Prominent and controversial Syrian thinker, theologian, Hanbali jurist, and political figure. His intellectual activities, preaching, and politics resulted in persecution and imprisonment. Main doctrine was the supremacy and authoritativeness of the Quran and Sunnah of Muhammad and the early Muslim community. Encouraged a literal interpretation of scripture and condemned the popular practices of saint worship and pilgrimages to saints' tombs as worship of other than God. Rejected theology, philosophy, and metaphysical Sufism, although he encouraged pietistic Sufism. Opposed to blind obedience to tradition (taqlid), he favored ijtihad (independent reasoning). Tied Islam to politics and state formation and made a sharp distinction between Islam and non-Islam, noting the difference between a public proclamation of Islam and actions that are inconsistent with Islamic teachings and values. Issued fatwas against the Mongols as unbelievers at heart despite public claims to be Muslim. Influenced later thinkers such as Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab, Hasan al-Banna, and Sayyid Qutb. His authority has been used by some twentieth-century Islamist groups to declare jihad against ruling governments.
Subjects: Islam — Philosophy.