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    Posted: 25 February 2006 at 3:58pm

Bi ismillahir rahmanir raheem

assalamu alaikum


(Allah be well-pleased with him)

by GF Haddad

by GF Haddad
`Ali ibn Isma`il ibn Abi Bishr Ishaq ibn Salim,
Abu al-Hasan al-Ash`ari al-Yamani al-Basri al-Baghdadi (260-324),1
a descendent of the Yemeni Companion Abu Musa al-Ash`ari, was in the first half of his scholarly career a disciple of the Mu`tazili teacher Abu `Ali al-Jubba'i, whose doctrines he abandoned in his fortieth year after asking him a question al-Jubba'i  failed to resolve over the issue of the supposed divine obligation to abandon the good for the sake of the better (al-slih wa al-aslah). At that time he adopted the doctrines of the sifatiyya, those of Ahl al-Sunna who assert that the divine Attributes are obligatorily characterized by perfection, unchanging, and without beginning, but He is under no obligation whatsoever to abandon the good for the sake of the better.2 He left Basra and came to Baghdad, taking fiqh from the Shafi`i jurist Abu Ishaq al-Marwazi (d. 340).3 He devoted the next twenty-four years to the refutation of "the Mu`tazila, the Rafida, the Jahmiyya, the Khawarij, and the rest of the various kinds of innovators" in the words of al-Khatib. His student Bundar related that his yearly expenditure was a meager seventeen dirhams.
Among al-Ash`ari's books up to the year 320 as listed by himself in al-`Umad ("The Supports"):
* Adab al-Jadal ("The Etiquette of Disputation").
* Al-Asma' wa al-Ahkam ("The Names and the Rulings"), which describes the divergences in the terminology of the scholars and their understanding of the general and the particular.
* Al-Dafi` li al-Muhadhdhab ("The Repelling of `The Emendation'"), a refutation of al-Khalidi's book by that title.
* Al-Funun ("The Disciplines"), a refutation of atheists. A second book bearing that title was also written, on the disciplines of kalm.
* Al-Fusul ("The Sub-Headings") in twelve volumes, a refutation of the philosophers, perennialists, and members of various religions such as Brahmans, Jews, Christians, and Zoroastrians. It contains a refutation of Ibn al-Rawandi's4 claim that the world exists without beginning.
* Idah al-Burhan fi al-Radd `ala Ahl al-Zaygh wa al-Tughyan ("The Clarification of the Proof in the Refutation of Heretics"), a preliminary to al-Mujaz.
* Al-Idrak ("The Awareness"), on the disciplines that address the subtleties of dialectic theology.
* Al-Istita`a ("Potency"), a refutation of the Mu`tazila.
* Al-Jawabat fi al-Sifat `an Masa'il Ahl al-Zaygh wa al-Shubuhat ("The Replies Pertaining to the Attributes On the Questions and Sophistries of Heretics"), al-Ash`ari's largest work, a refutation of all the Mu`tazili doctrines he had upheld previously.
* Al-Jawhar fi al-Radd `ala Ahl al-Zaygh wa al-Munkar ("The Essence: Refutation of the People of Heresy and Transgression").
* Al-Jism ("The Body"), a proof of the Mu`tazila's inability to answer essential questions that pertain to corporeality, contrary to Ahl al-Sunna.
* Jumal al-Maqalat ("The Sum of Sayings"), which lists the positions of atheists and the positions of monotheists.
* Khalq al-A`mal ("The Creation of Deeds"), a refutation of the doctrine of the Mu`tazila and Qadariyya whereby man creates his own deeds.
* Al-Luma` fi al-Radd `ala Ahl al-Zaygh wa al-Bida` ("The Sparks: A Refutation of Heretics and Innovators"), a slim volume.
* Al-Luma` al-Kabir ("The Major Book of Sparks"), a preliminary to Idah al-Burhan and, together with the Luma` al-Saghir, the last work composed by al-Ash`ari according to our Shaykh `Isa al-Humyari.5
* Al-Luma` al-Saghir ("The Minor Book of Sparks"), a preliminary to al-Luma` al-Kabir.
* Maqalat al-Falasifa ("The Sayings of Philosophers").
* Maqalat al-Islamiyyin wa Ikhtilfa al-Musallin ("The Discourses of the Proponents of Islam and the Differences Among the Worshippers"), an encyclopedia of Islamic sects.
* Al-Masa'il `ala Ahl al-Tathniya ("The Questions in Refutation of the Dualists").
* al-Mujaz ("The Concise") in twelve volumes, which identifies and describes the various Islamic sects. It contains a refutation of the Shi`i doctrines of the questioning of Abu Bakr al-Siddiq's ( imamate and of the infallibility of the Imam in every era.
* Al-Mukhtasar fi al-Tawhid wa al-Qadar ("The Abridgment: On the Doctrine of Oneness and Foreordained Destiny"), a review of the different doctrinal issues which the opponents of Ahl al-Sunna are unable to address.
* Al-Mukhtazan ("The Safekeeping"), on the questions which opponents did not bring up but which pertain to their doctrines.
* Al-Muntakhal ("The Sifted"), a response to questions from the scholars of Basra.
* Naqd al-Balkhi fi Usul al-Mu`tazila ("Critique of al-Balkhi and the Principles of the Mu`tazila"), a refutation of the book of the Mu`tazili scholar al-Balkhi entitled Naqd Ta'wil al-Adilla ("Critique of the Interpretation of the Textual Proofs").
* Al-Nawadir fi Daqa'iq al-Kalam ("The Rarities Concerning the Minutiae of Dialectic Theology").
* Al-Qami` li Kitab al-Khalidi fi al-Irada ("The Subduer: A Refutation of al-Khalidi's Book on the Will"), a refutation of a-Khalidi's doctrine whereby Allah creates His own will.
* Al-Radd `ala Ibn al-Rawandi ("Refutation of Ibn al-Rawandi") concerning the Divine Attributes and the Qur'an.
* Al-Radd `ala Muhammad ibn `Abd al-Wahhab al-Jubba'i, an extensive refutation of a Mu`tazili scholar and of his book al-Usul ("The Principles").
* Al-Radd `ala al-Mujassima ("Refutation of the Anthropomorphists").
* A refutation of `Abbad ibn Sulayman in the minutiae of kalm.
* A refutation of a book by `Ali ibn `Isa.
* A refutation of al-Balkhi's book in which the latter claimed he had rectified Ibn al-Rawandi's error in his disputation.
* A refutation of al-Iskafi's book entitled al-Latif ("The Subtle").
* A refutation of al-Jubba'i on the principles and conditions of scholarly investigation and the derivation of rulings.
* A Refutation of al-Jubba'i's objections to al-Ash`ari on the vision of Allah in the hereafter as reported by Muhammad ibn `Umar al-Saymari.
* A refutation of al-Khalidi's book on the denial of the vision of Allah in the hereafter.
* A refutation of al-Khalidi's book on the denial of the creation of the deeds of human beings by Allah Almighty and Exalted according to His decision.
* The refutation of the philosophers, especially the Perennialist Ibn Qays al-Dahri and Aristotle's books "On the Heavens" and "On the World."
* Al-Ru'ya ("The Vision"), which affirms the vision of Allah by the believers in the hereafter, contrary to the Mu`tazili doctrine which denies the possibility of such a vision.
* Al-Sharh wa al-Tafsil fi al-Radd `ala Ahl al-Ifk wa al-Tadlil ("The Detailed Explanation in Refutation of the People of Perdition"), a manual for beginners and students to read before al-Luma`.
* Al-Sifat ("The Attributes"), a description of the doctrines of the Mu`tazila, Jahmiyya, and other sects that differ from Ahl al-Sunna on the topic of the Divine Attributes. It contains a refutation of Abu
