Posted by: faqir | August 26, 2010

Is al-Ibanah Attributed to Imam al-Ash’ari Authentic?

Written by Abu Bilal al-Maliki, ‘faqir’ and Muhammad Fahmi

We often hear from the Wahhabis and their admirers the claim that Imam Abu al-Hasan al-Ash’ari (d.324h) went through three phases in his life:

1) 40 years as a Mu’tazalite,

2) a period where he followed the rational approach of a major theologian of Ahl al-Sunna, Abdullah b. Sa’id b. Kullab (d.240h) [fn 1] – who they falsely accuse not to be a Sunni – and

3) a final period whereupon he abandoned Ibn Kullab and returned to the doctrine of the salaf and Ahl al-Sunna and is meant to have written the book Al-Ibanah ‘An Usul al-Diyanah (The Clear Statement on the Fundamental Elements of the Faith).[fn 2]

The Ash’aris of today are, therefore, according to their logic not upon the path that Imam Abu al-Hasan tread in his final stage and  they, therefore, falsely ascribe themselves to him.

However, the late Wahhabi preacher Shaykh Muhammad Salih al-Uthaimin in al-Qawa’id al-Muthla fi Sifat Allah wa Asma’ihi al-Husna reminds us that:

“…Truth isn’t weighed by men. Rather, men are weighed by the truth. This is the proper criterion even though there is in the status of men and their ranks an affect in the acceptance of their views, just as we accept the report of the trustworthy person and we pause with regard to the report of the shameless sinner (fasiq). However, it isn’t the criterion in every case…”[fn 3]

The Wahhabi argument which they think stands as a proof against the Ash’aris is thus rendered completely pointless. And, yes, indeed truth is not weighed by men which is why the Ash’aris have never ascribed themselves to Imam al-Ash’ari due to their blind following (taqlid) of his positions in divine Unity (tawhid).

Al-Hafiz Ibn ‘Asakir in Tabyin Kadhib al-Muftari said:

“And we do not concede that Al-Imam Abu al-Hasan Al-Ash’ari invented a fifth madhhab. Instead, he only established from the madhhabs of Ahl al-Sunna what became unapparent to the innovators. And he clarified from the statements of those who preceded him from the four Imams and other than them what became obscure. Yet we do not ascribe ourselves to him in our madhhab of Tawhid with the meaning that we blindly follow him in it or that we rely upon him. Instead, we agree with him in the conclusions he reached in tawhid because of the evidences proving their correctness, not simply out of blind following.”

Neverthless, a closer examination of their claims reveal how flimsy their pointless arguments really are.  Unlike his widely documented repentance from Mu’tazalism, we find the alleged second ‘repentance’ of Imam Abu al-Hasan al-Ash’ari unsupported by reports from the earlier historians or from his own companions and students.  Rather, apart from the likes of Shaykh Ibn Taymiyya (d.728h) and those who followed him in this regard, we find their mentioning only two phases in the Imam’s life –  his leaving the Mu’tazila and then entering upon the methodology of the salaf and Ahl al-Sunna.

For example, Imam Abu Bakr b. Furak (d. 406h) said, as reported in Tabyin Kadhib al-Muftari (p. 127):

“Shaykh Abu al-Hasan ‘Alī b. Isma’il al-Ash’ari went from following the doctrine of the Mu’tazila to aiding the doctrine of Ahl al-Sunna wa al-Jama’a with rational proofs, and he wrote books on that.”

Imam Abdul Karim al-Shahrastani (d.548h) similarly said in Kitab al-Milal wa al-Nihal (p. 105-106):

Until the time came upon [the likes of] Abdullah bin Sa’id al-Kullabi [d. 240h], Abu al-Abbas al-Qalanisi [contemporary of al-As’hari], and al-Harith bin Asad al-Muhasibi [d. 243H]. They were from the generality of the Salaf, except that they practised Ilm al-kalam (scholastic theology), and they aided the beliefs of the Salaf with philosophical proofs, and fundamental [cognitive] evidences. Some of them authored [works] and others taught. [Until] there occurred a debate between Abu al-Hasan al-As’hari and his [Mu’tazili] teachers on an issue amongst the issues pertaining to “as-salah wal-aslah” [an issue pertaining to whether Allah is obligated or not to do what is best for His servants], so they disputed. And al-Ash’ari united with this faction [the Kullabiyyah], so he supported their saying through the methodologies of speculative theological [discourse], and then that became a madhhab for Ahl al-Sunnah wal-Jama’ah [meaning the Ash’aris], and then the label of “Sifatiyyah (Affimers of the Attributes)” transferred to the Ash’ariyyah.[fn 4]

The idea that Al-Ibanah ‘An Usul al-Diyanah was written contrary to the methodology of Ibn Kullab in a separate third phase also opposes what we hear from the likes of Imam Ibn Hajar who said in Lisan al-Mizan (3;291): “In his book al-Ibanah, al-Ash’ari was upon his [Ibn Kullab’s] path.”.

