IBN FURAK

by Dr. G.F. Haddad

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Ibn Frk, Muhammad ibn al-Hasan ibn Frk, Ab Bakr al-Asbahn al-Shfi` (d. 406), the Imm and foremost specialist of kalm and usl, transmitter of al-Ash`ar's school, specialist of Arabic language, grammar and poetry, orator, jurist, and hadth scholar. He studied doctrine under al-Ash`ar's companion, Ab al-Hasan al-Bhil, and Ab `Uthmn al-Maghrib who stipulated, before his death, that Ibn Frk lead the funeral prayer over him. Ibn Frk taught al-Qushayr and al-Bayhaq who cite him frequently in al-Risla and al-Asm' wa al-Sift respectively. He fought and defeated the anthropomorphist Karrmiyya in Rayy then went to Naysabr where he trained generations of fuqah' at a school founded for him, an expansion of Ab al-Hasan al-Bushanji's earlier Sf school (khnqah). He brought to Naysabr the transmissions of the narrators of Basra and Baghdd and authored numerous books in various disciplines.

`Abd al-Ghaffr ibn Ism`l said: "Ibn Frk's works in usl al-dn, usl al-fiqh, and the meanings of the Qur'n count nearly one hundred volumes." Among them: Mujarrad Maqlt al-Ash`ar and Mushkal al-Hadth wa
Bayanuh
, in which he refuted both the anthropomorphist tendencies of Hanbal literalists and the over-interpretation of the Mu`tazila. Ibn Frk said that he embarked on the study of kalm because of the hadth reported from the Prophet - Allah bless and greet him -: "The Black Stone is the right hand of Allh Most High" [1] which a mutakallim explained to his satisfaction in contrast to the fuqah'.

Upon returning from Ghazna after the failure of the Karrmiyya to have him executed by the Sultan - after the latter questioned him then exonerated him of the charges they had brought against him - he fell on the road, poisoned.
He was carried back to Naysabr and buried in al-Hira. Ibn `Askir relates that his grave is a place of visitation where one seeks healing (istishf') and one's prayer is answered. Ab `Al al-Daqqq was heard supplicating on
behalf of a number of a people and was asked: "Why do you not supplicate on behalf of Ibn Frk?" He replied: "How can I supplicate on his behalf when only yesterday I implored Allh to cure me for the sake of Ibn Frk!"

Al-Dhahab in his cursory notice on Ibn Frk mentioned spurious derogatory reports from Ibn Hazm - without questioning nor commenting them in the least - whereby Ibn Frk said that the Prophet - Allah bless and greet him - is no longer a Prophet after his death and other things which entail disbelief then stated: "But Ibn Frk was better than Ibn Hazm, of greater stature, and better belief [2] ." Ibn al-Subk showed that these were
anti-Ash`ar fabrications falsely attributed to Ibn Frk, al-Ash`ar, and his companions and declared false by al-Qushayr and Ibn al-Salh. [3] Ibn al-Subk further relates that Ibn Frk considered a disbeliever whoever said that the Prophet - Allah bless and greet him - is no longer a Prophet.

Furthermore Ibn Frk said: "The Ash`ar doctrine is that our Prophet - Allah bless and greet him - is alive in his grave and is the Messenger of Allh - Allah bless and greet him - forever until the end of time, literally, not metaphorically, and that he was a Prophet when Adam was between water and clay, and his prophethood remains until now, and shall ever remain." [4] Finally, Ibn al-Subk took al-Dhahab to task for his ambiguity: "As for his declaring that Ibn Frk was better than Ibn Hazm, it is a matter for Allh Most High, and we ask our Shaykh: If Ibn Frk truly said this, then there is no good in him at all; and if he did not, then why did you not clarify it lest someone be misled by this report?!"

