Ibn Hajr al-Asqalani's Mention of the Ash'ari Sect By Name in Fath ul-Baaree - Part 2
Posted by Abu.Iyaad on Thursday, July, 02 2009 and filed under Articles
Key topics: Ibn Hajr Al-Asqalani Ibn Hajr Ibn Hajr Al-Asqalani Ibn Hajr

The Ash'aris of today claim that Ibn Hajr al-Asqalani (rahimahullaah) was a subscriber to the Ash'ari madhhab, and Ibn Hajr's name is often mentioned in a long list of those whom they claim were Ash'aris.

The Ash'aris have certain fundamental principles (usool) that characterize their madhhab, and though Ibn Hajr al-Asqalani fell into their way of ta'weel in relation to many of Allaah's Attributes, that does not make him an Ash'ari (in the manner that al-Baqillani, al-Juwaynee and others were Ash'ari). There is a great difference between a person's usool (foundations) being Ash'ari and a person agreeing with the Ash'aris in some affairs.

As will be shown in later articles, Ibn Hajr was not upon many of the false usool of the Ash'aris, and it cannot be said that Ibn Hajr was an Ash'ari, merely because of his ta'weel of the Attributes. For someone to be considered an Ash'ari, they have to propound and validate the usool of the madhhab - and Ibn Hajr certainly was not upon that.

For he opposes the Ash'aris in some of the views held by them as a faction - some of which are from their usool - the issue of the first obligation upon the servant, and likewise, the entrance into the affairs of theological philosophy (ilm ul-kalaam), and the issue of khabar al-waahid, and also whether Allaah's speech is just of a single type (i.e. there being no difference between a command, a prohibition, a threat, a promise and so on) and other affairs.

So if someone says "Ibn Hajr was an Ash'ari", we say he agreed with the Ash'aris in their ta'weelaat, or we say he fell into some of what the Ash'aris fell into of ta'weel of the Attributes, or he was influenced by the path of the Ash'aris but he did not propound the generality of their usool from the angle of validating them, or deeming them correct.

In Kitaab us-Sawm

Here the mention of the Ash'ari sect is in relation to an issue in which the Ash'aris are misguied - the issue of whether Allaah imposes obligations that (He knows) cannot be fulfilled (takleef maa laa yutaaq) - this is also referred to as the issue of al-Istitaa'ah (ability). We can look at this in a separate article as another example of errors of the Ash'aris in fundamental matters. But here Ibn Hajr is speaking about whether the delaying of clarification beyond the time of its need is permitted, and he mentions, in the course of this discussion, quoting Ibn al-Haajib, the view of the Ash'aris on the issue of al-Istitaa'ah.

This is another example of Ibn Hajr (rahimahullaah) referencing the Ash'aris, as a faction or sect that is characterized by certain viewpoints.

In Kitaab ul-Maghaazi

Here the reference is to Abu Ja'far as-Samnaanee, who is refered to as: of the leading scholars of the usool from the Ashaa'irah...

The context of the discussion is related to whether the Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) was truly an "ummiyy" (unlettered, unable to read or write) - in light of texts that may indicated that he may have written himself.

In Kitaab ul-Adab

Here Ibn Hajr makes mention of the Imaam ul-Haramayn, who is al-Juwaynee, and he says:

... the Imaam ul-Haramayn has verified what has been narrated from the Ashaa'irah (as being their viewpoint)...

And the discussion is regarding what constitutes a major sin.

So we have a few more examples in which Ibn Hajr al-Asqalani (rahimahullaah) references the Ashaa'irah explicitly by name, and mentions them as a faction with certain viewpoints.