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Was Haafidh Ibn Katheer an Ash'arite
Understanding Islam
Bayaan at-Talbees Ahlul-Takfeer
Ahlu-Sunnah Versus the Ashari/Sufi Movement
The Senior Scholars Warn Against Extremism and Exageration in Religion
Muslim Authorities
Countering Islamaphobia
To Non Muslims
Salafi Conferences With Scholars
Debunking the shubuhaat of the modern day ahlul-kalaam that Ibn Katheer was miraculously an Ash'ari

Ibn Kathir was a devout student and an admirer of Ibn Taymiyya, and would follow him in many of his views and opinions, as he would also accompany him on his Hisba missions of commanding good and forbidding evil. Anyone who reads Ibn Kathir’s account of Ibn Taymiyya in his Bidaya will be aware of this, in particular, when Ibn Kathir proudly relates how Ibn Taymiyya punished a Sufi Zindiq at his time and made him repent, in Ibn Kathir’s presence.

Ibn al-‘Imad in his Shadharat quotes Ibn Qadhi Shuhba from his Tabaqat: ‘He (Ibn Kathir) had a special relationship with Ibn Taymiyya, whom he would defend and follow many of his views. He would issue verdicts according to the view of Ibn Taymiyya in the issue of Talaq, due to which he was tested and harmed. He died in Sha’ban and was buried in the Sufi cemetery next to his Sheikh Ibn Taymiyya’.

Secondly, what Ibn Kathir says in tafsir of Allah’s Hands, etc, is not the Ta’wil which involves the negation of the dhahir.

I have previously mentioned this, but perhaps, I can make it clearer:

The Salaf affirmed two things from the verses regarding the Attributes:
1) The Attribute itself, and
2) The meaning of the Attributes plus the context.

For example, with the verse: ‘Lo! The bounty is in Allah's Hand’

The Salaf affirmed:
1) Allah has a Hand, and
2) Allah is the ultimate owner of all bounties.

If Ibn Kathir, or any of the Salaf for that matter, negated the dhahir, then the Ash’aris might have a leg to stand on. However, Ibn Taymiyya gave the Ash’aris of his time three years to search through the heritage of the Salaf to find one scholar making ta’wil, and they were unable to comply.

All they could bring were statements of the Salaf regarded verses that had nothing to do with the Sifat.

For instance, the verse: ‘The heavens that We Created with Aydin’, many of them say that the Salaf made ta’wil of the word Aydin by saying it refers to power.

Yet, the verse has nothing to do with Allah’s Attributes, because the word ‘Aydin’, literally and linguistically refers to power, and not hands.

The word ‘Aydin’ is a verbal noun (masdar) for the verb ‘aada’, meaning ‘strengthened’, and therefore completely different to the word ‘yad’ (hand), linguistically, morphologically, let alone literally.

But the Ash’arite problem is ignorance of the Arabic language.

Another verse which clarifies the meaning of Aydin is: ‘Remember our servant, Dawud, the one with Aydin…’

Aydin here, linguistically refers to power and not hands, for if it literally meant ‘hands’, the verse would surely sound strange:
‘Remember our servant, Dawud, the one with hands’!

In this regard the Shafi’i Imam Ibn Khuzayma says: ‘Some of the Jahmites claimed the meaning of the saying: ‘Allah Created Adam with His Two Hands’, i.e. with His power. Hence, they claimed that al-Yad (hand) refers to al-Quwwah (power), and this is also from changing (the wording/meanings). This is also ignorance of the Arabic language. For power is called ‘al-Ayd’ in the language of the Arabs, and not ‘al-Yad’ (a hand). Therefore, the one who cannot differentiate between ‘al-Yad’ and ‘al-Ayd’, he is more in need of education and enrolment in a school, than seeking leadership or a theological debate!’ (al-Tawhid p. 87)

Thirdly, and lastly, Ibn Kathir often in his Tafsir makes clear cut affirmation of Allah’s Attributes, which the Ash’aris negate the dhahir of.

For example, in the Tafsir of Allah’s verse: ‘Allah mocks them…’ (1:15) quotes the statements of the Salaf and Ibn Jarir affirming literally that Allah mocks them in retaliation.

Ibn Kathir also says in his Tafsir of the verse: ‘And when your Lord Comes, and the angels in rows after rows.’: Hence, Allah will Come on the Day of Judgement, as He Wills, as will the angels in front of Him, in rows after rows’.

Here, Ibn Kathir literally affirms that Allah will Come on the Day of Judgement, and not His decision, reward and mercy as the Ash’arites and the Jahmites claim. It is also very important to note here, that all of the Ash’aris formed a consensus on negating sifat ikhtiyariyya from Allah. In other words, they believed that Allah cannot do what He likes, whenever He likes, because they will oppose Allah’s especial quality of being qadim, eternal. Yet, for Ibn Kathir to disagree with the Ash’aris on such a fundamental issue clearly demonstrates that he was not an Ash’ari.

In his tafsir, Ibn Kathir also affirms that Allah’s Speech is literally heard, another fundamental point of disagreement between the Hanbalis and Ash’aris.




... هُوَ الْعَلِيُّ الْعَظِيمُ (255)
فقوله: { وَهُوَ الْعَلِيُّ الْعَظِيمُ } كقوله: { وَهُو الْعَلِيُّ الْكَبِير } وكقوله { الْكَبِيرُ الْمُتَعَال } .
وهذه الآيات وما في معناها من الأحاديث الصحاح الأجود فيها طريقة السلف الصالح إمرارها كما جاءت من غير تكييف ولا تشبيه.