It is not surprising then that the tampered book we now have before us is not always entirely palatable to the ‘salafis’ who tirelessly promote it today [fn 5] and in its unadulterated original form was reportedly rejected by some Hanbali literalists of old according to what we find, for example, mentioned in Ibn Abi Ya’la’s Tabaqat al-Hanabila:

“When al-Ash’ari came to Baghdad he went to al-Barbahari and began telling him: ‘I have refuted al-Jubba’i and Abu Hashim and have shown the error of the Jews and the Christians and the Zoroastrians; I said (thus and so) and they said (thus and so)’ and he went on at length in this vein. When he stopped talking; al-Barbahari said: ‘I don’t know what it is you have said, neither the short of it nor the long of it. We only recognise what has been said by Abu Abdullah Ahmad ibn Hanbal.’ Al-Ash’ari then left him and wrote the Ibana, but (al-Barbahari) did not accept it from him…”[fn 6]

Sadly, the Kitab al-Ibanah we now have in our possession has reached us without any known chain of transmission (isnad) and cannot be definitively attributed to Imam al-Ash’ari [fn 7] (at least in its entirety). Incidentally, Imam Ibn Furak, a pupil from amongst those who studied directly with Imam al-Ash’ari until his death did not mention this work in his documentation of the works of Imam al-Ash’ari. Imam Al-Safadi (d. 797h), the author of al-Wafi bi al-Wafayat went so far as to say whilst quoting the Maliki jurist Imam al-Mazari (d. 536h) in his biography of Abu al-Ma’ali b. al-Juwayni (d.478h):

“Al-Mazari, Allah’s mercy be upon him, said in Sharh al-Burhan concerning his statement ‘Allah knows the universals, not the particulars’: Would that it have been wiped away by my blood or by the tears of my eyes! I say: I exclude Imam al-Haramayn from the saying in this issue. The thing I think is that it has been slipped into his speech and been put into his mouth because of jealousy, just like the book al-Ibanah has been put on the tongue of the Shaykh Abu al-Hasan al-Ash’ari!”[fn 8]

There were, however, numerous ‘ulama who were of the opinion that Al-Ibanah ‘an usul al-diyanah was, in fact, written by the Imam. Imam Ibn ‘Asakir has two chapters of this work in his book Tabyin kadhib al-muftari fi ma nusiba ila al-Imam al-Ash‘ari [On showing the untruth of the liars, concerning what has been ascribed to Imam Ash‘ari]. Imam al-Kawthari was of the view that the Imam did write the book and it was amongst his first after his conversion from the Madhab of the Mu’tazila to the path of Ahl al-Sunna. He says in al-Sayf al-Saqil (p. 108):

“The Ibana was authored at the first of his return from Mu‘tazilite thought, and was by way of trying to induce [n: the Hanbali literalist] Barbahari (d. 328/940) to embrace the tenets of faith of Ahl al-Sunna. Whoever believes it to be the last of his books believes something that is patently false. Moreover, pen after pen of the anthropomorphists has had free disposal of the text—particularly after the strife (fitna) that took place in Baghdad [n: after A.H. 323, when Hanbalis (“the disciples of Barbahari”) gained the upper hand in Baghdad, Muslims of the Shafi‘i madhhab were beaten, and anthropomorphism became the faith (‘aqida) of the day (Ibn Athir: al-Kamal fi al-tarikh, 7.114)]—so that what is in the work that contradicts the explicit positions transmitted from Ash‘ari by his own disciples, and their disciples, cannot be relied upon.”   [fn 9]

His view that al-Ibanah was written early in Imam al-Ash’ari’s sunni career is shared with many other contemporary academics and scholars.  For example, while discussing whether the style used by Al-Ash’ari in his Kitab al-Luma’ is similar to the style of Kitab al-Ibanah, Dr. Hamudah Ghurabah says [fn 10]:

“McDonald W. as well as the Salafiya believes the two styles to be clearly different. Despite that, they believe that the phase of Al-Ibanah is the final phase of which the opinion of Al-Ash’ari settled upon – and Goldziher also agrees with that – even though McDonald and the Salafiya differ with regard to the justification for his change from the rational style that Al-Luma’ portrays to the Salafiya style that Al- Ibanah portrays. McDonald believes that he was compelled to abandon the rational style and to establish the face, the hands, and others after he settled in Baghdad during the last days of his life and his fall under the influence of the Hanbalis. What that means is that he invented the second style to earn the satisfaction of the Hanbalis. And perhaps to ward off their evil too. So the matter isn’t one of Aqida. Rather, it is a matter of conforming to circumstances and observing what they require. And perhaps what bears witness to that is the statement of some of them that: “The Ash’aris attributed Al-Ibanah to the Hanbalis as a shield.” However, this explanation doesn’t please the Salafiya chiefs. Rather, they say: “Al-Ash’ari arrived to the truth in phases. First, he abandoned the madhhab of the Mu’tazilah to his rational madhhab. So he attained half of the truth. Then he finally left his rational madhhab to the madhhab of the Salaf. So he attained the truth fully, and then he died well-pleased with.” And this is a view that appears to be acceptable. But it will remain a hypothesis until it finds the decisive evidence that supports it.

On the other hand, I believe that there is another hypothesis that is more worthy of claiming and closer to acceptance. It is that the Salafiya style that Al-Ibanah portrays issued first, and that the rational style that Al-Luma’ portrays issued last and that it set the boundaries for the madhhab of Al-Ash’ari in its final form upon which its proponent died while adopting it believing its correctness, defending it, and being pleased with it for his followers.

