As salamu alaykum,
Can you explain in full an article with the 12 differences between the Ash`aris & Maturidis in matters of doctrine, I want to choose one of them.
Jazak Allah Khayran.
Wa Alaikum As Salaam,
Ahl as-Sunna Wal-Jama ‘a [The Ash’aris and Maturidis]
The Ash’aris are ascribed to Imam Abi Hasan Ali ibn Isma’il al-Ash’ari. His great grandfather was Abdullah Abu Musa al-Ash’ari the Companion of the Prophet (God bless him and grant him peace). He was born in 260 AH in Basra according to the most evident report and died in 324 AH. He was known to have adopted the Shafi’i Madhhab. Abu Hasan al-Ash’ari himself began as a Mu’tazilah growing up as a student of the famous Mu’tazilah teacher Abu Ali al-Jubba’i, who taught him theology. He also took hadith from al-Saji who was one of the scholars in Baghdad. Abu Hasan later disagreed with al-Jubba’i regarding the question of ‘whether it is obligatory upon Allah to give mankind that which is best for them.
Abu Hasan al-Ash’ari later separated from this Shaikh and left the Mu’tazilah. Following this, he ascended upon the pulpit one day at the Friday assembly prayer and called with his loudest voice saying, “Whoever knows me, then you know me and whoever does not know me, I am such and such, the son of so and so. I used to say that we will not see Allah in the hereafter and that people create their own actions by what they do.’ And I make repentance to Allah from the itzal.” After this, he wrote a book termed al-Mujiz and in it, he replied to the Jahmiyyah and the Mu’tazilah. He also wrote the books termed Maqalat al-Islam and al-Ibanah and stood in defense of the correct Islamic belief.
In recent times, there have emerged groups who aim their attacks at Abu Hasan Al-Ash’ari and criticise him without justification. Such persons are not apprised of the circumstances of his time and his essential role in defending the sunni creed. In addition, throughout history, countless illustrious scholars have adopted his teachings, such as Shaikh al-Islam Hafiz Ibn Hajar ‘Askalani, the mentor of hadith scholars and author of the book Fat’h al-Bari bi Sharh Sahih al-Bukhani, which not a single Islamic scholar can dispense with. Equally, Imam An-Nawawi, one of the greatest scholars of Ahl as- Sunnah and author of Sharh Sahih Muslim and many of the other famous works, was Ash’ari. The Master of Quranic exegetes, Imam Qurtubi author of al-Jami’ Al Ahkam al-Quran, was Ash’ari. Shaikh al-Islam ibn Hajar Haytami, who wrote al-Zawajir ‘an iqtiraf al-Kaba’ir, was Ash’ari. The Shaikh of Sacred Law and hadith, Zakariyya Ansari, was Ash’ari. Likewise, Imam Abu Bakr Baqillani; Imam ‘Asqalani; Imam Nasafi; Imam Shirbini; Imam Abu Hayyan Tawhidi, author of the Quranic commentary, were Ash’ari. Indeed, the most prominent of scholars who belonged to the Ash’ari school have filled the earth from east to west.
The fundamental principles of the Ash’ari theology that were subject to opposition from the Mu’tazilah and various other sects are as follows:
1) The concept of Allah and the nature of His attributes – The Ash’aris maintain that Allah is one, unique, and eternally existent. He is not a substance, not a body, not an accident, not limited to any direction and does not occupy space. He possesses attributes such as knowledge, power, life, will, sight and speech. Regarding the attributes of Allah, two extreme views emerged; namely – the extreme attributes, the anthropomorphist [mujas.ima] and the comparers [mushabbiha]. These groups maintained that what Allah mentioned in the Quran such as hands, face, legs, eyes, and sitting on the throne must be taken in the literal corporal sense, notions that were clearly contrary to the position of Ahl as-Sunna. Such a view of the attributes of Allah is pure anthropomorphism implying Allah’s bodily existence. With respect to the Mu’tazilah, they held that Allah does not possess any attributes. They claimed that Allah is knowing through His essence and not through an attribute of knowledge. However, the Ash’aris held that Allah does possess attributes; and that these attributes are unlike that of mankind.
