carried on — save lovers of him; and among them is the beloved,

It is as if Yusuf is on each camel and there is Ya‘qub in each home within the neighbourhood.

The shaykh screamed and descended from the pulpit. He then headed towards the youth to apologise but could not find him. In his place he found a hole in which there was much blood and which the youth had hollowed out with his feet while the shaykh recited the poem.

Ibn Khallikan has mentioned much of his poetry and greatly praised him. He died this year at the age of ninety three — may Allah Most High have mercy on him.

10. Hafiz Ibn Kathir mentions in Al-Bidayah wa ‘l-Nihayah (part 13, p. 141) regarding events that occurred in 631 ah:

[Among those who died this year was] Shaykh ‘Abdullah al-Armani. He was one of the worshippers and ascetics who would traverse lands. He would live in deserts, mountains and lowlands. He would gather with the qutubs, abdals and awtads,[9] and those of spiritual states (hal), kashf, spiritual exercises and travel in all regions and directions. He had studied the Quran at the beginning [of his studies] and memorized [Mukhtasar] al-Quduri according to the madhhab of Abu Hanifah. He then preoccupied himself with rectifying conduct and spiritual exercises. He then took up residence in Damascus at the end of his life where he died. He was buried at the foot of Mount Qasyun.

Many beautiful things have been narrated about him. Among that is that he said: “I once cut close to a town while travelling and my soul sought that I enter it. I promised myself I would not eat food therein. I entered it and passed by a laundry man who looked at me with aversion and so I became fearful of him and fled the town. This man caught up to me and with him was some food. He then said: ‘Eat, for you have exited the town.’ So I said to him: ‘You have such a [spiritual] station and you wash clothes in the markets?’ He replied: ‘Don’t raise your head and don’t look at any of your deeds. Remain a slave unto Allah. If he uses you in good, then be pleased with that.’ He then said:

If it were said to me to die, then I would say hear and obey,

And I would say to the caller of death: welcome, welcome (ahlan wa marhaba).

Hafiz Ibn Kathir further narrates many other stories regarding this shaykh.

11. Hafiz Ibn Kathir mentions in Al-Bidayah wa ‘l-Nihayah (part 13, p. 227) regarding events that occurred in 658 ah:

[Among those who died this year there was] Shaykh Muhammad al-Faqih al-Yunini al-Hanbali al-Baalbekki al-Hafiz. He is Muhammad ibn Ahmad ibn ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Isa ibn Abu ‘l-Rijal Ahmad ibn ‘Ali ibn Muhammad ibn Muhammad ibn Muhammad ibn al-Husayn ibn Ishaq ibn Ja‘far al-Sadiq.

Shaykh Qutb al-Din al-Yunini has narrated his lineage thus from the writing of his elder brother Abu ‘l-Husayn ‘Ali who informed him that his father told him: “We are from the progeny of Ja‘far al-Sadiq.” He also said: “He only narrated that to him at the time of death so he abstains from accepting sadaqah.

Abu ‘Abdullah ibn Abu ‘l-Husayn al-Yunini al-Hanbali Taqi al-Din, the faqih, the Hanbali, the hafiz of hadith, he who benefitted others, the erudite, the worshipper and the ascetic. He was born in the year 572 AH. He heard [hadith] from al-Khushu‘i, Hanbal, al-Kindi and Hafiz ‘Abd al-Ghani al-Maqdisi who would praise him. He learned fiqh from Shaykh al-Muwaffaq and remained in the company of Shaykh ‘Abdullah al-Yunini and benefitted from him. Shaykh ‘Abdullah would praise him, give him preference and follow him in the fatwas of Shari‘ah.

He donned the mantle (khirqah) from Shaykh ‘Abdullah al-Bata’ihi and excelled in the knowledge of hadith. He memorised Al-Jam‘ bayn al-Sahihayn in its entirety and a good portion of Musnad al-Imam Ahmad. He knew Arabic and learned that from al-Taj al-Kindi. He would write beautifully. People would benefit from his expertise in many types of knowledge and would take from him good ways. He acquired great prestige among the rulers and others. He once performed the wudu in the presence of Sultan al-Ashraf while he was by him at the castle listening to al-Bukhari in the presence of [Shaykh] al-Zabidi. When he had finished his wudu, the sultan shook his towel and spread it on the ground for him to walk on. The sultan swore that it was clean and that he should step on it. The shaykh did so.

Hafiz Ibn Kathir (may Allah have mercy on him) then expands on his virtues and lofty status. He then writes:

All of the kings venerated him and exalted him. The children of al-‘Adil[10] and others would come to his town. This was also the case with the fuqaha like Ibn al-Salah, Ibn ‘Abd al-Salam, Ibn al-Hajib, al-Hasiri, Shams al-Din ibn Sani al-Dawlah, Ibn al-Jawzi, and others who would venerate him and return to his word on account of his knowledge, actions, honesty and trustworthiness.

Many spiritual states (hal), incidents of kashf and miracles have been narrated about him — may Allah have mercy on him. Some of them have said he was a qutb for twelve years. Allah is most knowledgeable… His son, Qutb al-Din mentioned that he died on 19 Ramadan of this year at the age of eighty eight years — may Allah Most High have mercy on him.

