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Ab? al-?asan al-Ash?ar?
A depiction of Baghdad from 1808, taken from the print collection in Travels in Asia and Africa, etc. (ed. J. P. Berjew, British Library); al-Ash?ar? spent his entire life in this city in the twelfth-century
Scholastic theologian; Champion of Islam Im?m of the Scholastic Theologians Im?m of the Sunnis
Maqalat al-Islamiyyin wa Ikhtilaf al-Musallin (The Treatises of the Islamic Schools), al-Luma' fi al-Rad 'ala Ahl al-Ziyagh wa al-Bida' (Refutation to Heresy), Al-Ibanah 'an Usul al-Diyanah, Risalah ila Ahl al-Thaghr
Al-Ash?ar? (?; full name: Ab? al-?asan ?Al? ibn Isml ibn Isq al-Ash?ar?; c. 874-936 (AH 260-324), reverentially Im?m al-Ash?ar?) was an ArabSunni Muslimscholastic theologian and eponymous founder of Ash?arism or Asharite theology, which would go on to become "the most important theological school in Sunni Islam".
According to scholar Jonathan A.C. Brown, although "the Ash'ari school of theology is often called the SunniSufi 'orthodoxy,'" "the original ahl al-hadith, early Sufi creed from which Ash'arism evolved has continued to thrive alongside it as a rival Sunni 'orthodoxy' as well." According to Brown this competing orthodoxy exists in the form of the "Hanbali/über-Sunni orthodoxy".
Al-Ash?ar? was notable for taking an intermediary position between the two diametrically opposed schools of theological thought prevalent at the time:
He opposed both the Mu?tazilites, who advocated the extreme use of reason in theological debate, and the Zahirites, Mujassimites and Muhaddithin,
who were entirely opposed to the use of reason or kalam, and condemned any theological debate altogether.
Al-Ash?ari's school eventually won "wide acceptance within some sects of Sunni Islam,However the Shia & Salafi groups do not accept his beliefs.As Ashari made mistakes in his book entitled  concerning Shias;as well as his original versions of his text were not survived. Due to his efforts, Al-Ash?ar? came to be revered by sects of SunniSufi Muslims for having successfully "integrated the rationalist methodology of the speculative theologians into the framework of Sufi orthodox Islam."
Al-Ash'ari was born in Basra, Iraq, and was a descendant of the famous companion of Muhammad, Abu Musa al-Ashari. As a young man he studied under al-Jubba'i, a renowned teacher of Mu?tazilite theology and philosophy. He remained a Mu?tazalite until his fortieth year and he abandoned al-Jubba'i's doctrines in his fortieth year after asking him a question al-Jubba'i failed to resolve over the issue of the supposed divine obligation to abandon the good for the sake of the better (al-sâlih wa al-aslah). At that time he adopted the doctrines of the sifatiyya, those of Ahlu-s-Sunnah. He left Basra and came to Baghdad, taking fiqh from the Shafi`i jurist Abu Ishaq al-Marwazi (d. 340). He devoted the next twenty-four years to the refutation of "the Mu`tazila, the Rafida, the Jahmiyya, the Khawarij, and the rest of the various kinds of innovators" in the words of al-Khatib. His student Bundar related that his yearly expenditure was a meagre seventeen dirhams. His three best-known disciples were al-B?hil?, a?-?u?l?k?, and Ibn Muj?hid, all of whom transmitted the doctrines of their master to what later became the flourishing school of Khor?s?n. After al-Ash?ar? died, his disciples slowly disentangled the main lines of doctrine that eventually became the stamp of the Ash?arite school.
Al-Ash'ari saw Muhammad in a dream 3 times in Ramadan. The first time, Muhammad told him to support what was related from himself, that is, the traditions (hadiths). Al-Ash'ari became worried as he had numerous strong proofs contradictory to the traditions. After 10 days, he saw Muhammad again: Muhammad reiterated that he should support the traditions. So Al-Ash'ari forsook Kalam and started following the traditions alone. On the 27th night of Ramadan, he saw Muhammad for the last time. Muhammad told him that he had not commanded him to forsake Kalam, he had only told him to support the traditions narrated from him (Muhammad). Thereupon Al-Ash'ari started to advocate the Hadith, finding proofs for these that he said he had not read in any books.
