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The Great Scandal of Keller in Falsifying History
Keller was asked the following question:
The Salafis claim that Abul Hasan Ash'ari formulated the Ash'ari tenets of Islamic faith ('aqida) while he was between the Mu'tazila and Ahl al-Sunna, and that he later refuted his formulations and joined Ahl al-Sunna in the Hanbali madhhab before he died. Is there any truth in this? They say his last book, al-Ibana, contains the refutations. If not, how can I prove it to these people?
And in his response he stated:
In answer to your question, the claims that Imam Abul Hasan Ash'ari (d. 324/936) repudiated his own positions are not new, but have been circulated by these Hanbalis for a long time, a fact that compelled the hadith master (hafiz) Ibn 'Asakir to carefully investigate this question, and the sanads (chains of narrators) for the attribution of these repudiations to Ash'ari. The results of his research furnished probably the best intellectual biography of Ash'ari ever done, a book that rebuts these claims thoroughly and uniquivocally, called Tabyin Kadhib al-Muftari fi ma nusiba ila al-Imam al-Ash'ari [On showing the untruth of the liars, concerning what has been ascribed to Imam Ash'ari], that proves that there are liars in all the sanads that impute this to Imam Ash'ari. The book is in print, and whoever would like the details should read it.
Analazying Keller's Falsification of History
This one paragraph from Keller is absolutely amazing! It proves that the average Ash'ari continues to be hoodwinked, defrauded and taken for a ride by the likes of these people, whilst none the wiser. The only thing that keeps them stuck to the likes of Keller is either their own blindness or bigotry or partisanship, certainly not historical facts or religious truths. We can break this scandal down with the following.
Firstly: The book by Ibn Asakir (d. 571H) called Tabyin Kadhib al-Muftari was written in response to Abu Ali al-Ahwazi (d.446H) who wrote a book Mathaalib al-Ash'ari , compiling criticisms and disparagements upon Abu al-Hasan al-Ash'ari (d. 324H). And al-Ahwazi was from the sect known as the Saalimiyyah, and they followed Muhammad bin Ahmad bin Salim (d. 297H) who had taken on the principles of Ibn Kullab. From the views of the Salimiyyah was that the Qur'an in both meaning and wording, letter and Voice is eternally present with Allaah, and this was in contrast to the view of the Kullaabiyyah Ash'ariyyah that Allah's kalam is only a meaning in the self, and the Qur'an is from that singular indivisible meaning, and as for the Arabic Qur'an it is created. The Salimiyyah and Ash'ariyyah, both following Ibn Kullaab, denied Allaah speaks as and when He wills, in order to avoid ascribing what they call hawaadith (events, occurrences) to Allaah. However, amongst the Salimiyyah were those who had the belief of Hulool and they said that just as Allaah is above His Throne, He is also in every place, and they also had tasawwuf witih them. So Abu Ali al-Ahwazi was from the Saalimiyyah, and he wrote an attack upon al-Ash'ari, motivated in that by his creed and orientation, and he used the fabrications of the Mu'tazilah against al-Ash'ari in order to revile al-Ash'ari.
It is for this reason that Ibn Asakir wrote the actual book, to defend the honour and integrity of al-Ash'ari, and to establish and affirm that the contents of al-Ibanah comprise the actual belief of al-Ash'ari and that al-Ash'ari was in agreement with Imaam Ahmad!!
Secondly: In Tabyin Kadhib al-Muftari, Ibn Asaakir quotes the opening passage of al-Ibaanah between pages 152-163 (you can download this section right here in PDF) in which al-Ash'ari affirms Allaah's uluww and His sifat khabariyyah (face, hands, eyes) and al-istiwaa and al-nuzul, al-majee and so on. Then after quoting it Ibn Asaakir says (on page. 163, see the PDF file attached):
فتأملوا رحمكم الله هذا الاعتقاد ما أوضحه وأبينه واعترفوا بفضل هذا الإمام العالم الذي شرحه وبينه وانظروا سهولة لفظه فما أفصحه وأحسنه وكونوا مما قال الله فيهم الذين يستمعون القول فيتبعون أحسنه وتبينوا فضل أبي الحسن وأعرفوا أنصافه واسمعوا وصفه لأحمد بالفضل واعترافه لتعلموا أنهما كانا في الاعتقاد متفقين وفي أصول الدين ومذهب السنة غير مفترقين
So reflect, may Allāh have mercy upon you, this belief (iʿtiqād), how clear and apparent it is, and acknowledge the virtue of this Imām and Scholar who explained it and clarified it, and look at the ease in his wording, how eloquent and excellent it is, and be amongst those about whom Allāh said, "Those who listen to the speech and follow the best part of it" (39:18), and clarify the virtue of Abū al-Ḥasan, and know his justice, and listen to his description of [Imām] Aḥmad with virtue, and his acknowledgement, that you may come to know that they were both in agreement upon belief and in the foundations of the religion and the madhhab of the Sunnah undivided
Ibn Asakir actually affirms the book al-Ibaanah for al-Ash'ari and he also invalidates the evidences brought by al-Ahwazi to cast doubt upon the motives for writing al-Ibanah. With the above two points established, we can now make some conclusions:
ONE: What Keller has written is both laughable and scandalous at the same time, and you wonder how do these clowns get away with such blatant lies. The answer is simple. These clowns know that the average person is not going to dig out those books, start reading them, and see what is really going on, and this is because they blindly trust figures like Keller, and also because a Western audience is largely devoid of knowledge of Arabic to be scrutinizing these clowns by checking the original sources in the first place.
While there is much more that can be said on this issue, if you reflect upon just the facts presented here and the quotations from al-Tabyin of Ibn Asakir, you will see that Nuh Keller only adds further disgrace to his other disgraces (such as this despicable one).
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