The Knights of Knowledge and the Pioneers of Success
Praise be to Allah, the Lord of the Worlds, may Allah raise the rank of Prophet Muhammad and his kind Al and Companions and protect his nation from that which he fears for them. May Allah grant us the sincere intentions.
Imam Abul-Hasan al-Ash^ariyy is the Imam of Ahl us-Sunnah--the man who refuted and defeated the leaders of the groups of misguidance and extinguished the fires of their bad innovations. He defended the Religion of Allah by the methodology of the Prophet. He was an extremely well-known and famous scholar--so skillful in producing airtight proofs in defense of the Creed of Ahl us-Sunnah. Known as Abul-Hasan, Imam al-Ash^ariyy is ^Aliyy the son of Isma^il, the son of Abu Bishr Ishaq, the son of Salim, the son of Isma^il, the son of ^Abdullah, the son of Musa, the son of Bilal, the son of Abu Burdah, the son of Abu Musa ^Abdullah, the son of Qays, the son of Haddar, al-Ash^ariyy, al-Yamaniyy. "Al-Ash^ariyy" is in reference to his tribe, (the Asha^irah,) and "al-Yamaniyy" is in reference to his home country, Yaman.
The Prophet praised the tribe of the Asha^irah in more than one hadith. He said about them: "If they were in a certain location and some fell short in their supply of food, they would get together, join what food every individual had, then distribute the sum equally among all of them." Al-Hakim related the Prophet, in praising them, said:
which means: << They follow my methodology, and I am pleased with their action. >>
In Surat al-Ma’idah, Ayah 54, Allah said:
which refers to a group of people guided by Allah, who love Allah, and Allah loves them... It was narrated, at the time this verse was revealed, the Prophet pointed at Abu Musa al-Ash^ariyy and said: "Those are His people"--an explicit reference to the tribe of the Asha^irah--to whom Imam Abul-Hasan al-Ash^ariyy belongs.
Imam Abul-Hasan al-Ash^ariyy was born in the year 260 after the Emigration (Hijrah) according to some, and according to others, in the year 270. Nonetheless, he was born prior to the year 300 and lived most of his life before that, so he belongs to the people of the Salaf. He was raised in a family of Ahl us-Sunnah, although later on he became a student of al-Jubba’iyy, one of the leaders of the faction of the Mu^tazilah, and associated with him for a period of time. Although Al-Jubba’iyy was well-known and famous among the Mu^tazilah, Imam al-Ash^ariyy did not accept everything he heard from him. Al-Jubba’iyy used to believe in and repeat a blasphemous belief famous among the Mu^tazilah. He said, "It is obligatory on Allah to do that which is most benefiting for the slaves." Ibn ^Asakir narrated in his book, Tabyin Kadhib al-Muftari, that once, Imam Abul-Hasan al-Ash^ariyy questioned al-Jubba’iyy about this belief:
He inquired, "What do you say about three people: a believer, a boy [i.e., a person who did not reach the age of puberty], and a blasphemer?"
Al-Jubba’iyy answered him: "The believer is among the people who will have high ranks in the Hereafter. The blasphemer is among the people who will be losers in the Hereafter. As for the boy, he will be among the people who will be saved, however, his status will not reach the status of that believer."
Al-Ash^ariyy then asked al-Jubba’iyy: "Would the rank of the boy attain the rank of the believer?"
Al-Jubba’iyy answered, "No. The pious believer attained that status because of his worship and obedience, and the boy does not have the obedience and worship of that believer."
Al-Ash^ariyy asked al-Jubba’iyy, "What if the boy says, ‘This is not a shortcoming on my part. O Allah, if You had willed for me to live long enough in this life, I would have done as much obedience and worship as the pious believer’."
Al-Jubba’iyy’s answer to that was, "Allah would tell that boy, ‘I knew that if you had lived longer, you would have sinned, and you would have been tortured; so I made you die before the age of puberty’."
Al-Ash^ariyy said to al-Jubba’iyy: "What if the blasphemous person then said, ‘O Allah, You knew about me. Why did you not do that which is most benefiting to me, and make me die before the age of puberty, as You did the boy?’"
