al-Imam Siraj ad-Din Abu Hafs ‘Umar bin ‘Ali bin Musa bin Khalil al-Baghdadi al-Bazzar wrote a long, first hand account of the life of Ibn Taymiyyah, who was his personal friend and companion. The book is called ‘al-A’lam al-‘Aliyyah fi Manaqib Ibn Taymiyyah,’ and this is a very, very small glimpse from it:
“During the nights, he would separate himself from everybody, secluding himself with his Lord, strictly maintaining his recitation of the Mighty Qur’an, and repeating the various types of daily and nightly worship.
When the night was over, he would rejoin the people for the Fajr prayer, praying the optional prayer before meeting them. When he would begin the prayer, your heart would want to fly from its place just from the way in which he would make takbirat al-ihram. When he would begin the prayer, his limbs would shake, moving him left and right. When he would recite, he would elongate his recitation, just as was authentically reported in regards to the recitation of the Messenger of Allah. His bowing and prostration, as well as his coming up from them, are from the most complete of what has ever been reported in regards to the obligatory prayer. And he would severely lighten his sitting for the first tashahhud, and would say the first taslim out loud, to the point that everyone who was present would hear it…
…And I came to know that it was his habit that nobody would speak to him unless absolutely necessary after the morning prayer. He would remain in a state of dhikr of Allah, listening to himself. Sometimes, he would let those sitting next to him listen to his dhikr, all the while constantly turning his eyesight to the sky. He would remain in such a state until the Sun rose, and the time in which prayer is forbidden had passed.
During my stay in Damascus with him, I would spend some of the day and most of the night with him. He would draw me near to him, sitting me beside him. I would hear what he would recite and repeat, and I saw that he would repeat ‘al-Fatihah’ over and over again, and would spend all of his time between Fajr and sunrise doing this.
So, I kept thinking to myself, wondering: why would he recite this specific chapter of the Qur’an in exclusion to the others? Eventually, it became clear to me – and Allah Knows best – that his intention in doing so was to combine with his recitation between what was narrated in the ahadith and what was discussed by the scholars, in regards to whether the narratedadhkar should take precedence over recitation of the Qur’an, or vice versa. So, he saw that in repeating ‘al-Fatihah,’ he could combine between both opinions, and reap the benefits of both actions, and this was from his strength in logic and depth of insight.
After this, he would pray Duha, and if he wanted to hear Hadith in another place, he would rush to that place with whoever was with him at the time.
It was rare that any intelligent person would see him and not come and kiss his hands. Even the busiest of businessmen would walk from what they were doing to greet him and seek his blessings. With all of this, he would give everyone of them their share of time, greetings, etc.
If he saw any evil in the street, he would work to remove it, and if he heard of a funeral taking place, he would rush to pray in it, or would apologize for missing it. Sometimes, he would go to the grave of the deceased after he finished listening to Hadith and pray over it.
Afterwards, he would return to his mosque, where he would remain either giving fatawa to the people or fulfilling their needs, until it was time to pray Dhuhr in congregation. He would spend the rest of the day in such a manner.
His classes were general for the old, the young, the wealthy, the poor, the free, the slave, males, and females. He appealed to everyone that would pass by him of the people, and everyone of them would feel that Ibn Taymiyyah was treating them better than he was treating anyone else present.
He would then pray Maghrib, and would follow it up with as much optional prayer as Allah made possible. I, or someone else, would then read his writings to him, and he would benefit us with various points and notes. We would do this until we prayed ‘Isha’, after which we would continue as we were before, delving into the various fields of knowledge. We would do this until much of the night had passed. During this entire time – night and day – Ibn Taymiyyah would constantly remember Allah, mention His Oneness, and seek His forgiveness.
And he would constantly raise his eyesight to the sky, and would not stop doing this, as if he saw something there that kept his eyesight hooked. He would do this for as long as I was staying with him.
So, Subhan Allah! How short were these days! If only they were longer! By Allah, until this day, there has never been a time in my life that is more beloved to me than the time I spent with him, and I was never seen in a better state than I was at that time, and this was for no other reason than the barakah of the Shaykh, may Allah be Pleased with him.
Every week, he would visit the sick, especially those at the hospital.
I have been informed by more than one person – whose trustworthiness I do not doubt – that the entire life of the Shaykh was spent in the way that I witnessed (and described above). So, what worship, and what Jihad is better than this?”