How true is the statement “Allah does not know the future; if He knows, He will be compelling”?

The Details of the Question

- Does the following understanding exist in the understanding of qadar of Mutazila madhhab: “Allah does not know the future; if He knows, He will be compelling”?
- If they have such an understanding, how are they regarded as Muslims?

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

- Mutazilites are famous for denying Allah’s attributes. However, the following statement of Mutazilites is significant:

“Allah is knower, alive and powerful since pre-eternity but He does not resemble those who are knowers, alive and powerful. He does not resemble any being.” (Ash’ari, Maqalat, 1/130-135)

Mutazilites agree on the issue above but they disagree about whether Allah knew the things in eternity before they existed.

However, it is seen that there are interpretations aiming to preserve Allah’s oneness behind that disagreement. For instance, Hisham b. Amr al-Futi, one of the imams of Mutazila stated the following regarding the issue:

“Allah is knower, alive and powerful since pre-eternity”. However, when it is said to him, “Allah knows things since pre-eternity”, he says, “No!”; I say “Allah is knower since pre-eternity” but I do not say “Allah knows things since pre-eternity because to say that means to accept other beings along with Allah since pre-eternity.” I do not say, “‘Allah knows the beings that will come into being in the future’ because it means to indicate something that does not exist. In fact, I indicate only what exists/is available.” (see Maqalat, ibid)

As it is seen, the subtleties considered here aim to prevent Allah’s oneness from being harmed.

- Some Mutazilites say, “Allah knows deeds, people, things, essences, knowledge, everything since eternity” but they avoid saying, “Allah knows creatures since eternity.” According to them, the word “makhluq (creature)” means existent, what exists. It means “to accept the existence of other beings along with Allah in pre-eternity”. (see Maqalat, ibid)

- According to some other Mutazilites, “Allah knows all knowledge and all beings that will come into being. He knows that essences will be creatures in the future. …” (see Maqalat, ibid)

- We understand the following from the information given by Abul-Hasan al-Ash’ari, who is one of the imams of creed of Ahl as-Sunnah and who explains the views of Mutazila in 6-7 items in a similar way:

Mutazilites do not say Allah does not have knowledge about the future or that He does not know trivial issues. They avoid saying that the beings in the future exist in His pre-eternal knowledge in terms of Allah’s oneness. In fact, they understand that it is a necessity of Allah’s pre-eternal and infinite knowledge that everything that took place and will take place exist in His pre-eternal knowledge. However, they avoid saying it because they regard it contrary to the creed of oneness, which is the first one of their five principles.

As a matter of fact, as it is seen in some of the examples above, a Mutazila imam states the following: “I say ‘Allah is knower since pre-eternity’ but I do not say Allah knows things since pre-eternity’.”

As it can be seen, he does not say, “Allah does not know things since pre-eternity.” He says, “I do not say ‘Allah knows things since pre-eternity’.”

- From this point of view, Mutazila has the belief of oneness. The interpretations they make regarding the issue and attributes in general aim to preserve the belief of oneness. Probably because of this intention of theirs, Ahl as-Sunnah do not generally accuse them of unbelief. However, some scholars accused some Mutazilites of unbelief.  

- In our opinion, the point that Mutazila is wrong about Allah’s knowledge is that they confuse “the external beings of things with their beings related to knowledge”. In fact, the existence of things in the pre-eternal knowledge of Allah is their existence related to knowledge; it has nothing to do with the real external being.

Previous scholars, especially Sufis used the phrase “ayan thabita (latent realities)” for the beings “that have existence related to knowledge”.

The reason why the word “ayan” is modified with the word “thabit” is to show that they are free from absolute non-existence in terms of their existence related to knowledge because pre-eternal knowledge, which is infinite, does not allow the existence of absolute non-existence.

Yes everything (every being) has two aspects. One is its nature and essence and the other is its external being and appearance (shape). What forms the essence of everything is essence and nature. It exists in Allah’s pre-eternal and post-eternal knowledge in terms of meaning and knowledge. It is also called knowledge of existence.