al-Hudhayl, Ma`mar, al-Nazzam, al-Futi, and al-Nashi, and an affirmation that the Creator possesses a face and hands.
* Tafsir al-Qur'an wa al-Radd `ala man Khalafa al-Bayan min Ahl al-Ifki wa al-Buhtan ("A Commentary on the Qur'an and Refutation of Those Who Contradicted it Among the People of Perdition and Calumny") which Ibn al-`Arabi al-Maliki says numbered 500 volumes.6 Ibn al-Subki reports from al-Dhahabi that this Tafsir was written at a time al-Ash`ari was still a Mu`tazili.7
* Various epistles in response to questions from the scholars of Tabaristan, Khurasan, Arrujan, Sayraf, Amman, Jurjan, Damascus, Wasit, Ramahramuz, Baghdad, Egypt, and Persia.
* Ziyadat al-Nawadir ("Addenda to `The Rarities'").
Among al-Ash`ari's books between the year 320 and his death in 324 as listed by Ibn Furak:
* Af`al al-Nabi Sallallahu `Alayhi wa Sallam ("The Acts of the Prophet - Allah bless and greet him").
* Al-Akhbar ("The Reports").
* Bayan Madhhab al-Nasara ("Exposition of the Doctrine of Christians")
* Hikayat Madhahib al-Mujassima ("The Tales of the Schools of the Anthropomorphists"), a refutation of the proofs they adduce.
* Al-Ihtijaj ("The Adducing of the Proofs").
* Al-Imama ("The Doctrine of the Imam").
* Ithbat al-Qiyas ("The Upholding of the Principle of Analogy").
* Sessions around the lone-narrator report (al-khabar al-whid).
* Mutashabih al-Qur'an ("The Ambiguities in the Qur'an"), in which he brought together the stands of the Mu`tazila and the atheists in their invalidations of the ambiguities in the hadith.
* Naqd Ibn al-Rawandi `ala Ibtal al-Tawatur ("The Critique of Ibn al-Rawandi's Denial of Mass-Narrated Hadiths"), which contains an affirmation of the principle of Consensus (ijm`).
* Naqd al-Mudahat ("Critique of `The Similarity'"), a refutation of al-Iskafi on the term qadar.
* Naqd al-Taj `ala al-Rawandi ("The Diadem: Critique of Ibn al-Rawandi").
* On questions put to al-Jubba'i concerning names and rulings.
* A refutation of Abu al-Hudhayl on the limitlessness of the foreknowledge and decisions of Allah Almighty and Exalted and another on motions.
* A refutation of Harith al-Warraq on the Attributes.
* A refutation of the logicians.
* A refutation of the proponents of metempsychosis and reincarnation.
* al-`Umad ("The Supports") on the vision of Allah in the hereafter.
* Al-Wuquf wa al-`Umum ("The Abeyance of Rights and the Public at Large").
After listing the above titles, Ibn `Asakir says: "I have seen other works not mentioned by Ibn Furak in his list." He then proceeds to list the following:
* Al-Hathth `ala al-Bahth ("The Encouragement to Research").
* Risala al-Iman, an epistle on Belief which discusses whether it is permissible to say that belief is created. Ibn Hajar heard it from Abu Ishaq al-Tannukhi with the latter's chain of transmission back to al-Ash`ari, through the latter's student Abu al-Hasan Ahmad ibn Muhammad ibn Miqsam al-Muqri' al-Baghdadi.8
* Risala ila Ahl al-Thughar ("Epistle to the People of al-Thughar"), a definition on the doctrines of Ahl al-Sunna.
Ibn `Asakir then mentions that al-Ash`ari's works number over two or three hundred books.9 As for the epistle entitled Istihsan al-Khawd fi `Ilm al-Kalam, al-Ash`ari most likely wrote it - provided he actually authored it - before his conversion, since it is ostensibly directed against the Hanbalis and uses markedly Mu`tazili terminology such as "divine Oneness and Justice" (al-tawhd wa al-`adl) in reference to the fundamentals of belief, and Allah knows best.
The Corrupt Text of al-Ash`ari's al-Ibana
The above lists exclude al-Ash`ari's al-Ibana `an Usul al-Diyana but Ibn `Asakir explicitly attributes it to him in the first few pages of Tabyin Kadhib al-Muftari, an attribution confirmed by al-Bayhaqi, Abu al-`Abbas al-`Iraqi, Abu `Uthman al-Sabuni, and other hadith masters.10 The book dates from the beginnings of al-Ash`ari's Sunni career according to a report narrated by Ibn Abi Ya`la in Tabaqat al-Hanabila and adduced by al-Dhahabi in the Siyar. The report is phrased rather oddly since it depicts a fawning Imam Abu al-Hasan al-Ash`ari visiting the Hanbali Abu Muhammad al-Barbahari upon entering Baghdad and enumerating before him his refutations11 of the Mu`tazila and defense of Ahl al-Sunna in order to win his approval, to which al-Barbahari coolly responds: "We only know what Ahmad ibn Hanbal said." "Whereupon," the report continues, "al-Ash`ari went out and wrote al-Ibana but they [the Hanbalis] did not accept it from him."12 Al-Dhahabi cites this report at the opening of his biographical notice on al-Barbahari in the Siyar directly following the extremely brief notice on Imam al-Ash`ari.13 Apart from its obviously Hanbali-biased terms, the report clearly shows that al-Ash`ari composed the Ibana upon first coming to Baghdad or shortly thereafter. Shaykh Wahbi Ghawiji cites a statement explicitly confirming this date from Imam Abu al-Hasan `Ali ibn Ibrahim al-Muqri (Ibn Matar) who died in the year 306: "Imam al-Ash`ari composed it in Baghdad upon entering it."14
However, despite the authenticity of al-Ash`ari's authorship, the text of the Ibana itself has undoubtedly not reached us in its original authentic form but in a corrupted version which comprises interpolations along two main ideological slants: (1) the anthropomorphist interpretation of the divine Attributes and (2) the apostatizing of Imam Abu Hanifa ( for supposedly holding, with the Jahmiyya, that the Qur'an was created. Shaykh Wahbi Sulayman Ghawiji has shown in his analysis of the work entitled Nazra `Ilmiyya fi Nisba Kitab al-Ibana Jami`ihi ila al-Imam al-Ash`ari ("A Scientific Look at the Attribution of al-Ibana in Its Entirety to Imam al-Ash`ari") that these two stances are contradicted by what is known of al-Ash`ari's authentic positions in his and his students' works.15
(1) The anthropomorphist interpretation of the divine Attributes is illustrated by the following examples:
* The passage: "[Our position is] that He has two eyes (`aynayn) without saying how; just as He stated: {That ran under Our eyes (a`yunin)} (54:14)."16 Ibn `Asakir's citation of the same passage in the Tabyin states: "[Our position is] that He has an eye (`aynan) without saying how."17 A recent edition of the Ibana consequently amended its own tradition to follow the text cited by Ibn `Asakir18 since the evidence of the Qur'an and the Sunna mentions {My Eye (`ayn)} (20:39) in the singular and {Our Eyes} (52:48, 54:14) in the plural but never two eyes in the dual.19 Further down in all versions of the Ibana the text states: "Allah Almighty and Exalted has said that He possesses a face and an eye which is neither given modality nor defined."20
* The passage: "When supplicating, the Muslims raise their hands toward the sky, because Allah Almighty and Exalted is established (mustawin) over the Throne which is above the heavens...21 The Muslims all say: `O Dweller of the Throne' (y skin al-`arsh)!"22 This kind of faulty reasoning can hardly come from al-Ash`ari for the following reasons:
