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CommentaryontheCreedofIslam

NUMBERXLIIIOFTHE

RECORDSOFCIVILIZATION

SOURCESANDSTUDIES

AUSTINP.EVANS,Editor

Commentaryonthe

CreedofIslam

Sa'dal-T)ina ANDNOTESBY al-T)inal-T^asaji

ontheCreedof

TRANSLATEDWITHINTRODUCTION

EARLEDGARELDER

MCML

ColumbiaUniversityTress,

COPYRIGHT1950BYCOLUMBIAUNIVERSITYPRESS,NEWYORK

PublishedinGreatBritain,Canada,andIndiaby

GeoffreyCumberlege,OxfordUniversityPress

London,Toronto,andBombay

MANUFACTUREDINTHEUNITEDSTATESOFAMERICA

RECORDSOFCIVILIZATION

SOURCESANDSTUDIES

EDITEDUNDERTHEAUSPICESOFTHE

DEPARTMENTOFHISTORY,COLUMBIAUNIVERSITY

Editor

AUSTINP.EVANS,PH.D.

ProfessorofHistory

AdvisoryBoard

DINOBIGONGIARI,DaPonteProfessorofItalian

ROGERSHERMANLOOMIS,B.LITT.,ProfessorofEnglish CARLTONJ.H.HAYES,LITT.D.,SethLowProfessorofHistory ROBERTHERNDONFIFE,L.H.D.,GebhardProfessorofthe

GermanicLanguagesandLiteratures

ROBERTMORRISONMAcIVER,LITT.D.,LieberProfessorof

PoliticalPhilosophyandSociology

DAVIDS.MUZZEY,PH.D.,GouverneurMorrisProfessorEmeritus

ofHistory

JAMEST.SHOTWELL,LL.D.,BryceProfessorEmeritusofthe

HistoryofInternationalRelations WILLIAML.WESTERMANN, L.H.D., ProfessorEmeritusof

LYNNTHORNDIKE,L.H.D.,ProfessorofHistory

AncientHistory

To0.N.E.

Preface

D,URINGrecentyearstherehasbeenarevivalofinterestinthings

mediaeval.TheNeo-Thomistschoolofphilosophyisbutoneevidenceof

this.DifferentscholarshaveremindedusthattheMiddleAgesarcnota

backwaternorabayouhavinglittleconnectionwiththegreatstreamof

intellectualmovementsinourcivilizedworld.Norcanonefullyappreci-

atethisperiodinthehistoryofEuropeandignorethecontributionsof

IslamandJudaism.Thedependenceofthetheologiansofthethreefaiths

onthemetaphysicsofAristotleforterminologyandexpressionmadefora

mutualexchangeofthoughtthatrefutesforevertheideathatthereli-

gionswhichthrivedintheMediterraneanworldexistedinisolatedcom-

partmentsordealtwithoneanotheronlythroughwarandpersecution.

EtienneGilsoninhisUnityofPhilosophicalExperiencerecordsthesimi-

laritiesinprinciplesandconclusionsbetweenal-Ash'arlandDescartes.

Spinoza,theJewofAmsterdam,wasinfluencedbyMaimonides,theJew

ofCairo,whoalthougharealAristotelianwasgreatlyindebtedtoIbnSmsi

andotherMuslimwriters.MiguelAsininvariousvolumeshasshownthe

influenceofIbnRushdonthetheologyofThomasAquinas,ofIbn'Arab!

onRaymondLull,andofMuslimeschatologyonDante'sDivineComedy.

Thethreegroups,theChristians,theJews,andtheMuslims,usedsimi-

larargumentstoprovethecreatioexnihilo.Yetinspiteofmuchagree-

mentinthescholasticmethod,doctrinespeculiartoeachnaturallyper-

sisted.TheorthodoxtheologyofIslamdevelopedauniquetheoryfor

explainingtheactiverelationshipoftheCreatortoHisuniverse.Thiscon-

tributiontothecatalogueofcosmologies is notsowellknowninthe

West.Maimonides,towhomweareindebtedforthebestsystematicstate-

mentofthisdoctrine, 1 agreedwithanumberofMuslimthinkersincon-

Timeliesbehindtheexplanationsgivenbyal-TaftazamoftheCreedof sideringtheseexplanationsofworldphenomenaasfantasticandascontrary

totheacceptedprinciplesofAristode.

ButitisjustbecausethistheoryofContinuousRe-CreationandAtomic

al-NasafithatthisexpositionofaMuslimcreedisofgreatinterest.The

viii

PREFACE

bookisalsovaluableasacomprehensiveandauthoritativestatementof

Islamicbeliefmadeatthetimewhenithadbecomecrystallized.Whilethe

Westernworldhasreveledinanewbirthofideaswhichcontinuedthrough

argumentssettingforthanexplanationofthearticlesofMuslimfaith.As theRenaissance,theReformation,andtheEnlightenmenttheworldof

Islamhaslargelyheldwithatenaciousgrasptothedoctrinessetforthhere.