If God Almighty gives with His pre-eternal will and power an external existence to those natures and essences, which are latent in His knowledge, they exit from the realm of knowledge and meaning, and go to the realm of beings and the visible realm.   

That some scholars who are experts of the issue say, “Latent realities have not even felt existence” (Markazul-Abhathil-Aqaidiyya) is due to their state in that existence related to knowledge; it does not mean that some of them will not assume an external existence with the creation of Allah.

The spiritual programs and projects of the beings that exist in Allah’s knowledge are very different from the nature of the beings that assume external existence with the manifestations of God Almighty’s attributes of Creation and Power. One of them is related to knowledge and the other is related to existence. One of them is a dimension related to meaning and knowledge, which can be understood only through the mind, and the other is a material structure, which is tangible (concrete).

Additional Information:

a) One meaning of qadar is Allah’s knowing the life programs of the beings He creates with His pre-eternal knowledge. That is, everything about man, from his conception in the womb to coming to the world and the breaths he takes, exists in his qadar (predestination) and is known by Allah.  

b) Qadar is a program arranged with knowledge and will. Qada is the name of the phase of practice of that program. Qada is the occurrence of Allah’s power. Qadar is a reflection of Allah’s knowledge. From this point of view, when qadar is mentioned, knowledge comes to mind. As a matter of fact, the following verse shows that qadar means Allah’s knowing everything:

“And there is not a thing but its (sources and) treasures (inexhaustible) are with Us; but We only send down thereof in due and ascertainable measures.” (al-Hijr, 15/21)

c) Since qadar is a program emerging from knowledge, it does not have an aspect that compels man related to his deeds. As a matter of fact, the statement, “knowledge is based on what is known”, which is a rule of the science of kalam related to qadar, explains the issue more clearly.

We can explain it with an example: That we know what time the sun will rise and set tomorrow does not affect its rising and setting. The sun does not rise and set at that time because we know it; we know it because the sun will rise and set at that time.

Similarly, Allah’s knowing who will go to Hell and who will go to Paradise with His pre-eternal knowledge is a divine attribute of Him. Man has characteristics that are suitable for doing deeds that can make him a person of Paradise or Hell. Man can do deeds that can make him a person of Paradise or Hell with the free will given to him. The responsibility regarding the issue belongs to him.

d) Qadar has two aspects: The first is the one that happens outside man’s will, such as coming to the world, who will be his parents, when he will die, etc. Man is not held responsible because of them since he cannot decide regarding the issue based on his will.   

However, he is held responsible for the deeds that he decides to do based on his own will. Everybody knows that it is based on man’s own will to go to the mosque and to go to the pub. There is no compulsion regarding the issue.

Allah’s having a universal will that is valid everywhere is a prerequisite of His being the Creator, Lord and a deity. It is Allah who creates both the good and the evil in terms of qadar. However, those who are tested are not puppets. They have an important share in the occurrence of those evil deeds.

e) What matters here is to understand the fact that Allah’s knowledge does not compel anyone to go to any direction. Indeed, the attribute of knowledge is different from the attribute of power. Power has the force of getting something done. Knowledge does not have the force of getting something done; it has no characteristic of compelling. It knows something in the way that it will happen. Allah is just; He does not oppress people. It is something that is included in belief in Allah in the first place. In that case, Allah definitely gives His slaves, whom He tests, free will along with things like heart, mind and feeling. His knowing the result of the test does not mean an intervention in that free will.