- The Attributes are divinely ordained (tawqfiyya) and al-Ash`ari considers it impermissible to make up or derive new terms such as mustawin and skin al-`arsh if there is no verse or authentic hadith transmitting them verbatim: "My method in the acceptance of the Names of Allah is Law-based authorization without regard to lexical analogy."23 - The argument of supplication on the basis of location leads to placing Allah Almighty and Exalted inside the Ka`ba according to the same logic, an absurd impossibility.
- The claim that "the Muslims all say: `O Dweller of the Throne'" is unheard of. Yet Ibn Taymiyya cites it and attempts to justify it with the narration: "Allah created seven heavens then chose the uppermost and dwelt in it,"24 adducing a condemned report to support an invented phrase! - Three editions of the Ibana have, "O Dweller of the heaven (y skin al-`sam')"25 which further casts doubt on the integrity of the text in addition to being equally anthropomorphist.
* The passage: "If we are asked: `Do you say that Allah has two hands?' The answer is: We do say that, without saying `how.' It is indicated by the saying of Allah Almighty and Exalted {The Hand of Allah is above their hands} (48:10) and His saying {that which I have created with both My hands} (38:75). It was also narrated from the Prophet - Allah bless and greet him - that he said: `Allah created Adam with His hand then He wiped his back with His hand and brought out of it his offspring.'26 So it is established that He has two hands without saying how. And the transmitted report reached us from the Prophet - Allah bless and greet him - that `Allah created Adam with Hand, created the Garden of `Adn with His hand, wrote the Torah with His hand, and planted the tree of Tuba with His hand,'27 that is: with the hand of His power (ay biyadi qudratih)."28 The last clause contradicts the entire reasoning that precedes and follows, and is actually suppressed from the latest edition of the Ibana!29 The text further states: "They say: `the hands' (al-ayd) are the strength (al-quwwa),30 so the meaning of {with both My hands} has to be `with My power' (bi qudrat). The answer to them is: That interpretation is wrong."31 Al-Ash`ari's actual position on the Attribute of hand according to Ibn `Asakir is: "Al-Ash`ari took the middle road [between the Mu`tazila and the anthropomorphists] and said: His hand is an Attribute and His face is an Attribute, just like His hearing and His sight."32
* The following passage is missing from two of the editions of al-Ibana but is found in two others: "And [we believe] that He established Himself over the Throne in the sense that He said and the meaning that He wills in a way that transcends touch, settlement, fixity, immanence, and
displacement. The Throne does not carry him, rather the Throne and its carriers are carried by the subtleness of His power, subdued under His grip. He is above the Throne and the Heavens and above everything to the limits of the earth with an aboveness which does not bring Him nearer to the Throne and the Heavens, just as it does not make Him further from the earth. Rather, He is Highly Exalted above the Throne and the Heavens, just as He is Highly Exalted above the earth. Nevertheless, He is near to every entity and is (nearer to [the worshipper] than his jugular vein( and He witnesses everything."33
(2) The apostatizing of Imam Abu Hanifa - Allah be well-pleased with him - for supposedly holding, with the Jahmiyya, that the Qur'an was created.34 Imam al-Tahawi stated that Abu Hanifa held the opposite position in his Mu`taqad Abi Hanifa or "Abu Hanifa's Creed," also known as the `Aqida Tahawiyya.35 Nor did al-Ash`ari mention Abu Hanifa in the chapter on those who held the Qur'an was created in his Maqalat al-Islamiyyin.36 Al-Ash`ari lived in Baghdad - the seat of the Caliphate and home of the Hanafi school - at a time the Hanafi school had long been the state creed37 and would probably have been executed or exiled for making such a charge. Furthermore, al-Bayhaqi stated that "al-Ash`ari used to defend the positions of the past Imams such as Abu Hanifa and Sufyan al-Thawri among the Kufans."38 The charge of the Ibana is therefore almost certainly a later interpolation, as enmity against the Imam al-A`zam and his school and followers typifies fanatic Hanbalis and their "Salafi" successors.
There are also blatant errors which al-Ash`ari the heresiographer and former Mu`tazili would never commit, such as the attribution to the Mu`tazila as a whole of the belief that Allah Almighty and Exalted is everywhere,39 when he himself reports in his Maqalat that the vast majority of the Mu`tazila said, like Ahl al-Sunna, that it was the controlling disposal (tadbr) of Allah Almighty and Exalted that was everywhere.40 Furthermore, there is apparently no known chain of transmission for the Ibana from the Imam despite its ostensible fame and the abundance of his students,41 nor do any of his first or
second-generation students - such as Ibn Furak - make any mention of it.42 Finally, Imam al-Qushayri's Shikaya Ahl al-Sunna bi Hikaya Ma Nalahum Min al-Mihna provides an additional external sign that the tampering of al-Ash`ari's Ibana took place possibly as early as the fifth century:
They have attributed despicable positions to al-Ash`ari and claimed he had said certain things of which there is not one iota in his books. Nor can such sayings be found reported in any of the books of the scholars of kalm who either supported him or opposed him, from the earliest times to our own - whether directly quoted or paraphrased. All of that is misrepresentation, forgery, and unmitigated calumny!43
In conclusion it is possible to say with a fair degree of certainty that the Ibana attributed to al-Ash`ari today is actually the anonymous, chainless rewriting of an anti-Ash`ari, anti-Hanafi literalist with clear anthropomorphist leanings and a willingness to adduce Israelite reports typical of the works of anthropomorphist doctrine44 while the unaltered version known to Ibn `Asakir, Abu `Uthman al-Sabuni, and other Ash`aris did not reach us. It is a telling confirmation of this conclusion that the early anthropomorphists used to reject the Ibana while those of later centuries quote it without reservation. And Allah knows best.
1Al-Khatib in Tarikh Baghdad (11:346) gives the dates 260-330. Ibn `Asakir in his Tabyin, Ibn al-Subki in Tabaqat al-Shafi`iyya al-Kubra (3:347, 3:352), al-Dhahabi in the Siyar (al-Arna'ut ed. 15:85) and Tadhkira al-Huffaz (3:820), Ibn Kathir in al-Bidaya (Ma`arif ed. 11:204), and Ibn Qadi Shuhba in Tabaqat al-Shafi`iyya (1:114 #60) all give the dates 260-324. Ibn al-Athir, as quoted by Ibn Kathir, gives the obitus as 330. See also Ibn `Imad's Shadharat al-Dhahab (2:303), and Wafayat al-A`yan (2:446). Shaykh Ghawiji gives the dates ~260-~324 in his Nazra `Ilmiyya (p. 21).
2Cf. al-Shahrastani, al-Milal wa al-Nihal (1:93=1961 ed. p. 118-119); Ibn al-Subki, Tabaqat al-Shafi`iyya al-Kubra (3:356). See also Nur al-Din Ahmad ibn Mahmud al-Sabuni (d. 1184), al-Bidaya min al-Kifaya fiUsul al-Din.
3Abu Ishaq al-Isfarayini and Ibn Furak considered al-Ash`ari a Shafi`i in fiqh. Cf. Ibn Qadi Shuhba, Tabaqat al-Shafi`iyya (1:115). He is declared a Hanafi in Ibn Abi al-Wafa's al-Jawahir al-Mudiyya (p. 247).
