We were requested recently to comment on statement of creed issued by a person named Asrar Rasheed of Birmingham, who is an Ash'ari / Maturidi in creed (the word "Ash'ari" is an umbrella term that includes the Maturidis, that's how most Maturidis themselves see it). A scan of a statement of creed written by this individual was sent to us on 5th April 2011. We have no idea when it was written, but we commenced responding to it on 14th April 2011. In the commentary upon this statement, we will come to realize how today's Ash'aris do not really differentiate between the early Kullabi Ash'aris (who were much closer to Ahl al-Sunnah) and the Later Ash'aris who reverted to many of the positions of the Jahmiyyah and Mu'tazilah in the sifaat, and left the way of al-Ash'ari. At the same time, these contemporaries deceive themselves into thinking that what they are upon is the way of the Salaf, when the reality is that they are not even upon the creed of Ibn Kullaab and al-Ash'ari and his early students (the Kullaabi Ash'aris), let alone the way of the Salaf. Further, when they present their creed, it is presented in a deceptive manner using generalizations and vagueness, and the avoidance of any specificity and detail so as to allow a false ascription to the Salaf to be made in front of the audience.
This is a scan of a hand written copy sent to us, and inshaa'Allaah we will translate the relevant excerpts and comment upon them:
We have now come to the end of his statement and there are a number of points on the above:
First: As we mentioned previously, it was inevitable that Asrar would have had to address some specific issue in his statement of creed, otherwise it would not really comprise anything of substance and contain only very general statements that do not convey what Asrar Rasheed really and truly believes in specific matters. So we see here right at the very end of his statement of creed he addressed the issue of Allaah's uluww (highness) and ma'iyyah (being "with" the creation). The way Asrar Rasheed tackles the matter of al-uluww tells us a lot about who he is really a follower of and answers the question as to whether he has guided himself by the statements of the Salaf that were being made in the 200 years from 100H to 300H in their raging battle against the various Kalaam schools - [whose adherents they condemned as deviants and heretics for speaking about Allaah and His attributes with ilm al-Kalaam, the foreign conceptual tools (of al-ajsaam wal-a'araad) taken from the Hellenized nations] - or whether he is guiding himself by the statements of the condemned Ahl al-Kalaam.
Second: As for his statement that Allaah is with the Prophets with nusrah (aid, support), then this is not restricted just to the Prophets, rather it is also for the Believers, pious and righteous. Allaah is with the Prophets, Messengers, and the righteous believers, with aiding, supporting, defending and so on as is clear in many verses in the Qur'an, from them (30:47, (12:103), (2:153), (2:194), (8:19), (8:66), where Allaah says He is with the believers, the pious, the patient and that it is a duty upon Him to aid and deliver them, and the verses like this are many. So to restrict this to the Prophets alone is an error. As for his creation in general, He is with them in knowledge, hearing, seeing and He encompasses them in this regard. The ma'iyyah of Allaah does not conflict with His being above the Throne, separate and distinct from the creation, and this is how the Salaf refuted the Jahmiyyah. Their statements that Allaah is above the Throne and His knowledge is in every place is famous from them.
Third: Then Asrar moved on to the issue of al-uluww and cited the verse of al-istiwaa (20:5) and subsequently proved that He is a follower of the foundation of the Jahmiyyah and Mu'tazilah in negating the uluww al-dhaat (Allaah being above His creation) for Allaah the Exalted, and instead of following in the footsteps of the Salaf, as he is claiming, and using and limiting himself to their exact expressions and affirmations in this regard, he resorted to using expressions of the Ahl al-Kalaam of whom he is a descendant in reality. This is what is apparent from his speech and had he believed otherwise, he would have stated it clearly. Trying to hide your geneology is very unscrupulous. Just like we know the ethnicity of a person by looking at his features, then likewise, we can easily detect the creedal geneology of a person by looking at his statements. As we stated, it is not our intention to bring lots and lots of quotations from the Salaf, as our purpose in these articles is simply to make pointers of analysis, the documentation is already established extensively elsewhere. But we can mention here a representative statement from the Salaf:
Al-Dhahabee writes in Mukhtasar al-uluww (p. 169):
More than one (person) has narrated, with a saheeh isnaad from Abdur-Rahmaan - about whom Alee bin al-Madeenee says, "Haafidh of the Ummah, if I was to take oath between the corner (of the ka'bah) and the station (of Ibraaheem), I would have taken oath that I have not seen (anyone) more knowledgeable than Ibn Mahdee" - [that he, Ibn Mahdee] said: The companions of Jahm are desiring to say: "Allaah did not speak to Moses" and they are desiring to say, "There is nothing above the heaven", and that "Allaah is not above His Throne". I consider that their repentance be sought, so either they repent or they are to be killed (their necks are to be struck).
