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The Ascription of the Book 'ar-Radd alal-Jahmiyyah' to Imaam Ahmad bin Hanbal
Filed under: Refutations
Tuesday, November 17 2009 - by Abu.Iyaad
Key topics: Ar-Radd Alal-Jahmiyyah Imaam Ahmad Ahmad Bin Hanbal

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From the habit of the Mu'attilah of today is that when there is a work amongst the works that lays bare their errors, their corruption in creed, and its opposition to that which the Salaf were upon, they scream, shout and write, "...the so-called book spuriously ascribed to..." - and this is while they have no answer, no evidence nor proof to justify their claim, except for suspicions, presumptions, empty claims, and baseless allegations.

So from such books is the great and monumental work of Imaam Ahmad, "ar-Radd alal-Jahmiyyah waz-Zanaadiqah" and their fear of this book, just like their fear of Imaam al-Bukhaaree's "Khalq Af'aal il-Ibaad", is because it exposes the view of the Ash'arites on the Speech of Allaah and the Qur'an and also their view on the subject of Allaah's Uluww (Allaah being above the Throne with His Essence). As the creed of the later Ash'arites on Allaah's Uluww is derived from the usool of the Jahmiyyah, and as the view of the Ash'arites on the Qur'an is derived from the doctrine of the Lafdhiyyah Jahmiyyah through the route of the Kullaabiyyah, it is no surprise that they assault this book. They have a very strong motive to do so.

So in this article we want to document the evidences for the fact that this book is correctly ascribed to Imaam Ahmad. Much has already been written by the Scholars and the verifiers to address this matter and we shall bring some of that together in this article inshaa'Allaah.

Before proceeding it is worthy to note that the present-day Jahmiyyah have relied upon the doubt of Imaam adh-Dhahabi in the ascription of this book to Imaam Ahmad. Adh-Dhahabi said (Siyar 11/286-287):

وكتاب الرد على الجهمية الموضوع على أبي عبد الله، فإن الرجل كان تقيا ورعا، لا يتفوه بمثل ذلك ، ولعله قاله

And the book "ar-Radd alal-Jahmiyyah" fabricated upon Abu Abdullaah, then the man was pious and god-fearing, he would not speak with the likes of that, but perhaps he did say it (i.e. the book).

As you can see, this is nothing a doubt based upon uncertainty and adh-Dhahabi says at the end, "...but perhaps he did say it." And a doubt in and of itself is not a proof, rather evidences have to be brought to corroborate and justify the doubt and Imaam adh-Dhahabi brought none. And this is not considered any evidence at all, to discount the ascription of the book to Imaam Ahmad.

Ibn Battah (d. 387H) in His book "al-Ibaanah"

The verifier of the the printed "ar-Radd alal-Jahmiyyah" (Sabree bin Salaamah Shaaheen, Dar uth-Thabaat, 1st edition, 2002), quotes from the verifier of al-Ibaanah of al-Battah (Yusuf al-Waabil) who documents twelve instances in which Ibn Battah (d. 387H) has taken passages directly from the book "ar-Radd alal-Jahmiyyah" and which coincide with page numbers given for the manuscript of Dr. Umayrah of "ar-Radd alal-Jahmiyyah", and they are listed:

  • al-Ibaanah (2/86-89) corresponding to pp. 101-104
  • al-Ibaanah (2/166-167) corresponding to pp. 112-113
  • al-Ibaanah (2/170-171) corresponding to pp. 114-115
  • al-Ibaanah (2/175) corresponding to pp. 133-134
  • al-Ibaanah (2/179) corresponding to pp. p. 110
  • al-Ibaanah (2/183) corresponding to p. 120
  • al-Ibaanah (2/195) corresponding to pp. 143-144
  • al-Ibaanah (2/197) corresponding to p. 130
  • al-Ibaanah (2/198) corresponding to pp. 123-125
  • al-Ibaanah (2/202) corresponding to p. 145
  • al-Ibaanah (2/301) corresponding to pp. 130-131
  • al-Ibaanah (3/3-5) corresponding to pp. 128-129

Al-Fihrist of Ibn an-Nadeem (d. 385H)

He mentions this book of Imaam Ahmad in "al-Fihrist" (Dar ul-Ma'rifah, commentary Shaykh Ibrahim Ramadan, p. 271):

Which translates:

Ahmad bin Hanbal, and he is Abu Abdullaah Ahmad bin Hanbal and his books [include]: Kibaat ul-Ilal, Kitaab ut-Tafseer, Kitaab un-Naasikh wal-Mansookh, Kitaab uz-Zuhd, Kitaab ul-Masaa'il, Kitaab ul-Fadaa'il, Kitaab ul-Faraa'id, Kitaab ul-Manaasik, Kitaab ul-Eemaan, Kitaab ul-Ashribah, Kitaab Taa'at ur-Rasool, Kitaab "ar-Radd alal-Jahmiyyah", Kitaab al-Musnad.