2) The actions of servants – The Ash’aris maintain that all actions (be they good or evil) are the creation of Allah. For Allah alone is the creator and that is His prerogative. He said [He has created all things],’ and actions are without doubt one of those created things. The Mu’tazilah believes that the servant is the creator of his actions and believe that if Allah creates the action, then punishment is injustice. However, the position of Ahl as-Sunna is that whilst the action is created by Allah, it is the servant who chooses the act and goes toward it and for that he is held responsible.
The issue of free will – On the question of free will or on the ability of man to choose and produce actions, the Ash’aris again opposed the extreme views and adopted the intermediary position between that held by the Jabriyya and that held by the Qadariyya and others respectively. On the one hand the Jabriyya claimed a pure fatalistic view that man has no choice in any matter; rather everything they contend is from God. As a consequence, they committed the most evil acts and maintained that they were not at fault. On the other side of the scale, the Qadariyya and Mu’tazilah held that man has full power to produce an action and he does not require any divine help. The Ash’aris responded to this notion saying that there is a distinction between creation [khalq] and acquisition [kasb] of action. Allah, according to the Ash’aris is the creator of human actions and man the acquisitor. Actions are created by Allah as the servants are not capable of creating any action. There is no creator except Allah and the actions of man therefore are Allah’s creation. Power, according to the Ash’aris is either eternal [qadim] or originated [haaditha]. Originated power cannot create anything. The power possessed by man is given by Allah and as such it is derived or originated. Allah alone creates, because absolute creation is His right. Allah creates in man the power and ability to perform an act. He also creates in him the power to make a free choice between alternatives. Man is free only in making the choice between alternatives and also in intending the particular action freely chosen. Therefore, the true position of the AHL AS-SUNNA is that man is the aquisitor of the act he intended, while the act itself is created by Allah.
3) The Eternality of the Quran- The orthodox section of the Muslims and to which the Ash’aris maintain – is that speech is one of God’s eternal attributes; and this is according to the consensus of scholars. This being the case, the Quran is the divine speech of God. The Ash’aris maintain that the Quran is composed of words and sounds, but these do not inhere in the essence of Allah; rather such tools (i.e. the words and sounds) have been used to facilitate the understanding of the meanings of the Quran. The Mu’tazilah and a section of the Rafidities held that the Quran is created. They denied all the attributes of Allah including the attribute of speech. Some of the Hanbali innovators (excluding Imam Ahmad and his companions) held that the Quran is composed of letters, words and sounds which exist in the essence of Allah and is therefore eternal. Some even went to the extreme stating that the cover and binding of the Quran are eternal. The Ash’aris replied, saying that the Quran in its meanings is uncreated and eternal; though the tools used to facilitate the understanding of such meanings (i.e. the letters, words and sounds) are created [haa-dith].
4) The Beatific Vision of Allah – The Ash’aris held that seeing Allah in the hereafter is true for the righteous. The Mu’tazilah denied the vision of Allah in the hereafter as that would imply that Allah is a corporeal body and would demand that Allah be in a place; yet He has no place and is not a corporeal body. They claim that if Allah could be seen, He must have a body and all other bodies would be like Him in respect to their corporeality. This view was in contrast to that held by early Muslims that Allah will be seen in the hereafter by the righteous believers. They held that whatever exists is possible to be seen.
5) The Mu’tazilah claims that the justice of Allah makes it obligatory upon Him not to do anything contrary to justice and equity. It is the unanimous verdict of the Mu’tazilah that the wise can only do what is beneficial and good and that Allah’s wisdom always keeps in view that which is beneficial for His servants. Therefore, He cannot be unkind or cruel to them. He cannot bring into effect evil deeds. He cannot renounce what is salutary and beneficial. He cannot ask His servants to do that which is impossible. The position of Ahl as-Sunna is clear in this regard and it is as He says [He does what He likes],’ and [He is not questioned about what He does, but they will be questioned]. It is absurd to claim that Allah must act in a particular way in His kingdom. In saying this, it must be noted that whatever He does is full of wisdom.
