A question was asked by a student of al-Maghrib Institute to Yasir Qadhi about the creed of the majority of Sunni scholars on if it is true that the majority of Sunni Muslim scholars in the Islamic Community are Ash’aris.
Islamic tradition has established that Ash’ari, Maturidi, and correct Athari creeds represent Ahl al-Sunna wa’al Jama’ah. This has been noted by distinguished Islamic scholars of every era for the past 1,000+ years. Yet, Yasir Qadhi begs to differ and casts suspicion on Ash’ari creed (and by extension Maturidi creed which is almost the same) which has been followed by the majority of Islam’s scholars. This is a well established fact. It is as if Yasir Qadhi claims he knows better than the scholars of past (who lived closer to the time of the salaf us-salih).
The question and Yasir Qadhi’s response are provided below. May Allah Guide us from heterodoxy and pseudo-Sunni “scholars” like Yasir Qadhi who are leading Muslims away from Sunni orthodoxy.
Is it true that today the majority of Sunni Muslim SCHOLARS in the Ummah are Ash’arite?
Yasir Qadhi’s response:
“It’s difficult to state with certainty. Large generalizations are made, for example, since ‘this particular school’ is Ashari in theology, then all of its hundreds and thousands of graduates must also be so. However, in my personal experience, if you were to interview the vast majority (yes, the VAST majority) of the graduates of these schools, they have only a cursory understanding of theology in the first place. If you know what to ask (for example, are Allah’s actions characterized as being the wisest?), it is very possible to ‘trick’ them into giving response that are pure Sunni, despite the fact that they might verbally claim allegiance to kalaam theology.”
Yasir Qadhi later says:
Hence, it is rather tricky to claim that the majority of scholars are this or that; I would say that the majority are upon the fitrah, even if they might be influenced by kalaam in some specific issues (for example, the issue of istiwaa).
Yasir Qadhi continues:
Now, I do believe there were certain moments and places in history where Asharites were indeed a majority of scholars, such as in middle Mamluk Egypt and Syria (the time and era when Ibn Taymiyyah lived), but how about the rest of the Muslim world at that time? The Muslim empire spanned half of the globe and was not limited to Damascus or Cairo. Has their been any exhausitve research or substantiated proof that the majority of scholars of the entire earth were of this or that theology?
Yasir Qadhi concludes by saying:
So, to conclude this point, although 1) the Nizamiyah College, 2) the Ayyubid Dynasty after it and the University it founded, and, 3) the Muwahidoon, are the three primary factors for the sudden resurgence of kalaam theology in post 5th century hijrah, I am a bit more suspicious of the claims that, even from that time, it represented the majority of the Ummah.
Shaykh Muhammad ‘Alawi Maliki, the late great Sunni giant of Islam and considered to be a renewer (mujaddid) of his century said in his article, “The Ash’aris”:
“Many sons/daughters of Muslims are ignorant of the Ash’ari School, whom it represents, and its positions on the tenets of the Islamic faith (aqidah), and yet some of them are not God-fearing enough to refrain from accusing it of deviance, departure from the religion of Islam, and heresy about the attributes of Allah. The ignorance of the Ash’ari school is a cause of rendering the unity of the Ahl al-Sunnah dispersing its ranks. Some have gone as far as to consider the Ash’aris among the categories of heretical sects, though it is beyond me how believers can be linked with misbelievers, or how Sunni Muslims can be considered equal with the most extreme faction of the Mu’tazilites, the Jahmites.