Al-Jubba’iyy was silenced; he did not know how or what to respond. He could not defend his belief as is the case with all those who build their conclusions on false premises.
Al-Jubba’iyy came to his conclusion about the status of those three people in the Hereafter based on his false conviction that it is obligatory on Allah to do that which is most benefiting to the slave, and this is why he reached the stage where he could not defend his statement. Rather, the correct premise, the one which is airtight and easily defended is to say as Ahl us-Sunnah say: ""Allah is not obligated to do anything. When Allah rewards the believers, this is out of His generosity, and when Allah punishes the sinners, this is justice from Him."
Ibnu ^Asakir also narrated that Imam Abul-Hasan al-Ash^ariyy saw the Prophet in a dream ordering him to support the school of Ahl us-Sunnah wal-Jama^ah. In his dream, Abul-Hasan asked the Prophet, "How should I do that? How should I back the school of Ahl us-Sunnah when I have spent so many years associating with the school of the Mu^tazilah?" The Prophet told him: "If I did not know that Allah would support you with a special support enabling you success in this matter, I would teach you myself and detail for you every single aspect of how to do it." Later, Imam Abul-Hasan al-Ash^ariyy said, "I would be present in a session debating opponents, those who oppose Ahl us-Sunnah, and a case I had not heard the answer to would arise. All of a sudden, the perfect answer would be clear in my mind, and I would use it to discredit those people. I knew this was Allah’s special support the Prophet informed me about."
After he saw that dream, Imam Abul-Hasan al-Ash^ariyy publicly declared he was clear of the school of the Mu^tazilah, and that he was following Ahl us-Sunnah. It was mentioned he climbed to the top of the mimbar in the mosque one Friday and declared he was clear of the school of the Mu^tazilah and committed himself to refute them and expose their falsehood. From then on, he worked diligently to spread the school of Ahl us-Sunnah by producing the crystal clear textual and intellectual proofs in support of their methodology. He authored new books refuting books he had authored previously when he was still following the Mu^tazilah. For each book he authored while he was with the Mu^tazilah, he authored a refutation from the school of Ahl us-Sunnah.
The Faqih, Abu Bakr as-Sayrafiyy, said: "The Mu^tazilah had raised their heads up high until al-Ash^ariyy stood up against them and trapped them in the most tiny corner." The Hafidh Abu Bakr al-Baghdadiyy in Tarikh Baghdad said: "Abul-Hasan al-Ash^ariyy is one who defended the creed and one who authored books and works refuting the atheists and others among the Mu^tazilah, Jahmiyyah, Khawarij, and all other innovators of misguidance." Shamsud-Din Ibn Khillikan in his book, Al-A^yan, said: "Abul-Hasan al-Ash^ariyy is the forefather in explaining the essentials of the belief, the one who supported the school of Ahl us-Sunnah; the Ash^ariyysare named in reference to him, and his fame is beyond lengthy description."
Imam Abul-Hasan al-Ash^ariyy was astonishing in his ability to produce the proofs to discredit the innovators of misguidance. Abu Sahl as-Su^lukiyy, who was among the great scholars and God-fearing people said: "We attended a debate between Imam al-Ash^ariyy and some of the heads of the Mu^tazilah at the house of a prominent man in al-Basrah. Imam al-Ash^ariyy debated them all and defeated every one of them! He dealt with them one by one until he silenced each one of them. After that, they agreed on another session of debate. When Imam al-Ash^ariyy showed up at the specified time, he found none of the Mu^tazilah dared to show their faces. Imam al-Ash^ariyy told the house-boy to write on the door, "They escaped."
Imam Abu ^Abdullah Ibn Khafif, who was one of the great waliyys said:
"When I was a young man, I went to al-Basrah to meet Abul-Hasan al-Ash^ariyy because I heard about him. When I first entered al-Basrah, I saw a handsome shaykh. I asked him, "Where is the residence of Abul-Hasan al-Ash^ariyy?"
He said, "What do you want from him?"
I said: "I would like to meet him."
This shaykh told me, "Come back tomorrow morning to this same location, and I shall help you with that."
