AND SO SHALL IT BE…pt.4

Imam Ahmad Salih Ash-Shami (d. 1414)

Did Imam Abu Ja`far At-Tabari (d. 310) have Shi`ii tendencies?

I don’t know. Perhaps we should take a look.

قال الصفدي في الوافي الوافيات ج 2 ص 214-213

 دار إحياء التراث العربي بيروت 1420ه

The historian As-Safadi (more about him later) makes this remark:

ولما قدم من طبرسنان إلى بغداد تعصّب عليه أبو عبد الله ابن الجصاص وجعفر بن عرفة والبياضي وقصده الحنابلة فسألوه عن أحمد بن حنبل يوم الجمعة في الجامع وعن حديث الجلوس على العرش فقال أبو جعفر أمّا أحمد بن حنبل فلا يعد خلافه فقالوه له: فقد ذكره العلماء في الإختلاف فقال: ما رأيته رُوي عنه ولا رأيت له أصحابًا يعوّل عليهم وأما حديث الجلوس على العرش فمُحال ثم أنشد الرجز: سبحان من ليس له أنيسُ ولا له في عرشه جليسُ

“…whereas At-Tabari arrived in Baghdad from Tabiristan, those who grew partisan to him include Abu `Abdullah ibn Al-Jassas, Ja`far ibn `Arafah and Al-Bayadi. The Hanbalis came to him and asked him regarding Ahmad ibn Hanbal on Friday in the Central Masjid and regarding the hadith of Enthronement. Abu Ja`far [At-Tabari] remarked, “In terms of Ahmad ibn Hanbal, he is not numbered among those whom his dispute is recorded”. The Hanbalis responded, “No, the scholars have mentioned him on matters of difference of opinion”. At-Tabari answered, “I don’t see anything narrated from him nor any of his Companions. As for the hadith of Enthronement, then it is not possibly correct”. Then he recited the following poetry:

Glory be to the One who has no equal

Nor any on the Throne seated[1] as an equal![2]

This exchange actually came after another one that he had had with one of the Imams of theology in Iraq his time, Abu Bakr ibn Abi Dawud (d. 310).

قال ابن الأثير في المامل في التاريخ ج7 ص 9-8 دار الكتب العلمية بيروت 1407ه

Ibn Abi Dawud mentioned that one of the statements that At-Tabari in a book was similar to the Shi`ii and At-Tabari decided to bring about the following circumstances as mentioned in a stroke of honesty by another historian, Ibn Al-Athir (more about his situation later):

وادعو عليه الرفض ثم ادعوا عليه الإلحاد

“So they accused him of Shi`ii tendencies, then they accused him of denying Allah’s Names and Attributes”.

وأما ما ذكره من تعصّب العامة فليس الأمر كذلك وإنما بعض الحنابلة تعصّبوا عليه ووقعوا فيه فتبعهم غيرهم ولذلك سببٌ وهو أن الطبري جمع كتابًا ذكر فيه اختلاف الفقهاء لم يصف مثله ولم يذكر فيه أحمد بن حنبل فقيل له في ذلك فقال: لم يكن فقيهًأ وإنما كان محدثًا فأشتد ذلك على الحنابلة وكانوا لا يحصون كثرة ببغداد فشغبوا عليه وقالوا ما أرادوا.

“As far as what was mentioned of him regarding the partisanship of the laity, the matter is not like that. It was only some of the Hanbalis that showed partisanship against him and fell into this issue and others besides them followed them in the affair. And that came about on account of the fact that At-Tabari gathered together a book in which the differences of opinion among the fiqh scholars was mentioned – and there was no book like this before – and yet he did not mention Ahmad ibn Hanbal. When he was asked about this, he said, “[Ahmad ibn Hanbal] was not a faqih. He was only a muhaddith”. This ignited the anger of the Hanbalis against him and they were an untold number in Baghdad. They moved against him and said that which they wanted”. (Al-Kamil fit-Tarikh, vol.7, pp.8-9, Dar ul-Kutub il-`Ilmiyyah, Beirut, 1407)

So from what we can see from here we notice that after their exchange, Imam At-Tabari reviled and lowered the status of the Imam, Ahmad ibn Hanbal, may Allah be pleased with him, which triggered violence from some of the laity of the Hanbalis (among others) who threw ink wells and such that injured him in his head.

Why should this be a surprise? Anyone who reviles any of the First Three Generations has to expect nothing but something to happen. Most assuredly it is for the Qadis and those among them to make judgement about the individual’s penalty and the like however reviling one of the First Three generations is still reviling one of the First Three Generations. And he ultimately found what he was looking for and faced the outcome of the action.

What is most disgusting about today’s fake Sufis (especially the fake Qadiris) is that At-Tabari’s ending exchange is quoted but not what led to it. People are then given the canard that this statement was just said while he was calmly reading over some book or reviewing notes and it was a fact of history without any background to it. The bad adab and intentions of At-Tabari aren’t even mentioned.