Mention by Ibn Hajr al-Asqalani in Fath ul-Bari

Ibn Hajr al-Asqalani explains in Fath ul-Bari in "Kitaab ut-Tawheed", the chapter on "Do Not Set Up Rivals for Allaah":

والخامس‏:‏ أنه كلام الله غير مخلوق، أنه لم يزل يتكلم إذا شاء، نص على ذلك أحمد في كتاب الرد على الجهمية، وافترق أصحابه فرقتين‏:‏ منهم من قال هو لازم لذاته والحروف والأصوات مقترنة لا متعاقبة ويسمع كلامه من شاء، أكثرهم قالوا إنه متكلم بما شاء متى شاء، وأنه نادى موسى عليه السلام حين كلمه ولم يكن ناداه من قبل

Which translates:

The fifth: That it is the speech of Allaah, uncreated, that He has not ceased to be one who speaks when He wills. Ahmad textually stated this in the book "ar-Radd alal-Jahmiyyah", and his associates split into two factions: Amongst them are those who said that it (the Qur'an) is inherent, imperative to His essence, and that the letters and voices are simultaneous and not successive, and that He causes whomever He wills to hear His speech. But the majority of them (associates of Ahmad) said that He is one who speaks (mutakallim) with whatever He wills, whenever He wills and that He called out to Moses (alayhis salaam) when He spoke to him, and had not called out to him previously.

Others Who Have Ascribed the Book to Imaam Ahmad

  • Ibn Abee Ya'laa in Tabaqaat al-Hanaabilah (2/48)
  • Ibn Muflih in al-Aadaab as-Sharee'ah (1/227)
  • Ibn Katheer in his Tafseer (3/306)
  • Abu Bakr al-Bayhaqi in al-Asmaa was-Sifaat

Shaykh ul-Islaam Ibn Taymiyyah

Ibn Taymiyyah is the master of precision in quotation and referencing and this cannot be challenged by any jealous, perishing Jahmee, for this is something he is renown and famous for. The likes of Muhammad Zaahid al-Kawtharee, the blazing Hanafee Matureedee partisan, tried it on regarding something quoted by Ibn Taymiyyah (and Ibn al-Qayyim) from al-Baqillaani's book "at-Tamheed" on the subject of al-Uluww and al-Istiwaa (see that statement reported by adh-Dhahabi as well in this article) - only to get humiliated and disgraced when Ibn Taymiyyah was proved correct through the manuscripts used by Richard J. McArthy in his printing of al-Baqillani's Tamheed in the 1950s. That's the subject of an article on its own.

Just like Ibn Taymiyyah's precision in correcting Ibn Fawrak's quotation from Abu al-Hasan al-Ash'aris "Maqaalaat" regarding Ibn Kullaab and the Kullaabiyyah, for Ibn Fawrak (d. 406H) misquoted al-Ash'ari - and Ibn Taymiyyah points out that Ibn Fawrak takes liberties in quoting from al-Ash'ari, often inserting his own words, and is not precise in accurately conveying the verbatim statements of al-Ashari- that's for another article too.

And "ar-Radd alal-Jahmiyyah" is mentioned and ascribed to Imaam Ahmad in many works of Ibn Taymiyyah, from them:

  • Minhaaj us-Sunnah an-Nabawiyyah
  • Risaalah at-Tadmuriyyah
  • Iqtidaa Siraat al-Mustaqeem
  • Dar' Ta'aarud al-Aql wan-Naql
  • Tafseer Surat al-Ikhlaas
  • Bayaan Talbees al-Jahmiyyah
  • Majmoo al-Fataawaa

Ibn al-Qayyim

And Ibn al-Qayyim mentions it in Ijtimaa' Juyoosh al-Islaamiyyah in which he provides another chain of transmission for the book. The following are quotes from the book quoted in the introduction to the printed edition of ar-Radd alal-Jahmiyyah (ed. Sabree bin Salamah Shaaheen)

Which translates:

Ibn al-Qayyim said: Al-Khallaal said:

I wrote this book from the manuscript of Abdullaah and Abdullaah wrote it from the manuscript of his father.

And al-Qaadee Abu Ya'laa sought evidence through what he quoted from it from Ahmad in his book, "Ibtaal ut-Ta'weelaat". And Ibn Aqeel mentioned some of what is in it from Ahmad in his book. And his (Imaam Ahmad's) associates have quoted from it in both old and recent times. Al-Bayhaqi also quoted from it and ascribed it to Ahmad.

Shaykh ul-Islaam Ibn Taymiyyah corroborated its (ascription) to Ahmad. And no one amongst the earlier or later of his associates reviled it (the book, in its ascription to Ahmad).