In commenting on the verse that says, “… He is the Most High, the Tremendous [2:255]” Ibn Kathir states that the way of the salaf is “passing by it as it came.” He didn’t say, “Salaf … treated them by accepting their apparent meanings.” Moreover, “passing by it as it came” doesn’t mean to an Ash’ari that that thing is to be understood literally. Rather, what it means to them is not to assign it a meaning. We can look at what Imam Zhahabi wrote:

والحديث ... "أنه يدخل يده في جهنم حتى يخرج من أراد"... لا أعرفه بهذا اللفظ، فقولنا في ذلك وبابه: الاقرار، والامرار، وتفويض معناه إلى قائله الصادق المعصوم

Imam Zhahabi says he doesn’t know the hadith “Indeed He (God) enters His Yad (hand) in hell until He takes out whom He wills” phrased this way. He goes on to state that his statement in this is “establishing (
الاقرار), and passing by (الامرار), and assigning (تفويض) it’s meaning (معناه) to the one that said it (قائله), who is trustworthy (الصادق) and infallible (المعصوم).” (Source: (سير أعلام النبلاء) Heliographies, vol. 8 page 105, published by مؤسسة الرسالة)

Imam Zhahabi didn’t just use the phrase “passing by,” rather he went so far as to say “establishing.” In other words you establish it as it is, and pass by it as it is, and don’t assign it a meaning. “Keeping it as it is,” “or establishing it as it is,” “or passing it by as it is,” means not to make ta’weel. What it doesn’t mean to an Ash’ari is: assigning it a literal meaning.

‘Passing it on as it has come’, in fact means: al-‘imrar ‘ala al-dhawahir – to pass it on according to its literal meaning. This is how al-Juwayni understands it in his al-Nidhamiyya when he says:

“The Imams of the Salaf believed in abstaining from interpretation (ta’wil) and passing the literal meanings of the texts as they have come (ijra’ al-dhawahir ‘ala mawaridiha), while relegating (tafweedh) the meanings to the Lord Most High”

Similarly and ironically, you quote al-Dhahabi saying that ‘passing it on as it has come’, entails making tafweedh of the ‘ma’na’, or meaning; and as we have said repeatedly, meaning is an ambiguous term which could mean the literal meaning, the definition or the allegorical interpretation.

However, we can prove, as we have in past numerous times, by quoting al-Dhahabi, that ‘passing on the texts as they have come’, does not negate believing in the literal meanings.

Al-Dhahabi says in al-‘Uluw:

The latter ones from the speculative theologians (ahl al-nadhar, i.e. Ash’aris) invented a new belief, I do not know of anyone preceding them in that. They said: ‘These attributes are passed on as they have come and not interpreted (la tu’awwal), while believing that the literal meaning is not intended (dhahiruha ghayr murad).

This follows that the literal meaning (dhahir) could mean two things:

First; that it has no interpretation (ta’wil) except the meaning of the text (dilalat al-khitab), as the Salaf said: ‘The rising (al-Istiwa) is known’, or as Sufyan and others said: ‘Its recitation is in fact its interpretation (tafseer)’ – meaning, it is obvious and clear in the language, such that one should not opt for interpretation (ta’wil) or distortion (tahrif). This is the Madhab of the Salaf, while they all agree that they do not resemble the attributes of human beings in any way. For the Bari has no likeness, neither in His essence, nor in His attributes.

Second; that the literal meaning (dhahir) is what comes to imagination from the attribute, just like an image that is formed in one’s mind of a human attribute. This is certainly not intended, for Allah is single and self-sufficient who has no likeness. Even if He has multiple attributes, they all are true, however, they have no resemblance or likeness”

So here, al-Dhahabi is refuting, in explicit terms, your and latter Ash’arite understanding of ‘passing on the texts as they have come’, which to them entails negating the literal meaning.


الظاهر المتبادر إلى أذهان المشبهين منفي عن الله

“The literal meaning is negated from God.” This would be how the translation would look if one were to only look at the subject (
مبتدأ) and predicate (خبر). We have an adjective (نعت) speaking about the subject. What significance does this adjective, or nath, play in the sentence?

Ibn Hisaam al-Ansaari (
إبن هشام الأنصاري) described the difference between the nath that follows something indefinite (نكر) and one that follows something definite (معرفة) (source: أوضح المسالك إلى ألفية ابن المالك). He says that if it’s following something nakira then it’s specifying (مخصص), if it’s following something ma’rifa then it’s clarifying (موضح). I’m going to use some examples to clarify what this means. First I’ll talk about the type of nath that specifies.

“… Whoever kills a believer by mistake must free a believing slave…” [4:92]

The phrase this word uses is
تحريرُ رقبةٍ مؤمنةٍ. The word raqaba here is used to mean slave. Raqaba is indefinite (nakira). The nath follows raqaba specifies what raqaba means. In other words, without the nath the verse would mean to free any slave, however with the nath this verse means to free a Muslim slave. The nath has made the word more specific.

Then other case is when you have a nath that’s not specifying, but rather clarifying. Sometimes it’s used to clarify something being reprehensible.

