Ibn Hajar said regarding Minhaj as-Sunnah in Lisan al-Mizan, Volume 6, page 320:
وكم من مبالغة لتوهين كلام الرافضي أدته أحيانا إلى تنقيص علي رضي الله عنه
Important thing to note here is that the book “Minhaj as-Sunnah” is a refutation of Rafadi Shias who believe that Ali May Allah be pleased with him is Masoom, knows ALL of the things going to happen and whatever happened before. So, in response Ibn Taymiyah replied in a beautiful way without any belittling.
Ibn Hajr did not mention anything against Ibn Taymiyah for proof. Let us see what Ibn Hajr himself said.
He repeated same thing
No one says Ibn Hajr belittled Ali may Allah be pleased with him. As we know Ibn Hajr was one of the great scholar of Ahlus sunnah and we believe Ali May Allah be pleased with him to be upon truth and 4th Rightly Guided Caliph .
Let us see what Ibn Hajr himself said regarding Ibn Taymiyyah’s refutations of Raafidah which includes Minhaj as Sunnah as well.
Ibn Hajr said:
ومن أعجب العجب أن هذا الرجل كان أعظم الناس قياماً على أهل البدع من الروافض ، والحلولية ، والاتحادية ، وتصانيفه في ذلك كثيرة شهيرة ، وفتاويه فيهم لا تدخل تحت الحصر ، فيا قرة أعينهم إذا سمعوا بكفره ، ويا سرورهم إذا رأوا من يكفر من لا يكفره ، فالواجب على من تلبّس بالعلم وكان له عقل أن يتأمل كلام الرجل من تصانيفه المشتهرة ، أو من ألسنة من يوثق به من أهل النقل ، فيفرد من ذلك ما يُنكر ، فيحذِّر منه على قصد النصح ، ويثني عليه بفضائله فيما أصاب من ذلك ، كدأب غيره من العلماء
It is most amazing that this man was the staunchest opponent of the innovators such as the Raafidis, Huloolis and Ittihaadis, whose writings on that are many and well known, whose fatwas concerning them are too numerous to count. How happy they would be to realize that there are people who accuse him of kufr and say that the one who does not regard him as a kaafir is a kaafir. The one who claims to have knowledge, if he has any reason or sense, should ponder the man’s words in his famous books, or hear them from honest and trustworthy narrators, so that he will put aside what he finds objectionable and warn others by way of sincerity, and praise him for the matters he got right, as the attitude of other scholars should be. [Ibn Hajr’s Introduction to al-Radd al-Waafir by Ibn Nasir al Din Dimishqi]
Let us see what the great scholars before Ibn Hajr say about Minhhaj as-Sunnah.
Ibn Kathir said regarding Ibn al Muthar Rafadi:
The Muhaqqiq of Siyar said in Haashiya:
Ibn Taymiyah never belittled Ali, rather he said regarding Ali radhi Allahanho in Al-Fataawa al-Kubra, 1/56:
The Praise of Ibn Hajr al Asqalani for Ibn Taymiyah.
When al-Haafiz Ibn Hajar (may Allaah have mercy on him) read the book – al-Radd al-Waafir – which is in defense of Ibn Tamiyah, he wrote an introduction to it, in which he said:
Although these huge numbers attended his funeral, there was no motive for that except their belief that he was a great imam and their desire to seek blessing from attending his funeral. They did not gather on the orders of the authorities or for any other reason. It is narrated in a saheeh report that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “You are the witnesses of Allaah on earth” – narrated by al-Bukhaari and Muslim.
