He is the Imam, the Hafidh, the exegete, the legal jurist, Shaykh al-Islam: Abu ‘Abdullah Shams ud-Din Muhammad Ibn Abu Bakr — better known as Ibn al-Qayyim al-Jawziyyah.
His Birth and Education
He was born into a noble and knowledgeable family on 7th Safar 691H in the village of Zar’, near Damascus, Syria.
From an early age he set about acquiring knowledge of the Islamic sciences from the scholars of his time. Describing his desire for knowledge, al-Haﬁdh Ibn Rajab said,
He had an intense love for knowledge, for books, publications and writings.
Dhayl Tabaqat al-Hanabilah [4/ 449].
Ibn Kathir said,
He acquired from such books what others could not acquire, and he developed a deep understanding of the books of the Salaf and of the Khalaf.
Al-Bidayah wan-Nihayah [14/235].
His Teachers and Shaykhs
They include Shihab an-Nablusi, Qadi Taqi ad-Din ibn Sulayman, from whom he studied hadith; Qadi Badr ad-Din ibn Jama’ah; Saﬁ ad-Din al-Hindi; Isma‘il ibn Muhammad al-Harrani, from whom he studied ﬁqh and usul; and also his father from whom he learnt the laws of inheritance.
However, the most notable of his teachers was Shaykh al-lslam Ibn Taymiyyah, whom he accompanied and studied under for sixteen years. Al-Hafidh Ibn Kathir (14/234) said,
He attained great proficiency in many branches of knowledge; particularly knowledge of tafseer, hadith and usul. When shaykh Taqi ad-Din ibn Taymiyyah returned from Egypt in the year 712H, he stayed with the shaykh until he died; learning a great deal of knowledge from him, along with the knowledge that he had already occupied himself in attaining so he became a unique scholar in many branches of knowledge.
His Manners and Worship
Many of his students and contemporaries have born witness to his excellent character and his manners of worship. Ibn Rajab (4/450) said,
He – may Allah have mercy on him – was constant in worship and performing the night prayer, reaching the limits in lengthening his prayer and devotion. He was constantly in a state of dhikr and had an intense love for Allah. He also had a deep love for turning to Allah in repentance, humbling himself to Him with a deep sense of humility and helplessness. He would throw himself at the doors of Divine obedience and servitude. Indeed, I have not seen the likes of him with regards to such matters.
Ibn Kathir (14/234) said,
He was constant in humbly entreating and calling upon his Lord. He recited well and had fine manners. He had a great deal of love and did not harbour any envy or malice towards anyone, nor did he seek to harm or find fault with them. I was one of those who most often kept company with him and was one of the most beloved of people to him. I do not know of anyone in the world in this time, who is a greater worshipper than him. His prayer used to be very lengthy, with prolonged bowing and prostrations. His colleagues would criticise him for this, yet he never retorted back, nor did he abandon this practice. May Allah bestow His mercy upon him.
His Students and Works
Amongst his most prominent students were: Ibn Kathir (d.774H), adh-Dhahabi (d.748H), Ibn Rajab (d.751H) and Ibn Abd ul-Hadi (d.744H), as well as two of his sons, Ibrahim and Sharaf ud-Din Abdullah.
Ibn al-Qayyim authored over sixty works. His books and writings are characterised by their touching address to the heart and soul, as well as their accuracy, precision, strength of argument and depth of research.
In the ﬁeld of Fiqh and Usul, his writings include; I’lam al-Muwaqi’een, Turuq al-Hukmiyyah, Igathat al-Lahfan, Tuhfat al-Mawlud, Ahkam Ahl adh-Dhimmah, and aI-Furusiyyah.
In the ﬁeld of Hadith and Seerah they include: Tahdhib Sunan Abi Dawud, al-Manar al-Munif, Fawa’id al-Hadithiyyah, Jala’ al-Afham, and Zad al-Ma’ad.
In the ﬁeld of Aqeedah: ‘Ijtima al-Juyush al-Islamiyyah, as-Sawa’iq al-Mursalah, Shifa’ al-‘Alil, Hadiy al-Arwah, al-Kafiyatu ash-Shafiyah, and Kitab ar-Ruh.
In the ﬁeld of Akhlaq (morals) and Tazkiyyah (puriﬁcation): Madarij as-Salikeen, ad-Daa’ wad-Dawa’, al-Wabil as-Sayyib, al-Fawa’id, Risala at-Tabukiyyah, Miftah Dar as-Sa’dah, and ‘Uddatu as-Sabireen.
In the sciences of the Qur’an: at-Tibyan fi Aqsami al-Qur’an and Amthal al-Quran.
In language and miscellaneous issues: Bada’i al-Fawa’id.
Two books have also been written collating the exegetical comments of ibn al-Qayyim from his various works: Tafseer al-Qayyim and Tafseer al-Munir.
A few of his works have also been translated into the English language: the Magniﬁcent Journey, the Invocation of God, Medicine of the Prophet, Zad al-Ma‘ad.
Statements of the Scholars about him
Ibn Rajab (4/44) said,
He had deep knowledge concerning tafseer and the fundamentals of the religion, reaching the highest degree concerning them both. Similar was the case in the ﬁeld of hadith, with regards to understanding its meanings, subtleties and deducing rulings from them. Likewise was the case in the ﬁeld of ﬁqh and its usul, as well as the Arabic language. He did a great service to these sciences. He was also knowledgeable about rhetoric, grammar, and suluk as well as the subtleties and details that occur in the speech of the people of tasawwuf.
Al-Hafidh Ibn Hajar said in Ad-Durar al-Kaminah (4/21),
He possessed a courageous spirit as well as vast and comprehensive knowledge. He had deep knowledge concerning the differences of opinions of the Scholars and about the ways of the Salaf.
Ibn Hajar also said in his commendation to ar-Rad al-Wafir,
And if there were no virtues of shaykh Taqi ad-Din [Ibn Taymiyyah], except for his famous student, shaykh Shams ud-Din ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyyah – the author of many works, which both his opponents and supporters beneﬁted from – this would be a sufﬁcient indication of his [Ibn Taymiyyah’s] great position.
Al-Hafidh Ibn Nasir ad-Dimishqi said,
He possessed knowledge of the sciences, especially in tafseer and usul.
Ar-Rad al-Wafir [p.69].
He also said,
Abu Bakr Muhammad Ibn al-Muhib said, as found in his letter, “I said in front of our Shaykh, al-Mizzi, ‘Is Ibn al-Qayyim at the same level as Ibn Khuzaymah?’ He replied, ‘He is in this time, what Ibn Khuzaymah was in his time.”’
As-Suyuti said in Bughya al-Wi’at [1/62],
His books had no equal and he strove and became one of the great Imams in [the ﬁeld of] tafseer, hadith, the Book, the Sunnah, furu’, and the Arabic language.
‘Ali al-Qari said in al-Mirqat [8/251],
It will be clear to whoever aspires to read the explanation of Manazil as-Sa’irin [i.e. Madarij as-Salikeen], that they [Ibn Taymiyyah and lbn al-Qayyim] are from the great ones of Ahlus-Sunnah wal-Jama’ah, and from the awliyaa’ of this Ummah.
Qadi Burhan ad-Din az-Zur‘a said as quoted from him in Dhayl Tabaqat al-Hanabilah,
There is none under the heavens who has greater knowledge than he.
Imam Ibn al-Qayyim passed away at the age of sixty, on the 13th night of Rajab, 751H, may Allah shower His Mercy upon him.