Preliminary Notes on the paper ‘The Disagreements Between the Ash’aris and Maturidis’

بِسْمِ اللَّـهِ الرَّحْمَـٰنِ الرَّحِيم

Book name: THE DISAGREEMENTS BETWEEN THE ASH‘ARIS  AND MATURIDIS [Original paper can be accessed here]

o    In this document, we have limited ourselves to 12 disagreements, which are:

o    One: Imam Maturidi says that Takwin (creation) is an Eternal Attribute of Allah subsisting with His Being (as do all of His Attributes). It is different from the Mukawwan (the created things). Just like Will of Allah is linked with that which is brought into existence at the time it is brought into Existence, so we say about Omnipotence and Takwin. Thus it has a contingent lineage with what is brought into being. Takwin is not an attribute in an unrestricted manner, but rather that Attribute through which actions issue forth.

o    For Al-Ash’ari, Takwin is a description of the effective linkage of power by noting its effect. Thus, Takwin and all attributes of action are contingent and do not subsist in Allah’s Being (This also includes Allah creating the beings with the command ‘Be’.)

o    Two: Al-Maturidi said that the speech of Allah is not heard at all, what is heard is that which points to it. Imam al-Ash’ari said it is heard, as is obvious from the story of Musa (Alayhi Salaam). Note that those who took Ash’aris position said that Allah’s Speech is heard without the medium of letters and sounds. Thus, Maturidi said that the Masmu’ (what is heard) only applies with to that which connects to the sense of hearing (these are the sounds which point to the Kalam Nafsi).

o    But, both Maturidi and Ashari said that the Kalam Nafsi have no real connection with the senses, and the senses have no connection with it. The disagreement is whether hearing is conditioned upon the connection of the senses (That is, all that humans can hear are letters and words, and if that is so, then no one can hear Allah’s Kalam Nafsi. Al-Ash’ari disagreed and said that the creatures may be enabled to hear something other than sounds, letters and words).

o    Three:  Maturidi said that Allah’s Being is described with wisdom, whether it takes the meaning of knowledge or of perfection/mastery (Ihkam). Wisdom is either knowledge of precise/perfected actions or it refers back to Takwin, meaning that perfection and mastery are from the implications of Takwin.

o    Al-Ashari said that if wisdom means knowledge then it is an eternal attribute subsisting in Allah’s Being and if it means perfection/mastery then it is contingent (like Takwin) and Allah’s Being cannot be described with it.

o    Four: Maturidi said that Allah wills obedience and disobedience for all beings. Obedience is through His Will, Decree, Pre-Ordainment, and Predestination, Pleasure, Love, and Command. But Disobedience is not brought about through His Pleasure, Love, or Command. (Where Command means rules of the respective Shariahs.)   

o    Al-Ash’ari said that Allah’s Love and Pleasure are inclusive of everything. What this means is that Allah loves disobedience only in the sense that He punishes on account of it, and loves obedience insofar as He rewards on account of it.

o    Five: Maturidi says that Allah can (hypothetically) burden someone with that which is not within their capacity to endure is permissible, while it is impermissible for them to be legally responsible for that [That is, Allah could ‘burden’ some normal with the task of (for example) bringing a camel out of pure rock, but it is impossible that He would hold them legally accountable for that.].

o     Al-Ash’ari says that both are (hypothetically) permissible. [Of course, here we are considering the case as per the intellect only, but as we know the Qur’an says that Allah does not burden a soul more than what it can bear.]

o    Six: Maturidi said that rulings related to Taklif are known by the intellect. This is because it is a tool through which the goodness and evil of things is known up to some good degree. Also through the mind we know of the obligation to give thanks to the Ultimate Granter of Blessings. Thus, it is made known by Allah, but through the medium of the intellect. Just as Allah made things obligatory and forbidden but through the coming of Muhammad . He also said that no one is excused (due to not receiving the message) from knowing Allah.

o    Ashari said nothing is made obligatory or forbidden except through Sacred Law; not the intellect, even if we can gain a good understanding of good and evil through the intellect. [But at the end, it does not compel us towards obligation and forbiddance, for what brings it about it the revelation].

o    Seven: Maturidi said that the wretched could become felicitous and vice versa. Al-Ash’ari said such things are not considered except at the time of death and judgment. Thus Maturidi said wretchedness and felicitousness is Disbelief and Islam respectively, while Al-Ashari said it is dying upon Disbelief and Islam.

o    Eight: Maturidi said that it is rationally impossible for disbelief to be pardoned. Al-Ash’ari said it is rationally possible but textually impermissible (Al-Ash’ari takes the full rational approach, Maturidi ‘s view is based on observing Allah’s Will). [It seems what is being referred to is Allah’s ‘Sunnah’ in dealing with His Creation.]

o    Nine: Maturidi said it is rationally impossible for disbelievers to be in Paradise or believers to be always in Hell. Al-Ashari said it is rationally possible but textually impossible.

o    Ten: Maturidi said Ism and Musamma are the same. Al-Ash’ari said no they are different, plus there is the act of naming (Tasmiya). There was also division into itself, other than itself, and neither itself nor other than itself. All agree that Tasmiya is other than Ism and Musamma, and that it what is established with the one named. [Some doubt about this last phrase. It seems to be saying that the act of naming is established with the one named.]

o    Eleven: Maturidi said that being male is a condition for Prophethood, while Al-Ash’ari disagreed.

o    Twelve: Maturidi said that action of the servant is Kasb (acquisition) and action of Allah is Khalq (Creation)- and both are real actions. Al-Ash’ari said no, action is only creation (bringing into existence), so only Allah can be described as doing actions. For servants ‘actions’ is said figuratively, it has no ontological reality.

o    As an aside, I think it will be important to relate this with the Islamic cosmological arguments. As we know, the materialists claim that causation can only be from within the things and actions of this Universe, which is why they dismiss the idea that there can be a Divine Being which is the true reason for things to come into existence. But in here (whether we take the Ash’ari or Maturidi view) we see that there is a true difference between the actions of Allah and the actions of the servant. This is relevant, since we need to know that there is a qualitative difference between actions of the human beings and contingent things, and the actions of Allah.