One of the brightest stars among Muslim scholars and the most gifted disciple of Shaikh-ul-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah, Shams Al-din Muhammad Ibn Abi Bakr, Ibn al-Qayyim al-Jawziyya was born in 1292 C.E. in a village near Damascus. Information about his early childhood and education is scant except that he studied the basics of fiqh, hadith and other Islamic subjects from his father, who was the qayyim of Madrasa Al-Jawzziyah in Damascus.
Trials and Tribulations in the Companionship of Ibn Taymiyah
The most significant period of his education began in 1312 C.E, when he joined the study circle of Imam Ibn Taimiyyah. This period had a lasting impact on his life and works. He devotedly learned under the tutelage of his great teacher and absorbed from the vast streams of his knowledge. Ibn al-Qayyim edited most of the work of his teacher and also was a zealous advocate of his opinions. The teachings and opinions of Shaikh-ul-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah and his esteemed student were met with harsh criticism from the scholars of the time. Eventually they were imprisoned in the central prison of Damascus.
Among his other teachers were Al-Shahab al-Nabulsi, Qadhi Taqiyyu-Deen Sulaiman, Fatima Bint Jawhar, Safiyyud-Deen al-Hindee and Ismaa’eel Ibn Muhammad al-Harraanee.
Becoming Qayyim Al Jawziyya
Ibn al-Qayyim and his fellow prisoners were released after the death of Imam Ibn Taimiyyah. After gaining freedom, Ibn al-Qayyim continued his studies and soon established his own study circles. He spent some time at the Al-Sadriyya madrasa and taught fiqh. Later, he joined the seat of his father as the qayyim of madrasa Al-Jawzziyah. His study circles were highly regarded and a number of famous Muslim scholars were his students. These included the likes of Ibn ‘Abd al-Haadi, al-Fayruz Aabadi, Ibn Rajab and Ibn Kathir. He was par excellence in his knowledge of Tafseer, usool-uddin, hadith and theology.
“I have never seen anyone more knowledgeable than him, and more acquainted with the meanings of the Qur’an, the Sunnah and the realities of faith than him. He was not infallible. However, I have never seen anyone of his like in the meaning of the word. He was tested and troubled many times. He was imprisoned with Shaykh Taqi al-Din on the last occasion in the citadel in isolation from him. He did not leave the shaykh until he died.” (Imam Hafiz Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali writes in Al-Dhayl ‘ala Tabaqat al-Hanabilah)
Ibn al-Qayyim strongly endorsed the opinions of Ibn Taymiyyah and revered him like no other but he also added his own touch in his works. Unlike Ibn Taymiyyah, he sometimes showed sympathy towards the opinions of the scholars with whom he disagreed. Such was in the case of his commentary on the work of Abdullâh al-Ansarî al Harrawî. He was also different from his shaykh in his interest in Sufism, which is evident from the list of his major works related to Sufism. He writes in his book Patience and Gratitude,
“This is a book to benefit kings and princes, the wealthy and the indigent, Sûfîs and religious scholars; (a book) to inspire the sedentary to set out, accompany the wayfarer on the path (al-sa’ir fil târiq) and inform the one journeying towards the Goal.”
Some of his major works include Madârij as-Sâlikîn, Madârij, Târiq al-Hijratayn, Miftah Daral-Sa’ada, al-Umur al-Qalbiyya, Zad al-Ma’ad and Rawdhatul Muhibbīn.
This luminous star among Muslim scholars extinguished in 1350 C.E., at the age of 60 and was laid to rest near his father’s last resting place.
According to his most beloved student, Ibn Kathir, “He was most friendly and kindhearted, he never envied anyone, he never caused harm to anyone, he never bore prejudice against anyone, and I was the closest to his heart. Furthermore, I do not know anyone who is more devout in his worship than him in our time.”
May Allah make us, or grant us the likes of Ibn Qayyim Al-Jawziyyah – Ameen!
(Image courtesy of levent01)