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Raful al-Laa’imah Aanil Ai’mah – Lifting the Blame From the Imams Series – Part 21 – In Defence of Imam Ibn Hazm

Compiled, Translated and Annotated
Abu Khuzaimah Ansari

 

Contents

Who Initially Coined this Phrase? Abu’l Abbas b. al-Arif            

Abi’l Abbas Shams al-Din Ahmad b. Muhammad b. Abi Bakr b. Khallikan (d.681H)

Abu’l Abbas b. al-Arif (d.536H) was a Sufi Worshipper Who Didn’t Even Meet Imam Ibn Hazm      

The First Problem              

The Second Problem        

The Third Problem          

The Fourth Problem         

The Fifth Problem        

Imam Muhammad b. Ahmad b. Abd al-Hadi (d.744H)                   

Imam al-Dhahabi (d.748H) on Abu’l Abbas b. al-Arif                     

Abdullah b. As’ad b. Ali b. Sulayman al-Yafi’i (d.768H)                 

Jamal al-Din Abi’l Mahasin Yusuf b. Tugri Bardi al-Atabaki (d.874H)    

Abu’l Abbas b. al-Arif Was a Sufi

Shaykh Abd al-Ghaffar Hasan Rehmani      

Conclusion         

ʿAudhu Billāhi min ash-Shayṭān al-Rajīm

Bismillāh al-Raḥmān al-Raḥīm

Alḥamdullilāhi Rabbil ʿAlamīn, Waṣalatu Wassalām ʿAla Rasūlillahil Karīm, Wa ʿAla Alihī Wa Aṣḥābī Wa Man Tabiāhum Bi-Eḥsan Ilaʾ Yaum al-Dīn; Wa Baʿd

All Praise belongs and is directed to the Rabb of everything

 that exists, Praise and Salutations be upon His

Final beloved Messenger, his revered family

 and his noble Companions and upon

 those who follow them in good

until the end of times,

 To proceed,

In this part of lifting the blame from the Imams series, we look at the well known statement, which many people often quote when the name of Imam Ibn Hazm (d.456H) is mentioned.[1] They always usually mention; al-Hajjaj’s sword and (Imam) Ibn Hazm’s tongue are brothers i.e. meaning that they are the same in their evil and severity.

Throughout history this statement was modified and presented in different ways, which often led Muslims to believe different people had this view about Ibn Hazm, whereas in reality they all relied on the statement of the individual who first coined it. The statement got translated and interpreted by various historiographers and biographers.

Who Initially Coined this Phrase? Abu’l Abbas b. al-Arif

Going back through history and the books on biography, we find the first person to mention this statement about Imam Ibn Hazm was Ibn al-Arif. Ibn al-Arif was Abu’l Abbas Ahmad b. Muhammad b. Musa b. AtaAllah al-Sunhaji al-Marri, commonly known as Abu’l Abbas b. al-Arif. He was a native of Spain, Almeria and thus of al-Andalus.[2]

Abi’l Abbas Shams al-Din Ahmad b. Muhammad b. Abi Bakr b. Khallikan (d.681H)

Abu’l Abbas b. al-Arif (d.536H) was a Sufi Worshipper Who Didn’t Even Meet Imam Ibn Hazm

He was born in 481H and died in 536H. So, straight away we learn Abu’l Abbas b. al-Arif was born 35 years after the death of Ibn Hazm and therefore, he didn’t even meet Ibn Hazm. Abi’l Abbas Shams al-Din Ahmad b. Muhammad b. Abi Bakr b. Khallikan (d.681H) mentions:

(Abu’l Abbas b. al-Arif was a sufi) and from the major Salihin and spiritual Awliya. His virtuous and status was well known. He authored a book ‘al-Majalis’ and other books which were about his tariqah (i.e. way) of his group (i.e. sufi turuq). He also wrote a good poem about his tariqah…[3]

Ibn Khallikan further qualifies this and says:

He was a worshipper (al-Ubad) and someone who renounced the pleasure of the world (Ahl al-Zuhd).[4]

The major problem with this statement of Abu’l Abbas b. al-Arif other than it being highly prejudiced, it seems like it is also spurious and dubious from Ibn al-Arif. Ibn Khallikan mentions,

Some Shaykhs and noble people said they saw his (i.e Ibn al-Arif’s) handwriting on an entry on Abi Muhammad Ali b. Ahmad well known as Ibn Hazm al-Zahiri al-Andalusi and he said about him ‘The tongue of Ibn Hazm and the sword of al-Hajjaj b. Yusuf are brothers.’[5]

Ibn Khallikan then proceeds to offer the reason why Abu’l Abbas b. al-Arif made this statement,

He said this about him because Ibn Hazm would often reprimand scholars of the past and present, he spared no one.[6]

Wafayat al-A’yan Wa Anba’ Abna’ al-Zaman, 1:168-170.

