Answered by: Shaykh Mohammad Ahsan Osmani
- If a person is Hanafi, does that mean he is a Maturidi by default?
- Do we approach the two theological schools of thought (Maturidi, Ashari) as we approach the four juristic schools of thought; i.e. we must restrict our self to one school?
- What is the meaning of ‘there is no taqleed in aqidah’?
بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
In the Name of Allah, The Most Gracious, The Most Merciful
Firstly, it is important to know who Imam Abu Mansur Al-Maturidi and Imam Abul Hasan Al-Ashari were. In brief, these two great scholars were the leaders of Ahl ul Sunnah wal Jama’at; i.e. those whose beliefs conformed to the beliefs of the Prophet ﷺ and his companions (may Allah تعالى be pleased with them). These two illustrious Imams imparted spread and defended the true, pure Islamic Creed. Nevertheless, they differ in twelve matters which are secondary issues of faith, not principle. In other words, they both agree upon the essential, fundamental beliefs of Islam; i.e. oneness of God, belief in the Messengers, etc., however, they have some minor differences in interpreting certain topics, which would not necessitate one becoming an innovator or a disbeliever if one of the interpretations is favoured over the other.
The Ashari school of thought was famous in North Africa because the majority of the Muslims there adhered to the Maliki Madhab, and the creed of the Malikis conformed to the beliefs of the Imam Al-Ashari. As for the Maturidi school of thought, it gained popularity in the Indian Sub-Continent and Byzantine Empire, because the Muslims of that region followed the Hanafi Madhab, and the creed of the Hanafis was consistent with the beliefs of Imam Al-Maturidi. In response to your first question, being a follower of the Hanafi Madhab does not, by default, entail being a Maturidi, because there were many Hanafis who sympathized with the Ashari school of thought as well.
Moving on to your second question, the approach to the two theological schools of thought is not the same as the approach to the four juristic schools of thought, because the former is related to one’s beliefs, whereas the latter pertains to one’s actions. Nonetheless, a layman should not delve into these intricate matters. As long as one’s creed is in compliance with the teachings of the Quran and Sunnah, he/she will be considered a believer. It is not necessary for someone to call themselves Maturidi or Ashari. What is necessary is to believe in that which they believed in. It is advised that you study the book: Al Aqidah At Tahawiya; this book is a summary of the beliefs of Ahl ul Sunnah wal Jama’at. Like I mentioned earlier, they only had minor differences, and a person will not be asked about these intricacies on the Day of Judgement. Notwithstanding, if a Hanafi scholar, for example, is in favour of the Ashari school over the Maturidi school in those 12 particular matters where both schools differ, then he is not restricted to the Maturidi school. One of the main reasons why is that it is not okay to pick and choose between one of the four juristic madhabs because it would entail following one’s whims, in terms of practice, in making one’s decision in matters of religion, which is prohibited. On the other hand, if a person chooses an opinion (of one of the two schools) related to creed, based upon sound research, then that would not constitute following one’s desires, because this is correlated to one’s belief, not practice.
Regarding your final question, there is a difference of opinion amongst the scholars in making taqleed (blindly following without knowing proof) in basic Islamic beliefs:
According to the majority of Hanafi scholars, Imam Shafi, Imam Malik, Imam Ahmad, and others, if he believes (with conviction) in the fundamental aspects of faith, without knowing its proofs, he would still be considered a believer. However, knowing the proofs is a prerequisite of attaining complete faith. According to Imam Al-Ashari, the majority of his followers, and others, it is necessary to know the evidence regarding fundamental aspects of faith. If a person fails to learn these pieces of evidence, he would still be considered a Muslim, however, he would be sinful for insisting on remaining ignorant. As for the third group, namely the latter-day Asharis, they say knowing the proofs of the fundamental aspects of faith is obligatory, and the one who is ignorant of them would not be considered a believer.
Al Qalaid fi tahreer al faraid feema baynal Ashaaira wal Maturidia minal ikhtilaf wal fawaid
Al Rawdatul Bahiya feema baynal Ashaaira wal Maturidia
Masaail ul Ikhtilaf baynal Ashaaira wal Maturidia
Only Allah knows best
Written by Shaykh Mohammad Ahsan Osmani
Checked and approved by Mufti Mohammed Tosir Miah
Darul Ifta Birmingham