“So when you recite the Qur’an seek refuge in God from the damned devil.” [16:98]

The devil is damned. It’s not saying there are two devils out there, one that’s damned and one that’s not damned, rather it’s making clear Satan’s repulsive state.

Ibn Kathir not only said that the literal meaning is negated from God, but also went one step further. He condemned it as something anthropomorphic. So he said “The literal meaning, which is the first thing that comes to the minds of anthropomorphists, is negated from God.”

[Side note: An anthropomorphist is someone that makes God humanlike. A mussabbih is someone that makes God like his creation, it’s a much more general word. When I use the word anthropomorphist, I mean Mussabbih.]

I am sorry, but you need to learn Arabic grammar thoroughly, for you have surely misunderstood basic concepts regarding na’t here.

Na’t has about six different usages/benefits, amongst them:

i) takhsis (specifying) if the man’ut is nakira, and an example of that is the verse you quoted: raqabatin mu’mina

ii) tawdeeh (clarifying) if the man’ut is ma’rifa, and as example of that is:
مررت بزيد الخياط , I passed by Zayd, the tailor.

iii) madh (praise), such as: bism Allah al-Rahman al-Rahim, and

iv) dhamm (dispraise), such as: I seek refuge in Allah from al-Shaytan al-Rajim. So this is not from tawdeeh as you had assumed, rather from dhamm.

Na’t for clarification is like saying: ‘I want to drive the red car’. Here, ‘the car’ is definite, and ‘red’ is its na’t. This means, that I do not want to drive any other car that you have, but the red car in particular. It does not mean that every car in the world is red.

Or as in the above example, I did not pass by any old Zayd, but I only passed by the one who is a tailor. This does not mean that every Zayd in the world is a tailor.

Similarly, Ibn Kathir’s statement:

الظاهر المتبادر إلى أذهان المشبهين

“The dhahir that comes to the imagination of the anthropomorphists”

does NOT refer to any dhahir, but ONLY the dhahir that comes to the minds of the anthropomorphists. This does not mean that dhahir is only what comes to the minds of the anthropomorphists.


Imam ibn Kathir would have used the word istinbaat (إستنباط) to negated anthropomorphic deductions. Now, if he wanted to reject the images that come to the minds, he would have used the word tassawwur (تصوُر) or a synonym. [إستنباط means to deduce and تصوُر means to imagine.]

Furthermore, he doesn’t say for this verse
إستقرار, or even the word حقيقة. He doesn’t say make tafweed of the kayfeeya while affirming its literal meaning. He doesn’t quote ibn Taymiya here, unlike other places in his tafseer.

This is merely speculation, for I too, can speculate that if Ibn Kathir was an Ash’ari he would have negated hulul al-hawadith when discussing that Allah will come to judge, for such is the hallmark of any Ash’ari work on tafseer. Rather, he repeated the literal meaning of the text and said, that Allah will come to judge. This is far too speculative and wishful thinking.

Now, Ibn Kathir said:

“Hence, Allah will Come on the Day of Judgement, as He Wills, as will the angels in front of Him, in rows after rows.”

Yet, you made ta’wil of his statement by saying:


Perhaps the effect of the Light of God on that day will be God’s reward coming for the believers, and whoever doesn’t get his reward gets his punishment, in other words it’s the coming of his command in order to enact judgment.

You further justify your ta’wil saying:


When ibn Kathir talks about “God’s coming” he doesn’t say, “God Himself will come.” Rather, he attaches, “as He wills.” To an Ash’ari, God’s will has nothing to do with that which is impossible. For example, since it’s impossible for there to be two gods, “God’s will” won’t have anything to do with it. So if someone says “Would God ever will for another god to exist.” The Answer would be, “No it’s impossible for there to be to gods, so it’s impossible for God to will two gods.” Hence, to an Ash’ari, ibn Kathir’s statement is negating God coming literally.

This is very odd. Here we have Ibn Kathir saying ‘God will come’, and here you are understanding it to mean: ‘God will NOT come’.

So, according to you, Ibn Kathir means when he says: ‘God will come, as He wills’, that God will NOT come, because God coming is impossible, like the impossibility of have two Gods.

According to this, it is as if, Allah, and then Ibn Kathir are saying that God will create another God, as He wills. But we both know that this is absurd. And therefore, so is your beyond-ridiculous explanation that when Ibn Kathir says: ‘God will come, as He Wills’, he actually means that God will NOT come.

This is why I said, lack of objectivity makes one look ridiculous. We should be willing to accept that which is for us and against us.

Besides, everyone can understand the impossibility of having two Gods. But why is it impossible for God to come? This is an important question, and I would be delighted if you could answer that.

Secondly, just because Ibn Kathir did not say: ‘God will come by Himself’, it does not mean that he does not believe so. Rather, it becomes ridiculously verbose if human beings were to add ‘himself’ in every sentence. If a person says: ‘my mother gave birth to me’, it actually means that his mother herself gave birth to him, and thus no need to say ‘herself’, because that is understood. I went to Mina, and then ‘Arafa, means that I personally , by myself, went to Mina and ‘Arafa.


Something else to be looked at is the books of Grammar when they talk about emphasis (توكيد). If someone said, (جاء اللأمير) “The commander came,” he might have meant, (جاء رسول الأمير) “The commander’s messenger came.” In order to negate this, emphasis is used. So it would be said (جاء الأمير نفسه) “The Commander himself came.”