This entry of Ibn Khallikan poses a number of serious problems.

The First Problem

As mentioned before, Abu’l Abbas b. al-Arif was born 35 years after the death of Ibn Hazm, so not only did they not meet but there is also a gap of 35 years between them. Abu’l Abbas b. Arif then, must have either taken this statement from someone or it was his own view.

The Second Problem

Ibn Khallikan mentions some scholars and noble individuals saw this statement in the handwriting of Abu’l Abbas b. al-Arif. So, we don’t even know for sure if this evan was the statement of Ibn al-Arif or the view of someone else.

The Third Problem

Who were these scholars and noble people? We know, that we don’t take narrations and reports, especially when they are of this nature – heavy statements of criticism against a great scholar and Imam of Ahl al-Sunnah. Ahl al-Sunnah have some protocols and guidelines which they strongly adhere to while discerning such statements. Unfortunately, Ibn Khallikan just making this claim and assertion will not be accepted readily, it must be supported with other evidence at least to prove its authenticity from Abu’l Abbas b. al-Arif.

The Fourth Problem

Abu’l Abbas b. al-Arif was a sufi who promoted and propagated his view of Ibn Hazm, not only this but he was not recognized as someone with authority or credentials in the science of praise and criticism i.e. al-Jarh wa’l Ta’dil. He is unknown and unqualified in this field. He is generally unknown and has no specific status amongst the Ahl al-Hadith, so based on all of this, how are his words first taken as being authentic and trustworthy and secondly even worthy of consideration due to his creedal or methodological background?

The Fifth Problem

Abu’l Abbas b. al-Arif died in 536H and Ibn Khallikan was born in 608H, therefore there is a gap of of 72 years. This is significant because Ibn Khallikan does not specify his source and rather brushes it off as saying the statement from Abu’l Abbas b. al-Arif was seen by scholars and nobles. This breakage in chain for a pivotal statement such as this is crucial to its reliability.

Essentially all five problems question the veracity and authenticity of this statement from Abu’l Abbas b. al-Arif and this becomes intrinsically important when the image, stature and standing of Ibn Hazm is questioned.

Ibn Khallikan, further in his entry of Ibn Hazm repeats this charge from Ibn al-Arif and offers his view on Ibn Hazm and some of the problems he faced by his contemporaries. He says:

Abu’l Abbas b. al-Arif said about him as preceded, the tongue of Ibn Hazm and the sword of al-Hajjaj b. Yusuf are brothers and he said this about him because he frequently reprimanded scholars.[7]

Ibn Khallikan’s Wafayat al-A’yan was the earliest source to record Abu’l Abbas b. al-Arif’s statement and it is possible that subsequent authors, historiographers and biographers copied it from him.

Imam Muhammad b. Ahmad b. Abd al-Hadi (d.744H)

He also cites this statement in his entry of Imam Ibn Hazm and honours him with the titles of al-Imam al-Allamah al-Faqih, al-Hafiz, one of the scholars…. Ibn Abd al-Hadi again relies on early sources for his biography and as a base, he relies on the statements of earlier biographers.[8]

In his entry and those of other scholars we see a common trend, in that all of them while citing Abu’l Abbas b. al-Arif’s statement essentially rely on Ibn Khallikan’s entry in his Wafayat.

