Al-Asha`ira

The First Generation of al-Ash`ari’s Students and Companions

Abu `Abd Allah al-Shafi`i

Abu `Abd Allah al-Shafi`i, Muhammad ibn al-Qasim, Abu `Abd Allah al-Asbahani, known as al-Shafi`i (d. 381). He is included by Ibn `Asakir among the direct students of al-Ash`ari. The hadith master Abu Nu`aym mentioned that he authored many works in the foundations of religion, jurisprudence, and legal rulings.

Abu al-Hasan al-Bahili al-Basri

Abu al-Hasan al-Bahili al-Basri (d. ~370), the companion of al-Ash`ari and teacher of Ibn Furak, al-Baqillani, and Abu Ishaq al-Isfarayini. Always engaged in Remembrance of Allah, he taught and communicated only from behind a curtain, even with his servant. Al-Isfarayini said: “Next to my teacher al-Bahili, I was like a drop in the sea.” Al-Bahili himself said: “Next to my master al-Ash`ari, I was like a drop in the sea.” [note by: Dr. A. Godlas: Al-Safadi stated that he passed away around  (fi hudud) 370 AH (Wafi bil-wafayat, vol. 12, p. 312)].

Abu al-Hasan al-Tabari

Abu al-Hasan al-Tabari, `Ali ibn Muhammad ibn Mahdi (d. ~380). He studied under al-Ash`ari in Basra and Abu al-Hasan al-Bahili, and accompanied Abu Ishaq al-Isfarayini, Abu Bakr ibn Furak, and Abu Bakr al-Baqillani. His student al-Husayn ibn Ahmad ibn al-Hasan al-Asadi said: “Our shaykh and teacher Abu al-Hasan al-Tabari was the jurist who authored books in all the sciences. He was erudite, a well of knowledge in jurisprudence, kalaam, commentaries of Qur’an, language, and Arabic history. He possessed eloquence and was brilliant at debate. He was peerless in his time.” He authored among other works: “Al-Usul wa Tafsir Asami al-Rabb” (“Principles of the Religion and the Explanation of the Divine Names”) and “Ta’wil Ahadith al-Mushkilat al-Waridat fi al-Sifat” (“The Interpretation of the Problematic Narrations That Pertain to the Attributes.”) In the latter book he said: “Allah is in the heaven above everything and established over His Throne in the sense that He is elevated high above it, and the sense of istiwa’ is elevation.”

Abu Muhammad al-Tabari

Abu Muhammad al-Tabari, al-Qadi `Abd Allah ibn `Ali ibn `Abd Allah al-`Iraqi al-Jurjani al-Manjaniqi al-Shafi`i (d. ?), a companion of al-Ash`ari and one of the shaykhs of hadith of al-Hakim, who said of him: “I seldom saw, among the jurists (al-fuqaha’), anyone as eloquent and clear in his speech. I kept company with him in the year 359, from Naysabur to Bukhara.”

Abu Sahl al-Su`luki

Abu Sahl al-Su`luki, Muhammad ibn Sulayman ibn Muhammad ibn Sulayman al-Shafi`i al-`Ijli al-Naysaburi al-Ash`ari al-Sufi of the Banu Hanifa (d. 369), the imam of Khurasan among the jurists and scholars of kalaam, tafsir, and Arabic in his time. He accompanied Abu Ishaq al-Marwazi in fiqh and al-Shibli in tasawwuf, and took hadith from Ibn Khuzayma, Ibn Abi Hatim, Ibn al-Anbari, and others. Al-Sulami in “Tabaqat al-Sufiyya” and al-Qushayri in “al-Risalah” related from Ibn Furak that al-Su`luki defined tasawwuf as “the turning away from objections” (“al-i`rad `an al-i`tiraad.”) Among his other famous sayings: “Whoever says to his shaykh: ‘Why?’ shall never succeed.” He spent seven years in Baghdad during which he said that he never let pass a day of jum`a except he visited al-Shibli or asked him a question. The latter visited Abu Ishaq al-Marwazi one day and saw Abu Sahl there, whereupon he said to Abu Ishaq: “That crazy one is one of your companions? No, he is one of ours!” In Baghdad he also studied with al-Ash`ari according to Ibn Furak.

Abu Zayd al-Marwazi

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