Translated by Ismaeel Nakhuda

Translator’s foreword: Below is the first part of the fifth chapter of the incomplete yet ongoing translation of Shaykh ‘Abd al-Hafiz’s Mawqif A’immat al-Harakat al-Salafiyyah min al-Tasawwuf wa al-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 Imam Hafiz Abu al-Faraj ‘Abd al-Rahman ibn Shihab Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali 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 Rajab’s Al-Dhayl ‘ala Tabaqat al-Hanabilah. ((To ensure an accurate translation, I have compared quotations from Shaykh ‘Abdul Hafiz’s book with two versions of Hafiz Ibn Rajab’s Al-Dhayl ‘ala Tabaqat al-Hanabilah — one of which was published by Maktabah al-Obeikan in 1425 ah along with the footnotes (tahqiq) of Shaykh ‘Abdul Rahman ibn Sulayman al-‘Uthaymin. Where texts vary, I have given preference to the al-‘Uthaymin version (translator).))

The majority of Hafiz Ibn Rajab’s books are full of mention of the Sufi shaykhs, and their words and condition. We shall suffice here with several quotations from his excellent book Al-Dhayl ‘ala Tabaqat al-Hanabilah. All of those who he mentions and who we shall mention are Hanbali predecessors, or from those to whom the shaykhs of the Salafi movement attribute themselves. By this, the purpose will be achieved in the best way, insha-Allah, and it is He Most High upon Whom trust is placed.

1. Hafiz Ibn Rajab mentions in Al-Dhayl ‘ala Tabaqat al-Hanabilah (part 1, p. 211) in the biography of Imam Abu Muhammad ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Ali al-Baghdadi:

Hafiz al-Diya al-Maqdisi said: Abu al-Fadl ‘Abd al-Wahid ibn Sultan informed us in Baghdad, that Muhammad al-Muqri informed us that he (Imam Abu Muhammad ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Ali al-Baghdadi) gave them ijazah and recited the following poem to himself:

The abandoning of affectation (takalluf) in Tasawwuf is necessary (wajib),

What is impossible for there to exist is affectation among the fuqara, ((We often find the Sufis referring themselves in Arabic as faqirs (pl. fuqara), which literally means ‘the poor’, but in the context of Sufism means the Sufis (translator). ))

They are a people, when darkness spreads you see them,

Prostrating in the way the reciters [of the Quran] prostrate,

Their wajd — due to various causes — has a place,

But it is that fame can enter the limbs [on account of the wajd thus leading to spiritual ruin],

They do not raise their voices loudly in respect to that (i.e. the wajd),

They remain aloof from places of desire,

They continuously fast uninterruptedly,

This is so in difficulty, if it comes, and at times of ease,

You see them among people when they come,

Like bright stars in the dark,

Their wishes prove to be true and their intentions are mighty,

Their stations are lofty, stationed on the star of Orion,

They have been faithful to the Lord in reality and in intention,

And they keep in mind the rights of Allah throughout [the day and night],

Dancing is a defect according to them in their covenant,

And so is also the qadib ((Qadib (pl. qudban) is an old Arabian percussive instrument. It is a type of wand that musicians would beat on a sonorous substance and is mentioned in the Arabian Nights (translator). ))without any obscuring [of the matter],

These are the distinguishing features of the pious and those who have passed,

From among the masters of asceticism and ‘ulama,

So when you see someone contrary to their actions,

Then judge him to be in the thick of deviation.

2. Hafiz Ibn Rajab mentions in Al-Dhayl ‘ala Tabaqat al-Hanabilah (part 1, p. 306):

‘Uthman ibn Marzuq ibn Humayd ibn Salamah al-Qurashi, the jurist and ascetic, Abu ‘Amr, the resident of the lands of Egypt. He remained in the company of Sharaf al-Islam ‘Abd al-Wahhab ibn al-Hanbali in Damascus and mastered fiqh. He made Egypt his home and remained there till he died. He issued fatwas there, taught, debated and spoke regarding the Knowing of Allah (ma‘arif) and spiritual realities (haqa’iq). The spiritual training of the murids in Egypt was his responsibility and a large number of pious individuals attribute themselves to him. The shaykhs praised him and he gained complete acceptance from the elite and the lay masses. Many people benefitted from his company.

He would exalt Shaykh ‘Abd al-Qadir. ((This is the Imam Rabbani and eternal qutub Shaykh ‘Abd al-Qadir al-Jilani al-Hanbali, who is the source of all of the Qadri silsilahs (Shaykh ‘Abd al-Hafiz). )) It is said: That he joined him along with Abu Madyan in the plain of ‘Arafat and that Shaykh ‘Abd al-Qadir gave them both the mantle (khirqah), and that they heard from him a portion of his narrated hadiths.

He heard hadith and narrated them. Abu al-Thana Mahmud ibn ‘Abdullah ibn Matruh al-Misri al-Hanbali and Abu al-Thana Hamd ibn Maysarah ibn Ahmad ibn Musa ibn Ghana’im al-Ghudrani al-Hanbali al-Misri al-Kamikhi — who were both pious individuals — heard hadith from him. The first was a reciter of the Quran, he pronounced the Quran beautifully. The second was a man who carried out a lot of dhikr and tasbih; al-Mundhiri has narrated from him and he recited the Quran from the first.

As to Shaykh Abu ‘Amr, he performed many miracles and was a man of many spiritual states (hal), lofty stations (maqam) and excellent speech according to the way of the people of Tariqah. Among that is his saying: “The way to Knowing Him (ma‘rifah) and His qualities (sifat) lies in contemplation (fikr) and pondering over His commands and verses. There is no way for those of intellect to recognise his actual being. If godly wisdom was to reach its end within the limit of the intellect, and if it were that godly power were to be confined to [people’s] understanding of knowledge, then this would be limiting [His] wisdom and a defect in [His] power. However, the secrets of the Eternal are veiled from minds in the way that the majesties of the All Mighty are veiled from eyes. Surely, the meaning of the attribute of Allah (wasf) returns to the attribute, the intellect is blind from perceiving Him (idrak) and the  King’s home is in the kingdom. The creation reaches His likeness and the quest becomes pressed for His figure: ‘And the voices will turn low in awe for the Rahman. So, you will hear not but whispering.’ (20:108)…”

Among his speech there is … “the attributes of the knower of Allah (‘arif) include fear (khashyah)and awe (haybah). Be warned of imitating the people of hal before perfecting the path and setting feet firm for it shall break you. The proof of your confusion is your remaining in the company of the confused and the proof of your being in a state alienation from everything apart from Allah (wahshah)is your being intimate with those who feel alienated…”

It has been narrated from Shaykh Abu Ishaq Ibrahim ibn Muzaybil al-Darir, the faqih, the Shafi‘i, the ascetic — may Allah Most High have mercy on him — that he said: “Shaykh Abu ‘Amr ibn Marzuq was from among the awtad of Egypt. His mention was widespread and many miracles appeared from him. The Nile greatly increased in depth one year and it was close that Egypt would be flooded and it had taken over land until it was close that the time to sow seeds would pass. People came to Shaykh Abu ‘Amr ibn Marzuq and made a hue because of this. He went to the bank of the Nile and performed wudu in it. At that moment it decreased by two cubits (dhira‘) and came off the land until it became clear and the people were able to sow the next day.”

He said: “Some years, the Nile did not rise at all and a major portion of time to till the land had passed; prices increased and destruction was feared. The people came to Shaykh Abu ‘Amr ibn Marzuq and made a hue, so he went to the bank of the Nile, performed wudu in it using a jug that was with his attendant. The Nile rose that very day. Its increase continued until it reached its limit. Allah sent with it many benefits and He placed blessings (barakah) in the people’s harvests that year.”