The martyred Imm Ab al-Hajjj Ysuf ibn Dnas al-Findalaw al-Mlik mentioned that Ibn Frk never slept in a house that contained a volume of the Qur'n, but would go and sleep somewhere else out of respect. Among his
sayings:

* "Every instance in which you see scholarly endeavor but upon which there is no light: know that it is a hidden innovation (bid`a khafiyya)." Ibn al-Subk said: "This is truly well-said and shows the great refinement of the Teacher. Its foundation is the saying of the Prophet - Allah bless and greet him -: `Virtue is what sets the soul at rest." [5]

* "It is impermissible for the wal to know that he is a wal because it annuls his fear and imposes self-security upon him." Ab `Al al-Daqqq considered it permissible. Al-Qushayr said: "And this is what we prefer, and choose, and declare." Ibn al-Subk said: "Ab al-Qsim is right without the shadow of a doubt, for knowledge of one's wilya does not do away with one's fear of Allh, nor knowledge of one's Prophethood. Indeed, Prophets
are the most fearful of Allh of all people, yet they know that they are Prophets. And the wal does not cease to fear the design of Allh as long as he lives, and this is the greatest proof of fear. `Umar said: 'If one of my feet were inside Paradise and the other still outside, I would not feel secure from the design of Allh Most High.'" [6]

The Prophet - Allah bless and greet him - described the "friends of Allh" (awliy') as "Those who, when you see them, remind you of Allh" [7] while `Al ( exclaimed: "Ah! how one yearns to see them!" [8] Al-Qushayr defined the wal as "One whose obedience attains permanence without the interference of sin; or one whom Allh Most High preserves and guards, in permanent fashion, from the failures of sin through the power of acts of obedience: He befriends the righteous (7:196)." [9] Their position in relation to Allh on the Day of Judgment is described as an object of desire for the Prophets in the authentic narrations. One hadth quds states: "Those who love one another for the sake of My Majesty shall have pulpits of light and the Prophets and martyrs shall yearn to be in their position." [10] Another narration states: "Truly Allh has servants whom He shall seat on pulpits of light, and their faces shall completely overcome the fire of hell until the judgment of creatures is concluded." [11] The following are longer versions of the same hadth as narrated respectively by Ab Hurayra and Ab Mlik al-Ash`ar:

[Ab Hurayra:] The Prophet - Allah bless and greet him - said: "Truly there are servants, among the servants of Allh, that are not Prophets but whom the Prophets and martyrs yearn to be like." Someone asked: "Who are they so that we may love them?" He said: "They are a folk who loved one another with the light of Allh, without kinship nor affiliation. Their faces are light on pulpits of light. They shall not fear when all people fear, nor shall
they grieve when all people grieve." Then he recited: The Friends of Allh! Truly no fear shall there be for them, nor shall they grieve (10:62).

[Ab Mlik:] When the Prophet - Allah bless and greet him - finished hisprayer he turned facing the people and said: "O people! Listen to this, understand it, and know it. Allh has servants who are neither Prophets nor
martyrs and whom the Prophets and martyrs yearn to be like, due to their seat and proximity in relation to Allh." One of the Bedouin Arabs who came from among the most isolated of people twisted his hand at the Prophet -
Allah bless and greet him - and said: "O Messenger of Allh! People from humankind who are neither Prophets nor martyrs and yet the Prophets and the martyrs yearn to be like them due to their seat and proximity in relation to
Allh? Describe them for us!" The face of the Prophet - Allah bless and greet him - showed delight at the question and he said: "They are of the strangers from here and there. They frequent this tribe or that without belonging to any of them. They do not have family connections with each other. They love one another for the sake of Allh. They are of pure intent towards one another. On the Day of Resurrection Allh shall place for them pedestals of light upon which He shall seat them, and He will turn their faces and clothes into light. On the Day of Resurrection the people will be terrified but not those. They are the Friends of Allh upon whom fear comes
not, nor do they grieve
(10:62)." [12]



[1] Narrated from Ibn `Abbs, Jbir, Anas, and others by Ibn Ab `Umar
al-Ma`dan in his Musnad, al-Tabarn, al-Suyt in his Jmi` al-Saghr
(1:516 #3804-3805), Ibn `Askir in Trkh Dimashq (15:90- 92), al-Khatb in
Trkh Baghdd (6:328), and others. It is considered forged by Ibn al-Jawz
and Ibn `Ad (al-Kmil 1:342). Cf. al-Ahdab, Zaw'id Trkh Baghdd
(5:321-323 #949). However, al-`Ajln stated that it is sahh as a halted
report from Ibn `Abbs as narrated by al-Qud.` with the wording: "The
Corner [of the Black Stone] (al-rukn) is the Right Hand of Allh on
earth...," and declared it hasan as a hadth of the Prophet - Allah bless
and greet him -. Ibn Qutayba in Ta'wl Mukhtalif al-Hadth (1972 ed. p.
215=1995 ed. p. 198, 262) said that it was a saying of Ibn `Abbs and
relates a saying of `A'isha that the Black Stone is the depository of the
covenant of human souls with Allh ( on the Day of Promise (alastu bi
rabbikum
). Its mention in the Reliance of the Traveller (p. 853b) as
"narrated by al-Hkim, who declared it sahh, from `Abd Allh ibn `Amr,"
is incorrect. Note: An authentic narration states that the Black Stone shall
appear with two eyes and a tongue on the Day of Resurrection. Narrated by
al-Tirmidh, Ibn Mjh, Ahmad, al-Drim, Ibn Hibbn (#3711-3712), and
others.

