The Levels and Ranks of Ash'arism or Those To Whom It is Ascribed - An Important Classification And Exposition of the Contemporary Jahmites Posing as 'Asharis'|
Posted by Abu.Iyaad on Monday, September, 20 2010 and filed under Articles
Key topics: Ashari Scholars
Group 1: Abu al-Hasan al-Ashari
We have to put Abu al-Hasan al-Ash'ari in a category on his own because after abandoning the Mu'tazilah and adopting the Kullaabi creed, he went through a transition and moved towards the creed of Ahl al-Sunnah and reached the truth in the most affairs by the end of his life. Just like Ibn Kullaab, al-Ash'ari did not consider the proof of huduth al-ajsaam to be obligatory, rather he declared it an innovation and an inferior method to the method of the Qur'an in his book Risaalah ilaa Al al-Thaghar. In his last works (al-Maqaalaat, al-Ibaanah), He affirmed Allah's 'uluww, sifat khabariyyah (face, two hands, two eyes and so on) and Sifat Fi'liyyah (istiwa', nuzul, majee, anger, pleasure and so on) without ta'wil or tafwid. His direct students such as Abu Abdullah bin Mujahid (~370H), and Abu al-Hasan al-Bahili (~370H), Ibn Mahdi al-Tabari (d. 380H) and others will have come under this influence, although not much exists from them in terms of literature or reports, this is because unlike the Later Ash'aris, they did not author a great deal.
Group 2: Abu Bakr al-Baqillani
We have to put al-Baqillani in a separate category because he has something unique. He opposed al-Ash'ari by elaboratinng upon the proof of huduth al-ajsaam, and declaring it obligatory (al-Ash'ari said it was a bid'ah). However, alongside this proof he still affirmed Allah is above the Throne, with His essence, and He affirmed the sifaat khabariyyah (face, two hands, two eyes) and he is commended for being close to Ahl al-Sunnah in these affairs, despite laying down things which are not from al-Ash'ari himself.
Group 3: Those Adhering to What is in al-Ibaanah and Labelled Themselves as Ash'aris
There were found historically those who adhered to what al-Ash'ari was upon at the end of his life, and they spoke with everything that was in the book al-Ibanah and did not oppose it, and they labelled themselves as Asharis, even though such a label for oneself is an innovation in the religion. The presence of such factions is proven by Ibn Asakir (d. 571H) who defended al-Ash'ari with respect to his authorship of al-Ibanah against the charges of deception (taqiyah) and not believing in its contents. The likes of Ibn Darbas al-Shafi'i (d. 659H) who held onto what is in al-Ibanah were present in al-Quds in that era, and he has a book defending al-Ash'ari from the claim that he wrote al-Ibanah out of taqiyah and did not wholeheartedly believe in its contents, similar to what was done by Ibn Asakir.
Whoever held fast to what is in al-Ibanah and did not oppose, it no rejection is shown against them except their bid'ah of ascription to al-Ash'ari. For the purpose of terminology we can refer to this as Ibanah-Ash'ariyyah and those who were upon it as Ibanah-Asharis.
Type 2: The Move Towards I'tizaal And Tasawwuf
Al-Juwayni (d. 478H) completed the affair and took the school well into the road of the Mu'tazilah. Also worthy of mention is al-Qushayri (d. 465H) who brought in an extreme form of tasawwuf and associated the Ash'ari madhhab with it.
Type 3: Philosophy and Zandaqah
It is here that the likes of al-Ghazali (d. 505H) and al-Razi (d. 606H) brought Ash'arism into the throes of greater heresy. They got diseased and ruined by delving into the books of the Philosophers, such as Ibn Sina (d. 429H), the writings of Abu Hayyan al-Tawhidi (d. 414H), the Rasaa'il of Ikhwan al-Safaa (Baatiniyyah) and others. And they brought in Gnostic Illumism, Philosophy, and much confusion and heresy. Similarly, Sayf al-Din al-Aamidee (d. 631H) he continued this heritage of zandaqah in opinion and viewpoint taken from al-Razi, and he was someone who used to abandon the prayer (tarik al-salat) as is established about him, and he used to learn philosophy from the Jews and Christians (more on that in a separate article). So this is the era of falsfah, baatiniyyah and zandaqah which was of greater pollution, beyond the I'tizal of the 5th century.
