Saturday, November 21, 2009

A Source of Embarrasment for Taymiyyans/Wahhabis

Ibn Taymiyya says:

Therefore, while it is deduced that Hellfire will pass away with The Book, The Sunna, and the words of The Companions, those who say that Hellfire will remain forever have no evidence from The Book, The Sunna, and the words of The Companions.

Source: Al-Radd 'ala man qala bi-fana' al-janna wa al-nar.ed. Muhammad b. 'Abd Allah al-Simhari (Riyadh: Dar al-balansiyya, 1415/ 1995).

So we see that Ibn Taymiyya stated the following:

1. The belief that Hellfire will pass away is/can be deduced from The Book, The Sunna, and the words of The Companions

2. Those who say that Hellfire will remain forever have no evidence from The Book, The Sunna, and the words of The Companions

His words are very clear and there is no room for explaining them away.

I have observed the following different reactions from Wahhabis on this subject:

1. Rejection: Some completely reject that Ibn Taymiyya might have denied the eternality of Hellfire. They say that this is a lie and a slander.
2. Ta'wil: Some try to explain away what Ibn Taymiyya and Ibn Qayyim have written on the subject by saying something like "They did not hold this position, they just presented the evidence of those who held this position."
3. Acquittal of Ibn Taymiyya by putting the blame on Ibn Qayyim: Some hold that this was the position of Ibn Qayyim and he incorrectly attributed it to Ibn Taymiyya.
4. Reversal of history: Some claim that this was Ibn Taymiyya's position before mastering religious sciences.
5. Revision: Some revise their definition of Ahl al-Sunna when they realize that Ibn Taymiyya and Ibn Qayyim did indeed defend this position and this was their final position on record.

Although I may not agree with everything he says word for word, I find some of the conclusions reached by Dr. Khalil to be quite informative. He writes:

Centuries later, al-Radd serves as a source of embarrasment for some IbnTaymiyyah apologists, including Wahhābī scholars who consider the idea of a noneternal Hell to be inherently problematic. Thus, we find one additional motivation for denying Ibn Taymiyyah’s authorship of al-Radd. As for those apologists who accept his authorship of al-Radd, we find that other tactics are employed. This may be observed, for example, in Muhammad ibn ‘Abd-Allāh al-Simharī’s introduction to a 1995 edition of al-Radd, which was published in Riyadh. Al-Simharī asserts that, because Ibn Taymiyyah never explicitly states his own opinion, he remains in line with the Sunni doctrine of an eternal Hell.411 Al-Simharī goes on to argue that Ibn Taymiyyah’s opponents, such as al-Subkī, should not have inferred from al-Radd that, even if Ibn Taymiyyah initially espoused Hell’s annihilation, that that was always his position. He then cites the apologetic hypothesis put forth by the late Muhammad Nāsir al-Dīn al-Albānī (d. 1999) that Ibn Taymiyyah composed the treatise during his studies, before mastering the religious sciences412 – an ostensibly baseless conjecture in light of Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyyah’s utilization of al-Radd during a period in which Ibn Taymiyyah had already established himself. Al-Simharī then takes an entirely different approach and argues that even if Ibn Taymiyyah did maintain that God’s mercy could encompass Hell’s inhabitants, this would not be a problematic assertion, as this was also the position maintained by Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyyah and others.413 Nevertheless, al-Simharī argues that since the doctrine of Hell’s eventual annihilation is improbable (marjūh), it is the duty of the ‘common’ Muslim to side with the doctrine indicated by the Qur’an and Sunnah, and adopted by many of the Salaf, namely, Hell’s eternality. The reason, he argues, is because it is only the sincere, knowledgeable mujtahid who may safely adopt any other position.414 Therefore, we also find a contemporary form of elitism associated with this belief in a non-eternal Hell that is employed as a counterweight to Ibn Taymiyyah’s critics. While one orientation within Wahhābism seeks to deny the position altogether so as to avoid being discredited, another portrays it as a position of the elite.

410 Al-Simharī, “Nisbat al-kitāb,” xiv-xvi.
411 Al-Simharī, “Mawqif,” xxv-xxvii.
412 Al-Simharī, “Mawqif,” xxii.
413 Interestingly, he even cites a recent Master’s thesis written by Faysal ‘Abd-Allāh al-Jāmi‘ah of Umm al-Qurā University (Mecca), entitled Al-Jannah wa al-nār wa al-arā’ fīhimā (Heaven and Hell and the viewpoints regarding them). In it, the author gives preference to the doctrine of Hell’s annihilation on the basis that it is in accordance with what is known of “God’s expansive mercy, inclusive generosity, overflowing forgiveness, and considerable wisdom.” (Al-Simharī, “Mawqif,” xxii-xxiii)
414 Al-Simharī, “Mawqif,” xxviii.

Source: Muhammad Hassan Khalil, Muslim Scholarly Discussions on Salvation and the Fate of Others, (Ph.D. diss., University of Michigan, 2007).