Untilthepresentdayithasremainedanauthoritativecompendiumofthe

atextbookoftheologyithaslongheldaleadingplaceamongthescholars

attachedtothegreatMuslimUniversityofAl-AzharinCairo.

Thetranslationwasfirstmadeasapartoftherequirementsforthe

degreeofDoctorofPhilosophyattheKennedySchoolofMissionsofthe

HartfordSeminaryFoundation.IamgreatlyindebtedtothelateProfessor

DuncanBlackMacdonaldforhavingbeenmyguidetothewayofunder-

standingmanyoftheintricateproblemsofMuslimtheology.Mysincere

thanksarcduetoProfessorHarryA.WolfsonofHarvardUniversityfor

assistanceintranslatingmanydifficultportionsofscholasticreasoning.

AmongotherswhohavehelpedinthistaskIgratefullymentionthelate

ProfessorW.G.ShcllabcarandProfessorE.E.CalverleyoftheKennedy

SchoolofMissionsoftheHartfordSeminaryFoundation.Iwishtoac-

knowledgethehelpandadviceofProfessorAustinP.Evans,generaleditor

oftheRecordsofCivilization.ProfessorArthurJefTeryofColumbiaUni-

versityhasgivenvaluableassistance,especiallyinreadingtheproof.

E.E.ELDER

EvangelicalTheologicalSeminary,Cairo

Introduction

fjustoveramillenniumagoAbu'1-Hasanal-Ash'arl(d.A.D.935)formu-

latedthedoctrinalpositionoforthodoxIslam.Heiscreditedwithhaving

savedthefaithfromcorruptionandhavingsilencedtheheretics.Threecen-

turiesseparatehisdeathfromthatofMuhammad.Intimeofappearanceand

importanceheoccupiesinIslamaplacecomparableinthehistoryofChris-

tiandoctrinetothatoftheCouncilofNicaea.Thereissomethingrepre-

sentativeinthesetwo,al-Ash'ari,theindividual,andNicaea,thechurch

council.InIslamcreedsandexpositionsofdogmaarewrittenbymenwho

thoughtheyclaimtogiveexpressiontothatwhichisaccordingtothe

ApprovedWayoftheProphetandtheAgreementoftheMuslimCommunity

havenomoreecclesiasticalauthoritybackofthemthantheirownpens.In

theevolutionofdoctrinalstatementsoneneverhearsof"church"councils

andtheirdecisionsbutonlyoflearnedmenandtheirconvictionsastothe

essentialtruthsoftheMuslim'sbelief.

Muhammadhimself,asreflectedintheQur'anandTraditions,gavelittle

attentiontothesystematicarrangementandlogicalpresentationoftherevela-

tionstowhichhelaidclaim.Hismessagewastheocentric,buthewasnota

theologian.Aslongashelivedtherewasnonecessityforareasoned,methodi-

calstatementofBelief,justastherewasnoneedforapoliticalconstitution oracodeoflaws.AsthemediumofinstructionandguidanceMuhammad

meteventsastheycame.Ifnecessitydemanded,verseswereabrogatedby

newones,oramoredetailedexplanationleftnouncertaintyastoAllah's

purposeanddesire.

WhentheProphetdied,loyaltyledhisfollowerstoseekguidancefrom

theversesoftheQur'anwhichhehadgiventhemalthoughtheywere

notyetcollectedintoonevolume.Oneinterpretationofsuchversesas"This

isadetailedexplanationofeverything"(Qur'an12:111)and"Wehave

neglectednothingintheBook"(Qur'an6:38)wasthatthisrevelation

throughMuhammadwassufficientinitselfforalltimesandoccasions.But

experiencetaughtthecommunityofIslamthatevenabookpurporting

tocomedirectfromtheAlmightyandAll-Wisewasnotenough.Recourse

washadtothepracticeandcommandsoftheProphet,thenanalogieswere

x

INTRODUCTION

drawn,andifguidancewasstilllackingonelookedfortheAgreement

oftheMuslimCommunity.

OrthodoxIslamisaccustomedtoconsiderthedaysoftheCompanions

oftheProphetandtheirSuccessorsasthegoldenagewhentheuseof

dialecticswasunnecessary.BecauseoftheirfidelitytoMuhammadandbe-

causethroughouttheirlivestheywereintheshadowofthememoryofhis

presence,theseearlyBelieversarepicturedasrelyingabsolutelyonhis

authority.

