|Biographical detail : ||A reformer who tried to counter the influence of Sufism and to return to the fundamental principles of the Qura’an and sunnah.
Ibn Taymiah as a true reformer attacked Islamic development that had occurred after Hazrat Muhammad, peace be upon him, and the rashidun as inauthentic namely Shiism, Sufism and Falsafah. Ibn Taymiah had positive programme, in these changed times, to bring Shariah up to date to fit the actual circumstances of Muslims, even if this meant getting rid of much of the fiqh that had developed over the centuries. It was essential, therefore, that jurists use ijtihad to find a legal solution that was true to the spirit of the Shariah, even if it infringed the letter of the law.
Ibn Taymiah became a controversial figure to the establishment because of his return to the fundamentals of the Qura’an and sunnah and his denial of much of the rich spirituality and philosophy of Islam that may have been reactionary, but it was also revolutionary. He was called before the governor’s council in 1306 and was charged for ascribing human characteristics to Allah – he was sentenced to prison for 18 months. In 1308 he was again charged for having denounced the worship of saints as being irreligious – he was put to house arrests for seven months. He was again put in confinement from August 1320 to February 1321 for having continued his condemnation of veneration of saints.
Ibn Taymiah authored many books including As Siyasat Ash Sharia and Minhaj As Swahah. Though he had many antagonists during his lifetime, he had greatly influenced modern Islam including Abd al Wahab, the founder of the Wahabi movement.
Ibn Taymiah was born as Taqi Uddin Abu al-Abbas Ahmad Ibn Abd as-Salam Ibn Tamyiah at Harran, Iraq. After the Mongol invasion of Baghdad, (his family who came from an old family of ulama belonged to Hanbali madhhab, and wanted to reinforce the values of Shariah), came to Damascus in 1268, where he learned Qura’an, Hadis, jurisprudence and Ilm-ul-Kalam, (dogmatic theology).
Ibn Taymiah who declared that even though the Mongols had converted to Islam, they were in fact infidels and apostates, because they had promulgated the Yasa instead of the Shariah. Hence Ibn Taymiah suffered so terribly at the hands of the Mongols and was said to have died of sorrow, in prison, since his gaolers would not permit him to write.
Ibn Taymiah, however, was loved by the ordinary people of Damascus because the people could see that his Shariah reforms had been liberal, and that he had their interest at heart. His funeral became a massive demonstration of popular acclaim.