Did Imam al-Dhahabi write “al-Nasiha al-Dhahabiyya” to Ibn Taymiyya?
29 Oct, 2019
A brother from Birmingham, UK, had once asked:
However i have read another article where it states that he was the one who authored it (Al-Nas.îh.a al-Dhahabiyya li Ibn Taymiyya is an epistle written when al-Dhahabî was around fifty-five years of age and addressed to Ibn Taymiyya towards the end of his life. In this brief but scathing epistle the author distances himself from his contemporary and admonishes him without naming him, calling him “an eloquent polemicist who neither rests nor sleeps.” Al-Dhahabî, al-Nas.îh.a al-Dhahabiyya, in the margin of his Bayân Zaghl al-`Ilm, ed. al-Kawtharî; also in Shaykh al-Islâm Ibn Taymiyya, Sîratuhu wa Akhbâruhu `Inda al-Mu’arrikhîn, ed. S.alâh. al-Dîn al-Munajjid (Beirut: Dâr al-Kitâb al-`Arabî, 1976) p. 11-14), and cites certain authorities:
1. Hafidth Ibn H.ajar cites the Nas.îh.a in al-Durar al-Kâmina and does not doubt its authenticity as attributed to al-Dhahabî, Al-Durar al-Kâmina (1:166).
2. Nor his student Hafidth al-Sakhâwî who calls it “a glorious statement of doctrine” in al-I`lân wa al-Tawbikh. Al-I`lân wa al-Tawbîkh (p. 77=54).
3. And the two greatest experts on al-Dhahabî’s works, S.alâh. al-Dîn al-Munajjid and Bashshâr `Awwâd Ma`rûf, declared there was no doubt al-Dhahabî wrote it towards the end of his life and addressed Ibn Taymiyya. Bashshar `Awwad Ma`rûf, al-Dhahabî (p. 146). Two extant manuscripts of the Nas.îh.a are kept, one in Cairo at the Dâr al-Kutub al-Mis.riyya (#B18823) copied by Ibn Qâd.î Shuhba and one in Damascus at the Z.âhiriyya library (#1347).
My question: So does Abu rumaysahs claim stand its ground or is he giving his own comentary? (thats what i would like to ask)
Abu Rumaysah Refi Shafi – is not an Alim but a mere copier of the claims of arab “Salafiyya”. He admitted that Hafiz al Sakhawi came across this letter – but it is strange that Abu Rumaysah claimed that Al-Sakhawi merely followed ibn Qadi Shuhba!
Where is the daleel for this Abu Rumaysa and al-Shaybani? What proof is there that Ibn Qadi Shuhba was an enemy to ibn Taymiyya? Which of his contemporaries said that Ibn Qadi may have “forged” the letter in the name of al-Dhahabi?!
The fact of the matter is this: Imam al-Dhahabi had a son who was known as Abu Hurayra. Abu Hurayra was a teacher to both: Hafiz ibn Hajar al Asqalani and his student: Hafiz al-Sakhawi. Hence, both of these Hadith Masters could have easily verified with Abu Hurayra, if his father – Hafiz al-Dhahabi, had actually compiled this or not for sure.
The fact that al-Sakhawi quoted from al-Dhahabi verbatim in his al-I’lan is proof that he accepted the authenticity of al-Dhahabi’s attack on ibn Taymiyya! Al-Sakhawi did not say that it was forged against Dhahabi or that it came down in the handwriting of Ibn Qadi Shuhba!
This seems to be a “Salafi” hash at trying to clear Ibn Taymiyya as is their usual habit, but with no solid proof – but mere conjecture!
The Nasiha is preserved in Dar al-Kutub al Misriyya (no. 18823), Cairo, Egypt, and in the former Maktaba al-Zahiriyya (no. 1347), Damascus, Syria. I have enclosed a scan of the original handwritten edition of the Nasiha as transmitted by Shaykh ibn Qadi Shuhba (died in 851 AH), and that of Shaykh Muhammad Zahid al-Kawthari (d. 1371 AH) – who was the first one to publish this short letter in the year 1347 AH.
What gives strength to the authenticity of this letter being by Hafiz al-Dhahabi is the fact that Ibn Qadi Shuhba, who is known as a biographer of the later Shafi’i Madhhab, as well as being a Historian, had actually given his Sahih Isnad back to al-Dhahabi. This letter reached him from: al-Qadi Burhan ibn Jama’a (d. 790 AH) from the Hafiz of Hadith: Abu Sa’eed al-Alai’e (d. 761 AH), who took it from his teacher: Hafiz al-Dhahabi.
For those who are not in tune with what the contents of the Nasiha from al-Dhahabi to ibn Taymiyya are, please read this
(taken from: http://www.masud.co….isc/dhahabi.htm):
In the Name of Allah Most Merciful and Compassionate.