And the reasons for preferring this view of mine are many. Some of them are psychological, and others are scientific. And perhaps amongst what originates from the psychological reasons is that we see Al-Ash’ari in Kitab al-Ibanah, more brilliant in style, more zealous, and pressing more heavily on the Mu’tazilah and of further remoteness from their views. These are psychological manifestations that a person experiences in his self towards his opinion that he gives up after abandoning it or after relinquishing it. As for the scientific side, it is sufficient for the reader to review a chapter shared between the two books in order to see that Kitab al-Luma’ in that (particular) chapter has covered all of its particulars, sufficiently presented its proofs, thoroughly mentioned the objections of his opponents, and refuted them with excellence; something of what indicates that Kitab al-Luma’ was only written at the time within which the madhhab had matured in the mind of its proponent, and that he only presented it in this book after he had become accustomed to it and it became clear to him. And Wensinck and other researchers share this view with me.”

Shaykh Abdullah b. Hamid ‘Ali also points out in ‘The Attributes of God’:

Kitab al-Ibanah doesn’t contain one rebuttal of Al-Ash’ari’s supposed previously held rational doctrine as claimed by the So-Called Salafis and Hanbalis. So if Al-Ash’ari had taken back any thing he believed, why is it that we don’t find him repudiating any of his prior beliefs?

In the Chapter of ‘The Mention of the Establishment on the Throne’ he says, “The Mu’tazilah, the Hururiya, the Jahmiya, and others claimed that Allah – Mighty and Majestic – is in every place.” So here he undertakes the refutation of the aforementioned factions in their belief that Allah is everywhere, and then he declares that Allah is in Heaven. But why does he not refute the statement of the Ash’aris when they say, “Allah transcends place.” That is, He does not occupy space?”

Shaykh Abdullah then concludes that al-Ibanah would, therefore, have to be from his early works after relinquishing the doctrine of the Mu’tazilah, and not his last as claimed by Ibn Taymiyah. He continues:

“Or if it were his last work it would still leave room to believe that he still acknowledged his rational doctrine to be the truth as maintained by McDonald W.

Imam Al-Ash’ari also didn’t warn his pupils and followers against reading his supposed earlier works that portray the rational style of polemical theology as he did when he left the Mu’tazilah. [For example,] Ibn Asakir reports him as saying,

“And we composed a book about the attributes that we entitled ‘Al- Jawabat fis-Sifat ‘an Masaili Ahliz-Zaighi wash-Shubuhat.’ In it we undid a book that we composed about them (i.e. the attributes) in the past while considering the madhhab of the Mu’tazilah to be correct. A book hasn’t been composed for them like it. Then Allah – Glory is His – clarified for us the truth. So we retracted it, and then undid it and clarified its falseness.”[fn 11]

Regardless of when in his sunni phase it was written, today’s al-Ibanah is certainly not the same text authored by Imam al-Ash’ari, the unaltered version of which was known to and praised by Ibn `Asakir, Abu ‘Uthman al-Sabuni , Imam al-Bayhaqi and the other Ash’ari Imams in the past.

Shaykh Wahbi Sulayman Ghawiji in Nazra `Ilmiyya fi Nisba Kitab al-Ibana Jami`ihi ila al-Imam al-Ash`ari (A Scientific Look at the Ascription of al-Ibanah in its Entirety to Imam Abu al-Hasan) has meticulously demonstrated that the current version has faced interpolation, extraneous additions, and deletion. The evidence for this includes:

– The takfir of Imam Abu Hanifa by Imam Hammad – despite the dispute relating to the creation of the Qur’an arising after the death of Imam Hammad.
– The claim that Imam Abu Hanifa would say that the Qur’an is created.
– Discrepancies in the different copies of the text of al-Ibanah available today  including differences with the printed edition edited by Dr. Fawqiyya Husayn Mahmud who used four manuscripts for her own version which despite this remains flawed.
– Differences between the passages that Imam Ibn Asakir quoted and present versions of al-Ibanah.

That Kitab al-Ibanah in its current available format is unreliable was also the opinion of Imam al-Kawthari who severely criticised the edition printed in India and called for a reprint of al-Ibanah based on reliable sources.

So that the Wahhabis do not accuse us of spreading lies, please see below scanned passages from the books in print relating to some of the above mentioned points.

Discrepancies in the Texts Relating to the Attribution of ‘Ayn [tr. eye] or `Aynayn [tr. two eyes] to Allah

Below is a scan of the cover of a phd edition by Salih al-Asimi of Kitab al-Ibanah which has been printed by Wahhabis:

In this version the following statement is found:

They (the Mu’tazila) deny that Allah has  two eyes (`Aynān)

Translation: And that He has  two eyes (`Aynayn) without modality.

Yet, Imam Ibn `Asakir’s citation of the same passage in Tabyin Kadhib al-Muftari differs as can be seen in the following edition in print whose cover we have scanned below:

In this edition of his book we find it says:

Translation: They (the Mu’tazilla) deny that Allah has an eye (`Ayn in singular form)

Translation: And that He has an eye (`Ayn in singular form) without modality.