For instance, if there is an illness, its creator is Allah. However, its aspects that do not include invention belong to man. For example, drinking water when one is sweaty is a wrong deed; man is responsible for its consequences. If his tonsils swell up or if he catches cold, man himself is responsible. However, it is Allah who creates the illness. A person who has good manners thinks like Hz Ibrahim that a bad deed belongs to himself in terms of being a means and that a good deed belongs to Allah in terms of creation and states the following:

“And when I am ill, it is He Who cures me.” (ash-Shuara, 26/80)

 

MU’TAZILA MADHHAB

It is the name of a big kalam school that emerged first and tried to base creeds by explaining them in the light of the mind. Mu’tazila is a plural noun that is derived from the verb “i’tizal”, which lexically means “to go away, to leave, to retire”. Its singular form is “mu’tazili”. The word is used almost in the same sense in the Quran: “If ye believe me not, at least keep yourselves away from me.” (ad-Dukhan, 44/21); “And I will turn away from you (all) and from those whom ye invoke besides Allah” (Maryam, 19/48; see also al-Kahf 18/16, an-Nisa, 4/90).

There are various views about why Mu’tazila was given that name:

The most common view regarding the issue is based on the following incident between Hasan al-Basri (d. 110/728), who is regarded as the greatest scholar of his age, and Wasil b. Ata (d. 131/748), the founder of Mu’tazila. While Hasan al-Basri was teaching in Basra Mosque, somebody came and said that a person who committed a major sin was regarded as an unbeliever by some scholars and that such a person was regarded as a believer by some other scholars who claimed that sins would not harm belief. Then, he asked Hasan al-Basri what his view regarding the issue was. While Hasan al-Basri was thinking about the answer he would give, Wasil b. Ata, one of his students, intervened and said a person who committed a major sin would be neither a believer nor an unbeliever and added that he would be in a position between them; that is, he would be a fasiq. However, Hasan al-Basri held the view that a person who committed a major sin would be a munafiq. After that incident, Wasil b. Ata left the assembly of Hasan al-Basri (according to another narration, he was dismissed by his teacher) and went to another corner of the mosque with his friend Amr b. Ubayd (d. 144/761); he formed a new assembly of knowledge and started to teach people his views.  Thereupon, Hasan al-Basri said, “Wasil left us (Qad i’tazala anna Wasil)”. Thus, that group, which was led by Wasil, was given the name Mutazila. (Abdulkarim ash-Shahristani, al-Milal wan-Nihal, Beirut 1975, I/48; Abdulqahir al-Baghdadi, al-Farq Baynal-Firaq, Transl. E. Ruhi Fığlalı, Istanbul 1979, p. 101, 104)

According to those who attribute the name Mu’tazila to that view, that name was given to them by their opponents because “they left Ahl as-Sunnah and the first great scholars of Ahl as-Sunnah, and differed from them related to the view of the religion on a person who commits major sins (murtakib kabira). The name given to them showed that attitude.” (Irfan Abdulhamid, Dirasat fil-Firaq wal-Aqaid al-Islamiyya, Transl. M. Saim Yeprem, Istanbul 1981, p. 94)

According to some scholars who divide Mu’tazila madhhab into two as political and religious and regard the latter as the continuation of the former, that name existed much earlier. According to them, those who remained impartial and did not take part in fighting in the battles of Jamal and Siffin, which took place after Hz. Uthman was martyred, were the first representatives of Mu’tazila. Some people like Sa’d b. Abi Waqqas, Abdullah b. Umar, Muhammad b. Maslama and Usama b. Zayd did not support either party in the wars that took place and preferred staying away (i’tizal) from the incidents. Therefore, they were called Mu’tazila in the sense of “those who left, who retired, who took a back seat”.

According to another view, since Wasil b. Ata opposed the consensus of the ummah related to murtakib kabira, he and his followers were given that name. Some other scholars hold the view that they were given the name Mu’tazila because they stayed away from worldly things and led an ascetic life. (I. Abdulhamid, ibid., p. 94 ff; Kemal Işık, Mu’tezile’nin Doğuşu ve Kelâmî Görüşleri, Ankara 1967, p. 52 ff.)

Mu’tazila madhhab is also mentioned with some other names in the resources. They are mentioned as al-Qadariyya because they attribute will and choice to man and regard man as the creator of his deeds, as al-Jahmiyya because they agree with the views of Jahm b. Safwan related to the issues such as Ru’yatullah, Allah’s attributes and the creation of the Quran, and as Muattila because they do not accept some attributes of Allah. However, they do not accept those names and call themselves Ahlul-Adl wat-Tawhid. (Bekir Topaloğlu, Kelâm İlmi, Istanbul 1981, p. 170; Kemal Işık, ibid, p. 56 ff.)

