Shaikhul-Islam Imam Ibn Taymiyyah: A Biography

Shaikhul-Islam Imam Ibn Taymiyyah

He is our Shaykh, the Shaykh of Islam, unrivalled in our time in terms of knowledge, courage, intelligence, spiritual enlightenment, generosity, sincerity towards the ummah, enjoining what is good and forbidding what is evil, and learning hadeeth – he put a great deal of effort into seeking it and writing it down, and he examined the different categories of narrators and acquired knowledge that no one else acquired.

His good qualities are many, and he is too great for a man like me to talk about his life. If I were to swear an oath between the Corner and the Maqaam I would swear that I have never seen anyone like him, and that he has never seen anyone like himself.

~Imam al-Dhahabi

A man of virtue, an embodiment of knowledge, deep comprehension of theology, and a revivalist are some of the qualities that characterize Imam Ibn Taymiyyah. Besides theology, Imam Ibn Taymiyyah was trained in some of the contemporary skills and arts such as Maths, Algebra and Calligraphy.

He was born in 661 AH (1263) in Harran, present-day Turkey. His family later moved to Damascus, present-day Syria due to Mongol invasion. Consequently, he grew up in Damascus, acquired education over here. He taught and lived in the same city till his death in prison in 728 AH (1328).

Name and Sobriquet

Traditionally, scholars possess different names and are often identified with completely different nicknames or sobriquets. A scholar of as great stature as was Imam Ibn Taymiyyaha was no exception. This is why his actual name was Ahmad, Taqi-ud-Din as a sobriquet and Abul-Abbas as a nickname. His full name, however, was ‘Taqi-Ud-Din Abu’l-Abbas Ahmad ibn al-Halim ibn Abd-as-Salaam Ibn Taymiyyah.

He hailed from a family of learned men. Since he grew up in a pious and religious family, he was quite righteous and led an austere life. He abstained from gossip and useless activities.


Early Education

Imam Ibn Taymiyyah acquired all his early education from the Sukkariya Madrasa, Damascus. He became a Hafiz in his early teens. He learned Fiqh (Islamic Jurisprudence), Tafseer or commentary of Holy Quraan, a subject he was widely interested in and Usool-ul-Fiqh from his father, renowned local scholars and noted learned men of his region.

Imam Ibn Taymiyyah, as has been noted earlier, even studied Maths, Algebra, calligraphy, philosophy and history. Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala blessed him with such a sharp mind and intellect that he could manage to finish his education at the age of 20 years.

Imam Ibn Taymiyyah studied under more than 200 scholars (al-Bazzar, 2009). He memorized the Hadith with strict adherence to narration and athar. He had all the greatest books of knowledge at that time recited to him numerous times


Ibn Taymiyyah’s Austerity and Lessons for Us

Imam Ibn Taymiyyah was a devout follower of the religion, an adherent to the traditions of the Prophet Muhammad Salallahu Alaihi Wasallam and a committed preacher of Islam. He led an austere life fighting evil and falsehood as well as working tirelessly to bring reforms in the Muslim society.

He was a noble soul who dedicated his entire life to seek the happiness of his Creator. He left no stone unturned in order to establish an Islamic society and values which prevailed during the time of the Prophet.

Imam Ibn Taymiyyah wrote numerous manuscripts allowing him to leave a long-lasting legacy. He had to suffer in jail due to his sheer devotion to eliminate innovations and falsehood from the Muslim society.

He did not own any material wealth. His only wealth and legacy for further generations was knowledge.

By Allaah, there was never seen under the canopy of heaven anyone like your Shaykh Ibn Taymiyah in knowledge, righteous deeds, attitude, manner, adherence to the Sunnah, generosity, forbearance and carrying out duties to Allaah when His sacred limits were transgressed; he was the most sincere of people, the most sound in knowledge, the most effective, the most serious in supporting the truth, the most generous, the most perfect in following the Sunnah of Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him). We have never seen anyone in our own time who demonstrates the example of the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) and his Sunnahs in word and deed like this man; a sound heart will bear witness that this is following the Sunnah in the true sense of the word.

~Imaad al-Deen al-Waasiti

Books and Works

Imam Ibn Taymiyyah’s knowledge and memory were astounding. He was blessed with elephantine memory. This is the reason that he could narrate and quote innumerable verses, Hadees and historical events verbally and with greater convenience.