“Shall We deal with Muslims as We do criminals? How is it that you judge?” [Qur’an 68:35-36]
The Ash’aris are the Imams of the distinguished figures of guidance among the scholars of the Muslims, whose knowledge has filled the world from east to west, and whom people have unanimously concurred upon their excellence, scholarship, and religiousness. They include the first rank of Sunni scholars and the most brilliant of their luminaries, who stood in the face of the excesses commited by the Mu’tazilites, and who constitute whole sections of the foremost Imams of Hadith, Sacred Law, Quranic exegesis. Shaykh al-Islam Ahmad ibn Hajar ‘Asqalani (d. 852/1449; Rahimullah), the mentor of Hadith scholars and author of the book “Fath al-Bari bi sharh Sahih al-Bukhari“, which not a single Islamic scholar can dispense with, was Ash’ari. The shaykh of the scholars of Sunni Islam, Imam Nawawi (d. 676/1277; Rahimullah), author of “Sharh Sahih Muslim” and many other famous works, was Ash’ari. The master of Qur’anic exegetes, Imam Qurtubi (d. 671/1273; Rahimullah), author of “al-Jami’ li ahkan al-Qur’an“, was Ash’ari. Shaykh al-Islam ibn Hajar Haytami (d. 974/1567; Rahimullah), who wrote “al-Zawajir ‘an iqtiraf al-kaba’ir“, was Ash’ari. The Shaykh of Sacred Law and Hadith, the conclusive definitive Zakariyya Ansari (d. 926/1520; Rahimullah), was Ash’ari. Imam Abu Bakr Baqillani (d. 403/1013; Rahimullah), Imam ‘Asqalani; Imam Nasafi (d. 710/1310; Rahimullah); Imam Shirbini (d. 977/1570; Rahimullah); Abu Hayyan Tawhidi, author of the Qur’anic commentary “al-Bahr al-muhit“; Imam ibn Juzayy (d. 741/1340; Rahimullah); author of “al-Tashil fi ‘ulum al-Tanzil“; and others – all of these were Imams of the Ash’aris. If we wanted to name all of the top scholars of Hadith, Qur’anic exegesis, and Sacred Law who were Imams of the Ash’aris, we would be hard put to do so and would require volumes merely to list these illustrious figures whose wisdom has filled the earth from east to west. And it is incumbent upon us to give credit where credit is due, recognising the merit of those of knowledge and virtue who have served the Sacred Law of the Greatest Messengers (Allah bless him and grant him peace). What good is to be hoped for us if we impugn our foremost scholars and righteous forbearers with charges of aberrancy and misguidance? Or how should Allah give us the benefit of their scholarship if we believe it is deviance and departure from the way of Islam? I ask you, is there a single Islamic scholar of the present day, among all the PhD.’s and geniuses, who has done what Ibn Hajar ‘Asqalani or Imam Nawawi have, of the service rendered by these two noble Imams (May Allah enfold them in His mercy and bliss) to the pure Prophetic Sunnah? How should we charge them and all Ash’aris with abberancy when it is we who are in need of their scholarship? Or how can we take knowledge from them if they were in error? For as Imam Zuhri (d. 124/742; rahimullah) says, “This knowledge is religion, so look well to whom you are taking your religion from.”
Is it not sufficient for someone opposed to the Ash’aris to say, “Allah have mercy on them, they used reasoning (ijtihad) in figuratively interpreting the divine attributes, which it would have been fitter for them not to do”; instead of accusing them of deviance and misguidance, or displaying anger towards whoever considers them to be of the Sunni Community? If Imams Nawawi, ‘Asqalani, Qurtubi, Baqillani, al-Fakhr al-Din al-Razi, Haytami, Zakariyyah Ansari, and many others were not among the most brilliant scholars and illustrious geniuses, or of the Sunni Community, then who are the Sunnis?
I sincerely entreat all who call others to this religion or who work in the field of propagating Islam to fear Allah respecting the honour of the Community of Muhammad (Allah bless him and grant him peace) is possessed of goodness until the Final Hour, we are bereft of any if we fail to acknowledge the worth and excellence of our learned.”
In conclusion, the Ahl al-Sunnah wa’l Jama’ah are the true followers of the Prophet (Peace be upon him) and his Companions (Allah be pleased with them all), followed by by those who trod their path for the last 1400 years. It is in summary the followers of Imam Abu’l Hasan al-Ash’ari (Rahimullah) and Imam Abu Mansur al-Maturidi (Rahimullah) in Aqeedah, and this saved sect is represented by the adherents of one of the four schools – Hanafi, Maliki, Shafi’i and Hanbali today. This is the sect which has had the largest following throughout Islamic history as-Sawad al-Az’am) as confirmed by the Qur’anic and Ahadith based evidence and it will remain dominant until the Hour is established, inshaAllah.
Does Yasir Qadhi dare question the creed of Ahl al-Sunna wa’al Jama’ah? Does Yasir Qadhi dare question the creed of our illustrious scholars like Imam Ibn Hajar al-`Asqalani, Imam Nawawi, Imam Qurtubi, and many other well-known Ash’ari scholars? If they were not on the correct Islamic creed, then would Yasir Qadhi care to tell us who had the correct Islamic creed in each of the generations that have passed?
For more of Yasir Qadhi’s insults against the Ash’aris, one may refer to this previous post.