Tabaqat Ulama Ahl al-Hadith, 3:352

 

Imam al-Dhahabi (d.748H) on Abu’l Abbas b. al-Arif

He also brings the statement of Abu’l Abbas b. al-Arif under Ibn Hazm’s entries in Tazkirrah al-Huffaz[9], Siyar A’lam al-Nubala’[10] and in Tarikh al-Islam[11] but it seems like that it is more of a case of citing, just as the historiographers had to do prior to him. He doesn’t mention it at all in his al-Ibar, but this is perhaps because the entries in al-Ibar are overviews.[12]

It is interesting to note that al-Dhahabi while introducing Ibn Hazm’s entry in the Tarikh al-Islam Wa Wafayat al-Mashahir Wa’l A’lam is unable to holdback and is forced to describe him as THE Imam – ‘al-Imam Abu Muhammad’ while citing his lineage.[13]

Kitab Tazkirah ul-Huffaz, 3:1154.

Siyar A’lam al-Nubala’, 18:199.

al-Ibar Fi Khabr Man Ghabr, 2:306.

Tarikh al-Islam Wa Wafayat al-Mashahir Wa’l A’lam, 10:78, ed. Dr. Bashar Awad Ma’ruf.

Tarikh al-Islam Wa Wafayat al-Mashahir Wa’l A’lam, 30:410 ed. Dr. Umar Abd al-Salam Tadmuri.

 

Abdullah b. As’ad b. Ali b. Sulayman al-Yafi’i (d.768H)

He lauds Ibn Hazm with honourific titles and then proceeds to offer the words of Ibn Khallikan, pretty much verbatim and also includes the charge on Ibn Hazm. He also furnishes his reason by saying that Ibn Hazm spoke much about the scholars.[14]

Mirat al-Jinan Wa ‘Ibrah al-Yaqzan, 3:62.

Jamal al-Din Abi’l Mahasin Yusuf b. Tugri Bardi al-Atabaki (d.874H)

A prime example of how such a statement was modified to give the impression many believed this about Ibn Hazm was the entry for him by Jamal al-Din Abi’l Mahasin Yusuf b. Tugri Bardi al-Atabaki (d.874H) in his al-Nujum al-Zahirah, he says Ibn Hazm died in the year 456H.

al-Nujum al-Zahirah Fi Muluk Misr wa’l Qahirah, 5:75.

Abu Muhammad, famously known as Ibn Hazm, he was a Muhaddith and the author of well known books and Zahiri in Madhhab. Everyone spoke about him (negatively) except the Ahl al-Hadith, for he was formidable in his memorisation. He was a learned Imam and a specialist in the science of hadith. Despite this he was a person with abhorrent speech, as such he would speak about the scholars and people, his contemporaries used to say, ‘We seek refuge with Allah from the sword of al-Hajjaj and the tongue of Ibn Hazm’.[15]

This is an example of a modified version of the original statement by later authors, in this case by Jamal al-Din al-Atabaki who was born in 813H and died in 873H. We have shown how the origins of this statement were approximately first mentioned 250 years before Jamal al-Din. 

Abu’l Abbas b. al-Arif Was a Sufi

Yusuf b. Yahya Attadli known as Ibn al-Ziyat (d.627H) in his al-Tashuwwufu Ila Rijal al-Tasawwufi Wa Akhbar Abil Abbas al-Sabti[16] brings an entry for Abul Abbas b. al-Arif in this book as a leading sufi with a few pages extended in honour of him, he also cites poems concerning him. This is conclusive proof that as early as 627H Abul Abbas b. al-Arif was a known sufi.

al-Tashuwwufu Ila Rijal al-Tasawwufi Wa Akhbar Abil Abbas al-Sabti, 81.

al-Tashuwwufu Ila Rijal al-Tasawwufi Wa Akhbar Abil Abbas al-Sabti, 118.

What also shows Abul Abbas b. al-Arif was a sufi, were some of his books that promoted the teachings of Sufism and its likes. Some of these books have been published while others are lost. From his books which promotes and expounds the teachings of Sufism is his book, Muftah al-Sa’adah Wa Tahqiq Tariq al-Sa’adah[17] as collected by Abu Bakr Atiq b. Mu’min (d.548H). This work was published in 1993 with the verification of Doctor Asmat Abd al-Latif Dandash and spans 262 pages.