After this experience, he left the Mu?tazalites and became one of its most distinguished opponents, using the philosophical methods he had learned. Al-Ash'ari then spent the remaining years of his life engaged in developing his views and in composing polemics and arguments against his former Mu?tazalite colleagues. He is said to have written up to three hundred works, of which only four or five are known to be extant.
In line with Sunni tradition, al-Ash'ari held the view that a Muslim should not be considered an unbeliever on account of a sin even if it were an enormity such as drinking wine or theft. This opposed the position held by the Khawarij.
Al-Ash'ari also believed it impermissible to violently oppose a leader even if he were openly disobedient to the commands of the sacred law.
Al-Ash'ari spent much of his works opposing the views of the Mu?tazili school. In particular, he rebutted them for believing that the Qur'an was created and that deeds are done by people of their own accord. He also rebutted the Mu?tazili school for denying that Allah can hear, see and has speech. Al-Ash'ari confirmed all these attributes stating that they differ from the hearing, seeing and speech of creatures, including man.
The Ashari scholar Ibn Furak numbers Abu al-Hasan al-Ash'ari's works at 300, and the biographer Ibn Khallikan at 55; Ibn As?ker gives the titles of 93 of them, but only a handful of these works, in the fields of heresiography and theology, have survived. The three main ones are:
Maqalat al-Islamiyyin wa Ikhtilfa al-Musallin ("The Discourses of the Proponents of Islam and the Differences Among the Worshippers"), an encyclopaedia of deviated Islamic sects., it comprises not only an account of the Islamic sects but also an examination of problems in kal?m, or scholastic theology, and the Names and Attributes of Allah; the greater part of this works seems to have been completed before his conversion from the Mu?taziltes.
Al-Luma` fi-r-Radd `ala Ahl al-Zaygh wa al-Bida` ("The Sparks: A Refutation of Heretics and Innovators"), a slim volume.
Al-Luma` al-Kabir ("The Major Book of Sparks"), a preliminary to Idah al-Burhan and, together with the Luma` al-Saghir, the last work composed by al-Ash`ari according to Shaykh `Isa al-Humyari.
Al-Luma` as-Saghir ("The Minor Book of Sparks"), a preliminary to al-Luma` al-Kabir.
Kit?b al-ib?na 'an us?l al-diy?na,. The authenticity of this book has been called into question. For example, Richard McCarthy, in his Theology of Ash'ari, writes, "...I am unable to subscribe wholeheartedly to the proposition that the ib?na, in the form in which we have it, is a genuine work of al-Ash'ari," comparing the creed in that book to the creed found in al-Ash'ari's Maq?l?t.
Other titles are:
Adab al-Jadal ("The Etiquette of Disputation").
Al-Asma' wa al-Ahkam ("The Names and the Rulings"), which describes the divergences in the terminology of the scholars and their understanding of the general and the particular.
Al-Dafi` li al-Muhadhdhab ("The Repelling of `The Emendation'"), a refutation of al-Khalidi's book by that title.
Al-Funun ("The Disciplines"), a refutation of atheists. A second book bearing that title was also written, on the disciplines of kalâm.
Al-Fusul ("The Sub-Headings") in twelve volumes, a refutation of the philosophers, perennialists, and members of various religions such as Brahmans, Jews, Christians, and Zoroastrians. It contains a refutation of Ibn al-Rawandi's claim that the world exists without beginning.
Idah al-Burhan fi al-Radd `ala Ahl al-Zaygh wa al-Tughyan ("The Clarification of the Proof in the Refutation of Heretics"), a preliminary to al-Mujaz.
Al-Idrak ("The Awareness"), on the disciplines that address the subtleties of dialectic theology.
Al-Istita`a ("Potency"), a refutation of the Mu`tazila.
