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Statements of the Imaams on Asharis
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Are Ashari among Ahlu-sunnah wal-Jama'ah?

the term Ahl us-Sunnah wal-Jamaa'ah is used with two separate meanings:

The General Meaning: which is used for those in opposition to the Shee'ah, so it is said: Those who claim adherence to Islaam are of two classes: Ahl us-Sunnah and the Shee'ah. So Shaikh ul-Islaam titled his book in reply to the Rawaafid "Minhaaj us-Sunnah" and in it he made the two meanings clear, and clearly stated that the positions of the innovated sects are from the Ahl us-Sunnah only with this particular meaning [of Ahl us-Sunnah wal-Jamaa'ah].

This meaning covers everyone except for the Shee'ah, such as the Ash'ariyyah, especially since with regard to the subject of the companions and the Khulafaa (caliphs) the Ash'ariyyah are in agreement in methodology.

The Specific Meaning: Which is used for those in opposition to the innovators and the people of the innovated sects, and this is the more frequent and well known usage. So when they say in the books of criticism of narrators about a man, that he was from Ahl us-Sunnah and the like, then what is meant is that he was not from one of the innovated sects such as the Khawaarij, the Mu'tazilah and the Shee'ah and he was not a person of theological rhetoric (Kalaam) and innovated ideas.

With this meaning, the Ash'ariyyah do not enter into it at all. Rather they are outside it and Imaam Ahmed and Ibn al-Madeenee have stated textually that whoever involves themselves in any theological rhetoric is not counted amongst the Ahl us-Sunnah, even if by that he arrives at the Sunnah, until he abandons debating and surrenders to the texts. So they do not lay down as a condition that a person merely agrees with the Sunnah, rather that he must take and derive with it (alone). So he who takes from the Sunnah is from its people even if he makes an error, and he who derives from somewhere else is in error even if in conclusion he agrees with it. But the Ash'ariyyah as you will see, take and derive from other than the Sunnah and they do not agree with it in their conclusions, so how can they be from its people [people of the Sunnah].

 

Imaam Abul-Abbaas ibn Suraij known as 'ash-Shaafi'ee the second' and he was a contemporary of Al-Ash'aree, said: "We do not speak with Ta'weel (interpretation) of the Mu'tazilah, the Ash'arees, the Jahmiyyah, the apostates, the anthropomorphists (Mujassimah and Mushabbihah), the Karraamiyyah and those who declare Allaah to be like His creation (Mukayyifah - those asking about the modality of His attributes). Rather we accept them [the texts about Allaah's attributes] without interpretation (Ta'weel) and we believe in them without declaring any likeness with the creation (Tamtheel)."

Imaam Abul-Hasan al-Kurjee, one of the Shaafi'ee scholars of the fifth century said: "The Shaafi'ee Imaams have not ceased disdaining and detesting that they should be ascribed to al-Ashariyy and they disassociate themselves from that which al-Ash'aree built his madhhab upon, and they forbid their companions and beloved ones from approaching it, as I have heard from a number of the shaikhs and imaams. He then gave an example of the shaikh of the Shaafi'ees of his time Imaam Aboo Hamid al-Isfaareenee who was known as 'ash-Shaafi'ee the third' saying: "The severity of the Shaikh against the people of theoretical knowledge is well known, to the point that he even made a distinction between the principles of the fiqh of ash-Shaafi'ee and the principles of al-Ash'aree. Notes upon this were added by Aboo Bakr ar-Raadhiqaanee and it is with me. He was followed in this by Shaikh Aboo Ishaaq ash-Sheeraazww in his two books, 'al-Lumaa' and 'at-Tabsirah' to the point that if a point of al-Ash'aree agreed with one saying amongst our companions he made distinction and said: "It is the saying of the Ash'ariyyah" and he did not include them amongst the companions of ash-Shaafi'ee. They disdained and avoided them and their madhhab in the principles of fiqh not to mention with regard to the principles of the Religion."

 

 

Imaam Muhammad Ibn Saalih al-’Uthaymeen  said:

 

“So - for example - the Ash’arees and the Maatureedees are not considered from Ahlus-Sunnah wal-Jamaa’ah in this particular matter (i.e. concerning the Names and Attributes of Allaah). Rather, they oppose what the Prophet (saw) and his Companions were upon with regards to accepting the Attributes of Allaah - the Most Perfect - upon their haqeeqah (real meaning). 

 

The Haafidh of the west and its outstanding scholar Ibn Abdul Barr reported with his chain of narration from the scholars of the Maalikees in the east, Ibn Khuzaimah, that he said in the book of witnesses (Kitaab us-Shuhudaat) in explanation of the saying of the Maalik that it is not permissible to accept the witness of the people of innovation and innovated sects, and he said: "The people of the innovated sects in the view of Maalik and the rest of our Companions are the people of theological rhetoric (Kalaam). So every person of the theological rhetoric is from the people of the innovated sects and innovation: whether he is an Ash'aree, or other than an Ash'aree, and his witness is not accepted in Islaam ever. Indeed he is to be ostracized, and punished for his innovation and if he persists in it and repentance is to be sought from him" a-Jami al-Bayaanil-Ilm al-Fadlihi

 

 

 

The Qadi Abu Ya’la b. al-Farra’ al-Hanbali (d.458), the Imam of the Hanabilah in Baghdad of his time, said concerning this matter:

“Know that it is not permitted to reject these reports [on the Attributes] as a community of the Mu’tazilah did, nor to preoccupy oneself by interpreting (ta’wîl) them as the Ash’ariyyah do! What is obligatory is to take them upon their apparent meanings (‘ala dhâhirihâ); and that they are Attributes of Allah, the Exalted, not resembling the ones which are described from the Creations; and not professing Tashbîh in them. Rather [profess in them] how it is transmitted on the authority of our Shaykh and Imam, Abu Abdallah Ahmad b. Muhammad b. Hanbal, and others from the Imams of the Ashab al-Hadith who said concerning these narrations: pass them on as they have come. So they carried them upon their apparent meanings (‘ala dhâhirihâ) with the belief that they are Attributes of Allah, the Exalted, which do not resemble the rest of the ones that are described.”

