Signs before the Day of Judgement – Ibn Kathir (d. 774 AH)
The following work is a selection of narrations compiled by the well known 8th century Islamic scholar, Imam Imadud-Din Ibn Kathir, on the Signs before the Day of Judgement. He belonged to the Shafi’i Madhhab and was also a Professor of Hadith at the famous Dar al-Hadith al-Ashrafiyya (the above slidehshow image is from the original placard of this institute) which was exclusively established for those alligned to the Sunni Ash’ari school of Aqida (creed). This institute has survived from the 7th century till this age in the noble city of Damascus, in Syria. Ibn Kathir is also known for his Tafsir al-Qur’an al-Azim that is well known as Tafsir ibn Kathir, as well as being a major historian. In the latter regard he compiled the multivolume work known as al-Bidaya wal Nihya. In terms of hadith scholarship he is known as a Hafiz and has left behind a large hadith compilation known as al-Jami al-Masanid. All of these named works have been published. He died in Damascus in the year 774 AH. Rahimahullah.
Proof of ibn Kathir being an Ash’ari in creed (aqida):
Al-Hafiz Ibn Hajar Al-Asqalani [d. 852 AH] reported in ad-Durar al-Kamina (1/65, no. 155, under the entry on Ibrahim ibn Muhammad) that a dispute between Ibn Kathir and the son of Ibn Qayyim Al-Jawziyya broke out.
Ibn Kathir said to him: “You do not like me because I am an Ash’ari“.
The son of Ibn Qayyim replied:
“Even if you had hair from head to feet, people would not believe that you are an Ash’ari as your Shaykh is Ibn Taymiyya!!”
In Arabic from the above source:
وَقع بَينه وَبَين عماد الدّين ابْن كثير مُنَازعَة فِي تدريس النَّاس فَقَالَ لَهُ ابْن كثير أَنْت تكرهني لأنني أشعري فَقَالَ لَهُ لَو كَانَ من رَأسك إِلَى قدمك شعر مَا صدقك النَّاس فِي قَوْلك أَنَّك أشعري وشيخك ابْن تَيْمِية
Imam Tajud-Din al-Subki (d. 771 AH) mentioned in his Tabaqat ash-Shafi’iyyatul-Kubra (10/398) that a condition to teach at the House of Hadith known as “Al-Ashrafiyya” was to be Ash’ ari in ‘aqida.
Imam Ibn Kathir occupied the post of Professor of Hadith in al-Ashrafiyya in the year 772 AH. This is a clear proof that in his later days, Ibn Kathir, was not like Ibn Taymiyya in terms of some aspects of creed. This is also evident by examining his views as expounded in his named Tafsir.