Al-Jawabat fi al-Sifat `an Masa'il Ahl al-Zaygh wa al-Shubuhat ("The Replies Pertaining to the Attributes On the Questions and Sophistries of Heretics"), al-Ash`ari's largest work, a refutation of all the Mu`tazili doctrines he had upheld previously.
Al-Jawhar fi al-Radd `ala Ahl al-Zaygh wa al-Munkar ("The Essence: Refutation of the People of Heresy and Transgression").
Al-Jism ("The Body"), a proof of the Mu`tazila's inability to answer essential questions that pertain to corporeality, contrary to Ahl al-Sunna.
Jumal al-Maqalat ("The Sum of Sayings"), which lists the positions of atheists and the positions of monotheists.
Khalq al-A`mal ("The Creation of Deeds"), a refutation of the doctrine of the Mu`tazila and Qadariyya whereby man creates his own deeds.
Maqalat al-Falasifa ("The Sayings of Philosophers").
Al-Masa'il `ala Ahl al-Tathniya ("The Questions in Refutation of the Dualists").
Al-Mujaz ("The Concise") in twelve volumes, which identifies and describes the various Islamic sects. It contains a refutation of the Shi`i doctrines of the questioning of Abu Bakr al-Siddiq's ( imamate and of the infallibility of the Imam in every era.
Al-Mukhtasar fi al-Tawhid wa al-Qadar ("The Abridgment: On the Doctrine of Oneness and Foreordained Destiny"), a review of the different doctrinal issues which the opponents of Ahl al-Sunna are unable to address.
Al-Mukhtazan ("The Safekeeping"), on the questions which opponents did not bring up but which pertain to their doctrines.
Al-Muntakhal ("The Sifted"), a response to questions from the scholars of Basra.
Naqd al-Balkhi fi Usul al-Mu`tazila ("Critique of al-Balkhi and the Principles of the Mu`tazila"), a refutation of the book of the Mu`tazili scholar al-Balkhi entitled Naqd Ta'wil al-Adilla ("Critique of the Interpretation of the Textual Proofs").
Al-Nawadir fi Daqa'iq al-Kalam ("The Rarities Concerning the Minutiae of Dialectic Theology").
Al-Qami` li Kitab al-Khalidi fi al-Irada ("The Subduer: A Refutation of al-Khalidi's Book on the Will"), a refutation of a-Khalidi's doctrine whereby Allah creates His own will.
Ar-Radd `ala Ibn al-Rawandi ("Refutation of Ibn al-Rawandi") concerning the Divine Attributes and the Qur'an.
Ar-Radd `ala Muhammad ibn `Abd al-Wahhab al-Jubba'i, an extensive refutation of a Mu`tazili scholar and of his book al-Usul ("The Principles").
Al-Radd `ala al-Mujassima ("Refutation of the Anthropomorphist").
A refutation of `Abbad ibn Sulayman in the minutiae of kalâm.
A refutation of a book by `Ali ibn `Isa.
A refutation of al-Balkhi's book in which the latter claimed he had rectified Ibn al-Rawandi's error in his disputation.
A refutation of al-Iskafi's book entitled al-Latif ("The Subtle").
A refutation of al-Jubba'i on the principles and conditions of scholarly investigation and the derivation of rulings.
A Refutation of al-Jubba'i's objections to al-Ash`ari on the vision of Allah in the hereafter as reported by Muhammad ibn `Umar al-Saymari.
A refutation of al-Khalidi's book on the denial of the vision of Allah in the hereafter.
A refutation of al-Khalidi's book on the denial of the creation of the deeds of human beings by Allah Almighty and Exalted according to His decision.
The refutation of the philosophers, especially the Perennialist Ibn Qays al-Dahri and Aristotle's books "On the Heavens" and "On the World."
Al-Ru'ya ("The Vision"), which affirms the vision of Allah by the believers in the hereafter, contrary to the Mu`tazili doctrine which denies the possibility of such a vision.
