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Imam Abu Ishaq Shirazi an Ashari

Posted by muhammedm on December 27, 2011

In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious Most Merciful.

There are several ways to know an individual’s affiliation with a particular theological school. Few of those ways can be differed upon while others everyone has to accept. One can gauge an individual’s affiliation through their works, testimony of contemporaries, testimonies of historians, dealings with different individuals of a particular group and testimonies of opponents. Imam Shirazi, a great Usuli and Faqih of the Shafi’I school, is an individual whom the Ashariah take pride in. There are many proofs for him to be rightly attributed to the Asharis as opposed to the Hanbali or the so called Hanbali school of today, the Salafis. Several proofs are given below with the different methods of ascription.

Testimony of Ashari scholars

Several scholars have ascribed Imam Shirazi to the Ashari School, from them Hafidh Ibn ‘Asakir, Imam Subki and Abu Ja’far Sharif al-Hanbali (refer below).

Historical events
Hafidh Ibn Kathir in his Bidaya wa an-Nihaya writes on pg. 1845 of pdf, “turmoil broke out in Shawwal between the Hanabilah and Ashariah because of Ibn al-Qushayri when he entered Baghdad and taught in Madrasa an-Nidhamiya. He took to censuring Hanabilah and attributing corporeality to them, and Abu Sa’id Sufi aided him and Shaykh Abu Ishaq Shirazi leaned towards him…The Khalifah gathered Shirazi, Sharif, and Abi Nasr bin al-Qurayshi in front of the Wazir. The Wazir turned towards Sharif and paid tribute in his words and actions, and Shaykh Shirazi stood up and said, “I was the one whom you knew when I was a young man and this is my book on Usul in which I say “this is opposed to the Ashairah” then he kissed Abi Ja’far’s head. Abu Ja’far said to him, “you’re saying the truth except that when you were a poor (chad) you didn’t make evident what was in you, but when helpers, the leader and Khawaja Buzurk, meaning Nidhamiya al-Mulk, came you showed what was hidden in yourself”. Refer to Al-Muntazim of Ibn al-Jawzi year 469 Hijri.
The actions and words of Abu Ja’far indicate that Shirazi agreed with the Ashariah even though his works might indicate otherwise.

Hafidh Ibn Kathir writes in Tabaqat as-Shafi’yah, pg. 430, “He studied Usul al-Kalam from Abi Hazim al-Qazwini student of Qadi Baqqallani”
Hafidh Ibn Kathir writes in Tabaqat as-Shafi’yah, pg.439, “Ibn ‘Asakir writes in his Tabaqat Ashab As-Ashairah in the end of his work, “Tabyin Kidhb al-Muftari ‘ala Abi al-Hasan al-Ashari, states, “I saw in the handwriting of some of the truthful, “What is the opinion of the great jurist scholars regarding a group who gather to curse the Asharis and pass verdicts of kufr on them, what should be their consequence? Give us a verdict. A group answered, “ the Ashairah are the people of Sunnah, who stood up to refute the innovators such as the Qadariyya, Rafidah, and others. So whoever reviles them reviles Ahlus Sunnah, and it is incumbent upon those who are over lookers of the matters of Muslim to discipline them such that it prevents others (from cursing). Ibrahim bin ‘Ali al-Fayrazabadi wrote, “I say, “as for the way of Shaykh Abul Hasan ‘Ali bin Isma’il al-Ashari in regards to the Attributes after he left the Mu’tazilities, rather after he entered Baghdad and took from the Ashab al-Hadith such as Zakariyya As-Saji and others for it is the most correct of paths and way because it affirms the Sifat of ‘Aqliyya and al-Jabarriya, none of it is denied or done takyif upon, and this is the path of the Salaf and the Imams of Ahlus Sunnah. May Allah ta’ala raise us in their ranks and cause us to die following them and loving them for He is the Hearer of supplications, the Generous the Bountiful. And upon this mode and manner did the Imams from the companions of Al-Ashari such as Abi ‘Abdillah bin Mujahid, Qadi Abi Bakr al-Baqqallani and their likes followed, May Allah ta’ala have mercy on them.

Testimony of Salafi works

The link below states that the reason for the spread of the Ashari school was because of the assistance and spreading of the Madhab due to the Fuqaha of the Maliki and Shafi’I school, scholars such as Shirazi, Juwayni, Ghazzali, etc.

Imams Contemporaries and acquaintances
A question must be asked if Imam Shirazi was opposed to the Ashari school, rather the claim put forward by Ibn Abdil Hadi in his refutation on Ibn Asakir that he would distance and oppose the Asharis all together, why did Imam Shirazi keep the company of well known and outspoken Asharis such as Imam al-Juwayni and Ibn al-Qushayri? Why did he praise and encourage seeking knowledge from Imam al-Juwayni? All of the above proofs leave no doubt that Imam Shirazi was an Ashari and not a Salafi!

To Allah ta’ala belongs all praise.


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