Ash’aris Believe Quran is Created and Ibn Qudama’s Refutation

Posted on September 1, 2006. Filed under: 202 - Advanced Asma wa Sifaat |

The Ash’aris believe that Allah’s Speech subsists in His Essence and is without sound or letters, and therefore, Allah could not have said Alif-Laam-Meem.

The Mu’tazilah believed that the Quran is Allah’s Speech; and Allah’s Speech is created.

The Ash’aris believed that the Quran is not Allah’s Speech, so while Allah’s Speech is uncreated, the Quran remains created.

al-Bayjuri the Ash’ari theologian says in his Sharh Jawharat al-Tawheed:
“it is still only permitted to say “The Qur’an is emergent (or created)” in a classroom setting”

Ibn al-Jawzi says in al-Muntadham of al-Ash’ari:
“The people never differed that this audible Qur’an is Allah’s Speech, and that Gabriel descended with it upon the Prophet – Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him. The reliable imams declared that the Quran is eternal, while the Mu’tazila claimed that it is created. Al-Ash’ari then agreed with the Mu’tazila that the Quran is created and said: ‘This is not Allah’s Speech. Rather, Allah’s Speech is an Attribute subsisting in Allah’s Essence. It did not descend on the Prophet, nor is it audible.’ “

Ibn al-Jawzi would often say on the pulpit:
“The heretics (the Ash’aris) claim; i) there is none in the Heavens, ii) neither is there Qur’an in the Mushaf, and iii) nor is there a Prophet in the grave; ‘your three shameful facets’” (al-Dhayl)

Ibn al-Jawzi writes, while complaining about certain Ash’arites indoctrinating the masses with the Ash’arite dogma: “A group of Persian (a’ajim) heretics arrived in Baghdad and mounted the pulpits to sermon the masses. They would claim, in most of their gatherings: There is no ‘Speech of Allah’ on this earth, and is the mushaf anything but paper, galls and vitriol? Allah is not in the Heavens, and the slave-girl to whom the Prophet said: ‘Where is Allah?’ was dumb and therefore pointed towards the sky, meaning: He is not from the idols worshipped on this earth.

They then said: ‘Where are the ‘letterists’, who claim that the Quran is composed of letters and sound? Rather, the Quran is only an expression of Jibril!’ They continued in this vein, until the sacredness of the Quran diminished from the hearts of many.”

He then mentions at length, the arguments for the orthodox approach towards the Quran, and commends Imam Ahmad b. Hanbal for his rigid stance on the issue, which united the Muslims on one belief: the Quran, which is contained in the Mushaf, is the uncreated Speech of Allah. He then denigrates al-Ash’ari, saying: “Then, people did not differ in this issue, until there appeared ‘Ali b. Isma’il al-Ash’ari, who at first, held the beliefs of the Mu’tazilites. It then occurred to him, as he claimed, that Allah’s Speech subsists in the Divine Essence (sifah qa’imah bil-that). His claim, therefore, necessitated that the Quran we have is created.”

Ibn Qudama says in his refutation of the Ash’aris on the topic of Quran:

* “Some of our [Hanbali] companions often ask us about the debate that took place between me and some of the heretics (i.e. Ash’aris)”

* Ash’aris claim that the Speech of Allah – the Quran – is one whole entity which is indivisible, for anything eternal must be indivisible, as they claim. Ibn Qudamah responds to this saying, that their belief implies, that the Torah, the Bible and the Quran are all the same, and the one who memorises a verse has memorised the whole Quran, and that Allah’s prohibitions are the same as what he permits, etc.

* Ash’aris say that if Allah speaks with sound and letters, it implies that Allah has a tongue, a throat and lungs, since this is the only way one may speak. Ibn Qudamah says, the stones and trees of Makkah would say Salam to the Prophet – SallAllahu ‘alaihi wasallam without any of that, and likewise ones hands will bear witness against him on the day of judgement, without the need of any tongue or throat etc. Moreover, by the same token, they should also deny that Allah is all hearing and seeing, as one cannot hear except through air waves hitting the air-drums, nor can one see except through lights hitting the retina.

