IBN FURAK

by Dr. G.F. Haddad

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Ibn Fūrāk, Muhammad ibn al-Hasan ibn Fūrāk, Abū Bakr al-Asbahānī al-Shāfi`ī (d. 406), the Imām and foremost specialist of kalām and usūl, transmitter of al-Ash`arī's school, specialist of Arabic language, grammar and poetry, orator, jurist, and hadīth scholar. He studied doctrine under al-Ash`arī's companion, Abū al-Hasan al-Bāhilī, and Abū `Uthmān al-Maghribī who stipulated, before his death, that Ibn Fūrāk lead the funeral prayer over him. Ibn Fūrāk taught al-Qushayrī and al-Bayhaqī who cite him frequently in al-Risāla and al-Asmā' wa al-Sifāt respectively. He fought and defeated the anthropomorphist Karrāmiyya in Rayy then went to Naysabūr where he trained generations of fuqahā' at a school founded for him, an expansion of Abū al-Hasan al-Bushanji's earlier Sūfī school (khānqah). He brought to Naysabūr the transmissions of the narrators of Basra and Baghdād and authored numerous books in various disciplines.

`Abd al-Ghaffār ibn Ismā`īl said: "Ibn Fūrāk's works in usūl al-dīn, usūl al-fiqh, and the meanings of the Qur'ān count nearly one hundred volumes." Among them: Mujarrad Maqālāt al-Ash`arī and Mushkal al-Hadīth wa
Bayanuh
, in which he refuted both the anthropomorphist tendencies of Hanbalī literalists and the over-interpretation of the Mu`tazila. Ibn Fūrāk said that he embarked on the study of kalām because of the hadīth reported from the Prophet - Allah bless and greet him -: "The Black Stone is the right hand of Allāh Most High" [1] which a mutakallim explained to his satisfaction in contrast to the fuqahā'.

Upon returning from Ghazna after the failure of the Karrāmiyya 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 Naysabūr and buried in al-Hira. Ibn `Asākir relates that his grave is a place of visitation where one seeks healing (istishfā') and one's prayer is answered. Abū `Alī al-Daqqāq was heard supplicating on
behalf of a number of a people and was asked: "Why do you not supplicate on behalf of Ibn Fūrāk?" He replied: "How can I supplicate on his behalf when only yesterday I implored Allāh to cure me for the sake of Ibn Fūrāk!"

Al-Dhahabī in his cursory notice on Ibn Fūrāk mentioned spurious derogatory reports from Ibn Hazm - without questioning nor commenting them in the least - whereby Ibn Fūrāk 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 Fūrāk was better than Ibn Hazm, of greater stature, and better belief [2] ." Ibn al-Subkī showed that these were
anti-Ash`arī fabrications falsely attributed to Ibn Fūrāk, al-Ash`arī, and his companions and declared false by al-Qushayrī and Ibn al-Salāh. [3] Ibn al-Subkī further relates that Ibn Fūrāk considered a disbeliever whoever said that the Prophet - Allah bless and greet him - is no longer a Prophet.

Furthermore Ibn Fūrāk said: "The Ash`arī doctrine is that our Prophet - Allah bless and greet him - is alive in his grave and is the Messenger of Allāh - 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-Subkī took al-Dhahabī to task for his ambiguity: "As for his declaring that Ibn Fūrāk was better than Ibn Hazm, it is a matter for Allāh Most High, and we ask our Shaykh: If Ibn Fūrāk 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 Imām Abū al-Hajjāj Yūsuf ibn Dūnas al-Findalawī al-Mālikī mentioned that Ibn Fūrāk never slept in a house that contained a volume of the Qur'ān, 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-Subkī 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 walī to know that he is a walī because it annuls his fear and imposes self-security upon him." Abū `Alī al-Daqqāq considered it permissible. Al-Qushayrī said: "And this is what we prefer, and choose, and declare." Ibn al-Subkī said: "Abū al-Qāsim is right without the shadow of a doubt, for knowledge of one's wilāya does not do away with one's fear of Allāh, nor knowledge of one's Prophethood. Indeed, Prophets
are the most fearful of Allāh of all people, yet they know that they are Prophets. And the walī does not cease to fear the design of Allāh 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 Allāh Most High.'" [6]

The Prophet - Allah bless and greet him - described the "friends of Allāh" (awliyā') as "Those who, when you see them, remind you of Allāh" [7] while `Alī ( exclaimed: "Ah! how one yearns to see them!" [8] Al-Qushayrī defined the walī as "One whose obedience attains permanence without the interference of sin; or one whom Allāh 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 Allāh on the Day of Judgment is described as an object of desire for the Prophets in the authentic narrations. One hadīth qudsī 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 Allāh 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 hadīth as narrated respectively by Abū Hurayra and Abū Mālik al-Ash`arī:

[Abū Hurayra:] The Prophet - Allah bless and greet him - said: "Truly there are servants, among the servants of Allāh, 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 Allāh, 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 Allāh! Truly no fear shall there be for them, nor shall they grieve” (10:62).

