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Ibn Hajr al-Asqalani's Mention of the Ash'ari Sect By Name in Fath ul-Baaree - Part 3
Posted by Abu.Iyaad, in Articles
Topics: Ibn Hajr Al-Asqalani Ibn Hajr Ibn Hajr Al-Asqalani Ibn Hajr

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The Ash'aris of today claim that Ibn Hajr al-Asqalani (rahimahullaah) was a subscriber to the Ash'ari madhhab, and Ibn Hajr's name is often mentioned in a long list of those whom they claim were Ash'aris.

The Ash'aris have certain fundamental principles (usool) that characterize their madhhab, and though Ibn Hajr al-Asqalani fell into their way of ta'weel in relation to many of Allaah's Attributes, that does not make him an Ash'ari (in the manner that al-Baqillani, al-Juwaynee and others were Ash'ari). There is a great difference between a person's usool (foundations) being Ash'ari and a person agreeing with the Ash'aris in some affairs.

As will be shown in later articles, Ibn Hajr was not upon the false usool of the Ash'aris, and it cannot be said that Ibn Hajr was an Ash'ari, merely because of his ta'weel of the Attributes.

For someone to be considered an Ash'ari, they have to propound and validate the usool of the madhhab - and Ibn Hajr certainly was not upon that. For he opposes the Ash'aris in some of the views held by them as a faction - some of which are from their usool - the issue of the first obligation upon the servant, and likewise, the entrance into the affairs of theological philosophy (ilm ul-kalaam), and the issue of khabar al-waahid, and also whether Allaah's speech is just of a single type (i.e. there being no difference between a command, a prohibition, a threat, a promise and so on) and other affairs.

So if someone says "Ibn Hajr was an Ash'ari", we say he agreed with the Ash'aris in their ta'weelaat, or we say he fell into some of what the Ash'aris fell into of ta'weel of the Attributes, or he was influenced by the path of the Ash'aris but he did not propound the generality of their usool from the angle of validating them, or deeming them correct.

In Kitaab ut-Tawheed

Here Ibn Hajr mentions the Ash'aris in relation to the issue of Allaah's Speech and whether it is with a voice (sawt). So after mentioning the hadeeth in question and stating that there is a difference regarding whether Allaah's Speech is with letter and voice or not, he says:

The Mu'tazilah said: Speech is not by (anything) but letter and voice, and the speech attributed to Allaah existed in the tree. And the Ashaa'irah said: The Speech of Allaah is not letter and voice, and they affirmed al-kalaam an-nafsee, whose reality is a meaning that is established with the Self, even if it may vary, such as [being in] Arabic or a foreign (language). And this difference (in language) does not indicate a difference in that which is being expressed (i.e. the meaning established with His self), as the Kalaam Nafsee is that which is being expressed (through these languages).

And the Hanbalees affirmed that Allaah speaks by way of letter and sound, as for letters then that is due to their being explicitly stated in the apparentness of the Qur'aan. And as for voice, then whoever prevented (from this saying), he said that the voice is (formed through) the hearing of (the sound made through) blocked or interrupted air (occurring) in the larynx (throat). And those who affirmed the voice replied that voice that is described as such is what is well-known amongst men, just like hearing and seeing, but the Attributes of the Lord are different to that and thus, the aforementioned caution is not binding whilst holding a belief of tanzeeh (Allaah being far removed from deficiencies and imperfections) and absence of tashbeeh (not resembling that voice to that of the creation), and that it is possible for (the voice) to be without a larynx (throat), and thus tashbeeh is not binding (by affirming the voice for Allaah).

And Abdullaah bin Ahmad bin Hanbal said in the book Kitaab us-Sunnah: I asked my father about a people who say, when Allaah spoke to Moses, that he did not speak with a voice. So my father said to me, "Rather, He spoke with a voice. These ahaadeeth are to be reported as they have come", and then he mentioned the hadeeth of Ibn Mas'ood and others.

In Kitaab ut-Tawheed - Mention of al-Ash'ari and His Followers

Here Ibn Hajr is discussing the subject of the Speech of Allaah again, and in the course of outlining all the various positions he says:

And the Kullaabiyyah said: The Speech is a singular eternal attribute, binding upon the Essence (dhaat), just like life (al-hayaat) and that He does not speak by His Will or His Power. And His speaking to those whom He spoke to is through His creating a (means of) perception (for that person) through which he hears the speech ... and something similar to this is quoted from Abu Mansoor al-Maatureedee from the Hanafiyyah, however he said that He created a voice when He called him and made him (Moses) to hear His speech.

And some of them claimed that is the intent of the Salaf, those who said that the Qur'aan is not created.

And the saying of Ibn Kullaab was adopted by al-Qaabisee and al-Ash'ari and their followers ...

So he mentions here al-Ash'ari and his followers who adopted the saying of Ibn Kullaab regarding the issue of Allaah's Speech. After abandoning I'tizaal, al-Ash'ari took much of what Ibn Kullaab was upon and that is what really constitutes much of the Ash'ari madhhab towards Allaah's Attributes.

In Kitaab ut-Tawheed

Here Ibn Hajr makes mention of the issue of takleef maa laa yutaaq again, which is the issue of whether Allaah imposes obligations that (He knows) cannot be fulfilled (takleef maa laa yutaaq) - this is also referred to as the issue of al-Istitaa'ah (ability) and in this regard they (the Ash'aris) as argument for their position the case of Abu Lahab and also the situation on the Day of Judgement, when those who prostrated to Allaah out of show and to be heard of will be unable to prostrate.

Ibn Hajr quotes Ibn Battaal:

Ibn Battaal said, "The one who permitted the imposition of that which cannot be fulfilled (takleef maa laa yutaaq) from amongst the Ashaa'irah clung to this (as proof) and they also sought the story of Abu Lahab as proof..."

And the text continues to show that the story of Abu Lahab cannot be used as a proof.

On this same page is an example of the tendency of Ibn Hajr towards ta'weel, and the case being discussed at the top half of the page is related to "the Shin" - and the Salaf differed as to whether the verse, "the Day that the Shin will be laid bare" was amongst the verses of the Attributes or not, so Ibn 'Abbaas explained "the Shin being laid bare" to mean "severity", and he explained that in accordance with the language, and thus this is not an instance of ta'weel - it is an explanation of the verse upon the understanding that it is not a verse that pertains to Allaah's attributes, and thus this is tafseer.

And Abu Sa'eed al-Khudree, narrated the hadeeth in which it mentions, "... then Allaah will uncover His Shin ..." and from this the Salaf understood the verse to be a verse of the Attributes, so they affirmed it, like the other attributes such as Hand, Eyes, Face, and adopted the same position towards it with respect to all the other attributes.

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