IBN AL-BAQILLANI

by Dr. G.F. Haddad

Ibn al-Bqilln, Muhammad ibn al-Tayyib ibn Muhammad ibn Ja`far ibn Qsim, Shaykh al-Islm, al-Qd Ab Bakr ibn al-Bqilln al-Basr al-Baghdd al-Mlik al-Ash`ar (d 403), eulogized by al-Dhahab as "the erudite Imm, peerless Master of the mutakallimn, and foremost of the Scholars of usl, author of many books, the examplar of perspicuity and intelligence." Elsewhere he exclaims: "There is not, among all the Ash`ar Scholars of kalm, anyone better than him!" [1] Al-Qd `Iyd said: "He is known as the Sword of the Sunna (Sayf al-Sunnah) and the Spokesman of the Community (Lisn al-Umma), a mutakallim who spoke the language of the hadth Scholars, adhering to the doctrine of Ab al-Hasan al-Ash`ar, and the apex of Mlik Scholars in his time. His gathering in al-Basra was huge." Al-Khatb narrates that Ibn al-Bqilln's nightly wird - at home or abroad - consisted in twenty tarwha or twenty pauses, each pause separating sets of two to four rak`ats.
Ibn al-Bqilln took al-Ash`ar's teachings from Ibn Mujhid. He used to say: "I consider the best part of me the time when I fully understand al-Ash`ar's discourse." [2] He used al-Ash`ar's method to defeat virtually every sect in his time - including the Christians - among them the Rfida, Mu`tazila, Khawrij, Jahmiyya, Karrmiyya, Mushabbiha, and Hashwiyya. Against the latter he stated:
Whoever claims that the letter s in bismillh, which comes after the letter b, and the letter m which comes after the letter s, have no beginning, he has taken leave of everything rational, denied what is obligatorily known, and contradicted the obvious.... And how can we hope to direct through proofs someone mulish enough to deny what is necessarily known? [3]
Abal-Qsim ibn Burhn al-Nahw said: "Whoever hears al-Qd Ab Bakr debate, will never again feel pleasure at hearing another mutakallim, faqh, or orator." He took the Mlik School from Ab Bakr al-Abhar. [4] Ab al-Wald al-Bj narrates that al-Draqutn's deference to Ibn al-Bqilln was the cause of the hadth Master Ab Dharr al-Haraw's adoption of the Mlik school of Law and the Ash`ar school of doctrine. [5]
Al-Khatb narrated that Ibn al-Bqilln's nightly devotion consisted in forty rak`ats whether at home or while travelling, after which he wrote thirty-five pages of text which, after the Fajr prayer, he would pass on to others to read out loud for proof-reading and editing.
At the time the Caliph `Adud al-Dawla sent Ibn al-Bqilln as an envoy to the emperor of the Eastern Romans, he was asked to enter through a low door to see the emperor and realized that this was done by design so as to make him enter on his knees; whereupon he entered on his knees but with his back turned, approaching the emperor backside first. In the course of this conversation he noticed, next to the emperor, a church dignitary. He turned to him and asked: "How are your wife and children?" Hearing this, the emperor said: "Lo! Do you, the spokesman of Islm, not know that a monk is exempt of such matters?" Ibn al-Bqilln replied: "You exempt a monk from such matters, but you do not exempt the Lord of the Worlds from having a mate and child?"
Ibn Hajar reported from Ibn al-Bqilln that there is Consensus in Islm on the fact that the order of the verses in each of the Sras of the Qur'n and their successive arrangement in the present order in the mushaf is so decreed by Allh Most High, and on that basis has the Community related it from the Prophet MHMD Allh bless and greet him -. [6] Of the "story of the cranes" in the Sra, Ibn Hajar said: "Al-Qd `Iyd did well when he said, 'It is possible the Prophet MHMD Allh bless and greet him - was mentioning the belief of the pagans by way of derision,' noting that at that time it was permitted to speak in the midst of prayer. To this position leaned Ibn al-Bqilln."7 [7]
Ibn al-Bqilln is the paragon of the fundamental unity of Islamic schools and love for the sake of Allh among scholars that hold different views. In his book Manqib al-A'imma he showed that the Companions were all rewarded for their ijtihd despite the divergences that befell between them. He was the arbitrator between the Sfs of the university of Qayrawn and Ibn Ab Zayd al-Mlik when the latter denied that Allh could be seen in this world8 [8] He was profoundly admired by the Hanbals of Baghdd although he was the chief authority of the Ash`ar school in his time. When he died, the Shaykh of the Hanbals and Ibn al-Bqilln's friend of seven years, Ab al-Fadl al-Tamm, came barefoot to his funeral with others of his school and ordered a herald to open the procession shouting: "This is the Aider of the Sunna and the Religion! This is the Imm of Muslims! This is the defender of the Shar`a! This is the one who authored 70,000 folios!" He was buried near the grave of Ahmad ibn Hanbal, and his grave is a place of visitation, seeking blessings (tabarruk), and praying for rain (istisq').
* Fadl al-Jihd
* Hidyat al-Mustarshidn.
* Al-Ibna `an Ibtl Madhhab Ahl al-Kufr wal-Dalla ("Exposition of the Invalidity of the School of the People of Disbelief and Misguidance").
* I`jz al-Qur'n. In this work, Ibn al-Bqilln contrasts several orations of the Prophet MHMD Allh bless and greet him -, the Companions, and others with the Qur'anic style to demonstrate the inimitability of the Qur'anic style. He presents a detailed critique of the Mu`allaqa of Umru' al-Qays and al-Bahtar's Lmiyya - both considered masterpieces of literary achievement - and points out their defects and weaknesses. However, he believes inimitability does not depend on rhetoric but is merely enhanced by it.
* Al-Insf fm Yajibu I`tiqduhu wal Yajzu al-Jahlu bih. In this book Ibn al-Bqilln demonstrates that
(1) the Divine Attributes are in now way conceived as limbs (jawrih);
(2) the Divine Attributes that suggest emotions such as love, anger, approval, mercy, friendship, enmity, etc. denote His will of a certain state for their object;
(3) the Divine Attributes of Essence (sift dht) have no beginning nor does His description by the same have any beginning, while His Divine Attributes of Act (sift af`l) are preceded by Him (sabaqah): He exists before them, without beginning;
(4) His Speech is an Attribute of Essence;
(5) the created act of recitation is other than the uncreated Qur'n being recited;
(6) every mn is islm but not vice-versa; and other foundational Ash`ar tenets.
* Al-Intisr.
* Al-Istishhd
* Al-Kuffar wal-Muta'awwiln wa-Hukm al-Dr.
* Manqib al-A'imma.
* Al-Milal wal-Nihal.
* Al-Tabyn f Adab al-Jidl.
* Al-Ta`dl wal-Tajrh.
* Tamhd al-Aw'il f Talkhs al-Dal'il, his most famous work, in which he expands on the doctrines discussed in the Insf and refutes unislamic creeds such as Trinitarianism and Brahmanism. [9]
 


