Imam Mawaffaq ad-Din Abdullah Ibn Ahmad Ibn Qudama al-Maqdisi (Arabic ابن قدامة Ibn Qudamah) (Born 1147 – Died 7 July 1223) was a noted Hanbali ascetic, jurisconsult and traditionalist theologian. He authored many treatises on jurisprudence and doctrine, including one of the most celebrated encyclopaedic books on Hanbali jurisprudence al-Mughni, as well as Tahrim an-Nazar (Censure of Speculative Theology, criticism of Ibn Aqil’s views.) He was a member of the school founded by Ahmad ibn Hanbal, and he is considered as one of its greatest scholars, and also called Sheikh al-Islam.
He was born in Palestine in Jammain in 1147AD/541AH. He received the first phase of his education in Damascus where he studied the Qur’an and hadith.
He left Palestine with his maternal cousin, ‘Abd al-Ghani, for Baghdad in 561AH where he was received by the leading Hanbali of the day, the celebrated mystic Abdul-Qadir Gilani. He later received the Khirqa from him and passed it onto another Hanbali, his cousin Ibrahim ibn ‘Abd al-Wahid. As a consequence of his experience with Abdul-Qadir al-Jilani, Ibn Qudama was to receive a special place in his heart for mystics and mysticism.
He studied with the following scholars of his time:
- Abdul-Qadir Gilani (Baghdad)
- Abi al-Makarim ibn Hilal (Syria)
- Abi al-Fadl at-Tusi (Iraq)
- Al-Mubarak ibn at-Tabbakh (Mecca)
In later life, Ibn Qudamah left Damascus to join Saladin in his expedition against the Franks in 1187AD / 573AH, participating particularly in Saladin’s conquest of Jerusalem. He died on Saturday, the Day of Eed-ul Fitr on 7 July 1223 AD / 620 AH.
Ibn Qudamah was considered one of the primary proponents of the Athari school of Aqidah. In line with this school he held the view that the Divine attributes should be believed in simply as they are without applying much reason to expand upon them. He said:“For we have no need to know the meaning which Allah intended by His attributes; no course of action is intended by them, nor is there any obligation attached to them except to believe in them. It is possible to believe in them without the knowledge of their intended sense.”
- Waines, David (2003). An Introduction to Islam. Cambridge University Press. p. 122. ISBN 0521539064.
His works are thought to number more than a few dozen. Amongst his printed works are:
- Lum’at-ul-‘Itiqaad: translated by Saladin Publishing ISBN 978-0-9564214-0-1
- Al-Ruqqah wal-Bukaa
- Mukhtasar ‘Ilal-ul-Hadith Lil-Khilaal
- Ikhtiyarat Ibn Qudamah al-Fiqhiyyah’ By Dr. `Ali ibn Sa`eed al-Ghamidi
- Makdisi, George (1971). The Hanbali School and Sufism. Leiden: Actas IV Congresso de Estudos Arabes e Islamicos. p. 118.
As is attested to by numerous sources, Ibn Qudamah was a devoted mystic and ascetic of the Qadiriyya order of Sufism, and reserved “a special place in his heart for mystics and mysticism” for the entirety of his life. Having inherited the “spiritual mantle” (k̲h̲irqa) of Abdul-Qadir Gilani prior to the renowned spiritual master’s death, Ibn Qudamah was formally invested with the authority to initiate his own disciples into the Qadiriyya tariqa. Ibn Qudamah later passed on the initiatic mantle to his cousin Ibrāhīm b. ʿAbd al-Wāḥid (d. 1217), another important Hanbali jurist, who became one of the primary Qadiriyya spiritual masters of the succeeding generation. According to some classical Sufi chains, another one of Ibn Qudamah’s major disciples was his nephew Ibn Abī ʿUmar Qudāmah (d. 1283), who later bestowed the k̲h̲irqa upon Ibn Taymiyyah, who, as many recent academic studies have shown, actually appears to have been a devoted follower of the Qadiriyya Sufi order in his own right, despite his criticisms of several of the most widespread, orthodox Sufi practices of his day and, in particular, of the philosophical influence of the Akbari school of Ibn Arabi.] Due to Ibn Qudamah’s public support for the necessity of Sufism in orthodox Islamic practice, he gained a reputation for being one of “the eminent Sufis” of his era.
A staunch supporter of the veneration of saints, Ibn Qudamah would have frequently seen the Sayyidah Zaynab Mosque in his native Damascus, where Zaynab bint Ali (d. 684) is venerated as the city’s patron-saint.
Ibn Qudamah staunchly criticized all who questioned or rejected the existence of saints, the veneration of whom had become an integral part of Sunni piety by the time period and which he “roundly endorsed.” As scholars have noted, Hanbali authors of the period were “united in their affirmation of sainthood and saintly miracles,” and Ibn Qudamah was no exception. Thus, Ibn Qudamah vehemently criticized what he perceived to be the rationalizing tendencies of Ibn Aqil for his attack against the veneration of saints, saying: “As for the people of the Sunna who follow the traditions and pursue the path of the righteous ancestors, no imperfection taints them, not does any disgrace occur to them. Among them are the learned who practise their knowledge, the saints and the righteous men, the God-fearing and pious, the pure and the good, those who have attained the state of sainthood and the performance of miracles, and those who worship in humility and exert themselves in the study of religious law. It is with their praise that books and registers are adorned. Their annals embellish the congregations and assemblies. Hearts become alive at the mention of their life histories, and happiness ensues from following their footsteps. They are supported by religion; and religion is by them endorsed. Of them the Quran speaks; and the Quran they themselves express. And they are a refuge to men when events afflict them: for kings, and others of lesser rank, seek their visits, regarding their supplications to God as a means of obtaining blessings, and asking them to intercede for them with God.”