Not only in Arabic, but in any other language, if a person says: the Ameer came, it literally means that the Ameer came by himself. This is what it would mean by default, UNLESS, the context indicates otherwise. If there is no such indication, it is to be understood as default, i.e. the Ameer came himself. This is sufficiently discussed in the works of Usul.


Rather he put an attachment that would be seen by Ash’aris as negation of the literal meaning.

Not at all. This is why you cannot quote to me a single Ash’ari who, ever, made statements like: Allah will create another God, if He wills, or that He becomes angry as He wills, just to negate that Allah creates another God, or that He becomes angry.


In order to emphasis that the angel will come as God wills, and not as angels will, he says “between his two hands,” meaning under God’s command, in other words they are coming out of obedience to God (لسان العرب: ما لي بفلان يدان أي طاقة).

Further evidence can be found in ibn Kathir’s exegesis on verse 49:1: “O ones who believe, do not push yourselves forward between the two hands of God and His Messenger.”

I am sorry, but this is gross ignorance of the Arabic language. ‘Bayna Yaday’ is an Arabic phrase which does not, at all, refer to hands, and nor does it refer to ‘command’. Bayna Yaday of refers to 'before', or 'in front of s. th', as in the Hadeeth:

بعثت بالسيف بين يدي الساعة حتى يعبد الله وحده

“I have been sent with the sword before the hour, so that Allah is worshiped alone.”

Bayna Yaday s. th, always refers to ‘before’ or ‘in front of’. This is elementary knowledge in the Arabic language.


So the story starts with “it has reached me” (بلغني). Does that mean it’s not authentic? If it is authentic, what does that mean? Well, we’ll look at it assuming it’s an authentic story.

Whether al-Fasi says balaghana, or haddathana fulan, it is irrelevant, for al-Dhahabi’s Salafism, and anti-Ash’arism, is historically well known. You do not need to go further than al-Subki’s Tabaqat and al-Kawthari’s maqalat, and in particular, his commentary on al-Sayf al-Saqil.

The whole point behind the story was that al-Dhahabi did not take up the position simply because he was not an Ash’ari, like al-Mizzi and others. This, none contested in history. Al-Mizzi was a carbon copy of Ibn Taymiyya, in terms of him plunging into anti-Ash’ari kalami discourse like Ibn Taymiyya, which al-Dhahabi had a dislike for.


From this we know a few things:

1. If ibn Kathir isn’t Ash’ari, then his religiosity doesn’t reach the level of Imam Zhahabi’s
2. The same goes for Imam al-Mizze’s religiosity

The religiosity being discussed here is one restricted to this particular aspect of assuming the position of a headmaster, while being anti-Ash’ari, in an Ash’ari school.
The absolutely religiosity of someone is something not known to anyone but Allah.


Imam Zhahabi not teaching at Dar al-Hadith teaches us that it’s not required for one to be Ash’ari in order to gain a livelihood. One can survive without baring witness he is an Ash’ari. If the person had integrity, he wouldn’t bare witness to something that called to kufr, if there isn’t any dire need.

And what makes you think that those who did bear witness that they were Ash’aris just for a teaching position, such as al-Mizzi and others, actually deemed it abominable, in the first place? Most likely, they saw it absolutely permissible to attribute themselves to Ash’arism, intending thereby the Ash’ari of al-Ibana.


What about ibn Kathir’s “fanaticism” for ibn Taymiya? For all his Fanaticism for ibn Taymiya, he wasn’t so fanatic about using ibn Taymiya’s terminology. The one that really spread ibn Taymiya’s aqeeda was Muhammad ibn Qayyim.

Dear brother, read for yourself the laudatory biography of Ibn Taymiyya by Ibn Kathir himself through out his al-Bidaya wal-Nihaya and judge for yourself.

Ibn al-Qayyim was not the only one to spread the knowledge of Ibn Taymiyya, there were also like al-Mizzi, al-Barzali, etc. The advantage Ibn al-Qayyim had over others is that he was the most profound writer than them all who wrote extensively on raqa’iq, fawa’id, fiqh, usul and I’tiqad, whereas the rest largely restricted themselves to works on hadeeth, rijal and tarikh.


When ibn Qayyim’s son, Ibrahim, got into a quarrel with ibn Kathir, ibn Kathir told him “The reason you loathe me is because indeed I’m an Ash’ari.” In other words, ibn Kathir was telling Ibrahim, “I’m not an anthropomorphist like your dad. And me not spreading anthropomorphism like your dad is the reason you hate me.” So how does Ibrahim respond? He sticks it to him by reminding him that his dad is spreading the aqeeda of ibn Kathir’s beloved ibn Taymiya. He goes one step further by telling him that his extreme love for ibn Taymiya, and his portrayal of ibn Taymiya in a triumphant manner, will make people think that ibn Kathir is from the anthropomorphists. So Ibrahim says, “Even if there was hair from your head to your feet, people wouldn’t believe your statement indeed you are an Ash’ari as your Shaqh is ibn Taymiya.” What is ibn Kathir going to say afterwards? The hurt this statement caused ibn Kathir was great.

This is distortion of the text, and a failed attempt to give it different meaning from the top of your head.