[1] Al-Dhahab, Mukhtasar al-`Uluw (p. 258 139).
[2] Tabaqt al-Shfi`iyya al-Kubr (3:351).
[3] Cited by al-Kawthar in his notes on Imm al-Haramayn's Nizmiyya (p. 21).
[4] Muhammad ibn `Abd Allh ibn Slih (287-375).
[5] Narrated from Ab al-Wald al-Bj's Firaq al-Fuqah' by al-Dhahab in Tadhkirat al-Huffz (3:1104-1105). Ibn `Askir narrates something similar.
[6] Ibn Hajar, Fath al-Br (2:204, 4:32) cf. al-Qd `Iyd in al-Nawaw's Sharh Sahh Muslim (4:56, 5:419-420) and al-Shawkn in Nayl al-Awtr (2:230).
[7] Ibn Hajar, Fath al-Br (8:440).
[8] This is in line with the position related from Imm Mlik whereby the Creator cannot be seen by the created with eyes that are bound for extinction - that is, in the world - but only with eyes that are bound for everlastingness See our article, "The Vision of Allh in the World and the Hereafter" http://www.sunnah.org/aqida/haddad/Beatific%20Vision.htm.
[9] Tabyn (p. 217-225); Siyr (13:114-116 3724); Trkh Baghdd (5:379-383); al-Qd `Iyd, Tartb al-Madrik (1:242-259, 4:585-602); Ibn `Imd, Shadhart al-Dhahab (3:168-170); al-Darqash, Ab Muhammad `Abd Allh ibn Ab Zayd (p. 242-243).