This is a short summary on the creed of the people of hadith and the people of the Sunnah. This important tract was written by the great Imam, scholar and intellectual giant Imam Abu Hasan al-Ash’ari [may Allah have mercy upon him] d. 330 A.H. In it he provides a glimpse into the creed held by the people of the Sunna and the People of Hadith up until his time. Plain and simple, one can truly appreciate the pure an unadulterated faith before the introduction of Greek logic and ‘Ilm al-Kalam were injected into the discussion surrounding creed. Such a faith built a young budding Muslim community, gave it a sense of identity and enabled the Muslims to express their faith in a vibrant manner that touched every end of the known world. It was this faith that created true rabaniyin, left disputes and allowed the Muslims to focus on their universal role instead of falling in the quicksand of particulars and secondary mundane issues. In short, this was a creed that gave a person identity. It was, the creed based on the athar passed from the companions [may Allah be pleased with them] until the time of this great Imam. May Allah have mercy upon him and those who follow the way of the Prophet [peace be upon him] until the end of time.
This is summary of the statements of the people of hadith and the people of the Sunna [regarding creed]
“In brief, the people of hadith and the Sunnah were upon: Affirming (faith) in Allah, His angels, His books and His messengers [may the peace and blessing of Allah be upon them]. And [they affirmed] everything that came from Allah, and was related by the trustworthy on behalf of the messenger of Allah [peace and blessing of Allah be upon him] with out rejecting anything therein. [And they affirm] that Allah [the Sublime is He] is the one, solitary everlasting God and that there is no god [worshiped in truth] but He and He has taken neither wife nor offspring. [And they affirm] that Muhammad [peace and blessing of Allah be upon him] is His slave and His messenger. And that Paradise is true and the Hell fire is true and that, for sure, the Hour is coming there is doubt [at all] in it and that Allah will raise the dead [to life].
And [they affirm] that Allah [May he be exalted] is on his throne as He says:
“The Beneficent One, Who is established on the Throne.” [24/5]
And [they affirm] that He has two hands* without [them knowing or going into] how [the reality of His hands is left to Him alone and they are neither like His creation nor vice versa]. As He [may He be exalted] said,
“To whom I have created with my hands?” [38/75]
“Nay, both His hands are widely outstretched: He gives and spends (of His bounty) as He pleases.” [5/64]
And [they affirm] that He has two eyes without [them knowing or trying to explain them and they are neither like His creation nor vice versa] how [the reality of which is left to Him alone]. As He said,
“Sailing, before Our eyes, a reward for him who was denied.” [54/14]
And [they affirm] that He has a face [and it is neither like His creation nor vice versa] as He said,
“But will abide (for ever) the Face of thy Lord, full of Majesty, Bounty and Honour.” [55/27]
And they do not separate the names of Allah from Allah as the M’utazila and the khawarij have claimed.
And they affirm [the attribute of] knowledge to Allah as He says,
“He has revealed it with His knowledge.” [4/166]
And as He said,
“And no female bears, nor does she bring forth, except with His knowledge.” [11/35]
And [they affirm] the hearing and the seeing [of Allah] and they did not repudiate that as the ‘Mutazilah did. And [they affirm] that to Allah is [the attribute] of strength as He [the most high] says,
“What! did they not see that Allah, Who created them, was superior to them in strength?” [41/15]
[may the peace and blessing be upon the Prophet, his companions and those who follow them. Allah praise is to Allah [alone] the Lord of all.]
* Some may attribute the statement of the Imam “Two hands” as an act of tajsim [may Allah protect us]. Perhaps one will base this assumption on the verse found in Surah al-Dhariyat that states, “The heavens that We built with Aydina”? A simple glimpse of the verse might cause one to conclude that the plural for the word hand is being used here. However, as explained by Ibn al-Khuzaymah [may Allah have mercy upon him] “This [understanding] shows one’s ignorance of the Arabic language.” For, as he mentions, aydi is used here as a Masdar and not as the plural for the word hand. Hence, its meaning, as a masdar, carries the meaning of power. Thus Allah says about Dawod, “Dhu al-Aaydi” here it would be impossible to assume that the words means anything put power. And Allah knows best.
Translated from the monumental classic Muqalat al-Islamiyin wa ikhtilaf al-Musalin by Imam Abu Hassan al-Ash’ari d. 330 A.H. Under the chapter a brief account of the words [regarding faith] of the people of hadith and the people of the Sunnah. This work was critically edited by Sh. Muhamad Muyhi Din Abdul Hamid [may Allah have mercy upon him] who is most famous for his work in Arabic grammar. It was published by Dar al-Nahda 1389 a.h. The most complete hand writing copy of this text lies in Istanbul. May Allah grant us insaf.
Translated by Suhaib Webb