To see other examples of similar statements refer to AboveTheThrone.Com and in particular, this series of ten statements from the Salaf. Al-Ja'd bin Dirham was the first to deny Allaah is above the Throne and this is because based upon what he took from the Hellenized nations who were already using the conceptual tools of the Greek Philosophers, that of al-ajsaam wal-a'raad in theological matters, he reasoned that aboveness is an incidental attribute ('arad) that can only be said of bodies (ajsaam), and thus, if Allaah was described with it, He must be a body. This matter was raised by the Jahmiyyah, however initially, they did not call to denial of al-uluww openly because it was firmly rooted in the hearts of the Muslims, through fitrah, aql, naql and ijmaa' of the Ummah, and they feared the scorn and rejection that would have been shown to them. But the Salaf became wise to them (see all those statements we referred to above). This denial of al-uluww was adopted by the Mu'tazilah. Then in the third century came Ibn Kullaab (d. 241H) and he used to refute the Mu'tazilah on these matters, and when al-Ash'ari left the Mu'tazilah, he followed the way of Ibn Kullaab and also affirmed al-uluww and refuted the Jahmiyyah and Mu'tazilah, just as they (Ibn Kullaab, al-Ash'ari and their early followers) also refuted the Hanafi Karraamiyyah Mujassimah for falling into takyeef with respect to Allaah's uluww and being above the Throne. But the Later Ash'aris tended back to the view of the Jahmiyyah and Mu'tazilah for the reason that is to be outlined below. These are the people Asrar Rasheed is truly following, not the Salaf, and not Ibn Kullaab and not al-Ash'ari.
So let us take a look at this final statement of Asrar Rashid piecemeal in order to dissect it and trace its true and real roots...
Fourth: Asrar said,
So He, the Sublime, is not in need of the Throne and of what is other than it...
There is none from the followers of the Salaf who say that Allaah being above the Throne means that He is in need of being carried by it, for the Throne is carried by His power, and those Angels who carry the Throne (40:7), carry it through His power. And there is no one who thinks that if Allaah is described with istiwaa over His Throne, it must be like the istiwaa of the creation except an ignorant, misguided strayer. For just like Allaah's knowledge, will and power is unlike ours, likewise, His istiwaa is unlike ours.
It was Asrar's historical ancestors from Ahl al-Kalaam, the Hanafi Mujassimah Karraamiyyah, who on account of the very ilm al-Kalaam they share with Asrar and his Ash'ari ancestors (that of al-ajsaam wal-a'raad used to prove huduth al-ajsaam), concluded that Allaah must be a jism, and subsequently they entered some language of takyeef into describing how Allaah is above the Throne. As a result of this, there was refutation by the followers of Ibn Kullaab and the Early Ash'aris who would say "Allaah is above the Throne and is not a jism" and "Allaah is above the Throne, but without contact (mumaassah)" and "Allaah is above the Throne without confinement" and what is similar to this speech, and in this, they were refuting the Hanafi Karraami Mujassimah who also affirmed Allaah is above the Throne, but because of their ilm al-Kalaam, they entered into language of takyeef for which they were refuted. As for the Salaf, as they never delved into any of this Kalaam, their speech was pure and simple, that Alaah is above the Throne, above the creation and that He made istiwaa over His Throne without asking how. So we have three factions, a) the Salaf, b) Ibn Kullaab, al-Ash'ari and their very early followers and c) the Hanafi Karraamiyyah. All were agreed that Allaah is above His Throne, with his essence, in opposition to the Jahmiyyah and Mu'tazilah. However, as the Kullaabiyyah and Ash'ariyyah were Kalaam schools, brethren to the Hanafi Karraamiyyah (also from the Kalaam schools), debates raged between them on this matter, and thus they utilized a particular language of affirmation or negation that opposed the way of the Salaf.
