Islamic Studies

Ibn Tammiyah and the title Sheikh al-Islam

Asalamu alaykum,

“Was Ibn Tammiyah (may Allah have mercy upon him) known as Shaykh ul-Islam, or is this something attributed to him in recent times?”

The answer:

A simple search of any Islamic software will reveal that in fact he was known by his contemporaries and latter scholars as such.

Citations in support of Ibn Tammiyah and the title Shaykh ul-Islam:

1. “The Imam of the Ummah during his lifetime, the collector of knowledge of his age, the explainer of Qur’an, the the last Mujtahid, the possessor of great karamat…..sheikh ul Islam. Imam al-lusi was the Qadi of Baghdad and died in 1317 a.h.

2. Hafidh al-Dhahabi’s description of Ibn Tammiya: “Our Sheikh, The Sheikh of Islam…” Suthrat al-Dhahabi volume 6 pg (s). 81-82.

3. Al-Hafidh Ibn Kathir mentions in al-Bidaya wa al-Nihaya, “And the Sheikh ul-Islam made clear to them their errors.” volume 14. Pg. 22, also see pg(s). 57, 86, 92, 101, 12,136,143, 152,244.

4. Al-Shaikh al-Hafidh al-Barzali (may Allah have mercy upon him): “He (ibn tammiyah) reached the level of ijtihad and mastered the conditions of the mujtahidin.” al-’uqud al-duriyah pg. 28

5. al-hafidh Ibn Hajar (may Allah have mercy upon him): “Our the sheikh of our shuyukh al-hafidh abu al-Fath al-Yamri said (about ibn tammiyah): “….the sheikh ul-Islam Taqi al-Din.” al-darru al-kamilah vol1 pg(s) 156-157.

Ibn Hajr also said, “I read in the handwriting of al-Hafidh Silah ad-Din al-Bala`i in endorsement of the shaykh of our shaykhs al-Haafidh Bahaa ad-Din Abdullah bin Muhammad bin Khalil: ‘Our shaykh and master and Imam in matters that are between Allah and us, the Shaykh of research (tahqiq), traversing, with those that followed him, the best way. Possessor of many excellent qualities and radiant proofs that all the nations have acknowledged are beyond enumeration. May Allah make us benefit from his outstanding knowledge, and make us benefit from him in this life and the hereafter. He is the Shaykh, the Imam, the Alim who understands the affairs, the deeply devoted, the ocean (of knowledge), the pole of light, the Imam of Imams, the blessing to the Muslim nation, the sign of the scholars, the inheritor of the Prophets, the last of the Mujtahids, unique amongst the scholars of the Religion – Shaykh al-Islam, proof of the scholars, the example for the creatures, proof for the learned ones, effacer of the innovators, sword of the disputers, ocean of knowledge, beneficial treasure, the interpreter of the Qur`aan, the amazement of the times, unique in this age and others. Indeed Taqi ad-Deen (ibn Taymiyyah) is the Imam of the Muslims, the proof of Allah against the creation, the joiner of the righteous, the one who is like those who have preceded, the mufti of the sect, helper of the truth, the sign of guidance, the pillar of the Hufadh, Knight of the meanings of words, cornerstone of the Shari`ah, originator of new sciences Abu al-Abbas ibn Taymiyyah.” [Ibid. From this book taken on it ’s own it is very difficult to discern ibn Hajr’s own opinion on ibn Taymiyah was. For all he did was to gather all the material he could find on the Shaykh and then start off the account with all those scholars who wrote against him, and end with all those scholars who supported him. It would seem likely that ibn Hajr’s own stance would be in line with those whom he finished off his biography with, due to their being his Shaykhs. This reasoning is supported with the next quote from ibn Hajr. Allaah knows best.]

Ibn Hajr said, “.those of his stances that were rejected from him were not said by him due to mere whims and desires and neither did he obstinately and deliberately persist in them after the evidence was established against him. Here are his works overflowing with refutations of those who held to tajsim yet despite this he is a man who makes mistakes and is also correct. So that which he is correct in – and that is the majority – is to benefited from and Allah’s Mercy should be sought for him due to it, and that which he is incorrect in should not be blindly followed. Indeed he is excused for his mistakes because he is one of the Imams of his time and it has been witnessed that he fulfilled the conditions of ijtihad.