4Ahmad ibn Yahya ibn Ishaq al-Rawandi (d. 298), a Mu`tazila turned freethinker and atheist. Ibn Hazm also wrote a book against him entitled al-Tarshid.
5In his Tashih al-Mafahim al-`Aqdiyya (p. 25).
6In al-`Awasim min al-Qawasim as quoted by Ghawiji in Nazra `Ilmiyya (p. 5-6).
7Ibn al-Subki, Tabaqat al-Kubra (3:355).
8Cf. Ibn Hajar, al-Mu`jam al-Mufahras (p. 408 #1862). On Ahmad ibn Muhammad ibn Miqsam (296-380), one of Abu Nu`aym al-Asbahani's shaykhs, see al-Khatib, Tarikh Baghdad (4:429).
9In Tabyin Kadhib al-Muftari (p. 129-137).
10Ghawiji, Nazra `Ilmiyya (p. 8).
11Such as his early al-Luma` and Kashf al-Asrar, cf. Ibn `Asakir, Tabyin (p. 50-51 = al-Kawthari ed. p. 39).
12In Tabaqat al-Hanabila (2:18). Even if the account of al-Barbahari's snub were to be proven true, it would only show one scholar's misjudgment of another.
13In the Siyar (11:543) without chain.
14As cited by Ghawiji in Nazra `Ilmiyya (p. 8) without giving his source.
15Ghawiji, Nazra `Ilmiyya (p. 21-64 on Abu Hanifa; p. 65-99 on
16Al-Ash`ari, al-Ibana (Mahmud ed. 2:22=Sabbagh ed. p. 36), cf. Maqalat al-Islamiyyin (`Abd al-Hamid ed. 1:345=Ritter ed. p. 290).
17Ibn `Asakir, Tabyin (p. 159= al-Kawthari ed. p. 158).
18Al-Ash`ari, al-Ibana (`Uyun ed. p. 44).
19Accordingly Ibn Hazm said: "Saying: `He has two eyes,' is null and void and part of the belief of anthropomorphists... Allah Almighty and Exalted said `eye' (`ayn) and `eyes' (a`yunin)... so it is not permissible for anyone to describe Him as possessing `two eyes' because no text has reached us to that effect." Ibn Hazm, al-Fisal fi al-Milal (2:166). Today's anthropomorphists continue to insist on the attribution of two eyes without proof, adducing the Prophet's - Allah bless and greet him - statement, "The Antichrist (al-dajjal) is one-eyed whereas your Lord is not one-eyed" [Narrated from Ibn `Umar in al-Bukhari, Muslim, and the Sunan] but ignoring or pretending to ignore that Ahl al-Sunna explained this statement to mean that Allah Almighty and Exalted is exempt of defects and of the attributes of creatures, whereas the Antichrist is both created and imperfect. Cf. Ibn Hajar, Fath al-Bari and al-Nawawi, Sharh Sahih Muslim.
20Al-Ash`ari, al-Ibana (Mahmud ed. 2:121 [lahu wajhan wa `aynan wa l tukayyafu wa l tuhadd]=Sabbagh ed. p. 97 [lahu wajhan wa `aynan l bi kayf wa l hudd]= `Uyun ed. p. 104 [lahu wajhan wa `aynan l yukayyafu wa l yuhadd]).
21Al-Ash`ari, al-Ibana (Mahmud ed. 2:106-107=Sabbagh ed. p. 89=`Uyun ed. p. 97).
22Al-Ash`ari, al-Ibana (p. 234 of the original 1321/1903 Hyderabad ed.) as quoted by Ghawiji in Nazra `Ilmiyya (p. 84).
23Al-Ash`ari in Ibn al-Subki's Tabaqat al-Shafi`iyya al-Kubra (3:358). Cf. Appendix entitled, "The Divine Names and Attributes are Tawqfiyya : Ordained and Non-Inferable" in our translation of Ibn `Abd al-Salam's The Belief of the People of Truth.
24Narrated from Ibn `Umar by al-Tabarani in al-Kabir (12:456) with a weak chain because of Hammad ibn Waqid al-Saffar as indicated by al-Haythami (8:397). The narration is (munkar) as stated in al-Silsila al-Da`ifa (#338) and Samir al-Bahr's al-Majmu` fi al-Da`if wa al-Munkar wa al-Mawdu` (1:320-321 #2359) and should never be brought up as evidence in Islamic doctrine, yet it is typically adduced by those who attribute direction to Allah Almighty and Exalted such as Ibn Taymiyya in al-Ta'sis fi Radd Asas al-Taqdis = Bayan Talbis al-Jahmiyya (2:419) and his shaykh Ibn Qudama in Ithbat Sifa al-`Uluw (p. 74). See also al-Jawraqani's Abatil (1:162) and al-Qaysarani's Dhakhira al-Huffaz (#2056).
25Al-Ash`ari, al-Ibana (Mahmud ed. 2:115=Sabbagh ed. p. 94=`Uyun ed. p. 101).
26The correct wording is: "Allah created Adam then He wiped his back with His right (bi yamnih) and brought out of it offspring." Narrated from `Umar by al-Tirmidhi (hasan gharb), Abu Dawud, Ahmad, and Malik.
27Part of a long, rambling munqati` narration from Wahb ibn Munabbih by Abu al-Shaykh in al-`Azama (3:1058-1068), undoubtedly an Israelite report (isr'liyya). Also narrated from Qurra ibn Iyas al-Muzani by al-Tabari with the wording: "Tuba is a tree Allah Almighty and Exalted has planted with His hand and into which He breathed of His spirit. It gives fruits of jewels and rich garments, and its boughs can be seen from beyond the walls of Paradise." Ibn Marduyah narrated something similar from Ibn `Abbas and `Abd ibn Humayd from Ka`b al-Ahbar while al-Suyuti in his al-Jami` al-Saghir and al-Munawi in Fayd al-Qadir indicated it was weak. Cf. Ibn al-Mubarak, al-Zuhd (p. 76), Abu al-Shaykh, al-`Azama (3:1066),
al-Suyuti's al-Durr al-Manthur, and the Tafsirs of al-Tabari (13:149), al-Qurtubi (9:317), and Ibn Kathir (2:513 sura 13:29). Also see
al-Tabarani's al-Awsat.
28Al-Ash`ari, al-Ibana (Mahmud ed. 2:126=Sabbagh ed. p. 99-100).
29Cf. al-Ash`ari, al-Ibana (`Uyun ed. p. 106).
30This is an established lexical meaning in Arabic.
31Al-Ash`ari, al-Ibana (Mahmud ed. 2:130=Sabbagh ed. p. 101=`Uyun ed. p. 108).
32Ibn `Asakir, Tabyin Kadhib al-Muftari (p. 150-151).
33Al-Ash'ari, al-Ibana, (Mahmud ed. 2:21=Sabbagh ed. p. 35). This passage is missing in its entirety from the original 1321/1903 Hyderabad edition and the 1996 'Uyun edition.
34Narrated with chains containing liars in al-Ash`ari, al-Ibana (Mahmud ed. 2:90-91 =Sabbagh ed. p. 77-78=`Uyun ed. p. 87-88).
35It is noteworthy that Shaykh `Abd al-Qadir al-Gilani's Ghunya underwent tampering along exactly the same two lines. What is known with certainty from Imam Abu Hanifa is that he held, with the rest of Ahl al-Sunna, that the Qur'an was the uncreated, pre-eternal Speech of Allah Almighty and Exalted as stated in al-`Aqida al-Tahawiyya, al-Fiqh al-Akbar, al-Wasiyya, al-Asma' wa al-Sifat, and other works.
36Nor is Abu Hanifa ever mentioned thus in the other great heresiographies such as al-Baghdadi's Farq Bayn al-Firaq and Usul al-Din, Ibn Hazm's al-Fisal fi al-Milal, and al-Shahrastani's al-Milal wa al-Nihal.
37Under the `Abbasi Caliphs al-Mu`tamid (256-279), al-Mu`tadid (279-288), al-Muktafi (288-295), al-Muqtadir (295-320), al-Qahir (320-322), al-Radi (322-332).
38Al-Bayhaqi, Risala ila `Amid al-Mulk in Ibn `Asakir's Tabyin
(al-Kawthari ed. p. 103) and Ibn al-Subki's Tabaqat al-Kubra (3:397).
39Al-Ash`ari, al-Ibana (Mahmud ed. 2:109=Sabbagh ed. p. 91=`Uyun ed. p. 99). If interpolated, this claim was possibly influenced by Ibn Hazm's identical statement in his Fisal (2:96).
40Al-Ash`ari, Maqalat al-Islamiyyin (`Abd al-Hamid ed. 1:236=Ritter ed. p. 157).
41Cf. al-Saqqaf, notes on al-Dhahabi's al-`Uluw (p. 511).
42Cf. al-Humyari, Tashih al-Mafahim al-`Aqdiyya (p. 25).
43Al-Qushayri, Shikaya Ahl al-Sunna in Ibn `Asakir, Tabyin Kadhib al-Muftari (al-Kawthari ed. p. 111) and Ibn al-Subki, Tabaqat al-Kubra (3:403-404).
44Such as `Abd Allah ibn Ahmad's al-Sunna, al-Khallal's al-Sunna, `Uthman ibn Sa`id al-Darimi's books, Ibn Batta's al-Ibana, Ibn Khuzayma's al-Tawhid, al-Harawi's al-Arba`in fi al-Tawhid, the spurious Radd `ala al-Jahmiyya deceitfully printed under Imam Ahmad's name, and many others.
Allah Almighty knows best. Allah bless and greet our Master Muhammad, his Family, and all his Companions.