Thereasongiventhenformuchoftheearlytheologicalcontroversyis

thatpeoplelosttheirfirstlove.FidelitytothedeadMuhammadwanedbe-

foreloyaltytoalivingleader.Zealforthefaithdegeneratedintojealousy

andpartystrife.

Inreviewingtheevolutionofdoctrineonemighteasilyfallintothe

errorofattemptingtoseparatewhatintheWestisdesignatedtheological

speculationasbeinginadifferentcategoryfrompoliticaltheory.Butin

Islamoftentimestheearlydifferencesonreligiousmattershadtheirorigin

indiversepoliticalopinions.

Theadherentsofthefamilyof'AllandFatimaclaimedtheKhalifateasthe

coloredmuchoftheirthinking. legitimaterightoftheProphet'sdescendants.Thisnarrowclaimhasbeen

rejectedbythegreatSunnitemajorityofIslam,buttheShi'iteminority

throughfrustrationandpersecutionhasdevelopedapassionmotivethathas

LessthanthreedecadesfollowingtheProphet'sdeaththerearosethe

Kharijites,whoheldthattheheadshipoftheMuslimcommunitybelonged

nottosomebranchofMuhammad'sfamily,nortoacertainArabtribe,but

totheonebestqualifiedforit.Thispoliticalrevoltagainsttherulingpowers

producedtheologicaldiscussionsoverthedistinctionbetweenBeliefand

Unbelief,themeaningofIslam,andwhatactionsmakemanagreat

sinner.

Tosupportthepositionthatquestioningabouttheologicalsubjectswas

unnecessarytherearetraditionsfromMuhammadwhichdiscouragethe strumentofrevelation,settledmetaphysicalproblemsduringhislifetime, inhistime,butforalltimeaswell.Justashisutterances,asthein-

discussionofdogma.Notonlywouldhehavenosystemoftheology

sotheyweretogoonsettlingthemforthecommunityofthefaithfulwho

acceptedhimasProphet.Thetraditionsregardingtheologicalspeculation

whicharesaidtohavecomefromhimnotonlyteachthefutilityofdivisions

overmattersofbeliefbutalsotheinherentwickednessofschisms.Onetradi-

INTRODUCTION

xi

tionhasitthathesaidthattheMagiansweredividedintoseventysects,the

Jewsintoseventy-one,theChristiansintoseventy-two,andtheMuslimsinto

seventy-three,onlyoneofwhichwouldescapetheFire.TheProphet,when

askedwhichsectthiswas,replied,"ItisthattowhichI,myself,andmy

*

Companionsbelong/'

Thisattitudeofmindthatdeprecateddiscussionandschismwasresponsi-

bleintheendfortheformationofaschoolofthought,theMurji'ite,which

counseleddelayingjudgmentastotherealfaithofaprofessedBeliever.

BecausehisfinaldestinyrestedwithAllah,anevil-doerwhoprofessed

Islamwasstilltobereckonedasoneofthepeopleoftheqibla,that is,

thosewhoinworshipingAllahfacedtowardsMecca.Thispositionwasa

piouspotentates. resultoftheirattitudetowardstheUmayyadrulers,whomtheyobeyedeven thoughmostpiousMuslimswereskepticalastotherealfaithofsuchim-

Anotherexplanationgivenfortheriseoftheologicaldisputationisthat

suggestedbyIbnKhaldun.2Itwastheresultofattemptstodecipherthe

obscureandambiguouspassages(al-mutashabihat)intheQur'an.One

explanationofcertainversesproducedacrudeanthropomorphicconception

ofAllah;otheringenuousinterpretationssawintheQur'antheembryoofa

pantheisticfaith.

AthirdreasonforthedevelopmentofMuslimdogmaticswastheneces-

sityforanapologetic.ThroughtherapidexpansionofIslamintoother

landsbeyondArabiaitcamemoreandmoreintocontactwithGreekand

Christianthought.Centuriesbefore,Christianteachershadlaidthefounda-

tionforthescienceofdogmaticsbyusingsuchphilosophicalpropositionsas

suitedtheirpurpose.NowwhenMuslimpartiessawinthewritingsofnon-

Muslimsargumentswhichwoulddefendtheirpositiontheywerequick

tousethem.Thecloseresemblancebetweenmaterialthatappearsinthe

writingsofJohnofDamascusandtheMurji'iteandQadarite 8doctrinesis

proofofthis.TheKharijitedoctrinethatthosewhowereguiltyofgreatsins

werenolongertobeconsideredastrueBelieversisessentiallythatofChris-

tianswhoclassifysinsasmortalandvenial.