I came the next morning, and went with that shaykh to a session in the house of a prominent person. Present in that session were several scholars and knowledgeable people. When the people saw that shaykh come in, they treated him respectfully and seated him in the best and most prominent location in that session. Then, one of the people there was asked a question pertaining to the creed. When that person started responding, this shaykh interfered and began to debate the one who was asked the question--until he silenced him. I was astonished by the extent of that shaykh’s knowledge, so I asked some of those who were near to me who this shaykh was. They told me this was Abul-Hasan al-Ash^ariyy. When the session was over and the people left, I followed him.
He looked at me and asked, "Young man, how did you find Abul-Hasan al-Ash^ariyy?"
I said, "Just as I have heard about him, and I am your servant." Then I asked Imam al-Ash^ariyy, "Why did you not start talking yourself?"
Imam al-Ash^ariyy said, "I do not initiate talking with those innovators of misguidance."
Imam al-Ash^ariyy did not initiate talking with innovators because he did not want to open a door for them to speak unlawful words. He would not, however, allow them to get away with speaking unlawful words should they initiate them. Rather, he would debate them and refute them in accordance with what Allah obligated us to do in forbidding the unlawful (munkar) and ordering the obligatory (ma^ruf). This showed a great level of understanding and comprehension. Some scholars said, "Al-Ash^ariyy had a strong insight." At first, Imam al-Ash^ariyy did not reveal his identity to Ibn Khafif because, knowing the effect of the first impression on the relationship between a shaykh and his student, he wanted Ibn Khafif’s first impression of him to be very remarkable--which he established in the session of debate. This incident shows the truthfulness of scholars’ saying that Abul-Hasan al-Ash^ariyy was a great Sufi and a master in the matters and secrets pertaining to the heart, in as much as he was a master in the fields of the religious knowledge.
The Ustadh Abu-Ishaq al-Isfarayiniyy, who in his own right, was a great imam, said: "Next to Imam AbulHasan al-Bahiliyy, I am like a drop in the ocean. I heard Imam al-Bahiliyy say that compared to al-Ash^ariyy he was like a drop in the ocean." Before Abul-Hasan al-Bahiliyy became a student of al-Ash^ariyy, he used to be one of the imams of the Shi^ah sect. Imam al-Ash^ariyy debated him, and as a result, he left that which had had been following and became a student of Imam al-Ash^ariyy. After that, he became one of the great scholars of Ahl us-Sunnah.
The Judge: Abu Bakr Ibn al-Baqillaniyy said about himself, "I will be in the best of the levels of my knowledge if I can understand the words of al-Ash^ariyy."." Abu Bakr Ibn al-Baqillaniyy reached a stage among the scholars of the school of Imam al-Ash^ariyy, such that if one said, "the Judge said," without specifying further, the people would understand "the Judge" is Abu Bakr Ibn al-Baqillaniyy. He had a very sharp intelligence--clearly witnessed once when the caliph sent a message with him to the King of the Romans. That Roman king had been told that al-Baqillaniyy would not bow to a kafir, so he would not bow to that king. Thinking he was smart, that king devised a way to make al-Baqillaniyy bow for him when he entered the room. He made the doorway entrance so low, such that if one wanted to enter, he would have to bow down. When al-Baqillaniyy arrived, he was so keen and quick that he immediately realized what was intended. He turned around and entered backwards! At another time, al-Baqillaniyy entered the session of that king when the king had the monks and their head priest with them. Al-Baqilaniyy addressed their head priest mockingly by saying, "How is the wife doing, and the children?" To that, the king said, "The caliph who sent you to us said you were among the knowledgeable ones--among the great scholars of your nation. How is it you ignore the fact the priests do not get married, they do not have children, and we clear them from that?" Al-Baqillaniyy told him, "You clear the priests and monks from these things, and you do not clear Allah from that? It is as if you hold them in a greater status than Allah!" The king, the monks, and their head priest were dumbfounded! If this great, intelligent man, Imam al-Baqillaniyy, used to say, "I would be in the best of the levels of my knowledge if I comprehend the words of Imam al-Ash^ariyy," what would be the status of al-Ash^ariyy?