This is what we also find in the Kitab al-Ibanah edition printed in Cairo in 1348h / 1929 by the Wahhabi Munir Abduh Agha:

Translation: They (the Mu’tazilla) deny that Allah has an eye (`Ayn in singular form)[fn 12]

Translation: And that He has an eye (`Ayn in singular form) without modality.[fn 13]

This is just one example from several of discrepancies and confusion within the unreliable texts of  Kitab al-Ibanah available to us today. In the quote of the same passage from Imam al-Ash’ari found in Imam Ibn Asakir’s published Tabyin Kadhib al-Muftari it says `Ayn [which is singular and in keeping with the divine texts], and in the recent printed edition of Kitab al-Ibanah we have scanned above is found ‘Aynayn [in dual form] – again, contrary to what is found in the 1929 Cairo Kitab al-Ibanah edition of Munir Abduh Agha.[fn 14]

Imam al-Ash’ari on the Forgery Calling Abu Hanifa a Mushrik

Below is the cover of an edition of Kitab al-Ibanah printed in Saudi Arabia.

The view of Imam Abu Hanifa being a Mushrik and kafir found in this version is also found in other versions of al-Ibanah except in the edition edited by Dr. Fawqiyya as we shall demonstrate. Below are scans from the Saudi edition:


Harun ibn Ishaq al-Hamdani mentioned about Abu Na’im from Sulaiman ibn ‘Isa Al-Qari that Sufyan Al-Thauri said:

“I said to Hammad ibn Abi Sulaiman: “Proclaim to Abu Hanifa, The Idolater, that I am innocent of him.””

Sulaimaan said: “Then Sufyaan said: “That’s because he used to say, ‘The Qur’an is created.’”

Sufyan ibn Wakee’ said: “I heard ‘Umar ibn Hammad, the grandson of Abu Hanifa, say: “My father said to me: “The comment that Ibn Abi Laila demanded that Abu Hanifa repent from was his statement: ‘The Qur’an is created.’” He (Hammad) said: “So he repented from it and announced his repentance publicly. My (Hammad) father said: “How did you turn to this?” He (Abu Hanifa) said: “I feared – By Allah – that I would be disciplined. So I used a misleading expression to trick him”


Harun ibn Ishaq said, “I heard Isma’il ibn Abi Al-Hakam mention about ‘Umar ibn ‘Ubaid At-Tanafusi that Hammad – i.e. Ibn Abi Sulaiman – sent someone to Abu Hanifa to say: “Verily I am innocent of what you say until you repent.”

Ibn Abi ‘Inabah was with him (i.e. Hammaad) and said: “Your neighbor told me that Abu Hanifa invited him to what he was asked to repent from after he had already been asked to repent from it.”

And it was mentioned that Abu Yusuf said, “I debated with Abu Hanifa for two months until he retracted his statement about the createdness of the Qur’an.”


Compare the documentation of the above inauthentic statement [fn 15] to what is scanned below from the printed edition of Dr. Fawqiyya:

Regarding the above alleged incident we find that Imam al-Ash’ari says: Hasha(!) – that Imam al-A’zam Abu Hanifa (Allah be pleased with him) said anything like this. It is a falsehood and a lie. Abu Hanifa is one of the greatest from Ahl al-Sunna(!)

The question arises as to why this quote is absent from other manuscripts which the other editions in print have used?

If you say ‘this phrase was added later’ then you confirm the tampering in the text of the book such that one can not be sure that everything found therein is actually from Imam al-Ash’ari!

Similarly, after mention of the incident of repentance from the missionary activities of Imam Abu Hanifa regarding his neighbor and the creation of the Qur’an we find in the edition of Dr. Fawqiyya scanned above that Imam al-Ash’ari says: This is a blatant lie…

Again, this statement of Imam al-Ash’ari is not found in the other printed versions.

Many scholars of the Hanafi school of law followed the methodology of Imam al-Ash’ari in theology. If Imam al-Ash’ari had truly attributed this belief to Imam Abu Hanifa why would the Hanafis hold him in such high esteem? Rather this is just one more example amongst many which confirm to us that these chainless versions of Kitab al-Ibanah originally written early in the Imam’s Sunni career which we currently have in our possession are unreliable and far from being authentically preserved. But how sad that the Wahhabi Najdis are like this. Their proofs and arguments are weaker than dust on a windy night.

And to Allah is our complaint.




Imam Al-Subki said: Ibn Kullab is from Ahl al-Sunnah .. (Al-Tabaqat 2/300)

al-Hafiz Ibn `Asakir quotes Imam Ibn Abi Zayd saying: We know of no one who has accused Ibn Kullāb of innovation. What has reached us is that he closely follows the Sunna and takes it upon himself to refute the Jahmīyya and other innovators… (Tabyin Kadhib al-Muftari: p. 405)

Ibn Qadi Shuhba said: He was one of the major theologians and he was from Ahl al-Sunna…..(Tabaqat al-Shafi’iyya: 1/78)

Jamal al-Din al-Isnawi said: He was one of the major theologians and he was from Ahl al-Sunna… (Tabaqat al-Shafi’iyya of al-Isnawi: 2/178)

Imam al-Dhahabi said: The man is the closest of the theologians to the Sunna; nay, he is among their debaters. (Siyar ‘Alam al-Nubala’: 11/175)


See Majmu’a al-Fatawa: 4/71 and 5/556.


As quoted by A. Bin Hamid ‘Ali, The Attributes of God: p. 119


Translation by ‘Abu Iyaad’ who runs a Hashwi website attacking the Ash’aris.