ItwasinrefutingthepositionsoftheMu'tazilitepartythatorthodoxIslam

finallycameintoitsownandarrivedatamatureexpressionofitsBelief.Al-

1Secal-Shahrastanl,al-Milalwa'l-Nihal,p.3.Cf.alsosimilartraditionsaboutthe

sectsoftheMuslimcommunity,Wensinck,AHandbookofEarlyMuhammadanTradi-

tion,p.47.

2Al-Muqaddima,III,44f.

xii

INTRODUCTION

thoughwhenal-Taftazamwrotefivehundredyearshadpassedsincethe

greatMu'taziliteshadflourishedandbutlittlelessthanthatsincetheyhad

beeneclipsedbyal-Ash'arl,heoftenpresentstheorthodoxpositionbyfirst

answeringtheMu'tazilites.

Inspiteofthefactthatal-NasafimakesnomentionoftheminhisCreed,

al-Taftazaniusedthisacceptedmethodofcommentators.

Theoriginofthedissentofthisschoolofthoughtfromtheorthodoxposi-

tionisgivenbyal-Taftazanl.4Thenamegiventhembytheiropponents

meantWithdrawersorSecessionists,buttheMu'tazilitescalledthemselves

thePeopleofUnityandJustice.Itisaroundthesetwopointsthatonemay

focusthepeculiaritiesoftheirreasoning.

InearlyIslamtheredevelopedaremarkablereverencefortheQur'an,

largelybecauseofitsownwitnesstoitself.Itispresentedastheveryspeech

ofAllahtoMuhammad.Itsstyleisoracular.Inallprobabilityfromcon-

tactswithChristianityanditsdoctrinesoftheLogos,theideathatthe

Qur'anwasuncreatedandeternalwasadoptedbyMuslims.TheMu'tazi-

litesheldthatthisunderminedtheunityofAllahbyestablishingsome-

thingeternalalongsideofHim.ItreallymeanttheascribingofaPartnerto

Himandwasthereforetothemtheworstkindofinfidelity.

InadditiontoSpeechAllahhadotherattributessuchasLife,Power,Will-

alsoeternalmanyMu'tazilitessaidtheyweretheessenceofAllahitself,that ing,Seeing,andHearing.Overagainsttheacceptedopinionthatthesewere

is,Hisessenceissaidtobeknowingwhenconnectedwiththingsknown.

HewillsbutdoesnothavetheattributeofWilling.Hespeakswitha

speechbutitsubsistsinsomethingthatisotherthanHe.Theywerenot

aloneinthis.Al-Ash'arlsays,"TheMu'tazilites,theKharijites,manyof

theMurji'itesaswellasmanyoftheZayditessaythatAllahisrich,mighty,

great,majestic,grand,master,overpowering,seeing,lord,possessor,con-

straining,high,butnotonaccountofmight,greatness,majesty,grand-

ness,mastery,lordshipandconstraint."5Theorthodoxontheotherhand

saidthatallthesecharacteristicsweretobepredicatedofAllahandthatHe

possessedeternaloressentialattributes(sifatazallyaordhatiya). TherelationofunityandpluralityinGodhadalsobeendiscussedby

JohnofDamascusandotherssuchasthePseudo;Dionysius,theNeoplatonic

mystic,andtheirargumentsareechoedintheMu'tazilitecontroversy.Faced

withthetaskofdefiningtheexactrelationshipbetweentheessenceofAllah

andHisattributes,theMuslimtheologianstookrefugeintheuseofnegative

INTRODUCTION

xiii

termsashadothertheologiansbeforethem.Althoughtheattributeswere

eternaltheywerecarefulnottoestablishapluralityofeternals."Theattri-

butesarenotHisessenceitself,noraretheyanythingextraneoustoHis

essence/' FromtheirpositionontheattributestheMu'tazilitesshowedthemselves

anxioustoavoidanyliteralinterpretationofthepassagesusinganthro-

pomorphictermsofAllah.TheywerevigorousintheirdenialoftheBeatific

Vision.Thismayhavebeenthestartingpointforworkingouttheirdoc-

trineofAllah'sabsoluteuniqueness.FromreadingtheQur'anandTradi-

tionsorthodoxMuslimscametobelievethattheywouldseeAllahinthenext

world.AmongtheJewsandtheChristianstherewasoftenfearordoubt

aboutthethoughtofbeholdingGod.However,theChristianemphasisonthe

resurrectionaswellasHellenisticmysticismhadturnedmen'sattention

totheotherworld.IndiscussingitsrealitiesthematteroftheBeatificVision

becameintheearlyMiddleAgesoneofimportance.ButinIslamtoaccept

thisasarealitymeant,ifliterallyinterpreted,thatAllahhadashape,aface,

hands,arms,andfeet.ManyoftheearlyBelieversacceptedtheversesbut

refusedtocommentfurtherontheirmeaning.Malikb.Anas,inanswerto

thequestionaboutAllah'sseatingHimselfonHisthrone,said,"Howitis

doneisunknown,itmustbebelieved,questionsaboutitareaninnova-

tion."6

ThequestionofthejusticeofAllah,whichwasalsoarallyingpointforthe

Mu'tazilites,wentbacktoveryearlydebatesaboutthepunishmentofsins

andman'sresponsibilityforhisactions.Christianteachingregardingpre-

destinationinfluencedthesecontroversieseventhoughdiscussionwasin-

evitablefromwhatappearedintheQur'anandTraditions.Allahisde-

scribedashavingcreatedtheworldandestablishedHisdecreesineternity.