Factors Preparing the Emergence of Mu’tazila Madhhab and the Historical Course:

There are various factors that cause the issues of creed to become a current issue and to be discussed and hence lead to the emergence of madhhabs related to creed. The same factors also caused Mu’tazila madhhab, which is a madhhab related to creed and which is a new way of thinking, to emerge.

The leading factors are the disagreements and conflicts occurring among Muslims. As a result of those disagreements, which assumed very serious dimensions, some new issues emerged and they started to be discussed. The solutions offered for those issues caused the emergence of madhhabs related to creed. One of the heated debates among the Muslims was the issue of the state of murtakib kabira. Kharijites claimed that murtakib kabira was an unbeliever while Murji’ites claimed that such a person was a believer. Wasil b. Ata and his followers proposed a new way of solution for the issue with the principle “al-manzila baynal-manzilatayn (a position between the two positions)”. According to a common narration, Mu’tazila madhhab emerged with that offer of solution. Thus, Mu’tazila introduced a new viewpoint to the new issues emerging among Muslims.

One of the factors that prepared the ground for the emergence of Mu’tazila is related to the conquest policy of the religion of Islam. The Muslims crossed the Arabian Peninsula and annexed many countries to their land in a very short time. With the annexation of those countries belonging to different cultures and religions, some new problems emerged. Among the people of those countries, there were those who accepted Islam and also those who did not. While those who did not accept Islam defended their religion, those who accepted could not completely get rid of the influence of their previous cultures. Religions and views such as Judaism, Christianity, Thanawiyya (Dualism), and Zoroastrianism, which have a deep-rooted history, became institutionalized over time and developed a certain defense mechanism. There had been no such mechanism for Islam yet. Before long, a strong dialectical method was needed to deal with the foreign elements that got into arguments with Muslims. The first scholars who felt it and tried to develop methods in that direction were the Mu’tazilites. Benefitting from foreign cultures too, Mu’tazila brought the Kalam method to the Islamic thought. The laudable efforts of Mu’tazilite to defend Islam against non-Muslims and evaluating the creeds on a rational platform gave a new color to the Islamic thought.

The basic principle of Mu’tazila thought is to place Islamic creed on the basis of rational contemplation and to interpret the verses of the Quran and hadiths in accordance with reason (mind/intellect) when they conflict reason. It is natural that rational thought formed in the course of time in addition to the dogmatic thought and that a group that regarded rational thought as their guide emerged. It is a natural and compulsory stage in the normal course of religions. The first people who played an active role in that stage of the Islamic thought and hence who showed interest in philosophical thought and new branches of science were Mutazilites. (Irfan Abdulhamid, ibid, p. 121 ff.; Bekir Topaloğlu, ibid, p. 171; Kemal Işık, ibid, p. 28; Muhammed Ebu Zehra, İslam’da Siyasi ve İtikadi Mezhepler Tarihi, Transl. E.Ruhi Fığlalı, Osman Eskicioğlu, Istanbul 1970, p. 180 ff.)

Under those circumstances and similar ones did the movement of Mu’tazila emerge at the end of the first century and the beginning of the second century of the Migration under the leadership of Wasil b. Ata and Amr b. Ubayd in Basra. According to the generally accepted thought, the movement of Mu’tazila emerged as a result of the debate between Wasil b. Ata and Hasan al-Basri.

About one century after the Mu’tazili thought emerged in Basra, the Baghdad school of Mu’tazila was formed under the leadership of Bishr b. al-Mu’tamir (d. 210/825). Although the members of those two schools have the same view in terms of basic principles, there are many differences between them related to details. Mutazilites such as Wasil b. Ata, Abul-Hudhayl al-Allaf (d. 235/850), Ibrahim an-Nazzam (d. 231/845), Abu Ali al-Jubbai (d. 303/916) and al-Jahiz (d. 225/869) belong to Basra school, and Mutazilites such as Bishr b. al-Mu’tamir, Thumama b. al-Ashras (d. 213/828) and al-Khayyat (d. 298/910) belong to Baghdad school.