For example, in two editions of the Ibanah (Dr. Fawqiyya Husayn Mahmud’s 1977 edition and Abbas Sabbagh’s 1994 edition) we find (tr. Dr. GF Haddad):

“And [we believe] that He established Himself over the Throne in the sense that He said and the meaning that He wills in a way that transcends touch, settlement, fixity, immanence, and displacement. The Throne does not carry Him, rather the Throne and its carriers are carried by the subtleness of His power, subdued under His grip. He is above the Throne and the Heavens and above everything to the limits of the earth with an aboveness which does not bring Him nearer to the Throne and the Heavens, just as it does not make Him further from the earth. Rather, He is Highly Exalted above the Throne and the Heavens, just as He is Highly Exalted above the earth. Yet He is near to every entity and is {nearer to [the worshipper] than his jugular vein} and He witnesses everything.”

Incidentally, in what is an example of textual discrepancy in the available  copies of Kitab al-Ibana we find that in other editions of the book the ending statement is not found and it only says: “Indeed Allah is established above His Throne, as He has said: The Most Merciful rose over the Throne…”.

In the introduction of Kitab al-Ibanah we also find the statement:

“He has no form that can be expressed and He has no limit by which one might strike a similtude for Him”.

Such statements  are just another thorn in the side of those Wahhabis who do attribute a form and limit to Allah, Most High.


قرأت على علي القرشي عن الحسن الأهوازي قال: سمعت أبا عبد الله الحمراني يقول: لما دخل الأشعري إلى بغداد جاء إلى البربهاري فجعل يقول: رددت عل الجبائي وعلى أبي هاشم ونقضت عليهم وعلى اليهود والنصارى والمجوس وقلت لهم وقالوا وأكثر الكلام في ذلك فلما سكت قال البربهاري: ما أدري مما قلت قليلاً ولا كثيراً ولا نعرف إلا ما قاله أبو عبد الله أحمد بن حنبل قال: فخرج من عنده وصنف كتاب “الإبانة” فلم يقبله منه

One would have to question why the Hanbali literalist al-Barbahari was reported to have rejected the  untampered Kitab al-Ibanah written, according to Hafiz Ibn Hajar, upon the path of Ibn Kullab while his admirers today quote it without reservation.  This adds to the evidence that the original version  authored by Imam al-Ash’ari has not reached us today. And Allah knows best.


The importance of isnad in our religion can be gleaned from the likes of Imam Abd Allah ibn al-Mubarak (Allah be pleased with him) who is reported to have said:

“Isnad is part of religion (deen), and if it was not for Isnad, one would have said whatever one desired. When it is said (to the one who speaks without an Isnad): “Who informed you? He remains silent and bewildered.”

[See: Introduction to Sahih Muslim, 1/87, al-Jami’ li akhlaq al-rawi wa adab al-sami’ and others)]

He (Abd Allah ibn al-Mubarak) also stated:

“The one who seeks matters of his deen without an Isnad is similar to the one who climbs to the roof without a ladder.”

[See: Shaykh Abd al-Fattah Abu Ghudda, al-Isnad min al-Din P. 18-20)


Translated by Abu ‘Abdullah


Nuh Ha Mim Keller; Imam Ash’ari Repudiating Asharism.


As quoted by Shaykh Abdullah b. Hamid ‘Ali in ‘The Attributes of God’ (p. 120-121).


ibid. p. 122,123


See also p.48 of Klein, W. C.’s: Elucidation of Islam’s Foundation (New Haven, 1940). A translation of al Ash‘ari’s al Ibana ‘an usul al Diyanah.


See also p.50 of Klein, W. C.’s: Elucidation of Islam’s Foundation (New Haven, 1940). A translation of al Ash‘ari’s al Ibana ‘an usul al Diyanah.


Further on (in a section not quoted by Ibn `Asakir) we find in the Wahhabi, Munir Abduh Agha’s 1929 Cairo edition a title heading ‘Chapter Containing the Kalam Concerning God’s Face, His Two Eyes, His Sight and His Two Hands’ only to be followed in the text of the chapter by the statement “Allah Almighty and Exalted has said that He possesses a face and an eye which is neither given modality nor defined”!


Imam al-Bayhaqi in al-I’tiqad with a chain of reliable narrators reports from Muhammad bin Said bin Sabiq that he said: I asked Abu Yusuf: Did Abu Hanifa used to say that the Qur’an is created? He replied: No! Allah’s refuge is sought, and neither do I say it! …..


  1. […] […]

  2. Have you guys read this response to your article?

    • as-salamu `alaikum ‘Maroof’. Many thanks for the links. They were useful in highlighting the nature of the Wahhabis who cannot help from resorting to their usual insults and gutter talk. The author in his selective quotation of our article did make us realise a small inadvertent mistake in our article which has consequently been amended and altered. Please note also that as has been stated on various forums the work above is a draft beta version and will be added to and amended later insha’Allah. Nevertheless we leave it to the readers to compare what has been written and come to their own conclusions.

      Ahl al-Sunna affirm all that has been mentioned in the Noble Qur’an. The word ‘Ayn is only in the singular and plural form in the Qur’an but never in dual form. We deny that the word in this context refers to a body part and we consign the precise meaning of the word in relation to Allah without researching into it further. This consignment is certainly the way of the Salaf which Imam al-Ash’ari’s book represents.