Praise be to Allah for my lowliness. O Lord, have mercy on me, diminish my mistakes, and preserve my Iman for me. What sadness at my lack of sadness; what sorrow over the sunna and the departure of its people; what longing for believing brothers to share with me in weeping; what grief over the loss of people who were light-giving lamps of Sacred Knowledge, men of taqwa, and treasure-troves of every good; alas for not finding a dirhem that is halaal or a brother who is loving.
Great good tidings to him whose own faults divert him from those of others, and woe to whom the faults of others divert him from his own.
How long will you see the speck in your brother’s eye and forget the log in your own? How long will you praise yourself, your prattle, your style, while blaming religious scholars and searching out people’s shameful points, knowing as you do that the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) forbade it saying:
“Mention not your dead save with good, for they have gone onto what they have sent ahead.”
Of course, I realise that you will defend yourself by telling me the attacks are only for those who’ve never smelled the scent of Islam and don’t know what Muhammad (Allah bless him and give him peace) brought and that is your jihad. Not so, by Allah those who you attack know what is even better than the amount that suffices if the servant acts on it to make him succeed. Moreover, they are ignorant of a great deal that does not concern them. And “the excellence of a persons Islam includes leaving what does not concern him.” By Allah man! Give us respite from you, for you are an eloquent polemicist who neither rests nor sleeps. Beware of doubt-creating, problematic religious questions. Our Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) was offended by too many questions, found fault with them, and forbade excessive asking. He also said:
“The thing I fear most for my people is the eloquent hypocrite.”
Too much talking, if free of mistakes, hardens the heart when it concerns the halaal and haraam. So how should it be when it concerns the words of the Yunusiyya, the philosophers, and expressions of kufr, which make hearts go blind? By Allah, we’ve become a laughing stock in existence. How long will you disinter the details of philosophical expressions of kufr for us to refute with our minds? You’ve swallowed, man, the poison of the philosophers and of their works more than once; and by too much using of a poison one’s constitution gets addicted. It collects, by Allah, in the body.
O, what longing for a group among whom the Qur’an is recited with reflection, where awe is experienced through its meditation, where there is silence from its contemplation. O, what longing for an assembly where the pious are mentioned, for mercy descends where the righteous people are remembered, not where the righteous are spoken of with contempt and curses. The sword of al-Hajjaj and the tongue of Ibn Hazm were brothers [ie no Muslims was safe from them], and now you have joined the family. By Allah, give us a break from talking about “the bid`a of Thursday”, and “eating the grains”, and rather make a serious effort to remember the bid`as we used to consider the source of all misguidance, which have now become the “genuine sunna” and the “basis of tawhid”, and whoever doesn’t know them is a Kafir, or a donkey, and whoever doesn’t call him a Kafir is a bigger Kafir than Pharaoh. You consider the very Christians like us.
By Allah, there are misgivings in hearts. You are fortunate if your faith in the two shahadahs has remained unscathed. Oh the disappointment of him who follows you, for he is exposed to corruption in basic beliefs and to dissolution. Particularly if he is short of learning and religion, a self-indulgent idler who does well for you by fighting on your behalf with his hand and tongue, while he is actually your enemy in his being and heart. What are your followers but hidebound do-nothings of little intelligence, common liars with dull minds, silent outlanders strong in guile, or dryly righteous without understanding? If you don’t believe it, just look at them and honestly assess them.
The donkey of your lusts, O Muslim, has stepped forward to applaud your self. How long will you dote on your ego and attack the finest people? How long will you credit it, and disdain the pious? How long will you exalt it, and despise the devotees? How long will you be its closest friend, and detest the abstinent? How long will you praise your own words in a manner you do not even use for the Sahihs of Bukhari and Muslim? Would that the hadiths of the two Sahihs were safe from you, as you continually attack them, by suggesting weakness, considering them fair game, or with figurative explanations and denial. Hasn’t the time come to give up? Is it not it time to repent and atone? Aren’t you at that tenth of a man’s life when he reaches seventy years and the final departure has drawn near? Indeed, By Allah, I don’t recall that you remember death much. You sneer at whoever remembers death. So I don’t think you’ll take to my words or hear my exhortation. You will, instead, probably show great energy and concern to demolish this piece of paper with weighty volumes, snipping off the ends of my sentences for me until you gain the upper hand and can close the argument with a triumphant “…at all. And he was silent.”
If this is how you stand in my eyes, and I am someone sympathetic to you, fond and affectionate, how do you think you stand with your enemies? By Allah among your enemies, there are the righteous and intelligent men and virtuous ones, just as among your friends there are the wicked, liars, ignoramuses, layabouts, the vile, and cattle.
I can accept that you should publicly disparage me, while secretly benefiting from what I have said. “May Allah have mercy on the man who shows me my faults” [words attributed to `Umar (Allah be pleased with him)]. For I have many faults and sins, and woe to me if I myself do not repent, and how enormous my disgrace from Him who knows the Hidden. The sole remedy for me is the forgiveness of Allah and His clemency, His giving success and His guidance.
