Very few places outside the lands that Islam began in, our prophet (saws) described as centers of knowledge we should seek, but Persia was such a place, Abu Hurairah (ra) narrated Allah’s Messenger (saw) as saying:”If the Religion were at the Pleiades (in Persia), even then a person (muslim) from Persia would have taken hold of it, or one amongst the Persian descent would surely have found it.” Persian lands under Islam became a great centre for knowledge and many of the worlds greatest scholars came from there like Imam al Ghazali, Imam Abu Dawwud, Imam Bukhari, Ibn Sina, Ibn Haytham one could name well over 200 prominent and well known Islamic figures (Scholars, Scientists, Philosophers, and Physicians) in world history that came from Persia, but Imam as-Suyuti (ra) remarked:”It has been communicated unanimously (there is Ijma or consensus) that this hadith refers to Imam Abu Hanifah (who was a Persian) and founded the Hanafi Madhhab (School of Law).”
Another centre of knowledge the prophet (saws) said we should seek even if it is the furthest place to travel to was China, The Prophet (saws) said “seek knowledge even unto china” (al-Munawi cites al-Dhahabi’s Talkhis in which he said it is a widely reported narration, some reports have chains that are weak, and some are sound), Anas reported that Allah’s Apostle (saws) said, ” The Search of Knowledge is an obligation laid on every Muslim” (Ibn Majah and Baihaqi).
Another place we are advised to seek knowledge from was Yemen, The Prophet (saws) said “The people of Yemen have come to you, most sensitive in their souls, softest of hearts! Belief (Iman: Aqeedah or Theology) is from Yemen, wisdom is from Yemen! Pride and arrogance are found among the camel-owners; tranquility and dignity among the sheep-owners.”(Bukhari and Muslim)
The Prophet (saws) taught that we should seek out Iman and Aqeedah (Theology) from the people of Yemen and the Ashari’s specifically. He (saws) did not teach any else the following words and when he offered it to others they did not accept it from him: Imran Ibn al-Husayn related, “I went in to see the Prophet after tying my camel at the gate. People from the Banu Tamim came in to see him. He said: ‘Accept the glad tidings, O Banu Tamim!’ They said: ‘You gave us glad tidings; now give us something tangible.’ This exchange took place twice. Then some from the people of Yemen came in to see him. He said: ‘Accept the glad tidings, O people of Yemen! (Abu Musa al-Ash’ari was leading them) for the Banu Tamim did not accept them.’ They said: ‘We accept, O Messenger of Allah!’ Then they said: ‘We came to ask you of this Great Matter.’ He said: ‘Allah was when nothing was other than Him. His Throne stood over the water. He wrote all things in the Remembrance. He created the heavens and the earth.’…Then someone (suddenly) called out: ‘Your camel has fled, O Ibn al-Husayn!’ I darted out and between me and my camel I could see a mirage. By Allah! How I wish that I had left it alone.”(Bukhari)
The significance of Allah teaching a specific people a knowledge is that when the prophet (saws) does this it will be established as a sunnah among them and their descendants.
Imam Al-Subki who was a Mijtahid (the Highest degree of scholarship) said: “Our scholars have said that the Prophet did not speak to anyone of the foundations of the Religion (usul al-Deen) in such a way as he has spoken to the Ash`aris in this hadith.”(Al-Subki, Tabaqat al-Shafi`iyya al-Kubra (3:364))
When Allah revealed this verse “O you who believe! Whoever among you turns back from his Religion, know that in his stead Allah will bring a people whom He loves and who love Him, humble toward believers, stern toward disbelievers, striving in the way of Allah, and fearing not the blame of any blamer. Such is the grace of Allah which He gives to whom He will. Allah is All-Embracing, All-Knowing.” (5:54) the Prophet pointed to Abu Musa al-Ash’ari (the Yemeni) and said: “They are that man’s People.”(Narrated from `Iyad by Ibn Abi Shayba and al-Hakim who said it is saheeh by Imam Muslim’s criterion, and by Imam al-Tabarani with a sound chain as stated by al-Haythami. This was also reported by Imam Suyuti in Tafsir al Jalalayn to verse 5:54 and in Tanwir al Miqbas min Tafsir Ibn Abbas, 5:54)
The Prophet (saws) said “‘Tomorrow shall come to you a people more sensitive in their hearts towards Islam than you.’ Then the Ash`aris came, among them Abu Musa al-Ash`ari. As they approached Madina they sang poetry, saying: ‘Tomorrow we meet our beloved ones, Muhammad and his group!’ When they arrived they began to shake hands with the people, and they were the first to innovate hand-shaking.”(Ahmad, Sahih)
Abu Hasan al Ashari (d.935) after whom the Ashari Aqeedah was named was a descendant of the companion Abu Musa al Ashari (d.672), he began as a Mu’tazili growing up as the step-son and student of the famous Mu’tazili teacher Abu Ali al-Jubba’i (d. 303/915). However, at the age of forty, he shocked everyone by severing himself from them and publicly renouncing their beliefs. He then set out to defend the beliefs the Ahl al-Sunna wa ‘l-Jama’a (Sunni Islam) held by its Great Jurists and Hadith scholars of the time.
