The Disagreements between Ash‘aris & Maturidis

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The following text is selected from the work, “The Disagreements between Ash‘ari & Maturidis” of  Imam Shams ad-Din Ahmad ibn Sulayman ibn Kamal Pasha1 (r.a.)

Know that Shaykh Abu al-Hasan al-Ash‘ari (r.a) is the Imam of Ahl al-Sunna wal Jama’ah  in theology and at their forefront, followed by Shaykh Abu al-Mansur al-Maturidi3 (r.a). Know also – as some of our Shaykhs (r.a) have mentioned to us–that the companionsof al-Shafie (r.a)4 and his followers follow him(Abu al-Hasan[r.a]) in matters of doctrine,and follow al-Shafie (r.a) in matters of law.The companions of Imam Abu Hanifa5 (r.a) follow Shaykh Abual-Mansur (r.a) in doctrine and follow Imam Abu Hanifa (r.a) in law.This is whatour Shaykhs have imparted to us.There is no contention between the two Shaykhs and their followers except in twelve issues.6

One: al-Maturidi (r.a) said that Takwin [creation]is an eternal attribute that subsists with Allah’s Being,as do all of Hisattributes,and that it is distinct from that which is brought in to existence[mukawwan], and that it is linked withthat which i sbrought in to existence in the world and every part of it[the world]from the time of its inception.Justas Allah’s Will is eternal and linked with that which is willed at the time of its existence,so too is His eternal omnipotence[linked] with that which is decreed.7

Al-Ash‘ari (r.a) said that it is a contingent attribute that does not subsist with Allah’s being, and according to him it is from the attributes of action and not from the eternal attributes. As he saw it,the attributes of action are all contingent,such as Takwin and bringing into existence and the emergence of the world with the statement ”BE”8

Two: Imam al-Maturidi (r.a.) said that the Speech of Allah, the Exalted, is not heard. rather, what is heard is that which points to it9. Al-Ash‘ari said that it is heard–as is well known in the story of Prophet Moses (a.s). IbnFurak (r.a) said: “Two things are heard during the recitation of the reader: the voice of the reader,and the speech of Allah, the Exalted.” Al-Qadi [Abu Bakr] al-Baqillani (r.a) said: “Allah’s speech is not heard in the conventional sense,rather; it is possible for Allah to allow any of His creation that He wills to hear [it] contrary to customary means and[contrary to it being] with the medium of letters and sound. Abu Ishaq al-Isfarayini (r.a) and those who follow him said:“Allah’s speech is not heard at all.”This was the chosen view of Shaykh Abu al-Mansur al-Maturidi (r.a)–as found inal-Bidaya.

Three: al-Maturidi (r.a) said that the Creator of the universe is described with wisdom [Hikma],whether that wisdom takes the meaning of knowledge [‘ilm] or the meaning of perfection/mastery [ihkam]10. Al- Ash‘ari (r.a) said that ifwisdom takes the meaning of knowledge then it is an eternal attribute that subsists with Allah’s Entity,exalted is He,andif it takes the meaning of perfection/mastery then it is a contingent quality akin to Takwin, and the Entity of the Creator is not described with it.

Four: al-Maturidi (r.a) said that Allah wills obedience or disobedience for all beings, be they essences or accidents, however; obedience occurs by Allah’s will and decree and His pre-ordainment and predestination,pleasure,love,and command,and disobedience occurs by Allah’s will and decree and His predestination and pre-ordainment:not with His pleasure,love,orcommand.Al-Ash‘ari (r.a) said that Allah’s love and pleasure are inclusive of all things just as His will.11

Five: Accordingto al-Maturidi (r.a),being legally ordered with that in which there is no capacity to endure is impermissible,whereas being burdened with that which cannot be borne12 is permissible.According to al-Ash‘ari (r.a) both arepermissible.