Notice al-Albānī's claim that "Ibn Taymiyya composed the treatise during his studies, before mastering the religious sciences." This is an absurd claim, considering the fact that Ibn Qayyim wrote three additional books defending the "non-eternality of Hellfire" (fana al-nar) after Ibn Taymiyya's death. Furthermore, both Dr. Ebubekir Sifil and Professor Hoover relay the following information (which I copied from Hoover's paper as it is already in English):

The Beginnings of Ibn al-Qayyim's Deliberations Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya reveals how he first broached the question of everlasting chastisement with Ibn Taymiyya in an autobiographical note found in his Shifa' al- alil (Healing of the Sick):

I had asked Shaykh al-Islam [about everlasting chastisement]. He said to me, "This issue is very great", and he gave no reply concerning it. Some time had passed after that when I saw in the commentary of 'Abd b. Hamid [or Humayd] al-Kiththi one of those traditions I have mentioned. So, I sent the book to [Ibn Taymiyya] while he was in his last session (fi majlisihi al-akhir). I marked that place [in the book], and I told the messenger, "Say to him, "This place is difficult for him, and he does not know what it is." Then, he wrote his famous work about it. Whoever has the grace of knowledge, let him bring it forth, and above each one having knowledge is one who is All-Knowing (pp. 564-65).

It appears that Ibn Taymiyya was not sure how to respond to Ibn al-Qayyim's first inquiry on the duration of the Fire. He only answered that the question was "very great." Ibn al-Qayyim's second inquiry was prompted by reading the commentary of 'Abd b. Hamid al-Kissi (or al-Kiththi as he writes), a ninth-century Hadith scholar from Kiss near Samarqand (d. 249/863) A tradition related by 'Abd b. Hamid puzzled Ibn al-Qayyim. So, he marked the spot in the book and sent it to his teacher via messenger. This occurred "while [Ibn Taymiyya] was in his last session," presumably near the end of his life. In reply Ibn Taymiyya composed what Ibn al-Qayyim calls his "famous work."

Source: Professor Jon Hoover, Islamic Universalism: Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya's Salafi Deliberations on the Duration of Hell-Fire, The Muslim World, Jan 2009.

The "famous work" in question is Al-Radd 'ala man qala bi-fana' al-janna wa al-nar. From Ibn Qayyim's expression ( his last session (fi majlisihi al-akhir)) it is clear that Ibn Taymiyya did not write this book "during his studies, before mastering the religious sciences" as al-Albani would like us to believe.

This is not the first time I observed al-Albani distorting and misrepresenting historical facts in an utterly shameless manner. al-Albani makes a similar absurd claim when he states that "Ibn Qayyim must have written Kitab ar-rooh when he was new to ilm [knowledge]." This is of course a falsehood as Ibn Qayyim uses the phrase "...after Ibn Taymiyya's death" at one place in the mentioned book. Ibn Qayyim was born in 691/1292 whereas Ibn Taymiyya died in 728/1328. So, Ibn Qayyim was at least 37 years old and had acquired all the knowledge he could possibly get from his teacher (Ibn Taymiyya) by the time he composed Kitab ar-rooh.

Murat Yazıcı

Ibn Taymiyya's Denial of Eternal Hellfire

Ibn Taymiyya says:

Therefore, while it is deduced that Hellfire will pass away with The Book, The Sunna, and the words of The Companions, those who say that Hellfire will remain forever have no evidence from The Book, The Sunna, and the words of The Companions.

Source: Ibn Taymiyya, Al-Radd 'ala man qala bi-fana' al-janna wa al-nar. ed. Muhammad b. 'Abd Allah al-Simhari (Riyadh: Dar al-balansiyya, 1415/ 1995).

Allama Imam Ibn Hajar al-Haytami rahimahullah stated:

"As one of his false beliefs, he [Ibn Taymiyya] has stated: Hellfire will end."

Source: al-Fatawa al-Hadithiyya.

Dr. Ebubekir Sifil has published an article in 2006 discussing Ibn Taymiyya's position in detail. The full text (which is in Turkish) can be reached with either of the following two links:

Dr. Sifil notes that the following scholars/authors have affirmed that Ibn Taymiyya denied the eternality of Hellfire:

1. Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya
2. Ibn al-Wazir (Muhammad bin Ibrahim al-Yamânî)
3. Muhammad bin Ismail as-San'ânî
4. Imam al-Kawthari
5. Abdulkareem Salih al-Humayd

Turkish academicians:

6. Professor Bekir Topaloğlu
7. Professor Yusuf Şevki Yavuz

He then says that this list can be increased by several orders of magnitude.

There is also a subsection titled "al-Albani's Confession" in Dr. Sifil's paper. Al-Albani is quoted to say:

"Ibn Qayyim has a second opinion according to which Hellfire will never end. Ibn Taymiyya has a book refuting those who say Janna [Paradise] and Jahannam [Hell] will cease to exist. At that time [20 years ago] I thought that Ibn Taymiyya shared this second opinion of Ibn Qayyim. The author al-San`ani, with what he has quoted from Ibn Qayyim, explains that the above mentioned refutation [written by Ibn Taymiyya] is not against those who say Hellfire will end, but it is against the jahmis who say Paradise will cease to exist and he [Ibn Taymiyya] states that Hell will cease to exist. Moreover, he does not state only this, but states also that the people of Hell will enter paradises with rivers flowing under them after Hell ceases to exist."