Somecreaturesaredestinedtodogood,otherstodoevil;someareBe-

lievers,othersareUnbelievers.Menarealsourgedtorepentandturnto

Allah.Had it beenpossibletoidentifyabsolutelythebodyofBelievers

withthosewhodogoodandobtainentranceintotheGarden,andtheUn-

believerswiththosewhodoevilanddeservetheFire,therewouldhave

beenlittleplacefordispute.TheQadarites,whoappeartohavebeenfore-

runnersoftheMu'tazilites,saidthatmanpossessedfreewilltochoosegood

deeds.TheKharijitestaughtthatonewhocommittedagreatsinmustbean

Unbeliever;theorthodoxMuslims,influencedbytheMurji'iteteaching

whichdelayedjudgmentonsinners,sinceitisAllahwhopassesjudgment,

*MacdonaId,DevelopmentofMuslimTheology,p.186.

xiv

INTRODUCTION

saidthattheprofessingMuslimwhoisanevil-doershouldnotbecon-

sideredanUnbeliever.TheMu'tazilitepositionalsohintedatdelayorat

tobeidentifiedwiththeBelieversnortheUnbelievers.Ingeneralthey leastuncertaintybysayingthattheevil-doerisinamiddlepositionandnot

heldthathisfinaldestinyrestsonhisactionsandontheabsolutejusticeof

Allah.Faithisnotgrantedfreelytosomeandwithheldfromothers.Allah

actsforthegoodandtheguidanceofman.Ifmanacceptsheentersthe

Garden;ifherefuseshereceivesthepunishmenthedeserves.

UndoubtedlyinreachingtheirpositiontheMu'tazilitesweregreatlyin-

fluencedbyChristianthoughtandGreekphilosophy.Theyavoidedhypos-

tatizingtheattributesofAllah,especiallythatofSpeech,intoanything

likethepersonsoftheTrinity,andtheyaffirmedHisabsoluteunity.Again

theyhadrecoursetoGreekdialectictosupporttheirpositions.

ThedialecticusedbytheMu'tazilitesandotherstorationalizetheirre-

ligioustenetswascalled\alam(speech).Al-TaftazanIreviewstheriseof

thisscienceinIslam.AtfirstthetermwasusedbypiousBelieversincon-

temptofthosewhoreliedonlogicandphilosophytogivearationalexplana-

tionoftheirfaith.Eventuallyitcametomeanscholastictheology.Theterm

Mutakallim(oronewhousedfylam),insteadofbeingappliedtohere-

tics,wasusedoftheultra-orthodoxwhotaughtsuchabarrenintellectualism

thatal-Ghazzali(d.505A.M.)whenheappearedvoicedavigorousprotest

againstthem.

ThecloseofthesecondcenturyaftertheHijrausheredintheruleofthe

'AbbasidKhalifas,Ma'munandMu'tasim,atBaghdad.Theynotonly

favoredtheheterodoxteachingsoftheMu'tazilitesbutbypersecutiontried

toimposetheseviewsontheirsubjects.Duringthereignofthelatteran

abridgededitionoftheEnncadsofPlotinusbyPorphyryofTyrewas

translatedintoArabicbyaChristianofEmessaintheLebanon,underthe

titleof"TheTheologyofAristotle."Unfortunatelythosewhosoughtto harmonizethedoctrinesofIslamwithGreekphilosophyconsideredthis

bookagenuineexpositionofAristotle'steaching.Forthemitwasjustas

authoritativeastheQur'an.Al-Farabi,writingafterthetimeofal-Ash'arl,

wasacombinationoftheloyalMuslimandtheNeoplatonistand still

lookedonthisworkasauthenticasdidalsohisdisciple,IbnSma.Butthe

greatworkoftranslatingthetextsofGreekphilosophycameafterthehey-

dayoftheMu'tazilites.TheinfluenceofGreekthoughtonorthodoxtheology

fromthefourthtothesixthcenturiesoftheHijrahadonlyanindirect

effect,forthemoldforMuslimdogmaticshadalreadybeenformed.When

INTRODUCTION

xv

morelightisthrownontheearlyperiodweshalldoubtlessseeaswellthat

IndianandOrientalphilosophiestoohaveplayedapartinproducingthe

dogmaticsofIslam.