6) The issue of reason and revelation and the criterion of good and evil – The Ash’aris
differ from the Mu’tazilah on the question of whether reason or revelation should be the basis or source of truth and reality. Their differences pertained to the question of whether revelation or reason is more primary and essential and in case of a conflict, whether reason or revelation is to get preference. The Mu’tazilah held that reason is more fundamental and primary than revelation and is to be preferred over revelation. Revelation merely confirms what is accepted by reason, and if there be a conflict between the two, reason is to be preferred and revelation
is be so interpreted as to be in conformity with the dictates of reason.
The Ash’aris maintained that revelation is more primary as the source of ultimate truth and reality, and reason should merely confirm what is given by revelation. The Ash’aris give preference to revelation in case of a conflict between the two. The basis of the Ash’ari view is that Islam is based on certain fundamental principles or concepts, which are incapable of rational proof. These principles must first be believed on the basis of revelation. Revelation is thus, the real basis of the truth and reality of these base doctrines of Islam. Reason, therefore must be subordinate to revelation. Its function is to rationalize faith in the basic principles of Islam and not to question the validity or truth of the principles of Islam on the of revelation as embodied in the Quran or Sunah.
The Maturidis are ascribed to Muhammad ibn Muhammad ibn Mahmud, Abu Mansur al Maturidy, “Imam of the Theologians” And the name Maturid is a name of a city in Samarqand (which is present day Uzbekistan). He died in 333 AH after the death of Abu Hasan al-Ash’ari; and he had adopted the Hanafi school of thought. Imam Maturidy was not one of the followers of Abu Hasan alAsh’ari because Imam Maturidy was expounding the doctrine of Ahl as-Sunna from Abu Hanifa and his companions well before Ash’ari. Additionally, Abu Muhammad Abdullah ibn Sa’id al-Qattan expounded the doctrine of the Ahl as- Sunna before al-Ash’ari. Abu Mansur al-Maturidy was a great devout scholar who authored many books; namely, al-Maqalat, at-Tawhid, Rawa’id al-Adillah and Ta’wil al-Quran.
Abu Mansur al-Maturidy and Abu Hasan al-Ash’ari belonged to the same period both striving for the same cause and objective, which was to defend the established beliefs of Ahl as-Sunna wal Jama’a from the attack of innovators, predominantly the Mu’tazilah. There were minor differences in their methods, though it did not generate any considerable dissimilarity in their theological teachings. For example, Ash’ari did not give much preference to reason in the presence of Sacred texts, whereas Maturidy was more inclined to reconcile between reason and transmitted text. However, such minor differences are not theologically significant. In addition, the majority of the followers from the Hanafi school of jurisprudence have traditionally followed the Maturidy school of theology. Although one third of them, along with three quarters of the Shafi’is, all the Malikis and some Hanbalis adhere to the Ash’ari school.(Ar Risala An Naafi’a wal Hujjah Al Qaati’a Fi ilm At Tawheed pgs.18-22).
It is to be observed that al-Maturidi did not build up any new creed in theology, but elaborated the system of Imam Abu Hanfa in the light of philosophical reasoning and provided for it a firm basis by scholastic arguments.’ It was the Mu’tazilites, Ibn Fadi Allah al-‘Umari (d. 74/1340) asserts, who, exasperated by the logical and critical argumentations of al-Maturidi, used to term Ahl al-Sunna wa Jama’a after him and call the followers of Imam Abu Hanifa “al-Maturidiyya.”. Nevertheless, al-Maturidi was a thorough dialectician and his main endeavour had been to provide a sound philosophical basis for the views of the Imam and to strengthen them with scholastic grounding, and he did it so elegantly and perfectly that this system is equally attributed to its founder as well as to its expounder who determined its ultimate form and won unwavering acceptance from the general populace of the Sunnite Muslim world.
