Book Review 8: Majmu Fatawa Ibn Taymiyyah
I would not have been able to order this book. There was a brother who was transferred from a prison in Saudi Arabia to our prison, and he had the fatawa with him. The original print of the fatawa is 35 volumes but this brother had a condensed version that was 5 volumes. The pages where very thin and the print was very small. The brother told me that he had the fatawa and that the prison was holding it. I really wanted to get a hold of it so I asked him to try his best to convince the Prison Head to hand it over to him. It took some time, but eventually he got it and was able to sneak it in for me. Having such a reference in prison is a rarity, and when some of the students of knowledge who where in there heard about this, they were adamantly asking me to lend them some of the volumes. In fact, when I was being released, while I was walking out of the jail, one brother risked walking out of the wing where he was housed to get within my line of sight to wave to me and yell out his request to leave the fatawa for him. I did. But because I had to ask the prison guard who was with me to give it to him, I wonder whether he received it or not. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to complete it all before I was released.
The fatawa are a recent compilation of various works by Ibn Taymiyyah. It mainly includes his verbal answers to fatawa that were presented to him. It also includes some of his books and letters. Contrary to what the title seems to suggest, it is not a reference on fiqh alone, but also includes aqeedah, tafsir, usool al hadith, usool al fiqh, fiqh and spiritual aspects.
The verbal answers Ibn Taymiyyah would give to the questions presented to him are a testimony of the vast knowledge of this great Imam. He would start by mentioning all the verses and hadith relating to the topic and then mention the opinions of the Imams of the four schools of thought. He would even mention the various opinions that might exist within the school itself. Then he would discuss the evidence and give his fatwa.
Ibn Taymiyyah led a life of study, teaching, enjoining good and forbidding evil, and also jihad. He participated in jihad against the Mongols. He was also courageous in his advice to the rulers of his time and spoke out about their mistakes. Ibn Taymiyyah was chosen by Allah to go through the trials of prison a few times. He was patient and steadfast, and wrote some wonderful letters from jail including comments about his experience as a prisoner. Ibn Kathir, in his ten-volume work on history, wrote a eulogy for Ibn Taymiyyah that happens to be the longest and most detailed eulogy in his entire work. He said that the janazah of Ibn Taymiyyah was the greatest janazah that Damascus has witnessed – a sign from Allah of the righteousness of this great Imam.
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