ToreturntothebeginningofthethirdcenturyoftheHijra,eventhough

theheterodoxthinkersturntonon-Muslimsourcesfortherationalstate-

mentoftheirposition,thegeneralattitudeoforthodoxyremainedasbefore.

Theuseoflogicandphilosophywasanabomination.Al-Shafi'Iheldthat

certainmenshouldbetrainedfordefendingthefaith,butthatitwould

beagreatcalamityiftheirargumentsweredisseminatedamongthecom-

monpeople.Itisreportedthathesaid,"Myjudgmentisthatthosewhouse

I(alamshouldbebeatenwithpalmsticksandledaboutamongtheclans

andtribesanditshouldbesaid,'Thisistherewardofthosewhohave

forsakentheBookandtheApprovedWayandhavetakenupwith

\aldm! "AbuYusufheldthatwhoeversoughtknowledgethrough\alam

hadbecomeazindlq(adualistoranatheist). 7

Ahmadb.Hanbal,whodiedinthemiddleofthethirdcentury,leda

reactionarymovementthatinsistedonaliteralinterpretationoftheQur'an

andabhorredrationalizing.Withhimdogmahadfor its realbasisthe

Qur'anandTraditionsthatwentbacktothefirstgenerationofBelievers.

Hispopularitywiththepeoplesavedthecauseoforthodoxyforatimebutit

remainedforAbu'1-Hasanal-Ash'arlwhocalledhimselfadiscipleofIbn

HanbaltogivethecoupdegracetotheMu'tazilitesbyturningtheirargu-

mentsagainstthem.Kalaminsteadofbeingdespisedasaninnovationnow

becamethehandmaidofrevelation,justasinLatinChristendomunderAl-

berttheGreat,Bonaventura,ThomasAquinas,andothers,scholasticthe-

ologyusedAristotleandanyavailableGreekphilosophythatsuited its

purpose.BeingaconvertfromthedoctrinesoftheMu'tazilitcs,al-Ash'ar!

wasabletouseeffectivelytheirdialecticindefendingorthodoxy.Thewell-

knownstoryofhisconversiontotheApprovedWayistoldbyal-Taftazam

intheopeningsectionofhiscommentary. 8

Butal-Ash'arlwasnotaloneinmakingastatementofIslam'sbelief

whichwassupportedbytheargumentsofscholasticism.Contemporaneous

withhiminEgypttherewasal-TahawT,andinSamarqandAbuMansur

al-Maturidibecamethefounderofanorthodox\alam.Bothfollowedthe

legalschoolofAbuHanifa,thegreatinterpreterofjurisprudence(fiqh),

7Macdonald,Development,p.187;'AHal-Qari,Commentaryonal-Fiqhal-Akbar,

pp.2ff.;'I.D.,supercommentaryofal-Isfara'inl(CairotextofA.H.1335)onal-Taftazani,

p.14.

xvi

INTRODUCTION

whichinhistimeincludedtheologicaltopicsinadditiontocanonicalsub-

jects.

Withthetriumphsofal-Ash'arltheprestigeoftheMu'tazilitepartywas

lost.True,nowandagainoneoftheirpartisansgotintopowerandthe

nameofal-Ash'ariwascursedintheFridaysermonatthemosquesandhis

discipleswerepersecuted,butsucharecrudescencewasofshortduration.

Almostacenturyafteral-Ash'arltheatomicphilosophy,assponsoredand

establishedbyal-Baqillanl(d.403A.H.),wasbeingdevelopedintooneof

thefundamentalsofscholastictheology.Theearlierorthodoxtheologians

downtoandincludingtheperiodofai-Baqillanlandhisfollowersareun-

doubtedlytheMashayikhorEarlyTheologiansreferredtobyal-Taftazanl.

oftheirthinkingalthoughtheyrejectedphilosophyinitself.Newproofs AftersometimeMuslimsusedtheformallogicofAristotleasanessential

wereforthcomingwhichmadeuseofthephysics,metaphysics,andmathe-

maticsofthephilosophers.Thisnewdevelopmentwasknownasthewayof

thelaterscholastics(fane/atal-mutaa\hkjiirin)ascontrastedwiththe

earlieroneswhosemethodswerelargelynegative.Al-Ghazzall(d.505A.H.)

andFakhral-Dmal-Razi(d.606A.H.)areconsideredasleadersofthis newmovement.Inthecaseoftheformerthereseemstobeaconversiontothe

Aristotclian-Neoplatonicphilosophyofmatter,form,andemanation,while

someothersmaintainedanoncommittalattituderegardingtheatomicex-

planationoftheworldprocesses.However,mostofthescholasticsinthe

centuriesthatfollowedheldtotheatomictheory.Thisprocessofthe

amalgamationoftheologyandphilosophywentonuntiltheydifferedlittle

fromoneanotherexceptthattheologyconcerneditselfalsowithsubjects

basedonrevelationandauthority.