Al-Maturidi laid down his system on the principles of Hikma (divine wisdom, and Tanzih (freedom from similitude). To him, Hikma means placing a thing in its right place, and it includes both ‘Adl (justice) and Fadl (grace and goodness).
Allah possesses absolute power, and His absoluteness is not subject to any external laws, but His own wisdom.
On the principle of Hikma, Al-Maturidi contested the Mutazilites’ doctrine that Allah can only do what is salutary (al-aslah) on the one hand, and the orthodox view that He may overburden His servants (taklif ma la yutaq) on the other; and applying this principle he tried to prove for the human being certain amount of freedom without denying His all-pervading will, power and decree. It is contrary to divine wisdom to ask anybody to do anything which is impossible or to place a burden on any creature greater than it can bear, such as to compel a blind man to ‘see’, or to command one who has no hands to ‘stretch hands’.(Tawilaat).
Al- Maturidi vehemently criticised the Mutazilites’ doctrine of al-aslah which, according to him, led them to deny Allah’s freedom of action and made Him quite helpless and subject to external compulsion. Divine justice, in al-Maturidi’s opinion, does not consist in doing what is salutary to an individual, but in giving a thing its right place and in doing an action on its intrinsic value and merit.(At Tawheed).
On the principle of Tanzih, Al-Maturidi, without denying divine attributes, withstands all forms of tasbih (similitude) and tajslim (anthromorphism). He holds that the anthropomorphic expressions used in the Quran like “hands”, “Face”, “Eyes” of God and His sitting on the “Throne” should not be taken in their literal sense as it contradicts the explicit verses of the Qur’an, because there cannot be any contradiction in the verses of the Qur’an. Where the apparent sense of a verse appears to be at variance with what has been established by the self-explaining and precise (muhkam) verses, it must then be believed that the apparent sense was never intended, and in such cases the particular verse should be interpreted in the light of the clear passages of Tanzih in a manner consistent with the doctrine of Tawhid and permissible according to the usage and idiom of the Arabic language, or its true meaning should be left to the knowledge of Allah (tafwid).(At Tawheed).
Both reason and revelation occupy a very important place in al Maturidi’s views The articles of Islamic belief according to him emanate from revelation and the function of reason is to admit them intelligibly and correctly. If the real meaning of revelation is correctly understood, there should be no conflict whatsoever with reason He disavows intuition (ilham) as a source of knowledge and asserts that because of want of a common standard of judgement and lack of universal basis for agreement intuitive knowledge is bound to create chaos and confusion in attaining true knowledge.(At Tawheed).`
The sources of human knowledge, according to al Maturidi, are three (i) Perfect sense-organs (al-Hawas al-salima); (ii) Sound reason (al Uqul al-mustaqima, al-nazar); and (iii) Correct reports (al-Akhbar al-sadiqa)” Reports are of two kinds (i) Reports of the Prophets (Akhbar al-rusul) ; and (ii) Historical reports (Akhbar almutawatira). Reports are, in general, the means of acquiring knowledge regarding past events, distant lands, useful or harmful things, foodstuff, genealogies, medicine and so on. (At Tawheed).
He has severely criticized both the groups who think that reason cannot give us true knowledge, or that reason alone is enough to provide us with all knowledge. In refuting the Ideas of the former, al-Maturidi argues that it is reason and reason alone which distinguishes men from animals and this is why the Qur’an enjoins man time and again to think, to ponder, and to judge by applying reason in order to attain the truth. He further holds that those who reject the use of reason and think that reason cannot give true knowledge cannot prove their doctrine without employing reason. In combating the views of the latter, he maintains that reason like sense-organs has its limit beyond which it cannot soar. Sometimes the true nature of the human intellect is obscured and influenced by internal and external factors such as desire, motive, habit, environment, association and so on, and, as a result, it even fails to give us true knowledge of things that are within its own sphere. Hence, reason is in need of a guide who will protect it from straying and help it attaining the truth. According to him, this guide is the divine revelation received by a Prophet. Anyone who denies the necessity of this divine guidance through revelation and claims that reason alone is enough to provide us with all the knowledge we need, certainly overburdens his reason and opresses it quite unreasonably.