Asrar Rashid, like 99.9% of todays Ash'aris and Maturidis, is either ignorant or pretending to be ignorant of these matters. The Later Ash'aris who came along and followed the way of the Jahmiyyah and Mu'tazilah, they began to project the speech of al-Ash'ari and Ibn Kullaab against the Hanafi Karraamiyyah Mujassimah (for making takyeef of Allaah being above the Throne) on to the followers of the Salaf, whilst they themselves (the later Ash'aris) did not even affirm Allaah is above the Throne, with His essence to begin with, in opposition to Ibn Kullaab and al-Ash'ari. Thus, they declared anyone who affirmed Allaah's uluww, with His essence, to be a mujassim, kaafir, and in this they followed the position of the Jahmiyyah, Mu'tazilah. In light of the above, when you read Asrar Rashid's speech in the last paragraph, you can see it is founded upon ilm al-Kalaam and it is certainly not the speech of the Salaf, (with the exception of the statement that Allaah is not in need of the Throne and what is besides it, which is a correct and true statement).
Fifth: What indicates that this speech of Asrar is purely an inter-kalaam discourse is the following:
Whoever claimed that Allaah, the Exalted is in something, or from something, or upon something, then he has committed shirk...
These types of statements being referred to here came from the Mujassimah from the Ahl al-Kalaam groups, in particular, the Hanafi Karraamiyyah. They said that the Throne becomes filled with Allaah, and that Allaah touches the Throne and that He is equal in width to the Throne and what is similar to this false speech. And the reason is because in attempting to validate the proof of huduth al-ajsaam through the language of al-ajsaam wal-a'raad, they first concluded that Allaah must be jism in order for attributes to subsist in Him, they (the Karraamiyyah) fell into something of takyif. In addition, the Raafidee Mujassimah from the Mutakallimeen were the ones saying that Allaah occupies a space that He created for Himself and that He has human limbs and parts, the grossest of tashbeeh. All of this takyif was opposed by other factions of Ahl al-Kalaam, and thus they had statements like "Allaah has no place", "Allaah is not in the Throne", "Allaah is not above anything," "Allaah is not carried by anything..." and so on . As we stated in our series on the spurious accusation of tashbih against Ahl al-Sunnah (see here), this dispute is purely an inter-kalaam thing, it is all taking place in the Kalaam cage, amongst those who opted to build their creed upon the conceptual tools of al-ajsaam wal-a'raad, and the proof of huduth al-ajsaam.
However, a crucial historical fact that ought to be mentioned here which proves that people like Asrar Rashid are liars in their claim of following al-Ash'ari, let alone the Salaf, is that both al-Ash'ari and Ibn Kullaab never considered the proof of huduth al-ajsaam to be obligatory. In fact al-Ash'ari declared it an innovation in his book Risaalah ilaa Ahl al-Thaghar and Ibn Kullaab simply considered it one of many different ways of proving Allaah's existence. As a result, they did not see any conflict between affirming Allaah's uluww, with His essence, over the Throne, the sifaat khabariyyah (face, hands, eyes) and that particular proof. It was the Later Ash'aris who came along and following the Jahmiyyah and Mu'tazilah, considered the proof of huduth al-ajsaam to be something upon which the veracity of Islam itself depends and they made it waajib (and some of them like al-Juwaynee made takfeer of the one who reached maturity, had the ability and time, but died before learning this proof). As a result of this ghuluww (exaggeration), they were forced to adhere strictly to all its necessities, as a result of which they departed from the way of Ibn Kullaab and al-Ash'ari and tended to the views of the Jahmiyyah and Mu'tazilah in those particular matters, in the negation of al-uluww, al-istiwaa and the sifat khabariyyah, and this started as early as Abu Mansur al-Baghdaadi (d. 429H). This is a matter of absolute fact, and is undeniable.
Sixth: As for the saying of Asrar:
...since if He was upon something, He would be carried (mahmool), and if He was in something, He would be surrounded (mahsoor) and if he was from something, He would be originated.
This reasoning exposes something we previously highlighted about the very theoretical foundations of the deen of Ahl al-Kalaam. We mean here the first of his three statements above, "since if He was upon something, He would be carried (mahmool)...", and as for the other two sentences, then there is no one from Ahl al-Sunnah who say the likes of those statements (Allaah is in something, or from something), since, they never entered into the disease of that ilm al-Kalaam, such that people like Asrar Rashid should be making a pretence of piety in trying to refute Ahl al-Sunnah for affirming Allaah is above His Throne. Rather, that language is from his brethren in ilm al-Kalaam, the Hanafi Karraamiyyah Mujassimah.
