Imam Hussein (FAO Gibril Haddad)


as-Salamu Alaykum

Did Qadi Abu Bakr ibn al-Arabi say that “Hussein was killed with sword of his Grandfather” as claimed by Shaykh Abdal-Qadir as-Sufi in one of his articles. What do other ulama say about such statements.


`Alaykum as-Salam,

Blessings and peace on the Holy Prophet and his Family, who are our wasila (means) to the good pleasure of Allah and His Prophet.

This statement is commonly quoted as “al-Hussayn was killed with the sword (bi-sayf) of his Grandfather” but the correct form is “with the law (bi-shar`) of his Grandfather” in the sense that he was supposedly a rebel against the Caliph.

In either case it is sad to think that Abu Bakr b. al-`Arabi al-Maliki actually said it but even if he did, I pray that he took it back before his death since it is a big slip from a major scholar. “Beware of the slip of the learned person” (Ittaqu zallat al-`alim, Hadith). But may Allah have mercy on him, no one is immune from sin and error except Prophets.

It is indeed attributed to him by

(i) The Hadith scholar al-Munawi in Fayd al-Qadir Sharh al-Jami` al-Saghir (§7163) where he says: “Of the insolence, audacity and foolhardiness of this mufti [Ibn al-`Arabi al-Maliki] is that he authored a book on our Patron al-Husayn (Allah be well-pleased with him, ennoble his face, and disgrace whoever dishonors him) claiming in it that Yazid killed him justly with the sword of his Grandfather! We seek refuge in Allah from dereliction.”

(ii) The historian Ibn Khaldun in his Muqaddima fil-Tarikh, where he sources the statement “al-Husayn was killed with the law of his Grandfather” to Ibn al-`Arabi’s al-`Awasim wal-Qawasim(*), rejects it as unsound and comments: “He [Ibn al-`Arabi al-Maliki] did not understand that the pre-condition of Caliphate is justice and there was no one more just than al-Husayn (Allah be well-pleased with him and make him pleased) in his time.”

(iii) Imam al-Alusi in his Tafsir of Surat Muhammad (upon him blessings and peace) (47:23).

(*) It is not found in the current edition of the `Awasim wal-Qawasim.

The Hafiz Nur al-Din al-Haythami mistook it for a saying of Ibn Khaldun himself, as cited by his student the Hafiz and Qadi al-Qudat Ibn Hajar al-`Asqalani in Raf` al-Isr `an Qudat Misr (p. 237) – his history of the judges of Egypt – and by the latter’s student al-Sakhawi in al-Daw’ al-Lami` (Dar al-Jil ed. 4:147) and al-I`lan bil Tawbikh (p. 71).

Ibn Hajar said:

<<Our teacher the Hafiz Abu al-Hasan b. Abi Bakr [Nur al-Din al-Haythami the author of Majma` al-Zawa’id and many other major works of hadith, the senior student of Imam al-Zayn al-`Iraqi] used to revile him [Ibn Khaldun] a lot. I asked him the reason and he mentioned to me that it had reached him that Ibn Khaldun had mentioned al-Husayn b. `Ali (Allah be well-pleased with both of them] in his Tarikh and said: “He was killed with the sword of his Grandfather.” When our teacher pronounced this phrase he followed it up by cursing Ibn Khaldun and insulting him as he wept. The statement is not found in current copy of the Muqaddima but might have been in the version he later disowned.>>

However as we showed it is not a saying of Ibn Khaldun at all, moreover the latter rejected it verbatim; but the reason al-Haythami accepted that attribution to him without double-checking it (although Ibn Hajar questions its attribution), is that, unfortunately for Ibn Khaldun, in the case of that kind of statement and the imputation of “Nasib-ism” [hatred of and foul adab toward the Family of the Prophet], “the boot fits” because of other aspects of his writings.

Allah have mercy on all of them and forgive us and them.

As for those of our contemporaries who used that statement or endorsed it as is reported from the late Israr Ahmad and Abd al-Qadir Sufi the leader of the Murabitun, who said:

<<Its [Shiism’s] major holy day is `Ashura when Hussein was killed in battle against the Muslims. In the judgment of Europe’s greatest Islamic jurisprudent, Qadi Abu Bakr ibn `Arabi of Granada: “Hussein was killed with the sword of his grandfather,” i.e. the Prophet, meaning he died a rebel against Islam.>>

So this man not only cites the zalla of Ibn al-`Arabi al-Maliki approvingly, characterizing it as “the judgment of Europe’s greatest Islamic jurisprudent”; he also adds from his own bag that our Master al-Husayn “was killed in battle against the Muslims” and “died a rebel against Islam.” Hadha mablaghu `ilmihim.

That endorsement and its super-added folly stem from poor judgment regarding the tone and content of such a statement, ignorance of the verdict of the scholars on that specific statement, general disconnection from the Sunnah and the Holy Prophet (upon him blessings and peace), and blind imitation of prominent figures in support of certain agendas. Allah is our Reliance.

Hajj Gibril Haddad

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