Figure 1A: The Creeds of the Hanbali, Maturidi and Ash`ari schools are covered in the text.
Assalaamu alaikum brother,
wa `Alaikum us-Salaamu wa Rahmatullah,
My name is…Noble brother, it is a pleasure to correspond with you,
I recently read a book that you translated titled: ‘Classics in Creed Series: The Foundations -1-, The Creed and Way of Muslim Orthodoxy’. I was wondering whether you would be kind to take a moment out of your time to provide some clarifications. Jazakallahu khairun.Thank you for taking up the reading of this work and making use of the text. I appreciate all feedback.
Question 1 – in pg 55 it says “Faith is statement by the tongue, action by the limbs and firm conviction of the heart. It increases by obedience and decreases by disobedience…”. But then in pg 100 under the chapter “The Meaning of Faith” in the second paragraph it says – “As far as deeds are concerned, the quality and quantity of deeds may increase but iman does not increase or decrease”. I’m assuming here the term iman is translated to mean faith because it is under the chapter “The Meaning of Faith”. I can appreciate that the quotes I cited are written by two different authors and this may be the reason why there may be an apparent contradiction. I was wondering whether you could help me understand how these two quotes can be reconciled, or is it that on the issue of iman there is two differing opinions on whether it remains the same or it fluctuates. If there are a difference of opinion, what is the most correct opinion?The two authors, Imam Muwaffaq ud-Din Ibn Qudamah, in the first instance and Imam Abu Hafs An-Nasafi, in the second instance, are both correct; but we need to understand the basis of their statements. Firstly, there are two types of iman according to Muslim Orthodoxy. The first is the iman of salvation, the basis of one’s faith. There is neither increase nor decrease in this form of iman. This can be referenced by Surat ul-Fath (48), ayah 4, where Allah mentions iman being added to an iman.
The iman being added to is the foundational faith, what the second author was making reference to in this text. The good deeds that one does are a testament and reference of the faith and are also referred to generally as “iman,” which is what the first author referred to in his text.
Secondly, the first author discussed the iman of deeds more as the audience he addressed already knew about the iman of salvation and that of deeds is what required emphasis. The second author, Imam An-Nasafi, was dealing with an audience composed wholly of cultists who said that salvation was by “faith and deeds,” a major blunder and so he emphasised this matter in his text.
Thus both understandings are valid and both should be understood by the believer.
Question 2 – in pg 66 it says “He, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “The Khilafah after me is thirty years.” So the last of it was the khilafah of Ali…”. But then in pg 71 it says “Mu’awiyah is… one of the khalifahs of the muslims”, to what I understand Mu’awiyah (ra) came after Ali (ra). In this instance again there seems to be an apparent contradiction, but in this case the author is the same. Can you please clarify this matter?
Imam Muwaffaq ud-Din Ibn Qudamah quotes the hadith that the khilafah is 30 years. This does not mean there will be no more khalifahs after that time. Rather, it is referring to those khalifahs on the Prophetic Way. The first four were chosen by the Consensus of those being Spiritual and Temporal Authority. By the time of the khilafah of `Ali, peace be upon him, who was assassinated, there was still 6 months remaining upon his death. Al-Hasan Al-Mujtaba, peace be upon him, was khalifah for six months and then self-abdicated (he considered his khilafah as part of that of `Ali and ruled in the same way). This then brought in Mu`awiyah, may Allah be pleased with him, as the khalifah. His post of khilafah came through abdication and not through the normal means.
Question 3 – in pg 17 you mentioned that the “Muslim Orthodoxy is three: the Athariyyah… the Ash’ariyyah… the Maturidiyyah”. Am I to assume that the three books in this series that you translated belong to each school of thought in its respective order? i.e. the first book is Athariyyah, the second is Ash’ariyyah and the third is Maturidiyyah?
Excellent question. The first text by Imam Muwaffaq ud-Din Ibn Qudamah is a sample of the Athariyyah while the second, written by Imam Abu Hafs An-Nasafi, is a sample of the Maturidi theology. The third and final is by Imam Ahmad Ad-Dardir and is the Ash`ari theology. This then gives the reader the opportunity to see the continuity and slight differences (which you astutely discovered) between the perspective authors and their disciplines.
Jazakallahu kahirun for taking the time to read my email and inshallah responding to it as well with clarifications.
Thank you again for taking the time to write us and I hope that my answers were satisfactory to the degree required. If not, please ask me for further clarification.
brother in Islam,
Al-Hajj Abu Ja`far Al-Hanbali