From the astonishing qualities of this man was that he was the strongest amongst men against the People of Innovation, the Rawaafidah, and the Hululiyyah, and the Ittihaadiyyah, and his works on this are many and famous, and his fataawaa on them cannot be counted, so how the eyes of these innovators must have found joy when they heard those who declared him to be a kaafir! And how delighted they must have been when they saw those who did not declare him to be a kaafir in turn being labelled kafir! It is obligatory upon the one who has donned the robe of knowledge and possesses intelligence that he consider the words of a man based upon his well-known books or from the tongues of those who are trusted to accurately convey his words – then to isolate from all of this what is rejected and warn from them with the intention of giving sincere advice and to praise him for his excellent qualities and for what he was correct in as is the way of the scholars.

If there were no virtues of Shaykh Taqi ad-Deen except for his famous student Shaykh Shams ad-Deen ibn al-Qayim al-Jawziyyah, writer of many works, from which both his opponents and supporters benefited from then this would be a sufficient indication of his (ibn Taymiyyah’s) great position. And how could it be otherwise when the Shaafi`ee Imaams and others, not to speak of the Hanbalis, of his time testified to his prominence in the (Islamic) sciences.” [From Ibn Hajr’s endorsement of ‘Radd al-Waafir’ contained at the end of the book.]

6. “Sheikh ul-Islam Ibn Tammiyah.” Tabaat al-Hanabila vol. 1 pg. 274

7. “Sheikh ul-Islam ibn tammiyah” ghaytu al-nihaya fe tabaqat al-Qura vol. 1 pg. 215

8. “Sheikh ul-Islam ibn Tammiyah” tadhib al-Kamal vol. 1 pg. 22 and ,30,31,467

That takes us to the more recent scholars:

1. Sh. Bin Bayyah
2. Sh. al-Qaradawi
3. Sh. Ali ‘Guma
4. Sh. Abdul Fatah Abu Ghuda (may Allah have mercy upon him) and many others.

Please feel free to comment on this. However, don’t bring a harsh attitude nor mean spirit. In addition, it would be nice to bring the words of the scholars, books and page numbers if possible.And Allah knows best

About the author

Suhaib Webb

Suhaib Webb

Suhaib Webb is a contemporary American-Muslim educator, activist, and lecturer. His work bridges classical and contemporary Islamic thought, addressing issues of cultural, social and political relevance to Muslims in the West. After converting to Islam in 1992, Webb left his career in the music industry to pursue his passion in education. He earned a Bachelor’s in Education from the University of Central Oklahoma and received intensive private training in the Islamic Sciences under a renowned Muslim Scholar of Senegalese descent. Webb was hired as the Imam at the Islamic Society of Greater Oklahoma City, where he gave khutbas (sermons), taught religious classes, and provided counselling to families and young people; he also served as an Imam and resident scholar in communities across the U.S.

From 2004-2010, Suhaib Webb studied at the world’s preeminent Islamic institution of learning, Al-Azhar University, in the College of Shari`ah. During this time, after several years of studying the Arabic Language and the Islamic legal tradition, he also served as the head of the English Translation Department at Dar al-Ifta al-Misriyyah.

Outside of his studies at Al-Azhar, Suhaib Webb completed the memorization of the Quran in the city of Makkah, Saudi Arabia. He has been granted numerous traditional teaching licenses (ijazat), adhering to centuries-old Islamic scholarly practice of ensuring the highest standards of scholarship. Webb was named one of the 500 Most Influential Muslims in the World by the Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Center in 2010.


  • Assalamu alaikum sidi,
    Jazakallah for your informative posts. I’d like your comments on what Shaykh Nuh said in one of his speeces (the VASuhba available from the website). He doesn’t seem to hold a high opinion of Ibn Tammiyahs views and (from what I understand. Allah forgive me if I’m putting words into his mouth) that Ibn Tammiyahs school of thought was revived by the petro dollars since it gives people leeway to put their arms around the neck of the west.
    I apologise in advance for any lack of adab. But when two knowledgeable people disagree quite sharply, some clarification would be appreciated.

    Wassalam and may Allah bless you and your loved ones.

