A Clarification Exonerating the two Ḥāfiẓs – an-Nawawī & al-ʿAsqalānī – from the beliefs of the Ashʿarīs

Shaykh ʿAbd al-Muḥsin al-ʿAbbād al-Badr wrote this article to evidently highlight the false ascription of an-Nawawī and ibn Ḥajr to the schools of theological Kalām rhetoric; the Asharite school and other than it.

The Shaykh [may Allāh preserve him] found a book of an-Nawawī called Juz’ fīhī Thikri ‘I’tiqād as-Salaf fī al-Ḥurūf wa al-Aṣwāt, in which an-Nawawī states he completed the writing of this book on Thursday, the third of ar-Rabī’ al-Awwal in the year 676AH, which was less than five months before his passing away.


Shaykh ʿAbd al-Muḥsin al-ʿAbbād al-Badr:

Then an-Nawawī, may Allāh have mercy upon him, concluded what he related from Abu al-ʿAbbās al-Armawī, may Allāh have mercy upon him, with an excellent chapter (pg.80-82), wherein he mentioned the belief of the Salaf in the Attributes.

He said “Chapter – regarding the prophetic traditions that emphasise this belief and supports it in affirming the perfection of the Attributes of Allāh, which was the belief of the Imāms of Islām, may Allāh gather us with them upon their belief and cause us to die whilst loving the righteous predecessors and guided Imāms, may Allāh be pleased with all of them.”

An-Nawawī went on to say in the same segment:

  • And we believe in all of the prophetic traditions regarding the Attributes, we do not add anything to them, nor do we omit anything from them.
  • Like the ḥadīth of the Dajjāl’s story, wherein he ﷺ said, “your Lord is not one eyed.”
  • And similarly, the ḥadīth of Allāh’s Descent to the lowest heaven
  • And the ḥadīth of Allāh Rising over the Throne.
  • And [the ḥadīth] that the hearts are between two Fingers of Allah’s Fingers.
  • Also, [the ḥadīth] that He places the Heavens on one Finger and the Earths on one Finger.
  • Likewise, we believe in the ḥadīth of the Mi’rāj and what has been authentically reported about it in the narrations.
  • And we believe that Allah turns the hearts, along with any other narration that resembles these narrations, we believe in them as they have been reported – without interpreting the details of how they are. We believe in them as they have come (by the apparent)
  • And we believe that Īmān is comprised of actions and statements, it rises through doing acts of obedience and it decreases by doing sinful acts.
  • And we say Allāh will come on the Day of Standing just as He (Exalted be He) said, {and your Lord will come, and the angels will be in rows}
  • And we believe that Allāh draws near to His Servants however He wills due to His Statement (Exalted be He) {and We are closer to him than his jugular vein} and His Statement {then he (Jibrīl) approached and came closer and was at a distance of two bows’ length or nearer}, and whatever resembles that from the verses of the Attributes.
  • And we do not interpret how they are, nor delve into them inappropriately, rather, we suffice at the same point as the righteous predecessors did.
  • And we believe that Allāh is above His Throne just as He said in His Mighty Book, and we do not say He is in every place, rather He is above the heavens and His Knowledge encompasses every place and no place is void of it. Just as He said, {do you feel secure from the One Who is above the heavens} and as He said, {to Him arises the good word} and just as it has come in the ḥadīth of the Prophet’s night journey [his ascension] to the seventh heaven {he came close to his Lord} and as it has come in the ḥadīth of Sawda’ who desired to be freed so the Prophet asked her “where is your Lord?” So she responded correctly “above the heavens” so he said, “free her for she is a believer”.
  • And there is much in the Book and the Sunnah similar to this. We believe in this and we do not reject anything from it, and it has been reported by the trustworthy narrators that Mālik bin Anas said to a questioner who asked about His Statement (Exalted be He) {the Most Merciful rose above the Throne}; “rising is not unknown, How, is incomprehensible, belief in it is obligatory and to ask about it is an innovation”.


As for al-Ḥāfiẓ ibn Ḥajr al-ʿAsqalānī, may Allāh have mercy upon him, then what indicates the soundness of his creed is what occurs at the end of his commentary in Fatḥ al-Bārī from the statements of the Salaf regarding the Attributes of Allāh. In them is affirmation of the Attributes without takyīf (detailing how they are) nor tashbīh resembling them to the Creation, whilst affirming tanzīh (declaring Allāh free of imperfections and deficiency) without ta’wīl (interpolating them) or ta’tīl (negation of what Allāh has affirmed for Himself).

He transmitted in al-Fatḥ (13/507) at the end of his commentary on the chapter, the Statement of Allāh (Exalted be He) {O Messenger, convey what has been sent down to you from your Lord}, some excellent speech from Abī al-Muẓaffar bin as-Samʿānī. He [Ibn Ḥajr] said in it, “Abū al-Muẓaffar bin as-Samʿānī used the Quranic verses and prophetic traditions in this chapter to highlight the error of the theological rhetoric adopted by the people of Kalām; in dividing things into a Jism, Jawhar and ‘Arad [to prove Allāh is the creator].

“They relied on speculation and whatever their theories were able to derive, then they applied them to the Islamic texts, and whatever agreed with their speculations; they accepted and they rejected whatever opposed it. Then he mentioned these aforementioned verses from the Quran and their like that include the command of conveying the revelation.”

He further said, “and from that which He ordered to convey was Islamic monotheism, rather, it is the fundamental issue that he was ordered with. So he did not leave anything out from the affairs of the religion; its fundamentals, principles or legislation, except that he conveyed it.

“Furthermore, he never called to using, as a point of evidence, what the speculative theologians clung on to from Jawhar (substance) and ʿArad (incidental attributes). Likewise it has not been reported that he or a single one of his companions used as much as a single term from these philosophical terms.

“So it is known by way of this that they [speculative theologians] fell into a way that is innovated, conjured up that the Messenger of Allāh and his companions were never upon. So their way entails criticism and revilement the Salaf, as well as attributing doubt and a lack knowledge to them in their affairs. So beware of delving into their [speculative theologians] speech or taking an interest in their statements”.

Likewise he [Ibn Ḥajr] transmitted in al-Fatḥ (13/407) statements from a group of the Salaf in affirmation of the Attributes without making tashbīh, taḥrīf or ta’tīl and concluded with some superb speech from himself. The following is an excerpt of it from (13/407-408), “and al-Bayhaqī reported with a chain of transmission going back to Abī Dāwūd at-Ṭayālisī who said, “Sufyān ath-Thawrī, Shu’bah, Ḥammād bin Zayd, Ḥammād bin Salamah, Sharīk and Abū ʿAwānah never used to detail how the Attributes of Allah are, nor did they resemble them [to the creation], and they narrated these prophetic traditions and did not describe how they are.” Abū Dāwūd said [commentating on this], “and this is our belief.” Al-Bayhaqī [commentating on this] said, “and this is what our senior scholars believed.”

Al-Lālikā’ī related with his chain of transmission to Muhammad bin al-Ḥasan ash-Shaybānī who said, “the Islamic jurists – from the East to the West – all have unanimous agreement upon belief in the Qur’ān, and the prophetic traditions that have been transmitted by the trustworthy narrators from the Messenger of Allāh regarding the Attributes of the Lord without resembling them to the creation or explaining their fine details. So whoever explains their fine details and holds the belief of Jahm [bin Ṣafwān], then he has departed from what the Messenger and his companions were upon and has split from the main body of the Muslims because he described the Lord with the attributes of a non-entity.”