In her lengthy introduction she discusses and explains Abul Abbas b. al-Arif’s Sufism and his methodology in understanding and promoting it. She brings his chain in Tasawwuf and goes onto explain how a Sufi teacher teaches his disciples and so on. She also lists some of his other books, which are essentially also on Tasawwuf and they include,

Kitab Mahasain al-Majalis (which is published)

Kitab Mataleh al-Anwar Wa Manabeh al-Asrar

Miftah al-Sa’adah Li-Ahl al-Iradah Fil Tuhur Wal Kiswah lil-Hadharah al-Rafiyi’ah

Muftah al-Sa’adah Wa Tahqiq Tariq al-Sa’adah

The Mahasin was translated to English and French and often used by western academia while discussing Sufism and its terminology and understanding. He also set the foundation of a sufi Tariqah which became well known in Morroco, where Ibn al-Arif eventually died. He was heavily influenced by Ibn Masarra, who was a well known Sufi and Philosopher based in al-Andalus, where Ibn al-Arif was originally from. The Spanish orientalist, Miguel Asin Palacious, not only translated the Mahasin al-Majalis, but he also researched and wrote extensively on Ibn Masarra.

Shaykh Abd al-Ghaffar Hasan Rehmani[18]

I had been searching for a statement of a scholar explaining this oft repeated comment, when until a few months ago, a brother shared the statement of Shaykh Abd al-Ghaffar Hasan Rehman, who explained this statement in a favourable manner. Shaykh Abd al-Ghaffar Hasan Rehmani said:

Allamah Ibn al-Aziz[19] writes: the tongue of Ibn Hazm and the sword of Hajjaj are both real Sisters[20] [brothers]. Just as the sword of Hajjaj was reckless, the tongue of Ibn Hazm was uncontrollable. However, Hajjaj’s sword was raised to support tyranny and oppression, while Ibn Hazm’s tongue spoke to dissemnimate the truth.[21]

Conclusion

The first historiographer and biographer who coined this statement was Abul Abbas b. al-Arif. He was an ardent Sufi who propagated his beliefs and authored books in promoting and defending Sufism. He was also credited leading the way to a sufi tariqah. He was born 35 years after the death of Imam Ibn Hazm and therefore this statement is purely spurious that he might have heard during his life and it was not first hand experience. In this regard, it lacks originality it is an odd and a highly-biased and prejudiced view. The attribution of this statement to Abu’l Abbas b. al-Arif is also very doubtful and suspicious as “some scholars and nobles” said they saw it in his handwriting.

            Ibn Khallikan, to our knowledge was the first person to mention this statement and attribute it to Abu’l Abbas who died in 536H and Ibn Khallikan died in 681H and we find that he finished compiling his al-Wafayat 10 years prior to his death in around 671H. Ibn Khallikan does not present his sources and brushes it away by saying scholars and nobles saw the statement in Abu’l Abbas b. al-Arif’s handwriting. There is at least a gap of 72 years (when Ibn Khallikan was born) to a maximum of 135 years (when he finished compiling his book) between Ibn Khallikan and Abu’l Abbas b. al-Arif’s statement, again severing the direct link.

            Later scholars all relied on Ibn Khallikan’s entry of Ibn Hazm and continued to include Abu’l Abbas b. al-Arif’s statement. Ibn Khallikan was the assistant to the chief judge of Egypt and later became the chief judge of Damascus, it was perhaps this central position that allowed his biographical work to spread and reach acclaim in Egypt and Damascus. Another potential explanation for why later authorities relied on Ibn Khallikan’s work was because he included a wide range of people from scholars, scientists, writers, cultural and notable figures, and so it became well quoted.

            In summary, this statement has very little value and is an odd isolated and dubious statement which should not be used or oft repeated against the honour of this formidable scholar of Ahl al-Sunnah, Imam Ibn Hazm. It is also shameful, the statement of a vehement Sufi is used against this great Imam of the Ahl al-Hadith without any regard, as if it was authentic and well established. Alhamdulillah, we have shown with historical references that no one else reported this statement or even believed it, through other independent routes or attributions.

Written by the one who is in need of Allah’s forgiveness

Abu Khuzaimah Ansari

4th Sha’ban 1441H/ 28th March 2020

Birmingham

England

NOTES

[1] For his biography refer to, 10 Radiant Scholars of Ahl al-Hadith; Ahl al-Bid’ah Wished Were Never Born! – [4] – Imam Ibn Hazm (456H)

http://www.salafiri.com/10-radiant-scholars-of-ahl-al-hadith-ahl-al-bidah-wished-were-never-born-4-imam-ibn-hazm-456h/.

[2] Refer to references cited later and also the Wafayat al-A’yan which is referenced next.

