IMAM ABD AL-GHANI AL-MAQDISI AL-HANBALI (D. 600H)

(Found online as Translated by Ismaeel Nakhuda) 

Hafiz Ibn Rajab mentions in Al-Dhayl ‘ala Tabaqat al-Hanabilah (part 2, p.5):

‘Abd al-Ghani ibn ‘Abd al-Wahid ibn ‘Ali ibn Surur ibn Rafi‘ ibn Hasan ibn Ja‘far al-Jamma‘ili al-Maqdisi, the hafiz, the ascetic, Abu Muhammad. He was given the title Taqi al-Din, he was thehafiz[of hadith] of that age and its hadith scholar (muhaddith)…

He then travelled to Baghdad in the year 561 ah along with Shaykh al-Muwaffaq. They remained in Baghdad for four years. Al-Muwaffaq’s inclination was to fiqh and Hafiz ‘Abd al-Ghani’s inclination was to hadith. They stayed with Shaykh ‘Abd al-Qadir[12] who would give them due consideration and was good to them. They both studied some hadith and fiqh under him. Shaykh al-Muwaffaq narrated that they both remained with him for around forty days and that he then died. They would read to him each day two lessons in fiqh. He (Shaykh al-Muwaffaq) would read from [Mukhtasar] al-Khiraqi from memory and Hafiz would read from the book Al-Hidayah…

Hafiz Diya al-Din has gathered the excellence of the Hafiz and his biography in two volumes. He has mentioned in there that the jurist, Makki ibn ‘Umar ibn Ni‘mah al-Misri has also collated his virtues. Hafiz al-Diya said: “Our shaykh, the Hafiz, was such that one would hardly question him regarding a hadith, but he would mention and explain it. He would mention its veracity and weakness. He would not be asked regarding an individual except he would say: ‘He is such a person, son of such a person, and then his title.’ He would then mention his lineage.”

I say that Hafiz ‘Abd al-Ghani al-Maqdisi was the commander of the faithful (amir al-muminin) in hadith…

He (Hafiz al-Diya) said: “He—may Allah have mercy on him—used to read hadith on Fridays after the prayer at the jami‘ [masjid] of Damascus and also on Thursday nights at the jami‘. A vast number of people used to gather. He used to read and cry and make the people cry also. Such was the case that whoever attended his gathering once would never miss again because of how much his heart would feel pleasant and the delight he would feel. He would supplicate (du‘a) a lot thereafter…

Al-Diya said: “I heard the imam, the ascetic, Ibrahim ibn Mahmud ibn Jawhar al-Ba‘li say he heard ‘Imad—the brother of the Hafiz—say: ‘I have not seen anyone more careful with his time than Hafiz ‘Abd al-Ghani.’”

Al-Diya said: “Our shaykh, the Hafiz—may Allah have mercy on him—would never unnecessary waste any of his time. He would offer the Fajr prayer and teach the people the Quran and I would at times read some hadith. We memorised from him the large quantities of hadiths that we received. He would then stand, perform wudu and offer three hundred rak‘ah reciting the [Surah] al-Fatiha and the al-Mu‘awwidhatayn[13] until before the time of Zuhr. He would then sleep a little until the time of Zuhr. He would preoccupy himself with either listening to hadith or transcribing texts until Maghrib. If he was fasting then he would break fast after Maghrib and if he was not then he would pray salahfrom Maghrib until ‘Isha. Once he had prayed the ‘Isha prayer, he would sleep until the middle of the night or after. He would then awaken as if a person had awoken him, perform wudu and pray salahfor a while. He would then perform wuduand pray likewise. He would then perform wudu and pray close to Fajr… he would then sleep a little until Fajr and this was his habit…”

… Al-Diya said: “Allah had placed awe for him in the hearts of people…” He (Abu Muhammad Fada’il ibn Muhammad ibn ‘Ali ibn Suru al-Maqdisi) also said: “I know none from the Ahl al-Sunnah who saw Hafiz except he would love him a great deal and praise him immensely.”

