Posted by: faqir | September 4, 2011

Imam Al-Karabisi

Imām Al-Karābīsī

by Dr. GF Haddad

Al-H.usayn ibn ‘Alī ibn Yazīd, Abū ‘Alī al-Karābīsī رحمه الله  (d. 245 or 248) the trustworthy h.adīth Master, a scholar of H.anafī then Shāfi‘ī fiqh and kalām, “one of the oceans of the Science” accord­ing to al-Dhahabī, he was one of al-Shāfi‘ī’s major disciples in Iraq whom al-S.ayrafī rec­ommended, together with Abū Thawr, to his stu­dents. He also took h.adīth from ‘Alī ibn al-Madīnī, al-Shādhakūnī, and others.

Al-Karābīsī is related to say: “When a Scholar of h.adīth narrates a report, both outward and inner knowledge of this report become obliga­tory, just as dictated by mass-narrated reports.” At the same time, he held that “The slip of one scho­lar of knowledge demolishes Islām, whereas the slips of a thousand ignoramuses do not.” Accordingly he was strict in his refusal of any ruling at variance with the letter of the Law in patent legal matters, such as the ac­ceptance of the testimony of a single witness provided he swears an oath.[1]

Al-Karābīsī was taken to task severely by Abū Thawr, Muh.ammad ibn ‘Aqīl al-Firyābī, H.ubaysh, and Ah.mad for his book Kitāb al-Mudallisīn in which he unwit­tingly provided arguments for the enemies of the Sunna, such as the disparagement of al-A‘mash.[2] This book was refuted by Imām al-T.ah.āwī in a five-volume work, unfortunately lost.

Al-Karābīsī narrated that al-Shāfi‘ī said: “After the Prophet [sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam] people were in difficulty and did not find anyone under the sky better than Abū Bakr. Thus they used him as the one who carried the responsibil­ity of the people.”

When he heard that Imām Ah.mad had declared as an inno­vation his statement that the pronunciation of the Qur’ān was created, al-Karābīsī said: “Pronunciation means other than the thing pronounced” (talaffuz.uka ya‘nī ghayra al-malfūz.). Then he said of Ah.mad: “What shall we do with this boy? If we say ‘created’ he says bid‘a, and if we say ‘not created’ he says bid‘a!” The H.anbalīs were angered and declared him un­acceptable as a nar­rator. Al-Dhahabī commented: “There is no doubt that what al-Karābīsī in­novated and explained in the question of the pronunciation is the truth. But Imām Ah.mad refused it in order to pre­clude the extension of the ques­tion to the Qur’ān itself, since one cannot distinguish the pro­nun­ciation from the pro­nounced – which is the Speech of Allāh I – except in the mind.”[3] Similarly, Ibn ‘Abd al-Barr stated that al-Karabīsī was only stating the position of most of his generation over the issue of pronunciation, such as Ibn Kullāb, Abū Thawr, and Dāwūd al-Z.āhirī (as well as al-Bukhārī and Muslim).[4]

[1]For example, Mu‘āwiya’s acceptance of Umm Salama’s single testimony on behalf of her cousin, or Zurāra’s of Abū Miljaz’s single testimony, or Shurayh.’s of Abū Qays’s single testimony.

[2]See Ibn Rajab at the very end of his book Sharh. ‘Ilal al-Tirmidhī (2:806-807).

[3]Cf. Siyar (10:81-82 §1988) and T.abaqāt al-Shāfi‘iyya al-Kubrā (2:117-126 §25).

[4]Ibn ‘Abd al-Barr, al-Intiqā’ (p. 165).



  1. This is summed up in Ibn ‘Abd al-Barr’s biographical notice on al-Karābisī:

    There was a strong friendship between him [al-Karābisī] and Aḥmad b. Ḥanbal, but when the former opposed the latter regarding the Qur’ān, their friendship turned into enmity. Both of them would speak badly about the other. This is because Aḥmad used to say: “Whoever says that the Qur’ān is created is a Jahmī; whoever says that the Qur’ān is the speech of Allah but does not say that it is un-created or created is Wāqifī [hesitant]; and whoever says: ‘My pronunciation of the Qur’ān is created’ is an innovator.” Now, al-Karābisī, ‘Abdullāh b. Kullāb, Abū Thawr, Dāwūd b. ‘Alī, and their rank used to say that the Qur’ān spoken by Allah is an attribute among His attributes and can not be created; the recitation of the reader and his speaking with the Qur’ān is his own acquisition and action: that is created and is a ḥikāya [narration] of Allah’s speech…the Ḥanbalī companions of Aḥmad b. Ḥanbal abandoned al-Karābisī, declared him an innovator, and spoke badly about both him and all who spoke with his belief in that matter.

    Al-Ḥāfiẓ Ibn Kathīr also said in his biographical entry for al-Karābisī:

    Aḥmad b. Ḥanbal used to speak negatively about him because of the issue of pronunciation, and he [al-Karābisī] used to speak negatively about Aḥmad as well, and for that reason the people abstained from taking from him [al-Karābisī]. I say: what I have seen from him is that he said: “The speech of Allah is un-created from every angle, except that my pronunciation of the Qur’ān is created. Whoever does not believe that one’s pronunciation of the Qur’ān is created is a disbeliever.” This is also relayed from al-Bukhārī, and Dāwūd b. ‘Alī al-Ẓāhirī. Imām Aḥmad used to shut this door in order to close the discussion regarding the createdness of the Qur’ān.


  2. Didn’t Abu Thawr criticize al-Karabisi. He was in total agreement with Imam Ahmad

  3. […] There is nothing in Ibn Hajar’s speech or what is ascribed to Imam Ahmad by him that supports the Pseudo-salafi position. Imam Ahmad was simply shutting the door to unnecessary disputation about obscure matters.  This has been clarified HERE and HERE. […]

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