The endeavors of Imam al-Ash^ariyy in performing worship are astonishing. Some of his companions mentioned that for almost twenty (20) years he prayed Fajr Prayer with the ablution (wudu’) he performed for the ^Isha’ Prayer, i.e., he did not sleep. Imam al-Ash^ariyy used to sustain himself from the proceeds of a village which his grandfather, Bilal, the son of Burdah, left for his descendants with the intention they finance their needs from that village. Imam al-Ash^ariyy’s share from that waqf was 17 dirhams for the entire year, amounting to less than one and one-half dirham each month. Though this was so little, it was sufficient for him for the entire month. That this sustained him for the month is an indication of the extent of his detachment from this world.
In addition to his vast knowledge of tawhid, Imam al-Ash^ariyy was very skillful in the areas of the fiqh and the hadith. He followed the school of Imam ash-Shafi^iyy and studied in that area with Imam Abu Ishaq al-Marwaziyy, as it was mentioned by both: Imam Abu Bakr Ibn Furak and Imam Abu Ishaq al-Isfarayiniyy.
Imam Abu Mansur al-Baghdadiyy said: "I heard ^Abdullah, the son of Mahmud the son of Tahir, the Sufiyy say the following:
I saw Abul-Hasan al-Ash^ariyy in the mosque of al-Basrah after he had just silenced the Mu^tazilah in front of the people. One of those present said to him, "We have acknowledged that you have knowledge as vast as the ocean in the area of the creed (tawhid) I want to ask you a question pertaining to the fiqh."
Imam al-Ash^ariyy told him, "Ask whatever you want."
This man chose to ask, "What do you say about the one who prays without reciting the Fatihah?"
Immediately, Imam al-Ash^ariyy answered: "Zakariyya, the son of Yahya as-Suddiyy, told us ^Abdul Jabbar told us, Sufyan told us, az-Zuhriyy told me, from the route of Mahmud, the son of ar-Rabi^, from the route of ^Ubadah the son of Samit, from the Prophet, who said:
which means: << The prayers are not valid for the one who does not recite the Fatihah. >>
Imam al-Ash^ariyy continued. He said, "Zakariyyah narrated to us, Bindar narrated to us, Yahya, the son of Sa^id narrated to us, from the route of Ja^far, the son of Maymun and Abu ^Uthman, from the route of Abu Hurayrah, who said: ‘The Prophet ordered me to call out in al-Madinah the prayers are invalid for the one who does not recite the Fatihah’."
The person who asked the question was silenced with astonishment at the vastness of Imam al-Ash^ariyy’s knowledge in fiqh as well.
Imam al-Ash^ariyy narrated the hadith from the route of many shaykhs, among them: Zakariyyah as-Sajiyy, Abu Khalifah al-Jumahiyy, Sahl, the son of Nuh, and others.
Abu Bakr Ibn Furak counted more than one hundred (100) authored books for Imam al-Ash^ariyy, may Allah raise his rank. Al-Juwayniyy, the Imam of the Haramayn, at his time, said the authored works of Imam al-Ash^ariyy were in excess of two hundred (200), among which was the interpretation of the Qur’an. It was mentioned this interpretation of the Qur’an was composed of 200 volumes. Among Imam al-Ash^ariyy’s authored works are:
- Risalatu Istihsan al-Khawd fi ^Ilm al-Kalam (The Praise worthiness of Practicing the Knowledge of Kalam);
- Kitab ar-Radd ^alal-Mujassimah (A Refutation of Those who Attribute Bodily Attributes to Allah);
- An-Naqdu ^ala al-Jubba’iyy (A Refutation of al-Jubba’iyy--the man who was his teacher from the Mu^tazilah);
- Kitabus-Sifat (The Attributes of Allah). In this book he refuted one of his own authored works written at the time he was still following the madhhab of the Mu^tazilah);
- Jawazu Ru’yatillahi Ta^ala bil Absar (The Validity of Seeing Allah Ta^ala);
- Adab al-Jadal (The Manners of Debating);
- Al-Ibanah (The Clarification) This is among his most famous books. However, today you cannot find authentic printed copies of it. One of the unauthentic copies is published today by the Wahhabiyys and spread among the people It contains a great deal of the Wahhabiyy’s misguidance, including an expression by which they claimed that all the Muslims, upon making supplication to Allah, say: "O Lord, the One Who inhabits the skies." This is ugly misguidance. Every person knows such a statement is far from the truth. No one heard the Muslims say such a statement--nor was such an expression found in any of the books Imam Abul-Hasan al-Ash^ariyy actually authored. No such thing was found in the publications or the books authored by the students of Imam Abul-Hasan al-Ash^ariyy, nor the students of his students, nor the students of the students of his students, nor any of the people who follow his school (madhhab). This expression cannot be found among the scholars or the laymen. This, in itself, is sufficient to prove this expression a falsehood! Let us all be warned about this.