IbnKhaldun(d.808A.H.),writingofthescholastictheologyofhistime,

bemoaneditsdecline fromitsexaltedpositionofthepast.Ithadoncebeen

usefulinrepulsinghereticsandinnovatorsintheirattacksonthefaith,but

theyhadpassedfromthesceneofaction.Duringthisperiodofimpending

declinephilosophytookthebruntoftheattackinplaceoftheMu'tazilitedoc-

trines.However,thewritersrehashedtheargumentsofthepastandwere

notatalltimidaboutbeatingthedeadhorseofMu'tazilitism.

Alreadytheteachersofdogma,sensingtheirinabilitytoaddanything

originaltothemassofdialecticindefenseoforthodoxy,hadbeguntomake

commentariesonstatementsoffaithandarticlesofbelief.Ratherthango

backtooriginalsourcesandreconstructtheirtheology,itwaspreferableto

INTRODUCTION

xvit

reinterpretthearticlesofbeliefofsomeoneofthepast.Thisprocesswenton

untiltherewerenumeroussuper-commentariesandglossesoncommentaries.

Itwillbenecessarytoretraceourstepsandnoticethedevelopmentof

creed-making.TheearlieststatementswhichgiveanepitomeofMuslimBe-

liefaretobefoundintheQur'anandtheTraditions.Sura112,inwhich

MuhammadiscommandedtodeclaretheunityoftheDeityandthatHe

begetsnotandisnotbegotten,andtheThroneverse(Qur'an2:256),which

proclaimsthatAllah isliving,self-subsistcnt,andknowing,andthatto

Himbelongswhatisintheheavensandtheearth,arefavoritesections

oftheirHolyBookandareoftenquotedbyMuslimsasgivingthees-

senceoftheirreligion.Butinneitherofthesepassagesorelsewhereinthe

Qur'andowefindinonesentencetheexactwordsofthewitnessing

formula,"ThereisnogodbutAllahandMuhammadistheMessengerof

Allah."

DifferentversesintheQur'anadmonishmentobelieveinAllahandHis

Messengers.TwiceatleastHisangelsandHisbooksareadded.InQur'an Books,HisMessengers,andtheLastDayhathcertainlyerredawide

4:135,whichreads,"WhoeverbelievethnotinAllah,HisAngels,His

error,"thereappearinthenegativeformallbutoneoftheelementsmen-

tionedinoneofthewell-knowntraditionswhichaimstosummarizethe

principlesoftheMuslimfaith."Belief...isthatyoubelieveinAllah,His

Angels,HisBooks,HisMessengers,theLastDay,andHisdecreeofgood

andevil."10

Buttheverysimplicityofsuchstatementsmadetheminadequatewhen

partyloyaltybecameheated,whenexplanationofdifficultpassageswas

demanded,andwhenproblemsraisedbyGreekphilosophyandChristian

theologywereencounteredanddemandedasatisfactorysolution.

ThelateProfessorA.J.WensinckinhisTheMuslimCreedhasmadeall

OrientalistshisdebtorsforathoroughstudyofthestatementsofMuslim

belief.11Itwillthusbenecessarytomentionhereonlysomeoftheforms

whichthecreedassumedintheearlycenturiesofIslam.

Thefirstattemptsataconfessionoffaithoutsidetheseverybriefstate-

mentsintheQur'anandTraditionsarestrikinginthingstheyomit,asin

al-Fiqhal-A\bar(I)which,eventhough itiswronglyattributedtoAbu

Hanifa(d.150A.H.),reflectshisteaching.Writtenprobablyintheearly

partofthesecondcenturyoftheHijra,itmakesnomentionoftheattri-

d,III,134fi.

xviii

INTRODUCTION

butesofAllahnoroftheQur'anastheSpeechofAllah,neitheristherea

discussionofMuhammadandthepropheticoffice.

AmuchmoredetailedstatementisthatknownastheTestament(Wastya)

ofAbuHanlfa.Thissupposedtestamentofoneofthefoundersofthefour

orthodoxschoolsofreligiouspracticealsoisnotasystematicoutlineof

Islamicprinciplesbutaprotestagainstsomeoftheoutstandingheretical

opinionsthathadcreptintotheologicalthinking.Again,neitherthe

propheticofficeofMuhammadnortheattributesofAllaharoundwhich

laterconfessionswerebuiltreceiveconsideration.