These same diabolical deceivers don’t bother to even give the audience the full chain of events to let them make their own choice. So was At-Tabari a Shi`ii in tendency? It doesn’t appear to be so.

But he spoke out of line regarding Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal and the laity did what any laity would be expected to do whether it was the Companions, their Followers or their Followers. Didn’t the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, say, “A time will come in which the last of my Ummah will curse the first of it”.

The same thing goes for Al-Khatib Al-Baghdadi (d. 463) who after falling out with some Hanbalis in Baghdad, decided not to number Imam Ahmad among the Fiqh Scholars of the early generations.[3]

In terms of Al-Wajiz by Imam Al-Ghazzali (d. 505), this is a Shafi`ii fiqh text, so what would be the purpose of why one would look for Imam Ahmad to be used in a madhhab specific text? Indeed, he was not mentioned in the introductory remarks but the rulings that are specific to his madhhab and followers are referenced under sections like Wiping Over the Khuff, Nullifiers of the Wudu’ and so forth. If they had no validity they would not have been cited as disputed matters. This is the fact, yet some duplicitous devils insist on pretending that there is some type of agenda or any other affair.

When discussing Ibn `Abdul Barr’s (d. 463) (الانتقاء في فضائل الثلاثة الأئمة الفقهاء مالك والشافعي وأبي حنيفة رضي الله عنهم) The Most Noble Merits of the Three Fiqh Scholars: Malik, Ash-Shafi`ii and Abu Hanifah and why Imam Ahmad is not mentioned, the answer is simple. His madhhab was not in Al-Andalus and so it had no presence to discuss with regard to rulings. This text was a comparison of Malik (the madhhab of Ibn `Abdul Barr) and the others that had a presence there.

When a presence was established, Imams such as Abu Ishaq Ash-Shatibi (d. 790) made reference to them in both fiqh[4] as well as theology[5] across a number of topics.

Then comes the interesting case of all the Hanafi sources that some quote as proof that Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal was not a mujtahid or the like as they did not include him. They of course would not include him as they were primarily Imam Ahmad’s torturers during the Inquisition.

When the Mu`tazilah came into power in the era of Al-Ma’mun, they completely infiltrated the Hanafi madhhab to the degree that this became popularly known that Hanafis were Mu`tazilah. This would carry on for centuries. Let’s look at what Imam Ahmad said of the Hanafis of his time period:

Imam, Ahmad ibn Hanbal, may Allah be pleased with him, who said of the Hanafis of his[6] time:

وأَصحاب الرأي: وهم مبتدعة ضلال أعداء للسنة والأثر يبطلون الحديث ويردون على الرسول عليه الصلاة والسلام

The people of speculative opinion are innovators and astray. They are the enemies to the Sunnah and narratives through time. They nullify the hadith and reject the Messenger, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him.

ويتخذون أبا حنيفة ومن قال بقوله إمامًا ويدينون بدينهم وأي ضلالة أبين ممن قال بهذا

They take Abu Hanifah and what he says as an Imam for themselves. They judge by their religion and each type of astrayness and who can be shown to be more astray than the one who said the aforementioned.

وترك قول الرسول وأصحابه واتبع قول أبي حنيفة وأصحابه؟ فكفى بهذا غيًّا مرديًا وطغيانًا

Such a one has left the statement of the Messenger and Companions and followed the words of Abu Hanifah and his companions? One can be called astray, rejected and transgressing the bounds for making such a statement.[7] 

The Hanafis in the time of Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal had been infiltrated by the Mu`tazilah and they went into the Abbasid government through the ijtihad of one of the students of Imam Abu Hanifah, Al-Qadi Abu Yusuf.

Furthermore, even the Shaikh, Abul Hasan Al-Ash`ari, may Allah have mercy upon him, discussed the innovators that were in the Hanafi School in the Muslim West:[8]

وذكر هارون بن إسحاق الهنداني عن أبي نعيم عن سليمان بن عيسى القاري عن سفيان الثوري قال: قال لي حماد بن أبي سليمان: بلغ أبا حنيفة المشرك أني منه برئ

Harun ibn Ishaq Al-Hamadani mentioned from Abu Nu`aim from Sulaiman ibn `Isa Al-Qari from Sufyan Ath-Thawri who said: Hammad ibn Abi Sulaiman said to me, “Convey to Abu Hanifah the mushrik that I am disavowing myself from him”.