Six: al-Maturidi (r.a) said that some of the rulings that relate to legal responsibility [taklif] are known by the intellect, because the intellect is a tool by which the goodness and evil of some things can be comprehended, and [it is a tool] by which the obligation of faith is comprehended, as well as [the obligation of] gratitude to the Giver ofbounties.The One who makes this known and obligatory is Allah, the Exalted, however; it is through the medium of the intellect; just as the Messenger Muhammad (s.a.w) made the obligation[s] known and the One who made [things] obligatory inreality is Allah,the Exalted, but it was through the medium of the Messenger.He[al-Maturidi (r.a)] said:“No one is excusedby ignorance of his Creator, due to what he sees in the creation of the heavens and earth”, and: “Had Allah not sent a
Messenger (a.s) [still] it would have been obligatory for the creation to know Him through their intellects.”

Al-Ash‘ari (r.a) said that nothing is made an obligation or a prohibition except by the Sacred Law(Sharia)– not the intellect,even if the intellect is able to comprehend the goodness and evil of somethings.According to al- Ash‘ari (r.a),all of the rulings that relate to legal responsibility are taken from revelation(Books of God, here Qur’an).

Seven: al-Maturidi (r.a) said that the wretched person could become felicitous and the felicitous person could become wretched. Al-Ash‘ari(r.a) said that there is no consideration given to either felicity or wretchedness except during theend [i.e.death] and the requital.13

Eight: al-Maturidi (r.a) said that it is rationally impermissible for disbelief to be pardoned.Al-Ash‘ari (r.a) said thatit is rationally permissible but textually impermissible.14 <

Nine: al-Maturidi (r.a) said it is rationally and textually impermissible fort he believers to abide eternally in theHell-fire and for the disbelievers to abide in Paradise. Al-Ash‘ari (r.a) said that it is rationally permissible, but textually impermissible.

Ten: Some of the Maturidis (r.a) say that the name and the thing named[al-ism wa al-musamma] are one. Al-Ash‘ari believedthat there is a distinction between the two and the “act of naming”[tasmiya].Some of them divided a name into three categories: itself,other than itself,and a third category that is neither itself nor other than itself.There is agreement that the act of naming [tasmiya] is other than them[the name and the thing named],and it is what is established with theone named.This is taken from Bidaya al-Kalam.

Eleven: al-Maturidi(r.a) said that being male is a condition for Prophethood, and consequently, it is impermissible for awomen to be a Prophetess. Al-Ash‘ari (r.a) said that being male is not a condition for it, and that being female does notnegate it.This is taken from Bidayaal-Kalam.

Twelve: al-Maturidi (r.a) said that the action of the servant is called an acquisition and not creation,and that the actionof the Real[Allah]is called creation and not acquisition–and both are inclusive of action.
Al-Ash‘ari (r.a) said that “action” denotes areal bringing into existence and the acquisition of the servant is called “action” only figuratively.It has been said:“That which is permissible for the All-Powerful to be singularly[describedwith]is called creation,and that which is impermissible for the All-Powerful to be described with is acquisition.15 <