A number of scholars opposed Shaykh Taqiy al-Deen many times, because of reasons for which they criticized him that had to do with fundamental and minor issues. Many hearings were held against him in Cairo and Damascus, but there is no report that any of them said he was a heretic and there was no ruling that he should be executed, even though there were many people in government at that time who were strongly opposed to him, and he was imprisoned in Cairo, then in Alexandria. Despite that, they all recognized his vast knowledge and his deep piety and asceticism, and they described him as generous and courageous, as well as supporting Islam and calling people to Allaah in secret and openly. Why shouldn’t we denounce the one who says that he was a kaafir or that the one who calls him Shaykh al-Islam is a kaafir, when there is nothing to imply kufr in calling him that? He was undoubtedly a Shaykh of Islam, and the issues for which he was opposed were not things that he said on the basis of whims and desires, and he did not persist in saying them after proof was established against him out of stubbornness. His books are filled with refutations of those who promoted anthropomorphism and his disavowal thereof. But nevertheless he was a human being who made mistakes and got things right. That in which he was correct – which was most of it – may be benefited from, and we may pray for mercy for him because of that, and that which he got wrong should not be followed, but he may be excused for it, because the imams of his era bore witness that he was fully qualified to engage in ijtihaad; even the one who was most strongly opposed to him and strove to harm him, namely Shaykh Kamaal al-Deen al-Zamalkaani, bore witness to that, as did Shaykh Sadr al-Deen ibn al-Wakeel, who was the only one who was able to hold a debate with Ibn Taymiyah.
It is most amazing that this man was the staunchest opponent of the innovators such as the Raafidis, Huloolis and Ittihaadis, whose writings on that are many and well known, whose fatwas concerning them are too numerous to count. How happy they would be to realize that there are people who accuse him of kufr and say that the one who does not regard him as a kaafir is a kaafir. The one who claims to have knowledge, if he has any reason or sense, should ponder the man’s words in his famous books, or hear them from honest and trustworthy narrators, so that he will put aside what he finds objectionable and warn others by way of sincerity, and praise him for the matters he got right, as the attitude of other scholars should be. If there was no good quality in him except the fact that his student was Shaykh Shams al-Deen ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyyah, the author of so many beneficial books, from which everyone has benefited, both those who agree with him and those who oppose him, that would be sufficient indication of his great status, so how about when his prominence in various fields of knowledge and his distinction in the study of the texts was affirmed by the prominent Shaafa’is of his time and others, in addition to the Hanbalis? No attention should be paid to the one who calls him a kaafir despite all these achievements, or who describes the one who calls him “Shaykh al-Islam” as a kaafir, and he should be ignored with regard to this matter; indeed he should be rebuked for saying that, until he comes back to the truth. Allaah speaks the truth and He guides to the right way; Allaah is sufficient for us and He is the best disposer of affairs.(end)
Al-Radd al-Waafir by Imam Ibn Naasir al-Deen al-Dimashqi (p. 145, 146), al-Haafiz al-Sakhaawi – the student of Ibn Hajar – quoted the words of his Shaykh in his book al-Jawaahir wa’l-Durar (2/734-736).
al-Hafiz Ibn Hajar wrote a lengthy biography of Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah (may Allaah have mercy on them both) in his book al-Durar al-Kaaminah, at the beginning of which he said:
” .. وتحول به أبوه من حران سنة 67 ، فسمع من ابن عبد الدائم والقاسم الأربلي والمسلم ابن علان وابن أبي عمر والفخر في آخرين ، وقرأ بنفسه ونسخ سنن أبي داود وحصل الأجزاء ونظر في الرجال والعلل ، وتفقه وتمهر ، وتميز وتقدم ، وصنف ودرس وأفتى ، وفاق الأقران ، وصار عجباً في سرعة الاستحضار وقوة الجنان والتوسع في المنقول والمعقول والإطالة على مذاهب السلف والخلف .. ”
His father took him with him from Harraan in 667 AH, and he learned from Ibn ‘Abd al-Daa’im, al-Qaasim al-Arbili, Muslim ibn ‘Allaan, Ibn Abi ‘Umar and al-Fakhr, among others. He read by himself and copied Sunan Abi Dawood, and he studied al-rijaal (narrators of hadeeth) and al-‘ilal (faults in hadeeth). He acquired deep knowledge, and he distinguished himself and went ahead of others. He wrote books, taught and issued fatwas, and he surpassed his peers. He had an amazing ability to recollect quickly; he was courageous; he had a deep knowledge of textual and rational matters; and he was able to discuss matters in detail on the basis of the views of earlier and later scholars. End quote.
