|Wednesday, 05 May 2021|
Never see Ash'ariyyah in the same light, ever again! Aristotle of Stageira, Philo of Alexandria, Augustine of Hippo, the Sabeans of Harraan, the Mu'tazilites of Basrah and Baghdad and the Jahmite Ash'ari Heretics of Today Claiming Orthodoxy. Read the first article, the second article, the third article, the fourth article, the fifth article.
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All praise is due to Allaah and may the prayers and salutations be upon the Messenger, to proceed:
We are pleased to announce a new and much needed section entitled "Top Tips To Become a Better Ash'ari". Unfortunately, we are not very impressed or pleased with the level of ignorance found amongst the vast majority of Ash'aris. The vast majority of Ash'aris don't really understand the foundations of their creed, and their superiors keep it deliberately hidden from them. You will agree no doubt, this needs to be remedied. For this reason, "top tips" will provide the background knowledge and understanding to give those Ash'aris who are lagging behind a bit of sense, purpose, direction and impetus, after they understand exactly what their creed is founded upon.
This series should be followed along with our "Competition Corner" series (see here), as they are in fact both complementary to each other. No matter what your level, a beginner, or a promising Kalam Atomist, these tips will still help you. You should also remember, there are lots of those 'evil wahhabis' on the one hand and 'crazy atheist philosophers' on the other that need to be kept at bay. There's no point looking brave and serious when your pockets are empty.
So here goes, this is our opening tip - and our tips by the way are in no particular order, they are random and miscellaneous:
The 1st Tip: The Reason Why ta'weel is Made
Point 1: What is "hudooth ul-ajsaam"
If you have never heard of "hudooth ul-ajsaam" before now, then it is outright disgraceful that as an Ash'ari you are ignorant of the most important foundation of your entire creed. You need to be clued up on bodies and substances (ajsaam, jawaahir) and incidental attributes (a'raad) and what they are. Aristotle's the best man for this, and his "Ten Categories" lay a lot of the foundations. We may cover that in a separate tip.
"hudooth ul-ajsaam" means the createdness of bodies (i.e. whatever is in the universe), and this is demonstrated by the presence of qualities (sifaat), incidental attributes (a'raad) and occurrences (hawaadith) that are found in bodies, and which bodies are not free of. Because these things are found in bodies (ajsaam) it must mean - according to this proof - that they are created (this is a simplification at this point, you can look at the details in other articles on this site). It is upon this underlying classification (of matter) and subsequent reasoning to prove a Creator, that the entire Ash'arite creed is built upon, however the Ash'arites did not pioneer this, they simply inherited it from the Mu'tazilah and Jahmiyyah.
Point 2: Thanks Jahm For this Intellectual Proof and For Inventing ta'weel For Us, We are Indebted to You
First, give credit where credit is due. You should recall that Jahm bin Safwan (d. 128H) was the first to use this form of proof against those 'nasty, evil' Indian Materialist Philosophers called the "Sumaniyyah". He managed to convince them that attributes in bodies prove they are newly-arisen, created, and as the whole universe is made of bodies (ajsaam), then the universe is created and therefore must have a creator. So these Indian Materialist Philosophers accepted there was a creator but then asked Jahm to describe this creator. It was here that the necessity for (ta'teel) and ta'weel was born. The light bulb switched on in Jahms head and he realized that the best way to answer these 'nasty, evil' Philosophers - who were simply trying to play smart with this question - and the best way to put them squarely in their place was just to make ta'teel (negation) and ta'weel (metaphorical interpretation) of all attributes (sifaat) and actions (af'aal) established for Allaah in the revealed texts. This would immediately silence those nasties from criticizing and falsifying the proof and give them no refuge from admitting a creator. This action of Jahm bin Safwan was the basis for the rejection of Allaah's Names and Attributes that was inherited by the Jahmiyyah, Mu'tazilah, Kullaabiyyah and Ash'ariyyah.
This matter has already been covered extensively on this site and you should definitely do a little homework reading on that first.