قال سليمان ثم قال سفيان: لأنه كان يقول القرآن مخلوق وذكر سفيان بن وكيع قال

It was mentioned by Sulaiman and then Sufyan Ath-Thawri said, “Hammad said these words as Abu Hanifah used to say that the Qur’an is created”. Sufyan ibn Waqi` mentioned:

سمعت عمر بن حماد بن أبي حنيفة قال اخبرني أبي: قال: الكلام الذي استتاب فيه ابن ابي ليلى أبا حنيفة هو قوله القرآن مخلوق. قال: فتاب منه وطاف به في الخلق.

I heard `Umar ibn Hammad ibn Abi Hanifah say, “My father said to me, ‘The speech someone is to have repentance taken from Ibn Abi Laila is that Abu Hanifah said that the Qur’an is created.’ So he repented from it and went around telling the people”.

قال أبي: فقلت له كيف صرت إلى هذا؟ قال: خفت والله أن يقوّم علي فأعطيته التقية.

My father said to him, ‘How could you do that?’ Ibn Abi Laila responded, ‘I was afraid – by Allah – that the people would come against me. So I gave them what they sought although it was by way of dissimulation or deception’.[9]

This is most likely coming from Mu`tazilah narrators within the Hanafi School at the time in Baghdad that Al-Ash`ari was exposed to and this explains the problems.

The Imam, `Abdul Qadir Al-Jilani, may Allah be pleased with him, said of the Hanafis of his time:

وأما المرجئة ففرقها اثنتا عشرة فرقة: الجهمية والصالحية والشمرية واليونسية واليونانية والنجارية والغيلانية والشبيبية والحنفية والمعاذية والمريسية والكرامية،

The Murji’ah cult have twelve sects within them: (1) Al-Jahmiyyah, (2) As-Salihiyyah, (3) Ash-Shamariyyah, (4) Al-Yunusiyyah, (5) Al-Yunainiyyah, (6) An-Najjariyyah, (7) Al-Ghailaniyyah, (8) Ash-Shabibiyyah, (9) Al-Hanafiyyah, (10) Al-Mu`adhiyyah, (11) Al-Marisiyyah and (12) Al-Karramiyyah.

وإنما سموا المرجئة لأنها رعمت أن الواحد من المكلفين إذا قال لا إله إلا الله محمد رسول الله وفعل بعد ذلك سائر المعاصي لم يدخل النار أصلًا

They are called the Murji’ah on account of the fact that they claim that one of the people that has said: There is no god but Allah and Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah and after that commits all the acts of disobedience shall not enter the Fire at all.

وأن الإيمان قول بلا عمل، والأعمال الشرائع والإيمان قول مجرّد والناس لا يتفاضلون في الإيمان، وأن إيمانهم وإيمان الملائكة والأنبياء واحد لا يزيد ولا ينقص

They also believe that Iman is statements without action and actions are laws with Iman being words alone. The people have no distinctions in Iman and that their Iman and the Iman of the angels and the prophets is one that does not increase or decrease.

ولا يستثنى فيه، فمن أقرّ بلسانه ولم يعمل فهو مؤمن.

 They also do not take exception in Iman while to them whoever affirmed Iman with his tongue but then did nothing, he is classed as a believer.[10]     

In no way are Imams Ahmad ibn Hanbal, `Abdul Qadir Al-Jilani and many other scholars denouncing the entirety of the Hanafi School.

Rather they were contending with elements within the School that were the predominant position for some five hundred years.

This would finally be resolved with the Seljuks and Ottomans who restored the valor and dignity to the long-sullied Hanafi School through their strident doctrinal orthodoxy and emphasis on orthopraxy.

These same superhistorians then forget the fact that the author of the sixth of the Sihah Sittah, Imam Ahmad ibn Shu`aib An-Nasa’ii (d. 302) made the following statement:

وبعد هؤلاء أحمد بن حنبل وإسحاق بن راهويه ويحيى بن أكثم

“And after these came Ahmad ibn Hanbal, Ishaq ibn Rahuwaih and Yahya ibn Aktham”. [11]

But why go through all this hassle when we can just quote the elders of the early generations regarding Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal’s rank in fiqh?

Imam Muhammad ibn Idris Ash-Shafi`ii (d. 204/5) said the following:

أحمد بن حنبل إمام في ثمان خصال: إمام في الحديث، إمام في الفقه، إمام في القرآن، إمام في اللغة، إمام في الفقر، إمام في الزهد، إمام في الورع، إمام في السنة

“Ahmad ibn Hanbal is Imam in eight things: (1) Imam in Hadith, (2) Imam in fiqh, (3) Imam in Qur’an, (4) Imam in Arabic Language, (5) Imam in faqr, (6) Imam in zuhd, (7) Imam in wara` and (8) Imam in the Sunnah”.[12]

`Abdur-Razzaq As-Sana`ani (d. 211), may Allah be pleased with him, said of Imam Ahmad:

ما رأيت أفقه من أحمد بن حنبل ولا أورع

“I have not seen anyone more knowledgeable of fiqh and with more wara` than Ahmad ibn Hanbal”.[13]