I read the writings of Shaykh Nasih al-Din ‘Abd al-Rahman ibn Najm ibn al-Hanbali, who said: “I visited Shaykh ‘Uthman ibn Marzuq in Egypt, who said that Asad al-Din Shirkuh ((Asad al-Din Shirkuh ibn Shadhi (d. 1169 ce) was an important Kurdish military commander and uncle of Salah al-Din Ayyubi. Shirkuh served under Nur al-Din al-Zengi who sent him to Egypt in 1163 ce to settle a dispute between between a Fatimid vizier, Shawar, and his lieutenant. This vizier had a habit of switching alliances between Nur al-Din al-Zengi and the Crusader states. It is said that Shirkuh entered Egypt three times to deal with Shawar. He died in January 1169 ce and was succeeded by his nephew Salah al-Din who had accompanied him in his campaigns in Egypt. Salah al-Din also succeeded Nur al-Din al-Zengi, uniting Egypt and Syria, a development that enabled him to drive out the crusaders from Jerusalem (translator). )) will come to these lands and go back, he shall not gain anything. He shall then return and go back and shall not take this country. Then he shall return and — I don’t know if it was the third or the fourth — take control of Egypt. It happened as he mentioned. I asked him: ‘My master, where did you get this from?’ He said: ‘I swear by Allah oh my son, I don’t know the unseen. I have a habit of seeing the Prophet of Allah (may Allah bless him and grant him peace). I see him in some gatherings and he tells me.’ I said: It is possible he means in a dream…”

Shaykh Taqi al-Din Ibn Taymiyyah — may Allah Most High have mercy on him – said: “And over there are groups which attribute themselves to Shaykh Abu ‘Amr ibn Marzuq and they say such things that are contrary to that on which Shaykh Abu ‘Amr is on. This shaykh would attribute himself to the madhhab of Imam Ahmad and was from the companions of Shaykh ‘Abd al-Wahhab ibn Shaykh Abu al-Faraj, whereas these groups attribute themselves to the madhhab of al-Shafi‘i and speak such words that are contrary to the madhhab of al-Shafi‘i and Ahmad, rather contrary to all of the imams of the Muslims and their shaykh Shaykh Abu ‘Amr.

As to this Shaykh Abu ‘Amr, he is a shaykh from the shaykhs of the people of knowledge and religion; his example is like theirs…

3. Hafiz Ibn Rajab mentions in Al-Dhayl ‘ala Tabaqat al-Hanabilah (part 1, p. 290):

‘Abd al-Qadir ibn Abu Salih ibn ‘Abdullah ibn Janki Dost ibn Abu  ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Abdullah al-Jili, the ascetic, the shaykh of the era, the exemplar of the knowers (‘arifs) of Allah, the sultan of the shaykhs, the master of the people of Tariqah in his age, the reviver of the faith, Abu Muhammad, the man of many spiritual stations (maqam), miracles, sciences, inner knowledge and famous spiritual conditions (hal).

Some people mention his lineage reaches ‘Ali ibn Abu Talib (may Allah be pleased with him)… he was born in the year 470 ah or 471 ah in Kilan and came to Baghdad in his youth. He heard hadiths there from Abu Ghalib ibn al-Baqillani, Ja‘far al-Sarraj, Abu Bakr ibn Sawsan, Ibn Bayan, Abu Talib ibn Yusuf, Ibn Khushaysh and Ubayy al-Narsi. He gained proficiency in fiqh from Qadi Abu Sa‘d al-Makhrimi and Abu al-Khattab al-Kaludhani. It is said that he also studied under ‘Ala ibn ‘Aqil and Qadi Abu al-Husayn, and gained expertise in the madhhab, the differences within it, and its principles etc. He studied literature under Abu Zakariyya al-Tabrayzi. He remained in the company of Shaykh Hammad al-Dabbas the ascetic and lectured at the madrasah of his Shaykh al-Makharrimi. He remained there till he died and was buried there.

Ibn al-Jawzi said: “This madrasah was very quaint and was handed over to ‘Abd al-Qadir who would lecture people. He became well known for his asceticism. He had a good manner of behaviour and would remain silent. The madrasah became small on account of the great number of people. He used to sit close to the city wall, leaning on the ribat ((A ribat, in this context, is a building designed specifically for Sufi gatherings. It is a place for spiritual retreat and character reformation. It is synonymous with the words zawiyah and khanqah (translator). )) and many people would visit him at his gathering. The madrasah was improved and expanded, and the general masses rallied together in building it. He remained at his madrasah, teaching and preaching until he died.”

Ibn al-Sam‘ani mentioned him: “He was the imam of the Hanbalis and their shaykh during his age; he was a jurist, pious, devout, one who would give much in charity, a person of widespread mention, a person who was constantly in thought and someone who would weep very quickly. I wrote [knowledge] from him. He used to live close to the Bab al-Azaj in the madrasah that they built for him…”

I say: Shaykh ‘Abd al-Qadir appeared to the people and sat to lecture after 520 ah. He received widespread acceptance from people. They firmly believed in his religiosity and piety, and benefited from him, his words and advice. The Ahl al-Sunnah triumphed with his appearance. His life, sayings, miracles and kashf became famous. Kings would be in awe of him, what must have been the state of their subjects.

Shaykh Muwaffaq al-Din, the author of al-Mughni, said: “I have never heard so many miracles being narrated about anyone more than what has been narrated regarding Shaykh ‘Abd al-Qadir. I have seen none being exalted on account of the religion more than him.”

Shaykh ‘Izz al-Din ibn ‘Abd al-Salam, the shaykh of the Shafi‘is, said: “The miracles of none of the shaykhs have been narrated with such widespread agreement (tawatur) save those of Shaykh ‘Abd al-Qadir, for indeed his miracles have been narrated with tawatur.”

… and I have also read the writings of Ibn al-Hanbali that his maternal uncle Abu al-Hasan ibn Naja, the orator (wa‘iz), met Shaykh ‘Abd al-Qadir. He narrated from him that he said: “On the day of ‘Id I went to the musalla early and went to the place where Shaykh ‘Abd al-Qadir used to offer his prayer.” He said: “Shaykh ‘Abd al-Qadir came and with him was a large group of people. People were kissing his hand and he performed two units of prayer before the ‘Id prayer. So I said to myself, what is this prayer? It is from the Sunnah that no supererogatory prayers are offered before it. When he had made the salam [at the end of his prayer], he turned to me and said: ‘There is a reason for it.’”

… Shaykh ‘Abd al-Qadir, may Allah Most High have mercy on him, has excellent words in regards to Tawhid, the attributes of Allah (sifat), destiny (qadr) and in relation to the sciences of ma‘rifah which is in agreement to the Sunnah. He authored Al-Ghunyah li Talibi Tariq al-Haqq, which is famous, and Futuh al-Ghayb. His students gathered much of his advices which were delivered in his gatherings. He adhered firmly to the Sunnah in the issue of the attributes of Allah and destiny etc and was profound in refuting those who opposed it…

I have also narrated from the writings of Sayf ibn al-Majd al-Hafiz: “I heard the shaykh, the ascetic, ‘Ali ibn Salman al-Baghdadi, who is popularly known as al-Khabbaz (the Bread Maker), at his ribat in the western part of Baghdad narrate from Shaykh ‘Abd al-Qadir al-Jili — how remarkable was he, he was a man of such kashf and miracles that have not been narrated from anyone of his time — that he said: ‘There will not be a wali of Allah Most High, save that his beliefs will be that of Ahmad, may Allah be pleased with him…’”

Ibn al-Najjar said: “I heard Abu Muhammad al-Akhfash say, ‘I used to enter on Shaykh ‘Abd al-Qadir in the middle of winter when it was severely cold. He would be dressed in a single tunic and on his head would be a cap. Sweat would come out of his body and around him would be someone who would fan him as if it is in the height of heat.”

… Ibn al-Jawzi said: “Shaykh ‘Abd al-Qadir died on a Saturday night, 8 Rabi‘ al-Akhir — and some have said it was the 9th — 561 ah After the maghrib prayer. He was buried immediately at the madrasah and was ninety years old.”

