After praising ibn Taymiyya, Imam ‘Abd al-Hayy al-Lucknawi mentions the following:
And some corrupt beliefs have been conveyed from him for which he was condemned by al-Yafi’i, ibn Hajar al-Makki (al-Haytami), and others. He is a man who has committed sins and made mistakes, thus the people should be aware of his errors and acknowledge his proficiency and virtue. His death was – according to what ibn Hajar has mentioned about him – in the year 728 (AH) while in prison by the command of the ruler of his time. May the Mercy of Allah be upon him.
[Imam ‘Abd al-Hayy al-Lucknawi, Iqama al-Hujja with Shaykh ‘Abd al-Fattah Abu Ghudda’s notes, pg. 29, Maktaba Matbu’at al-Islamiyya – 1998]
وقد نُقِلَ عنه عقائد فاسدة شنَّع عليه بها اليافعي وابنُ حجر المكي وغيرها، وهو بشر له ذنوب وخطأ، فلينتبه الإنسان على خطئه، وليُقِرَّ بمهارته وفضله، وكانت وفاته – على ما ذكره ابن حجر – سنة ثمان عشرين وسبعمائة في الحبس بأمرِ سلطان زمانه. منه رحمه الله تعالى.
“إقامة الحجة على أن الإكثار في التعبد ليس ببدعة” للإمام عبد الحي اللكنوي، ص. ٢٩، مكتبة مطبوعات الإسلامية – ١٩٩٨
Due to being one of ibn Taymiyya’s major critics, some modern-day followers of ibn Taymiyya do not hold much love for Shaykh al-Islam ibn Hajar al-Haytami (D. 974AH). They would like to believe that the Imam was not of great standing or knowledge, and that his beliefs were ‘deviant’. However, as a harsh reality check, Imam ‘Uthman ibn Sanad al-Basri (D. 1242AH) had the following to say in praise of Shaykh al-Islam ibn Hajar al-Haytami:
“He who looks at his works will be dazzled and say: Praise Allah who has allowed the minds of man to reach it’s subtle depths! He is the Shafi’i who mediated between the finer points of law and the subtleties of the discipline of tradition. He did not treat discipline without reaching depths that his contemporaries never hoped to reach. No one disputed with him without finding him an abounding sea of knowledge. He was firm in matters of religion while being high minded, composed and intelligent… Those who came after him have depended on what he has chosen, and thus his works are the standard reference for fatawa, and no Shafi’i will give a fatwa that is not in accordance with what he has considered. The prominent scholars esteem his works, and give it the foremost rating.”
Shaykh al-Islam ibn Hajar al-Haytami (D. 974AH) on ibn Taymiyya in his own time and the reality of his followers:
“The scholars of his age rose against him (ibn Taymiyya) and impelled the Sultan to either kill or imprison him, so he imprisoned him until he died and his innovations died out and his darkness disappeared. Then he was supported by followers whose heads Allah has not raised, nor has He granted them power or strength; rather they were afflicted with humiliation and remained under Allah’s wrath, due to their disobedience and their beliefs.”
Shaykh al-Islam ibn Hajar al-Haytami (D. 974AH) on ibn Taymiyya’s view of impermissibility on travelling to visit the grave of the prophet (sallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam):
“If you say: How can you relate that there is a consensus on the permissible and commendable status of visiting and travelling to it (the Prophet’s grave [sallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam]) when ibn Taymiyya among the later Hanbalis deems all of this inappropriate?
I say: Who is ibn Taymiyya so that one takes his words into consideration or relies on them in any religious matter? Is he anything but – in the words of the leading scholars who have followed his rotten statements and unsalable arguments… – a servant whom Allah has forsaken and led astray and clothed in the garments of ignominy… The Shaykh al-Islam, the scholar of the world, concerning whose status, ijtihad, rectitude and prominence there is a consensus, Taqi al-Din al-Subki – may Allah sanctify his soul and cast light on his grave – has dedicated himself to answering him in a separate work (shifa al-saqam fi ziyarat khayr al-anam) in which he has done a great service and shown with dazzling arguments the correct path.”
[ibn Hajar al-Haytami, al-Jawhar al-Munazzam fi Ziyarat al-Qabr al-Sharif al-Nabawi al-Mukarram, M. Zaynhum ed. (Cairo: Maktabat Madbuli, 2000), 29-30.]
Changing Views of ibn Taymiyya by Khaled el-Rouayheb:
For post-classical Sunni theologians, tafwid and ta’wil were the two ways of warding off the literalist interpretations that they attributed to heretical corporealist (mujassima) groups such as the Karramiyya and Hashwiyya. Ibn Taymiyya rejected both options, and it is thus not surprising that a scholar such as Ibn Hajar al-Haytami should have castigated him for having the same heretical views. Already the theologian and heresiographer al-Shahrastani (d.1153) had expressed the view that the origin of all shades of heretical anthropomorphism (tashbih) lay in the insistence on going beyond the tafwid of the salaf:
A group of later people added to what the salaf have said. They said: It is imperative to keep to the literal sense and to understand it as it appears, without presuming to reinterpret or suspend judgement as regards the literal meaning (la budda min ijra’iha ‘ala dhahiriha wa-al-qawl bi-tafsiriha kama waradat min ghayr ta’arrud li-al-ta’wil wa la tawaqquf fi al-zahir). Hence they fell into pure anthropomorphism (tashbih). This is contrary to what the salaf believed.
Muhammad al-Shahrastani, Kitab al-milal wa-al-nihal, ed. by W. Cureton (Leipzig: Otto Harrassowitz, 1923 [reprint of 1846 edition], 64.
Shaykh al-Islam ibn Hajar al-Haytami (D. 974AH) on ibn Taymiyya’s suggestion (via ibn al-Qayyim) that the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) had let down part of his turban to mark the spot between his shoulders that Allah had touched with His ‘hand’:
“This is among their repulsive opinions and their waywardness, since it is based on their claim, which they argued for at length and castigated Sunnis for rejecting, that Allah is in a direction and is a body, may He be exalted above what the unjust and stubborn say! They have in this regard abominations and heresies to which the ear cannot listen, and one cannot but adjudge them a falsity, a slander and a lie. May Allah shame them and those who say that. The Imam Ahmad (ibn Hanbal) and the distinguished among his school are innocent of this ugly stain. How could it be otherwise, and it is unbelief according to many?”
[ibn Hajar al-Haytami, Ashraf al-Wasa-il ila Fahm al-Shama-il, Ahmad al-Mazidi ed. (Dar al-Kutub al-‘Ilmiyya, Beirut, 1998), 172-173]
Shaykh al-Islam ibn Hajar al-Haytami (D. 974AH) on ibn Taymiyya and his student ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya and those who follow them:
“Make sure you do not listen to what is in the books of ibn Taymiyya and his student ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya and other such people who have taken their own whim as their God, and who have been led astray by Allah, and whose hearts and ears have been sealed, and whose eyes have been covered by Him. And who will help them if not Allah? How these heretics (mulhidun) have crossed the lines and broken the fences of the Shari’a and the Haqiqa, thinking that they are on the right path, and they are not! Rather they are in the worst of errors, the foulest of qualities, the most odious loss, and the utmost falsity. May Allah forsake the one who follows them, and purify the earth of their likes.”