[Abu Ya’la b. al-Farra’, Ibtal al-Ta’wilat li-Akhbar al-Sifat p.43-44]

 Abu’l-Wafa’ b. ‘Aqil al-Hanbali (d.513), one of the great Hanbalite Scholars, said:

“The Ash’arites spoke by way of the Jahmiyyah with regard to the interpretation (ta’wîl) of the ambiguous (al-mutashabih), the carrying of narrations from its apparent meanings (sarf al-ahâdith ‘an dhâhirihâ) by way of opinion, and the judging of reason contrary to revelation, and that is a great danger..”

[Ibn ‘Aqil, Radd ‘ala’l-Asha’irah al-‘Uzzal p.69]

Imaam Abu al-Qaasim Sa’d bin Alee az-Zanjaanee (d.471) [He is the trustworthy Haafidh, knowledgeable of the Sunnah. His biography can be seen in ‘Tadhkira al-Huffaadh’ and others.] said, “you have asked me, may Allaah help you, to explain what is correct according to me from the madhab of the salaf and the righteous khalaf to do with the Attributes of Allaah. So I reply with the reply of the faqeeh Abu al-Abbaas Ahmad bin Umar Suraij [He is the Imaam of the Shaafi’iyyah of his time and was regarded greater then the greatest of the Companions of Shaafi’ee even al-Mazanee.] - for he was asked about this… ‘and it is authentic from all of the People of Religion (Diyaanah) and Sunnah till this day that it is obligatory upon all Muslims to have faith in all of the verses and authentic narrations from the Messenger of Allaah (SAW) as they occur, and that inquiring about their meanings is a bid’ah [meaning those meanings other than their obvious meanings. This is the only way to understand this statement as it is the only way in which it conforms to what ibn Suraij writes at the end of his letter].…for example His saying, ‘the Most Merciful rose over the Throne’ ….our belief to do with the mutashaabiha (allegorical) verses is to accept them and not reject them. And neither to make ta’weel of [them with a differing explanation (to the clear meaning of the verse) or ta’weel of the opponents] (? Ta’weel al-Mukhaalifeen), and neither do we take them with the tashbeeh of the anthropomorphists…and we submit to the narration and verse literally as it was revealed. And we do not say (of them) with the ta’weel of the Mu’tazila, or the Asha’riyyah, or the Jahmiyyah, or the Mulahhida, or the Mujassima, or the Mushabbiha, or the Kiraamiyyah, or the Kayfiyyah. Rather we accept them without ta’weel, and we have faith in them without likening (Him to creation). And we say faith in them is obligatory, saying as they say is the Sunnah, and seeking ta’weel of them is a bid’ah.’” [‘Ijtimaa Juyush al-Islaamiyyah’ (pp. 170-174) of ibn al-Qayyim. ‘Mukhtasar al-Uluw’ (pp. 226-227) of adh-Dhahabee, summarised and verified by al-Albaanee

 

Abd al-`Aziz al-Rajihi al-Salafi writes in his 'Sharh al-`Aqidat al-
Tahawiyya':

أهل السنة يثبتون الرؤية والفوقية، الجهمية والمعتزلة، والخوارج وجمهور
الإمامية المتأخرين ينفون الرؤية والفوقية، الكلابية والأشاعرة يثبتون الرؤية
وينفون الفوقية والعلو .

'The Ahl al-Sunnah affirm (both) the vision and Allah's aboveness
(fawqiyya), the Jahmiyya, Mu`tazila, Khawarij and the majority of the
latter-day Imamiyya negate both the vision and Allah's aboveness, while
the Kullabiyya and the Ash`aris affrim the ru'ya but deny Allah's
Aboveness and Exaltedness (`uluww).' He then goes on to prove that there
can be no ru'ya except in a direction (that is, the upper direction).


Shaykh ’Abdul-Qaadir al-Jeelaanee (d.561H) - rahimahullaah - said:

 

“It is essential to carry the Attribute of al-Istiwaa (Allaah’s Ascending) by His Dhaat (Essence) over the Throne.  Istiwaa does not mean sitting and touching - as the Mujassimah and Karraamiyyah say; nor does it mean ’uluww (grandeur and highness) - as the Ash’ariyyah say; nor does it mean isteelaa (conquering or dominating over) - as the Mu’tazilah say.  None of this is related in the Sharee’ah.  Neither has this been related from any of the Salafus-Saalih, from the Companions and the Taabi’een, nor from the Ashaabul-Hadeeth (Scholars of Hadeeth).  Rather, it is related from them that they carried al-Istiwaa with its apparent meaning.”al-Ghunyatut-Taalibeen (1/50)

 

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