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Dhun Nun al-Misr as-Sufi and al-Zajjaj al-Mufassir

Posted by muhammedm on January 7, 2010

أبدأُ بالحمدِ مُصَلِّياً على مُحمَّدٍ خَيِر نبيْ أُرســـــِلا

Dhun Nun al-Misri (Allah ta’ala have mercy on him)

“Az-Zahid, Shaykh of Misr (Egypt), Thawban bin Ibrahim. He narrated from Imam Malik, Imam Layth, Bin Luhay’a, Fudayl bin ‘Ayyad, Salim al-Khawwas, Sufyan bin ‘Uyayna and others. Those who narrated from him include: Ahmed bin Sabih al-Fayumi, Rabi’ah bin Muhammed at-Tai, Ridwan bin Muhaymid, Hasan bin Mus’ab, al-Junayd bin Muhammed az-Zahid, Miqdam bin Dawud ar-Ra’ini, and others. He narrated only a few hadith, and wasn’t an expert in it. Daraqutni said, “he narrated from Malik Ahadith, in which are difficulties, and was a religious orator.” Bin Yunus said, “he was a wise eloquent scholar he passed away in Dhil Qi’dah in the year 245 Hijri.”
Sulami said regarding the trail of the Sufis, “Dhu an-Nun was the first want in his land to speak about spiritual states, to which Abdullah bin Abdul Hakim censored him, and the scholars of Egypt deserted him, and it spread that he spread that he invented this knowledge which the Salaf didn’t speak about, and they left him and labeled him an opostate.”
‘Ali bin Hatim said, ‘I heard Dhu an-Nun say, ‘Quran is the Speech of Allah ta’ala, and is not created (is eternal).” Yusuf bin al-Husayn said, “I heard Dhu an-Nun say, “what image comes in your mind, then Allah is not that”.
He passed away in the year 246 Hijri.
Page 2047 Siyar al-‘Alam of Imam Dhahabi.

‘Thawban bin Ibrahim, one of famous Mashayikh, Ibn Khalkan wrote a biographical note about him in al-Wafayat, and mentioned his merits and states, and stated his death was in the year 245 Hijri. He’s considered amongst those who narrated Muwatta from Imam Malik, Ibn Yunus mentioned him in Tarikh Misr, and he was eloquent and wise.”
Bidaya wa an-Nihaya li Ibn Kathir

It should be kept in mind that there is no censure on the terminology (of the Sufis) as long as the meaning is sound, and what Dhun Nun al-Misri spoke about and is recorded doesn’t contradict any ‘Aqidah of Ahlus Sunnah, his statements of ‘Aqidah, two of which are recorded here, are in clear conformity with Ahlu Sunnah. Scholars have accepted him and quoted him abundantly which shows that he wasn’t deviant, scholars such as Imam Nawawi, Hafidh Ibn Hajar, Hafidh Ibn Qayyim and others.

az-Zajjaj, The Grammarian and Mufassir (Allah ta’ala have mercy on him)
“Ibrahim bin as-Sirri bin Sahl Abu Ishaq az-Zajjaj, was from the people of virtue and religion, of good path and belief, from his works are Ma’ani al-Quran an exegis, Khalq ul Insan, Tafisr Jami’ al-Mantiq, he passed away in 310… He said in his last breath, “O Allah ta’ala raise me upon the madhab (path) of Ahmed bin Hanbal, as is mentioned in Mawdu’at al-‘Ulum of Tash Kobri and Tarikh Mir’at al-Jinan.”
Page 16 Tabaqat al-Mufassirin of Ahmed bin Muhammed al-Udnarwi

“Ibrahim bin as-Sirri bin Sahl Abu Ishaq az-Zajjaj, he was a virtuous religious individual, of good (correct) belief, he authored great works, from them Ma’ani al-Quran and other beneficial works.”
Al-Bidaya wan Nihaya Ibn Kathir

Hafidh Ibn al-Jawzi says the same in al-Muntadham, page 512. That he was of good ‘Aqidah.

‘Al-Imam, the Grammarian of his time, Abu Ishaq…”
Siyar al-‘Alam an-Nubala’ li Dhahabi Pg 2588

Suffice it to say major Mufassirin quote him in their works. For those who want to attack him because of ta’wil, then it should be made clear that the Salaf did ta’wil, and what Zajjaj did wasn’t something new or in contradiction to Ahlus Sunnah.
These two biographical notes are presented because of the slander that a neo-hanbali salafi (ironic since he claims he follows the salaf but vilifies them whenever he gets a chance) attacked these two personalities from the salaf, and I thought it would be best to write about them from the pen of such scholars as Imam Dhahabi and Hafidh ibn Kathir.

Wa ‘alaykumus Salam

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