      Furthermore, in order to infer ‘two eyes’ from the plural form ‘eyes’ which has been mentioned in the divine texts one may have inadvertently drawn a comparison between Allah and His creation based on the senses. And perhaps for this reason, some non-Ash’ari scholars have rather harshly criticized those who affirm two eyes because there is no evidence for it, neither in the Qur’an nor the Sunna.

      Hafiz Ibn al Jawzi in his Kitab Akhbar al-Sifat (KAS) (p. 223, Swartz edition) quotes Imam Abu Sulayman al-Khattabi (d. 388 AH) as saying:

      “Do not ascribe attributes to God except by reference to the Qur’an or to reliable reports, that is, reports based on the Qur’an or prophetic sayings whose genuineness is beyond question. What is in conflict with these (two sources) should not be ascribed (to God) or should be interpreted (yuta’awwal) in accordance with the principles (usul) agreed upon by competent authorities (ahl al-ilm), along with a rejection of anthropomorphism (tashbih)…”

      Ibn al Jawzi in Kitab Akhbar al-Sifat says (point 40, pg 141 KAS):

      “In the same category are the following verses: ‘…In order that you might be reared under My (watchful) eyes.’ And ‘build an ark under Our eyes.’ The expression ‘Under Our eyes’ is taken by (some) exegetes to mean ‘under our command’ (amr)’, and by others to mean ‘under Our oversight (mar’an minna).’ Abu Bakr b. al-Anbari pointed out that among the Arabs the plural (pronoun) is sometimes used even when the referent is singular; hence, one may say: ‘We travelled to Basra (when one really means ‘I travelled to Basra’).’ This use of the plural derives from the practice of kings who are in the habit of saying ‘our command’ or ‘our prohibition.’ The Qadi (Abu Ya’la) maintained that ‘eye’ is an attribute added to the divine essence (za’ida ala dh-dhat). Already before him Abu Bakr b. Khuzayma said, in connection with the above verses: ‘Our Lord has two eyes by which He sees.” Ibn Hamid said: ‘We must believe that God has two eyes.’ This view, however, is an innovation for which there is no justification in scripture. (Champions of this view) attribute two eyes to God only through a kind of inferential reason (Dalil al-Khitab) based on the Prophet’s (sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) statement: ‘He is not one eyed.’ These words, however, were meant only to deny that imperfection of any sort can be ascribed to God….”

      In points 217-219 (p. 266-269, KAS), Ibn al Jawzi said:

      In the Sahihs of Bukhari and Muslim there is a tradition from Anas b. Malik in which it is reported that the Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) said while discussing (the signs of) the Antichrist (dajjal): “He will have one eye (a’war), but your Lord is not one-eyed.”
      The Ulama maintain that the chief aim of this saying is to assert that God cannot be described in any way that might imply imperfection, for being one-eyed is obviously an indication of imperfection. The Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) did not mean to ascribe to God bodily organs, for there is nothing praiseworthy in the attribution of such to God.

      Ibn Aqil said: “The ill informed sometimes assume that since (the Prophet) denied that God is one eyed He meant to establish by a kind of inferential reason (dalil al-khitab) that God has two eyes. This is a serious misunderstanding (of the saying), for by denying that God is one-eyed (the Prophet) merely intended to negate (the possibility of) imperfection in Him….

      In an effort to divert attention from the various textual discrepancies in the unreliable currently available texts of Kitab al-Ibanah the Wahhabis often produce some statements from the Ash’ari Imams al-Juwayni, al-Izz ibn `Abd al-Salam and al-Amidi which mention that some of their Ash’ari colleagues have attributed and even differed regarding the attribution of ‘al-Aynayn’ (in dual form) to Allah. In order to prove this was indeed the case the Wahhabis often quote the early Ash’ari Imam al-Baqillani (d. 403H) who, for example, in al-Insaf (chapter 1, p. 5) is reported to have said that al-Aynayn (in dual form) is from Allah’s attributes. Less to their liking, however, immediately afterwards he goes on to say:

      “. . .and His Eye is not a sense from the senses, and it does not resemble the bodily parts and genera.”

      So, the Imam (as is the practice of those Ash’ari Imams of Ahl al-Sunna who did consider Yad, Wajh and al-Ayn to be from Allah’s attributes) immediately negated any resemblance to creation – specifically negating the attribution of an organ or body part to Allah Most High. This is, of course, in keeping with the position of Ahl al-Sunna and indeed this very negation of organs and parts does not sit well with the Wahhabis as it is something which is against their own doctrine.

      Furthermore, Shaykh Abu al-Qasim al-Ansari (d. 512 AH) in his Sharh al-Irshad has quoted Imam al-Baqillani himself as saying:

      “I do not think that taqlid has any valid function in the fundamentals of Tawhid; what is to be followed is the rationally probative evidence, not the companion’s of one’s

      Similarly, as quoted above, Al-Hafiz Ibn ‘Asakir in Tabyin Kadhib al-Muftari said:

      “And we do not concede that Al Imam Abu al-Hasan Al Ash’ari invented a fifth madhhab. Instead, he only established from the madhhabs of Ahl al-Sunna what became unapparent to the innovators. And he clarified from the statements of those who preceded him from the four Imams and other than them what became obscure. Yet we do not ascribe ourselves to him in our madhhab of Tawhid with the meaning that we blindly follow him in it or that we rely upon him. Instead, we agree with him in the conclusions he reached in tawhid because of the evidences proving their correctness, not simply out of blind following.”