How can Ibn Kathir ever mean: “I’m not an anthropomorphist like your dad. And me not spreading anthropomorphism like your dad is the reason you hate me.”, where as here we have Ibn Kathir, explicitly stating his so-called anthropomorphic beliefs in al-Bidaya wal-Nihaya, in conformity to Ibn Taymiyya:

“In this month [i.e. Dhil-Hijja], on a Thursday the 27th, the two brothers of Shaykh Taqi al-Din [Ibn Taymiyya]: Sharaf al-Din and Zayn al-Din were called from the prison to attend a session with the deputy of the Sultan Sallar. Ibn Makhluf al-Maliki [Ibn Taymiyya’s arch enemy] also attended, and they all discussed extensively. Sharaf al-Din managed to defeat the Maliki Qadhi with textual proofs, evidences and knowledge, and further highlighted his errors in several issues where the latter had made false claims. The discussion was on the issue of Allah’s Throne, speech and descent

So here we have Ibn Kathir, explicitly agreeing with Ibn Taymiyya on the issue of Allah’s Throne, Speech and Descent, and explicitly disagreeing with the Ash’ari-Maliki Qadhi.

This is why Ibn al-Qayyim’s son said to him that no one would ever believe that you are an Ash’ari whilst your beloved Shaykh is Ibn Taymiyya! And therefore, do not think that my feud with you is because I think you are an Ash'ari!


Translating ibn Kathir’s statement as “Indeed I am an Ash’ari” is lacking. The reason being is that the word “indeed” doesn’t carry the same emphasis as it use to in the past.

Not lacking, but in fact it is overdone! Nowhere does Ibn Kathir says: Inni Ash’ari! – verily! I am Ash’ari! Rather he says: You dislike me because I am an Ash’ari!
You mistranslated it at first by adding ‘indeed’, and then further emphasised the distortion by saying: ‘definitely’, or ‘very much’ or ‘sooooo’!

It is elementary Arabic to know the difference between Inna and Anna.


Imam ibn Kathir did follow ibn Taymiya in many of his opinions (non-aqeeda related)

And I quoted to you in this post, Ibn Kathir’s agreement with Ibn Taymiyya’s theological views, as I also quoted in my previous posts Ibn Kathir’s praise of Ibn Taymiyya theological works.

Moreover, he is historically known as Ibn Taymiyya follower, and none, to my knowledge, ever remarked that he was recanted his theological views, let alone that he was an Ash’ari. In fact, Taqi al-Hisni wrote Daf’ Shubah man shabbaha wa tamarrad, in which he attacked Ibn Kathir and Ibn al-Qayyim, both for being Ibn Taymiyya fanatics. This book was published by al-Kawthari who also made absolutely no comment over al-Hisni’s attack. Why would he? For al-Kawthari himself attacks Ibn Kathir for his Ibn Taymiyya fanaticism in his maqalat.


Some may ask, what about ibn Kathir’s writings on ibn Taymiya in his history book? Yes, ibn Kathir did love ibn Taymiya. Ibn Kathir’s father died when he was very young. He probably saw ibn Taymiya as a father figure. When you love someone you can’t see faults. So he has a lot of rosy statements on how things were with ibn Taymiya.

Ibn Kathir’s remarks about Ibn Taymiyya’s theological works cannot be brushed aside that easily, especially when they clearly indicate Ibn Kathir’s support for Ibn Taymiyya’s theological views.

For instance, Ibn Kathir says of the debate between Ibn Taymiyya and the leading Ash’ari authority of his time, Safi al-Din al-Hindi:
“al-Shaykh Safi al-Din al-Hindi attended and debated with Shaykh Taqi al-Din [Ibn Taymiyya] extensively, however, his waterwheel was up against an ocean!!

This means that Ibn Kathir regarded Ibn Taymiyya to be far more qualified in theology than the leading Ash’ari authority of that time.

Ibn Kathir says of al-Wasitiyya “Then the meeting was ended, having accepted ‘Aqida [al-wasitiyya] to be correct.” Meaning, al-Wasitiyya is an authorative Sunni work on creed according to Ibn Kathir.

Not to mention the aforementioned quote where Ibn Kathir explicitly shows his agreement with Ibn Taymiyya over his theological views concerning the throne, the speech and descent.


Imam Subki (the son) goes into it a bit more. He talks about how ibn Taymiya would hop from subject to subject. That way ibn Taymiya wouldn’t have to settle on anything as long as he’d cut off Safi al-Deen and skip to another subject.

Of course, Ibn al-Subki would say this because he was historically known as an Ash’arite bigot. Read al-Sakhawi’s tawbikh. But we are not discussing al-Subki here. We are discussing Ibn Kathir and his theological agreement with Ibn Taymiyya as he explicitly states in al-Bidaya.


Ibn Kathir, described the end of the debate on ibn Taymiya going up against someone else and the debate ending on “accepting the aqeeda.” Imam ibn Hajar goes into it more deeply and said ibn Taymiya bare witness on himself that his aqeeda was that of Imam Shafae’s.

The point here is to show that Ibn Kathir depicts unanimous approval of Ibn Taymiyya’s Wasitiyya.

What Ibn Hajar says is Ibn al-Wakil’s side of story, which was rebutted by Ibn Taymiyya himself and his colleagues while Ibn al-Wakil and his other opponents were alive. Ibn al-Wakil himself wasn’t exactly known for a good religious character. The fact that Ibn Taymiyya and his students rebutted Ibn al-Wakil’s story, without another tribunal being called for Ibn Taymiyya, only weakens Ibn al-Wakil’s side of story.