[2] He claims that Ibn Frk said of the Prophet - Allah bless and greet him -:
"He was the Prophet of Allh, but today no longer is" and he cites Ibn
Hazm's claim that Ibn Frk said something even more derogatory. Siyar
(13:131). Ibn Hazm is known for his rabid enmity to Ash`ars, and he is the
model of those who attack Ash`ars in later times as Ibn Taymiyya and some
of his modern epigones.

[3] Tabaqt al-Shfi`iyya al-Kubr (3:384-385; 3:399-423; 4:131-132;
4:406-416). "As for what is alleged whereby al-Ash`ar and his companions
said that Muhammad - Allah bless and greet him - is no longer a Prophet in
his grave nor a Messenger after his death: this is a great calumny and a
crass lie. None of them ever said anything of the kind; nor was it heard
from them in any debate; nor is it found in any of their books. And how can
such a thing be correctly related from them when their position is that the
Prophet - Allah bless and greet him - is alive in his grave?" Al-Qushayr,
Shikyat Ahl al-Sunna in Ibn al-Subk, Tabaqt al-Shfi`iyya al-Kubr
(3:406, cf. 3:384).

[4] Tabaqt al-Shfi`iyya al-Kubr (4:131-132).

[5] Narrated from Ab Tha`laba al-Khushan by Ahmad with a sound chain as
stated by al-Haytham (1:175) and Ahmad Shkir in the Musnad (13:479
#17671), and from Wbisa ibn Ma`bad al-Asad by Ahmad and al-Drim.

[6] Tabyn (p. 230-231); Siyar (13:130-131 #3739); Tabaqt al-Shfi`iyya
al-Kubr
(4:127-135 #317).

[7] Hadth (hasan) of the Prophet - Allah bless and greet him - in response
to the question: "Who are the awliy of Allh?" and - in some narrations -
the question: "Who should we sit with?" Narrated from Ibn `Abbs by
al-Nas' in al-Sunan al-Kubr (6:362), Ibn al-Mundhir, Ab al-Shaykh, Ibn
Mubrak, al-Bazzr in his Musnad (#3626, cf. Ibn Hajar's Mukhtasar
2:394-395 #2083 and al-Haytham's Majma` al-Zaw'id 10:78), al-Tabar in
his Tafsr (11:131), Ibn Ab Htim, al-`Askar, al-Tabarn in al-Kabr
(#12325), Ibn al-Mubrak in al-Zuhd (#218), Ab Nu`aym in Akhbr Asbahn
(1:231), and Ibn Mardyah; from Ibn `Abbs, `Abd Allh ibn `Amr, and Anas
ibn Mlik by al-Hakm al-Tirmidh in Nawdir al-Usl (p. 140, cf. p. 158
"The conditions of wilya and p. 204-209 "Profile of the awliy'"); from Ibn
Mas`d by al-Tabar in his Tafsr (11:131) and al-Tabarn with a chain of
trustworthy narrators but for one unknown per al-Haytham (10:78); from Ab
Mlik al-Ash`ar by al-Khar'it in Maswi' al-Akhlq (#233); mursal from
the Tbi` Sa`d ibn Jubayr by Ibn al-Mubrak in al-Zuhd (#218), Ibn Ab
Shayba, al-Tabar in his Tafsr (11:131-132), Ab al-Shaykh, al-Dlb in
al-Kun (1:106), Ab Nu`aym in the Hilya (1985 ed. 1:6) and Ibn Mardyah;
mursal from the Tbi` `Abd al-Rahmn ibn Ghanam al-Ash`ar by Imm Ahmad
in his Musnad (al-Zayn ed. 14:31 #17921: isnd hasan; al-Arna't. ed.
29:521-523 hasan bi shawhidih) cf. al-Haytham (8:93) and al-Mundhir in
al-Targhb (=3:499); and from Ibn `Abbs mawqf by Tabarn, Ab al-Shaykh,
Ibn Mardyah, and al-D.iy' al-Maqdis in al-Mukhtra. Also narrated with
the wording: "The best among you are those who, when they are seen, Allh is
remembered" from Asm' bint Yazd by Ahmad, al-Bayhaq in Shu`ab al-Imn
(7:494), Ab Nu`aym in the Hilya, Ibn Mardyah, Musaddad, Ibn Ab Shayba,
`Abd al-Razzq, `Abd ibn Hmid, Ab Ya`l al-Mawsil, and Ibn Mjah with a
fair (hasan) chain as stated by al-Bsr in Misbh al-Zujja (4:215);
from Ibn `Umar by al-Bayhaq in Shu`ab al-Imn (5:297 #6708 with a weak
chain because of Ibn Lah`a and a missing Tbi` link); and from `Ubada ibn
al-Samit with a very weak chain because of Yazd ibn Rab`a by al-Bazzr in
his Musnad (#2719) and by al-Tabarn as stated by al-Haytham (8:93). Ibn
Hajar in his Mukhtasar (2:395) considers it a saying of the Tabi` Tawus
ibn Kaysan. See also al-`Ajln's Kashf al-Khaf (#3626). More explicit yet
is the hadth of the Prophet - Allah bless and greet him - narrated by
al-Tabarn with a chain of trustworthy narrators according to al-Haytham
in the Majma` (10:78): "The Friends of Allh! Truly no fear shall there be
for them, nor shall they grieve
(10:62). Allh is remembered through their
remembrance (dhikr) [or: `through remembrance of them']" (yudhkaru Allhu bi
dhikrihim
). Cf. Fayd. (#2885, #3976) and corresponding commentary in
al-Ghumr's al-Mudw.