Rasul Allah (sallah llahu alaihi wa sallam) said: "Whoever knows himself, knows his Lord" and whoever knows his Lord has been given His gnosis and nearness.
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The First Generation of al-Ash`ari's Students and Companions

Abu `Abd Allah al-Shafi`i

Abu `Abd Allah al-Shafi`i, Muhammad ibn al-Qasim, Abu `Abd Allah al-Asbahani, known as al-Shafi`i (d. 381). He is included by Ibn `Asakir among the direct students of al-Ash`ari. The hadith master Abu Nu`aym mentioned that he authored many works in the foundations of religion, jurisprudence, and legal rulings.

Abu al-Hasan al-Bahili al-Basri

Abu al-Hasan al-Bahili al-Basri (d. ~370), the companion of al-Ash`ari and teacher of Ibn Furak, al-Baqillani, and Abu Ishaq al-Isfarayini. Always engaged in Remembrance of Allah, he taught and communicated only from behind a curtain, even with his servant. Al-Isfarayini said: "Next to my teacher al-Bahili, I was like a drop in the sea." Al-Bahili himself said: "Next to my master al-Ash`ari, I was like a drop in the sea." [note by: Dr. A. Godlas: Al-Safadi stated that he passed away around  (fi hudud) 370 AH (Wafi bil-wafayat, vol. 12, p. 312)].

Abu al-Hasan al-Tabari

Abu al-Hasan al-Tabari, `Ali ibn Muhammad ibn Mahdi (d. ~380). He studied under al-Ash`ari in Basra and Abu al-Hasan al-Bahili, and accompanied Abu Ishaq al-Isfarayini, Abu Bakr ibn Furak, and Abu Bakr al-Baqillani. His student al-Husayn ibn Ahmad ibn al-Hasan al-Asadi said: "Our shaykh and teacher Abu al-Hasan al-Tabari was the jurist who authored books in all the sciences. He was erudite, a well of knowledge in jurisprudence, kalaam, commentaries of Qur'an, language, and Arabic history. He possessed eloquence and was brilliant at debate. He was peerless in his time." He authored among other works: "Al-Usul wa Tafsir Asami al-Rabb" ("Principles of the Religion and the Explanation of the Divine Names") and "Ta'wil Ahadith al-Mushkilat al-Waridat fi al-Sifat" ("The Interpretation of the Problematic Narrations That Pertain to the Attributes.") In the latter book he said: "Allah is in the heaven above everything and established over His Throne in the sense that He is elevated high above it, and the sense of istiwa' is elevation."

Abu Muhammad al-Tabari

Abu Muhammad al-Tabari, al-Qadi `Abd Allah ibn `Ali ibn `Abd Allah al-`Iraqi al-Jurjani al-Manjaniqi al-Shafi`i (d. ?), a companion of al-Ash`ari and one of the shaykhs of hadith of al-Hakim, who said of him: "I seldom saw, among the jurists (al-fuqaha), anyone as eloquent and clear in his speech. I kept company with him in the year 359, from Naysabur to Bukhara."

Abu Sahl al-Su`luki

Abu Sahl al-Su`luki, Muhammad ibn Sulayman ibn Muhammad ibn Sulayman al-Shafi`i al-`Ijli al-Naysaburi al-Ash`ari al-Sufi of the Banu Hanifa (d. 369), the imam of Khurasan among the jurists and scholars of kalaam, tafsir, and Arabic in his time. He accompanied Abu Ishaq al-Marwazi in fiqh and al-Shibli in tasawwuf, and took hadith from Ibn Khuzayma, Ibn Abi Hatim, Ibn al-Anbari, and others. Al-Sulami in "Tabaqat al-Sufiyya" and al-Qushayri in "al-Risalah" related from Ibn Furak that al-Su`luki defined tasawwuf as "the turning away from objections" ("al-i`rad `an al-i`tiraad.") Among his other famous sayings: "Whoever says to his shaykh: 'Why?' shall never succeed." He spent seven years in Baghdad during which he said that he never let pass a day of jum`a except he visited al-Shibli or asked him a question. The latter visited Abu Ishaq al-Marwazi one day and saw Abu Sahl there, whereupon he said to Abu Ishaq: "That crazy one is one of your companions? No, he is one of ours!" In Baghdad he also studied with al-Ash`ari according to Ibn Furak.

Abu Zayd al-Marwazi

Abu Zayd al-Marwazi, Muhammad ibn Ahmad ibn `Abd Allah al-Shafi`i (301-371), praised by al-Hakim as "one of the Imams of the Muslims, of the most mastery in the madhhab, most perspicuous, and most ascetic," and by al-Dhahabi as "the Shaykh, the Imam, the Mufti, the Guide, the Ascetic, the Shaykh of the Shafi`is and narrator of al-Bukhari's "Sahih" from al-Firabri." From him narrated al-Hakim, al-Sulami, al-Daraqutni, al-Barqani, al-Sabbagh, and others. He studied as a young man under al-Ash`ari in Baghdad. Al-Bazzaz said of him: "I rode with the faqeeh Abu Zayd from Naysabur to Mecca, and I do not know that the angels recorded any sin to his detriment." Al-Khatib said: "He is the most impressive narrator of Bukhari's Sahih." He transmitted the latter book notably to Ibn Mujahid.


Al-Awdani, Muhammad ibn `Abd Allah ibn Muhammad ibn Nasr or Nusayr or Basir, Abu Bakr al-Awdani al-Bukhari al-Shafi`i (d. 385), the foremost imam of the Shafi`is in Transoxiana in his time and a hadith scholar, Ibn `Asakir listed him among the direct students of al-Ash`ari. He studied under Abu Mansur ibn Mihran and took hadith from Ya`qub ibn Yusuf al-`Asimi, Abu Ya`la al-Nasafi, al-Haytham al-Shashi, and others. From him narrated al-Hakim, al-Halimi, and others. Al-Hakim said: "He was among the most ascetic of jurists, the most devoted to worship, the most scrupulous, the most given to weep over his shortcomings, and the strongest in repentence and humbleness." Among his positions in fiqh: If a person travels in disobedience of Allah and finds himself forced to eat carrion to survive, he may not eat before repenting first, even if he is starving.


