Imaam adh-Dhahabee on Abdullaah bin Sa'eed bin Kullaab (d. 240H): The Founder of the Creed That Became Popularized Through Abu al-Hasan al-Ash'ari and the Early Ash'aris, Then Jahmified By the Later Ones
Posted by Abu.Iyaad on Wednesday, December, 16 2009 and filed under Articles
Key topics: Adh-Dhahabi Adh-Dhahabee Ibn Kullaab Ibn Kullab Kullaabiyyah

Who is Ibn Kullaab?

He is Abu Muhammad Abdullah bin Sa'eed bin Muhammad bin Kullaab al-Qattan al-Basri. He was one of the Mutakallimoon (speculative theologians) during the time of al-Ma'moon, and he had debates and works against the Mu'tazilah, and the "Kullaabiyyah" are ascribed to him. He has a number of works that are documented such as "Kitaab as-Sifaat", "Khalq Af'aal" and "ar-Radd 'ala al-Mu'tazilah". These books are lost, however remnants of them can be found in other works such as al-Maqaalaat of Abu al-Hasan al-Ash'ari, and also in the works of Ibn Taymiyyah and Ibn al-Qayyim, and he is also quoted by the early Ash'ari Scholars such as Ibn Fawrak (d. 406H), and some of them, such as "Kitaab us-Sifaat" are mentioned by Ibn an-Nadim (d. 385H) in his "Fihrist" (Catalogue), who referred to him as a "From amongst the Hashawiyyah", and Ibn Hajr al-Asqalani explained this statement in "Lisaan ul-Meezaan" to mean that he (Ibn Kullaab) was upon the way of the Salaf in leaving the ta'weelaat (figurative explanations) of the verses and hadeeths related to the Attributes. Ibn Kullaab died around or after 240H. What became known as "Ash'ariyyah" is actually the creed of Ibn Kullaab, it became popularized through this label. However within a century and a half or less, those ascribing themselves to Abu al-Hasan al-Ash'ari abandoned aspects of this creed and reverted to the positions of the Jahmiyyah and the Mu'tazilah and Kafirs like Ibn Sina (d. 429H) see here - such as in the issue of al-uluww, and the sifaat dhaatiyyah such as Face, Hands and Eyes, and we have covered this extensively in other articles (see this series).

Imaam adh-Dhahabi on Ibn Kullaab

Imaam adh-Dhahabi said in as-Siyar (11/174-176)

The Translation

Imaam adh-Dhahabee said:

Ibn Kullaab: The head of the Mutakallimeen (speculative Theologians, kalaamists) of al-Basrah in his time, Abu Muhammad, Abdullaah bin Sa'eed bin Kullaab al-Qattaan al-Basree. The author of works in refutation of the Mu'tazilah and perhaps he agreed with them [in affairs].

As mentioned by Shaykh ul-Islaam Ibn Taymiyyah, the likes of Ibn Kullaab debated with the Mu'tazilah and whilst affirming the attributes and refuting the Mu'tazilah on this issue, because they all shared in the same underlying usool pertaining to the intellectual proof of "hudooth ul-ajsaam" that they used to prove the universe is created to the atheists, using the same language, classification and terminologies of the atheists themselves, the likes of Ibn Kullaab fell prey to the doubts of the Mu'tazilah regarding what they called "hawaadith" (occurrences, events), and by which they meant Allaah's actions tied to his will (mashee'ah) and power (qudrah). And because of this, Ibn Kullaab denied the Sifaat Fi'liyyah whilst affirming the Names, Attributes, and the sifaat dhaatiyyah, inclusive of al-uluww (Allaah being above the Throne, above the heaven), and Face, Hands, Eyes, for Allaah, the Most High. So Ibn Kullaab agreed with the Mu'tazilah from that angle in negating the Sifaat Fi'liyyah. It is for this reason that he made ta'weel of the attributes such as love, pleasure, anger and made them synonymous with iraadah (will). Abu al-Hasan al-Ash'ari took up this Kullaabi doctrine, and it became popularized through him.

Imaam adh-Dhahabee continues:

Dawud ad-Dhaahiree took Kalaam from him, [this was] said by Abu at-Taahir adh-Dhuhlee.

Dawud adh-Dhaahiree was condemned by Imaam Ahmad for his speech concerning the Qur'an - refer to the context of that in this article.

Imaam adh-Dhahabee continues:

And it has been said: That al-Haarith al-Muhaasibee took the knowledge of inspection and argumentation from him as well. He used be called "kullaab" because he used to entice the disputant towards himself through his speech and eloquence. And his associates are the Kullaabiyyah. Abu al-Hasan al-Ash'ari met some of them. And he (Ibn Kullaab) use to refute the Jahmiyyah.