I heard Abu al-Thana Mahmud ibn Salamah al-Harrani in Isfahan say: “In Isfahan, people stood in rows looking at Hafiz.” I also heard him say: “If Hafiz was to take up residence in Isfahan for a time and intended to rule it, then he would do so, i.e. due to their love for him and eagerness for him. When he finally reached Egypt then we were there. When he would leave for the jami‘[masjid] on Friday then we would be unable to walk along with him due to the large number of people who would gain blessing (tabarruk) from him and gather around him.”

… I heard Abu Muhammad ‘Abd al-Rahman ibn Ibrahim al-Maqdisi say: “I asked Hafiz that miracles are narrated from these shaykhs that are not narrated from the ‘ulama. What is the reason behind this? He replied: ‘The preoccupation of the ‘ulama with knowledge is [equal to] many miracles.’ Or he said: ‘Do you wish for the ‘ulama a miracle greater than their preoccupation with knowledge?’ The Hafiz carried out many miracles.”

Al-Diya said: “I heard Ahmad ibn ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Ali al-‘Iraqi who said that Abu Muhammad ibn Abu ‘Abdullah al-Dimyati narrated to me that: ‘I hired a ship and then saw it was faulty and became upset. I mentioned this to the Hafiz who wrote me a letter and said: “Leave it inside. When you finish your journey and have left it, then take the letter and do not leave it inside.” I went along and hung it in the ship and went off in our journey. Once we had alighted from it and had disembarked our fabric and there was nothing left inside, I remembered the letter and so I took it. At that moment, water entered the ship and it sunk.’”

… I heard Abu Muhammad ‘Abd al-Rahman ibn Muhammad ibn ‘Abd al-Jabbar al-Muqri say: “My family had a pair of clothes that belonged to the Hafiz which they had stored [to place in the shroud] at death and a blanket that belonged to his mother. All the clothes that were in our house were stolen and my family searched for the clothes [belonging to Hafiz] and the blanket and did not find them. They became sorrowful at this. After some time, they found them in a chest. They had searched for them before and had not found them.”

Al-Diya said: “A group and I were listening [to hadith] in the presence of the Hafiz at the place of prayer in our mountain in the height of summer. He said: ‘Let us leave this heat and head for themasjid.’ We intended to stand and perhaps some of us had stood up, when all of a sudden there was a cloud that had covered the sun. He then said: ‘Sit.’ I saw some of our companions looking at one another and quietly saying among each other that this is a miracle. They said: ‘A cloud couldn’t be seen in the sky.’” Al-Diya has mentioned many of these types of stories. He also said: “I heard the Hafiz say: ‘I saw the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) in a dream walking and I was treading behind him, except there was someone between me and him.’”

… [Al-Diya] said: “I heard Hafiz Abu Musa, the son of the Hafiz, say: ‘I was with my father and he was mentioning the virtues of Sufyan al-Thawri when I said to myself, surely my father is like him. He turned to me and said: “Where are we compared to them.”’

“I also heard Abu Musa speaking about a man from Dimyat[14] who said: ‘I was with the Hafiz one day and said to myself: I wish if the Hafiz would give me some clothes that have touched his body so that I may be shrouded (kafn) in them. When I prepared to stand, he said: “Do not leave.” When the group had left, he took off the clothes that had touched his body and gave them to me. The clothes stayed with us and anyone who was ill or his head hurt, they would leave them on him and he would be cured with the permission of Allah Most High.’

“I also heard Abu al-Rida Muhammad ibn ‘Abd al-Rahman ibn Ibrahim al-Maqdisi say: ‘It occurred to me that I ask the Hafiz something regarding the Companions of the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace). I went to him and found a group of people by him and became shy to ask and sat. He then mentioned that which I wanted to ask and clarified it.’

“I heard Abu ‘Ali Faris ibn ‘Uthman ibn ‘Abdullah al-Dimashqi mention regarding a person who narrated from another who said: ‘We left as a group heading for the mountain and sat by a river. One of us said: “We wish if the Hafiz would come and he had with him a volume from which he could read us some hadiths.” Another said: “If he came along with a sweet dish.” We did not wait long when the Hafiz came. One of us said: “Have you brought anything with you from which you could read to us?” He then took out a book from his sleeve and said: “I have brought a book and a sweet dish.”’