I heard that he would say at the time of his death: “With ease, with ease.” He would then say: “Peace be upon you also, peace be upon you also (wa ‘alaykum al-salam). I am coming to you, I am coming to you.”

4. Hafiz Ibn Rajab mentions in Al-Dhayl ‘ala Tabaqat al-Hanabilah (part 1, p. 384):

Sa‘d ibn ‘Uthman ibn Marzuq ibn Humayd ibn Salamah al-Qurashi, al-Misri by birth and al-Baghdadi in terms of residence, the jurist, the ascetic, Abu al-Khayr, the son of Shaykh Abu ‘Amr who was mentioned before… He learned fiqh in the madhhab in Baghdad under Abu al-Fath ibn al-Manniy and would fervently attend his lectures. He heard [hadith] from Abu Muhammad ibn al-Khashshab and others. He gained widespread acceptance from the elite and general public. He was god fearing, an ascetic and one who worshipped a lot.

I have read the writings of Nasih al-Din ibn al-Hanbali regarding him: “He was preoccupied in memorising the book Al-Wajhayn wa al-Riwayatayn, which was authored by Qadi Abu Ya‘la. He was in relation to asceticism, piety, cleanliness and abstinence in food at a level which would render unable many of those who strove hard in worship. He would walk with his head lowered gathering paper which had been written on until he had gathered much. Using a helper he would take it to the river bank and take responsibility in washing them and then letting them flow with the water. If he asked anyone for a need, he would give them some due even if it was lighting a lamp for him… A person in Baghdad saw the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) in a dream, and he was saying: ‘If it wasn’t for Shaykh Sa‘d, then punishment would befall you.’ Shaykh Sa‘d then came for Friday prayers and he had no knowledge of this dream. The people busied themselves with him, taking blessings from him. They crowded round him and pushed him several times. It were as if a caller was calling out in the hearts of people and the shaykh was, meanwhile, saying: ‘I seek Allah’s refuge from tribulation. What’s happened to me and what’s happened to the people?’ This continued until the people left him and he was able to save himself from them.”

Al-Qadisi said: “He was one of the ascetics, the abdals and awtads. ((The explanation of these two terms, and other similar nomenclature, will appear in the section regarding Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah (translator). )) A person to whom people would travel and whoever is devoted to Allah then people turn to them. He would fast during the day and stand during the night. He came to Baghdad and stayed at Shaykh ‘Abd al-Qadir’s ribat. He would never accept anything from anyone. He would never call at the door of any of the kings. Every year, he would be given something from his property in Egypt that would suffice him the entire year. My father told me: ‘I used to often visit him and so I came to him one day when it occurred to me that I have been visiting him for some time and that he has never taken an oath to me and never presented me with anything. I had hardly finished thinking this when he said to me: “Oh Ahmad, I swear by Allah that I am not happy for you to eat my food, for it is the food of the wretched.” I was then overcome with immense ecstasy (wajd). He then went inside to bring me something from his provisions. So I thought to myself: “If he brings me left over bread then people will disapprove.” He then quickly said from inside: “Oh Shaykh Ahmad, but two pieces of bread.” My astonishment and awe increased. Shaykh Sa‘d was someone who would cry a lot and someone who was of immense humility.’”

Ibn al-Najjar said: “He was a pious slave, and famous for worship, striving hard (mujahadah), piety, austerity, sufficing with little and being chaste. He would live very rough, dress coarsely and would often stay aloof from people. He was extremely cautious in cleanliness…”

It was said that when his shaykh, Ibn al-Manni, was about to pass away, he willed that Shaykh Sa‘d prays over him. It has already been mentioned that he prayed over him that day and that the people crowded round him to gain barakah from him until it was close that he might die.

Al-Mundhiri said: “He died on 6 Rabi‘ al-Akhir, 592 ah, in prostration during prayer. He was buried the next day…” Ibn al-Najjar said that he recited the following verse in the prayer in which he died:So, in case he (the dying person) is from among those blessed with nearness, then (for him) there is comfort and fragrance and garden of bliss.” (56:88-89)

5. Hafiz Ibn Rajab mentions in Al-Dhayl ‘ala Tabaqat al-Hanabilah (part 2, p. 36) in the biography of Shaykh Abu Muhammad ‘Abdullah ibn Abu al-Faraj al-Jubba’i al-Tarabulusi al-Shami:

Shaykh Abu Muhammad heard hadith in Baghdad from Ibn Nasir al-Hafiz, al-Urmawi, Ibn al-Tallayah, Sa‘id ibn al-Banna, Da‘wan ibn ‘Ali al-Jubbi, Abu ‘Ali Hamd ibn Shatil al-Qadi and Abu al-Mu‘ammar al-Ansari et al. He heard hadith in Isfahan from Abu al-Khayr al-Baghban, Mas‘ud al-Thaqafi et al. He gained expertise in fiqh in Baghdad under Abu Hakim al-Nahrawani. He also took from him that portion of Sharh al-Hidayah that he wrote. He also remained in the company of Shaykh ‘Abd al-Qadir al-Jili for a period of time; this is where he inclined to asceticism, piety, goodness and solitude, and benefited from him. He used to narrate much regarding his spiritual states (hal) and miracles.

Ibn al-Najjar said: “‘Abdullah ibn Abu al-Hasan al-Jubba’i wrote to me and I narrate from his writings: ‘I used to listen to the book Hilyat al-Awliya under our Shaykh Abu al-Fadl ibn Nasir and my heart softened and so I said to myself: I want to go into isolation from people and preoccupy myself in worship. I carried on like this and offered salah behind Shaykh ‘Abd al-Qadir. After he finished, we sat in front of him and he looked at me and said: “When you want to go into isolation, then do not do so until you have learned fiqh well, sat in the company of the shaykhs and learned manners from them; only then will isolation (inqita‘) be apt. Otherwise, you shall continue and go into isolation before you have gained expertise in fiqh and you will be like a young bird that has not grown feathers. When something from your religion was to put you in a difficulty then you would come out of your zawiyah and ask people about the issue. It is appropriate for he who associates with a zawiyah to be like a candle from which light is gained.”’”

He also said: “The shaykh was one day talking about sincerity (ikhlas), ostentation (riya) and vanity (‘ujub), and I was present in that gathering. I then thought to myself: How can one be saved from vanity. The shaykh turned to me and said: ‘When you see something that it is from Allah, He gives you the accordance to do a good deed and you take yourself out from disgrace, then you are saved from vanity.’”

Abu al-Faraj ibn al-Hanbali — and I quote from his writings — said: “Shaykh ‘Abdullah al-Jubba’i was greatly honoured in Baghdad. When I entered Isfahan in the year 580 ah I found him there and he was a man who was greatly revered. He would come every day to visit me. It was through his medium that I heard in the presence of Hafiz Abu Musa a portion of al-Suba‘iyyat, for he was ill and the people had been curtained away from him. They were, however, unable to keep Shaykh ‘Abdullah away and so we entered with him. He took permission from Hafiz Abu Musa on my behalf to recite hadith in his presence. When he would walk in the bazaar, people would stand up for him. Shaykh Talhah — i.e. al-‘Althi —   narrated to me that Shaykh ‘Abdullah — i.e. al-Jubba’i — undertook many spiritual exercises (riyadat) and sacrifices (mujahadat), the mention of which would become prolonged…

6. Hafiz Ibn Rajab mentions in Al-Dhayl ‘ala Tabaqat al-Hanabilah (part 2, p. 269):

Muhammad ibn Ahmad ibn ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Isa ibn Abu al-Rijal Ahmad ibn ‘Ali al-Yunini al-Ba‘labakki, the shaykh, the faqih, the hadith scholar, the hafiz, the ascetic, the knower of Allah (‘arif), the man of god (rabbani), Taqi al-Din, Abu ‘Abdullah ibn Abu al-Husayn. He was one of the notable individuals and shaykhs of Islam.