Imam Yahya ibn Ma`in (d. 233) said of Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal:

فقال: كان أفقه القوم

“He is the most knowledge of fiqh out of the people”.[14]

سئل أبو حاتم عن أحمد وعلي ابن المديني فقال:

Abu Hatim was asked about Ahmad ibn Hanbal and `Ali ibn Al-Madini and he said,

كانا في الحفظ متقاربين وكان أحمد أفقه

“They are close in memorisation but Ahmad is more knowledgeable in fiqh”.[15]

Abu `Ubaid Al-Qasim ibn Sallam (d. 224), may Allah have mercy upon him, said:

انتهى العلم إلى أربعة: أحمد ابن حنبل، وعلي بن المديني، ويحيى بن معين، وأبي بكر بن أبي شيبة، وكان أحمد أفقههم فيه

“Knowledge reached its apex in four: Ahmad ibn Hanbal (d. 241), `Ali ibn Al-Madini (d. 234), Yahya ibn Ma`in (d. 233) and Abu Bakr ibn Abi Shaibah (d. 256) and Ahmad was the most knowledgeable of them in fiqh”.[16]

So these are some SIX sources that have been quoted from the early ages that are contemporaneous to Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal or just after his age. Why would someone neglect to mention this after carrying out an a smear campaign against the Imam?

“Well, Abu Ja`far”, they wheeze while wringing their gnarled hands. “They just don’t know. Maybe they didn’t know about these sources”.

The fact of the matter is that they do know and these same people love to tout themselves as the

“Scholars of the Ummah”,

“Spokesmen for Islam in the West”

“Voices of Reason in the Ummah”

 and the

“Personal Imams and Advisors” to the government.

The fact of the matter is these people are theologically sick and this is shown through their spiritual sickness. If you can’t love the First Three Generations then you can’t be guided.


[1] In a grotesque twist, At-Tabari actually has a contradictory statement to this which will come up later in his own words. It then becomes a worry about whether As-Safadi or At-Tabari are both lying, telling the truth simultaneously or doing either. Perhaps this explains At-Tabari’s classification as sadiq by Adh-Dhahabi (Siyar A`lam in-Nubala’, vol.14, pp. 268-282) and not thiqah without restraint.

[2] As-Safadi’s Al-Wafi ul-Wafiyat, vol.2, pp. 213-214, Dar Ihya’ it-Turath il-`Arabi, Beirut, 1420

[3] cf. Ibn Al-Jawzi’s Al-Muntazam, vol.16, pp. 131-132, Dar ul-Kutub il-`Ilmiyyah, Beirut, 1412. This was immediately pointed out by Ibn Al-Jawzi (d. 597) yet no reference is made to this text or any other cross referencing by claimants to “the true Sunni path”.  

[4] [4] Al-I`tisam, pp. 16-17. This contains a glowing tribute to the preacher, the, the Memoriser, Imam `Abdur-Rahman ibn Muhammad ibn Ishaq ibn Yahya ibn Ibrahim ibn Al-Walid ibn Mandah ibn Battah (391-470) who was a renowned Hanbali scholar (fiqh and creed) and the things he saw on his travels.

[5] Al-I`tisam, pp. 78-79. Here a statement is given by Imam Abu Bakr ibn Abi Dawud about the danger of injecting one’s opinion into Islam (!).

[6] And the Imam certainly knew the guided from the misguided as he learned from Imams Muhammad ibn Hasan Ash-Shaibani, Abu Yusuf Ya`qub ibn Ibrahim Al-Ansari, Waki` ibn Al-Jarrah and other direct students of the Imam, Abu Hanifah. So we know that for sure his condemnation was not of Imam Abu Hanifah or the entire school but what happened in his time in which most of the school was overwhelmed with this situation. In today’s Egypt, the situation is by and large the same as in the case of Mahmud Shaltut (Hanafi Mu`tazilah) and so many others.

[7] Please see Al-Hussain’s Tabaqat ul-Hanabilah, vol.1, pp. 36-37.

[8] The Muslim West is from Iraq to Andalus.

[9] Please see Al-Ash`ari’s Al-Ibanah `an Usul id-Diyanah, pp. 56-57.

[10] cf. Al-Jilani’s Al-Ghunya, vol.1, pp. 126-127.

[11] Tasmiyat ul-Fuqaha’ il-Amsar, pp. 153-154

[12] Al-Minhaj ul-Ahmad, vol.1, pp. 8-10

[13] Al-Manaqib, pp. 95-96

[14] As-Sa`di’s Al-Jawhar ul-Muhassal, pp. 38-39

[15] Tahdhib ul-Asma’ wal-Lughat, vol.1, pp. 110-111

[16] Siyar A`lam in-Nubala’, vol.11, pp. 199-200

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