Along with the new books that joined the world of the Islamic culture through the translation activities, the movement of Mu’tazila, which got stronger gradually also with the effect of the political factors, soon started to attract the statesmen too; it was accepted by the caliphs even in the period of the Umayyads.

Mu’tazila madhhab developed in the period of Abbasids as a thought movement and became widespread. The attitude of the Abbasid caliphs toward Mu’tazila was generally positive. Mu’tazila thought, which entered the palace during the caliphate of Harun ar-Rashid (170-193/786-808), experienced its golden age during the caliphates of al-Ma’mun (d. 218/833), al-Mu’tasim and especially al-Wathiq. During the periods of those caliphs, Mu’tazila thought became the official madhhab of the state, and Mu’tazila scholars were shown respect by the statesmen as the most respectable people. Mu’tazila scholars guided the caliphs according to their own thoughts and views in those periods, and they themselves attained high posts in state administration.

This period, which included the years 198-232/813-846, when Mu’tazila became the state authority and the official madhhab, was a period when agony was dominant in terms of Ahl as-Sunnah scholars and people. Al-Ma’mun, al-Mu’tasim and al-Wathiq, the sultans of the period who adopted Mu’tazila doctrine as the official view of the state, did not regard it sufficient and forced people to accept that view by using official elements. That period, in which the state tried people to accept the Mu’tazila view of khalq al-Quran (the view that the Quran was created) by force, is known as “mihna (ordeal)” in the history of madhhabs. Many Islamic scholars, primarily Ahmad b. Hanbal (d. 241/855), who opposed the official view, were imprisoned and tortured because of their attitudes.

“Mihna”, which means a kind of inquisition, continued by increasing its severity also in the periods of al-Mu’tasim and al-Wathiq after al-Ma’mun. (Majid Fakhry, A History of Islamic Philosophy, Transl. Kasım Turhan, Istanbul I987, p. 54).

Mu’tazila, which occurred as an advocate of a thought in the beginning, assumed an opposite attitude to it during the periods of those caliphs. The golden age of Mu’tazila and hence “mihna” ended when al-Wathiq died and al-Mutawakkil (d. 247/861) succeeded him. Mu’tazila thought had been punished during the caliphates of al-Mahdi and al-Amin before but they received the real blow from al-Mutawakkil. Mu’tazila was expelled from the state organization when al-Mutawakkil became the caliph and started to regress gradually. Mutazila became a bit popular again in the following centuries during the Buyid dynasty and the period of the Seljuk Sultan Tugrul but it never regained its previous prestige. (Kemal Işık, ibid, p. 59 ff; Bekir Topaloğlu, ibid, p. 183; M. Ebu Zehra, ibid, p. 182).

The resources of the history of madhhabs list the incident of “mihna”, Mu’tazila’s giving extreme importance to the mind (rationalism) and the emergence of the kalam science of Ahl as-Sunnah led by al-Ash’ari and al-Maturidi among the reasons that paved the way for the decline of Mu’tazila. (Irfan Abdulhamid, ibid, p.125; B. Topaloğlu, ibid, p. 183).

Mu’tazila’s Method and Its kalam Views:

The first thinkers who evaluated the principles of creed in Islam in the light of the mind and tried to find solutions to problems based on the criteria of the mind are Mu’tazila and its successors Qadariyya and Jahmiyya. Unlike the previous scholars, Mu’tazila scholars did not regard revealed knowledge enough to solve issues of creed; they gave importance to reasoning; moreover, they regarded reasoning (the mind) the only authority and preferred interpretation related to the issues about which revealed knowledge was not clear and the previous Islamic scholars preferred keeping silent. The name of that new approach, severely criticized by Salafiyya, is Kalam method. Mu’tazilites evaluated creeds in a way peculiar to themselves through the method of Kalam, which they adopted, and concluded views different from the doctrine of Ahl as-Sunnah. Therefore, Mu’tazila is mentioned among the groups of the people of bid’ah. (al-Baghdadi, ibid, p. 100)