“I heard Hafiz Abu Musa say: ‘My mother said to me: “One day we presented your father with the food prepared by such a person—a person who she named—and the Hafiz did not like to eat his food. He took a morsel, raised it to his mouth and then looked at it and said this is from such a person, take it away. He did not eat anything from it.”’”

Al-Diya said: “I asked my maternal aunt, Rabi‘ah bint Ahmad ibn Muhammad ibn Qudama –the Hafiz’s wife—regarding this story and she narrated it to me.”

Al-Diya said: “I heard Abu Musa say: ‘My father advised me at the time of his death: “Do not waste this knowledge (hadith) for which we have toiled hard.” I asked: Will you not will anything? He said: “No one owes me ought and I owe no one.” I said: Advise me something. He said: “My son, I advise you to fear Allah (taqwa) and to firmly obey Him.” A group of people then came to visit him and made salam with him. He responded and they began speaking. He then opened his eyes and said: “What is this talk? Make dhikr of Allah Most High. Say La ilaha illallah.” They said this and then stood up. He then began doing the dhikr of Allah and moving his lips with his dhikr and indicating with his eyes. Then entered a man, made salam and said: “Do you not know me, oh my master?” He responded saying: “Why not?” I then stood to fetch him a book from the mosque. When I returned his soul had departed. That was Monday, 23 Rabi‘ al-Awwal, 600 AH. That night his body remained in the masjid and many people from among the imamsand rulers whose numbers only Allah Most High could enumerate gathered the next day. We buried him on the Wednesday at Al-Qarafah[15] opposite the grave of Shaykh Abu ‘Amr ibn Marzuq at the place that his attendant, ‘Abd al-Mun‘im, mentioned that he used to visit and where he would cry till the pebbles became wet. He would say: “My heart finds rest in this place.” May Allah have mercy on him, may He be pleased with him and may He join him with our Prophet Muhammad (may Allah bless him and grant him peace).

… Al-Diya said: “I heard Abu Ishaq Ibrahim ibn Mahmud al-Ba‘li say: ‘A group of traders came to Shaykh ‘Imad and I was with him. They spoke about the light (nur) that they saw on the grave of Hafiz ‘Abd al-Ghani each night or each Friday night.’”

… He (al-Diya) said: “I heard Shaykh ‘Abd al-Rahman ibn Hasan ibn ‘Abdullah al-Kurdi in Harran say: ‘I saw the Hafiz in a dream and said to him: Oh my master, have you not died? He replied that surely Allah Most High allowed me to continue my portion of salah.’”

… al-Diya has mentioned many of his other dreams during his life and thereafter, may Allah be pleased with him. Many people heard hadith from Hafiz ‘Abd al-Ghani and he narrated hadith in the majority of lands that he entered like Baghdad, Damascus, Egypt, Dimyat and Isfahan. He narrated hadith in Alexanderia in the year 570 AH. Many people narrated hadith from him, including…

He was asked regarding the person who has experienced an increase in his spiritual states (hal) and then sees a deficiency. He replied: “As to this issue, it is required of the answerer to be from among the people of spiritual states (hal) and people of dealings (mu‘amlah); I tell Allah of my weakness and laxity regarding this matter and its like from the matters of good.[16] I say—and accordance is with Allah—surely he who Allah grants goodness in actions (‘amal), an enlightened (nur) heart and praiseworthy spiritual states (hal) in one’s limbs and body, then let him praise Allah for that, and strive to completely fetter it [from escaping], praise Allah for it and to be on guard that it disappears due to slipping or stumbling. He who has lost it, then let him try greatly in recovering it and take refuge in repentance, solitude and sorrow at what he has lost, imploring his Lord and showing eagerness to Him that the state returns to him. If it returns, then it does, otherwise he will—insha Allah—receive its reward and virtue.”

He was asked once more regarding this and answered: “As to losing that which we experience in sweetness and pleasure, then this is not proof of non-acceptance [of the action]. The beginner experiences that which the expert does not, since the soul, at times, becomes weary and tired due to the stretching of time and abundance of worship. It has been narrated from the Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) that he would forbid from too much worship and immoderation in that, and command moderation in fear of weariness. It has also been narrated that when the people of the Yemen came to al-Madinah, they began crying and so Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him) said: ‘Like this were we until hearts became hard.’”

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