The early Kullaabis included al-Haarith al-Muhaasibee, Abu al-Abbaas al-Qalaanisee and Abu al-Hasan al-Ash'ari came across the Kullaabiyyah in his days in Bagdhad, sat in their circles and from here did he acquire the creed of Ibn Kullaab. Imaam Ahmad condemned both Ibn Kullaab and al-Muhaasibee because after the Jahmiyyah, Mu'tazilah had been silenced and defeated through the mihnah (trial) of Imaam Ahmad, and the truth became manifest, the likes of al-Muhaasibee were opening up the door for the saying of the Jahmiyyah that the Qur'an is created to gain currency again, through their saying, "My pronunciation of the Qur'an is created".

Imaam adh-Dhahabee continues:

And some of those who do not know said: That he innovated what he innovated in order to [enter and] conceal the religion of the Christians into our religion, and that he pleased his sister by that. And this is false for the man was the closest of the mutakallimeen (speculative theologians) to the Sunnah, rather he is amongst their debators (i.e. of the mutakallimeen).

Because Ibn Kullaab was the first of the Mutakallimeen to affirm attributes for Allaah (the sifaat dhaatiyyah), he is generally spoken of in good terms, in relation to the Jahmiyyah and Mu'tazilah, for being closer to the truth. He aided the deen on the issue of Allaah's uluww, and also affirmation of the sifaat dhaatiyyah, such as Face, Hands, Eyes, which the Jahmiyyah and Mu'tazilah were making ta'weel of and on account of which they were making accusations of Tajseem against the affirmers.

These positions were carried by Abu al-Hasan al-Ash'ari, and likewise by the early Kullaabi Ash'aris such as Abu al-Abbaas al-Qalaanisee, Ibn Mahdee at-Tabaree (d. 380H), Abu Bakr al-Baqillaani (d. 403H), and al-Bayhaqi (d. 458H), who affirmed Face, Hands and Eyes for Allaah without ta'weel or tafweed and rebutted the ta'weels of the Jahmiyyah and Mu'tazilah and negated that their affirmation implies Tajseem. However, the later ones ascribing themselves to al-Ash'ari tended to the views of the Jahmiyyah and Mu'tazilah, adopting their ta'weels and then assaulting Ahl us-Sunnah with the accusations of Tajseem and tashbeeh that the early Kullaabi Ash'aris dealt with in their time. This is clear undeniable proof that what we have today are Jahmiyyah going under the label of "Ash'ariyyah". They are not followers of Abu al-Hasan al-Ash'ari in reality.

And he used to say that the Qur'an is established with the self [of Allaah] without [being tied to Allaah's] qudrah (power) or mashee'ah (will). And no one preceded him in this [saying] at all. He said this in opposing the one who spoke with the creation of the Qur'an.

We have established in other articles from other Ash'aris like ash-Shahrastani (d. 548H) - see here - that those who broke the ijmaa' (consensus) that existed on the issue of "Kalaam" being both meaning and wording were Ibn Kullaab and whoever followed him such as al-Ash'ari. There was no one at all who spoke of "Kalaam" being just a meaning (ma'naa) present with Allaah's self from eternity prior to him. The negation of qudrah and mashee'ah by Ibn Kullaab in relation to the Allaah's attribute of speech, follows his principle of rejecting actions for Allaah that are tied to His will and power, because this would invalidate the intellectual proof of "hudooth ul-ajsaam" that the generality of the Mutakallimoon (Jahmiyyah, Mu'tazilah, Kullaabiyyah, Ash'ariyyah, Maturidiyyah) are united upon. So while affirming Allaah has the attribute of "Kalaam" in the form of a mere meaning present with Allaah's self from eternity, he denied Allaah speaks as and when He wills, with whatever He wills.

Imaam adh-Dhahabee continues:

And he authored on [the subject] of Tawheed and affirmation of the Attributes, and that Allaah being above His creation is something known through the innate instinct (fitrah), and the intellect, in agreement with the (revealed) text. And al-Muhaasibee said likewise in the book "Fahm ul-Qur'aan". I did not come across the death [date] of Ibn Kullaab, and he was alive prior to 240H.

This was the creed of Ibn Kullaab and he had powerful refutations of the Jahmiyyah and Mu'tazilah in this regard, on the subject of Allaah being above the heaven, above the Throne. See the following articles:

Whilst the Early Ash'aris followed him in this creed, unfortunately the later ones - Abu Mansur al-Baghdadi in part, but more so from al-Juwaynee (d. 478H) onwards - simply reverted to the doctrine of the Jahmiyyah, Mu'tazilah and Kafirs like Ibn Sina (d. 429H).

