by Dr. G.F. Haddad

Ibn Fûrâk, Muhammad ibn al-Hasan ibn Fûrâk, Abû Bakr al-Asbahânî al-Shâfi`î (d. 406), the Imâm and foremost specialist of kalâm and usûl, transmitter of al-Ash`arî's school, specialist of Arabic language, grammar and poetry, orator, jurist, and hadîth scholar. He studied doctrine under al-Ash`arî's companion, Abû al-Hasan al-Bâhilî, and Abû `Uthmân al-Maghribî who stipulated, before his death, that Ibn Fûrâk lead the funeral prayer over him. Ibn Fûrâk taught al-Qushayrî and al-Bayhaqî who cite him frequently in al-Risâla and al-Asmâ' wa al-Sifât respectively. He fought and defeated the anthropomorphist Karrâmiyya in Rayy then went to Naysabûr where he trained generations of fuqahâ' at a school founded for him, an expansion of Abû al-Hasan al-Bushanji's earlier Sûfî school (khânqah). He brought to Naysabûr the transmissions of the narrators of Basra and Baghdâd and authored numerous books in various disciplines.

`Abd al-Ghaffâr ibn Ismâ`îl said: "Ibn Fûrâk's works in usûl al-dîn, usûl al-fiqh, and the meanings of the Qur'ân count nearly one hundred volumes." Among them: Mujarrad Maqâlât al-Ash`arî and Mushkal al-Hadîth wa
, in which he refuted both the anthropomorphist tendencies of Hanbalî literalists and the over-interpretation of the Mu`tazila. Ibn Fûrâk said that he embarked on the study of kalâm because of the hadîth reported from the Prophet - Allah bless and greet him -: "The Black Stone is the right hand of Allâh Most High" [1] which a mutakallim explained to his satisfaction in contrast to the fuqahâ'.

Upon returning from Ghazna after the failure of the Karrâmiyya 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 Naysabûr and buried in al-Hira. Ibn `Asâkir relates that his grave is a place of visitation where one seeks healing (istishfâ') and one's prayer is answered. Abû `Alî al-Daqqâq was heard supplicating on
behalf of a number of a people and was asked: "Why do you not supplicate on behalf of Ibn Fûrâk?" He replied: "How can I supplicate on his behalf when only yesterday I implored Allâh to cure me for the sake of Ibn Fûrâk!"

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

Furthermore Ibn Fûrâk said: "The Ash`arî doctrine is that our Prophet - Allah bless and greet him - is alive in his grave and is the Messenger of Allâh - 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-Subkî took al-Dhahabî to task for his ambiguity: "As for his declaring that Ibn Fûrâk was better than Ibn Hazm, it is a matter for Allâh Most High, and we ask our Shaykh: If Ibn Fûrâk 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 Imâm Abû al-Hajjâj Yûsuf ibn Dûnas al-Findalawî al-Mâlikî mentioned that Ibn Fûrâk never slept in a house that contained a volume of the Qur'ân, but would go and sleep somewhere else out of respect. Among his

* "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-Subkî 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 walî to know that he is a walî because it annuls his fear and imposes self-security upon him." Abû `Alî al-Daqqâq considered it permissible. Al-Qushayrî said: "And this is what we prefer, and choose, and declare." Ibn al-Subkî said: "Abû al-Qâsim is right without the shadow of a doubt, for knowledge of one's wilâya does not do away with one's fear of Allâh, nor knowledge of one's Prophethood. Indeed, Prophets
are the most fearful of Allâh of all people, yet they know that they are Prophets. And the walî does not cease to fear the design of Allâh 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 Allâh Most High.'" [6]

The Prophet - Allah bless and greet him - described the "friends of Allâh" (awliyâ') as "Those who, when you see them, remind you of Allâh" [7] while `Alî ( exclaimed: "Ah! how one yearns to see them!" [8] Al-Qushayrî defined the walî as "One whose obedience attains permanence without the interference of sin; or one whom Allâh 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 Allâh on the Day of Judgment is described as an object of desire for the Prophets in the authentic narrations. One hadîth qudsî 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 Allâh 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 hadîth as narrated respectively by Abû Hurayra and Abû Mâlik al-Ash`arî:

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

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

[1] Narrated from Ibn `Abbâs, Jâbir, Anas, and others by Ibn Abî `Umar
al-Ma`danî in his Musnad, al-Tabarânî, al-Suyûtî in his Jâmi` al-Saghîr
(1:516 #3804-3805), Ibn `Asâkir in Târîkh Dimashq (15:90- 92), al-Khatîb in
Târîkh Baghdâd (6:328), and others. It is considered forged by Ibn al-Jawzî
and Ibn `Adî (al-Kâmil 1:342). Cf. al-Ahdab, Zawâ'id Târîkh Baghdâd
(5:321-323 #949). However, al-`Ajlûnî stated that it is sahîh as a halted
report from Ibn `Abbâs as narrated by al-Qud.â`î with the wording: "The
Corner [of the Black Stone] (al-rukn) is the Right Hand of Allâh on
earth...," and declared it hasan as a hadîth of the Prophet - Allah bless
and greet him -. Ibn Qutayba in Ta'wîl Mukhtalif al-Hadîth (1972 ed. p.
215=1995 ed. p. 198, 262) said that it was a saying of Ibn `Abbâs and
relates a saying of `A'isha that the Black Stone is the depository of the
covenant of human souls with Allâh ( on the Day of Promise (alastu bi
). Its mention in the Reliance of the Traveller (p. 853b) as
"narrated by al-Hâkim, who declared it sahîh, from `Abd Allâh 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-Tirmidhî, Ibn Mâjh, Ahmad, al-Dârimî, Ibn Hibbân (#3711-3712), and

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

[3] Tabaqât al-Shâfi`iyya al-Kubrâ (3:384-385; 3:399-423; 4:131-132;
4:406-416). "As for what is alleged whereby al-Ash`arî 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-Qushayrî,
Shikâyat Ahl al-Sunna in Ibn al-Subkî, Tabaqât al-Shâfi`iyya al-Kubrâ
(3:406, cf. 3:384).

[4] Tabaqât al-Shâfi`iyya al-Kubrâ (4:131-132).

[5] Narrated from Abû Tha`laba al-Khushanî by Ahmad with a sound chain as
stated by al-Haythamî (1:175) and Ahmad Shâkir in the Musnad (13:479
#17671), and from Wâbisa ibn Ma`bad al-Asadî by Ahmad and al-Dârimî.

[6] Tabyîn (p. 230-231); Siyar (13:130-131 #3739); Tabaqât al-Shâfi`iyya
(4:127-135 #317).

[7] Hadîth (hasan) of the Prophet - Allah bless and greet him - in response
to the question: "Who are the awliyâ of Allâh?" and - in some narrations -
the question: "Who should we sit with?" Narrated from Ibn `Abbâs by
al-Nasâ'î in al-Sunan al-Kubrâ (6:362), Ibn al-Mundhir, Abû al-Shaykh, Ibn
Mubârak, al-Bazzâr in his Musnad (#3626, cf. Ibn Hajar's Mukhtasar
2:394-395 #2083 and al-Haythamî's Majma` al-Zawâ'id 10:78), al-Tabarî in
his Tafsîr (11:131), Ibn Abî Hâtim, al-`Askarî, al-Tabarânî in al-Kabîr
(#12325), Ibn al-Mubârak in al-Zuhd (#218), Abû Nu`aym in Akhbâr Asbahân
(1:231), and Ibn Mardûyah; from Ibn `Abbâs, `Abd Allâh ibn `Amr, and Anas
ibn Mâlik by al-Hakîm al-Tirmidhî in Nawâdir al-Usûl (p. 140, cf. p. 158
"The conditions of wilâya and p. 204-209 "Profile of the awliyâ'"); from Ibn
Mas`ûd by al-Tabarî in his Tafsîr (11:131) and al-Tabarânî with a chain of
trustworthy narrators but for one unknown per al-Haythamî (10:78); from Abû
Mâlik al-Ash`arî by al-Kharâ'itî in Masâwi' al-Akhlâq (#233); mursal from
the Tâbi`î Sa`îd ibn Jubayr by Ibn al-Mubârak in al-Zuhd (#218), Ibn Abî
Shayba, al-Tabarî in his Tafsîr (11:131-132), Abû al-Shaykh, al-Dûlâbî in
al-Kunâ (1:106), Abû Nu`aym in the Hilya (1985 ed. 1:6) and Ibn Mardûyah;
mursal from the Tâbi`î `Abd al-Rahmân ibn Ghanam al-Ash`arî by Imâm Ahmad
in his Musnad (al-Zayn ed. 14:31 #17921: isnâd hasan; al-Arna'ût. ed.
29:521-523 hasan bi shawâhidih) cf. al-Haythamî (8:93) and al-Mundhirî in
al-Targhîb (=3:499); and from Ibn `Abbâs mawqûf by Tabarânî, Abû al-Shaykh,
Ibn Mardûyah, and al-D.iyâ' al-Maqdisî in al-Mukhtâra. Also narrated with
the wording: "The best among you are those who, when they are seen, Allâh is
remembered" from Asmâ' bint Yazîd by Ahmad, al-Bayhaqî in Shu`ab al-Imân
(7:494), Abû Nu`aym in the Hilya, Ibn Mardûyah, Musaddad, Ibn Abî Shayba,
`Abd al-Razzâq, `Abd ibn Hâmid, Abû Ya`lâ al-Mawsilî, and Ibn Mâjah with a
fair (hasan) chain as stated by al-Bûsîrî in Misbâh al-Zujâja (4:215);
from Ibn `Umar by al-Bayhaqî in Shu`ab al-Imân (5:297 #6708 with a weak
chain because of Ibn Lahî`a and a missing Tâbi`î link); and from `Ubada ibn
al-Samit with a very weak chain because of Yazîd ibn Rabî`a by al-Bazzâr in
his Musnad (#2719) and by al-Tabarânî as stated by al-Haythamî (8:93). Ibn
Hajar in his Mukhtasar (2:395) considers it a saying of the Tabi`î Tawus
ibn Kaysan. See also al-`Ajlûnî's Kashf al-Khafâ (#3626). More explicit yet
is the hadîth of the Prophet - Allah bless and greet him - narrated by
al-Tabarânî with a chain of trustworthy narrators according to al-Haythamî
in the Majma` (10:78): "The Friends of Allâh! Truly no fear shall there be
for them, nor shall they grieve”
(10:62). Allâh is remembered through their
remembrance (dhikr) [or: `through remembrance of them']" (yudhkaru Allâhu bi
). Cf. Fayd. (#2885, #3976) and corresponding commentary in
al-Ghumârî's al-Mudâwî.