Again, as a good and honest Ash'ari, you must give credit where credit is due. Abu al-Hudhayl al-Allaaf (d. 235H) was the one who really formalized Jahm's crude version of this proof called "hudooth ul-ajsaam", and to refine it and make it better he incorporated a theory preceded by that of the "Atomism" of the Greek Philosopher, Democritus (d. 370BC). With the introduction of the "indivisible particle" by the Mu'tazilah, it was easier to argue for the similarity of bodies (tamaathul al-ajsaam) and therefore, to show that the entire universe (made of such bodies) is created. You can do bit of homework on al-Allaaf from this article here. All of the ta'weels that you are involved in (as an Ash'ari) have their origins with these people, the Jahmiyyah, Mu'tazilah and the likes of Bishr al-Mareesee. Again, you won't find your current day teachers telling you that..., instead they will try to hoodwink you into believing that these ta'weels originated with the Salaf, which is a blatant lie, that can be demonstrated with clinical precision in other articles.
Again, give credit where credit is due - be honest and scrupulous at all times. All the major ta'weels of the texts were thought of by these characters and factions.
Point 5: Why Is ta'weel Being Made
Now, we are coming to explain the core of this tip, so please pay attention, and this really is the crux of it all, this explains the entire thrust of the Ash'arite creed.
So, "we" (speaking through the Jahmiyyah, Mu'tazilah, Ash'ariyyah) have argued against those 'crazy' atheist Philosophers that something having incidental attributes (a'raad) and occurrences (hawaadith) taking place is proof that it is newly-arisen, created. By doing this we were able to prove to those crazies the notions of creation, and therefore a creator, and thus prophethood and resurrection. However, when they turned round and said to us, "Describe your creator", then obviously we could not describe Him with what is found in much of the revealed texts as that would falsify our proof against those crazies, because in the Qur'an there are "names" and "attributes" and "actions" affirmed for Allaah. So we are going to shut those crazies up, just like Jahm did with one broad sweep, so we are just going to make ta'weel of what we feel would hint at the falsification of our proof from the revealed texts. And that's essentially what Ash'ariyyah is, it is "an approach" which aims to "deal" with those "problematic" texts that go against this "decisive proof".
Except that "we" (Ash'aris) had a bust up with Jahm and his friends, and al-Allaaf and his friends (the Mu'tazilah) - we had an argument with them as to what exactly does and does not conflict with the intellectual proof of "hudooth ul-ajsaam" from the texts. And we also had a bust up with al-Allaaf and his friends over some of the finer details of "hudooth ul-ajsaam". But let's not go into that right now.
So what we are doing is that whenever we come across any revealed text that directly or indirectly invalidates our intellectual proof, we have to make ta'weel of it. So anything in those revealed texts that implies that Allah is described with some quality or action temporally, instead of eternally - or anything that implies any of the nine incidental attributes (a'raad) of bodies (ajsaam, jawaahir) that Aristotle classified, amongst which were location and place, (thanks greekos - always give credit where credit is due) then we must make ta'weel of it.
So in a nutshell that's what we are up to, and that is where we are coming from. We are trying to make our belief in the creator, and our description of Him to remain as close as possible to Aristotle's "Ten Categories", we have to negate these categories from Allaah, and thus our language is all based around negating these "ten categories" from Allaah.
Point 6: ta'weel is our Defense Mechanism
From the previous point it should become clear now that ta'weel is a defense mechanism which protects that intellectual rational proof of "hudooth ul-ajsaam" of our good friends Jahm bin Safwan (ex. 128H) and followers, and Abu al-Huhdayl al-Allaaf (d. 235) and followers and likewise the Ash'aris and their followers. You see Jahm and followers and al-Allaaf and followers were clued up on how to defend their turf, and that's why ta'teel and ta'weel was pioneered by them. So as a good, honest Ash'ari, you ought to be grateful to those people, because that is whom you inherited your creed from in reality.
Point 7: ta'weel of the Texts Has its Weaknesses
Having said all that, whilst ta'weel was adopted as a defence mechanism for protecting the fortress of "hudooth ul-ajsaam", it does have some weaknesses and flaws, as it amounts to lying upon Allaah, for one has no idea as to whether the claimed ta'weel is intended by Allaah or not. And it is here where we find the splits between the Ash'arites themselves and between the Maturidis and the Ash'arites.
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