Imaam adh-Dhahabee continues:

Ibn an-Najjaar gave mention to a biographical account for him but he was not thorough in it. He mentioned that he used to be at the time of al-Junayd, and that he heard something of the expressions of the Soofees, and that he was amazed by him and held him in awe.

Muhammad bin Ishaaq an-Nadeem said: Ibn Kullaab is from the generation of the Hashawiyyah. He had debates with Abbaad bin Salmaan, and he would say, "The Speech of Allaah is Allaah", and Abbaad would say, "He is a Christian by this saying".

Ibn Hajar explains that Ibn an-Nadeem's saying is because Ibn Kullaab used to affirm the attributes. The label of "Hashawiyyah" was innovated by the Mu'tazilah against the affirmers of the Attributes, and whilst the Mu'tazilah used it against the likes of Ibn Kullaab, it was then used by the later (Jahmite) Ash'aris against the people of the Sunnah!

Imaam adh-Dhahabee continues:

And Abu al-Abbaas al-Baghawee said: Faythoon the Christian said to me: May Allaah have mercy upon Abdullaah [bin Sa'eed bin Kullaab]. He used to come to me to the Church and would take from me, and if he remained alive, we would have turned the Muslims into Christians. So it was said to Faythoon: What do you say about al-Maseeh [Easaa bin Maryam]? He said: [The same] as what the people of your Sunnah say regarding the Qur'an.

This is an interesting quote brought by adh-Dhahabee. What the Christian meant is that the Christians hold that Eesaa was the word that was with Allaah and was Allaah, then that word became flesh, meaning it manifested in creation in the form of Eesaa, as occurs in John 1:14, "And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth..." And Ibn Kullaab said that "Kalaam" (speech) is a meaning (ma'naa) in the self of Allaah, and that the Qur'an that we have took form as a created quotation (hikaayah) of that meaning.

Now it gets a little intriguing here. The Kullaabiyyah Ash'ariyyah built their doctrine of "Kalaam Nafsee" upon an alleged piece of poetry from a Trinitarian Christian called al-Akhtal from which they claimed that the meaning of "Kalaam" is just the meaning in the self, and that the word (lafdh) is not from it.

إن الكلام لفي الفؤاد وإنما جعل اللسان على الفؤاد دليلاً

Indeed, speech is in the heart.
And the tongue has been made an indication of what is in the heart.

So they made the reality of "Kalaam" to be only the meaning in the self, and then the outward word (lafdh), to be merely an indication to that speech. This is similar to the position of the Jahmiyyah, Ash'ariyyah on the subject of eemaan (faith), they said the reality of faith is only the ma'rifah (knowledge), or tasdeeq (assent) in the heart, and the outward actions are only an indication of that reality, but not actually from it.

Then they began to look in the revealed texts for evidences that would support their innovation. So they found examples in which "Kalaam" was mentioned with taqyeed (in a restricted sense) to mean what occurs in one's soul of meaning and internal speech, but they abandoned the thousands of evidences in the revealed texts that show "Kalaam" with its normal unrestricted definition (both meaning and wording). Arguing for this meaning of "Kalaam" through the poetry of the Trinitarian Christian, al-Akhtal is found in the bulk of the main Ash'arite textbooks.

With this innovation in the bag, they built their doctrine of "Kalaam Nafsee", a singular meaning present with Allaah's self from eternity, and thus the doctrine of two Qur'ans was born, the eternal Qur'an and the created Qur'an that took form as an expression of that eternal meaning present with Allaah. This is a doctrine that they do not like to be propagated about them because of their sure knowledge that if the general folk come to know the reality of their doctrine, tomatoes will be thrown at them in the streets and they will be shoved against the wall and spat at, in scorn and disgust. Their position on the Qur'an is a medley of intellectual frauds and you can learn more about that in this article here.

To add to all of this is this article from Imaam Ahmad in which he documents an argument of the Jahmiyyah used to prove the Qur'an is created with the claim that in the Qur'an, Allaah says Eesaa Ibn Maryam was the word (kalimah) of Allaah, and that Eesaa was created and therefore the Qur'an is created, and Imaam Ahmad rebuts this doubt of the Jahmiyyah. Refer to the article here, and here is a quotation from the speech of Imaam Ahmad.