[3] Ibn Khallikan, Wafayat al-A’yan Wa Anba’ Abna’ al-Zaman, 1:168-169 no.68. (Beirut: Dar al-Sadir, 1398H/1978, ed. Dr. Ihsan Abbas).

[4] Wafayat al-A’yan Wa Anba’ Abna’ al-Zaman, 1:169.

[5] Wafayat al-A’yan Wa Anba’ Abna’ al-Zaman, 1:169.

[6] Wafayat al-A’yan Wa Anba’ Abna’ al-Zaman, 1:169.

[7] Wafayat al-A’yan Wa Anba’ Abna’ al-Zaman, 3:328 no.448.

[8] Muhammad b. Ahmad b. Abd al-Hadi, Tabaqat Ulama Ahl al-Hadith, 3:341-352 no.993 (Beirut: Mu’assasah al-Risalah, 1417H/1996) 2nd edn. ed. Akram al-Bushi and Ibrahim al-Zaybaq.

[9] Al-Dhahabi, Kitab Tazkirah ul-Huffaz, 3:1154 (Beirut: Dar al-Kotob al-Ilmiyyah, 1419/1998).

[10] Al-Dhahabi, Siyar A’lam al-Nubala’, 18:199 no.99. (Beirut: Mu’assasah al-Risalah, 1405H/1984) ed.  Shu’ayb al-Arna’ut and Muhammad Na’im al-Arqusi.

[11] Al-Dhahabi, Tarikh al-Islam Wa Wafayat al-Mashahir Wa’l A’lam, 10:78 no.166 (Beirut: Dar al-Gharb al-Islami, 1424H/2003) ed. Dr. Bashar ‘Awad Ma’ruf. In another edition, 30:410 no.168. (Beirut: Dar al-Kitab al-Arabi, 1414H/1994) ed. Dr. Umar Abd al-Salam Tadmuri.

[12] Al-Dhahabi, al-Ibar Fi Khabr Man Ghabr, 2:306 (Beirut, Dar al-Kotob al-Ilmiyyah, 1405H/1985) ed. Muhammad Sa’id b. Basyuni Zaghlul.

[13] Tarikh al-Islam Wa Wafayat al-Mashahir Wa’l A’lam, 10:74 (ed. Bashar), 30:404 (ed. Tadmuri).

[14] al-Yafi’i, Mirat al-Jinan Wa ‘Ibrah al-Yaqzan, 3:61-62 (Beirut: Dar Kotob al-Ilmiyyah, 1417/1997).

[15] Jamal al-Din al-Atabeki, al-Nujum al-Zahirah Fi Muluk Misr wa’l Qahirah, 5:75, (Egypt: Wizarah al-Thaqafah, 1383/1963, a photocopy of the Dar al-Kutub edition)

[16] Ibn al-Ziyat, al-Tashuwwufu Ila Rijal al-Tasawwufi Wa Akhbar Abil Abbas al-Sabti, 81-84 no.18. (Dar al-Kotob al-Ilmiyyah, 2016) ed. Dr. Asim Ibrahim al-Kiyali, reproduced by Beirut: Books Publisher. Ed. 118 no.18 (Morocco: Manshurat Kuliyyah al-Adab al-Rabat, 1997) 2nd Edn. Ed. Ahmad al-Tawfiq.

[17] Abu’l Abbas b. al-Arif, Muftah al-Sa’adah Wa Tahqiq Tariw al-Sa’adah (Beirut: Dar al-Gharb al-Islami, 1993) ed. Dr Asmat Abd al-Latif Dandash ed. 1st.

[18] For his biography refer to the following ebook, [eBook]- The Compilation of Hadith – Shaikh Abdul Ghafar Hasan Rehmani (1428H)

http://www.salafiri.com/ebook-the-compilation-of-hadith-shaikh-abdul-ghafar-hasan-rehmani-1428h/.

[19] It is possible that Shaykh Abd al-Ghaffar Hasan’s edition of the Tazkirratul Huffaz or the Wafayat had typo errors and so Ibn al-Arif was read as Ibn al-Aziz.

[20] See previous note. This again also seems like a typo, where Shaqiqayn was typed as Shaqiqatayn.

[21] Ahle Hadith, Amritsar, 21st September, 1935.

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