Al-Sharh wa al-Tafsil fi al-Radd `ala Ahl al-Ifk wa al-Tadlil ("The Detailed Explanation in Refutation of the People of Perdition"), a manual for beginners and students to read before al-Luma`.
Al-Sifat ("The Attributes"), a description of the doctrines of the Mu`tazila, Jahmiyya, and other sects that differ from Ahl al-Sunna on the topic of the Divine Attributes. It contains a refutation of Abu al-Hudhayl, Ma`mar, al-Nazzam, al-Futi, and al-Nashi, and an affirmation that the Creator possesses a face and hands.
Tafsir al-Qur'an wa al-Radd `ala man Khalafa al-Bayan min Ahl al-Ifki wa al-Buhtan ("A Commentary on the Qur'an and Refutation of Those Who Contradicted it Among the People of Perdition and Calumny") which Ibn al-`Arabi al-Maliki says numbered 500 volumes. Ibn al-Subki reports from al-Dhahabi that this Tafsir was written at a time al-Ash`ari was still a Mu`tazili.
Various epistles in response to questions from the scholars of Tabaristan, Khurasan, Arrujan, Sayraf, Amman, Jurjan, Damascus, Wasit, Ramahramuz, Baghdad, Egypt, and Persia.
Ziyadat al-Nawadir ("Addenda to `The Rarities'").
Af`al al-Nabi Sallallahu `Alayhi wa Sallam ("The Acts of the Prophet - )
Al-Akhbar ("The Reports").
Bayan Madhhab al-Nasara ("Exposition of the Doctrine of Christians")
Hikayat Madhahib al-Mujassima ("The Tales of the Schools of the Anthropomorphists"), a refutation of the proofs they adduce.
Al-Ihtijaj ("The Adducing of the Proofs").
Al-Imama ("The Doctrine of the Imam").
Ithbat al-Qiyas ("The Upholding of the Principle of Analogy").
Sessions around the lone-narrator report (al-khabar al-wâhid).
Mutashabih al-Qur'an ("The Ambiguities in the Qur'an"), in which he brought together the stands of the Mu`tazila and the atheists in their invalidations of the ambiguities in the hadith.
Naqd Ibn al-Rawandi `ala Ibtal al-Tawatur ("The Critique of Ibn al-Rawandi's Denial of Mass-Narrated Hadiths"), which contains an affirmation of the principle of Consensus (ijmâ`).
Naqd al-Mudahat ("Critique of `The Similarity'"), a refutation of al-Iskafi on the term qadar.
Naqd al-Taj `ala al-Rawandi ("The Diadem: Critique of Ibn al-Rawandi").
On questions put to al-Jubba'i concerning names and rulings.
A refutation of Abu al-Hudhayl on the limitlessness of the foreknowledge and decisions of Allah Almighty and Exalted and another on motions.
A refutation of Harith al-Warraq on the Attributes.
A refutation of the logicians.
A refutation of the proponents of metempsychosis and reincarnation.
Al-`Umad ("The Supports") on the vision of Allah in the hereafter.
Al-Wuquf wa al-`Umum ("The Abeyance of Rights and the Public at Large").
Al-Hathth `ala al-Bahth ("The Encouragement to Research").
Risala al-Iman, an epistle on Belief which discusses whether it is permissible to say that belief is created. Ibn Hajar heard it from Abu Ishaq al-Tannukhi with the latter's chain of transmission back to al-Ash`ari, through the latter's student Abu al-Hasan Ahmad ibn Muhammad ibn Miqsam al-Muqri' al-Baghdadi.
Risala ila Ahl al-Thughar ("Epistle to the People of al-Thughar"), a definition on the doctrines of Ahl al-Sunnah.
Istihsan al-Khawd fi `Ilm al-Kalam (ambiguous because he most likely wrote it - provided he actually authored it - before his conversion, since it is ostensibly directed against the Hanbalis and uses markedly Mu`tazili terminology such as "divine Oneness and Justice" (al-tawhîd wa al-`adl) in reference to the fundamentals of belief, and Allah knows best)