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Abu al-Hasan al-Ash'ari

Muslim scholar
Abu al-Hasan Ali ibn Ismaʻel al-Ashʻari
Title al-Ash'ari
Born AH 260 (873/874)
Died AH 324 (935/936)
Ethnicity Arab
Era Islamic golden age
Religion Islam
Jurisprudence Sunni
Main interest(s) Islamic theology
Notable work(s) Maqālāt al-eslāmīyīn,[1] Ketāb al-loma,[2] Ketāb al-ebāna'an osūl al-dīāna[3]

Abū al-Hasan Alī ibn Ismā'īl al-Ash'arī (874–936) (Arabic: ابو الحسن علي ابن إسماعيل اﻷشعري‎) was a Shafi'i scholar and theologian who founded the school of tenets of faith that bears his name (Ash'ari).[4]


  • Biography 1
  • Views 2
  • Genealogy 3
  • Legacy 4
  • Works 5
  • Early Islam scholars 6
  • References 7
  • Further reading 8


Al-Ash'ari was born in Basra,[5] Iraq, and was a descendant of the famous companion of Muhammad, Abu Musa al-Ashari.[4] As a young man he studied under al-Jubba'i, a renowned teacher of Mu'tazilite theology and philosophy.[6] He remained a Mutazalite until his fortieth year when al-Ash'ari saw Muhammad in a dream 3 times in Ramadan. Muhammad told him to support what was related from himself, that is, the traditions (hadiths).[7] After this experience, he left the Mu'tazalites and became one of its most distinguished opponents, using the philosophical methods he had learned.[5] 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 Mutazalite colleagues. He is said to have written up to three hundred works, from which only four or five are known to be extant.[8]


After leaving the Mu'tazili school, al-Ash'ari formulated the theology of Sunni Islam.[9] He was followed in this by a large number of distinguished scholars, most of whom belonged to the Shafi'i school of law.[10] The most famous of these are Abul-Hassan Al-Bahili, Abu Bakr Al-Baqillani, al-Juwayni, Al-Razi and Al-Ghazali. Thus Al-Ash'ari’s school became, together with the Maturidi, the main schools reflecting the beliefs of the Sunnah.[10]

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.[11]

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.[11]

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.[10] 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.[10]


  1. Abu Musa al-Ashari
  2. Abi Barda
  3. Bilal (Ruler of Basra)
  4. Musa
  5. Abdullah
  6. Ismail
  7. Salim
  8. Abu Bashr Ishaq
  9. Ismail
  10. Abul Hasan Ashari


Shah Waliullah, an 18th century Sunni Islamic scholar stated:

A Mujadid appears at the end of every century: The Mujadid of the first century was Imam of Ahlul Sunnah, Umar bin Abdul Aziz. The Mujadid of the second century was Imam of Ahlul Sunnah Muhammad Idrees Shaafi. The Mujadid of the third century was the Imam of Ahlul Sunnah, Abu al-Hasan al-Ash'ari. The Mujadid of the fourth century was Abu Abdullah Hakim Nishapuri.[12]


The Ashari scholar Ibn Furak numbers Abu al-Hasan al-Ash'ari's works at 300, and the biographer Ibn Khallikan at 55;[13] Ibn Asāker 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:

  • Maqālāt al-islāmīyīn,[1] it comprises not only an account of the Islamic sects but also an examination of problems in kalām, 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 Mutaziltes.
  • Kitāb al-luma[2]
  • Kitāb al-ibāna 'an usūl al-diyāna,[3] is according to his disciples a forgery[14] attributed to Al-Ashari; a supposed exposition of his developed theological views and arguments against Mutazilite doctrines where he recanted his previous beliefs. But the Salafists generally claim that it marks his late repentance et his return to the bleifs of the "salaf". The book was supposedly written after he repented from his orthodox Ahlus Sunnah beliefs to heterodoxical anthropomorphic beliefs following his encounter with the extreme sectarian outlaw Al-Hasan ibn 'Ali al-Barbahari and was primarily an attempt to call his previous followers back to Islam.[15]

Early Islam scholars


  1. ^ a b ed. H. Ritter, Istanbul, 1929-30
  2. ^ a b ed. and tr. R.C. McCarthy, Beirut, 1953
  3. ^ a b tr. W.C. Klein, New Haven, 1940
  4. ^ a b I.M.N. Al-Jubouri, History of Islamic Philosophy: With View of Greek Philosophy and Early History of Islam, p 182. ISBN 0755210115
  5. ^ a b John L. Esposito, The Islamic World: Abbasid-Historian, p 54. ISBN 0195165209
  6. ^ Marshall Cavendish Reference, Illustrated Dictionary of the Muslim World, p 87. ISBN 0761479295
  7. ^ William Montgomery Watt, Islamic Philosophy and Theology, p 84. ISBN 0202362728
  8. ^ I. M. Al-Jubouri, Islamic Thought: From Mohammed to September 11, 2001, p 177. ISBN 1453595856
  9. ^ John L. Esposito, The Oxford History of Islam, p 280. ISBN 0199880417
  10. ^ a b c d
  11. ^ a b Jeffry R. Halverson, Theology and Creed in Sunni Islam: The Muslim Brotherhood, Ash'arism, and Political Sunnism, p 77. ISBN 0230106587
  12. ^ Izalat al-Khafa, p. 77, part 7.
  13. ^ Beirut, III, p.286, tr. de Slaine, II, p.228
  14. ^
  15. ^ Richard M. Frank, Early Islamic Theology: The Mu'tazilites and al-Ash'ari, Texts and studies on the development and history of kalām, vol. 2, pg. 172. Farnham: Ashgate Publishing, 2007. ISBN 9780860789789
  16. ^ The Quran
  17. ^ The Great Fiqh
  18. ^ Al-Muwatta'
  19. ^ Sahih al-Bukhari
  20. ^ Sahih Muslim
  21. ^ Jami` at-Tirmidhi
  22. ^ Mishkât Al-Anwar
  23. ^ The Niche for Lights
  24. ^ Women in Islam: An Indonesian Perspective by Syafiq Hasyim. Page 67
  25. ^ ulama,
  26. ^ 1.Proof & Historiography - The Islamic Evidence.
  27. ^ Atlas Al-sīrah Al-Nabawīyah. Darussalam, 2004. Pg 270
  28. ^ Umar Ibn Abdul Aziz by Imam Abu Muhammad ibn Abdullah ibn Hakam died 829

Further reading

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