12. Hafiz Ibn Kathir mentions in Al-Bidayah wa ‘l-Nihayah (part 13, p. 342) regarding events that occurred in 694 ah:

[Among those who died this year there was] Al-Faruthi — the shaykh, the imam, the worshipper, the ascetic, the orator ‘Izz al-Din Abu ‘l-‘Abbas Ahmad ibn Shaykh Muhiy al-Din Ibrahim ibn ‘Umar ibn al-Faraj ibn Sabur ibn ‘Ali ibn al-Ghunaymah al-Faruthi al-Wasati. He was born in the year 614 ah, heard hadith and travelled in search for this. He had an excellent hand in this, and also in tafsir, fiqh, delivering advice and eloquence. He was religious, pious and ascetic. He came to Damascus during the rule of al-Zahir[11] and was given the responsibility of teaching at the [Madrasah] al-Jarudiyyah and leading prayers at the Ibn Hisham Masjid. For that he was assigned a salary according to the need, this he would distribute to others. He was a man of pious conditions (hal) and many kashf…

Hafiz Ibn Kathir (may Allah have mercy on him) narrates many stories and makes mention of the lofty stations of this shaykh. He then continues:

The day of his death was a day to be seen in Wasit. His funeral prayer was also offered in Damascus and other places — may Allah Most High have mercy on him. He donned the mantle of Tasawwuf according to the Suhrawardi way. He would recite the ten ways of reading the Quran. He left behind two thousand two hundred books. He narrated a lot. Al-Birzali heard many hadiths from him: Sahih al-Bukhari, Jami‘ al-Tirmidhi, Sunan Ibn Majah, Musnad al-Shafi‘i, Musnad ‘Abd ibn Humayd, Mu‘jam al-Tabarani al-Saghir, Musnad al-Darami, Fadail al-Quran of Abu ‘Ubayd, and another eighty other books apart from this.

13. Hafiz Ibn Kathir mentions in Al-Bidayah wa ‘l-Nihayah (part 14, p. 227) regarding events that occurred in 749 ah:

On Saturday, 3 Rajab, the funeral of Shaykh ‘Ali al-Maghribi, one of the students of Shaykh Taqi al-Din ibn Taymiyyah, was offered at Jami‘ al-Aframi at the foot of Mount Qasyun where he was buried — may Allah have mercy on him. He was a person of worship, asceticism, simplicity in dress and piety. He did not take up any post at all in this world. He also had no wealth. Rather, he would be given some spoils from war which he would spend little by little. He would be preoccupied with Tasawwuf and left behind a wife and three children. May Allah have mercy on him.

Previous sections:

Sufism and the Imams of the Salafi Movement: Introduction
Shaykh Muhammad bin ‘Abd al-Wahhab and Sufism
Hafiz Ibn al-Qayyim and Sufism – Part One
Hafiz Ibn al-Qayyim and Sufism – Part Two
Imam al-Dhahabi and Sufism


  1. Published by Maktabah al-Riyad al-Hadithiyya, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia — Shaykh ‘Abd al-Hafiz []
  2. He is the great shaykh of the Sufis who known by them and others as sayyid al-ta’ifah (master of the Sufis) — Shaykh ‘Abd al-Hafiz. []
  3. Khabis is a type of sweet dish made using flour. Several versions of this dish are mentioned in Ibn Sayyar al-Warraq’s 10th century cookery book Al-Kitab al-Tabikh. It seems that Khabis al-Jazr (khabis made from carrots) is the classic Indo-Pak carrot halwa — translator. []
  4. In some versions it is al-Zaqqaq — translator. []
  5. According to the Mu‘jam al-Buldan (The Dictionary of Countries), al-Shuniziyyah is a cemetery in the east of Baghdad and the resting ground of a group of pious people — translator. []
  6. The ratl is a unit of weight used in many Muslim lands. The ratl varies in weight. According to J. G. Hava’s Classical Arabic-English Dictionary, one ratl is the weight of 5 lbs in Syria and 15 ¾ oz in Egypt. South Asians often use the word to denote the imperial pound — translator. []
  7. Al-Amjad was the grand nephew of Salah al-Din al-Ayyubi (may Allah have mercy on him) and governor of Baalbek between 1182 and 1230 — translator. []
  8. He is the one to whom returns all of the chains of the Suhrawardi tariqah — Shaykh ‘Abd al-Hafiz. []
  9. Explanation of these terms will follow in greater detail in the section regarding Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah, insha Allah — translator. []
  10. Al-‘Adil (1145-1218) was an Ayyubid general and ruler. His full name was al-Malik al-Adil Sayf al-Din Abu-Bakr ibn Ayyub. He was the son of Najm al-Din Ayyub and a younger brother of Salah al-Din Ayyubi. He provided crucial military and civilian support to his brother in their wars against the Crusaders — translator. []
  11. Al-Zahir was the Mamluk Sultan Baibars whose complete name was al-Malik al-Zahir Rukn al-Din Baibars al-Bunduqdari (1223 –1277). He was one of the commanders of the forces which inflicted a devastating defeat on the Seventh Crusade of King Louis IX of France — translator. []


  • Hadhrat Sheikh al-Hadeeth Mawlana Zakariyyah Kandhalwi (rh) mentions the same story in Fadhail-e-‘Amaal, which hafiz Ibn Katheer (rh) mentions regarding Hazrat Junaid Baghdadi (rh) and the “naked” shaytaan…my message to the ghair muqallideens of Indo-Pak (and even to the neo-salafis) who accuse Hadhrat Sheikh al-Hadeeth please for the sake of Allah if you are true in your statements then point those fingers at the likes of Hafiz Ibn Katheer and Hadhrat Junaid Baghdadi…but you will not do so because you are only trained to think in one way and look at things in one way.

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