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1- Ibn Kamal Pasha (r.a) (died 940 A.H )was one of the great scholars and polymaths of the Ottoman Empire.He was a contemporary of al-Hafiz Jalal al-Din al-Suyuti (r.a) and both scholars became famous for their vast knowledge.Comparisons were made between the knowledge and depth ofPasha and al-Suyuti,and most scholars concluded that both were nearly equal,with al-Suyuti having more mastery in the Hadith sciences,and withPasha having more mastery in the rational sciences.[a]
2-Abu al-Hasan Ali ibn Ismail al-Ash’ari (r.a) (874–936 CE)/ (260-324 AH) was a Shafie scholar and theologian who founded the school of tenets of faith that bears his name (Ash’ari), he is considered as one of reviver of Islam , and his school is considered one of the two mainstream(ahl al sunnah wal Jamaah) Islamic school of theology.
3- Muhammad Abu Mansur al-Maturidi (853 CE- 333 AH / 944 AD) was an Persian Muslim theologian and Hanafi Scholar, who founded the school of tenets of faith that bears his name (Maturidi), he is considered as one of reviver of Islam , and his school is considered one of the two mainstream(ahl al sunnah wal Jamaah) Islamic school of theology.
4- Abu ʿAbdillah Muhammad ibn Idris alShafi‘i اwas a Muslim jurist, who lived from (767 — 820 CE / 150 — 204 AH), his school of Islamic legal theory is active until present date. Considered as one of the four mainstream school.
5- Nu`mān ibn Thābit ibn Zūṭā ibn Marzubān also known as Imam Abū Ḥanīfah (699 — 767 CE / 80 — 148 AH) was one of the greatest Persian Muslim jurist, he founded Hanafi school of legal theory, which has majority of Muslim world’s (Almost 50%  of muslim population) following until present date.
6-“It is not hidden to the reader that the scholars mentioned more than this number of issues over which there is disagreement.It seems however thatthe author chose to limit them to this number due to their obvious nature.”(Sh.Sa‘idFoudah:Sharh Risala al-Ikhtilaf baynal-Asha‘ira wa al-Maturidiyya,12)
7-“In other words, Takwin is a pre-eternal attribute that subsists with God and has a contingently effective linage with that which is brought intoexistence at the time it is brought into being.For this reason,the scholars say that Takwin is different from that which is brought in to existence[al-mukawwan],because Takwin is apre-eternal attribute and that which is brought into existence is contingent.For this reason, the claim of some of the Hashawi  riff-raffs that the Maturidis agree with them that contingents subsist within Allah’s Entity is incorrect…this is fallacious becauseaccording to theMaturidis,Takwin is pre-eternal and not contingent.It is not to be called an attribute in an unrestricted manner;rather it is anattribute from which actions issueforth…” (Ibid)

8-Therefore, according to al-Ash‘ari, Takwin is a description for the self-same effective linkage of powerby taking note of its effect,where as according to al-Maturidi, it is the pre-eternal attribute from which thec reation and that which is brought into existence come…”(Ibid,13)
9-“For al-Maturidi,“that which is heard[al-masmu‘]”only applies that which connects with the sense of hearing…according to him,that whichconnects with it are the sounds that point to the pre-eternal attribute.As for the actual pre-eternal attribute, both al-Maturidi and al-Ash‘ari held that it has no connectionwith the senses and that the senses have no connectionwith it.The disagreement is regarding a pre-eternal attribute being heard or not. For al-Maturidi, hearing is conditioned upon the connection of the senses,and for that reason he denied that Inner Speech[KalamNafsi ]can be heard…”(Ibid,18)

10- Imam al-Maturidi said that Allah,the Exalted,is described with wisdom and that wisdom is a description of Allah’s Entity.This refers either to theknowledge of the precise/perfected actions or it refers back to the pre-eternal attribute of Takwin that al- Maturidi affirmed.This means that masteryand precision are from the implications of Takwin…”(Ibid,19)
11-“As for Imam al-Ash‘ari,the Ustadh [Pasha] reported that he believed that Allah’s love is inclusive of every accident,be it an act of obedience or anact of disobedience.This general statement suggests that Allah,the Exalted,loves disobedience.The correct view,however,is that this is not the doctrine of al-Ash‘ari.On the contrary,he said that Allah loves disobedience in so much as He punishes on account of it,just as He loves obedience in so much as He rewards on account of it.There is a distinction between this and whatUstadh Ibn Kamal Pasha and others mentioned and ascribed to al-Ash‘ari.”(Ibid,29)
12- Al-Maturididistinguishedbetweenbeinglegallyorderedandbeingburdened.[a]

13- According to al-Maturidi,felicity is defined as Islam and wretchedness is defined as disbelief.According to al-Ash‘arifelicity is dying upon Islam and wretchedness is dying upon disbelief.[a]
14- Al-Ash‘ari’s view is based upon a rational judgement alone,where as al-Maturidi’s view is based on observation of Allah’s will.
[a]

15- The gist of this disagreement is that al-Ash‘ari held that the word“action” is literal when applied to Allah [that He is the  Doer]
and is figurative when applied to the servant. Al-Maturidi on the other hand, held that the word “action” is also literal when
applied to the servants of God[a]

 

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