He was born on 6 Rajab in the year 572 ah in Younine, one of the villages of Baalbek. He grew up as an orphan in Damascus and his mother sat him down to make arrows. He then memorised the Quran and heard hadith from Abu Tahir al-Khushu‘i, Abu al-Tamam al-Qalansi, Hanbal al-Mukabbir, Abu al-Yaman al-Kindi, Hafiz ‘Abd al-Ghani and others. He learned fiqh verywell from Shaykh Muwaffaq al-Din. He took hadith from Hafiz ‘Abd al-Ghani, Arabic from Abu al-Yumn al-Kindi and excelled in the khatt al-mansub style of calligraphy. He donned the mantle (khirqah) of Tasawwuf from Shaykh ‘Abdullah al-Bata’ihi, the companion of Shaykh ‘Abd al-Qadir. He remained in the company of Shaykh ‘Abdullah al-Yunini the ascetic — a man of many spiritual states (hal) and miracles who used to be known as the Lion of the Levant — and benefitted from him. Shaykh ‘Abdullah would praise the shaykh,the faqih, give him preference and follow him in fatwas. His shaykh Hafiz ‘Abd al-Ghani would also likewise praise him. He excelled in hadith and in that regard memorised major books such as al-Humaydi’s Al-Jam‘ bayn al-Sahihayn and Sahih Muslim very well

‘Umar ibn al-Hajib al-Hafiz has mentioned him, he went to great lengths in describing him and said: “He remained preoccupied with fiqh and hadith until he became an imam and a hafiz …”He also said: “His like in perfection, proficiency and gathering the two sciences of Shari‘ah and Haqiqah was unseen in his age…”

Hafiz ‘Izz al-Din al-Husayni said: “He is one of the famous shaykhs, who combined between knowledge and din. He used to memorise many Prophetic hadiths and was famous for that.”  He was very eager to listen and read hadiths in spite of his advanced age and lofty standing. The people of Baalbek would listen to him reciting upon those shaykhs who would visit them such as al-Qazwini, al-Baha al-Maqdisi and Ibn Rawahah al-Humawi et al. He was a man of spiritual states, miracles, wird and worship which he would not leave nor delay from the [appointed] time due to anyone visiting him, even if they were kings. He did not agree with showing miracles and would say: “In the same way Allah has made it necessary on the prophets to show their miracles (mu‘jizat), He has made it necessary on the walis to keep their miracles (karamat) discreet.”

It has been narrated from Shaykh ‘Uthman, the shaykh of Dir Na‘is, ((Dir Na‘is, according to Yaqut in his book Al-Khazal al-Da’al, is a village close to Baalbek (translator). )) who was from the people of spiritual states: “The shaykh, the faqih gatheredknowledge for eighteen years. He — may Allah have mercy on him — had a lofty standing among the kings who would revere him a lot so much that once he was at the citadel in Damascus listening to [Sahih] al-Bukhari with King al-Ashraf. ((Al-Ashraf Musa Abu al-Fath al-Muzaffar al-Din (d. 1237 ce) was a ruler of the Ayyubid dynasty (translator). )) The shaykh, the faqih once stood up to perform wudu. The sultan stood up, shook his towel when the shaykh had finished his wudu and presented it to him so he could dry himself with it or step on it with his foot; he also swore it was pure and that it was necessary that he did so.”

Hafiz al-Dhahabi said: “Our Shaykh Abu al-Husayn ibn al-Yunini, or the son of the shaykh, the faqih,has narrated this to us — I am doubtful who.” He added: “King al-Ashraf once came to Baalbek and before anything else he came to the house of the shaykh, the faqih. He alighted [from his mount] and knocked on the door. Someone asked: ‘Who is it?’ He replied: ‘Musa …”

All of the kings venerated him and exalted him. This included the children of al-‘Adil ((Al-‘Adil (1145-1218 ce) 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). )) and others, and likewise the shaykhs and faqihs such as Ibn al-Salah, Ibn ‘Abd al-Salam, Ibn al-Hajib and al-Husri, judges such as Ibn Sana al-Dawlah, Ibn al-Jawzi and others. People would benefit from his knowledge and expertise and would take from him pious ways. He was greatly awe-inspiring, glowingly white-haired, handsome, well built, of good character and dignified. He used to wear a cap, the wool of which would be on the exterior like that of his shaykh, Shaykh ‘Abdullah. He was greatly followed and obeyed.

It was once narrated that he intended to travel to Harran. ((Harran was a major ancient city in Upper Mesopotamia, the site of which is close to the modern village of Altinbasak in Turkey. In the beginning of the Islamic period it was located in the lands belonging to the Mudar tribe and during the Umayyad reign became the seat of an Islamic empire that stretched from Spain to Central Asia. During the late 8th and 9th centuries Harran was a centre for translating works of astronomy, philosophy, natural sciences, and medicine from Greek to Arabic. It later became a popular residence for Ayyubid princes but was then completely destroyed and abandoned during the Mongol invasions of the Levant in the 13th century. Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah was born in Harran and moved to Damascus with his family during the Mongol invasions (translator). )) He said: “News had reached that there was a man there who knew the knowledge of inheritance very well. Shaykh ‘Abdullah al-Yunini’s letter reached me the night before the morning that I wished to travel. He emphasised that I travel to al-Quds al-Sharif (Jerusalem), something that I didn’t want to do. So I opened a copy of the Quran and this verse of the Most High appeared: ‘Follow those who do not claim any reward from you and who are on the right path.’ (36:21) I went out to al-Quds and found that al-Harrani there. I learned the knowledge of inheritance from him until I felt that I had become more proficient than he in it.”

… He died 19 Ramadan in the year 658 ah in Baalbek. He was buried close to his shaykh ‘Abdullah al-Yunini, may Allah have mercy on them both.

7. Hafiz Ibn Rajab mentions in Al-Dhayl ‘ala Tabaqat al-Hanabilah (part 2, p. 358):

Ahmad ibn Ibrahim ibn ‘Abd al-Rahman ibn Mas‘ud ibn ‘Umar al-Wasiti al-Hizami, the ascetic, the exemplar (qudwah), the knower of Allah (‘arif), ‘Imad al-Din, Abu al-‘Abbas, the son of the shaykh of the Hizamis. ((Hizam, according to the Mu‘jam al-Buldan, is one of the districts in the city of Wasit, which is located in eastern Iraq on the west bank of the Tigris river (translator). )) He was born on 11 or 12 Dhu al-Hajjah, 657 ah in the eastern portion of Wasit. His father was the shaykh of the Ahmadiyyah group.. (( This is perhaps a reference to the Ahmadiyyah or Badawiyyah Sufi order that was founded by Sidi Ahmad al-Badawi (596-675 ah) (translator). )) Shaykh Taqi al-Din ibn Taymiyyah would exalt and honour him and would say regarding him: “He is the Junayd of his time.” He also wrote him a letter from Egypt and wrote at the beginning: “To our shaykh, the imam, the knower of Allah (‘arif), the exemplar, the salik (he who traverses the Path).”

Al-Birzali said regarding him in his index: “He is a pious man, a knower of Allah, a man of devotion, worship, seclusion and aversion from the world. He has solid words regarding correct Tasawwuf. He was a caller to the path of Allah Most High. His pen was vaster than his spoken word. He abridged Al-Sirat ’l-Nabawiyyah, and he would make a living through calligraphy (naskh). He would only write an amount through which his necessities might be met. He loved the people of hadith and would extol them. He would firmly manage his time.”