Anyway, we are discussing Ibn Kathir’s view of events and not Ibn Hajar’s or Ibn al-Wakil’s.


You also do see ibn Kathir praise Ash’aris. For example, he called Fakr al-Deen al-Razi the super-scholar (العلامة).

Great, but you see a lot more praise for Ibn Taymiyya, which only goes to prove that he was Ibn Taymiyya fanatic. Secondly, praising a scholar for his knowledge, despite of his theological views is a common trait amongst all scholars.


When talking about Abu Bakr al-Baqalaani he says that al-Baqalaani was at the head of the people of kalaam

And guess who he learnt this from? None other than Ibn Taymiyya, for he used to say that al-Baqillani is the best of the mutakallimun.


While ibn Kathir had deep love for his Shaqh, he didn’t seem to have the same love for his Shaqh’s aqeeda. All one has to do is see how ibn Kathir and ibn Qayyim speak about aqeeda. Indeed, ibn Kathir was Ash’ari, as he himself said.

Endless wishful thinking and speculation.

All one has to do is read this extract from Ibn Kathir’s al-Bidaya wal-Nihaya:

“In this month [i.e. Dhil-Hijja], on a Thursday the 27th, the two brothers of Shaykh Taqi al-Din [Ibn Taymiyya]: Sharaf al-Din and Zayn al-Din were called from the prison to attend a session with the deputy of the Sultan Sallar. Ibn Makhluf al-Maliki [Ibn Taymiyya’s arch enemy] also attended, and they all discussed extensively. Sharaf al-Din managed to defeat the Maliki Qadhi with textual proofs, evidences and knowledge, and further highlighted his errors in several issues where the latter had made false claims. The discussion was on the issue of Allah’s Throne, speech and descent


Besides Ibn Kathir was despised by the Ash'aris for his fanatacism for Ibn Taymiyya. Ibn al-Subki, al-Husni, all these bigots singled him out with an attack, and never claimed once that he repented. So how could he be ashari.



As for the Ashari talbis of Ibn kathir being ashari. Some sources have said the following and its reply therof straight after



Ibn Kathir said to him: “You do not like me because I am an ash' ari”.

The son of Ibn Al-Qayyim replied:

“Even if you had hair from head to feet, people would not believe that you are ash' ari as your sheikh is Ibn Taymiyya!!”

Again, this is a proof against you and not for you. It is enough to know that none of the biographers or historians ever knew of this so-called repentance of Ibn Kathir dream that you fantasise about for your self-gratification. On the contrary, not only he was known as an Ibn Taymiyya fanatic, he was censured by his colleagues from his own school. Only if they knew what you have manage to discover 700 years later – without having even tasted any Shara’i knowledge. For Allah’s sake, he was buried next to his dearest Shaykh Ibn Taymiyya in maqabir al-Sufiyya! Read Ibn Kathir’s account of Ibn Taymiyya in his al-Bidaya wal-Nihaya and you’ll be shocked at his fanaticism.

The son of Ibn al-Qayyim and Ibn Kathir had rift over teaching position. It seems Ibn Kathir implied that the dislike for him is due to his Ash’ari roots. This is why Ibn al-Qayyim’s son said to him: No would ever believe you that you are an Ash’ari. It is impossible. This statement only consolidates the fact that Ibn Kathir was famous for fanaticism for Ibn Taymiyya, such that none would ever even think for a second that he was an Ash’ari! And guess what? The Shafi’i-Ash’ari biographies all seem to concede with this, too. The only one to hallucinate here as the so-called ‘realsalafi’!


Another interesting snippet of information from the same link provided above where I found the above quote is that apparently Imam al-Subki [RH] mentions in “Tabaqat ash-shafi' iyya” volume 10 page 398 that a condition to teach at the house of hadith “Al-Ashrafiyya” was to be ash' ari in 'aqida and that apparently Imam Ibn Kathir occupied the post of professor at this house of Hadith in the month of Moharam in the year 772H.

The historian Al-Fasi (d. 832) writes in his Ta’rif Dhawil ‘Ula in biography of al-Dhahabi:

“It has reached me that al-Dhahabi refused to take up the teaching position at Dar al-Hadeeth al-Ashrafiyya in Damascus because he was not an Ash’ari. This is when the position was vacated due to the death of the previous teacher al-Hafidh Jamal al-Din al-Mizzi. Al-Mizzi himself did not attain the position until he testified for himself that he is an Ash’ari, for that was the stipulated condition for the teacher therein. This indicates the richness of al-Dhahabi’s religiosity and piety, for it was also possible for him to testify for himself that he is an Ash’ari and take up the position, and that wouldn’t have affected him, in that he does not have Ash’ari beliefs.” (page 50)

This quote from al-Fasi is very important, and from this we deduce:

1) One of the reasons why Ash’ari Madhab spread. Basically, you’re jobless if you’re not an Ash’ari.
2) al-Dhahabi was not an Ash’ari, and refused to call himself one just to attain the position as a teacher
3) al-Mizzi was the greatest Muhaddith of his time and a beloved friend of Ibn Taymiyya who was also tested like Ibn Taymiyya.
4) Even though al-Mizzi was not an Ash’ari, he believed it permissible to testifying that he is an Ash’ari – intending by that the Ash’ari of al-Ibana, and not the Ash’ari of Ibn Furak, al-Juwayni, etc.
5) Ibn Kathir was, like al-Mizzi and al-Dhahabi, not an Ash’ari. However, like al-Mizzi, but unlike al-Dhahabi, he testified for himself that he is an Ash’ari to take up the vacated position at Ashrafiyya.