      Consequently, even if it is established that some Imams like al-Baqillani have attributed ‘Aynayn to Allah (and even if they negated Allah having organs or parts unlike the anthropomorphists) then based upon al-Baqillani’s own cited methodology we respectfully disagree and stick to what has been mentioned in the Qur’an and Sunnah. And indeed we find the early major Ash’aris like Imam al-Bayhaqi (d. 458H) who is known to have possessed Kitab al-Ibanah, Imam al-Sabuni (d. 449H) and others attributing al-ayn only in the singular form to Allah Most High in keeping with the divine texts. Nor are we aware of any of the major later authorities from the Ash’aris attributing ‘aynayn in dual form to Allah. And Allah, Glorified be He, knows best.

  3. “Regarding the above alleged incident we find that Imam al-Ash’ari says: Hasha(!) – that Imam al-A’zam Abu Hanifa (Allah be pleased with him) said anything like this. It is a falsehood and a lie. Abu Hanifa is one of the greatest from Ahl al-Sunna(!)”

    There is no evidence that Imam al-Ash’ari said this. This statement is worded by a copyist or possessor of the manuscript.

    You should know this since the title ‘Imam al-A’zam’ was unknown in al-Ash’ari’s days.

    And Allaah Knows best.

  4. Servant of Allaah, thank you for confirming further evidence of tampering in the text of kitab al-Ibanah.

  5. According to R.M. Frank:

    “Al-ibanah ‘an usul al-diyanah (The Clear Statement on the Fundamental Elements of the Faith) is a polemical and apologetic exposition of basic dogma, ostensibly written against the Mu’tazilah and the followers of Jahm ibn Safwan (d. 745), but its formally traditionalist style suggests that this work was composed as a kind of apology to justify al-Ash’ari’s own orthodoxy after the Hanabilah refused to recognize him as an adherent of traditionalist doctrine.”

    he also writes:
    “It is thus that when he wrote the Ibanah to demonstrate his orthodoxy to the Hanabilah, al-Barbahari (d. 941), one of the most widely respected Hanbali teachers of the day, rejected the work out of hand because in it al-Ash’ari had not repudiated kalam reasoning, nor had he said anything incompatible with his own kalam analyses.”

  6. Sheikh GF Haddad also did mention some additional points which were not referred to:

    * The passage: “When supplicating, the Muslims raise their hands toward the sky, because Allah Almighty and Exalted is established (mustawin) over the Throne which is above the heavens…21 The Muslims all say: `O Dweller of the Throne’ (yâ sâkin al-`arsh)!”22 This kind of faulty reasoning can hardly come from al-Ash`ari for the following reasons:

    – The Attributes are divinely ordained (tawqîfiyya) and al-Ash`ari considers it impermissible to make up or derive new terms such as mustawin and sâkin al-`arsh if there is no verse or authentic hadith transmitting them verbatim: “My method in the acceptance of the Names of Allah is Law-based authorization without regard to lexical analogy.”23 – The argument of supplication on the basis of location leads to placing Allah Almighty and Exalted inside the Ka`ba according to the same logic, an absurd impossibility. – The claim that “the Muslims all say: `O Dweller of the Throne'” is unheard of. Yet Ibn Taymiyya cites it and attempts to justify it with the narration: “Allah created seven heavens then chose the uppermost and dwelt in it,”24 adducing a condemned report to support an invented phrase! – Three editions of the Ibana have, “O Dweller of the heaven (yâ sâkin al-`samâ’)”25 which further casts doubt on the integrity of the text in addition to being equally anthropomorphist.

    * The passage: “If we are asked: `Do you say that Allah has two hands?’ The answer is: We do say that, without saying `how.’ It is indicated by the saying of Allah Almighty and Exalted {The Hand of Allah is above their hands} (48:10) and His saying {that which I have created with both My hands} (38:75). It was also narrated from the Prophet – Allah bless and greet him – that he said: `Allah created Adam with His hand then He wiped his back with His hand and brought out of it his offspring.’26 So it is established that He has two hands without saying how. And the transmitted report reached us from the Prophet – Allah bless and greet him – that `Allah created Adam with Hand, created the Garden of `Adn with His hand, wrote the Torah with His hand, and planted the tree of Tuba with His hand,’27 that is: with the hand of His power (ay biyadi qudratih).”28 The last clause contradicts the entire reasoning that precedes and follows, and is actually suppressed from the latest edition of the Ibana!29 The text further states: “They say: `the hands’ (al-ayd) are the strength (al-quwwa),30 so the meaning of {with both My hands} has to be `with My power’ (bi qudratî). The answer to them is: That interpretation is wrong.”31 Al-Ash`ari’s actual position on the Attribute of hand according to Ibn `Asakir is: “Al-Ash`ari took the middle road [between the Mu`tazila and the anthropomorphists] and said: His hand is an Attribute and His face is an Attribute, just like His hearing and His sight.”32

    * The following passage is missing from two of the editions of al-Ibana but is found in two others: “And [we believe] that He established Himself over the Throne in the sense that He said and the meaning that He wills in a way that transcends touch, settlement, fixity, immanence, and displacement. The Throne does not carry him, rather the Throne and its carriers are carried by the subtleness of His power, subdued under His grip. He is above the Throne and the Heavens and above everything to the limits of the earth with an aboveness which does not bring Him nearer to the Throne and the Heavens, just as it does not make Him further from the earth. Rather, He is Highly Exalted above the Throne and the Heavens, just as He is Highly Exalted above the earth. Nevertheless, He is near to every entity and is (nearer to [the worshipper] than his jugular vein( and He witnesses everything.”33