So what is this thing that Asrar Rashid has exposed here? Let us cite an explanation from another article about the reality of the theoretical foundations of Ahl al-Kalaam, that which they require in order for them to build their creed and all of their statements about Allaah, and the methodology of "negative theology" they borrowed from other nations:
They made Allaah subject to the same lawaazim (binding necessities) as those applicable to His creation after having made three types of false analogy for Allaah (these are similar, overlap and are different ways of saying what essentially amounts to the same thing). These are qiyas al-shumul (analogy by inclusion), qiyas al-ghaa'ib alaa al-shaahid (analogy for the unseen with the seen), qiyas al-tamthil (analogy of likeness). The conclusions of the Ahl al-Kalam from the proof of huduth al-ajsaam are founded upon these analogies. To illustrate, anything in the creation about which we say is "above" then that would necessitate it is in a direction, occupying a created space [as it is within the universe] and hence a composite body. They then extended this necessity and included Allaah within the genus of created things for whom such necessities are binding. Hence, if it is said about Allaah "above", it necessitates he must be a body (jism) too. However, Allaah's essence is unknowable and is unlike all other essences. Yet, in order to build the language of their theology (a series of negations), they have to include Allaah within the genus of created bodies so that they can apply the lawaazim that pertain to them (the created bodies) to Allaah Himself. It is from this starting point that the very language of their theism [how they describe Allaah] is conceived. So they are operating upon false analogies in the very theological foundations of their theology and hence, they are the Mushabbihah in truth. They do not really fathom the saying of Allaah, "There is nothing like unto Him" (42:11), and this falsifies all of these analogies. Since Allaah is unlike the created bodies, then the necessities applying to them cannot apply to Him, such that your whole theology should be founded upon such theoretical considerations.
From this you will see how their minds have been led astray, because when a Sunni Muthabbit of sound mind and constitution says what Allah and His Messenger said, "Allaah is above the Throne", they say, "You have rendered Allaah a body." So here, he has applied the necessity which applies to created bodies to Allaah Himself, which means he has included Allaah in the genus of things about which if it is said, "above", it must be a body. So this is tashbih and tamthil, the very thing they are trying to flee from, but which is rooted in the very theoretical foundations of their speech. Ahl al-Sunnah, the Righteous Salaf and their followers, who have sound, uncorrupted minds (because they are not intoxicated with that kalaam), they say, "Allah is above the Throne" and they see no falsehood in this meaning at all, because they know there is nothing like unto Allaah, so these false analogies are invalidated, and hence no such [false] necessities apply, such that the realities of the creation can be imposed upon Him.
So Asrar's statement, "...since if He was upon something, He would be carried (mahmool)..." is made upon these theoretical foundations, that if it is said Allaah is above the Throne, it must mean He is being carried, and with this type of thinking it is clear that Asrar Rashid has made tashbeeh and tamtheel in the very theoretical foundations that his creed is built upon. In other words, that the binding necessities said of created bodies and essences also apply to Allaah, and Allaah enters into the genus of all created bodies in terms of the lawaazim (binding necessities) that are said of them. This is the very foundation of the creed of Ahl al-Kalam, they need this conceptual bridge to enable them to construct their creed around the language of al-ajsaam wal-a'raad and the necessities following on from them. Without this "connecting bridge" there is no theology for them. Period. This is precisely what the Salaf condemned, this specific ilm al-Kalaam, and they knew its falsehood and that it came from the foreign nations, like the Hellenized Jews, Christians and Sabeans who had also become misguided through it and left the way of the Prophets. And as for Ahl al-Sunnah, the Righteous Salaf, they never indulged in this blood, puss and dung of ilm al-Kalaam which is the language of al-ajsaam wal-a'raad, but they kept with that pure wholesome milk, the light of revelation, and they said that Allaah's essence is unlike all other essences hence no such analogies can be made for Him and hence, when Allaah says that He is above His Throne, there are no necessities that are binding for Him, which would otherwise be binding upon the created bodies, such that there should be any caution or danger of tashbeeh in affirming these matters for Allaah and such that futile statements such as Asrar Rashid's that "...if He was upon something, He would be carried (mahmool)" should be made about Allaah, which clearly oppose what is plain and manifest in naql, aql and fitrah and the ijmaa' of the Salaf that Allaah is above His Throne, with His essence, above His creation.
Seventh: This last paragraph of Asrar Rasheed is coming from the angle of negating the properties of ajsaam from Allaah, the Exalted, and this is their Tawhid of al-Jawhar wal-Arad, because they have already argued that the universe is Muhdath (originated) because it consists of bodies that are also Muhdath through the argument that they contain a'raad (incidental attributes) which are hawaadith, and anything that is never devoid of hawaadith, or never precedes them, must itself be Haadith (of recent occurence).