There are five basic principles (al-usul al-khamsa) that form the basis of Mu’tazila doctrine and that are adopted by all Mu’tazila scholars:

1-Tawhid (Oneness): The understanding of oneness, which is the first basic principle of Mu’tazila, forms the basis of the whole Islamic thought too. It is an important principle according to not only Mu’tazila but all Islamic madhhabs; it means Allah is one; There is nothing like Him; He is pre-eternal and post-eternal. What makes Mu’tazila differ from others emerges in the discussions about Allah’s attributes. According to Mu’tazila, the two most important attributes of Allah are “oneness (tawhid)” and “pre-eternity (qidam)”. Mu’tazila accepts Allah’s attributes but does not accept other beings to share those attributes. According to them, it is appropriate to say “Allah is knower” but it is wrong to say, “Allah has knowledge” because the acceptance of the attributes of meaning like knowledge, hearing and sight indicates the multitude of pre-eternal beings. However, the only pre-eternal being is Allah.

While Mu’tazila named itself Ahl at-Tawhid related to attributes, Ahl as-Sunnah scholars described Mu’tazila as Muattila (deniers of Allah’s attributes).

2- Adl (Justice): According to Mu’tazila, man has a completely free will and is solely responsible for his deeds. Both the good deeds and bad deeds he does belong to Him. Therefore, he will be rewarded for his good deeds and punished for his bad deeds. If there were Allah’s intervention in a slave’s deeds, the slave would not be responsible for his deeds because compulsion would be in question in that case. It is cruelty to hold man responsible for the deeds he does under compulsion. It does not comply with Allah’s justice because Allah is the most just being.

3- Al-Wa’d wal-Wa’id (rewarding of those who do good deeds and punishing of those who do bad deeds): It is inevitable that good deeds be rewarded and bad deeds be punished. Therefore, Allah states that He will reward His slaves who do good deeds with Paradise and punish those who do bad deeds with Hell, as a necessity of His justice. It is impossible for Allah to do the opposite and to break His promise. A believer will definitely go to Paradise and a person who commits a major sin and dies before repenting will definitely go to Hell. That is Allah’s justice. With that view, Mutazila rejects intercession (shafa’ah).

4- Al-Manzilatu baynal-Manzilatayn (a position between two positions):

This principle states that a person who commits a major sin is in a place between belief and unbelief, that is, such a person is a fasiq. This view is a moderate view between the view of Kharijites, who regard those who commit major sins unbelievers, and madhhabs of Murji’a, which regard them believers.

5- Al-amru bil-ma’ruf wan-nahyu anil-munkar (enjoining what is good and forbidding what is evil): Mutazila regards it necessary for every Muslim to enjoin what is good and to forbid what is evil so that justice will be established in society and the ethical structure will be healthy. (al-Baghdadi, ibid, p. 100 ff; Kemal Işık, ibid, p. 67 ff; M. Abu Zahra, ibid, p. 174 ff; B. Topaloğlu, ibid, p. 174 ff; I. Abdulhamid ibid, p. 105 ff; ash-Shahristani, ibid, I, 43).

Yaşar K. AYDINLI

 

ASH’ARI

The full name of Abul Hasan Ash’ari, who is the representative of the school of Ash’ariyya is Ali b. Ismail b. Abi Bishr Ishaq b. Salim b. Ismail b. Abdullah b. Musa b. Bilal b. Abi Burda b. Musal-Ash’ari. As it is understood from his full name, he is a descendant of the Companion Abu Musal-Ash’ari (d. 44/664-65). He is called Abul-Hasan and his nickname is Nasirud-din.