Al-Dhahabi said: “He was a man of standing (sayyid), a knower of Allah, of lofty rank and someone who had withdrawn himself to Allah Most High. He would write calligraphy for a stipend and would sustain himself through this. It was very rare that he would accept anything from anyone. He wrote numerous books regarding Suluk and travelling to Allah Most High, and in refutation of the Ittihadis ((Ittihadis, also known as the Ahl al-Ittihad (or People of Union), was a group of heretical Sufis who believed in the doctrine of ittihad or union with Allah. They have nothing to do with Sufism and have been refuted by authentic Sufis (translator). )) and innovators. He was a caller to the Sunnah. His madhhab in regards to the Attributes of Allah was that of the pious predecessors, he would pass by them as they came. A group who remained in his company benefitted from him. I do not know whether he left in Damascus anyone who is according to his way.”

I say: Among his books there is Sharh Manazil al-Sa’irin, which he did not complete. He also has a beautiful poem in regards to Suluk. Al-Dhahabi and al-Birzali have written regarding him and a large group of our shaykhs and others heard hadith from him. He had excellent familiarity with the sciences, was of beautiful strong words and excellent understanding, and possessed extremely beautiful writing. He would fill his time with litanies (awrad), acts of worship, writing, studying, dhikr and contemplation; he would devote his self to meditating, loving and being fond of Allah, and remaining with Him; he was someone who was greatly dedicated to tasting spiritual bliss (dhawq), and experiencing spiritual lights (tajalli) and the light of the heart. He would seclude himself away from people. He would only meet with those who loved him and the meeting of whom would provide a religious benefit.

8. Hafiz Ibn Rajab mentions in Al-Dhayl ‘ala Tabaqat al-Hanabilah (part 2, p. 361):

Muhammad ibn Ahmad ibn Abu Nasr ibn al-Dubahi al-Baghdadi, the ascetic, shams al-din, Abu ‘Abdullah ibn Abu al-‘Abbas. He was born 636 ah, or 637 ah, in Baghdad. He remained in the company of Yahya al-Sarsari, who was his maternal uncle, and also Shaykh ‘Abdullah Kutaylah for some time. He also travelled with him. Al-Nashtabri from Mardin ((Mardin is a city situated in what today is south eastern Turkey. It is known for its strategic location on a rocky mountain overlooking the plains of northern Syria (translator). )) gave him ijazah. He resided in Makkah for ten years and entered Asia Minor (al-Rum), Mesopotamia (al-Jazirah), Egypt and the Levant. He then made home in Damascus and died there.

Shaykh Kamal al-Din ibn al-Zimalkani said regarding him: “He was a shaykh, pious, a knower of Allah (‘arif), an ascetic, and one who greatly yearned knowledge and its people, and one who was eager to do good, strive in worship and withdraw from the world. He left it and firmly indulged in worship, perpetual [good] actions and remaining serious. He immersed his time in good. He was erudite, had an excellent share in the sciences and a beautiful way of presenting that which he wrote. He sought religious benefits, was austere in his life, abstinent, firm in the faith, and one who would keep away from those whose din he feared. He loved the pious and the people of good. He would remain separate from people and was awe inspiring. He would spend the night awake and fasted a lot. He would lengthen the prayer with humility (khushu‘), coyness and in an absorbed fashion. He would recite the Quran and would not be seen distant from any good deed and pious action. He would give alms (sadaqah) secretly. He would advise the brothers and would strive hard in their affairs. He would support his family well and would diligently attend congregational prayers at the jami‘ mosque. He would not call upon sultans, governors or the people of the world (ahl al-dunya) save when there was a religious necessity. He used to be coarse in his food and attire, and loved the way of the pious predecessors. When a man was to see him, he would see seriousness in his face. He would stand for that which appeared to him to be the truth. He would command good in those matters which he could and forbid that evil which he could. He remained like this until he died.”

Al-Birzali said: “He was one of those shaykhs who were the knowers of Allah (‘arif) and pious. He uttered excellent and concise words and wrote books. He was of excellent words, devoid of affectatious behaviour (takalluf), full of sincerity, a follower of the Sunnah, excellent in knowledge and one of the masters.”

Al-Dhahabi said: “He was an imam, a faqih al-nafs ((Mufti Taqi ‘Usmani writes in Mere Walid Mere Shaykh: “Faqih al-nafs is among the terminology used by the faqihs. It refers to that person who after long engagement with the science of fiqh is granted by Allah Most High a natural disposition with which one is able to come to correct conclusions [in matters of fiqh] without referring to books” (translator). ))and a knower of the dealings of hearts. He remained in the company of a great number of shaykhs, and took from them the manners of the Community (al-qawm) and their way (tariq). He was of excellent gatherings, a follower of the Sunnah, one who would warn of bid‘ah and yearned much. He left his father and his comforts and separated himself from people. He entered Asia Minor, Mesopotamia, the Levant, Egypt and the Hijaz, and remained in the company of the remaining Sufis. He would tread in their steps and memorised much from them and the shaykhs of the path. He spent a lot of the wealth from his inheritance on the poor and studied fiqh according to the madhhab of [Imam] Ahmad in his youth. He remained in the cities of the Two Holy Sanctuaries for under ten years. He married and had children. When the radiance of our shaykh — in other words Ibn Taymiyyah — shone, he was successful in all that he sought, travelled to Damascus with his family and took up home there. I have quoted some things from him and heard a profoundly eloquent speech (khutbah) from his book. I remained in his company less than ten years and heard a portion [of hadith] from him according to his ijazah from al-Nashtabari.”

I say: al-Birzali and al-Dhahabi heard [hadith] from him and both have mentioned him in their indexes.

9. Hafiz Ibn Rajab mentions in Al-Dhayl ‘ala Tabaqat al-Hanabilah (part 2, p. 133):

‘Abdullah ibn Ahmad ibn Muhammad ibn Qudamah ibn Miqdam ibn Nasr ibn ‘Abdullah al-Maqdisi, then al-Dimashqi, al-Salihi, the faqih, the ascetic, the imam, the shaykh al-Islam, one of the noteworthy individuals, Muwaffaq al-Din, Abu Muhammad, the brother of Shaykh Abu ‘Umar who was mentioned earlier.

He was born in Sha‘ban 541 ah in Jamma‘il ((Jamma‘il is a Palestinian town in the northern part of the West Bank close to Nablus. It is presently known as Jamma‘in (translator). )) … he travelled to Baghdad along with his maternal aunt’s son, Hafiz ‘Abd al-Ghani in 561 ah. They heard much from Hibatullah al-Daqqaq, Ibn al-Batti, Sa‘dullah al-Dajaji, Shaykh ‘Abd al-Qadir, Ibn Taj al-Qarra … He remained with Shaykh ‘Abd al-Qadir ((This is the Imam Rabbani and qutub Shaykh ‘Abd al-Qadir al-Jilani to whom all of the Qadri silsilas return to (Shaykh ‘Abd al-Hafiz). )) at his madrasah for a short time and he recited to him [Mukhtasar] Al-Khiraqi. ((Mukhtasar al-Khiraqi is one of the first texts in Hanbali fiqh compiled by the scholars of this madhhab. The author, Abu al-Qasim ‘Umar ibn ‘Ali al-Husayn al-Khiraqi was from Baghdad. He was a contemporary of Imam Ahmad’s two sons, ‘Abdullah and Salih. Al-Khiraqi’s father was also a companion of the students of Imam Ahmad. One of its more famous commentaries is Al-Mughni by Ibn Qudamah which is considered one of the greatest (translator). )) The shaykh then passed away and so he remained firm in the company of Abu al-Fath ibn al-Manni and studied the madhhab, differences [in fiqh] and the principles of fiqh under him until he became erudite…

Sibt ibn al-Jawzi ((Sibt ibn al-Jawzi was Abu Muzaffar Yusuf ibn ‘Abdullah (d. 654 ah). He was the grandson of Ibn al-Jawzi from his daughter (translator). )) said: “He was an imam in the sciences. In his era, there was none — after his brother Abu ‘Umar and al-‘Imad — more ascetic and god fearing than he. He was very bashful, someone who had relinquished the world and its people, simple and pleasant, humble, a lover of the poor, of good manners, benign and philanthropic. Whoever saw him, it was as if he had seen some of the Companions and it was as if light was emanating from his face. He would worship a lot and would read a seventh of the Quran each day and night. He would in the most only offer the two rak‘ah of Sunnah at his home in following the Sunnah. He would always attend my gathering at the jami‘[masjid] of Damascus and Qasioun.”

