(6) THE GREAT ASH`ARI SCHOLARS

Abu `Ali al-Daqqaq, al-Hasan ibn `Ali ibn Muhammad ibn Ishaq al-Naysaburi (d. ?), the teacher and father-in law of Imam Abu al-Qasim al-Qushayri and the foremost Sufi shaykh in his time. An Arabized Persian from Naysabur, he took usul there and fiqh from Marw at the hands of al-Khudari and Abu Bakr al-Qaffal al-Marwazi. He then took tasawwuf from Abu al-Qasim al-Nasrabadhi. Al-Qushayri relates that his knees would shake in his presence. In his Risala he relates from him the following sayings:

About tasawwuf: "This path is fit only for those persons whose spirits Allah has used to sweep the dunghills."  About the Sufi: "If the dervish had nothing left but his spirit and he offered it to the dogs at this door, not one dog would pay it any attention."

Abu Nasr al-Isma`ili, Muhammad ibn Ahmad ibn Ibrahim ibn Isma`il al-Jurjani (d. 405), one of Abu Bakr al-Isma`ili's sons. He attained leadership and renown among scholars beyond his country's borders even in his father's lifetime, and until his own death. He specialized in hadith transmission.

Ibn Furak, Muhammad ibn al-Hasan ibn Furak, Abu Bakr al-Asbahani al-Shafi`i (d. 406), the imam and foremost specialist of kalam and usuull, transmitter of al-Ash`ari's school, specialist of Arabic language, grammar, and poetry, orator, jurist, and hadith scholar. He studied doctrine under al-Ash`ari's companion, Abu al-Hasan al-Bahili, and taught al-Qushayri and al-Bayhaqi who cites him frequently in al-Asma' wa al-Sifat. He fought and defeated the anthropomorphist Karramiyya in Rayy then went to Naysabur where he trained generations of fuqaha' at a school founded for him, an expansion of Abu al-Hasan al-Bushanji's earlier Sufi school (khankah). He brought to Naysabur the transmissions of the narrators of Basra and Baghdad and authored numerous books in various disciplines.

`Abd al-Ghaffar ibn Isma`il said: "Ibn Furak's works in usul al-deen, usul al-fiqh, and the meanings of the Qur'an count nearly one hundred volumes." Among them: Mujarrad Maqalat al-Ash`ari and Mushkil al-Hadith wa Bayanuh, in which he refuted both the anthropomorphist tendencies of Hanbali literalists and the over-interpretation of the Mu`tazila. Ibn Furak said that he embarked on the study of kalam because of the hadith reported from the Prophet: "The Black Stone is Allah's right hand" which a mutakallim explained to his satisfaction in contrast to the fuqaha'.

Ibn Furak was particularly tough on the companions of Imam Ahmad who strayed, in his opinion, from the correct understanding of the verses and hadiths of Allah's attributes. Upon returning from a debate on the topic in Ghazna he fell on the road, poisoned. He was carried back to Naysabur and buried in al-Hira. Ibn `Asakir relates that his grave is a place of visitation where one seeks healing (istishfa') and one's prayer is answered. Abu `Ali al-Daqqaq was heard supplicating on behalf of a number of a people and was asked: "Why do you not supplicate on behalf of Ibn Furak?" He replied: "How can I supplicate on his behalf when only yesterday I implored Allah to cure me for the sake of Ibn Furak!"

Al-Dhahabi in his cursory notice on Ibn Furak mentioned spurious derogatory reports - without questioning nor commenting them in the least - whereby Ibn Furak said that the Prophet is no longer a Prophet after his death and other things which entail disbelief. Al-Subki showed that these were anti-Ash`ari fabrications falsely attributed to Ibn Furak, al-Ash`ari, and his companions and declared false by al-Qushayri and Ibn al-Salah. Al-Subki further relates that Ibn Furak considered a disbeliever whoever said that the Prophet is no longer a Prophet. Furthermore Ibn Furak said: "The Ash`ari doctrine is that our Prophet - blessings and peace upon him! - is alive in his grave and is Allah's Messenger forever until the end of time, literally, not metaphorically, and that he was a Prophet when Adam was between water and clay, and his prophethood remains until now, and shall ever remain."

The martyred imam Abu al-Hajjaj Yusuf ibn Dunas al-Findalawi al-Maliki mentioned that Ibn Furak never slept in a house that contained a volume of the Qur'an, but would go and sleep somewhere else out of respect. Among his sayings:

"Every instance in which you see scholarly endeavor but upon which there is no light: know that it is a secret innovation (bid`a khafiyya)." Al-Subki said: "This is truly well-said and shows the great refinement of the teacher. Its foundation is the Prophet's saying: 'Uprightness is what the conscience consents to."

"It is impermissible for the walee to know that he is a walee because it annuls his fear and imposes self-security upon him." Abu `Ali al-Daqqaq considered it permissible. Al-Qushayri said: "And this is what we prefer, and choose, and declare." Al-Subki said: "Abu al-Qasim is right without the shadow of a doubt, for knowledge of one's wilaya does not do away with one's fear of Allah, nor knowledge of one's Prophethood. Indeed, Prophets are the most fearful of Allah of all people, yet they know that they are Prophets. And the walee does not cease to fear Allah's planning as long as he lives, and this is the greatest proof of fear. `Umar said: 'If one of my feet were inside Paradise and the other still outside, I would not feel secure from Allah's plan.'"

Al-Kharkushi, `Abd al-Malik ibn Muhammad ibn Ibrahim, Abu Sa`d ibn Abi `Uthman al-Naysaburi al-Shafi`i (d. 407), named Shaykh al-Islam, al-Imam al-Qudwa by al-Dhahabi, one of the leading scholars, commentators of Qur'an, exceptional orators, pious ascetics, and hadith narrators of Khurasan, "one of the imams of the Religion and eminent ones among the believers by whose mention mercy is sought." He obtained fiqh at a tender age then gave up recognition and kept company with the ascetics and destitute until he reached an advanced state among those devoted to worship and utterly reliant on Allah. He took various disciplines and narrated hadith from and to the scholars of Naysabur, Iraq, and Hijaz, taking up residence in Mecca, thereafter returning to Naysabur where he died. Al-Khatib said of him: "He was trustworthy, righteous, and scrupulous." Ibn `Asakir considered him one of those meant by the Prophet's hadith: "When Allah loves a servant of His He says to Jibril: 'Truly, I love So-and-So, therefore love him too!' Whereupon Jibril says to the inhabitants of the heaven: 'Your Lord loves So-and-So, therefore love him too!' At this all the inhabitants of the heaven love that one, and acceptance is marked for him on earth."

Al-Kharkushi was generous and hospitable towards the poor until it was said: "The fuqara' in his house are emirs." He sowed head-coverings which he then ordered sold without letting show that he himself had made them. He built a school with a library, and a hospital with perpetual endowmnent. At the conclusion of medical treatment, he would clothe the former patients and give them funds for their journeys back home. He authored a large Qur'anic commentary, a book on the signs of Prophethood, a book entitled al-Zuhd, the biographies of pious ascetics, and on other topics. Al-Hakim narrated hadiths from him. Al-Kharkushi was heard reciting the following lines:

To You have we come, but it is You Who have brought us, For none other than You, our Lord, can suffice us! Your door beckons, its entrance is munificence Because of which the humble flock to it.

Then he said three times: "O Allah! give us rain." Before he finished saying it a third time, it was raining abundantly. Al-Hakim said: "I declare that I never saw someone more accomplished than him in knowledge and asceticism, humbleness, and guidance to Allah and to renunciation of the world."

© copyright As-Sunna Foundation of America, 1998