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The three stages of
Abul-Hasan Al-Ash’aree

The Ashaa’ira (Ash’arees) claim to be followers of Abul-Hasan Al-Ash’aree who himself went through three stages in his belief. He was born in the year 270H and died in the year 330H as Ibn Asaakir concluded. His lineage goes back to the Companion Abu Musa Al-Ash’aree.

The First Stage – The way of the Mu’tazilah, (Ta’teel)

denying the Attributes of Allaah due to limited intellect

Abul-Hasan Al-Ash’aree was first upon the way of the Mu’tazilah who used to deny the Attributes of Allaah if it opposed their limited intellect. Imam Al-Hafidh Abu Nasr Al-Sijzi (d.444h) in his treatise to the people of Zabeed called “Rad man Ankara-l-Harf was-Sawt” narrates from Khalf Al-Mu’allim (d.371H) of the Maliki scholars that he said, “Imam Al-Ash’aree was upon the way of I’tizaal (Mu’tazilah) for a period of forty years. Then he repented…”

The Second Stage – The way of Ibn Kullab – (Tahreef)

distorting the meaning of the Attributes of Allaah

Then the second stage of Abul Hasan Al-Ash’aree saw him following the path of Ibn Kullaab. This is actually the path of many today who call themselves Ash’arees. If they are true to their claim then they should leave off tahreef which is distorting the meaning of the Attributes of Allaah and follow Abul-Hasan and his repentance and return to the way of Ahl-us-Sunnah.
Ibn Taymiyyah (rahimahullaah) said, “Imam Ahmed used to warn against ibn Kullab and his followers.” ['Dar' Ta'aaradh al-'Aql wan-Naql (2/6)]
Ibn Taymiyyah (rahimahullaah) said, “The Kullaabiyyah are the teachers of the Ashaa’ira for Abul-Hasan Al-Ash’aree followed the example of Abu Muhammad Ibn Kullab. Ibn Kullaab was closest to the way of the Salaf in terms of the period and in terms of his way. Abu Bakr Ibn Fawrak Sheikh Al-Qushairi gathered the speech of Ibn Kullaab and the Ashaa’ira and showed their agreement in the fundamentals (belief)…” ['Al-Istiqaama (12/368)]
Ibn Taymiyyah (rahimahullaah) said, “Abul-Hasan came after him (Ibn Kullaab) and he was a student of Abu Ali Al-Jubaai al-Mu’tazil. He then turned away from the statements of the Mu’tazilah and clarified their contradictions in many places and opposed them much in areas of Qadr (pre-destination). Eeman (faith) and wa’d and wa’eed (referring to Allaah’s promise of reward or punishing, as either an encouragement or deterrent)…Yet in terms of Allaah’s Attributes he followed the path of Ibn Kullaab…” ['Majmu Fataawa' 12/178]
Imam Al-Dhahabi (rahimahullaah) quoted Al-Imam Abu Bakr ibn Khuzaima in Seyar ‘alam an-Nubalaa (14/380) saying, “Ahmed ibn Hanbal was amongst the sternest of people in warning against Abdullah ibn Sa’eed Kullaab and his companions such as Harith and others.”
Ibn Taymiyyah (rahimahullaah) said, “Many of the later followers of (Abul Hasan) Al-Ash’aree left his statements and went towards the statements of the Mu’tazila, the Jahmiyyah and the philosophers.” ['al-Asfahaaniyya (p.107-108)]

The Third Stage of Abul Hasan-Ash’aree, the way of Ahl-us-Sunnah wal-Jamaa’ah

The third stage of Abul-Hasan Al-Ash’aree showed that he turned away from distorting the meanings of the lofty Attributes of Allaah which was the way of Ibn Kullaab and he followed the ay of the scholars of the Pious Predecessors. Abul-Hasan Al-Ash’aree clearly showed this by writing three books: ‘Al-Ibaana’, ‘Risaala ila Ahli Thagr’ and ‘Maqaalaat Al-Islamiyeen’ clearly affirming the Attributes of Allaah in the manner He affirmed for himself without misinterpretation. Ibn Dirbas who died in the year 622H wrote a book illustrating clearly that Al-Ibaana of Abul-Hasan Al-Ash’aree is actually his book and not as the innovators claim that it is not. They do this because it clearly portrays the correct belief of Ahl-us-Sunnah with regards the Attributes of Alaaah.
Source: Trials of Life, Sheikh Saalih ibn Fawzan al-Fawzan, Abdulililah ibn Rabah & Muhammad Nadeem Ashan-Shah, Appendix 2 : The Ashaa’ira (Ash’arees) are not from Ahl-us-Sunnah wal Jamaa’ah


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