Abdul-Kareem Ash-Shahrastani, Sixth Century Ash'ari (d. 548H): Abu al-Hasan al-Ash'ari United With the Kullaabis After Leaving the Mu'tazilah
Posted by Abu.Iyaad on Saturday, October, 24 2009 and filed under Articles
Key topics: Ibn Kullaab Kullaabiyyah Shahrastani Al-Shahrastani Al-Milal Wan-Nihal Ibn Kullaab Kullaabiyyah Shahrastani Al-Shahrastani Al-Milal Wan-Nihal

All praise is due to Allaah and may the prayers and salutations be upon His Messenger, to proceed:

To the right is a book called "al-Milal wan-Nihal" of Abdul-Kareem ash-Shahrastani, a sixth century (hijri) scholar of the Ash'aris (d. 548H). The book provides details of various religions, sects and groups and in this article we want to document, from this Ash'ari source, that Abu al-Hasan al-Ash'ari, after debating with some of his teachers on an issue, united with the Kullaabiyyah, who were the followers of Ibn Kullaab al-Qattaan al-Basri.

Ibn Kullaab (d. 240H) and the Ash'ariyyah

We have indicated in other articles that the deen of the Ash'arites is based, in the bulk, upon the creed of Abdullaah bin Sa'eed bin Kullaab (d. 240H), along with the underlying Mu'tazili usool that the Ash'arites never managed to free themselves from.

And Ibn Kullaab tried to tread a middle ground between the Jamiyyah, Mu'tazilah and the Ahl ul-Hadeeth, and so he aided the truth in some affairs, such as Allaah's uluww (being above the creation) and affirming the sifaat dhaatiyyah (Allaah's Face, Hands, Eyes etc.) without tashbeeh and ta'weel. However, he rejected the Sifaat Fi'liyyah (attributes of action tied to Allaah's will) - and all of this comes through in the creed of the early Ash'ari Scholars such as Abu al-Hasan al-Ash'ari himself (d. 324H), Ibn Mahdi at-Tabari (d. 380H), al-Baqillani (d. 403H) and others (see here)

Ash-Shahrastani on al-Ash'ari and the Kullaabiyyah

This is from pages 105-106:

This translates as:

As for the Salaf who never resorted to ta'weel (figurative interpretation), and nor drew near to tashbeeh, then amongst them [are]: Malik bin Anas (radiyallaahu anhumaa), when he said, "Al-Istiwaa is known and the kaifiyyah is unknown, having faith in it is obligatory, and asking about it is an innovation". And [also] the likes of Ahmad bin Hanbal (rahimahullaah), Sufyan ath-Thawree and Dawud bin Aliyy al-Asfahaani, and whoever followed them.

Until the time came upon [the likes of] Abdullaah bin Sa'eed al-Kullaabi [d. 240h], Abu al-Abbaas al-Qalaanisi [contemporary of al-As'hari], and al-Haarith bin Asad al-Muhaasibee [d. 243H]. They were from the generality of the Salaf, except that they practised ilm ul-kalaam (theological, philosophical speculation), and they aided the beliefs of the Salaf with philosophical proofs, and fundamental [cognitive] evidences. Some of them authored [works] and others taught. [Until] there occurred a debate between Abu al-Hasan al-As'hari and his [Mu'tazili] teachers on an issue amongst the issues pertaining to "as-salaah wal-aslah" [an issue pertaining to whether Allaah is obligated or not to do what is best for His servants], so they disputed. And al-Ash'ari united with this faction [the Kullaabiyyah], so he supported their saying through the methodologies of speculative theological [discourse], and then that became a madhhab for Ahl us-Sunnah wal-Jamaa'ah [meaning, the Ash'aris], and then the label of "Sifaatiyyah (Affimers of the Attributes)" transferred to the Ash'ariyyah.

Ash-Shahrastani is affirming here what we have stated in numerous other articles that Abu al-Hasan al-Ash'ari adopted the bulk of the creed of Ibn Kullaab (d. 240H) and his followers who are Ahl ul-Kalaam, such as al-Muhasibi, who was spoken against by the likes of Imaam Ahmad for indulging in such affairs. The creed of these Kullaabiyyah was that they affirmed Allaah's Names, affirmed the sifaat dhaatiyyah (the Attributes of the Essence), affirmed Allaah's uluww (being above His creation) but rejected the Sifaat Fi'liyyah (actions tied to Allaah's will) because this would mean (according to them) that Allaah is subject to occurrences (hawaadith), and this would oppose the intellectual proof of "hudooth ul-ajsaam" and the "sacred" Aristotelian "al-Maqoolaat al-Ashar" (the Ten Categories) that it was based around - see here.

So the hallmark of their creed was to reject the attributes tied to Allaah's will such as istiwaa, Nuzool, anger, pleasure and so on, which are those actions Allaah is not always described with. This also influenced their rejection of Allaah speaking according to His will and power, and led to the formulation of the idea of "kalam nafsee" - which al-Ash'ari took from the Kullaabiyyah.

This became the creed of the Early Ash'aris, as we have documented in detail in many previous articles. So the Early Ash'aris affirmed Allaah is above the Throne, Himself, with His Essence whilst negating Jismiyyah from Him - and this was the view of Ibn Kullaab which he held, and he had strong refutations against the Jahmiyyah and Mu'tazilah in this regard. We see the Early Ash'aris following this, and affirming the attributes of the essence (Face, Hands, Eyes) - so they affirmed more than seven attributes, but they rejected the Sifaat Fi'liyyah for the reason that they were incompatible with their intellectual proof.

As for ash-Shahrastani claiming that the likes of the Ibn Kullaab and his followers aided the beliefs of the Salaf - then they were from people of kalam that the Salaf condemned, and the likes of Ibn Kullaab rejected Allaah's attributes tied to His will and power, and their position regarding Allaah's speech (Kalaam) and the Qur'an followed on from this (that Allaah's speech is "kalam nafsee" only and the the Qur'an is a quotation of that "kalam nafsee" and that the Qur'an we have in our presence is created). Imam Ahmad spoke against the likes of these people. These Mutakallimoon were upon that same proof of "hudooth ul-ajsaam", which is what made them reject those attributes of Allaah tied to Allaah's will and power (Sifaat Fi'liyyah) as it would signify change in Allaah's essence meaning that performing action (fi'l) necessitates change (taghayyur) - as per Aristotle's "al-Maqoolaat al-Ashar" (the Ten Categories).