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Rasul Allah (sallah llahu alaihi wa sallam) said: "Whoever knows himself, knows his Lord" and whoever knows his Lord has been given His gnosis and nearness.
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(3) The Great Asha`ari Scholars

Ibn Sam`un, Muhammad ibn Ahmad ibn Isma`il ibn `Anbas, Abu al-Husayn al-Baghdadi (300-387), "the Shaykh, the Imam, the great orator, and the shaykh of his time in Baghdad" in tasawwuf, preaching, and kalaam, mentioned by Ibn `Asakir among the direct students of al-Ash`ari, he took hadith from Ibn Abi Dawud, Muhammad ibn Makhlad al-`Attar, Ibn Abi Hudhayfa, and others. From him narrated among others `Ali ibn Talha al-Muqri', al-Hasan ibn Muhammad al-Khallal, Khadija bint Muhammad al-Shahjaniyya, Ahmad ibn Muhammad ibn Hammaduh al-Hanbali, and Abu `Abd al-Rahman al-Sulami who said: "He has no teacher and yet is the spokesman of our time [in tasawwuf], the approved reference in the ethics of transactions, and the master of many disciplines."

Al-Khatib said: "He was the peerless one of his time in the science of vigilance over one's thoughts. One of our shaykhs used to say, whenever he cited him: 'The magnificent shaykh who speaks wisdom said to us '"

His companion Abu Muhammad al-Sunni narrated:

Ibn Sam`un in his beginnings used to copy manuscripts for livelihood. Then he would spend on himself and his mother. He said to her one day: "I would like to go on pilgrimage." She said: "How will you afford it?" Then she slept. After a while she woke and said: "O my son, go on pilgrimage. I have seen Allah's Messenger and he said: 'Let him go on pilgrimage, for he will find his good fortune thereby.'" Ibn Sam`un became happy and sold his books, giving her some of the proceeds, and he went out with the caravan. He said: "I was unclad. Whenever I became too hungry I would find some of the pilgrims who were eating and would stand by them until they gave me something to eat. Then I found someone with a spare coat, so I said: 'Give it to me to wear.' He gave it to me and I used it as my ritual vestment, and started my way back."

The Caliph at that time wanted to part with a female slave who had been his concubine and said: "Look for an honest man suitable to marry her." They put forward Ibn Sam`un. The Caliph approved of him and married him to her. After this, Ibn Sam`un would say in his preaching [wearing excellent clothes]: "I went out to pilgrimage," then gesture expansively and say: "and look at what I am wearing today!"

Abu Tahir ibn al-`Allaf narrates that he attended a sermon of Ibn Sam`un at which time Abu al-Fath al-Qawwas was sitting next to his chair. The latter dozed off, whereupon Ibn Sam`un fell silent for several moments. Then Abu al-Fath woke up, and Ibn Sam`un said: "Did you see Allah's Messenger in your sleep?" He said, "Yes." Ibn Sam`un said: "That is why I stopped speaking, I wished not to disturb you."

Ibn `Asakir narrated that Ibn Sam`un's way was to choose the strictest of paths.

Abu al-Najib al-Armawi said: "Whenever al-Qadi Abu Bakr al-Ash`ari and Abu Hamid came to see Ibn Sam`un they would kiss his hand."

Among his sayings:

From Abu Muhammad al-Khallal: "Ibn Sam`un asked me my name, so I said: 'Hasan' ('Excellent'). He said: 'Allah gave you the name; now ask Him to give you its meaning.'"

From Abu Bakr al-Barqani: "I said to Ibn Sam`un one day: 'You call people to renunciation (zuhd) and yet you wear the best clothes and eat the best food! How can that be?' He said: 'Whatever suits you before Allah, do it, if your state before Him is good.'"

From al-Sulami: "I heard Ibn Sam`un being asked about tasawwuf. He said: 'As for the name, it means abandonment of the world and its people. As for its reality, it means forgetfulness of the world and its people.'"

In the year 426, Ibn Sam`un's body was carried from the grave in his house and buried in the cemetary of Bab Harb. It is related that his shroud had not changed in the least.

Al-Isma`ili, Ahmad ibn Ibrahim ibn Isma`il ibn al-`Abbas, Abu Bakr al-Jurjani al-Shafi`i, known as al-Isma`ili (277-371), "The imam, hadith master, "Proof of the Religion," faqeeh, "Shaykh ul-Islam," and narrator of Bukhari's Sahih." Al-Hakim described him as the "shaykh both of the jurists and the hadith scholars of his time by the consensus of both groups." He did not attend any gathering except they made him the only speaker. In "al-Mustakhraj `ala al-Sahih" he compiled four volumes of hadith narrations with the grade of saheeh according to al-Bukhari's criterion but with his own chains of transmission. Ibn `Asakir included him among the direct students and companions of Abu al-Hasan al-Ash`ari.

Al-Naqqash, Muhammad ibn Ahmad ibn al-`Abbas, Abu Ja`far al-Sulami al-Baghdadi al-Jawhari al-Naqqash (294-379), a trustworthy narrator of hadith, which he took from al-Baghandi, al-Baghawi, Ibn Abi Dawud, Ibn al-Muqri' and others, and from whom took Abu `Ali ibn Shadhan, Abu al-Qasim al-Azhari, `Ali al-Tannukhi, and others. He is included by al-Dhahabi and Ibn `Asakir among the direct students of al-Ash`ari in kalaam, which he then taught to Abu `Ali ibn Shadhan.

Al-Qaffal al-Shashi, Muhammad ibn `Ali ibn Isma`il, Abu Bakr al-Qaffal al-Shashi al-Shafi`i (d. 365), a companion of al-Ash`ari and like him a former Mu`tazili, he became an imam of jurisprudence and its principles, a hadith scholar, the imam of Shafi`is in Transoxiana, and the author of important works in the school according to al-Fayruzabadi. He took hadith from Ibn Khuzayma, al-Tabari, al-Baghawi, and others. From him took, among others, al-Hakim, Ibn Mandah, al-Sulami, and al-Halimi who said: "Our shaykh al-Qaffal was the most knowledgeable of the scholars of his time I have met." Among his books are "Dala'il al-Nubuwwa," "Mahasin al-Shari`a," and a commentary on al-Shafi`i's "al-Risala." Al-Dhahabi said: "Among his rare conclusions quoted in [Nawawi's] "Rawda al-Talibin" [1:401] is that the sick person is allowed to join two prayers together."

Al-Qurashi al-Zuhri, `Abd al-Wahid ibn Ahmad ibn al-Qasim, Abu Muhammad al-Naysaburi (d. 382), a descendent of `Abd al-Rahman ibn `Awf and one of those listed by Ibn `Asakir among the direct students of al-Ash`ari. Al-Hakim reports that he fasted all year and completed the recitation of the Qur'an every other day. He took hadith from Abu Hamid ibn Bilal and Abu Bakr al-Qattan and their contemporaries and was al-Hakim's colleague. The latter attended him at his deathbed and heard him say after much weeping: "I entrust you to Allah, for I am departing."

Al-Shuruti, Abu `Abd al-Rahman ibn Abi `Abd al-Rahman al-Jurjani al-Qattan (d. 389), a specialist of legal pre-requisites in transactions (shurut) mentioned by Ibn `Asakir among the first generation of al-Ash`ari's students, he took hadith from Abu Ya`qub al-Nahawi and his layer.

Al-Sarakhsi, Zahir ibn Ahmad ibn Muhammad, Abu `Ali al-Muqri' al-Khurasani al-Shafi`i (293-389), "the imam and erudite scholar, faqeeh of Khurasan, and shaykh of the Qur'an-reciters and hadith scholars." He took hadith from masters in Khurasan, Iraq, and elsewhere, among others from al-Baghawi, then settled in Naysabur. Among those who took hadith from him: al-Hakim and Abu `Uthman al-Sabuni. Ibn `Asakir, al-Dhahabi, and al-Subki include him among al-Ash`ari's students.