Explainations given by Al Maturidi.
According to Imam Abu Hanifa, faith consist of knowledge (ma’rifa), belief (tasdiq), and confession of faith (iqrar).
Al-Maturidi holds the same view but with an explanation; to him knowledge is the basis of faith and confession is not an integral part of faith but an indication (‘alama) of it, a condition for the enforcement of Islamic laws and a guarantee for the enjoyment of the rights and privileges of the Muslim community. Thus the belief based on the knowledge of Allah is the foundation of faith.
As regards the relation between faith and action (ama1), al-Maturidi has followed the views of the Imam and maintained that the two are closely related essential elements of Islam, but they are not identical. The term al-Din includes both faith and action, but they are distinct from each other. In order to have a comprehensive idea, a summary of the opinion of Imam Abu Hanfa on this vital point is given below. According to him, ‘Faith is a living condition of the heart, an absolute and indelible entity having its own existence independent of action. Faith is not liable to increase, or decrease. Faith is impaired by doubt. The faithful are equal in faith but different in degree of superiority on the ground of practice. No Muslim should be declared devoid of faith on account of any sin unless he declares it to be lawful. A believer who died unrepentant, even though guilty of mortal sins, would not remain in hell for ever, Allah may grant him forgiveness or punish him in accordance with his sins.
It may be observed here that although Al Tahawi like al Maturidi was the follower of Imam Abu Hanfa, he held a different view on this point and excluded “Knowledge” from the definition of faith and maintained that it consists of “belief and confession” alone. It is true that he was not in favour of including “knowledge” in the definition of faith, but he was fully conscious of the cognitive aspect of it. Apparently to avoid the theological controversies and perhaps to give the question a practical bias, Al-Tahawi substituted the phrase Ahl al-qibla for Mu’min and Muslim.
It is a necessity for human understanding to ascribe to the Creator of the universe some names and attributes but human languages do not possess any term to explain the nature of any attributes of Allah in a way that will not imply any idea of resemblance or comparison. About the nature of divine attributes two extreme views were rampant in al Maturidi’s time. On the one hand the Corporealists, the Attributists and the Anthropomorphist held that all the attributes of Allah mentioned in the Qur’an must be taken in their literal sense, Such a view of the attributes of Allah is pure anthropomorphism. On the other hand, Mu’tazilites maintained that Allah is one, eternal, absolute and uniqe Being having no touch of dualism or pluralism
In Him. His essence is self-contained. He does not possess any attribute whatsoever apart from His essence.
Refuting the views of the Mu’tazilites, Al- Maturidi contends that when it is agreed that Allah has beautiful names then it will be quite futile-to apply them to Him divested of the meaning and contents which they imply, otherwise it will be reasonable to ascribe to Him any name whatsoever. So, for example, when we say that Allah is wise, it must mean that He possesses the quality of wisdom. The consequences of the denial of the divine attributes (ta’til) are far more detrimental than those of their affirmation; for the idea of ‘anthropomorphism or pluralism that may arise due to the affirmation of the eternal attributes can easily be eradicated by firm belief in the absolute unity of Allah together with the principle of Tanzih on the one hand, and following the doctrine of Mukhalafa on the other. Al-Maturidi here held that the attributes of Allah are unique and basically different from those of the created beings and as such should not be compared to them. If any quality or term is applied to Allah, it must be understood in a unique sense and never in the sense in which it is normally used when applied to created beings. Thus when we say that ” Allah is knowing”, we also add to this. “but not like the learned, and His knowledge is not like our Knowledge”. This is known as the doctrine of Mukhalafa.
As to the relation between Allah ‘s essence and His attribute Al-Maturidi holds the view of Imam Abu Hanifa on this question that “they are neither He, nor other than He” (la Huwa wa la ghairuhu). According to al-Maturidi, this phrase means that the attributes of Allah are neither identical with nor distinct from His essence. As regards the difficulties involved in answering this question, Al Maturidi observed that the problem is so complicated that no human reason can hope to solve it satisfactorily. So we should be content with ascribing to Allah the qualities which He Himself ascribed to Himself, without any similitude, comparison, and asking how.