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

[9] Al-Qushayrî as cited in Ibn `Abidîn, Rasâ'il (2:277).

[10] Narrated from Mu`âdh and `Ubada ibn al-Sâmit by al-Tirmidhî who graded
it hasan sahîh and Ibn Hibbân (2:338 #577), Ahmad in the Musnad and
his son `Abd Allâh in Zawâ'id al-Musnad (5:328), al-Tabarânî in al-Kabîr
(20:167-168), and Abû Nu`aym in the Hilya (1985 ed. 2:131), all with a good
chain according to al-Arna'ût in Ibn Hibbân. One of `Ubada's versions
replaces the Martyrs with the Siddîqûn.

[11] Narrated from Abû Umâma by al-Tabarânî [in Musnad al-Shâmiyyîn (2:10)]
with a good chain according to al-Haythamî (10:277).



[12] Narrated from Abû Hurayra by Ibn Hibbân (2:332-334 #573) with a sound
chain according to Shaykh Shu`ayb al-Arna'ût, and al-Nasâ'î in al-Sunan
(6:362 #11153), al-Tabarî in his Tafsîr (11:132), and al-Mundhirî
in al-Targhîb (=4:20); from Abû Mâlik al-Ash`arî by Ahmad, al-Tabarânî,
and Abû Ya`lâ with a chain of trustworthy narrators [except for Shahr ibn
Hawshab who is mostly reliable]; also by al-Baghawî in Sharh al-Sunna
(13:50 #3464) and al-Tabarî in his Tafsîr (11:132)]; from Abû al-Dardâ' by
al-Tabarânî with a fair chain according to al-Mundhirî]; and from `Amr ibn
`Abasa al-Sulamî with a chain of narrators considered trustworthy, all three
gradings according to al-Haythamî (10:276-277, 10:77); from `Umar by Abû
Dâwûd with a chain of sound narrators, Abû Nu`aym in the Hilya (1985 ed.
1:5) with a good chain as per al-Arna'ût, and al-Tabarî in his Tafsîr
(11:132); from Ibn `Umar by al-Hâkim (4:170-171 sahîh, confirmed by
al-Dhahabî); and from Abû Umâma by al-Tabarânî with a good chain according
to al-Mundhirî (=4:20) and al-Haytamî (10:277); also by Ibn `Asâkir, Ibn Abî
al-Dunyâ in Kitâb al-Ikhwan, Ibn Abî Hâtim, and Ibn Mardûyah.