Imam al-Ash’ari says: During the first ten days of one Ramadan, I saw Rasul Allah (saws). He said: “O ‘Ali, aid the madh’habs that are veritably reported by me (Those who follow my Sunnah), because only that is the Truth.” I woke up and was perplexed about this grave matter. I was immensely worried about this because I had numerous proofs opposing the ‘reported’ belief.
Within the next ten days, I saw him again. “What did you do about that which I ordered you to do?” I said: “Ya Rasul Allah, I tried to do it but I have many strong proofs
[and arguments] against those beliefs which are reported from you. Therefore, I follow that which has stronger proofs concerning [the Attributes] of Allah ta’ala” He said: “Aid the madh’habs that are reported from me, because that is the truth”
I woke up and I was terribly saddened. I then forsook Kalam [theology] and began following the Hadith and reciting the Qur’an.
In Basrah (Iraq) we have a custom that reciters (qurra’a) assemble together on the twenty seventh night of Ramadan and finish the entire Qur’an in that night. But I was feeling very sleepy and I couldn’t stay back any longer. So I went home and slept, feeling very sorry at the great loss of missing that night’s khatm (recitation).
I saw Rasul Allah (saws) who said “What did you do about that which I told you?” I replied: “I have forsaken Kalam and taken a firm hold of the Book of Allah and your sunnah.” He said: “I did not tell you to forsake Kalam (Theology). I told you to aid the madh’hab that is reported from me, because that is the truth.”
I said: “Ya Rasul Allah, how can I shun those ideas which I have helped in strengthening myself and aided its cause for the past thirty years, on the basis of a dream?”
He said: “If I did not know that Allah will aid you [in this], I would not have come here to explain all this. Do not make light of this dream in which I have come. Is that (dream) in which I saw Gibril, just another dream? I will not come again to you. Do well and Allah will aid you.”
I woke up and said to myself: only falsehood remains after truth has been manifest. So I began to advocate Hadith about seeing Allah, intercession etc. And I have found proofs – by Allah – which I have never heard before, nor read in a book. This, I have realized to be the aid from Allah, the good news of which was given to me by Rasul Allah (saws). (Extracted from Ibn ‘Asakir’s: Tabyin Kadhib al-Muftari fima Nusiba ila al-Imam Abu’l Hasan al- Ash’ari, pgs 51-52.)
He first wrote the Ashari Aqeedah to refute the minority heretical Mutazila sect that had plagued Islamic lands for some time, after this work was completed many of the followers turned away from the Sect which had a number of Different Khalifah’s (rulers) as its followers and it never recovered until eventually it ceased to exist. It’s significant that in the dream the prophet (saws) rebukes him for shunning theology, previously the scholars of Islam had left it alone to avoid controversy, but eventually saw it as a necessity to protect the religion from the heresies of the philosophers. The scholars of Islam all adopted this stance of Imam al Ashari on the matter after him, it was employed in this defensive manner that has been the position of Orthodox Islam right until our time.
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Aqidah (Arabic: عقيدة, romanized: ʿaqīdah (Arabic pronunciation: [ʕɑˈqiːdæ, ʕɑˈqɑːʔɪd]), plural عقائد ʿaqāʾid, also rendered ʿaqīda, aqeeda, etc.) is an Islamic term of Arabic origin that literally means "creed". It is also called Islamic creed and Islamic theology.What is the athari Aqeedah? ›
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