If it is said: This book is narrated by Abu Bakr Abdul-Azeez the servant of al-Khallaal, from al-Khallaal, from al-Khidr bin al-Muthannaa from Abdullaah bin Ahmad from his father, and all of them are well-known Scholars except al-Khidr bin al-Muthannaa, for he is majhool (unknown), so how can you affirm this book from Ahmad through the narration of an unknown.

The answer to this is from angles:

The first: That al-Khallaal has explained who this al-Khidr is and has reported from him (in his books) just as he has narrated the speech of Abu Abdullaah (Ahmad) from his Companions, and the Companions of his (Ahmad's) Companions, and that other people are ignorant of him (al-Khidr) does no harm.

The second: That al-Khallaal had said: I wrote it from the manuscript of Abdullaah bin Ahmad and Abdullaah wrote it from the manuscript of his father. And what is apparent is that al-Khallaal reported it from al-Khidr, because he loved that it should be of a connected chain upon the way of the people of transmission, and he joined that with al-Wijaadah [see definition of this below]. And al-Khidr was small when he heard it from Abdullaah (bin Ahmad), and was not one of the senior, well-known [people] in knowledge, and nor was he from amongst the shuyookh. And al-Khallaal reported other [things] from him besides this in his Jaami'.

And Ibn al-Qayyim said:

And from what indicates the correctness (in the ascription) of this book is what has been mentioned by al-Qaadee Abu al-Hussain the son of al-Qaadee Abu Ya'laa. He said: I read in the book of Abu Ja'far Muhammad bin Ahmad bin Saalih bin Ahmad bin Hanbal. He said: I read to Abu Saalih bin Ahmad bin Hanbal this book. He said: My father produced this book whilst imprisoned, in refutation of whoever sought proof through the apparent verses of the Qur'an whilst abandoning what the Messenger of Allaah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) had explained of it, and whose ittibaa (following) is binding.

As for the meaning of al-Wijaadah: Ibn as-Salaah says in his Muqaddimah regarding it:

مثال الوجادة : أن يقف على كتاب شخص فيه أحاديث يرويها بخطه ولم يلقه أو : لقيه ولكن لم يسمع منه ذلك الذي وجده بخطه ولا له منه إجازة ولا نحوها . فله أن يقول ( وجدت بخط فلان أو : قرأت بخط فلان أو : في كتاب فلان بخطه : أخبرنا فلان بن فلان ) ويذكر شيخه ويسوق سائر الإسناد والمتن . أو : يقول ( وجدت أو : قرأت بخط فلان عن فلان ) ويذكر الذي حدثه ومن فوقه. هذا الذي استمر عليه العمل قديما وحديثا وهو من باب المنقطع والمرسل غير أنه أخذ شوبا من الاتصال بقوله ( وجدت بخط فلان )

An example of al-Wijaadah: That he comes across a book of a person in which there are ahaadeeth that he narrates, in his own writing, however, he did not meet that person, or he did meet that person but he did not hear from him directly what he found in his book, and nor does he have the book in manuscript of so and so. [So in this case], it is for him to say: "I found in the manuscript of so and so". Or, "I read in the manuscript of so and so". Or "In the book of so and so, in his own writing: So and so, the son of so and so informed us", and then he mentions his Shaykh and provides the entire chain of narration and text. Or he says, "I found..." or "I read in the manuscript of so and so, from so and so" and mentions the one who narrated to him and whoever was above him (in the chain). This is what has continued of practice, both in the past and recent (times), and it is from the subject matter of the munqati' (disconnected chain) and mursal, save that it has taken one aspect of the ittisaal (connected chain), with his saying, "I found in the manuscript of so and so."

Conclusion

The people of knowledge have taken the book of Imaam Ahmad "ar-Radd alal-Jahmiyyah" with acceptance, and there is nothing in the speech of Imaam adh-Dhahabi which invalidates that. And there is another chain of narration for the book as mentioned by Ibn al-Qayyim in his "Ijtimaa' Juyoosh al-Islaamiyyah". Collectively, all the above establishes that the book is correctly ascribed to Imaam Ahmad (rahimahullaah).

As for the reason why today's Ash'arites try to discredit the book "ar-Radd alal-Jahmiyyah", it is because two of the main issues in the book, that of the Qur'an being uncreated and of Allaah being above His Throne, separate and distinct from the creation, are issues in which the Ash'arites oppose Ahl us-Sunnah and are in agreement with the Jahmiyyah, and their views on these two issues are derived from the usool of the Jahmiyyah. Thus their disdain and dislike of this book, alongside the book of Imaam al-Bukhaaree, "Khalq Af'aal il-Ibaad", and the hatred of the Ash'aris towards the book of Imaam al-Bukhaaree goes back many centuries when they had Imaam al-Mizzi imprisoned for reading the book of Imaam al-Bukhaaree in Damascus.



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