Imam Ibn Taymiyyah wrote his first book at age 29, after completing Hajj, called ‘Manasik al-Hajj’ (Rites of the Pilgrimage). It contained criticism about all the innovations he noticed during his pilgrimage.


Written Work of Ibn Taymiyyah

Imam Ibn Taymiya left a considerable body of work that will help the posterity to learn true Islam. He is one of the few scholars whose work has extensively been republished in several countries such as Syria, Egypt and Arabia. His work extended and justified his religious and political involvements and was characterized by its rich content, sobriety, and skilful polemical style. Extant books and essays written by ibn Taymiya include:


  • A Great Compilation of Fatwa—(Majmu al-Fatwa al-Kubra)
  • Minhaj as-Sunnah an-Nabawiyyah—(The Pathway of as-Sunnah an-Nabawiyyah)—Volumes 1-4
  • Majmoo’ al-Fatawa—(Compilation of Fatawa) Volumes 1-36
  • al-Aqeedah Al-Hamawiyyah—(The Creed to the People of Hamawiyyah)
  • al-Aqeedah Al-Waasittiyah—(The Creed to the People of Waasittiyah)
  • al-Asma wa’s-Sifaat—(Allah’s Names and Attributes) Volumes 1-2
  • ‘al-Iman—(Faith)
  • al-Uboodiyyah—(Subjection to Allah)
  • Iqtida’ as-Sirat al-Mustaqim’—(Following The Straight Path)
  • at-Tawassul wal-Waseela
  • Sharh Futuh al-Ghayb—(Commentary on Revelations of the Unseen by Abdul Qadir Jilani)


Teachers and Mentors of Ibn Taymiyyah

Imam Ibn Taymiyyah studied under a great number of scholars and mentors. Here is a list of some prominent figures:


  • Aboo al-Abbaas Ahmad Ibn Abdud-Daa’im al Maqdasee
  • Aboo Nasr ‘ Abdul-Azeez Ibn Abdul-Mun’im
  • Aboo Muhammad Ismaa’eel Ibn Ibraheemay-Tanookhee
  • al-Manjaa Ibn Uthmaan at-Tanookhee ad-Dimashqee
  • Aboo al-Abbaas al-Mu’ammil Ibn Muhammad al-Baalisee
  • Aboo Abdullah Muhammad Ibn Abee Bakr Ibn Sulaymaan al-Aamiree
  • Aboo al-faraj Abdur Rahman Ibn Sulaymaan al-Baghdaadi
  • Sharaf ad-Deen al-Maqdasee, Ahmad Ibn Ahmad ash-Shaafi’ee
  • Muhammad Ibn Abdul-Qawee al-Maqdasee
  • Taqi ad-Deen al-Waasitee, Ibraheem Ibn Alee as-Saalihee al-Hanbali
  • His paternal aunt, Sitt ad-Daar bint Abdus-Salaam Ibn Taymiyyah


Students of Ibn Taymiyyah

Imam Ibn Taymiyyah trained and shared his knowledge and expertise with many of his pupils and students. Some of the prominent figures are as follow:


  • Ibn al-Qayyim al-Jawziyyah,
  • Muhammad Ibn Abu Bakr
  • adh-Dhahabi, Muhammad Ibn Ahmad
  • al-Mizzi, Yusuf Ibn Abdur-Rahman
  • Ibn Kathir, Isma’eel Ibn Umar
  • Ibn Abdul-Hadi, Muhammad Ibn Ahmad
  • Al-Bazzar, Umar Ibn Ali
  • Ibn Qadi al-Jabal, Ahmad Ibn Husain
  • Ibn Fadlillah al-Amri, Ahmad Ibn Yahya
  • Muhammad Ibn al-Manj, Ibn Uthman at-Tanukhi
  • Yusuf Ibn Abdu-l-Mahmud Ibn Abdus-Salam al-Batti
  • Ibn al-Wardi, Zayn ad-Din Umar
  • Umar al-harrani, Zayn-ad-Din Abu Hafs
  • Ibn Muflih, Shams ad-Din Abu Abdullah



Shaikh-ul-Islam Imam Ibn Taymiyyah left a long-lasting legacy. He wrote extensively on Islam and left a trail of influential work and students. He interpreted the Quraan and the Sunnah the way the Prophet Muhammad sallalahu aliahi wasalam did. He brought Ummah back to the path of genuine Islam and revived it thoroughly.