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Posted on Thu, Jul 27, 2006 09:36

Imam al-Tahawi Imam Abu Ja`far al-Tahawi (239-321) can be said to represent the creed of both Ash`aris and Maturidis, especially the latter, as he was also following the Hanafi madhhab. We have therefore chosen to include the entire translated text of his Statement of Islamic Doctrine commonly known as the `aqida tahawiyya. This text, representative of the viewpoint of Ahl al-Sunna wa al-Jama`a, has long been the most widely acclaimed, and indeed indispensable, reference work on Muslim beliefs, of which the text below is a complete English translation. Imam Abu Ja`far Ahmad ibn Muhammad al-Azdi, known as Imam Tahawi after his birthplace in Egypt, is among the most outstanding authorities of the Islamic world on hadith and jurisprudence (fiqh). He lived at a time when both the direct and indirect disciples of the Four Imams of law were teaching and practicing. This period was the greatest age of Hadith and fiqh studies, and Imam Tahawi studied with all the living authorities of the day. Al-Badr al-`Ayni said that when Ahmad died, Tahawi was 12; when Bukhari died, he was 27; when Muslim died, he was 32; when Ibn Majah died, he was 44; when Abu Dawud died, he was 46; when Tirmidhi died, he was fifty; when Nisa'i died, he was 74. Kawthari relates this and adds the consensus of scholars that Tahawi allied in himself completion in the two knowledges of hadith and fiqh, a consensus that included, among others, al-`Ayni and al-Dhahabi, with Ibn Taymiyya singling himself out in his opinion that Tahawi was not very knowledgeable in hadith. This is flatly contradicted by Ibn Kathir who says in his notice on Tahawi in al-Bidaya wa al-nihaya: "He is one of the trustworthy narrators of established reliability, and one of the massive memorizers of hadith." Kawthari calls Ibn Taymiyya's verdict "another one of his random speculations" and states: "No-one disregards Tahawi's knowledge of the defective hadith except someone whose own defects have no remedy, and may Allah protect us from such." Tahawi began his studies with his maternal uncle Isma`il ibn Yahya al-Muzani, a leading disciple of Imam Shafi`i. However, Tahawi felt instinctively drawn to the corpus of Imam Abu Hanifa's works. Indeed, he had seen his uncle and teacher turning to the works of Hanafi scholars to resolve thorny issues of fiqh, drawing heavily on the writings of Abu Hanifa's two leading companions, Muhammad Ibn al-Hasan al-Shaybani and Abu Yusuf, who had codified Hanafi fiqh. This led him to devote his whole attention to studying the Hanafi works and he eventually joined the Hanafi school. He now stands out not only as a prominent follower of that Hanafi school but, in view of his vast erudition and remarkable powers of assimilation, as one of its leading scholars. His monumental scholarly works, such as Sharh ma`ani al-athar and Mushkil al-athar, are encyclopedic in scope and have long been regarded as indispensable for training students of fiqh. He was in fact a mujtahid across the board and was thoroughly familiar with the fiqh of all four schools, as stated by Ibn `Abd al-Barr and related by Kawthari, and as shown by Tahawi's own work on comparative law entitled Ikhtilaf al-fuqaha'. Tahawi's "Doctrine" (al-`Aqida), though small in size, is a basic text for all times, listing what a Muslim must know and believe and inwardly comprehend. There is consensus among the Companions, the Successors and all the leading Islamic authorities such as the four Imams and their authoritative followers on the doctrines enumerated in this work, which are entirely derived from the undisputed primary sources of Religion, the Holy Qur'an and the confirmed Hadith. Being a text on Islamic doctrine, this work sums up the arguments set forth in those two sources to define sound belief, and likewise, the arguments advanced in refuting the views of sects that have deviated from the Sunna. As regards the sects mentioned in this work, familiarity with Islamic history up to the time of Imam Tahawi would be quite helpful. More or less veiled references to sects such as the Mu`tazila, the Jahmiyya, the Karramiyya, the Qadariyya, and the Jabariyya are found in the work. It also contains allusions to other views considered unorthodox and deviant from the way of Ahl al-Sunna. There is an explicit reference in the work to the controversy on the creation of the Qu'ran in the times of al-Ma'mun and others. While the permanent relevance of the statements of belief in the `Aqida are obvious, the historical weight and point of certain of these statements can be properly appreciated only if the work is used as a text for study under the guidance of some learned person able to elucidate its arguments fully, with reference to the intellectual and historical background of the sects refuted in the work. Since the present book is intended exactly as one such aid towards understanding the details of Islamic belief with clarity, it is hoped that the quotation of the entire text of Tahawi's "Doctrine," which we consider as the doctrine of Ahl al-Sunna wa al-Jama`a, will be of benefit to the reader. And may Allah grant us a true understanding of faith and count us among those described by the Prophet as the Saved Group. TAHAWI'S STATEMENT OF ISLAMIC DOCTRINE (AL-`AQIDA AL-TAHAWIYYA) In the Name of Allah, the Merciful, the Compassionate Praise be to Allah, Lord of all the worlds. The great scholar Hujjat al-lslam Abu Ja'far al-Warraq al-Tahawi al-Misri, may Allah have mercy on him, said: This is a presentation of the beliefs of Ahl al-Sunna wa al-Jama`a, according to the school of the jurists of this religion, Abu Hanifa al-Nu`man ibn Thabit al-Kufi, Abu Yusuf Ya`qub ibn Ibrahim al-Ansari and Abu `Abdullah Muhammad ibn al-Hasan al-Shaybani, may Allah be pleased with them all, and what they believe regarding the fundamentals of the religion and their faith in the Lord of the worlds. We say about Allah's unity, believing by Allah's help that: 1. Allah is One, without any partners. 2. There is nothing like Him. 3. There is nothing that can overwhelm Him. 4. There is no god other than Him. 5. He is the Eternal without a beginning and enduring without end. 6. He will never perish or come to an end. 7. Nothing happens except what He wills. 8. No imagination can conceive of Him and no understanding can comprehend Him. 9. He is different from any created being. 10. He is living and never dies and is eternally active and never sleeps. 11. He creates without His being in need to do so and provides for His creation without any effort. 12. He causes death with no fear and restores to life without difficulty. 13. He has always existed together with His attributes since before creation. Bringing creation into existence did not add anything to His attributes that was not already there. As He was, together with His attributes, in pre-eternity, so He will remain throughout endless time. 14. It was not only after the act of creation that He could be described as "the Creator" nor was it only by the act of origination that He could he described as "the Originator." 15. He was always the Lord even when there was nothing to be Lord of, and always the Creator even when there was no creation. 16. In the same way that He is the "Bringer to life of the dead," after He has brought them to life a first time, and deserves this name before bringing them to life, so too He deserves the name of "Creator" before He has created them. 17. This is because He has the power to do everything, everything is dependent on Him, everything is easy for Him, and He does not need anything. "There is nothing like Him and He is the Hearer, the Seer." (al-Shura 42:11) 18. He created creation with His knowledge. 19. He appointed destinies for those He created. 20. He allotted to them fixed life spans. 21. Nothing about them was hidden from Him before He created them, and He knew everything that they would do before He created them. 22. He ordered them to obey Him and forbade them to disobey Him. 23. Everything happens according to His degree and will, and His will is accomplished. The only will that people have is what He wills for them. What He wills for them occurs and what He does not will, does not occur. 24. He gives guidance to whomever He wills, and protects them, and keeps them safe from harm, out of His generosity; and He leads astray whomever He wills, and abases them, and afflicts them, out of His justice. 25. All of them are subject to His will either through His generosity or His justice. 26. He is Exalted beyond having opposites or equals. 27. No one can ward off His decree or delay His command or overpower His affairs. 28. We believe in all of this and are certain that everything comes from Him. 29. And we are certain that Muhammad (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) is His chosen Servant and elect Prophet and His Messenger with whom He is well pleased, 30. And that he is the Seal of the Prophets and the Imam of the godfearing and the most honored of all the messengers and the Beloved of the Lord of all the worlds. 31. Every claim to prophethood after Him is falsehood and deceit. 32. He is the one who has been sent to all the jinn and all mankind with truth and guidance and with light and illumination. 33. The Qur'an is the word of Allah. It came from Him as speech without it being possible to say how. He sent it down on His Messenger as revelation. The believers accept it, as absolute truth. They are certain that it is, in truth, the word of Allah. It is not created as is the speech of human beings, and anyone who hears it and claims that it is human speech has become an unbeliever. Allah warns him and censures him and threatens him with Fire when He says, Exalted is He: "I will burn him in the Fire." (al-Muddaththir 74:26) When Allah threatens with the Fire those who say "This is just human speech" (74:25) we know for certain that it is the speech of the Creator of mankind and that it is totally unlike the speech of mankind. 34. Anyon


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