(5) The Great Ash`ari Scholars

Al-Hakim, Muhammad ibn `Abd Allah ibn Muhammad ibn Hamduyah, Abu `Abd Allah al-Dabbi al-Tamhani al-Naysaburi al-Shafi`i, also known as Ibn al-Bayyi` (d. 405). The imam, hadith master, expert in hadith criticism, and shaykh of hadith masters. He took hadith from about two thousand authorities in Khurasan, Iraq, Transoxiana and elsewhere. Among the most prominent of the masters who narrated hadith from him are his own shaykh al-Daraqutni - who declared him stronger in hadith than Ibn Mandah, - al-Bayhaqi, al-Qushayri, and others. Abu Hazim said that al-Hakim was peerless in his time in Khurasan, the Hijaz, al-Sham, Iraq, Rayy, Tabaristan, and Transoxiana. His fame became widespread with lightning speed in his own lifetime. Al-Dhahabi said: "I saw an incredible thing, which is that the muhaddith of al-Andalus Abu `Umar al-Talamanki copied al-Hakim's book "`Ulum al-Hadith" ("The Sciences of Hadith") in the year 389 from a shaykh which he named, from another narrator, from al-Hakim." Al-Hakim belongs to the second generation of the Ash`ari school, having taken al-Ash`ari's doctrine at the hands of his students, among them Abu Sahl al-Su`luki. He took tasawwuf from Abu `Amr ibn Nujayd, Abu al-Hasan al-Bushanji, Abu Sa`id Ahmad ibn Ya`qub al-Thaqafi, Abu Nasr al-Saffar, Abu Qasim al-Razi, Ja`far ibn Nusayr, Abu `Amr al-Zujaji, Ja`far ibn Ibrahim al-Hadhdha', and Abu `Uthman al-Maghribi.

Al-Hakim said: "I drank water from Zamzam and asked Allah for excellence in writing books." He authored: "al-Sahihan" ("The Two Books of Saheeh Hadiths"), "al-`Ilal" ("The Defects of A Hadith"), "al-Amali" ("The Dictations"), "Fawa'id al-Nusakh" ("Benefits of the Copies"), "Fawa'id al-Khurasaniyyin" ("Benefits of the People of Khurasan"), "Amali al-`Ashiyyat" ("Night Dictations"), "al-Talkhis" ("The Summary"), "al-Abwab" ("The Chapters"), "Tarajim al-Shuyukh" ("Biographies of the Shaykhs"), "Ma`rifa Anwa` `Ulum al-Hadith" ("Knowledge of the Different Types of the Hadith Sciences"), "Tarikh `Ulama' Ahl Naysabur" ("History of the Scholars of Naysabur"), "Muzakki al-Akhbar" ("Purified Reports"), "al-Madkhal ila `Ilm al-Sahih" ("Introduction to the Science of Sound Reports"), "al-Iklil fi Dala'il al-Nubuwwa" ("The Diadem: The Signs of Prophethood"), "al-Mustadrak `ala al-Sahihayn" ("Supplement for What is Missing From Bukhari and Muslim"), "Ma Tafarrada bi Ikhrajihi Kull Wahidin min al-Imamayn" ("Reports Found Only in Bukhari or Only in Muslim"), "Fada'il al-Shafi`i" ("The Immense Merits of al-Shafi`i"), "Tarajim al-Musnad `ala Shart al-Sahihayn" ("The Reports of Ahmad's Musnad Which Match the Criteria of the Two Books of Sahih"), etc.

It is narrated that a man of letters named Abu al-Fadl al-Hamadhani came to Naysabur where he acquired a following and was named Badee` al-Zaman ("Wonder of the Age"), whereupon he became self-infatuated. If he heard someone recite a hundred verses of poetry but once, he was able to recite them back from memory, starting from the end and back to the beginning. One day he criticized someone for saying: "So-and-so the memorizer of hadith." He said: "Memorizing hadith! Is it worthy of mention?" When he heard of this, al-Hakim sent him a book of hadith and challenged him to memorize it in a week. Al-Hamadhani returned the book to him and said: "Who can memorize this? 'Muhammad son of So-and-So and Ja`far son of So-and-So reported from So-and-So' - It is filled with all sorts of different names and terms!" Al-Hakim said: "Therefore know yourself, and understand that to memorize such as this is beyond your sphere."

Al-Hakim's "Mustadrak" was criticized by the hadith scholars due to the number of mistakes and inaccuracies found in it. Al-Sakhawi in "al-Tawbikh" and others mention that he declares many forged reports to be rigorously authentic, not to mention weak ones, instead of clinging to his own expressed precondition that only reports with chains of the rank of Bukhari's and Muslim's would be retained. Al-Dhahabi went to excess in regretting that al-Hakim had compiled the "Mustadrak" in the first place. However, the hadith expert Dr. Nur al-Din `Itr of Damascus pointed out that al-Hakim compiled it in his old age, intending to revise it, which he did not do beyond the first volume. This is proved by the fact that al-Hakim's mistakes are imperceptible in the first volume of the "Mustadrak," as confirmed by al-Dhahabi's own minimal corrections.

Another latent criticism is al-Hakim's alleged Shi`ism. Al-Dhahabi in one place names him "one of the oceans of knowledge although a little bit Shi`i" (`ala tashayyu`in qaleelin feeh), in another "al-Hakim the Shi`i," and in another "a famous Shi`i" (shee`iyyun mashhur). Al-Subki rejects the label of Shi`i as baseless since, among other proofs, Ibn `Asakir includes al-Hakim among the Ash`aris, who consider the Shi`is innovators. Yet this label is still branded as a blemish today at the hands of those who oppose his positions if they weaken theirs, and those who oppose him for being a follower of al-Ash`ari, or for being a Sufi. As for what al-Dhahabi said about al-Hakim, we must place it in the same category as what he said about the "Mustadrak."

The first hadith of the Prophet (saw) al-Hakim narrated in his "Ma`rifa `Ulum al-Hadith" is: "May Allah make radiant the face of one who heard one of my sayings and then carried it to others. It may be that one carries understanding without being a person of understanding; it may be that one carries understanding to someone who possesses more understanding than he."

On the 3rd of Safar 405, al-Hakim went into the bath, came out after bathing, said "Ah" and died wearing but a waistcloth before he had time to put on a shirt. Al-Hasan ibn Ash`ath al-Qurashi said: "I saw al-Hakim in my dream riding a horse in a handsome appearance and saying: 'Salvation.' I asked him: 'O al-Hakim! In what?' He replied: 'In writing hadith.'"

Al-Darani, `Ali ibn Dawud, Abu al-Hasan al-Muqri' al-Dimashqi (d. 402). When the imam of the Great Damascus Mosque died, the people of Damascus came in throngs to Daraya to ask for `Ali ibn Dawud to be their imam but were faced by the people of Daraya in arms. The latter said: "We shall never let you take our imam!" But they were persuaded by Muhammad ibn Abi Nasr's argument: "Are you not pleased that it be said in every country that the people of Damascus came in need of the imam of the people of Daraya?" Then `Ali ibn Dawud said: "Can one such as myself be suitable for the Great Mosque of Damascus, when my father was a Christian then converted, and I have no Muslim ancestor?" Then he rode to Damascus on his mule. He accepted no compensation for his imamate nor his teaching, and he would make his own bread from wheat which he brought from his village and had ground with his own hand. He was confronted by some Hashwiyya in Damascus, whereupon he wrote al-Baqillani in Baghdad for assistance, and the latter sent him his student al-Husayn ibn Hatim al-Adhri. After this, the people of Damascus would never leave `Ali ibn Dawud's gatherings except with the words "One, One!" on their lips.

