Ibn Taymiyya’s divergence from the Hanbali School

Some of the followers of the Wahhabi sect who claim to be upon the Hanbali school, use the narrative that Ibn Abdul Wahhab was only following the pure Hanbali school and that Ibn Taymiyya was also upon the pure Hanbali school and Ibn Taymiyya’s disagreements with ulema of his time was one in which the majority was with Ibn Taymiyya while those against him were few influential ruling class ulema and not the masses. They even go to the extent of claiming that this which they are upon today is the only pure madhab of Hanbalism without later corrupting influences compared to Shafis, Malikis, Hanafis who were all corrupted.

While this is what their imagination has pictured, the reality is otherwise which Ibn Taymiyya himself admitted:

Ibn Taymiyya mentions in his Majmu’at al-Fatawa (6/258) regarding the issue of non-eternal attributes subsisting in Allah’s essence:

However, this issue, the issue of visitation [to the grave of the Prophet sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam] and other issues besides these have emanated from the later scholars (muta’akh’khirun) and there is a lot of confusion therein. At first, even myself and others were upon the way of our forefathers in this – we used to advocate the doctrine of the innovators. Then when it became clear to us what the Messenger [sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam] has brought, the matter became one of either following what Allah has revealed or following what we found our forefathers upon, and what was necessary (wajib) is following the Messenger [sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam].


As one can see, Ibn Taymiyya strayed away from the madhab that was handed down to him and hence the Hanbalis of his time and couple of generations before him in the least, were not upon his opinion. Moreover, he claimed to be following his personal interpretation of the religion, implying his opinion was not derived even from the early generation of scholars. While one can argue over his ability as a mujtahid to do so, this is not what matters here as the ijthihad of one Mujtahid scholar from the 7th century is not an obligation upon the Muslim Ummah, especially when almost the entirety of scholars even after Ibn Taymiyya rejected his opinions. What matters is his honest admission that his opinions were a divergence from the Jamah and predecessors and instead his own personal ijthihad. The extent of fanaticism and extremism of the Wahhabi sect is that they took these lone opinions of one man and imposed it upon the Ummah at the point of sword declaring Muslims who disagree as apostates, heretics & hell bound innovators.


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