As a result, they are forced in all of their speech, to focus their statements around the negation of the properties of bodies from Allaah, the Exalted. And this is not the Tawhid of the Prophets and Messengers, it is the innovated Tawhid of al-Jawhar wal-'Arad of the Ahl al-Kalaam, the Innovators, Heretics and Deviants, and these are the people that Asrar Rasheed is following. Thus, when he says:
Whoever claimed that Allaah, the Exalted is in something, or from something, or upon something, then he has committed shirk, since if He was upon something, He would be carried (mahmool), and if He was in something, He would be surrounded (mahsoor) and if he was from something, He would be originated (Muhdath).
All of this speech is from that angle. But as for the speech of the Salaf, because the Salaf came into the house from it's proper entrance, their statements in this regard were very straightforward, "Allaah is indeed above the Throne, He made istiwaa over it, as in alaa, irtafa'a (rose over), without asking how." There are no false necessities applicable here because Allaah's essence is unlike all other essences and no false analogies (qiyas al-tamthil, qiyas al-shumool, qiyas ash-shaahid ala al-ghaa'ib) are in operation here, because they are all false for Allaah, and because there are no false analogies involved here, no false necessities can be applied. Hence, the follower of the Salaf has a pure, clean conscience which is free of the contagious disease of the Hellenized Kalaam of al-ajsaam wal-a'raad, and hence, none of that contagion and its symptoms ever come through in his speech at all.
As for Asrar Rasheed, he needs to be quarantined, sectioned and treated for this disease because to trained practitioners, its symptoms are easily identified and diagnosed, and it is plain and clear in his language, that he is a follower of the blameworthy Ahl al-Kalaam, and not a follower of the Salaf.
Eight: Asrar Rashid has judged the entirety of the Salaf with Shirk, when he said:
Whoever claimed that Allaah, the Exalted is in something, or from something, or upon (alaa) something, then he has committed shirk..
Because the entirety of the Salaf are agreed that Allaah is upon (alaa) His Throne in a manner that befits His Majesty. This ijmaaa' is cited by many Scholars who came after the Salaf and we will make mention of a couple here, from Abu ʿUmar at-Talamankī al-Andalūsī (d. 429H) who said, as cited by al-Dhahabi in al-uluww:
قال في كتابه: الوصول إلى معرفة الأصول: أجمع المسلمون من أهل السنة على أن معنى قوله : وهو معكم أينما كنتم . ونحو ذلك من القرآن : أنه علمه ، وأن الله تعالى فوق السموات بذاتـه مستو على عرشه كيف شاء
He said in the book al-Wusūl ilā Maʿrifah al-Usūl, which is in two volumes: "The Muslims from Ahl us-Sunnah are united that the meaning of His statement, 'He is with you wherever you may be' and what is similar to this from the Qurʾān is that it refers to His knowledge, and that Allāh, the Exalted, is above the heavens, with His essence (bi dhātihī), ascended over His Throne however he wills.
And from Abu Uthmān al-Sābūnī (d. 449H) in his book Aqidat al-Salaf wa Ashaab al-Hadeeth:
ويعتقد أصحاب الحديث ويشهدون أن الله فوق سبع سمواته على عرشه كما نطق كتابه وعلماء الأمة وأعيان الأئمة من السلف ، لم يختلفوا أن الله على عرشه وعرشه فوق سمواته
And the People of Hadīth believe and bear witness that Allāh is above His seven heavens, above His Throne, as His Book has expressed, [and as] the Scholars of the Ummah, and the leading Imāms from the Salaf [have spoken]. They never differed that Allāh is above His Throne and [that] His Throne is above His heavens.
Asrar Rashid began his statement of creed with a pretence of veneration of the Salaf, using glittering words that impress the reader, and by the end of his statement he passes a violent, oppressive, criminal judgement upon the Salaf and their followers, because he is poisoned by that ilm al-Kalaam which his creed is really founded upon, and which he tried his utmost to conceal throughout.
This brings us to the end of our commentary on Asrar Rashid's statement of creed, we will conclude in the next part with some final remarks, offer some advice and present a re-written statement of creed for Asrar Rashid to sign and publish to prove he is in reality a follower of the Salaf, as he is claiming, and not yet another neo-Jahmite pseudo-Ash'ari trying to pull wool over the eyes of the audience with vague, generalized statements whose aim is to conceal his true and real creed so as not to reveal that he is neither following Ibn Kullaab, nor al-Ash'ari, let alone the Salaf as a whole.