[Abū Mālik:] 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. Allāh 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 Allāh." 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 Allāh! 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
Allāh? 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 Allāh. They are of pure intent towards one another. On the Day of Resurrection Allāh 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 Allāh upon whom fear comes
not, nor do they grieve”
(10:62)." [12]
 



[1] Narrated from Ibn `Abbās, Jābir, Anas, and others by Ibn Abī `Umar
al-Ma`danī in his Musnad, al-Tabarānī, al-Suyūtī in his Jāmi` al-Saghīr
(1:516 #3804-3805), Ibn `Asākir in Tārīkh Dimashq (15:90- 92), al-Khatīb in
Tārīkh Baghdād (6:328), and others. It is considered forged by Ibn al-Jawzī
and Ibn `Adī (al-Kāmil 1:342). Cf. al-Ahdab, Zawā'id Tārīkh Baghdād
(5:321-323 #949). However, al-`Ajlūnī stated that it is sahīh as a halted
report from Ibn `Abbās as narrated by al-Qud.ā`ī with the wording: "The
Corner [of the Black Stone] (al-rukn) is the Right Hand of Allāh on
earth...," and declared it hasan as a hadīth of the Prophet - Allah bless
and greet him -. Ibn Qutayba in Ta'wīl Mukhtalif al-Hadīth (1972 ed. p.
215=1995 ed. p. 198, 262) said that it was a saying of Ibn `Abbās and
relates a saying of `A'isha that the Black Stone is the depository of the
covenant of human souls with Allāh ( on the Day of Promise (alastu bi
rabbikum
). Its mention in the Reliance of the Traveller (p. 853b) as
"narrated by al-Hākim, who declared it sahīh, from `Abd Allāh 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-Tirmidhī, Ibn Mājh, Ahmad, al-Dārimī, Ibn Hibbān (#3711-3712), and
others.

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

[3] Tabaqāt al-Shāfi`iyya al-Kubrā (3:384-385; 3:399-423; 4:131-132;
4:406-416). "As for what is alleged whereby al-Ash`arī 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-Qushayrī,
Shikāyat Ahl al-Sunna in Ibn al-Subkī, Tabaqāt al-Shāfi`iyya al-Kubrā
(3:406, cf. 3:384).

[4] Tabaqāt al-Shāfi`iyya al-Kubrā (4:131-132).

[5] Narrated from Abū Tha`laba al-Khushanī by Ahmad with a sound chain as
stated by al-Haythamī (1:175) and Ahmad Shākir in the Musnad (13:479
#17671), and from Wābisa ibn Ma`bad al-Asadī by Ahmad and al-Dārimī.

[6] Tabyīn (p. 230-231); Siyar (13:130-131 #3739); Tabaqāt al-Shāfi`iyya
al-Kubrā
(4:127-135 #317).