May Allah protect us from Yasir Qadhi and his followers who are propagaters of pseudo-Sunni misguidance, and who try to separate Muslims from the great mass of Muslims. May Allah keep all of us in the fold of the Ash’aris, Maturidis, and correct non-anthropomorphic Atharis who comprise the vast majority of Muslims in Islam’s history.
I end with a list of FAMOUS ASH’ARI SCHOLARS:
- Abu Ishaq al-Isfarayini
- The hafidh: Abu Nuaym al-Asbahani, the author of the book, Hilyat al-Awliya’
- Shaykh Abu Muhammad al-Juwayni , who was the one whose hand lit up after he died, because he had written so many authentic religious judgments (fatwas);
- Abdul-Malik Abul-Ma’ali al-Juwayni , who is the son of Abu Muhammad al-Juwayni and the famous Imam of the Haramayn, the Haram of Makkah and the Haram of al-Madinah;
- Abu Mansur at-Tamimi, the author of Al-Farqu Baynal-Firaq and ‘Usul ud-Din;
- The hafidh: al-Isma’ili, who authored the book: Al-Mustakhraj ‘Ala Sahih al-Bukhari;
- The famous hafidh: al-Bayhaqi;
- The hafidh: ad-Daraqutni ; who was among the giants of the hafidhs of hadith;
- The hafidh:, al-Khatib al-Baghdadi, who authored the famous book, The History of Baghdad;
- The ustadh: Abul-Qasim al-Qushayri, the author of Ar-Risalah al-Qushayriah, a famous book in Sufism;
- His son, known as Abun-Nasr;
- The shaykh: Abu Ishaq ash-Shirazi , who was a famous Shafi’i scholar who authored At-Tanbih, Al-Muhadhdhab, and Al-Luma’;
- The famous Shafi’i faqih: Nasr al-Maqdisi;
- Abul-Wafa’ Ibn ‘Aqil al-Hanbali;
- The Hanafi judge: ad-Damghani, who was the judge of all judges in his era;
- Imam Abul-Walid al-Baji, a famous Maliki scholar;
- The Imam, the Master: Ahmad ar-Rifa’i;
- The hafidh: Abul-Qasim Ibn ‘Asakir;
- Ibnus-Sam’ani, who acquired the knowledge through about 1000 shaykhs and authored the book: Al-Ansab;
- Al-Qadi ‘Iyad al-Malikiyy, the author of Ash-Shifa;
- Imam Nawawi;
- Imam Fakhrud-Din ar-Razi, the author of the famous book of interpretation;
- Al-Qurtubi, who is also famous for his book of interpretation;
- The Shafi’i shaykh: ‘Izzud-Din Ibnu ‘Abdis-Salam, who was known for being strict in bidding that which Allah made lawful and forbidding that which Allah made unlawful;
- The Maliki scholar, linguist, and faqih: Abu ‘Amr Ibnul-Hajib;
- Al-Qadi Ibn Daqiq al-‘Id, who, according to some sayings, reached the level of ijtihad;
- Imam ‘Ala’ud-Din al-Baji, a famous Maliki scholar;
- The judge of the judges: Taqiyyuddin as-Subki;
- The hafidh of Jerusalem: al-‘Ala’i;
- The hafidh: Zaynud-Din al-Iraqi, and his son, the hafidh, AbuZur’ah;
- The Seal of the hafidhs: Ibn Hajar al-‘Asqalani;
- The seal of the linguists, Imam Murtada az-Zabidi, who was a follower of the school (madhhab) of Imam Abu Hanifah;
- The judge of the judges, the famous later Shafi’i scholar: Zakariyya al-Ansari;
- The Sufi shaykh: Baha’ud-Din ar-Rawwas;
- The Mufti of the city of Makkah: Ahmad Ibn Zayni Dahlan , who authored a famous book: The History of Islamic States;
- The famous Indian scholar: Waliyyullah ad-Dahlawi;
- The Mufti of Egypt, the shaykh: Muhammad ‘Ulaysh al-Maliki;
- The shaykh of the Azhar Mosque in Egypt, who lived about 100 years ago: Shaykh ‘Abdullah ash-Sharqawi;
- The famous shaykh from Tripoli: Abul Mahasin al-Qawuqji, who died less than 100 years ago in Egypt. Much of the narration which has reached us today was narrated through him;
- Imam Husayn al-Jisr at-Tarabulsi of Tripoli, who is known for his books: Ar-Risalah al-Hamidiyyah and Al-Husun al-Hamidiyyah, both authored to defend the Religion of Islam against the atheists at the time of the Ottoman Sultan, AbdulHamid II;