Regarding the attributes of Allah, either belonging to His essence or to His action, Al- Maturidi holds that both the kinds of attributes are eternal in order to denote the attributes pertaining to action the word takwin, as distinct from qudra, has been used. So Allah is the creator before and after the creation. It does not imply, in any way, the eternity of the world, because as knowledge and power are eternal attributes, though their objects are created, takwin is an eternal attribute although its object mukawwan is created.
Regarding the speech of Allah (kalam Allah) Al-Maturidi is in agreement with the orthodox section and holds that like all other divine attributes, the speech of Allah as well as His attribute of speaking is eternal. But as regards the relation of the eternal speech with the revealed Qur’an, he holds it to be a creation of Allah. He argues that the divine speech cannot be composed of sounds and letters like human speech, because sounds and letters are created. So, actually, only the “meaning” of which the words are an expression can be termed as the speech of Allah, and this “meaning” which existed with Allah from eternity can be heard and understood only through the medium of created sound.(At Tawheed; At Tawilaat).
On this issue, of Imam Abu Hanifa says, “We confess that the Qur’an is the uncreated speech of Allah; Inspiration or revelation from Him is neither He nor other than He, but His quality in reality, written in the copies, recited by the tongues and preserved in the bosoms. The ink, the paper, the writing are created, for they are works of human beings. The speech of Allah, on the other hand, is uncreated; the writings, the letters, the words, and the verses are signs (dalalat) of the Qur’an for the sake of human needs. The speech of Allah is self existing and its meaning is understood by means of these symbols. Whosoever says that the speech of Allah is created he is an infidel. His speech, though recited, written, and retained in the hearts, is yet never dissociated from Him.(Kitab Al Wasiyya).
The relation between Allah and human action.
The Qur’an has laid equal stress both on the all pervading divine will, eternal decree, and infinite power, on the one hand, and the freedom of human will and action, on the other. The Prophet and his companions discussed these problems and declared that qadar does not deprive a man of his freedom in his limited sphere. Al-Maturidi has dealt at length with different aspects of the problem, such as the divine will, the infinite power, the eternal decree, the creative function of Allah; His wisdom and the existence of evil in this world; freedom of human will and action; and the basis of religious obligation and responsibility etc. He made a bold attempt to harmonize the conflicting views of the self-determinists and the pre-determinists by laying due emphasis on the freedom of acquisition (iktisab) and the freedom of choice (Ikhtiyar).
According to al-Maturidi, the relation between Allah and man is not the same as that between Allah and physical world. Allah has created man with natural dispositions (fitra), endowed him with intellect, bestowed upon him the faculty of thinking, willing, judging and choosing, and the power of distinguishing between right and wrong; then addressed him through His messengers and revealed books for his guidance. Man inclines to what he thinks may benefit him and refrains from what he thinks may harm him; chooses one of the alternative courses of action by applying his own reason, and reckons himself responsible for the merits and demerits of his actions. Now, while he thinks, desires, chooses, and finally acts, he always finds himself quite free and never thinks or feels that any outside agency compels him to do any of his actions. This consciousness of freedom is a reality, and the denial of it is, virtually, the denial of all human knowledge and sciences. He further argues that Allah has granted man freedom of choice and necessary power to perform his actions. The denial of this freedom will hold Allah solely responsible for all human actions good or bad -and liable to reproach or punishment for sins committed by man yet on the Day of Judgement He will punish them, not because of the sins they committed but because of His own actions This is absolutely absurd and contrary to reason as well as to revelation.(At- Tawheed; Tawilaat)