Rather, the meaning in the saying of Allaah, "Indeed al-Maseeh, Eesaa the Son of Maryam (Jesus, Son of Mary) is the Messenger of Allaah, and His Word..." [is that] the word which He bestowed upon Maryam is when He said to him (Eesaa) "kun (Be)!" and so Eesaa became through [the word] "Be!", and Eesaa [himself] is not [the word] "Be!" For "(kun) Be!" is from the saying of Allaah, and "kun" is not created. And the Christians and the Jahmiyyah lied upon Allaah in the affair of Eesaa, and this is [because] the Jahmiyyah said: "Ruhallaah (the Spirit of Allaah) and His Word, except that His word is created." And the Christians said: "Eesaa is the Spirit of Allaah, from the Essence of Allaah, and the Word of Allaah, from the Essence of Allaah", just like it is said "this tatter (shred, piece) is from that thawb (garment)" We say: Eesaa came to be through a word and he is not the word itself, rather the word is the word of Allaah (kalimah), the saying of Allaah (qawl).

Then adh-Dhahabee continues:

And to Ibn Kullaab belongs the book "as-Sifaat" as well as the book "Khalq al-Af'aal" and "Kitaab ar-Radd alal-Mu'tazilah".

In these books Ibn Kullaab affirms Allaah's uluww with His Essence, and refutes the Mu'tazilah for rejecting the sifaat dhaatiyyah such as face, hands, eyes and also rebuts them on the issues of al-Qadar. Whilst his books are not extant as far as we know, passages from them have been preserved through the works of others such as Ibn Fawrak (d. 406H), and we have quoted some of these in other articles mentioned above.

Today's Jahmiyyah and Ibn Kullaab

The Jahmiyyah of today (posing as followers of al-Ash'ari) have a particular problem. This problem invalidates their entire madhhab with a single swipe and they really have no answer to it. This is why a primary and fundamental part of their call and polemic is to create a layer of confusion and obfuscation by attacking the people of truth with allegations of Tajseem and in particular to attribute to Shaykh ul-Islaam Ibn Taymiyyah things which he is free of and in which they have little understanding. And that's after putting their corrupt intentions and their fraudulent, insincere nature to one side.

So what is the problem they face? The problem is when it is pointed out that Abu al-Hasan al-Ash'ari did not devise any original doctrines of his own (by and large), but simply adopted the Kullaabi doctrines after leaving the Mu'tazilah, and that al-Ash'ari simply popularized the "Kullaabi" creed, and it simply changed labels from "Kullaabiyyah" to "Ash'ariyyah" - then they have to deal with this historical fact. This can only leave them with the one choice of jumping into the ditch of having to defend Ibn Kullaab al-Qattaan al-Basree. This is a necessity and the uncovering of the above facts forces them into this.

So they are forced to start bringing the good words that are found with the Scholars regarding Ibn Kullab and that he was the closest of the Mutakallimeen to the Sunnah, and that he had good refutations of the Jahmiyyah and Mu'tazilah and so on. And here this is a very deep ditch indeed.

Because if you choose this ditch, then you've invalidated and falsified your entire machinery of Jahmiyyah in operation today, going under the label of "Ash'ariyyah" and which attacks those upon the way of the Salaf on the issue of al-uluww (Allaah being above the heaven, above the Throne, with His Essence). And you've made it plain and clear that you are simply Jahmiyyah who are upon the deen of the Jahmiyyah of old, the Mu'tazilah and Kafirs like Ibn Sina (d. 429H). see here, who claimed that affirmation of Allaah's uluww (with His Essence) is tantamount to Tajseem and kufr, and that you are not what Abu al-Hasan al-Ash'ari and the early Kullaabis were upon in this regard. Likewise, you have openly declared that your attacks against Ahl us-Sunnah with accusations of Tajseem and tashbeeh for affirming the attributes of Face, Hands, Eyes for Allaah are a brazen, ignominious fraud.

And in reality they have no choice but to start defending Ibn Kullaab in this manner, to make out he was upon the truth, all in order to portray to the people that what Abu al-Hasan al-Ash'ari took from him was indeed the truth, and in order to repel any criticisms in this regard, and then to claim that what Abu al-Hasan al-Ash'ari took from Ibn Kullaab is what they are upon - which is a brazen fraud indeed, for today's Jahmiyyah have cut off with Abu al-Hasan al-Ash'ari, even if we accept for argument's sake that he remained a Kullaabi.

For if they were truthful in following Abu al-Hasan al-Ash'ari, upon his Kullaabi stage, then they would affirm Allaah's uluww, with His Essence and affirm the attributes of Face, Hands, Eyes without ta'weel and tafweed and refute the Jahmiyyah and Mu'tazilah on these issues. However, they are very ones refuting Ahl us-Sunnah today, and defending these very doctrines of the Jahmiyyah and Mu'tazilah! Allaahu Akbar!

And all praise is due to Allaah who has humiliated the Jahmiyyah through their own sayings and actions, for falsehood is ever bound to perish!