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Who Are Imam Abu Mansoor Al Maaturidi And Imam Abul Hasan Al Ash’Ari?

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Q. Who are Imam Abu Mansoor al Maaturidi and Imam Abul Hasan al Ash’ari?

 

 

This is an often asked question and the reply is as follows:

 

To believe in the set of beliefs (Aqeedah) as expounded in the Qur’an and Sunnah and as understood by the Companions, is a prerequisite for a person to be a Muslim. This is a set of quite clear and simple beliefs. However, as Islam spread, Muslims were exposed to other cultures and heritages, Greek philosophy being one of them and Muslims were exposed for the first time to the rational theology of the Greeks. It gave rise to a discipline called ‘Ilmul Qalaam which had not existed during the time of the Prophet s or his illustrious Companions. This branch of knowledge therefore arose out of the need of the time as a climate was created where arguments for and against Islamic beliefs were examined in the light of Greek rational thought. Many delicate and intricate questions arose for which there were no clear texts of the Qur’an and Sunnah and discussions on these issues led to the formation of many groups.

 

 

In this regard it was Imam al Maaturidi and Imam al Ash’ari who represented the Ahlus Sunnah wal Jamaa’ah and they clarified the position held by the Ahlus Sunnah wal Jamaa’ah in their discourses. It is in regard to the issues of ‘Ilmul Qalaam that the Ahlus Sunnah wal Jama’ah follow these two Imams.

 

 

A point often mentioned is the fact that they differed from each other. They did differ on minor issues of interpretation, however the subject of ‘Ilmul Qalaam is rational thought which in itself allows for differences of opinion.

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Who are the Marturidis?

 

The beliefs of Islam are quite clear, as expounded in the Quráan and Sunnah, and as understood by the Sahaabah (Radhiyallahu unhum). It is this set of simple beliefs that are the fundamentals of Imaan. Whoever adheres to these straightforward Aqaaid is considered a Muslim and one who rejects any of the essential beliefs of the Sahaabah (Radhiyallahu unhum) is out of Islam. It is this set of simple beliefs that is the criterion of whether a person is Muslim or not.

 

As Islam spread far and wide, many of the works of Greek philosophy were translated into Arabic. Muslims were for the first time exposed to the rational theology of the Greeks. This created a climate where arguments for and against Islamic beliefs were examined in the light of Greek rational thought. This gave birth to a new discipline called Ilmul Kalam.

 

Thus Ilmul Kalam was not a purely Islamic discipline, having not existed during the time of the Sahaabah (Radhiyallahu unhum). It was a branch of knowledge that arose out of the need of the time, i.e. The need to refute Greek theology on the basis of rational principles.

In the process of examining Islamic beliefs on the basis of Greek philosophy, many new questions arose. These delicate and intricate questions were never posed before, nor were they discussed during the age of the Sahaabah (Radhiyallahu unhum). There were no explicit texts of the Quráan and Sunnah in reply to these intricate questions.

 

Discussions around these intricate issues led to the formation of many groups. In this field of knowledge the Ahlus Sunnah Wal Jama’ah were represented by two Ulama, Imaam Abul Hasan Ashari and Imaam Abu Mansoor AlMarturidi (Rahimahumallah). They successfully covered these delicate issues in their discourses, and clarified the standpoint of the Ahlus Sunnah Wal Jama’ah in these matters. Thus, as far as Ilmul Kalam is concerned, the outlook of the Ahlus Sunnah Wal Jama’ah is confined to the works of these two Imaams of Ilmul Kalam. Allamah Haythami states in his Fatawa Hadithiyyah “.whoever is upon a path other than the path of Ahl al-Sunna wa l-Jama’a, Ahl al-Sunna wa l-Jama’a meaning the followers of Sheikh Abul Hasan Ash’ari and Abu Mansur Maturidi, the two Imams of Ahl al-Sunna” (Haytami, al-Fatawa al-hadithiyya, 280).

 

The followers of Imaam Abu Mansoor Marturidi are called Marturidi. The Ulama of Deoband are Marturidi.

 

While these two Imaams differed on minor issues, it was merely a difference of interpretation, for the subject matter of Ilmul Kalam is rational thought, which itself allows for differences of  interpretation.

 

Secondary Nature

 

The issues discussed by these two Imaams are of a secondary nature. They are issues of rational thought, and not issues of the basic and simple Aqaaid of the Sahaabah (Radhiyallahu unhum). Since there exists no clear cut texts of the Quráan and Hadith on these issues, differences in these issues do not render one out of Islam, provided one adheres to the Aqaaid of the Sahaabah (Radhiyallahu unhum).

 

Taken from askimam.org Q/A

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