His year of birth is mentioned as 260, 266, 270 and 275 H in various resources but according to the widespread view, he was born in Basra in 260 H, 873-74 AD. For, it is known that he left Mu’tazila madhhab in 300/912-13. Since it is known that he was forty years old then, it is accepted more commonly that he was born in 260/873-74.

It is possible to deal with the life of Ash’ari in three period as from his birth to the age of ten, from the age of ten to the time when he left Mu’tazila madhhab and his remaining life.

1. The period from his birth to the age of ten:

This period is the period of his childhood and first education; he learned various subjects and was generally trained and educated by his father in terms of ethics and knowledge.

2. The period from the age of ten to the time when he left Mu’tazila madhhab:

This period, which covers a period of thirty years, is the period when he was educated by his stepfather Abu Ali al-Jubbai (d. 302/914-15). He learned the science of kalam from Jubbai. Ash’ari, who followed Hanafi madhhab in fiqh, became an ardent supporter of Mu’tazila in creed with the influence of his teacher.

It is known that he left Mu’tazila and adhered to the creed of Ahl as-Sunnah in 300 H. However, various reasons are mentioned in various resources about why he left Mu’tazila. The most famous one is said to be a debate with his teacher Abu Ali al-Jubbai but it is not regarded as appropriate by reliable resources. Another reason is said to be Ash’ari’s seeing the Prophet in his dream and hence giving up Mu’tazila thought. According to another view, when Ash’ari reached a certain maturity in knowledge, the thoughts of Mu’tazila did not satisfy him and hence he left Mu’tazila. When the three views are evaluated together, the probability that the last reason, that is, making that decision after reaching a certain maturity in science with the contribution of the first two reasons, outweighs.

According to what is narrated, after Ash’ari made that decision, he remained at home for fifteen days and then ascended the pulpit in the Basra Mosque on Friday and addressed the congregation as follows: “O people! Those who know me already know me. I want to introduce myself to those who do not know me. I am Abul Hasan Ash’ari. I used to say that the Quran was created, that Allah could not be seen by the eyes and that we committed bad deeds ourselves. I have repented and given up those thoughts. O people! I remained at home for a certain time and thought about the evidences about those thoughts. None of them sounded as preferrable to me. I asked Allah to guide me. He guided me related to these things, which I wrote. Thereupon, I have given up all those thoughts.”

3. The period from the age of forty to his death:

Having left Mu’tazila madhhab and continued his life in accordance with the creed of salaf, Ash’ari wrote a lot of books in about twenty-five years and spent his remaining life defending the creed of salaf. He gained a lot of supporters through his defense of Ahl as-Sunnah and became the founder and representative of the school of Ash’ariyya, which developed more after his death. Besides, according to a view, Ash’ariyya madhhab emerged as an antithesis to Mu’tazila.

According to Subki’s narration, Ash’ari who was known to have devoted his life to asceticism and taqwa along with science, performed the morning prayer (fajr) with the wudu he made for the night prayer (isha) for twenty years. (Subki, Tabaqatush-Shafi’iyya, 2/248).

Just ss there are different views about the year Ash’ari was born, so too are there different views about the year he died but according to the preferred view, he died in Baghdad in 324/936-37 suddenly.

It is written in some resources that the number of Abul-Hasan Ash’ari’s books is about three hundred; some of them belong to the period when he adopted Mu’tazila views. However, none of them has reached today.

It is possible to categorize Ash’ari’s books based on their topics mentioned in the resources as follows:

a) The books that are about the science of kalam and that targets rejecting Mutazila.

b) The books that reject philosophers, naturalists, atheists, Brahmans, Jews, Christians, etc.

c) Books of maqalat that give information about the views of Islamic and non-Islamic groups without rejecting their views.

d) Books written on Tafsir, Hadith, Fiqh and other Islamic sciences (Bekir Topaloğlu, Kelam İlmi, 137).