Anotherstageinthedevelopmentofthecreedisseeninanearlychapter

ofal-Ash'ari'sKitabal-lbana'anUsulal-Diyana.Havinggiventheposition

ofinnovatorsandthosewhohavegoneastraytheauthorfollowswithasection

settingforththearticlesofBeliefoftheMuslimCommunity.Thefirstperson

plural,withexpressionslike"Webelieve,""Wesay," isusedthroughout.

FaithisaffirmedintheUnityofAllah,Hisattributes,HisuncreatedSpeech,

Hisdecisionanddecreeregardingtheactionsofcreatures,theBeatificVision

ofAllahontheDayofResurrection.Beliefisdefined,theGardenandthe

Fireandothercschatologicalmattersarestatedtoberealities,andthe

Imamateisexplainedaswellasothermattersoverwhichtherehadbeen

dispute. 12InhisMaqdldtal-lslamiyinal-Ash'arlinthechapterdealingwith

thebeliefsofthePeopleofTraditionandtheApprovedWayagainsum-

marizestheMuslimcreed,butthistimeinthethirdperson. 13Asforhis

ownpositionasrevealedinhisIbana,al-Ash'arlnotonlyfollowstheteaching

ofAhmadb.Hanbal,butsays,"WeholdfasttotheBookofourLord,tothe

SunnaofourProphet,towhathasbeenhandeddownfromtheCom-

panionsandtheirFollowersandthemastersofhadlth,andtowhatAbu

'AbdallahAhmadb.Muhammadb.Hanbalsaysopposingthatwhichop-

poseshim,forheistheexcellentleaderandtheperfecthead,throughwhom

Allahhasshownthetruth,takenawayerror,madeclearthepath,andsub-

duedtheinnovationsoftheinnovators,theschismsoftheschismatics,andthe

doubtofthedoubters."14 Althoughal-Ash'arlisusuallyrepresentedasthe

theologianwhointroducedintoorthodoxysuchmethodsoflogicandinter-

pretationsashehadgainedfromhisstudywithMu'taziliteteachers,yetboth

inal-lbana,wherehewarmlydefendsthepositionofAhmadb.Hanbal,

andMaqalat,wherehepresentsinadetachedmannerthemultifariousviews

12Al-Ash'ari,Kitabal-lbana'anUsulal-Diydna,pp.8ff.;W.C.Klein,Abu'l-Hasan

'AltIbnIsmd'llal-Al'ansAl-lbanah'anUsulad-Diyanah,pp.49ff.

INTRODUCTION

xix

ofsectariesandinnovatorsalongwiththoseofthePeopleoftheApproved

Way,thereappearstobelittleoffyldminhiswritings.

AmongotherwriterscontemporarywithhimAbuJa'farAhmadal-Tahawi,

anEgyptianwhodiedin331A.H.,wroteacompendiumofMuslimbeliefs.15

AfollowerofthelegalschoolofAbuHanlfa,hedoesnotagreewiththeex-

tremeconclusionsofal-Ash'ari,whichjeopardizethemoralbasisforAl-

lah'sactions.Al-Maturldi,anothercontemporaryalsooftheHanafiteper-

suasion,hasgivenhisnametotherivalschooloforthodoxtheology,butno

creedbyhispenisextant.

FromthefourthcenturyoftheHijrathestatementsoftheorthodoxcreed

assumedamorelogicalform.Al-Ghazzali(d.505A.H.) iscreditedwith

havingwonthedayfortheAsh'aritepositioninthewest.Hewroteatleast

threetreatisesonthingsnecessarytoBelief.Hisexpositionofthetwo

phrasesoftheWitnessingformulawhichappearsinthefirstsectionofthe

secondbookoftheIhya istheforerunnerofawholegroupofcreedswhich

centerallthearticlesofBeliefaroundAllahandHisattributesandHis

MessengerMuhammad.Thistypeofcreedsignifiedareversiontothebare

essentialsoffaithandbecamelaterverystereotypedinthecreedsof

al-Sanusi(d.895A.H.)andal-Fadali(d.1236A.H.)whereallargumentsfor

Allah'sexistencerestontheexistenceoftheuniverse.

Bythetime,then,ofAbuHafs'Umaral-Nasafi,whodied(537A.H.)

aboutthirtyyearsafteral-Ghazzall,therehadbeenthreedistinctstagesin

thedevelopmentofcreed-making.TheQur'anversesandTraditions,which

brieflystatedinadozenwordstheobjectsoffaith,gavewaytoaloosely

connectedgroupofsentenceswhichansweredheresiesthatdividedthe

community.Thethirdstageintroducedamorelogicalarrangementof

material;considerablespacewasgiventothediscussionofAllah'sattributes,

followedbyarticlesonthepropheticofficeandoneschatologicalmatters,

butmuchlessspacewasgiven