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He is: al-Imaam al-Haafidh Abu Muhammad Abdul-Ghaniyy bin Abdul-Waahid bin Alee bin Suroor Ibn Raafi' bin Hussain bin Ja'far al-Maqdisi al-Jammaa'eelee, then ad-Dimashqi, and he has also been given the appellation "Taqiyy ud-Deen".
He was born in Jammaa'eel, in the land of Nablus, and he was born in 541H according to Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali, and it is also said 543H, and also 544H. He was born into a family devoted to knowledge living in the precincts of the Bayt al-Maqdis. Then they traveled to Damascus. The great scholar, Ibn Qudaamah al-Maqdisi is the maternal cousin of Abdul-Ghaniyy, and Ibn Qudaamah described his association with Abdul-Ghaniyy, as occurs in Dhayl Tabaqaat al-Hanaabilah (2/11):
My friend in childhood and in seeking knowledge, and never did we race to goodness except that he would precede me to it, with the exception of [a] small [amount of occasions]
This family was responsible for aiding and spreading the Hanbali madhhab in Shaam, and they wrote books which became the dependable books for the Hanbali madhhab in fiqh - as well as treatise in aqidah which clarify and explain the madhhab of the Salaf. Abdul-Ghaniyyah had three sons named Muhammad, Abdullaah and Abdur-Rahmaan, all of which became prominent noble scholars.
Abdul-Ghaniyy traveled a great deal from Asbahaan in the East to Egypt in the West, and he had a great amount of teachers, and in his travels with his cousin, Ibn Qudaamah, they came and spent time with Shaykh Abdul-Qaadir al-Jeelee (al-Jeelaanee) in his school, and they spent around fifty or so days with him. And Abdul-Ghaniyy also traveled to Alexandria and to Baghdad, and also to Hamadhaan and to Dimyaat.
Teachers and Students
The verifier of the book of Abdul-Ghaniyy "Al-Iqtisaad fil-I'tiqaad" mentions a list of forty of the shaykhs of Abdul-Ghaniyy, who are the more prominent ones, indicating that he had far many more. He also had many students, including Muhammad bin al-Waahid bin Ahmad al-Maqdisi, known as ad-Diyaa al-Maqdisi, who wrote a two volume biographical account of him and his cousin Ibn Qudaamah.
Ad-Diyaa al-Maqdisi said (as-Siyar of adh-Dhahabi 21/449):
He was a Shaykh, a Haafidh, never was he asked about a hadeeth except that he mentioned it, explained it, and mentioned its authenticity or weakness, and nor was he asked about a man except that he would say, "He is so and so, the son of so and so", and would mention his lineage.
And ad-Diyaa also said as occurs in Dhayl Tabaqaat al-Hanaabilah (2/7) and as-Siyar (21/448):
Al-Haafidh Abdul-Ghaniyy was the Ameer ul-Mu'mineen (Chief of the Believers) in Hadeeth.
The verifier of the book of Abdul-Ghaniyy "Al-Iqtisaad fil-I'tiqaad" lists 55 of the works of Abdul-Ghaniyyah, amongst them:
Abdul-Ghaniyy was put to trial on a number of occasions in his life, particularly as a result of speaking on the issue of the Attributes and the Qur'aan.
From those ill-intentioned trouble-makers were a faction of the Ash'arites. These Ash'arites hold the creed of the Jahmiyyah and Mu'tazilah that this Qur'an present with us, in letter and word, recited, heard and memorized is "makhlooq" (created) (see here, here, here, here and here) - except that they are most adept in deception, conniving and chicanery in trying to conceal this from the people, for they believe in two Qur'ans not one, and the cousin of Abdul-Ghaniyy, Ibn Qudaamah himself had debates with these heretics, as documented here, in which the vileness of their belief and their agenda of concealment of their true doctrine became apparent.
Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali mentions in his Dhayl Tabaqaat al-Hanaabilah, the jealousy of the opponents of Abdul-Ghaniyy, (the innovators who were upon the madhhab of ta'weel pioneered by the Jahmiyyah and Mu'tazilah), and when he began to speak on the subject of the Sifaat (Attributes) and the Qur'an (in Damascus), these people of ta'weel (Ash'arites) began to revile him. And they plotted and planned until they got the better of the ameer, deceiving him into believing that Abdul-Ghaniyy and his associates were trying to cause fitnah. And they tried to get him involved in a debate, trying to get him to adopt their aqidah. But he stood in their faces, debated them, and Allaah made him overwhelm and dominate them. These innovators then went further in their oppression and transgression, preventing Abdul-Ghaniyy from lessons, and preventing him and his associates from even praying in the grand Mosque. Abdul-Ghaniyy, being wise, left for Egypt, stopping into Ba'labak on the way.
And those Heretics from Damascus followed him, sending a messenger to carry their lies and fabrications upon al-Haafidh Abdul-Ghaniyy to the king, Uthmaan, but Allaah saved him from their evil plot, and Abdul-Ghaniyy remained in Egypt, supported and honoured in the protection and sanctuary of its new king, al-Aadil, despite all the efforts of the opposers in trying to harm him. When al-Aadil left for Damascus and was replaced with the new king, al-Kaamil, this new ruler tried to expel al-Haafidh Abdul-Ghaniyy from Egypt on account of the great deal that had been said by the opposers to him about Abdul-Ghaniyy. Abdul-Ghaniyy was subsequently placed under house arrest for seven nights, about which he said:
I have not found serenity in Egypt with the likes of [that found in] those nights.
However, when the evil intent of those heretics and ill-intentioned deviants, and the vileness of their way became apparent to the king, and that they were jealous of him and his strong adherence to the Qur'an and Sunnah in belief, the king let him free and ordered that no-one attack him.
Refer to Ibn Rajab's account in Dhayl Tabaqaat al-Hanaabilah (2/21-25, 26) and as-Siyar of ad-Dhahabi (21/459-461).
Abdul-Ghaniyy was also put to trial by an Ash'arite partisan in al-Asbahaan. It is mentioned by ad-Diyaa al-Maqdisi, that Sadr ad-Deen Abu Bakr Muhammad bin Abdul-Lateef bin Muhammad al-Khajnadee, the chief of the Shaafi'ites in Asbahaan, was grieved by Abdul-Ghaniyy's 290 or so observations on Abu Nu'ayms book "Ma'rifat us-Sahaabah", so he pursued Abdul-Ghaniyy intending to harm him, and so Abdul-Ghaniyy went into hiding. Refer to as-Siyar (21/458-459).
The creed of al-Haafidh Abdul-Ghaniyya is Sunni, Salafi, Athari, and he was upon the way of the Salaf of affirming the Names and Attributes whilst negating tashbeeh and takyeef from them - and this is what subjected him to trial at the hands of the innovators.
He died on Monday, 23rd of Rabee al-Awwal in the year 600H, and was buried in al-Quraafah in Egypt, the next day, and he left as a legacy to his son, Abu Moosaa which was: "To safeguard the knowledge of the science of hadeeth in which he tired himself in compiling and supporting, and the taqwaa of Allaah, the Most High, and safeguarding the obedience to Him".
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