Name: Abu Abdullah Shamsud-Din Muhammad Ibn Abu Bakr, known as Ibn Qayyim al_Jawziyyah[1, p.11]
Birth: 7th Safar, 691H (1292 CE), in Zar, Syria[1, p.11]
Death: 13th Rajab, 751H (1350 CE) at Damascus[1, p.16]
The Thirteenth Century CE was a time when Islamic Golden Age had ended with the sack of Baghdad by the Mongols and the end of Abbasid Dynasty. Syria, the homeland of Imam Ibn Qayyim was also in turmoil with off and on conflicts between Mongols and Mamluks. The Muslim Ummah had gone into a religious stagnation and decline marked with Taqleed and sectarianism. Islam was also onslaught by Greek Philosophy, Hindu pantheism, rationalism of Dialectics, theological attacks by Christians, Batinites, Ismaelites, Assassins, Druzes, Nusayris, saint worship and Sufi doctrines [7, pp 1-10]. Imam Ibn Qayyim was born in such a turbulent and low time of the Muslim Ummah. Allah Subhanahu wa ta’aala sent him along with Shaikhul-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah and others as revivalists and saviors of the Islamic spirit.
Born in a scholarly family, Imam Ibn Qayyim began his acquisition of knowledge from an early age and learned from his father and many others. He was however, also gifted as a student of Shaikhul-Islam, Imam Ibn Taymiyyah. At a time, when Ijtehad had become a crime, he along with Shaikhul-Islam was imprisoned for open rejection of blind following and use of Ijtehad. Imam Ibn Qayyim was so much attached to Shaikhul-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah that when he was given a release from the prison, he refused and stayed in jail as his beloved teacher was still in prison. It is only when Shaikhul-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah died that the Imam accepted his release .
Imam Ibn Qayyim was also gifted as a teacher of a good number of highly talented and renowned students including Ibn Katheer, al-Dhahabi, Ibn Abdul Hadi and Ibn Rajab[1, p.13].
The Imam authored over sixty books in various fields. English speaking people are very familiar with the books entitled as Zad al-Maad and Medicine of the Prophet. Overall, his writings cover many fields including Aqeeda, Ulumul Quran, Hadeeth, Seerah, Fiqh, Arabic language, morals and manners and purification of the self [1, p.14]. While the Imam himself did not write a Tafseer of the Quran as a separate book, his writings on The Quran have been compiled and included in Tafsir Qayyim and Tafseer al-Munir[1, p.14].
Muslim scholars of his time had to deal with many deviations crawled into the Ummah and got fortified with time. The Umayyad and Abbasid dynasties and court visiting scholars certainly played the key roles into these deviations. Muslim scholars have to take up the theological challenges posed by Greek and other ideologies, deviant sufi philosophies, Ibn Arabi’s Wahdatu'l-Wujud, Free Will and the Shia doctrine as well.
When we look at the two scholars’ writings, it may be said that while Ibn Taymiyyah responded to these challenges head-on and face to face, Ibn Qayyim took a different approach for the same purpose by provoking the inner self. Ibn Qayyim was always in support of and in agreement with Shaikhul-Islam’s rulings and Ijtehad. However, he addressed many outward actions such as Amr bil-Maroof and Nahi unil-Munkar by associating them as the obligations of the heart. He inspired to bring Muslims back to the Straight Path from the inner-self, yet not limiting in any way of the outer-self. In his book, “Trials and Tribulations,” he corrects those who think that one should only expect rewards in the Hereafter and not much in this world as a believer. He talks about people who would grieve if they leave out any bodily obligation without ever showing concern for higher obligations of the heart and yet assume that they are worshipping Allah Tala. He gives the example of not doing Amr Bil Maruf wa Nahi anil-Munkar as if that does not concern them and considers it as an obligation of the heart. “Such people are from the worst of creation, even though they may think that they are fulfilling the rights of faith and are the Awliya.” [1. P. 24]
His book, “Paragons of The Quran,” is about Amthal (similes, metaphors, proverbs) from The Quran. It has twenty two chapters, each with a Mathal from the Quran. It begins with a simile about the hypocrites and beautifully explains the Ayaat from Surah Al-Baqarah and Surah Ar-Rad and shows how Fire and Water are used to describe hypocrites and believers. The book includes similes from The Quran about Sight and Hearing, Sirat, Deeds blown as ashes, Good Word and Bad Word, Backbiting and Tearing of the Flesh.
Perhaps the most known and popular book of the Imam is Zad al-Ma’ad. The three primary sources of learning are The Quran, The Sunnah and the Seerah. While the Seerah books are the easiest to learn the biography of our most beloved person (Sallallahu alaihi wasallam), Zad al-Ma’ad puts the Sunnah and the Seerah side-by-side in a manner that we can learn both at the same time. For example, as you read his chapter on “Regarding his Guidance in Wudu,” you will not be reading like a Mathematics text. Instead, it is a simple walk through what the Prophet (Sallallahu alaihi wasallam) did and said and that is much easier to understand and retain the do’s and don’ts of the Wudu. It makes you feel like that you are with the Prophet (Sallallahu alaihi wasallam) and it is he who is teaching you the Fiqh. It not only makes it easy for a person to learn, but also increases the love of the Messenger (Sallallahu alaihi wasallam).
Another well-known book translated into English is, “Medicine of The Prophet.” He starts out defining the Science of Medicine with three basic principles [5, p. 6]:
- Maintaining good health
- Establishing immunity.
- Body detox
For the detox of the body, the book mentions ten components requiring to be brought back in the normal mode for the health of the body [5, p. 8]:
- Irritated blood
- Excessive sperm
- Feeling sneezy
We live in a world with an alarming amount of pollution in air, water and earth. Everyone is talking about going back to and getting close to nature and eating organic. It is a realization that use of fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides and the use of processed foods have caused many illnesses including cancer and Alzheimer’s disease. Going back to nature without pollutants can help us in all the three elements of medicine. The book gives many examples to help this by using the Prophetic medicine. It is a well-known agreed upon phrase by medical professionals that most if not all diseases are the results of what we eat.
This paper only serves as a glimpse of the life and some works of the Imam and is somewhat limited to Imam’s books translated into English.
- Al-Jawziyyah, Imam Ibn Qayyim. (2012). Trials and Tribulations. Birmingham, UK: Dar As-Sunnah Publishers.
- Al-Jawziyyah, Imam Ibn Qayyim. (2012). Paragons of The Quran. Birmingham, UK: Dar As-Sunnah Publishers.
- Philips, Abu Ameena Bilal. (1990) The Evolution of Fiqh. Riyadh, Saudi Arabia: Tawheed Publications.
- Al-Jawziyyah, Imam Ibn Qayyim. (2003). Medicine of the Prophet [PDF Version]. Al-Mansoura, Egypt: Dar Al-Ghadd Al-Gadeed. Retrieved from
- Al-Jawziyyah, Imam Ibn Qayyim. (2003). Provisions for the Hereafter (Mukhtasar Zad Al-Maad). Darussalam. Retrieved from
- Nadwi, Abul Hasan Ali. (1977) Saviors of the Islamic Spirit, Volume II. Lucknow, India: Academy of Islamic Research and Publications.