    There are also blatant errors which al-Ash`ari the heresiographer and former Mu`tazili would never commit, such as the attribution to the Mu`tazila as a whole of the belief that Allah Almighty and Exalted is everywhere,39 when he himself reports in his Maqalat that the vast majority of the Mu`tazila said, like Ahl al-Sunna, that it was the controlling disposal (tadbîr) of Allah Almighty and Exalted that was everywhere.40 Furthermore, there is apparently no known chain of transmission for the Ibana from the Imam despite its ostensible fame and the abundance of his students,41 nor do any of his first or second-generation students – such as Ibn Furak – make any mention of it.42 Finally, Imam al-Qushayri’s Shikaya Ahl al-Sunna bi Hikaya Ma Nalahum Min al-Mihna provides an additional external sign that the tampering of al-Ash`ari’s Ibana took place possibly as early as the fifth century:

    They have attributed despicable positions to al-Ash`ari and claimed he had said certain things of which there is not one iota in his books. Nor can such sayings be found reported in any of the books of the scholars of kalâm who either supported him or opposed him, from the earliest times to our own – whether directly quoted or paraphrased. All of that is misrepresentation, forgery, and unmitigated calumny!43

  7. They are trying hard and have posted 11 parts of the refutation. So where is it going to stop? Do we have a final say here?

    • They substitute truth with amount of words 🙂

  8. Reblogged this on insearchofilmandhaqq's Blog.

  9. Reblogged this on Talmeez's Blog und kommentierte:
    Al Ibanah isnt from Abul hasan al Ashari

  10. Assalamu alykum, This is very good information about Al ibanah tampering, i used to be in the salafi crew, but guess what whenever i was to preach there dawah something stopped me wallah. Over 8yrs but when i checked Aqeedah in depth and turned to Allah first sincerely i would not have understood the truth from falsehood.

    Look at darrusalam ibn kathir tafsir lies abridged arabic english on ibn kathir on the apparent meaning vs original tafsir ibn kathir and many of his words removed. Still they pull him ibn kathir rh to there side, lies, misqouting manyy manyy scholars and the salaf words tampering! How worse can anyone get?? wallah i have there books both arabic and english when i compared the originals i was shocked!!! Lies lies! Got me Angry, real angry!! Ibn hajar qurtubi the 4 imams and there ulema.. and when we see there reply, they play around with words!! Also rejecting! Are we supposed to take the understanding of the salafis or the salaf?? That ibn uthaymeen mujassim said god is seated on the throne just like in the bible psalms 47:8!! Is he the salaf? He is nothing!! And yes i have his books totally useless now! And who are those that went astray and against these ulema? Like mr bin baz against ibn hajar asqalani rh a hadith master!!! In shafi’i madhab! In Aqeedah, and that ibn abi izz against imam tahawi rh? Salafis vs ibn kathir tafsir? Imam bayhaqi nawawi fakhruddin razi rh and loads of em. Wallah they are liars misqouting texts and still trying to fool people, the most unintelligent people i have come across as a sect is the salafis. Really you lot have no idea how i feel,.imagine muslims you trust in following the salaf and in reality you find out they been lying! Lying about scholars lying about the salaf. Trying to put u in bid’ah and kufr!! Allah saved me Alhamdulillah so much thanks to Allah swt.

    You know these salafis no one can help them to understand only when Allah wills he will show them the haqq! They have to turn to Allah to show them sincerely otherwise there narrow minds will never click.. there stubborness will stay no matter what u throw at em because there shayookh have injected in there blood not to listen to the other sects because they will misquide you.. From my experience was a salafi myself trust me ive seen it. And mentioning the truth like on this website in a very very rewarding thing to do Allah bless you all ameen.

    Dont get fooled by there slogan salafiyyah its all but words in reality there are nowhere near the salaf. They pass through texts like the khwarij. There are over 7 dif sects in them now! this fitnah of theres is an attempt to destroy our belief into kufr. In a very tricky way! May Allah support the believers and he will protect this deen as he always did so we should be in it defending it, speaking, writing books, and destroying the jaws of the innovators in every mean possible in shariah who are poisoning the muslim laymen and families into there anthropomorphic creed.

    The blind followers are not hanafis shafi’i maliki or hanbali(not the pseudo salafi so called hanbali) the worst blind followers today are the salafis!! The 4 madhahib are upon haqq and nothing wrong to be a hanafi! Strictly Shafi’i, maliki or hanbali, the problem is if one doesn’t understand a madhab or what following a madhab means then the defect is in him not the madhab bcoz the madhab has over hundreds of scholars with chains back to the salaf, and just a few useless men whose ancenstors were belted out of the madhahib buried in the ground by Ahlas sunnah wal jammah come and lie about the religion of Allah are just inviting for hellfire.

  11. ما شاء الله……وجزاكم الله خيرا

  12. salam alaykum,

    Is there is analysis in English on Imam Ibn Furak’s work “Mujarrad Maqālāt al-Shaykh Abī al-Ḥasan al-Ashʿarī” ?

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