[8] Narrated by Ibn al-Jawz in Sifat al-Safwa 2(4):10 (#570) and 1(2):203
(#254) and Ab Nu`aym, Hilyat al-Awliy' (6:155) and in the chapter titled
"Ab Hshim."

[9] Al-Qushayr as cited in Ibn `Abidn, Ras'il (2:277).

[10] Narrated from Mu`dh and `Ubada ibn al-Smit by al-Tirmidh who graded
it hasan sahh and Ibn Hibbn (2:338 #577), Ahmad in the Musnad and
his son `Abd Allh in Zaw'id al-Musnad (5:328), al-Tabarn in al-Kabr
(20:167-168), and Ab Nu`aym in the Hilya (1985 ed. 2:131), all with a good
chain according to al-Arna't in Ibn Hibbn. One of `Ubada's versions
replaces the Martyrs with the Siddqn.

[11] Narrated from Ab Umma by al-Tabarn [in Musnad al-Shmiyyn (2:10)]
with a good chain according to al-Haytham (10:277).

NOTES

 

[12] Narrated from Ab Hurayra by Ibn Hibbn (2:332-334 #573) with a sound
chain according to Shaykh Shu`ayb al-Arna't, and al-Nas' in al-Sunan
al-Kubr
(6:362 #11153), al-Tabar in his Tafsr (11:132), and al-Mundhir
in al-Targhb (=4:20); from Ab Mlik al-Ash`ar by Ahmad, al-Tabarn,
and Ab Ya`l with a chain of trustworthy narrators [except for Shahr ibn
Hawshab who is mostly reliable]; also by al-Baghaw in Sharh al-Sunna
(13:50 #3464) and al-Tabar in his Tafsr (11:132)]; from Ab al-Dard' by
al-Tabarn with a fair chain according to al-Mundhir]; and from `Amr ibn
`Abasa al-Sulam with a chain of narrators considered trustworthy, all three
gradings according to al-Haytham (10:276-277, 10:77); from `Umar by Ab
Dwd with a chain of sound narrators, Ab Nu`aym in the Hilya (1985 ed.
1:5) with a good chain as per al-Arna't, and al-Tabar in his Tafsr
(11:132); from Ibn `Umar by al-Hkim (4:170-171 sahh, confirmed by
al-Dhahab); and from Ab Umma by al-Tabarn with a good chain according
to al-Mundhir (=4:20) and al-Haytam (10:277); also by Ibn `Askir, Ibn Ab
al-Duny in Kitb al-Ikhwan, Ibn Ab Htim, and Ibn Mardyah.