Type 4: Those Who Lived, Were Raised and Acquired Knowledge in a Period when the Ash'arites Were Prominent
These are the likes of al-Qurtubi (d. 671H) al-Nawawi (d 676H), and Ibn Hajar (d. 852H) and they lived in a period when the Jahmite Ash'aris gained strength and prominence in the Muslim lands and few were spared from them and their influence, and when it was difficult to proclaim and manifest the way of the Salaf for reasons that parallel the times when the Mu'tazilah had similar strength in the early third century after hiijrah. You had Ash'arite heretics like Ibn Tumart (d. 542H) who claimed he was the awaited mahdi, and imposed the Ash'arite creed with sword, killing tens of thousands of Muslims because he considered them Mujassimah for not subscribing to his particular creed. So this was the kind of environment in the 6th-8th centuries with the spread of Ash'ariyyah. Ashariyyah was the creed of the day, and Allaah certainly alternates the days between the factions, for how many a state with a deviant creed has come and gone, and this is how it is, Allaah tests some with others. So these scholars were influenced by the prevailing situation. Despite this, in their writings they clearly demonstrated their opposition to some of the foundational principles upon which the Ash'ari kalam school is built, and this was by virtue of their attachment to hadeeth. This shows that they did not enter through the same initial primary door as these Jahmites. Rather, they entered through the love of the Qur'an and the hadith and their sciences, and as for the Mu'attilah they entered through ilm al-kalam, and due to the dominance of the Ashari school in that time these Scholars were affected and concurred in some of their sayings with those Jahmites. But they were influenced to various degrees and their perspective of what the Salaf were upon was through this influence. They are similar to the Hanbali Mufawwidah like al-Qadi Abu Ya'laa who had love for hadith and its sciences but followed - with an honest and good intention - certain kalamist views (those of the Kullaabiyyah) which they wrongly thought to be correct. It should be pointed out that even those in this group are not all alike. As for Ibn Hajar then he is mudtarib (confused), sometimes he speaks with the way of the Salaf by adhering to the hadith and other times he is overwhelmed by the madhhab he was raised upon, however, he is certainly not an "Ash'ari" like al-Baghdadi, al-Juwayni, al-Ghazali, al-Razi and al-Aamidee are Ash'aris. Al-Nawawi and al-Qurtubi rejected some of the core foundations of ilm al-Kalaam which the Early Ash'aris founded their creed upon, such as the obligation to rationally prove one's belief in Allaah. So it is not correct to say that these later scholars were "Ash'aris" in the sense of those earlier, heavy industrial-strength kalam Ash'aris.
Type NONE: Those to Whom Ash'ariyyah is Spuriously Ascribed
These are Scholars, who for one reason or another, the Jahmites found a way to impute "Ash'ariyyah" (of the second and third type above) to them. To give an example: Abu Uthman al-Sabuni (d. 449H) praised the book al-Ibanah, but he praised it from the perspective of [Type 1: Group 3] because its contents are in agreement with the aqidah of Ahl al-Sunnah.
Further in the works of al-Sabuni we see him affirming what invalidates the Ash'arite kalam school from its very foundations, which are the Sifat Fi'liyyah (actions tied to Allah's will). This affirmation is diametrically opposed to the core foundation upon which the Ash'arite doctrinal school is built (negation of what they call hawaadith).
Also another reason they might find to impute a scholar with Ash'ariyyah is that he might have praised one of the Ash'ari Scholars in some respect,like what al-Sabuni stated about Abu Mansur al-Bagdhadi. So this is a flimsy excuse to impute Ash'ariyyah to him.
Others imputed with [Type 2 and Type 3] Ash'ariyyah include Abu Bakr al-Ismaa'eeli (d. 371H), al-Qayrawaanee (d. 389H), Abu Nu'aym al-Asbahani (d. 430H), al-Khatib al-Baghdadi (d. 463H - all of these are Salafi Scholars upon the aqidah of the Salaf. However, the Jahmite Ash'aris use their names in order inflate their numbers in order to deceive the people. Some of these may have associated with al-Ash'ari upon the basis of what is in al-Ibaanah, which most Ash'arites reject today, either as a forgery or as a book whose contents have been tampered, and for these allegations they have zero proof except sophistries by which they deceive the people (see here)
When you have understood the above, and the veil has been lifted, let us now expose how these Jahmites are functioning on an operational level.
The first step is to throw Ibn Hajar, al-Nawawi and al-Qurtubi at you, for obvious reasons, this is the preferred method because these were real scholars, we mean scholars of the religion, of hadith and its sciences, and of tafsir and they did contribute greatly to the Ummah. This is why you will see that most of what they quote when they seek evidence for their ta'wil and ta'til will come from the direction of these scholars. But these scholars are not really Ash'arites in the proper sense of the word, as we have established, since to be an Ash'ari in the proper sense of the word, in terms of the doctrinal school, a Scholar must:
And so on.
But their aim here is to conceal the engine [Type 2 and Type 3] which is behind the cover and is actually comprised of al-Juwayni, al-Ghazali, al-Razi, and al-Aamidee. It is that Jahmi, I'tizali, Falsafi hybridization which todays Ash'arites are upon in reality. This engine has be concealed, and its like the engine under the bonnet, you just see the nice appearance of the car, as for its mechanical function, it is hidden. Same thing here. You have to remember that ta'wil and tafwid are simply mechanisms through which the Jahmites have to maintain conformity with the proof of huduth al-ajsam.
So in the books of those who make up the engine you see them outlining this proof, having followed the Jahmiyyah and Mu'tazilah in that, and adhering to its necessities [Allah is not a jism, not a jawhar, not an 'arad, not in jihah, not in makan, not in tahayyuz, not in the universe, not outside of it and so on, which is the negative theology of the Sabean Philosophers] but as for the mechanism to maintain the sanctity of that proof and abide by its necessities they found utility in the likes of Ibn Hajar, al-Nawawi, and al-Qurtubi, who - even if they were affected by ta'wil and tafwid - they were not upon that foundational baatil at all, in fact they spoke against it as we have documented elsewhere on this site. They were affected with the ta'wil or tafwid purely because of circumstantial reasons to do with the place and age they lived in.
So through this, the Talbis of the Jahmiyyah is unveiled.