He also said: “I saw in Shaykh Abu ‘Umar, his brother al-Muwaffaq and his brother in law al-‘Imad that which we narrate regarding the Companions and the unique walis. Their condition made me forget my family and homeland. I then returned to them with the intention of staying [with them]. It is hoped that I remain with them in the abode of eternal dwelling.”

Ibn al-Najjar said: “Shaykh Muwaffaq al-Din was the imam of the Hanbalis at the jami‘ [masjid]. He was reliable, a proof (hujjah), noble, of excellent traits, perfect intellect, meticulous in verifying, someone who would always remain silent, upright, free from blame, devout and a worshipper according to the rules of the predecessors. There was light and calmness and awe in his face. A man would benefit from seeing him before even listening to his words. He compiled many excellent books regarding the madhhab and differences [of fiqh]. Students and companions would head towards him. His name became widespread and his mention became famous. He knew hadith well and he was accomplished in Arabic.”

‘Umar ibn al-Hajib, the hafiz, said in his index: “He is the imam of the imams, the mufti of the Ummah. Allah selected him with great learning, brilliant intelligence and perfect knowledge. Countries buzzed with his mention and the times have been tenacious in providing his like. He took to gathering the transmitted and rational realities. As to hadith, he was a horse rider outstripping the rest; and as to fiqh,he was competent in that field and the most knowledgeable of people in issuing fatwas. He authored numerous books full of a wealth of information and I do not think that time has been generous in providing his like. He was humble with the elite and lay masses. He was of sound belief, and a man of patience, forbearance and dignity. His gathering would be filled with fuqaha, the hadith scholars and people of good. At the end of his life, everyone began heading towards him. He was a man of great worship, someone who would always remain in Tahajjud. His like was never seen, and he did not see anyone like him…”

It has reached me from someone else from Imam Abu al-‘Abbas ibn Taymiyyah, may Allah Most High have mercy on him, that he said: “None has entered the Levant after al-Awza‘i greater in fiqh than Shaykh al-Muwaffaq.” Hafiz al-Diya has written a separate biography of the shaykh in two volumes. Hafiz al-Dhahabi has also done the same.

Al-Diya said: “… Our Shaykh al-‘Imad would exalt Shaykh al-Muwaffaq a lot, supplicate for him and sit in front of him as a student sits in front of a scholar.”

I have heard the imam, the mufti, our Shaykh Abu Bakr Muhammad ibn Ma‘ali ibn Ghanimah in Baghdad say: “I do not know anyone in our age who has reached the status of ijtihad, save al-Muwaffaq.” I heard Abu ‘Amr ibn al-Salah, the mufti, say: “I have not seen the like of Shaykh al-Muwaffaq.”

Shaykh ‘Abdullah al-Yunini said: “I do not firmly believe that anyone from those that I saw was so complete in knowledge and praiseworthy traits with which perfection could be attained save he. Surely he — may Allah have mercy on him – was perfect in appearance, and its meaning is beauty, kindness, forbearance, nobleness, knowledge of various sciences, beautiful manners, and various other issues in which I had seen none besides him perfect in. I had surely seen his excellent manners, beautiful conduct, plentiful forbearance, abundant knowledge, copious intelligence, perfect moral virtue, great sense of bashfulness, perpetual cheeriness, and relinquishment of himself from the world, the people of the world, lofty ranks and its people to an extent from which the major walis would be incapable of…”

Sibt ibn al-Jawzi said: “Abu ‘Abdullah ibn Fadl al-A‘naki said: “I said to myself, ‘If I had ability then I would build a madrasah for al-Muwaffaq and give him a thousand dirhams a day.’ I then came after a few days and made salam with him. He looked at me, smiled and said: ‘When a man intends something, then its reward is written for him.’”

Abu al-Hasan ibn Hamdan al-Jara’ihi narrated: “I used to dislike the Hanbalis on account of the foul words in relation to corrupt beliefs that were uttered against them. I then fell ill such that my limbs would suffer from cramp. I remained like this for seventeen days; I could not move and yearned death. When it was time for ‘Isha, al-Muwaffaq came and recited some verses [of the Quran] over me. He recited: We reveal the Quran, which is cure and mercy for the believers; and it adds nothing to the unjust but loss.’ (17:82) He then wiped his hand over my back and I felt better. He then stood up and I said: ‘Oh slave girl, open the door for him.’ He replied: ‘I shall go from where I came.’ He then disappeared. I then stood at that moment to go to the place of ablution. In the morning I went to the Jami‘ Masjidand offered prayer behind al-Muwaffaq. I then shook his hand, which he squeezed and said: ‘Avoid saying things.’ I said: ‘I say and I say.’”

The caretaker of the Jami‘ Masjid of Damascus said: “He would spend the night in the Jami‘ and doors would open for him and he would leave and return and they would lock as they were.”

Al-‘Afif Kata’ib ibn Ahmad ibn Mahdi al-Banyasi — a few days after Shaykh al-Muwaffaq’s death — narrated: “I once saw Shaykh al-Muwaffaq at the bank of a river performing wudu. When he had completed the wudu he took hold of his wooden clogs and walked on the water to the other side. He then put his clogs on and climbed to the madrasah — meaning the madrasah of his brother Abu ‘Umar.” Then Kata’ib swore by Allah: “I have surely seen him and there was no need for me to lie. I concealed this during his life.” He was asked: “Did his feet submerge in water?” He replied: “No, it was as if he was walking on a carpet, may Allah have mercy on him.”

I have read in the writings of al-Dhahabi: “I heard our companion Abu Tahir Ahmad al-Duraybi who said, I heard from Shaykh Ibrahim ibn Ahmad ibn Hatim — and I visited the grave of Shaykh al-Muwaffaq along with him — say: ‘I heard the faqih Muhammad al-Yunini, our shaykh, say: “I saw Shaykh al-Muwaffaq walking on water.”’” (( In his footnotes to Ibn Rajab’s Tabaqat al-Hanabilah, Shaykh ‘Abdul Rahman ibn Sulayman al-‘Uthaymin often frivolously negates the karamat of the awliya. For example, in reference to Shaykh al-Muwaffaq’s walking on water, Shaykh al-‘Uthaymin writes: “This is a falsehood from the whisperings of Satan.” Imam al-Tahawi, while outlining the ‘aqidah of the Ahl al-Sunnah wa al-Jama‘ah writes: “We believe in what we know of the karamat or marvels of the awliya’ and in the authentic stories about them from trustworthy sources.” Such unnecessary comments can be found saturated throughout this particular edition (translator). ))

Shaykh al-Muwaffaq, may Allah have mercy on him, has compiled many sound books in regards to the madhhab, both in terms of the peripherals (furu‘) and principles (usul), and also in hadith, language, and asceticism and raqa’iq narrations. (( The raqa’iq hadith narrations is a genre of hadith that have a tendency to soften hearts and inspire people to lead pious lives (translator). )) His books on the principles of religion are excellent; the majority of them are according to the way of the imams from among the hadith scholars and full of hadiths and athar with the chains of narrators as is the way of Imam Ahmad and the imams of hadith…

The Muslims in general and the people of the madhhab especially have benefitted from his book. They have spread and become famous on account of his good intention and sincerity in writing them; this is especially the case in relation to Al-Mughni, benefit from it has been great and it has been greatly praised.

