How Ash’arism Spread – al-Maqrizi

Posted on December 2, 2006. Filed under: 202 - Advanced Asma wa Sifaat |

The reality of the Ash’ari school
Taqi al-Din Ahmad b. ‘Ali al-Maqrizi (d. 845)

An excerpt from al-Khitat al-Maqriziyya 4/184-5

The reality of the school of al-Ash’ari – may Allah be merciful with him – is that he followed a way between the negation of attributes, that being the Mu’tazili school, and the affirmation thereof, that being the school of anthropomorphists, and further debated his beliefs and supported his school with proofs. Thereafter, a group of theologians inclined towards and relied upon his school; from them, al-Qadhi Abu Bakr Muhammad b. al-Tayyib al-Baqillani al-Maliki, Abu Bakr Muhammad b. al-Hasan b. Furak, al-Shaykh Abu Ishaq Ibrahim b. Muhammad b. Mihran al-Isfaraini, al-Shaykh Abu Ishaq Ibrahim b. ‘Ali b. Yusuf al-Shirazi, al-Shaykh Abu Hamid Muhammad b. Muhammad b. Ahmad al-Ghazzali, Abu al-Fath Muhammad b. ‘Abd al-Karim b. Ahmad al-Shahrastani, al-Imam Fakhr al-Din Muhammad b. ‘Umar b. al-Husayn al-Razi and others, the mention of whom would take a long time. They championed his school, debated and disputed according to it, and supported the school with proofs in an uncountable number of works. Due to their efforts, the school of Abu al-Hasan al-Ash’ari spread in Iraq roughly from year 380 AH, and from there it moved to Syria.

Then al-Malik al-Nasir Salah al-Din Yusuf b. Ayyub ascended to power in Egypt, who along with the judge, Sadr al-Din ‘Abd al-Malik b. ‘Isa b. Darbas al-Marani were both the followers of this school, for they had nurtured upon it ever since they were in the service of al-Sultan al-Malik al-‘Adil Nur al-Din Mahmud b. Zanki in Damascus. Salah al-Din in his childhood had memorised a manual on creed, composed for him by Qutb al-Din Abu al-Ma’ali Mas’ud b. Muhammad b. Mas’ud al-Nisaburi, the manual which he, in turn, made his children memorise. For this reason they placed Ash’arism above everything else and held on to it very firmly, and furthermore, they obliged the masses to adhere to this school. And so it continued in this vein through out all the Ayyubite dynasties, and thereafter right through the reign of their freed-slaves, the Turkish governors.

This also coincided with one of the trips of Abu ‘Abdullah Muhammad b. Tumart from North Africa to Iraq where he learnt the Ash’ari doctrine from Abu Hamid al-Ghazzali. Upon his return to North Africa, he began to teach and educate the Masamida (one of the principal Berber ethnic groups) and composed for them a manual on theology, which the commoners quickly embraced. He then passed away and was succeeded by ‘Abd al-Mu’min b. ‘Ali al-Qaysi, who was titled ‘Amir al-Mu’minin’, and who also conquered the North African dynasties, and thereafter his descendants for years. They became known as ‘al-Muwahhidun’, and then on, al-Muwahhid dynasty deemed permissible to shed the blood of anyone who opposes the doctrine of Ibn Tumart, since he was to them the distinguished leader, the infallible Mahdi. How much blood they shed due to this reason, is only known by Allah the Creator – May He be glorified and exalted! – as it is known in historical works.

Thus, this was the reason behind the fame of the Ash’ari school and its spread in various Islamic lands, such that the rest of the schools were forgotten and gone; to such an extent that there remains no school today that opposes the Ash’ari school, with the exception of the school of the Hanbalis – the followers of Imam Abu ‘Abdullah Ahmad b. Muhammad b. Hanbal – may Allah be pleased with him. For they are upon what the Salaf were upon, that is to avoid allegorical interpretation of texts pertaining to attributes.