If one truly wants to know Ibn Kathir’s stance with respect to Ibn Taymiyya and Ash’arism, then let him read Ibn Kathir’s al-Bidaya wal-Nihaya, and see for himself what exactly was his stance towards the ‘aqida and works of Ibn Taymiyya.

For instance, with respect to al-Hamawiyya, he mentioned that Ibn Taymiyya had a debate over his Hamawiyya with a group of scholars and he silenced them all. al-Hamawiyya is an attack on Ash'aris in particular.

For instance, read his account of the tribunal set up for Ibn Taymiyya’s al-Wasitiyya. One of the first Ash’aris to challenge Ibn Taymiyya was Safi al-Din al-Hindi (al-Razi’s student), who was supposedly the most leading Ash’ari of the day! And guess how Ibn Kathir describes it:

“al-Shaykh Safi al-Din al-Hindi attended and debated with Shaykh Taqi al-Din [Ibn Taymiyya] extensively, however, his waterwheel was up against an ocean!!

How does Ibn Kathir describe the end of this debate?
Then the meeting was ended, having accepted ‘Aqida [al-wasitiyya] to be correct. The Shaykh returned to his house in great veneration and respect. It has also reached me that the common folk carried candles [in veneration of Ibn Taymiyya] from Bab al-Nasr to al-Qassa’in, as they commonly do at such occasions”

What does Ibn Kathir think of Ibn Taymiyya’s opponents?
“There was a group of jurists who were envious of Shaykh Taqi al-Din due to his good relations with the government, him taking the lead in ordering the good and forbidding evil, the general obedience people showed to him, the increasing number of his followers, and his eagerness to defend the truth, along with his knowledge and actions”

How does Ibn Kathir describe the third tribunal set up to discuss al-Wasitiyya?
“Then a third tribunal was set up on the seventh of Sha’ban in the Citadel, and the gathering showed contentment over the aforementioned ‘aqida [al-wasitiyya]

How does he describe Ibn Sarsari’s return (who was Ibn Taymiyya’s enemy and one of the main instigators) to Damascus and his reappointment as a judge?

“He [Ibn Sarsari] returned to Damascus [from Egypt] on Friday the sixth of Dhil-Qi’da, while people’s hearts were full of hate and abhorrence for him”

Ibn Kathir’s anti-Ash’ari view on Allah’s throne, speech and descent:
“In this month [i.e. Dhil-Hijja], on a Thursday the 27th, the two brothers of Shaykh Taqi al-Din [Ibn Taymiyya]: Sharaf al-Din and Zayn al-Din were called from the prison to attend a session with the deputy of the Sultan Sallar. Ibn Makhluf al-Maliki [Ibn Taymiyya’s arch enemy] also attended, and they all discussed extensively. Sharaf al-Din managed to defeat the Maliki Qadhi with textual proofs, evidences and knowledge, and further highlighted his errors in several issues where the latter had made false claims. The discussion was on the issue of Allah’s Throne, speech and descent

Ibn Kathir’s view on the impotency of Ibn Taymiyya’s enemies:

“They then assembled on Sunday by a royal decree through out the day. However, none attended from the judges, but only a large number of jursists… When they requested that the judges should attend, they made excuses, some of them saying that they are unwell, while others made other excuses, for they knew that Ibn Taymiyya is fully equipped with various sciences and proofs, and that none of those present can challenge him



Moreover, al-Fasi, when he mentions that al-Mizzi became the headmaster of al-Ashrafiyya, claiming that he is an Ash’ari, whilst he does not agree with the beliefs of the Ash’aris, how could it ever be thought of al-Fasi that he is indirectly belittling al-Mizzi or accusing him of deception?!

Rather, what is clear from al-Fasi’s comment is that al-Mizzi’s action was legally 100% legit, although, what al-Dhahabi did was better. And if you have any acquaintance with fiqh, then read the chapter on tawriyya and you will see that some scholars actually considered it permissible, while others deemed it makruh. Whatever the case, it is a fiqhi issue, open for discussion to those who are qualified to discuss fiqh.

Another point to note is that Ibn Kathir was al-Mizzi’s son-in-law, and al-Mizzi himself was very much like Ibn Taymiyya, in terms of his theological and philosophical views. He was regarded to be from the special followers of Ibn Taymiyya. What illustrates this especial relationship is that once al-Mizzi was simply reading al-Bukhari’s book to his class in public, khalq af’al al-‘ibad. Some Shafi’is, when they heard his sessions, they thought that al-Mizzi (who was a shafi’i himself), was accusing the Ash’aris of being Jahmis. So they complained to a Hanafi Qadhi who threw al-Mizzi in jail.

Ibn Taymiyya heard of this whist he was giving a lesson, and as soon as he heard, he got up and left, bare feet, to the rescue of his friend al-Mizzi, and physically pulled him out of prison by hand.

This is how close these two figures were in terms of their theological views, and the same Ibn al-Subki would confirm for you in Tabaqat.

Knowing that Ibn Kathir was al-Mizzi’s son-in-law, no wonder he too was very close to Ibn Taymiyya, such as Shafi’i biographers remember Ibn Kathir as a staunch follower of Ibn Taymiyya in his views, due to which he was persecuted, and amongst the views he supported was three talaqs in one session being counted as one. For instance, it states in Tabaqat al-Shafi’iah

كانت له خصوصية بابن تيمية ومناضلة عنه واتباع له في كثير من آرائه وكان يفتي برأيه في مسألة الطلاق وامتحن بسبب ذلك وأوذي توفي في شعبان سنة أربع وسبعين وسبعمائة ودفن بمقبرة الصوفية عند شيخه ابن تيمية

“Ibn Kathir had a special relationship with Ibn Taymiyya, who was his defender, and follower of many of his views. He would issue verdicts in accordance with his view with respect to Talaq, due to which he placed under hardship and harmed. He passed away in Sha’ban 774 AH, and was buried in the Sufi Graveyard, next to his Shaykh Ibn Taymiyya”

This is what Ibn Kathir’s biography is ‘tainted’ with in the works of Shafi’i Tabaqat. I do not know of a single Shafi’i historian who, ever, gave a different view of Ibn Kathir. None of them ever said that he was an Ash’ari. None of them ever claimed that Ibn Kathir changed his views. None of them ever said that Ibn Kathir agreed with the views of Ibn Taymiyya, bar his theological views.

Now, to come after seven centuries and to claim, out of the blue, for the first time in history, that ‘Ibn Kathir was indeed an Ash’ari’, would be viewed as nothing but academic dishonesty, resulting from blind partisanship and bigotry, especially, when Ibn Kathir’s history work is crammed full of support for Ibn Taymiyya’s theological works and views!

Then you said:


He also praises Ash’aris calling Al-Razi the supers-scholar and saying that Al-Baqalaani reached the he reached the peak of intelligence and sagacity

But then you also said:


This proves that praising someone isn’t approval of their aqeeda

Then why mention Ibn Kathir’s praise for al-Razi and al-Baqillani in the first place?

Moreover, Ibn Kathir’s praise for al-Razi was not for his excellence in ‘ilm al-kalam, but rather it was due to his general intelligence and death-bed repentance from Ash’arism. Thus Ibn Kathir states:

ومما كان ينشده

وأرواحنا في وحشة من جسومنا

وحاصل دنيانا أذى ووبال

ولم نستفد من بحثنا طول عمرنا

سوى أن جمعنا فيه قيل وقالوا

ثم يقول لقد اختبرت الطرق الكلامية والمناهج الفلسفية فلم أجدها تروي غليلا ولا تشفى عليلا ورأيت أقرب الطرق طريقة القرآن أقرا في الاثبات ) الرحمن على العرش استوى ( ) إليه يصعد الكلم الطيب ( وفي النفي ) ليس كمثله شيء ( ) هل تعلم له سميا (

“He would also say the following lines of poetry:
Our souls are bewildered in our bodies
The end of our world is harm and destruction

We did not benefit from our research, through out our lives
But that we only compiled therein hearsays.

He then says (i.e. al-Razi): I examined the different Kalami approach and philosophical methods, yet I did not find them quenching the intellectual thirst, nor curing the ailment. Although, I did notice that the most correct way was the Quranic way. To affirm [the attributes] I simply recite: “The Most Merciful rose over the throne” and “To Him ascends the good word”; and to negate I simply recite: “There is none like His likeness”, and “Do you know of any similarity to Him?” – End of quote from Ibn Kathir

So this is why he praises al-Razi, for his repentance from Ash’arism, and what does it make Ibn Kathir himself?


We can look at his tafseer and see how it’s filled with giving verses with eyes, etc. metaphorical meanings. One brother actually posted a large amount of it, it’s on page two, I think.

Giving a phrase a metaphorical meaning is denying that phrasing being taken literal. The al-Magribi institute teacher Yasir Qadi realizes this, so does Skinqiti, and so does ibn Taymiya. Look at Shinkiti’s book
مذكرة أصول الفقه on the chapter on majaaz. Ibn Taymiya shows his realization of it in his fatawa when talking about ibn Abbas’s ta’weel of Saaq.

Ibn Kathir is effectively negating the literal meanings of all those verses.

You have certainly misunderstood Yasir Qadhi, Shaykh Shanqiti, and definitely Ibn Taymiyya.

And this issue in particular we have explained it many times, that affirming the implied meaning does not necessitate negation of the literal meaning.

If your mother tells you to watch the door, you understood from it to watch, not only the door, but the entire house, all its contents AND the door.

But if Juha is told by his mother to watch the door, he fixes his eyes on the door and lets the thief steel all he wants from the house.

And, if an Ash’ari is told by his mother to watch the door, he keeps an eye on everything, except the door, which he leaves for the thief to walk away with!

Yadullah Fawqa Aydihim… Meaning Allah’s hand is over theirs. This entails two things: 1) Allah has a hand, and 2) Allah’s help, support and aid is with them, too.

Wa yabqa wajhu rabbik… Meaning, Allah’s Face will remain. This entails two things: 1) Allah has a Face, and 2) Allah Himself, and whatever He wills will remain.

This is why, the brother’s post you referred to where he extensively quotes Ibn Kathir, making Ta’wil in your opinion, I showed that we all agree with Ibn Kathir’s tafseer. This is the understanding of Yasir Qadhi, al-Shanqiti as well as Ibn Taymiyya.