Hafiz al-Diya has said: “I saw Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal in a dream and he dictated a question of fiqh to me. I said: This is in al-Khiraqi. He then said: ‘Your companion, al-Muwaffaq, has not fallen short in explaining [Mukhtasar] al-Khiraqi.

I have read in the writing of Hafiz al-Dubaythi who said: “I heard Shaykh ‘Ala al-Din al-Maqdisi (I say that al-Maqdisi has granted me ijazah in this) who said: I heard our Shaykh Abu al-‘Abbas Ibn Taymiyyah (al-Dhahabi said, and I think I heard our Shaykh Ibn Taymiyyah) say: Shaykh Taj al-Din ‘Abd al-Rahman ibn Ibrahim al-Fazariy said: ‘Shaykh ‘Izz al-Din ‘Abd al-Salam, our shaykh, used to send me to borrow Al-Muhalla ((Al-Muhalla (Al-Kitab al-Muhalla bi al-Athar) is a commentary by Ibn Hazm al-Andalusi al-Zahiri (d. 455 ah) of his own book Al-Mujalla. These are books of fiqh in which the author cites the views of earlier scholars along with their evidence. Ibn Hazm was born in Cordoba (translator). ))and Al-Mujalla from Ibn ‘Arabi.’ He said that Shaykh ‘Izz al-Din would say: ‘I have not seen in the books of Islam in knowledge the like of Al-Muhalla, Al-Mujalla and the book Al-Mughni by Shaykh Muwaffaq al-Din ibn Qudamah in excellence and the research of that which is therein.’”

…He, may Allah have mercy on him, died on Saturday, the day of ‘Id al-Fitr in the year 620 ah at his home in Damascus. He was prayed over the next day and taken to the foot of Mount Qasioun where he was buried. A throng of people had gathered for him; people had spread as far as the paths within the mountain and filled them.

Abu al-Mazaffar Sibt Ibn al-Jawzi said that Isma‘il ibn Hammad al-Katib al-Baghdadi said: “I saw on the night of ‘Id al-Fitr as if the mushaf of ‘Uthman (may Allah be pleased with him) was raised from the jami‘ of Damascus to the sky and great sorrow overcame me. Al-Muwaffaq died on the day of ‘Id.”

He said that Ahmad ibn Sa‘d, the brother of Muhammad ibn Sa‘d al-Katib al-Maqdasi, saw a dream and that this Ahmad was from among the righteous. Ahmad said: “On the day of ‘Id I saw angels descending from the skies together saying: ‘Descend by turns.’ I said: ‘What is this?’ They replied: ‘They are transferring the pure soul of al-Muwaffaq in the pure body.’”

He also said that ‘Abd al-Rahman ibn Muhammad al-‘Alawi said: “I saw as if the prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) had passed away and he was buried in [Mount] Qasioun on the day of ‘Id al-Fitr.” He added: “We were on the Mountain of Bani Hilal and saw a great light on Qasioun on the day of ‘Id. We thought Damascus was on fire and that the people of the village had come out to see. News then reached that al-Muwaffaq had passed away on the day of ‘Id and had been buried at [Mount] Qasioun, may Allah have mercy on him.”

10. Hafiz Ibn Rajab mentions in Al-Dhayl ‘ala Tabaqat al-Hanabilah (part 2, p. 52):

Muhammad ibn Ahmad ibn Muhammad ibn Qudamah ibn Miqdam ibn Nasr in ‘Abdullah al-Jamma‘ili al-Maqdisi, then al-Dimashqi al-Salihi, the ascetic, the worshipper, the shaykh, Abu ‘Umar…

His nephew (from his sister), Hafiz Diya al-Din said: “… He was born in 528 AH.” Abu al-Faraj ibn al-Hanbali said: “The shaykh memorised the Quran and recited it according to the way of Abu ‘Amr. He heard hadith from his father, Abu al-Makarim ibn Hilal, Abu Tamim Salman ibn al-Rahbi … Hafiz ‘Abd al-Ghani al-Maqdisi selected for him forty hadiths from his narrations which he narrated.”

A large group of people has heard hadith from him. Among them there is al-Diya and al-Mundhiri. Ibn Khalil and his son Abu al-Faraj ‘Abd al-Rahman, the chief justice (qadi al-qudat), have narrated from him and he (the latter) memorised Mukhtasar al-Khiraqi in fiqh from him…

Hafiz al-Diya said: “Allah had gathered for him the understanding of fiqh, fara’id (laws of inheritance) and nahw along withasceticism, acting on knowledge and fulfilling the needs of people.”

He said: “No sooner had he heard a du‘a but he memorised it and would supplicate with it and no sooner had he heard the mention of a prayer but he would pray it and no sooner had he heard a hadith but he would act upon it. He would pray one hundred rak‘ah with the people in the middle of Sha‘ban and this was when he was a very old man; it was as if he was the most energetic from the congregation. He did not abandon the prayer of the night from the time of his youth. He travelled with a group and remained awake during the night, offering Salah and guarding the group. He lessened consumption of food in the illness before his death until he became like a slender piece of wood. He died while counting on his fingers the tasbih.” He said: “His wife narrated to me, she said: ‘He would spend the night awake in prayer and when sleep would overcome him, he would have a small stick which he would use to hit his legs and he would not feel sleepy.’” He said: “He fasted a great deal, while travelling and at home.”

His son ‘Abdullah said: “Towards the end of his life he continued to fast and so his family reprimanded him. He said: ‘I only fast because I value my days. If I were to become weak then I would be unable to fast and if I were to die then my actions would stop.’ No sooner had he heard of a funeral but he would attend it, or of a sick person but he would visit, or of a Jihad but he would leave for it. He would recite in prayer each night a seventh [portion of the Quran] in the tartil mode of recitation. He would also recite a seventh between Zuhr and ‘Asr. Once he had completed the Fajr prayer he would recite the Ayat al-Hirs ((The Ayat al-Hirs are thirty three verses from the Quran also known in the Indian Sub-Continent as the Manzil (translator). )) after completing the tasbih. He had written a booklet regarding this which would hang from the mihrab. At times he would recite from that fearing he would fall asleep. He would then recite [the Quran] and teach until the sun shone brightly and would then offer the Salat al-Duha for a long time. He would offer two very long prayers — one during the night and the second during the day. He would lengthen the prostrations in them both. He would pray salah after the adhan of Zuhr before its Sunnah two rak‘ahs every day. He would recite in the first Surah al-Mu’minun and the second Surah al-Furqan. He would pray between Maghrib and ‘Isha four rak‘ahs in which he would recite Surah al-Sajdah, Surah Yasin, Surah Tabarak and Surah al-Dukhan. He would pray the Salah al-Tasbih every Friday night between Maghrib and ‘Isha and he would lengthen it. On the day of Friday he would offer two rak‘ah in which he would pray one hundred Qul Huw-Allahu Ahad. Each day and night he would pray seventy two supererogatory (nafl) rak‘ah and he had many awrad. He would visit graves each Friday after ‘Asr prayer and would only sleep in the state of wudu. He was meticulous with the Sunnahs and litanies to be prayed at the time of sleeping, this would include the tasbih, takbir and tahmid, and reciting Surah Tabarak etc from the Quran. He would say between the Sunnah prayer of Fajr and the fard prayers forty times Ya Hayyu, Ya Qayyum, La Ilaha Illa Anta… He would say: ‘There is no [beneficial] knowledge save that which enters the grave with its bearer…’ When he would deliver a speech hearts would soften and some people would cry immensely. He possessed great awe in the hearts [of people], so much so that one of the students wanted to ask him regarding something but he could not find the courage to ask. When he would enter the mosque then people would become silent and lower their voices. When he would pass along streets then children playing would flee, and when he ordered something then no one would be bold enough to do the contrary… One year the people were in need of rain and so he climbed with them to Magharah al-Dam, (( The Magharah al-Dam (The Grotto of Blood) is a cave situated on the side of Mount Qasioun in Damascus. This place is also known as the Magharah al-Arba‘in (The Grotto of the Forty Abdal) and is said to be the place where Qabil killed Habil. The Damascenes would often visit this point to supplicate their needs, especially at the time of drought (translator). )) and with him were the females of his household. He performed the Salah al-Istisqa (Prayer for Rain) and supplicated. It rained at that very moment and the wadis overflowed in a way that the people had not seen for some time. He performed many miracles.