Praise be to Allah, Lord of the worlds. Allah bless our lieglord Muhammad, the Last of the Prophets, his folk and companions one and all. —————————————————————————————–
This is a little more about al-Dhahabi on ibn Taymiyya, from al-Albani Unveiled:
Al-Hafiz al-Dhahabi (d. 748/1348; Rahimahullah)
Hafiz al-Dhahabi was a special case when it came to giving his opinions on his teacher Ibn Taymiyya. His praise of Ibn Taymiyya is routinely eulogistic in nature, but it is invariably filled with strong and some what harsh criticisms as well. Imam al-Subki had criticized al-Dhahabi for being influenced by Ibn Taymiyya, when he said: “The group comprised of al-Mizzi, al-Dhahabi, al-Birzali, and many of their followers were clearly harmed by Abu al-Abbas ibn Taymiyya, who led them to gross acts of no little consequence and drew them to things that they should have avoided…” (vide: Tabaqat al-Shafi’iyya al-Kubra, 6, 254). Anyhow, al-Dhahabi himself seemed to have had mixed feelings for Ibn Taymiyya, as we shall see in the next few paragraphs. The most explicit criticism of Ibn Taymiyya as a scholarly figure may have come in an epistle entitled al-Nasiha al- Dhahabiyya li-Ibn Taymiyya (al-Dhahabi’s advice to Ibn Taymiyya); apparently from the pen of Hafiz al-Dhahabi. Some people have doubted the authenticity of this document in its ascription to Hafiz al- Dhahabi; but even if it was not by al-Dhahabi we may assume that it was a blistering attack by some ‘unknown’ scholar! The document has been preserved in the Bayan Zaghal al-‘Ilm (edited by Shaykh Muhammad Zahid al-Kawthari, pp. 31-34).
Here are a few excerpts from this document (pg 32): “Blessed is he whose fault diverts him from the faults of others! Damned is he whom others divert from his own faults! How long will you look at the motes in the eye of your brother, forgetting the stumps in your own? How long will you praise yourself and your prattling phrases while disparaging the Ulama and pursuing other people’s weaknesses? (Pg. 32-33): By Allah, you must leave us alone! You are contentious and are endowed with a learned tongue which does not pause or rest! Beware of captious questions in religions… Too much talk without proof hardens hearts…. (pg 33) By Allah, we have become the laughing stock of creation! How long will you dig up intricate philosophical blasphemies for us refute with our brains? You have repeatedly swallowed the poison of the philosophers and their works; the body becomes addicted to the frequent use of poison so that is secreted, by Allah, in the very bones. Your followers help you and fight for you in word and deed but are your secret enemies in their hearts! Are not most of your disciples crippled and bound, of facile intelligence or blind, liars, stupid, strange, crafty, or dessicated, virtuous without understanding? If you don’t believe me, inspect them, weigh them with justice… (Pg. 34): I do not expect you to accept my words or hearken to my admonition; instead you will strive to produce volumes in refutation of this one page. You will snip off the tails of my words relentlessly, until I retreat into absolute silence! If this is your attitude towards me – someone who regards you with love and affection – how will you treat your enemies, among whom, by Allah, are righteous men, intelligent and virtuous…? I will be content if you curse me in public as long as you heed my words in private.”
The Muhaddith, Hafiz al-Sakhawi (d. 902/1497; Rahimahullah), said that he had seen the above work attributed to al-Dhahabi. Nevertheless, al-Sakhawi quotes, without identifying, another treatise in which al-Dhahabi criticised Ibn Taymiyya in the following words:
“Though I have spent long years considering and investigating Ibn Taymiyya, I have found that the only reasons why the Egyptians and Syrians hated him, scorned him, and called him a liar or even an unbeliever, were his pride, his vanity, and his pretensions, his passion to head his fellow Shaykhs, his contempt for the great, and his love of publicity.” (vide: Al-I’lan bi al-Tawbikh li-Man Dhamma al-Ta’rikh, pg. 136).
Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani (d. 852/1449; Rahimahullah) recorded al-Dhahabi as saying in his al-Durar al-Kamina (1,161): “People who know him well sometimes accuse me of failing to do justice; his opponents sometimes charge me with puffery. I have been abused by both parties-his supporters and his adversaries. (His hair and beard were salt-and pepper coloured, containing little grey, his hair reaching his ear lobes. His eyes were like eloquent tongues. Of medium height, he was broad shouldered and had a loud, expressive voice and was quick of speech). Though anger would sometimes grip him, he would conquer it with forbearance. I have not seen his like for supplications and appeals and for his abundant concern for others. But I do not believe him to be infallible; indeed, I disagree with him on both basic and secondary issues. For, despite his vast learning, his extreme courage, his fluid mind, and his regard for the sanctities of religion, he was but a man.” Hafiz Ibn Hajar al- Asqalani also recorded al-Dhahabi as saying in al-Durar al-Kamina (1,161): “In discussion he would be possessed by rage, anger, and hostility against his adversaries, which implanted enmity in their spirits. If he had only treated his antagonists with civility, they would have been reconciled with him, for the most notable of them deferred to his learning, acknowledged his ardent zeal, and agreed that his lapses were few.”