Al-Durar al-Kaaminah fi A’yaan al-Mi’ah al-Thaaminah (1/168).
Hafidh Ibn Hajar Quotes
” وقرأت بخط الحافظ صلاح الدين العلائي ، في ثبت شيخ شيوخنا الحافظ بهاء الدين عبد الله بن محمد بن خليل ، ما نصه : وسمع بهاء الدين المذكور على الشيخين شيخنا وسيدنا وإمامنا فيما بيننا وبين الله تعالى ، شيخ التحقيق ، السالك بمن اتبعه أحسن طريق ، ذي الفضائل المتكاثرة ، والحجج القاهرة ، التي أقرت الأمم كافة أن هممها عن حصرها قاصرة ، ومتعنا الله بعلومه الفاخرة ونفعنا به في الدنيا والآخرة ، وهو الشيخ الإمام العالم الرباني والحبر البحر القطب النوراني ، إمام الأئمة ، بركة الأمة ، علامة العلماء ، وارث الأنبياء ، آخر المجتهدين ، أوحد علماء الدين ، شيخ الإسلام ، حجة الأعلام ، قدوة الأنام ، برهان المتعلمين ، قامع المبتدعين ، سيف المناظرين ، بحر العلوم ، كنز المستفيدين ، ترجمان القرآن ، أعجوبة الزمان ، فريد العصر والأوان ، تقي الدين ، إمام المسلمين ، حجة الله على العالمين ، اللاحق بالصالحين ، والمشبه بالماضين ، مفتي الفرق ، ناصر الحق ، علامة الهدى ، عمدة الحفاظ ، فارس المعاني والألفاظ ، ركن الشريعة ، ذو الفنون البديعة ، أبو العباس ابن تيمية !! ”
I read in the handwriting of al-Haafiz Salaah al-Deen al-‘Alaa’i, when he wrote the biography of the Shaykh of our shaykhs, al-Haafiz Baha’ al-Deen ‘Abd-Allaah ibn Muhammad ibn Khaleel, the following: This Baha’ al-Deen learned from the two Shaykhs, our Shaykh, master and leader in the way of Allaah, the prominent Shaykh, the one who leads his followers to the best way, the one who has numerous virtues and the strongest evidence, which all the nations affirm that they are unable to list all this evidence; may Allaah enable us to learn from his great knowledge and benefit us by means of his knowledge in this world and in the Hereafter. He is the Shaykh, imam, scholar, teacher and bright star, the imam of imams, the blessing of the ummah, the leader of scholars, the example for people to follow, the light for the learners, the suppressor of innovators, the sea of knowledge, the treasure of those who seek benefit, the interpreter of the Qur’aan, the wonder of our age, the unrivalled one of our era, Taqiy al-Deen, the imam of the Muslims, the proof of Allaah against the world, the one who will join the righteous, the follower of the predecessors, the supporter of the truth, the sign of guidance, the prominent hafiz, the most eloquent of speech, the pillar of sharee’ah, the possessor of brilliant knowledge, Abu’l-‘Abbaas Ibn Taymiyah.
Al-Durar al-Kaaminah (186-187).
Note:Although the texts that we have quoted or referred to, which contain the words of al-Haafiz Ibn Hajar (may Allaah have mercy on him) or which were quoted by al-Haafiz from others, speak of respect for Shaykh al-Islam and highlight his status in the field of religious knowledge, that does not mean that al-Haafiz did not differ with Shaykh al-Islam at all in some fields of knowledge, or that he never criticized him, because it usually happens that scholars refute one another, without that necessarily meaning that the one who refutes another does not respect or appreciate the status of the latter, let alone accuse him of innovation or misguidance. Long ago, Imam Maalik (may Allaah have mercy on him) spoke his famous words: “Anyone’s opinion may be accepted or rejected, except the occupant of this grave” or words to that effect – meaning the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him).
When Ibn Hajr read the book in defense of Ibn Taymiyyah he praised him and when we read the writings of Ibn Taymiyah we can see that it is full of Praise for Ali May Allah be pleased with him.