Imaam Ath-Thahabi praising some Sufis
Fatwa No: 156615

  • Fatwa Date:17-5-2011 - Jumaadaa Al-Aakhir 14, 1432
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Assalaamualaykum Shaykh, I have read that Imam Dhahabi was a follower of sufism and got himself initiated into the suhrawardi sufi tareeqah. Also in his book 'Tadhkirat al-Huffaz', he has praised many sufi shaykhs and has commented upon their spiritual states. Are all these claims true because as far as I know Imam Dhahabi was a follower of the salaf and spoke against innovation strongly. Pl. clarify shaykh as it has sort of created confusion in me. Thank You.


All perfect praise be to Allaah, The Lord of the Worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allaah, and that Muhammad  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) is His slave and Messenger.

It is not correct to say that Al-Haafidh Ath-Thahabi follows Sufism, let alone saying that he follows the Sahrawardi Sufi sect. How can Ath-Thahabi be attributed to this sect while he described its founder with the most heinous descriptions in his book “Siyar A’laam An-Nubalaa’,” as he wrote: “The prominent philosopher who was very clever but who was weak in religious commitment.”? Then, Ath-Thahabi commented on the Fatwa of the scholars of Halab [Syria] that he should be killed, saying: “Indeed, they were right and did well.” He also said about him: “He was an unwise, reckless and corrupt person.” Furthermore, he mentioned some of his books in philosophy and said about them: “All of them were not from the Islamic sciences.

As regards him praising some of the Sufi Shaykhs, then whoever knows his (Ath-Thahabi’s) methodology in his biographies, will not consider that strange from him, as he was known to be just and equitable, and he learnt this good moral from his Shaykh (teacher) Ibn Taymiyyah  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him who used to praise many Sufis while condemning them about some deviations.

However, some of those who wrote about the methodology of Ath-Thahabi in his biographies mentioned that he distinguished between two sects [or groups] of Sufis:

The first group are those who held fast to the correct religion, following the Sunnah; Ath-Thahabi respected them and mentioned some extraordinary matters of the great ascetic people among them and he mentioned some of their characteristics and their statements about asceticism. For more benefit please refer to Fatwa 90281.

The second group are those whom Ath-Thahabi considered as heretics and sorcerers who were possessed by jinn, among whom are the Ahmadiyyah, the followers of Ahmad Ar-Rifaa’i and others.

Allaah Knows best.

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