Due to the strength of the Ash^ariyys in the religion and their vast knowledge to refute and expose those who deviate from the true path, many factions of misguidance, like the Mu^tazilah,tried to defame and discredit the Ash^ariyys. However, the great scholars of Ahl us-Sunnah managed to bury their misguidance. Nowadays, the Wahhabiyys who oppose the millions of Muslims of Ahl us-Sunnah wal-Jama^ah and declare them as blasphemers for clearing Allah from bodily attributes, directions, places, manners of being, and all non-befitting attributes, have launched slanderous statements and defamation at the Ash^ariyys because the majority of Ahl us-Sunnah are Ash^ariyys. The Wahhabiyys accuse the Ash^ariyys of blasphemy, yet, when they teach they cannot surpass quoting the great Ash^ariyys such as al-Bayhaqiyy. They cannot escape saying, "al-Bayhaqiyy said," "an-Nawawiyy said," or "al-Bukhariyy said," because the scholars of Ahl us-Sunnah, whether Maturidiyys or Ash^ariyys, are the ones who enjoy a continuous chain of narration all the way back to the Prophet--whereas the Wahhabiys cannot claim the same. Their chain of narration, from their ill school of thought, stops at their forefather, Ibn Taymiyyah, who lived seven hundred years ago. As in the past, God willing, the scholars of Ahl us-Sunnahwill bury their misguidance.
The Judge of Judges, Abu ^Abdullah ad-Damghaniyy al-Hanafiyy replied to the following question he received in Baghdad: "What do the honorable shaykhs say about a group of people who joined to damn the Ash^ariyys and declare them as blasphemers?" He replied by saying: "Such people have innovated an innovation of misguidance and committed a forbidden matter. The people in charge should denounce such people and discipline them satisfactorily so that others do not imitate them."
Shaykh Abu Ishaq ash-Shiraziyy commented on this reply by saying: "The Ash^ariyys are the elite of Ahl us-Sunnah and the supporters of the laws of the Religion. They stood up to refute the innovators of misguidance among the Qadariyyah and others. The one who slanders them, in fact, slanders Ahl us-Sunnah. The one in charge of Muslims has to discipline such people in a way to stop others from imitating them."
The great scholar, Diya’uddin Abu al-ˆAbbas Ahmad Ibn Muhammad Ibn ^Umar Ibn Yusuf Ibn ^Umar al-Qurtubiyy compiled a treatise which he called: Zajrut-Muftari ^ala Abil-Hasan al-Ash^ariyy, which means: Restraining the One Who Fabricates about Abul-Hasan al-Ash^ariyy. In it, he refuted some innovators of misguidance who slandered Imam al-Ash^ariyy. When Shaykh Taqiuddin ibn Daqiq al-^Id read it, he eulogized it.
Ustadh Abul-Qasim al-Qushayriyy said: "The people of hadith are all in agreement that Abul-Hasan al-Ash^ariyy was an Imam of Hadith and his school is the same as the people of hadith. He presented the essentials of the Religion according to the methodology of Ahl us-Sunnah and he refuted the factions of misguidance. He was a drawn sword against the Mu^tazilah, the innovators, and the apostates. The one who slanders him or defames him, in fact, speaks ill of the entire Ahl us-Sunnah."