* Ibn Qudamah says that Ash’aris belief implies that for one to recite the Quran in his Salah, in fact renders his Salah null and void, because the Quran is actually the speech of Jibril, as they claim.

* He says: “There is no dispute amongst all the Muslims that anyone who rejects a verse from the Quran, or a word, which is agreed upon, or even a letter which is agreed upon, is a Kafir… Whereas al-Ash’ari rejects the entire Quran and says: none of that is the Quran, rather it is the speech of Jibril”

* He says: “What is amazing is that they are not bold enough to manifest their belief in public, nor do they explicitly state it except when they are alone. Even if they were the rulers, or governors of countries, and you were to attribute this belief to them, they would detest it and condemn it, and become obstinate. They would only pretend to honor the Quran respect the Mushaf, and stand up upon seeing it, whereas when they are alone they say: There is nothing in it but paper and ink, what else is there in it? And this is from the actions of Zanadiqah”

* One of them said to Ibn Qudamah: I affirm that this Mushaf is actually the Quran, but it is not the eternal Quran, to which Ibn Qudamah replied: ‘So, do we have two Qurans?! … Some of our [Hanbali] companions said: ‘You (the Ash’aris) are the rulers and the governors over Islamic countries, so what prevents you from making your belief manifest to the common folk?

* He said: ‘We do not know of a sect from the heretics who hide their beliefs, and who are not bold enough to manifest them, except the Zanadiqah and the Ash’aris.’

* He said: ‘His belief (i.e. al-Ash’ari’s) is similar to that of the Mu’tazilah without doubt, except that al-Ash’ari wants to deceive. So he states his belief which appears to be agreeing with the beliefs of the people of truth. He then gives an explanation to his belief with a Mu’tazili twist.

* He says: ‘The reality of the Ash’ari doctrine is that there is no God in the heavens, nor is there a Quran on this earth, and nor is Muhammad a messenger of God’. Ibn Fuwarrak was killed by the great ruler Ibn Subuktakin for claiming that the Prophet SallAllahu ‘alaihi wa-sallam was only a messenger when he was alive, and he isn’t a messenger anymore after his death.

* He says: ‘What is amazing is that their leader (i.e. Abul-Hasan al-Ash’ari) who established their beliefs was a man not known for his religion or piety, nor was he known for any of the Sacred sciences. In fact, he belongs to no science except the science of blameworthy Kalam. All the while they acknowledge that he spent 40 years adhering to Mu’tazili doctrine, and then pretended to have retracted from it, however, nothing could be seen from him after his repentance except this Bid’ah.’

al-Saffarini al-Hanbali says in his Sharh of his own Athari creed:
“In conclusion, the Mu’tazilites are in agreement with the Ash’arites, while the Ash’arites are in agreement with the Mu’tazilites, that this Quran contained within the two covers of the Mushaf is created and anew. The only difference between the two factions is that the Mu’tazila did not affirm any other Speech for Allah except this (the Quran, which they thought was created), whereas the Ash’arites affirmed al-Kalam al-Nafsi (self-speech/talking to oneself/inner-speech) subsisting in Allah’s essence. Whereas the Mu’tazilites say, the Speech of Allah is created (and not subsisting in Allah). The Ash’aris do not consider it (the Quran) the Speech of Allah. Yes, they call it ‘the Speech of Allah’, but only metaphorically, and that is the belief of the majority of their predecessors.”

Conclusion:

1) the Ash’aris believe that the Quran that we have which is contained in the Mushaf is in fact created, because Allah Speaks without sound or letters.

2) This is how the Hanbalis have viewed the Ash’aris for centuries.
Ibn al-Jawzi’s quotes can be found in his al-Muntadham, in his notice on Abul-Hasan al-Ash’ari; as well as his Sayd al-Khatir

Ibn Qudama is being quoted from his Munadhara ma’a Ahl al-Bid’a (debate with heretics), which is his discourse with his contemporary Ash’rites.

al-Saffarini is being quoted from his own Sharh to his own Athari creed called Lawami’.

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