Such was the case up until 700 years after Hijra, when there rose to fame, in Damascus and the outskirts, Taqi al-Din Abu al-‘Abbas Ahmad b. ‘Abd al-Halim b. ‘Abd al-Salam b. Taymiyya al-Harrani. He undertook to champion the school of the Salaf and did his utmost to refute the Ash’ari school and openly censured them, the Rafida and the Sufis.

Thereafter, the people were divided into two groups over him. A group that followed him, relied upon his views, acted in accordance with his opinions, held him as Shaykh al-Islam and the most prominent preservers of the Islamic nation. The other group declared him to be a heretic, a deviant, rebuked him for affirming attributes, and censured him over his juristic opinions, of them are those where he had a predecessor, and of them are those where they claimed he opposed the consensus and had no predecessor. He and his adversaries, both had mishaps, and their reckoning is with Allah, the one from whom nothing is hidden in the earth and the heavens. He still has, up until today, many followers in Syria, and a few in Egypt.

Who was al-Maqrizi?
(excerpt from Encyclopaedia of Islam)

al-MAQRIZI, Taqi al-Din abu ‘l-‘abbas ahmad b. ‘ali b. ‘abd al-Qadir (766-845/1364-1442), Egyptian historian.

His father (d. 779/1378 at the age of fifty), married a daughter of the wealthy philologist and jurist Ibn al-Sa’igh (d. 776/1375). He was born in Cairo, apparently in 765/1363-4. The nisba Maqrizi refers to a quarter in Ba’labakk where his paternal family came from. His paternal grandfather, ‘abd al-Qadir b. Muhammad (ca. 677-733/1278-1332, see Ibn Hajar, Durar, ii, 391 f.) was a Hanbali, his maternal grandfather, who influenced his early upbringing, a Hanafi. His father was a Shafi’i, and he himself opted for Shafi’ism in early manhood; he also developed (non-juridical) Dhahiri tendencies (cf. I. Goldziher, Die Dhahiriten, Leipzig 1884, 196-2H2). He received the thorough education of a youth born into a well-to-do scholarly family, studying with famous scholars and eventually being able to boast of “600 Shaykhs.” Like his father, but with greater success initially, he exercised a variety of administrative and scholarly functions, such as those of writer of tawqi’s, deputy judge, muhtasib (for terms lasting only a few months each in 801, 802, and 807), preacher in the Mosque of ‘amr and the Madrasa of al-Hasan, imam and chief administrator of the Mosque of al-Hakim, and professor of hadith in the Mu’ayyadiyya. In Damascus, where he spent about ten years beginning in 810/1408, he held teaching positions at the aShrafiyya and Iqbaliyya, and was chief financial administrator of the Qalanisiyya and the great Nuri Hospital, although this last position was reserved by law for the Shafi’i judge of Damascus. He had actually been offered that judgeship by al-Nasir b. Barquq, but had refused. While in Syria, he appears to have decided to give up an unsatisfactory public career and devote himself full-time to historical scholarship (instead of part-time as he had done before). He did so after his return to Egypt. He spent a number of years in Mecca and died in Cairo in early February 1442. The last of his children had died already in 826/1423 ( Suluk , iv, 2, 651). a nephew, Nasir al-Din Muhammad b. Muhammad (801-67/1399-1462), survived him (al-Sakhawi, 4aw’, ix, 15H).

One Response to “How Ash’arism Spread – al-Maqrizi”

RSS Feed for Aqeedah Comments RSS Feed

[…] Suhaib had published an article on his blog titled, “How Ash’arism Spread,” by a scholar named Taqi al-Din Ahmad b. ‘Ali al-Maqrizi, in which he took an unconventional stand towards Ash’ari theology. The original article can be read at: […]

Comments are closed.

  • Subscribe

Liked it here?
Why not try sites on the blogroll...

%d bloggers like this: