The Bewilderment of the Ash’ari Mutakalimeen

Bismillahi ar-Rahman ar-Raheem


One of the saddest positions in Islam is to be a mutakalim. The mutakalimoon are referred to as the theologians, specifically, the philosophizing theoreticians who found home under the school of thought of the ash’aris and the maturidis. Below I have gathered a number of statements from those authoritative figures in the history of these theoreticians who have testified to the delusional reality that they were a part of and who have realized their errors before they had passed away. This is a remarkable bounty from Allah, the ability and gift for someone to realize the heresy of their ways before they meet their Lord thus turning to repentance just before their deaths.


Imaam ash-Shafiee said that his ruling upon the one who engaged in kalaam (theological rhetoric) is that he should be beaten by a rod publicly, yet for some strange opinion, the modern school of ash’aris not only praise kalaam but as well rank it to be the only valid form of deductions of theology and doctrine. Contrasting their view of kalaam and ash-Shafi’ees view, then they have one of two options, either

1. All these people should be beaten as Shafi’ee said or
2. They know Islam better than Shafi’ee

At any rate, we shall start with the exploration of this topic inshallah


al-Fadheelati-Shaykh al-Haafidh Ibnu-Salaah mentioned that ‘al-Qubt at-Tawghaani informed me twice that he heard Fakhru-deen Raazi (Famous Mutakalim i.e. scholar of kalaam) mentioned


if only I had not devoted myself to ilmu-kalaam and he would weep”.



ar-Raazi’s disappointment of where kalaam landed him was evident in some lines of poetry he wrote narrated from Ibnu-Qayyim in Sawaa’iq al-Mursala

One of the greatest mutakalim Imaams Abdul-kareem ash-Shahrastani, whose knowledge of places, peoples, and creeds was unrivaled has depicted the state of the mutakalimeen concerning knowledge of doctrinal matters in the introduction to his book “Nihaaya al-Iqdaam fil-Ilm al-kalaam” he says
“By my life, I have visited all the scholarly institutions and let my eyes roam around these places, All I have found are people with hands to their chins, In bewilderment or gnashing their teeth in regret.”

According to the mutakalimeen, they viewed the salafi (sunni) creed and manhaj (methodology) as the belief of old women. The imams of his time known as the imam of al-Haramayn, al-Juwaiynee spoke nearing his death the following words.

I have plunged into the vast ocean and abandoned the people of Islam and their knowledge. I immersed myself in what they forbade me from and now if Allah does not meet me with His Rahmah, then woe to me. Here am I dying on the same belief as my mother (the salafi/sunni creed or the creed of the masses and common people)“. Niayaat al-Iqdaam fil kalaam

Another mutakalim is mentioned by Ibnu-Qayyim to have said the following
“Testify against me that I die and I know nothing except that the possible requires the necessary’, he then replied “requirement is something nonexistent, therefore I know nothing.”

Again in sawa’iq mursalah another mutakalim said

The people who have doubt at the time of death are the mutakalimoon”.

The revered Imaam Ibn-Waazeer said

“Some of the mutakalimeen and the heretic acted contrary to the prophets and his awliyyah and the Imaams of the salaf with respect to reflection and contemplation. They made it burdensome, delved deeply, expressed clear meanings with ambiguous expressions and returned, after a long journey, to doubt, bewilderment, enmity and accusing each other of lying”


Ibn Abu hadeed, one of those foremost in kalaam said

“So, that which I have engaged in persistency is the perpetrator of the most terrible misfortune
I stayed in the wilderness (kalaam) with no knowledge and drowned in an ocean with no boat”

Another mutakalim said
“I have surpassed the limit of most, to what is higher and travelled and left behind in the centers
I plunged into a fathomless ocean and drove myself through open deserts
I persisted on speculation then came to my senses (
accepting the truth) preferring (that truth) the religion of old ladies” 



Imaam ash-Shawkaani who is in no need of introduction said about the later part of his life when he delved into this science in his younger part the following
“The very limit of what I attained from my studies and my reflections, after much contemplation,
Was suspension in bewilderment between the two paths.
What then is the knowledge of the person who has known only bewilderment?”

Whoever examines the bafflement of the mutakalimoon knows the very truth about what Shaykhul-Islam Ibnu-Taymiyyah said when he said about them the following
They have been given intelligence but have not been given integrity, they have been given acumen but have not been given knowledge, they have been given hearing, sight, and hearts and then he quotes the ayaah
“We gave them hearing, sight, and hearts, but their hearing, sight, and their hearts did not benefit them in the slightest because they denied the revelations of Allah and so they were encompassed by that which they mocked at” (auraatu-Ahqaaf 46;26)


Ibn Taymiyyah, in this statement pretty much nailed it home so to speak. This very ayah is the exact essence of the ash’ari creed. Firstly Allah gave them these bounties and the gratitude of these bounties is that they denied the revelations of Allah. That is why they have a negative theology, they disbelieve Allah rose over the Throne, they disbelieve Allah created Adam with His Two Hands, they disbelieve that Allah has eyes, they disbelieve that Allah speaks in a point in time like when Allah spoke to Musa on Mount Tur. They disbelieve that when Allah Speaks, His Speech can be heard. Likewise, they mock the correct and authentic creed of the prophets, the mock the belief of the common masses of Muslims worldwide, they mock the defenders of the creed of the prophets and the companions and their students calling it a “dry theology” and for which the statement that “The beliefs of the salaf are safer, but the beliefs of the khalaf are wiser” of whom the ash’aris are responsible for adopting as part of their slogan. Yet Allah reiterated in this ayah “but they were encompassed by that which they mocked at”. This is a profound statement, because of all the material in defense of the ash’ari creed, for each new publication they come out, there are nearly a dozen other Sunni replies to these publications of theirs. Sunnism surrounds them because it is the creed of the common masses of Muslims. No one believes that Allah can be subjected to accidents and substances, no one belives that any of God’s Attributes can fall under the topics of whether it is muhdath (a new occurrence) or not. No one believes that we should apply how we view the creation and apply it to God. No one says

Well, rising means heading towards a direction and direction is a “place” confined and limited, therefore Allah does not rise”.


No one in the Muslim world reasons like this, rather they reason that if Allah said it, then He was truthful and did it.

So I don’t see how the science that was the cause of confusion, leaving the revelation, bewilderment of the religion, ignorance can be taught in something called “Islamic” in a positive light despite the words of these mutakalimeen who spoke negatively about it.

These mutakalim Imaams have called our dawah as the religion of old ladies and the sad irony, yet a great deed for their afterlife was that that which they mocked at, turned out to be the thing they saw to be the truth, many of them finally bowed down to this haq (truth) of the aqeedatu-salaf and submitted to what they called the religion of old ladies.


“The faith which comes from theosophical evidence is very weak and liable to evaporate with every specious argument. Reflect upon the following words.


Imaam al-Ghazali was as well a famous mutakalim and he too, nearing the end of his life had recanted his strange and heretical beliefs of ash’arism mostly written in his book “al-Iljaam”. This was the following comment made by Imaam al-Ghazaali
“True, deeply rooted belief is the belief of the ordinary people obtained through the recurrence of revelation”


In another statement of al-Ghazali he said


‘ilm al-kalam creates more doubts instead of solving them!



Al-Haafidh ibn Hajar wrote:

Some embarked to affirm (the Attributes of Allaah) whilst others negated it. The former went to the extent of making resemblance between Allaah and the creation, whilst the latter went to the extent of denying the Attributes of Allaah (ta’teel). The rejection of this from the Salaf, such as Aboo Haneefah, Aboo Yusuf and ash-Shaafi’ee, and their sayings in regards to the censure of the people of kalaam, is well known.The reason for such censure was that the people of kalaam spoke about those matters which both the Prophet sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam and his Companions remained quiet about… The people of kalaam did not content themselves until they filled the Religion with issues and the sayings of the philosophers. They made this philosophy the basis and the foundational principle to which everything was referred back to, and all that which opposed it from the narrations then false interpretation (ta’weel) was made of them, even if they were averse to the result. They claimed that what they had compiled was the noblest branch of knowledge and the most deserving to be acquired, and those who did not utilise what they had laid down, then they were from the laymen and the ignorant ones. So delight is for the one who clings to what the Salaf were upon and distances himself from the innovations that the khalaf introduced. However, if one cannot keep away from it, then let him take only that which he needs and let the way of the Salaf be his intended goal.”

(Fath al-Baaree, 13/253)