Some of them said: “We came to him once and we were three hungry souls. He presented us with a small bowl in which there was milk and crushed bread. We ate and were filled and I looked inside and it was as if the [contents] had not lessened.”

Al-Diya said that he heard Imam Muhammad ibn Abu Bakr ibn ‘Umar say: “The shaykh onceinvited me at a time that I feared food would harm [my health]. He began with me and said: ‘When a man, before eating, reads [the Quranic verse] Allah is witness that there is no God save Him… [3:18] and Because of the familiarity of the Quraysh… [106:1] and then eats, then it shall not harm him.’”

I heard Imam Abu Bakr ‘Abdullah ibn al-Hasan ibn al-Nahhas say: “My father used to love Shaykh Abu ‘Umar and so said to me one Friday: ‘I pray Jumu‘ah behind the shaykh; it is my madhhab that bismaillah is a part of the [Surah] al-Fatiha and it is his that it is not from al-Fatiha. I fear that there might be something in my salah.’ We went to the masjid and found the shaykh. He made salam with my father, embraced him and then said: ‘Oh my brother, pray and remain of pure heart for I have certainly not left the bismillah in a supererogatory (nafl) or obligatory (fard) prayer since I began leading people.’ My father then turned to me and said: ‘Remember this well.’”

Some people used to send things to the shaykh each year and he would accept. Someone sent him two dinars once and he returned them. This caused the person pain and he began pondering into them and found that they had been acquired through impure means. The person sent two other dinars and he accepted them.

Al-Diya said: I heard Ahmad ibn ‘Abd al-Malik ibn ‘Uthman say: “Two men came to Shaykh Abu ‘Umar and said to him: ‘Quraja has taken such a person and detained him. Supplicate against him.’ The two men spent the night with the shaykh. The next morning the shaykh said: ‘The need has been fulfilled.’ All of a sudden the funeral of Quraja passed by.”

Al-Diya has written a lengthy biography of Shaykh Abu ‘Umar and likewise so has Abu al-Muzaffar Sibt Ibn al-Jawzi in al-Mirah. He writes: “He was of medium height, beautiful face and on him was the nur of worship. He would always remain smiling. He was slim due to plenty of fasting and standing in prayer.”

… his brother al-Muwaffaq said regarding him: “He was our shaykh, he brought us up (tarbiyyah) and was good to us. He taught us and toiled hard for us. He was for the group like a father in fulfilling their needs… he would give us priority and leave his family in need. He built a madrasah and a building due to his lofty zeal. He was one whose prayers would go answered. He would not write an amulet for fever except Allah Most High would cure that person.”

Abu al-Muzaffar said: “His miracles were many and his virtues were abundant…” He said: “I was afflicted by colic and was in great pain because of it when Abu ‘Umar entered upon me and in his hand were carob pods that had been pounded. He said: ‘Swallow this.’ There was around me a group of people who said this would cause the colic to increase and worsen it. I did not pay heed to their saying, took it from his hand and ate it. I was cured immediately.” He said: Jamal al-Busrawi, the one who would deliver sermons, said: “I was afflicted by colic in Ramadan and they tried that I break the fast which I would not do. I climbed Mount Qasioun and sat at the place where the jami‘ masjid is today. There was Shaykh Abu ‘Umar heading for the mountain and in his hand were some herbs. He said; ‘Smell this, it shall benefit you.’ I took it and smelt it and was cured.”

I read in the writings of Nasih ibn al-Hanbali: “Abu ‘Umar was a jurist (faqih), ascetic and worshipper; he wrote with his own hand many books of hadith and fiqh according to the madhhab of Imam Ahmad and his brother’s book al-Mughni. Along with that which he preoccupied himself with were the many units of prayer and recitation that he would complete. He performed Hajj and went to battle and was the shaykh of his group; they obeyed him, and he was respected by Nur al-Din Mahmud ibn Zengi. He visited him and built for him a masjid and a place for drinking water in the mountain.

Others apart from him said: “There are beautiful monuments of his including his madrasah in the mountain, which is an endowment for [the service] of the Quran and fiqh. A vast group of people who cannot be enumerated memorised the Quran there.” A group of people mentioned that Abu ‘Umar was a qutub and remained the qutub al-waqt (qutub of the era) for six years prior to his demise.

Abu al-Muzaffar said: “He was on the madhhab of the pious predecessors, of excellent creed (‘aqidah), and firm on the Book and the Sunnah etc and the narrated ways as they came without slandering the imams of the faith and the ‘ulama of the Muslims. He would forbid from remaining in the company of the innovators and would order that one remains in the company of the pious…

“He — may Allah Most High have mercy on him — passed away and was bathed before the breaking of dawn (sahur). From among those who reached the water with which he was washed, there were women who rubbed it with their veils and men their turbans. None from among the judges, the ‘ulama, the rulers, notables and ordinary people remained behind from his funeral. It was a day to be witnessed. When they left the convent (dayr), it was an extremely hot day. A cloud came and provided shade to the people till his grave and a humming sound like the humming of bees could be heard from it. If it were not for the reliable swordsmen, brave groups of warriors and lion cubs of the sword clinging kingdom then nothing of his shroud would have reached his grave. They circled him with swords and spears. The night before his death, a person saw a dream as if Qasioun had fallen or moved from its place and they interpreted it as his death. When he was buried, some of the pious people saw the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) in their dreams that night saying: ‘Whoever saw Abu ‘Umar on the night preceding the Friday, it is as if he has seen the Ka‘bah. Take off your slippers before you reach him.’ He died at the age of eighty and did not leave a dinar or a dirham, nor anything little or more. Others said those who attended his funeral estimated that there were twenty thousand people.”

Al-Diya narrated from ‘Abd al-Mawla ibn Muhammad that he used to recite the Surah al-Baqarah by the grave of the shaykh. He was alone when he reached the verse: Not too old, nor too young (2:68). ‘Abd al-Mawla said: “I made a mistake and the shaykh replied from the grave.” He said: “I felt scared and afraid, I shivered and stood up.” He then died a few days later. This is a famous story.

Abu Shamah ((Abu Shamah, ‘Abd al-Rahman (1203-1268 ce) was an Iraqi historian who was born in Damascus. He wrote various books on several subjects, including seven on history. These include: Al-Rawdatayn, a history of Nur al-Din and Salah al-Din’s periods; the ‘Uyun, a summary of Al-Rawdatayn; and an appendix to it entitled Al-Mudhayyal ‘ala al-Rawdatayn (translator). )) mentions in his appendix: “The first time I stood at his grave and visited him, I found — through the accordance (tawfiq) of Allah Most High — great warm heartedness and pious feeling to cry. With me was my companion and he is the one who showed me his grave and felt the same…”

His father, Shaykh Abu al-‘Abbas Ahmad, the khatib (orator) of Jamma‘il, was a pious man, an ascetic, a worshipper, and a man of miracles, spiritual states, worship and sacrifices (for faith). In Ramadan he would complete sixty five recitations of the Quran. He possessed great awe, none would see him except kiss his hand.

Abu al-Faraj ibn al-Hanbali said: “He was proficient in worship and piety. I heard my father say: ‘If a prophet is to be sent in the time of Shaykh Ahmad ibn Muhammad ibn Qudamah, then it would be him. His two sons have narrated [hadith] from him: Abu ‘Umar and al-Muwaffaq…”

Part Two to follow…

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
Hafiz Ibn Kathir and Sufism