It is possible to say something about Ash’ari’s books: It is known that there are two periods in his life. Which book belongs to which period? That question comes to mind. However, there is something known well: In many books Ash’ari wrote, he shows the wrongness and harmful parts of his previous madhhab and hence rejects what he wrote previously. Besides, the number of books that belong to Ash’ari and that has reached today is not very much; all of them were written in his last period. According to what Ibn Asakir (d. 571/1176) mentions, Ash’ari states in his book titled al-Umad the names of his books that he wrote until the year 320/935 and what they are about. (Subki, Tabyinu Kadhibul-Muftari, 135 ff)

We will list Ash’ari’s books in two groups here. First, we will mention his books that we have today and then will list some of his books whose names we learn from resources.

I. His Books That Exist Today:

1. Al-Ibana ‘an Usulid-Diyana: It is the book that he wrote first after rejecting Mu’tazila thoughts. He first summarizes the creed of salaf and then deals with other topics except prophethood. Along with its impressions without critical editions, its version with a critical edition by Dr. Fawqiya Husayn Mahmud was printed in Cairo in 1977. In that edition, the author added about 200 pages of extra information and explanations, which made the book more useful. The book was translated into English, German and French. It has not been translated into Turkish yet.  

2. Al-Lum’a fir-Reddi ‘Ala Ahliz-Zaygha wal-Bid’a: This book, written with a Kalam style, consists of ten chapters. It deals with the issues of kalamullah, will, qadar, Kader, ru’yatullah, wa’d, waid and imamah. There are various editions and translations of it. The critical edition that is used the most is the one prepared by Dr. Hamuda Ghuraba and printed in Egypt in 1955. This edition consists of 136 pages and was printed as a small size book.

3. Maqalatul-Islamiyyin: As it is understood from its name, this book is a book of Maqalat (essays). It mentions the views and structures of Islamic groups without criticizing them. It also mentions the subtle disagreements related to the topics of kalam, Allah’s names and attributes, and the views on the Quran. The critical edition of the book prepared by H. Ritter was printed in Istanbul in 1928 and 1933; several impressions of them were made afterwards.  

4. Risala fi Istihsanil-Khawd fil Kalam: The issues of nazar and istidlal are defended in this eleven-page booklet.

5. Risalatul-Iman: This booklet, which includes information on belief, was translated into German.  

6. Risala Kataba Biha Ila Ahl as-Saghr Bi Babil-Abwab: Ash’ari explains salaf creed in this booklet. This booklet was published by Kıvamuddin Burslân together with its Turkish translation. (İlâhiyat Fakültesi Mecmuası, Issue: 7, pp. 154-176; Issue: 8, pp. 50-108)

II. His Other Books:

In this group, we want to list the names of about twenty books that we learn from resources to belong to Ash’ari. The number of those books is given in various books and the names of about a hundred books are mentioned. (see al-Ibana, Dr. Fawqiya Husayn Mahmud Muqaddima pp. 38-71).

We will list twenty of them:

1. Kitabu fi Khalqil-Amal

2. Kitabu fil-Istitaa

3. Kitabu fi Jawazi Ru’yatullah bil-Absar

4. Kitabu fir-Raddi Alal-Mujassima

5. Kitabu fil-Jisim

6. Kitabu fil-Istihshad

7. Kitabu fir-Ru’yah

8. Kitabu fir-Raddi Alal-Falasifa

9. Kitabu fil-Imama

10. Kitabu fi Mutashabihil-Quran

11. Kitabu fi Af’alin-Nabi

12. Kitabu fihi Bayani Madhhabin-Nasara

13. Kitabun Kabir fis-Sifat

14. Kitabu Alad-Dahriyyin

15. Kitabur-Radd Ala Maqalatil-Falasifa

16. Izahul-Burhan fir-Raddi Ala Ahliz-Zaygh wat-Tughyan

17. ash-Sharh wat-Tafsil fir-Raddi Ala Ahlil-Ifk wat-Tadlil

18. al-Muhtasar fit-Tawhid wal-Qadar

19. an-Nawadir fi Daqaiqil-Kalam

20. Kitabu Tafsiril-Quran: It is said that it consists of seventy volumes.

Abdurrahim GÜZEL

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