Al-Baqillani, Muhammad ibn al-Tayyib ibn Muhammad ibn Ja`far, Shaykh al-Islam, al-Qadi Abu Bakr ibn al-Baqillani al-Basri al-Baghdadi al-Maliki al-Ash`ari (d. 403), eulogized by al-Dhahabi as "the erudite imam, peerless of the mutakallimeen, and foremost of the scholars of usul, author of many books, the exemplar of perspicuity and intelligence." Al-Qadi `Iyad said: "He is known as the Sword of the Sunna (Sayf al-Sunna) and the Spokesman of the Community (Lisan al-Umma), a mutakallim who spoke the language of the hadith scholars, adhering to the doctrine of Abu al-Hasan al-Ash`ari, and the apex of Maliki scholars in his time. His gathering in al-Basra was huge."

Al-Baqillani took al-Ash`ari's teachings from Ibn Mujahid. He used to say: "I consider the best part of me the time when I fully understand al-Ash`ari's discourse." He used al-Ash`ari's method to challenge and refute the Rafida, Mu`tazila, Khawarij, Jahmiyya, Karramiyya, Mushabbiha, and Hashwiyya. Abu al-Qasim ibn Burhan al-Nahawi said: "Whoever hears al-Qadi Abu Bakr debate, will never again feel pleasure at hearing another mutakallim, faqeeh, or orator." He took the Maliki school from Abu Bakr al-Abhari.

Al-Khatib narrated that al-Baqillani's nightly devotion consisted in forty rak`a whether at home or while travelling, after which he wrote thirty-five pages of text which, after the fajr prayer, he would pass on to others to read outloud for proofreading and editing.

At the time the Caliph `Adud al-Dawla sent al-Baqillani as an envoy to the Emperor of the Eastern Romans, he was asked to enter through a low door to see the Emperor and realized that this was done by design so as to make him enter on his knees; whereupon he entered on his knees but with his back turned, and approached the Emperor backside-first. In the course of this visit, he asked a Church dignitary: "How are your wife and children?" Hearing this, the emperor said: "Lo! Do you, the spokesman of Islam, not know that a monk exempts himself of such things?" Al-Baqillani replied: "You exempt a monk from such things, but you do not exempt the Lord of the Worlds from having a mate and child?"

Al-Baqillani is the paragon of the fundamental unity of Islamic schools and love for the sake of Allah among scholars that hold different views. He was the arbitrator between the Sufis of the University of Qayrawan and Ibn Abi Zayd al-Maliki when the latter denied that Allah could be seen in this world. He was profoundly admired by the Hanbalis of Baghdad although he was the chief authority of the Ash`ari school in his time. When he died the shaykh of Hanbalis and his close friend of seven years, Abu al-Fadl al-Tamimi, came barefoot to his funeral with others of his school, and ordered a herald to open the procession shouting: "This is the Aider of the Sunna and the Religion! This is the Imam of Muslims! This is the defender of the Shari`a! This is the one who authored 70,000 folios!" He was buried near the grave of Ahmad ibn Hanbal, and his grave is a place of visitation, seeking blessings (tabarruk), and praying for rain (istisqa').

(7) The Great Ash`ari Scholars

Al-Bastami, Muhammad ibn al-Husayn ibn Muhammad ibn al-Haytham, Abu `Umar ibn Abi Sa`d al-Shafi`i (d. 408), the orator, qadi, jurist, and shaykh of the Shafi`is in Naysabur. He took hadith from al-Tabarani among others in Iraq, al-Ahwaz, Asbahan, al-Basra, and Sijistan, and from him took al-Hakim, al-Bayhaqi, and others. Through Abu `Umar al-Bastami is related with a very weak chain the hadith of the Prophet (saw) from al-Hasan ibn `Ali: "What an excellent key is the gift given before stating one's need!" He married the daughter of Abu al-Tayyib al-Su`luki and came to Baghdad in the lifetime of Abu Hamid al-Isfarayini who gave him esteem and approval.

Al-Bajali, `Abd al-Wahid ibn Muhammad ibn `Uthman, Abu al-Qasim ibn Abi `Amr al-Baghdadi al-Shafi`i (d. 410), "the Shafi`i Ash`ari faqeeh," a descendent of the Companion Jarir ibn `Abd Allah al-Bajali (ra). A qadi and specialist of fiqh, the principles of the law, and kalaam, he took hadith from Abu Bakr al-Najjad and others and was trustworthy in hadith narration. He authored books in usul.

Ibn Mila, `Ali ibn Muhammad ibn Ahmad ibn Mila, Abu al-Hasan, Ibn Mashadha al-Asbahani al-Faradi (d. 414), one of the hadith scholars, named "Shaykh al-Islam," "al-Imam al-Qudwa" and "al-Zahid Shaykh al-Sufiyya" by al-Dhahabi. Ibn Mandah said: "I roamed the East and the West and never saw in the world the like of two men: one of them was the qadi Abu Ahmad al-`Assal, the other was Abu al-Hasan ibn Mashadha the faqeeh." Abu Nu`aym said: "He was one of the shaykhs of the fuqaha' and the notable ones of the Sufis. He kept company with Abu Bakr `Abd Allah ibn Ibrahim ibn Wadih and Abu Ja`far Muhammad ibn al-Hasan ibn Mansur and others. He added excellent manners and chivalry to their method and combined external and internal knowledge. He feared no critic and trusted in Allah alone. He used to denounce the mushabbiha and other ignorant types among the Sufis for their corrupt positions in indwelling (hulul), permissiveness (ibaha), and the likening of Allah to creatures (tashbeeh). He singled himself out in his time in his narration from Muhammad ibn Muhammad ibn Yunus al-Abhari, Abu `Amr ibn Hakim al-Musafihi, al-Aswari, and others."

Al-Sharif Abu Talib, `Abd al-Wahhab ibn `Abd al-Malik ibn al-Muhtadi Billah al-Hashimi al-Dimashqi (d. 415), the Ash`ari jurist.

Abu Ma`mar al-Isma`ili, al-Fadl ibn Isma`il ibn Ahmad ibn Ibrahim, Abu Ma`mar ibn Abi Sa`d ibn Abi Bakr al-Jurjani (d. 417), the qadi and imam, son of the imam, son of the imam. He memorized the Qur'an at age seven then memorized the laws of inheritance. His grandfather Abu Bakr al-Isma`ili stated that as a child he once corrected a judge. He took the latter's narration of al-Bukhari's "Sahih" and narrated hadith from his father Abu Sa`d, al-Daraqutni, and others in Baghdad and Mecca before returning to Jurjan.

Al-`Abdawi, `Umar ibn Ahmad ibn Ibrahim ibn `Abduyah, Abu Hazim al-Hudhli al-Mas`udi al-Naysaburi al-A`raj (d. 417), the trustworthy hadith master, named al-Imam al-Hafiz Sharaf al-Muhaddithin by al-Dhahabi. Among his shaykhs were the hadith masters Abu Bakr al-Isma`ili, Abu al-Hasan al-Hajjaji, and al-Hakim. Al-Khatib, Abu Salih al-Mu'adhdhin, and others narrated from him.

Rasul Allah (sallah llahu alaihi wa sallam) said: "Whoever knows himself, knows his Lord" and whoever knows his Lord has been given His gnosis and nearness.
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Rasul Allah (sallah llahu alaihi wa sallam) said: "Whoever knows himself, knows his Lord" and whoever knows his Lord has been given His gnosis and nearness.
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