  • Salams to all, What many people ignore is that it was Rashid Rida who worked consistantly to put forward Ibn Taymiyyah’s ideas into the limelight, sadly those individuals who have a fanatical and somewhat biggoted impression of Ibn Taymiyyah cannot understand why people are so interested in his ideas, they think its all to do with the oil, maybe Ibn Daqiq al Id the great shafi scholar was influenced by the oil money when he said of Ibn Taymiyyah, ‘ a man with a multitude of subjects of knowledge at his fingertips.’


  • I found the answer below very fair and well balanced as well. It’s by Mufti Muhammad Ibn Adam from the UK.

    Some of the scholars mentioned within the article are: Imam Dhahabi, Imam Subki, al-Haytami, Ibn Hajar, Sh. Abdul Aziz al Dehlvi, Imam al-Kashmiri, Mufti Taqi, Sh. Nadvi, Imam Abu Zahra, Sh. Abdu Fattah, Sh Bouti, Sh. Wahba al-Zuhayli, Sh. Mustafa al-Bugha, Sh. Mustafa al-Khin, Sh. Abd al-Latif al-Farfur…

  • Salaam ‘alaikum,

    To be precise, what Sheikh Nuh Keller said in that talk (the 1998 Virginia lectures) was that Ibn Taymiyyah, rahimahullah, has been promoted in the last 200 years because his dynamic approach to fiqh made it possible for people with reformist/modernist ideas to move away from the 4 madhhabs. Rashid Rida, in fact, is one of those reformers.

    As for talk of oil money influencing the popularity of Ibn Taymiyyah, this has more to do with the the recent promotion worldwide of Muhammad ibn Abdul-Wahhab’s interpretation of Ibn Taymiyyah’s creedal works, particularly his criticism of the Ash’aris.

    Wallahu t’ala alam

  • Wa Alaykum Salaam

    Hey Alex 🙂
    It’s not just people’s interpretation of Sheikh Ul Islaaam Ibn Taymeeyah’s work. His books from Aqeedah Hamawiyah. Al Wasatiya and other works criticize the asharis.

    You Know even though we disagree I love you for the sake of Allah 🙂

  • Wasalaam ‘alaikum Br. Musa, 🙂

    Yes I do realize that Shaykh Ibn Taymiyyah was extremely anti-Ash’ari.
    And that’s why some scholars today (or at least some years ago) were very vocal against promoting him as the Shaykh of Islam.
    Which lead others to criticize those scholars, etc.

    InshaAllah, I think things have settled a bit.

    And the love is mutual Akhi.


  • As-salaamu ‘alaikum

    I would hardly call the answer on Sunni Path “balanced”; it says we should respect Ibn Taymiyyah then goes into a full assault on him whilst ignoring the numerous quotes in praise of him and painting a deceptive picture as to what he was upon in terms of his Islam.

    You can find a number of clarifications of the works of Ibn Taymiyyah together with numerous praises for him here:

    Your brother

    Was-salaamu ‘alaikum

    Aboo Uthmaan

  • Mr Keller et al have a distinct hatred for Shaykh al Islam and the reasons are quite clear. He (may Allah rest him in Al Firdaus) was a thorn in the side of the mutakalimoon in all their shades as well as a debaser of the Ahl al Hawwa.

    Nevertheless, it is discouraging to see no one taking this “leader of the Shadili order in the West” to task for his slander and blatant lies. Mr Keller’s verdicts are worthless to any person who has justice and fairness in his heart.

  • An ignorant (un-informed) person, is who Allah refers to when he says, “We do not punish until We send a messenger,” however we are born on fitra and we have an intellect…so, truth is clearly distinct from falsehood. Shaykh Nuh this, Shaykh Nuh that… there were people telling pilgrims that there is a crazy magician poet (whatever) who thinks he’s a prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace)so avoid him they advised…Shaykh Nuh Keller’s 98 Virginia lessons are freely available for download on, so, be RESPONSIBLE and INVISTIGATE first, make an account, listen to the shaykh yourself, then love or hate him are Allah moves you… And know that a person is enough of a liar if they just repeat everything they hear. I personally with my ears heard Sh. Nuh say that Ibn Taymiyyah is a mu’min, that anyone who is on what he believes to be what RasuluLlah was on (Allah Bless him and give him peace) is a mu’min.

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