Imam al-Ash^ariyy’s reputation was widespread. He became very famous, and his students spread throughout the different countries. His followers increased in numbers, including those who took from him directly and those who took from him through others, until the people of Ahl us-Sunnah became either Ash^ariyys or Maturidiyys. Know: Abul-Hasan al-Ash^ariyy was not the first among the scholars of Ahl us-Sunnah to stand up and defend the creed, but rather he followed the path of the scholars before him among the scholars of Ahl us-Sunnah. Backing and supporting the school of Ahl us-Sunnah was known long before Abul-Hasan al-Ash^ariyy, however, he contributed to adding clarity and clarification to the people about the creed of Ahl us-Sunnah. Those who came after Abul-Hasan al-Ash^ariyy followed his path. Since they identified themselves with him, they are called "Ash^ariyys." A special school was not innovated for them, rather, their school is the school of Ahl us-Sunnah. The way they support and back the creed of Ahl us-Sunnah is the methodology of Abul-Hasan al-Ash^ariyy.
Imam Al-Bayhaqiyy said: "Our Shaykh, Abul-Hasan al-Ash^ariyy, did not make innovations in our Religion. Rather, he took the sayings of the Companions and their followers and those who came after them among the imams of the Essentials of Belief and he supported their sayings by clarifying them further. "
Ibnus-Subkiyy said in his book, At-Tabaqat: "Know that Abul-Hasan al-Ash^ariyy did not innovate a personal opinion and did not start a new school. Rather, he confirmed the schools of the Salaf and strove to carry out what the Companions of the Prophet had followed." When one attributes himself to al-Ash^ariyy it is because Imam al-Ash^ariyy adhered to the methodology of the Salaf and he produced the proofs in its support. Hence nowadays the one who follows in the steps of al-Ash^ariyy in adhering to the methodology of the Salaf and propagating the proofs in its support is referred to as an "Ash^ariyy."
Ibnus-Subkiyy, in the same book, reported the following saying of al-Ma’ayariqiyy al-Malikiyy: "Abul-Hasan was not the first to speak the methodology of Ahl us-Sunnah. Rather, he followed the steps of others in doing so. He supported a well-known school and contributed to its credibility. Hence, he did not innovate a saying or a school of his own. Do you not see that the school of the people of al-Madinah was attributed to Imam Malik? Hence, the one who follows the school of the people of al-Madinah is called a Malikiyy. Imam Malik had only followed the course of those who came before him and closely adhered to their method. However, because Imam Malik shed light on the school and explained it clearly, it was attributed to him. Likewise is the case of Abul-Hasan al-Ash^ariyy; he only explained and promoted the school of the Salaf and authored works in supporting it." This is why those who genuinely follow the true school of Ahl us-Sunnah are called Ash^ariyys.
As for the one who wishes to review the books pertaining to the life and the writings of Imam Abul Hasan al-Ash^ariyy, let him refer to what the Shaykh of ash-Sham and its historian: Abul-Qasim Ibn ^Asakir wrote in his book, Tabyin Kadhib al-Muftari. In this book there are details about the life of Imam Abul Hasan al-Ash^ariyy, the books which he authored, the people who followed his madhhab,and his students.
He who looks thoroughly into this matter would realize the Ash^ariyys are the cavaliers in bringing about achievements for the Muslims. He who looks thoroughly into the issues, the matters, and the cases would realize the Ash^ariyys were the leaders and the pioneers in the areas of religious knowledge and the areas of jihad. The scholars of hundreds of millions of Muslims were Ash^ariyys.