[7] Hadīth (hasan) of the Prophet - Allah bless and greet him - in response
to the question: "Who are the awliyā of Allāh?" and - in some narrations -
the question: "Who should we sit with?" Narrated from Ibn `Abbās by
al-Nasā'ī in al-Sunan al-Kubrā (6:362), Ibn al-Mundhir, Abū al-Shaykh, Ibn
Mubārak, al-Bazzār in his Musnad (#3626, cf. Ibn Hajar's Mukhtasar
2:394-395 #2083 and al-Haythamī's Majma` al-Zawā'id 10:78), al-Tabarī in
his Tafsīr (11:131), Ibn Abī Hātim, al-`Askarī, al-Tabarānī in al-Kabīr
(#12325), Ibn al-Mubārak in al-Zuhd (#218), Abū Nu`aym in Akhbār Asbahān
(1:231), and Ibn Mardūyah; from Ibn `Abbās, `Abd Allāh ibn `Amr, and Anas
ibn Mālik by al-Hakīm al-Tirmidhī in Nawādir al-Usūl (p. 140, cf. p. 158
"The conditions of wilāya and p. 204-209 "Profile of the awliyā'"); from Ibn
Mas`ūd by al-Tabarī in his Tafsīr (11:131) and al-Tabarānī with a chain of
trustworthy narrators but for one unknown per al-Haythamī (10:78); from Abū
Mālik al-Ash`arī by al-Kharā'itī in Masāwi' al-Akhlāq (#233); mursal from
the Tābi`ī Sa`īd ibn Jubayr by Ibn al-Mubārak in al-Zuhd (#218), Ibn Abī
Shayba, al-Tabarī in his Tafsīr (11:131-132), Abū al-Shaykh, al-Dūlābī in
al-Kunā (1:106), Abū Nu`aym in the Hilya (1985 ed. 1:6) and Ibn Mardūyah;
mursal from the Tābi`ī `Abd al-Rahmān ibn Ghanam al-Ash`arī by Imām Ahmad
in his Musnad (al-Zayn ed. 14:31 #17921: isnād hasan; al-Arna'ūt. ed.
29:521-523 hasan bi shawāhidih) cf. al-Haythamī (8:93) and al-Mundhirī in
al-Targhīb (=3:499); and from Ibn `Abbās mawqūf by Tabarānī, Abū al-Shaykh,
Ibn Mardūyah, and al-D.iyā' al-Maqdisī in al-Mukhtāra. Also narrated with
the wording: "The best among you are those who, when they are seen, Allāh is
remembered" from Asmā' bint Yazīd by Ahmad, al-Bayhaqī in Shu`ab al-Imān
(7:494), Abū Nu`aym in the Hilya, Ibn Mardūyah, Musaddad, Ibn Abī Shayba,
`Abd al-Razzāq, `Abd ibn Hāmid, Abū Ya`lā al-Mawsilī, and Ibn Mājah with a
fair (hasan) chain as stated by al-Būsīrī in Misbāh al-Zujāja (4:215);
from Ibn `Umar by al-Bayhaqī in Shu`ab al-Imān (5:297 #6708 with a weak
chain because of Ibn Lahī`a and a missing Tābi`ī link); and from `Ubada ibn
al-Samit with a very weak chain because of Yazīd ibn Rabī`a by al-Bazzār in
his Musnad (#2719) and by al-Tabarānī as stated by al-Haythamī (8:93). Ibn
Hajar in his Mukhtasar (2:395) considers it a saying of the Tabi`ī Tawus
ibn Kaysan. See also al-`Ajlūnī's Kashf al-Khafā (#3626). More explicit yet
is the hadīth of the Prophet - Allah bless and greet him - narrated by
al-Tabarānī with a chain of trustworthy narrators according to al-Haythamī
in the Majma` (10:78): "The Friends of Allāh! Truly no fear shall there be
for them, nor shall they grieve”
(10:62). Allāh is remembered through their
remembrance (dhikr) [or: `through remembrance of them']" (yudhkaru Allāhu bi
dhikrihim
). Cf. Fayd. (#2885, #3976) and corresponding commentary in
al-Ghumārī's al-Mudāwī.

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

[9] Al-Qushayrī as cited in Ibn `Abidīn, Rasā'il (2:277).

[10] Narrated from Mu`ādh and `Ubada ibn al-Sāmit by al-Tirmidhī who graded
it hasan sahīh and Ibn Hibbān (2:338 #577), Ahmad in the Musnad and
his son `Abd Allāh in Zawā'id al-Musnad (5:328), al-Tabarānī in al-Kabīr
(20:167-168), and Abū Nu`aym in the Hilya (1985 ed. 2:131), all with a good
chain according to al-Arna'ūt in Ibn Hibbān. One of `Ubada's versions
replaces the Martyrs with the Siddīqūn.

[11] Narrated from Abū Umāma by al-Tabarānī [in Musnad al-Shāmiyyīn (2:10)]
with a good chain according to al-Haythamī (10:277).

NOTES

 

[12] Narrated from Abū Hurayra by Ibn Hibbān (2:332-334 #573) with a sound
chain according to Shaykh Shu`ayb al-Arna'ūt, and al-Nasā'ī in al-Sunan
al-Kubrā
(6:362 #11153), al-Tabarī in his Tafsīr (11:132), and al-Mundhirī
in al-Targhīb (=4:20); from Abū Mālik al-Ash`arī by Ahmad, al-Tabarānī,
and Abū Ya`lā with a chain of trustworthy narrators [except for Shahr ibn
Hawshab who is mostly reliable]; also by al-Baghawī in Sharh al-Sunna
(13:50 #3464) and al-Tabarī in his Tafsīr (11:132)]; from Abū al-Dardā' by
al-Tabarānī with a fair chain according to al-Mundhirī]; and from `Amr ibn
`Abasa al-Sulamī with a chain of narrators considered trustworthy, all three
gradings according to al-Haythamī (10:276-277, 10:77); from `Umar by Abū
Dāwūd with a chain of sound narrators, Abū Nu`aym in the Hilya (1985 ed.
1:5) with a good chain as per al-Arna'ūt, and al-Tabarī in his Tafsīr
(11:132); from Ibn `Umar by al-Hākim (4:170-171 sahīh, confirmed by
al-Dhahabī); and from Abū Umāma by al-Tabarānī with a good chain according
to al-Mundhirī (=4:20) and al-Haytamī (10:277); also by Ibn `Asākir, Ibn Abī
al-Dunyā in Kitāb al-Ikhwan, Ibn Abī Hātim, and Ibn Mardūyah.