The Main Problem With The Ash’arees

The primary principle that led the Ash’arees to distort many of Allaah’s Names and Attributes is that they wished to remove all resemblance between Allaah’s Names and Attributes, and between those of the creation.

This principle, which in essence is correct, was taken by the Ash’arees to an extreme. They used their intellect (1) and logic to decide which of Allaah’s Names and Attributes gave some type of resemblance, or anthropomorphic (2) qualities, and those Names and Attributes which did not. Based on this classification, they then interpreted those Names and Attributes which they felt gave anthropomorphic qualities (3) contrary to their literal, understood meanings, thinking that by doing this they were removing any fear of resemblance between Allaah and His creation.

In reality, their over-zealousness to free the Names and Attributes of Allaah from resembling those of His creation led them to deny and distort many or His Names and Attributes.

They used their intellect as the criterion to understand Allaah’s Names and Attributes. Whatever they felt was not befitting to Allaah, even if Allaah Himself had affirmed it, they interpreted until it satisfied their intellect.

As Aboo Haamid al-Ghazaalee (4) wrote:

“All that is found in the traditions (the Qur’aan and Sunnah) (concerning the attributes of Allaah) is examined. Then, if the intellect can agree with it, it becomes obligatory to believe in it… But as for those (attributes) which are deemed by the intellect to be impossible, then it becomes obligatory to interpret what has been found in the traditions (the Qur’aan and Sunnah), for it is not imaginable that the traditions will contain something that contradicts the intellect. As for the hadeeth which contain characteristics of resemblance (of Allaah between His creation), then most of them are not authentic, and those that are authentic are not explicit, but rather can be interpreted.” (5)

Therefore, they took their intellect to be their criterion to accept and understand the Attributes ol Allaah, so whatever their intellect agreed with, they accepted, and whatever their intellect could not understand, they rejected or re-interpreted (6).

[Taken from “An Introduction To The Sciences Of The Qur’aan” by Yaasir Qaadhee, p. 41]


(1) Please refer to this post and this post in refuting the concept of taking the intellect over the narrations.

(2) Anthropomorphic: To give an object human-like characteristics.

(3) Please refer to the previous post and this post: The Reality Of Ta’weel.

(4) Aboo Haamid al-Ghazaalee, during the end of his life returned to the beliefs of the salaf. Please read this post for more info on who he was.

(5) From his al-Iqtisaad fee al-‘Itiqaad, p. 132.

(6) Please read this post: The Futility Of Ta’weel, By Imaam al-Juwaynee (d. 438H)


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