Following are some of the prominent Ash^ariyys:
- Abu Ishaq al-Isfarayiniyy; famous for the title al-ustadh, "the very skillful one";
- The hafidh: Abu Nu^aym al-Asbahaniyy, the author of the book, Hilyat al-Awliya’;
- The famous Malikiyy judge: ^Abdul-Wahhab;
- Shaykh Abu Muhammad al-Juwayniyy , who was the one whose hand lit up after he died, because he had written so many authentic religious judgments (fatwas);
- ^Abdul-Malik Abul-Ma^ali al-Juwayniyy , who is the son of Abu Muhammad al-Juwayniyy and the famous imam of the Haramayn, the Haram of Makkah and the Haram of al-Madinah;
- Abu Mansur at-Tamimiyy, the author of Al-Farqu Baynal-Firaq and ‘Usul ud-Din;
- The hafidh: al-Isma^iliyy, who authored the book: Al-Mustakhraj ^AlaSahih al-Bukhariyy;
- The famous hafidh: al-Bayhaqiyy;
- The hafidh: ad-Daraqutniyy ; who was among the giants of the hafidhs of hadith;
- The hafidh:, al-Khatib al-Baghdadiyy, who authored the famous book, The History of Baghdad;
- The ustadh: Abul-Qasim al-Qushayriyy, the author of Ar-Risalah al-Qushayriyyah, a famous book in Sufism;
- His son, known as Abun-Nasr;
- The shaykh: Abu Ishaq ash-Shiraziyy , who was a famous Shafi^iyy scholar who authored At-Tanbih, Al-Muhadhdhab, and Al-Luma^;
- The famous Shafi^iyy faqih: Nasr al-Maqdisiyy;
- Imam al-Ghazaliyy;
- Al-Farawiy y;
- Abul-Wafa' Ibn ^Aqil al-Hanbaliyy;
- The Hanafiyy judge: ad-Damghaniyy, who was the judge of all judges in his era;
- Imam Abul-Walid al-Bajiyy, a famous Malikiyy scholar;
- The Imam, the Master: Ahmad ar-Rifa^iyy;
- The hafidh: Abul-Qasim Ibn ^Asakir;
- Ibnus-Sam^aniyy, who acquired the knowledge through about 1000 shaykhs and authored the book: Al-Ansab; The hafidh: as-Silafiyy;
- Al-Qadi ^Iyad al-Malikiyy the author of Ash-Shifa;
- Imam an-Nawawiyy;
- Imam Fakhrud-Din ar-Raziyy, the author of the famous book of interpretation;
- Al-Qurtubiyy, who is also famous for his book of interpretation;
- The Shafi^iyy shaykh: ^Izzud-Din Ibnu ^Abdis-Salam, who was known for being strict in bidding that which Allah made lawful and forbidding that which Allah made unlawful;
- The Malikiyy scholar, linguist, and faqih: Abu ^Amr Ibnul-Hajib;
- Al-Qadi Ibnu Daqiq al-^Id, who, according to some sayings, reached the level of ijtihad;
- Imam ^Ala’ud-Din al-Bajiyy, a famous Malikiyy scholar;
- The judge of the judges: Taqiyyuddin as-Subkiyy;
- The hafidh of Jerusalem: al-^Ala’iyy;
- The hafidh: Zaynud-Din al-^Iraqiyy, and his son, the hafidh, AbuZur^ah;
- The Seal of the hafidhs: Ibn Hajar al-^Asqalaniyy;
- The seal of the linguists, Imam Murtada az-Zabidiyy, who was a follower of the school (madhhab) of Imam AbuHanifah;
- The judge of the judges, the famous later Shafi^iyy scholar,: Zakariyya al-Ansariyy;
- The Sufi shaykh: Baha’ud-Din ar-Rawwas;
- The Mufti of the city of Makkah: Ahmad Ibn Zayni Dahlan , who authored a famous book: The History of Islamic States;
- The famous Indian scholar: Waliyyullah ad-Dahlawiyy;
- The Mufti of Egypt, the shaykh: Muhammad ^Ulaysh al-Malikiyy;
- The shaykh of the Azhar Mosque in Egypt, who lived about 100 years ago: Shaykh ^Abdullah ash-Sharqawiyy;
- The famous shaykh from Tripoli: Abul Mahasin al-Qawuqjiyy, who died less than 100 years ago in Egypt. Much of the narration which has reached us today was narrated through him;
- Imam Husayn al-Jisr at-Tarabulsiyy of Tripoli, who is known for his books: Ar-Risalah al-Hamidiyyah and Al-Husun al-Hamidiyyah, both authored to defend the Religion of Islam against the atheists at the time of the Ottoman Sultan, ^AbdulHamid II;
- Our shaykh: ^Abdullah al-Harariyy, who is the shaykh of the Shafi^iyy madhhab and the Rifa^iyy tariqah today.
