Shaykh Abdullah bin Hamid Ali of Zaytuna Institute Refutes Qadhi’s anti-Ash’ari Views.

Shaykh Abdullah bin Hamid Ali of Zaytuna responds to Yasir Qadhi’s article in Muslim Matters that demeaned Ash’aris and misconstrued their authentic positions. The following are some of his excerpts that shed light on the view held by Ahl al-Sunna wa’l Jama’ah and their differences with the distorted — in many cases, malevolent — understanding of the Salafi-Wahhabis. Allah make this of benefit to all of us!   

Shaykh bin Hamid Ali is a teacher at the Zaytuna Institute that provides the following biography of the Shaykh:

Abdullah bin Hamid Ali began the study of Arabic and Islamic Studies at the age of 17 with his first Arabic teacher, Imam Aberra—-may Allah show him mercy—-of Eritrea, a well-known private teacher in Philadelphia. He later studied Arabic, Qur’anic recitation (tajwid) and memorization (hifz), and other introductory topics with Imam Anwar bin Nafea Muhaimin and his brother Anas. He studied privately and as an undergraduate student with Dr. Khalid Yahya Blankinship of Temple University, and at the former Institute of Arabic and Islamic Sciences in Fairfax, Virginia. In 1997, he left the United States and began more intensive studies in the Islamic sciences at the University of Qarawiyyin of Fes, Morocco. In 2001, he graduated with a license from the Faculty of Shariah to teach the Islamic Sciences (al-ijazah al-‘ulya), and then returned to Philadelphia. Since his return, he has written a number of articles on various Islamic topics (, taught numerous classes, workshops, and seminars, and translated and annotated The Attributes of God (Amal Press), a work by the great scholar, ‘Abd Al-Rahman ibn al-Jawzi. In October, Abdullah left a full-time position as chaplain with the State Correctional Institution of Chester, Pennsylvania, after five years, and joined the Zaytuna staff as a resident scholar. He lives with his wife and daughter in the Bay Area.


“As Salamu ‘alaykum wa rahmatullah, Shaykh Yasir

“This is your brother, Abdullah bin Hamid Ali. How are things? I’d like to congratulate you on your excellently worded article related to the matter of atomism and its relationship to Ash’ari and Mutazili doctrine. I really enjoyed reading it. But, as you can expect I do have a couple of questions that I’d like for you to clarify for me. Before that, I’d like to first state as you would expect that I do not agree that you were able to prove your thesis that the Ash’ari doctrine of the attributes originate primarily from Hellenistic thought and philosophy. Rather, it is primarily originated from the Qur’an itself by inference, of course. If it then agrees with many aspects of Hellenistic thought, that should not be a problem, but of course you are free to hold whatever view that you like. Secondly, what puzzles me is that you do not see the rational origins of your own thought or even the rational origins of Ahl al-Hadith thought in doctrine generally speaking. All of us are making inferences from the sources, so why should the Ash’aris be implicated as those who have departed from the text? Furthermore, Ash’ari doctrine of the attributes is rooted in the language of the Arabs as understood during the time of the Salaf. My other question relates to this statement you made,

“The Ash`aris do indeed state that Allah’s actions are not done for a purpose, nor can they be characterized with “wisdom”. They deny what is called “al-Hikma wa al-Ta`lil’”

“I think it would be good to rephrase this to give the Ash’aris more justice on this matter. The way that you phrase it makes it sound like the Ash’aris hold that Allah’s actions are nothing more than ‘abath’ as the Qur’an clearly denies. Do deny that would be tantamount to apostasy for it would be an outright denial of Allah’s explicit words. This is not the Ash’ari view, and your words can be seen as distorting the true understanding they intend to convey….”

“Instead of simply appreciating your scholarship, many people will take your words as further support for whatever personal vendetta he/she has against certain Muslim factions, while the greater concerns of our community will continue to go neglected. We need to do our best to make sure that people don’t waste too much time on chat rooms and blogs going back and forth about matters they do not completely understand. May Allah make you a light for others out of darkness.”
(end of quote)


Shaykh bin Hamid Ali also responded to a Salafi tarnished follower of the Al-Maghrib Institute in the issue of ta’wil, or figurative interpretation of the Attributes of Allah in the Qur’an and Sunnah:

“As for Brother Haithim’s comment, “In fact the Shaikh went against the Ash’ari creed.” Well, according to Abul-Hussein I’ve taken the view of “some” Ash’aris. If I am incorrect about that assumption, then I still haven’t seen how I have gone against the Ash’ari creed. I just think you are misunderstanding what is meant by “ta’lil” and are perhaps confusing it with “hikma.” Otherwise, I don’t think it would be appropriate for you to say, “Ash’aris believe that Allah SWT’s actions are neither based nor motivated by a divine wisdom.” and then to say “Imams Bajoori and Marghini have made similar statements. Ash’aris do believe Allah SWT’s actions to be wise, but not motivated by a divine wisdom.” I don’t see where I have said anything different from this.

“When a person has a sensor placed on a door to detect movement so that the door opens every time a person wants to enter, this is an example of ta’lil. Why the sensor? To detect the person who’s about to enter the door. What is the wisdom of that? Perhaps, it’s to remove the burden of having to push or pull the door open, thus lightening the burden of the people. Or perhaps the wisdom is for one to simply develop an admiration and appreciation for the creator of the door with the sensor and to feel amazement for one who could do such a thing. I hope that I am clear about what the difference is between “‘illah gha’iyya” and “hikma ilahiyya.”

“As for the first thing “ta’til”, Allah’s actions are free from being bound by such motivations, while ever action of the Creator is characterized by wisdom. This is the Ash’ari view. To actually study that with an Ash’ari rather than read about it may be at the root of misunderstandings. Harshness with people many times results from autodidacts and their independent studies of the rational and legal sciences. This is one thing that Imam Shatibi in his Al-Muwafaqat considered to be the reason for Ibn Hazm’s harshness toward the ‘ulama. Perhaps you need to read what I wrote again for the sake of fairness. However, if your intention is to merely make this a tit for tat exchange, don’t hold your breath. This is only a one shot deal for me. My time and work is too valuable for such a waste of time. I just thought that I would reach out in the hopes that I have found “brothers” who I am able to “reason” with. Beyond that, those of you who may seek only disputation can go right ahead and argue with my corpse (metaphorically “or not”).”

(end of quote)


2 responses to “Shaykh Abdullah bin Hamid Ali of Zaytuna Institute Refutes Qadhi’s anti-Ash’ari Views.

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