Regarding the question of reconcilement of human freedom with the Qur anic conception of divine will infinite power and eternal decree, al-Maturidi, has quite elaborately held the following views- of Imam Abu Hanifa on this problem. ‘All the acts of man, his moving as well as his resting – are truly his own acquisitions, but Allah creates them and they are caused by His will, His decree and His decision’. (Al Wasiyya;Al Fiqhul Akbar). According to al-Maturidi creation (khalaq) belongs to Allah alone, and it means the bringing forth of an action from non-existence into existence by one who possesses absolute power and complete knowledge in respect of that action. Man possesses neither absolute power nor complete knowledge, nor is he in the know of all the circumstances causes conditions and the results of his action, so he cannot be the creator (khaliq) of his action. Allah is the creator of his action and His creation is preceded by His will determined by His knowledge. For, Allah has knowledge concerning things before they existed from eternity, and His will, decree, decision, and writing on the Preserved Tablet are in accordance with this foreknowledge.(At Tawheed) When a man in the free exercise of his reason, chooses and intends to perform an action, Allah creates action. Thus, Allah wills an action— good or bad—which He knows a man will choose and when ultimately he chooses and intends to acquire it, Allah creates that act for him. Allah willing or creating an evil action is not repugnant to His wisdom, because He wills it in accordance with the individual’s exercise of free choice, but being wise and just, He always prohibits the choice of evil. So, though sins are in accordance with the divine will, they are never in accordance with the divine guidance or pleasure, and hence sin does not consist in going against the divine will, but in violating the divine law, infringing the divine guidance, and going against the divine pleasure. Because, this sin is man’s own act, his own acquisition, preferred by his free-will which God created in him, and is not due to any compulsion from Him. On this ground, al-Maturidi holds that the basis of man’s obligation (taklif) is his freedom of choice and acquisition, and not his possessing power to create an action. He maintains that the divine judgement (qada) and decree (qadar) are eternal records based on foreknowledge and hence they are not inconsistent with human freedom.
It may be observed here that al-Ash’ari holds a different view, on this question.
Besides the Qur’anlc verses, traditions (ahadith) on this point have been narrated by not less than thirty Companions of the Prophet (SAS). They discussed this question with great fervour and evinced keen interest in knowing whether the Prophet (SAS) saw his Lord in his Ascent to Heaven (mi’raj), whether the believers will see Him in the next world, and so on. All these inquiries of the Companions clearly indicate that they were fully conscious of the difficulties involved in answering these questions. But they all accepted this as such, like the problem of essence and attributes, and refrained from a detailed discussion of such matters as cannot be comprehended by human intellect. They believed in it without description (wasf) or rational explanation (ta’wil). They regarded the vision of Allah in Paradise as the highest blessing and happiness for the faithful and considered it to be the “summum bonum” of their life.(An Nawawi-SharhMuslim).
In the subsequent period, this belief was exploited by the Anthropomorphist for the sake of their crude anthro pomorphic conception of Allah, in opposition of which Jahm ibn Safwan (killed. 131/748) laid paramount importance on the principle of Tanzih and denied, for the first time, the vision of God in paradise.(Al Milal- Shahrastani). Al-Maturidi here stuck a middle-path, upholding the views of the Companions of the Prophet (SAS.) and discarded both anthropomorphic and allegorical interpretations of “seeing Allah “, According to him, confusion arose because of some people’s misleading attempt to compare the vision of Allah in Paradise with the vision of a material object in this world. Allah will be seen by the faithful in Paradise with their bodily eyes, but without any idea of place, direction, distance, comparison or modality and without any description whatsoever. Conditions of vision differ from genus to genus person to person and stage to stage. There are many things in existence but we do not see them. Conditions of seeing shadow, darkness and rays of light are not the same as those of seeing some solid material objects. Now, it is evident that it would be quite absurd to apply the conditions of seeing a physical object in this world to the seeing of the Being which is not a body in the next world, where conditions will be totally different from these in this world. Al-Maturidi has employed many more arguments in favour of his contention and assorted that the Corporealists erred in saying that Allah is a body because He will be seen, and the Mu’tazilites erred in saying that He cannot be seen because He is not a body. But we say that Allah is invisible in this world and He will be seen by the faithful in Paradise and this vision of Allah is the highest spiritual attainment, intellectual delight and the most coveted reward of the believers.(At Tawheed).
Darul Uloom Trinidad And Tobago.