Abu Hasan al-Ash'ari's Affirmation of al-Uluww and al-Istiwaa for Allaah With His Essence, and Refutation of the Ta'wils of the Jahmiyyah and Mu'tazilah
Posted by Abu.Iyaad on Friday, September, 04 2009 and filed under Articles
Key topics: Al-Ash'ari Al-Ash'aree Al-Ibanah Al-Uluww Al-Istiwaa Al-Ash'ari Al-Ash'aree Al-Ibanah Al-Uluww Al-Istiwaa

Imaam adh-Dhahabi has documented numerous of the writings of Abul-Hasan al-Ash'ari in which he affirms that Allaah is above the Throne, above the heaven, with His Essence, and rejects the ta'wils of the Jahmites and Mu'tazilah. And al-Ash'ari adopted the creed of Ibn Kullab during the second of the three distinct stages in his creed (Mu'tazili to Kullaabi to Athari), and Ibn Kullab affirmed Allaah is above the Throne, above the heaven, with His Essence, and in general had good positions on the sifaat as he tended towards the people of hadeeth, and this creed of Ibn Kullab influenced Abul-Hasan al-Ash'ari - even though it had aspects of trying to reconcile between the creed of the Mu'tazilah and the creed of the people of hadeeth.

And likewise, there was the influence of Zakariyya as-Saajee (d. 407H) who played an important role in shaping the views of al-Ash'ari to be in agreement with the sayings of the people of hadeeth.

The views of al-Ash'ari regarding al-uluww and al-istiwaa are also narrated from al-Ash'ari by the likes of Ibn Fawrak and Ibn Asaakir and such quotes are also collected by adh-Dhahabi in Mukhtasar al-uluww.

The Saying of al-Ash'ari in "al-Ibaanah"

Imaam adh-Dhahabi wrote in Mukhtasar al-uluww (pp. 238-239)

The translation of which is:

And al-Ash'ari said in the book of his "al-Ibanah Fi Usul id-Diyanah" in the chapter of "al-istiwaa":

And if one says: What do you say regarding al-istiwaa? It is said to him:

We say that Allaah is ascended over His Throne, just as He said, "ar-Rahman has ascended the Throne", and He said, "The goodly word ascends up to Him", and He said, "Nay, He raised him (Eesaa) up to Himself", and He said, quoting from Fir'awn, "And Fir'awn said: O Haman! Build me a tower that I may arrive at the ways, The ways of the heavens, and I may look upon the Ilah (God) of Musa but verily, I think him to be a liar." So he (Fir'awn) disbelieved Moses in his saying, "Indeed Allaah is above the heavens". And He, the Mighty and Majestic said, "Do you feel secure that He, Who is over the heaven, will not cause the earth to sink with you, then behold it shakes (as in an earthquake)? "

Thus, the Throne is above the heavens, and when the Throne is above the heavens, and everything that is elevated is (called) "samaa" - He did not mean when He said, "Do you feel secure that He, who is above the heaven", all the heavens, but He intended the Throne which is the highest of the heavens. Do you not see that He mentioned the heavens, and then said, "And He placed the moon therein as a light", and He did not intend that it (the moon) fills all of the (heavens), and that it is in all of the heavens.

He [al-Ash'ari] said: And we see all of the Muslims raising their hands - when they supplicate - towards the heaven because Allaah is ascended above the Throne which is above the heavens, and if Allaah had not been upon the Throne, they would not have raised their hands towards the Throne.

And [some] sayers amongst the Mu'tazilah, Jahmiyyah and Harooriyyah have said: The meaning of istawaa (ascended) is istawlaa (conquered), and owned and subdued, and that He, the Exalted, is in every place, and they rejected that He is above His Throne as the people of truth have said. And they have tended (to the view) regarding al-istiwaa that it means "al-qudrah" (power), and if it had been as they have said, there wold have been no difference between the Throne and between the seven heavens, because He is powerful (qaadir) over everything, and the earth is a thing, so Allaah is powerful over it, and also over all the hushoosh (places where people relieve themselves) and so on, and if He was over the Throne with the meaning of "isteelaa" (conquering, subduing), then it would be permissible for it to be said: Indeed Allaah is ascended over the hushoosh and akhliyah (places where people relieve themselves). Hence, that al-istiwaa [over the Throne] should be "al-isteelaa" is invalidated.

And he mentioned evidences from the Book and the Sunnah, and intellect besides that [which is alread mentioned]

And the book "al-Ibaanah" is from the most famous of the [works] of authorship of Abu al-Hasan, al-Haafidh Ibn Asaakir made it well known and he relied upon it, and the Imaam, Muhyi ud-Din an-Nawawi made a manuscript of it with his own handwriting.