Source: Introduction to al-San`ani's Raf`al-Astar, p. 7.

Dr. Muhammad Khalil makes the following remarks:

What is perhaps most interesting about the texts discussed here is the discourse regarding the fate of Hell's inhabitants... And even though Ibn al-Qayyim dismisses Ibn al-‘Arabī’s vision of Hell becoming a place of felicity, his conclusion is seemingly more radical: That all – Pharaoh, the people of Thamūd, and Abū Lahab will eventually inhabit Heaven after becoming purified. This may explain why both Ibn Taymiyyah and Ibn al-Qayyim seem to go greater lengths and exert a considerable amount of effort to demonstrate that their position does not go against unanimous consensus.

Source: Muhammad Hassan Khalil, Muslim Scholarly Discussions on Salvation and the Fate of Others, (Ph.D. diss., University of Michigan, 2007).

Dr. Sifil concludes his paper with the following statement:

Ibn Taymiyya has accepted and defended -in a manner that does not allow any interpretation or denial- the opinion that punishment in Jahannam will not last forever for kafirs [nonbelievers] and mushriqs [polytheists]...

Source: Ebubekir Sifil, İnkişaf Dergisi, Eylül-Kasım [İnkişaf Magazine, September-November issue] 2006.
Compiled and translated by: Murat Yazıcı

Friday, November 20, 2009

On the Eternality of Hellfire

Qâdîzâde Ahmad Affandi (d. 1197/1783) rahimahullah stated:

"Janna [Paradise] and Jahannam [Hell] and those who reside in them are eternal. Contradicting this fact causes kufr [disbelief]. May Allahu ta'ala protect us." (Sharh of Wasiyyat of Birgivî [In Turkish], Bedir Publishing, Istanbul, p. 124)

Ibn Hazm wrote:

"... They have agreed with consensus that Jahannam is haq [true], that it is an eternal place of punishment, and that it [Jahannam] and its inhabitants will continue forever and will never cease to exist." (Maratib al-Ijma', 268)

Imam al-Subkî rahimahullah states:

"The doctrine of the Muslims is that Paradise and Hellfire do not pass away. Abû Muhammad Ibn Hazm has reported Ijma [Consensus] on the question and the fact that whoever violates such Consensus is a disbeliever (kâfir) by Consensus. There is no doubt over this, for it is obligatorily known in the Religion and the evidence to that effect is abundant." (Al-Subkî, al-Durra al-Mudiyya fî al-Radd `alâ Ibn Taymiyya (3rd epistle, al-I`tibâr bi Baqâ' al-Jannati wa al-Nâr p. 60), quoted by Dr. J. F. Haddad).

Imam al-Ash`ari rahimahullah stated:

"The whole of Ahl al-Islam stated the following: 'There is no end to Janna and Jahannam. Both of them will continue to exist. In the same way, people of Janna will continue to be rewarded [given benefactions] and the people of Jahannam will continue to be punished. There is no end to this.' " (Maqalat al-Islamiyyin, 164)

Imam al-Kawthari rahimahullah stated that:

"The takfîr [declaration of apostasy] of those who deny the eternality of Janna and Jahannam or one of them [Janna or Jahannam] is based on the Ijma of Ahl al-Haq [people of truth]." (Maqalat, 377)

"That Janna and Jahannam are eternal is fixed by Qur'an al-Karîm, the Sunna and yaqini [definite] ijma." (Maqalat, 450)

Imam al-a'zam Abu Hanifa rahimahullah stated:

"One who says that Janna and Jahannam will cease to exist after people of Janna and people of Jahannam enter [Janna and Jahannam, respectively] becomes kâfir [apostate] because of denying eternal staying there [in Janna and Jahannam]." (al-Fiqh al-Absat)

Imam al-Tahawi rahimahullah wrote:

Janna and Jahannam have been created; they will not ever cease to exist.

Imam al-Tahawi also wrote:

People who commit great sins among the umma [community, believers] of Muhammad (sallallahu ta'ala alayhe wa sallam) will not abide in Hellfire forever, provided that they die as Ahl al-Tawhid [as monotheists, i.e. as Muslims]. This includes even the unrepentant that, nonetheless, died as believers knowing Allahu ta'ala. They are in His judgment and decree. If He wishes, He forgives and pardons them by His grace, as He mentioned in His book (4:48). Or if He wishes, He punishes them in Hellfire by His justice, and then removes them by His rahmat [mercy, grace], (or) through the intercession of His obedient servants. He then sends them to His Janna [Paradise].

(additional quotes to be added inshaAllahu ta'ala)

Murat Yazıcı