These aforementioned are among the most famous scholars of this nation--and they are the followers of Imam Abul-Hasan al-Ash^ariyy. Others, not mentioned, like at-Tahawiyy and other scholars of the Hanafiyy school were followers of Imam al-Maturidiyy, who, like Imam Abul-Hasan al-Ash^ariy, supported the methodology of Ahl us-Sunnah wal-Jama^ah.
Among the followers of Imam al-Ash^ariyy were many government officials and sultans. Among them:
- The famous government minister: Nidham al-Mulk, who was among the first to establish Islamic schools in the countries of the Muslims, the one who built the great school known as al-Madrasah an-Nidhamiyyahin Baghdad, Iraq;
- The just sultan and hero: Salahud-Din al-Ayyubiyy, who defeated the Crusaders in the battle of Hittin, and drove them out of Jerusalem. Salahud-Din al-Ayyubiyy ordered the matters of the creed, according to the methodology of Imam al-Ash^ariyy to be recited on the top of the minarets every morning after the call (adhan) for the Subh prayer. Ibnu Hibah al-Makkiyy, a famous Ash^ariyy scholar, authored a book pertaining to the creed--in poetry--which he presented as a gift to Salahud-Din al-Ayyubiyy. Salahud-Din al-Ayyubiyy ordered this book taught to the children in the schools. Despite the fact Salahud-Din al-Ayyubiyy was so occupied with fighting the battles he was renowned to have fought, he took the time each day to teach his small children from a book of the ^Aqidah. He used to ask his children to recite before him what they had memorized from this book--even though he would be in the front lines, preparing for the battle-- --to ensure they held the proper creed.
- The king: al-Kamil al-Ayyubiyy, who defeated the Crusaders in Dimyat and took the King of France and other kings as prisoners of war;
- The Sultan: al-Ashraf Khalil, the son of al-MansurSayf ad-Din Qalawun, the one who completely uprooted the Crusaders from the countries of ash-Sham;
- All the sultans of the Mamluks were known to be followers of Imam Abul Hasan al-Ash^ariyy;
- The Sultan: Muhammad al-Fatih al-^Uthmaniyy, who conquered Constantinople, and about whom Imam Ahmad related the Prophet said: << Constantinople shall be opened, and praised is the army and its leader who shall open it. >> ;
- All the ^Uthmaniyy sultans who ruled were followers of Imam al-Ash^ariyy.
So, let it be known, the people of Ahl us-Sunnah are either followers of Imam al-Ash^ariyy or Imam al-Maturidiyy. For the Shafi^iyys, the Malikiyys, the Hanafiyys, and the noble among the Hanbaliyys, when talking or writing about the matters of the Religion or the Essentials of the Belief, they used and are still using the expressions of Imam al-Ash^ariyy. It was by following the methodology of Imam al-Ash^ariyy that these aforementioned defended the Religion of Islam. Imam Abu Nasr al-Qushayriyy said: "I clear myself from the person who opposes me in two matters: The love that I have for Abu Bakr, and following the creed of Imam al-Ash^ariyy."
Those are the scholars of the Religion, and all of them are Ash^ariyys. The scholars who were not Ash^ariyy were Maturidiyys and between the Ash^ariyys and the Maturidiyys, there are no differences in what pertains to the Essentials of the Belief. Although many Ash^ariyy scholars were mentioned, we did not intend to mention every single Ash^ariyy. After all, who is able to count the stars in the sky, and who can count the sand particles of the desert? The Ash^ariyys are the Knights of Knowledge and the Pioneers of Success. What has been mentioned gives one an indication of what was intended--in as much as the title of a book reflects the essence of its content.
Imam al Ash^ariyy died in the year 324. The people of Ahl us-Sunnah wept for his death. May Allah raise his rank and endow upon us the ability to follow his example.
Allah knows best.