(2) THE GREAT ASH`ARI SCHOLARS

 

Bundar ibn al-Husayn

Bundar ibn al-Husayn, Abu al-Husayn al-Shirazi al-Sufi (d. 353), al-Ash`ari's servant and a companion of al-Shibli, on whose advice he abandoned his great wealth, after which he said: "I did not find anything harder than to abandon status (al-jah), and the real man is he who cleanses himself from the mirror of the world." He wrote a refutation of Ibn Khafif on certain questions. Among his sayings:

"The legacy of companionship with people of innovation is the turning away from truth." - "Allah has chosen the Sufi for Himself and cleansed him from his own self. The name sufi is in the grammatical form (wazn) of `ufi, 'one granted relief'; kufi, 'one granted sufficiency'; and juzi, 'one who is rewarded.' So Allah's action is apparent in the Sufi's very name. As for the pretender (al-mutaqarri), he only burdens himself, displaying asceticism but hiding covetousness and worldly conceit." - "The devout (al-qari') is he who closely maintains His Lord's commands, while the Sufi is He who gazes at the Real in proportion to the states in which He has maintained him." - "Self-collectedness (al-jam`) is whatever is for the sake of Allah (bi al-Haqq) while dispersion (al-tafriqa) is whatever is for the sake of one's right (li al-haqq)." - "Do not fight for your own self. Leave it to its Owner and let Him do with it whatever He wills." - "The heart is a clot and yet it is the locus of lights and the source of supplies from the Almighty. Correct meditation takes place through that clot. Allah has caused the heart to lead when He said: 'Lo! therein verily is a reminder for him who has a heart' (50:37). Then He took it prisoner when He said: 'Allah comes between the man and his own heart' (8:24)."

al-Dummal 

Al-Dummal, `Abd al-`Aziz ibn Muhammad ibn Ishaq, Abu al-Hasan al-Tabari, known as al-Dummal (d. ?), one of the principal companions of al-Ash`ari whose school he brought to al-Sham. He also took the great Tafsir directly from Abu Ja`far Muhammad ibn Jarir al-Tabari. Ibn `Asakir mentions his book in the principles of the Law, Riyada al-Mubtadi wa Basira al-Mustahdi ("The Training of the Beginner and Insight of the Seeker of Guidance").

Ibn Khafif

Ibn Khafif, Muhammad ibn Khafif ibn Asfakshad, Abu `Abd Allah al-Shirazi al-Dibbi al-Shafi`i al-Sufi (276?-371). Al-Sulami said of him: "The Folk (al-qawm, i.e. the Sufis) do not have anyone older than him nor more complete in his state and reality today." He took kalam from al-Ash`ari , fiqh from Ibn Surayj, and tasawwuf from Ruwaym, al-Jariri, and Abu al-`Abbas ibn `Ata'. Al-Dhahabi said of him: "He is at the same time one of the most knowledgeable shaykhs in the external sciences (`ulum al-zahir)." Ibn Taymiyya names him among the great Sufi representatives of the Sunna:

The great shaykhs mentioned by Abu `Abd al-Rahman al-Sulami in Tabaqat al-Sufiyya and Abu al-Qasim al-Qushayri in al-Risala were adherents of the school of Ahl al-Sunna wa al-Jama`a and the school of Ahl al-Hadith, such as Fudayl ibn `Iyad, al-Junayd ibn Muhammad, Sahl ibn `Abd Allah al-Tustari, `Amr ibn `Uthman al-Makki, Abu `Abd Allah Muhammad ibn Khafif al-Shirazi, and others, and their speech is found in the Sunna, and they composed books about the Sunna.

Ibn Khafif reported from his teacher Ibn Surayj that the proof that love of Allah was a categorical obligation (fard) was in the verses: "Say: If your fathers, and your sons, and your brethren, and your wives, and your tribe, and the wealth you have acquired, and merchandise for which you fear that there will be no sale, and dwellings you desire are dearer to you than Allah and His messenger and striving in His way: then wait till Allah brings His command to pass. Allah guides not wrongdoing folk." (9:24) For punishment is not threatened except due to a categorical obligation. He once said to the followers of Ibn Maktum: "Busy yourself with the acquisition of some knowledge, and do not let the words of the Sufis [to the contrary] fool you. I myself used to hide my inkwell and pen inside my clothes, and go secretly to visit the scholars. If they [the Sufis] had found out, they would have fought me and they would have said: You will not succeed. Later they found themselves needing me."

When Ibn Khafif became too weak to stand in his habitual supererogatory prayers, he prayed double their number sitting, in view of the Prophet's report whereby "The prayer of one sitting is half that of one standing." Ibn Bakuyah related from Ibn Khafif that he said: "In my beginnings I would recite in one rak`a "Qul huwa Allahu ahad" [Sura 112] ten thousand times, or recite the entire Qur'an in one rak`a." "Never in forty years was the Ramadan-end purification tax (zakat al-fitr) incumbent upon me." Al-Sulami said: "Abu `Abd Allah came from a family of princes, but he practiced asceticism (zuhd) to the point that he said: 'I would collect rags from refuse-heaps, wash them, and mend whatever I could use for clothing, and I spent fourteen months breaking my fast at night with a handful of beans.'"

Ibn Mujahid al-Ta'i

Ibn Mujahid al-Ta'i, Muhammad ibn Ahmad ibn Muhammad ibn Ya`qub ibn Mujahid, Abu `Abd Allah al-Basri al-Baghdadi al-Maliki (d. after 368). A companion of al-Ash`ari and Sahl al-Tustari, he took al-Bukhari's Sahih from Abu Zayd al-Marwazi and received from Ibn Abi Zayd a license to narrate his books al-Nawadir, al-Nawadir, and al-Ziyadat. Among his prominent students were al-Qadi Abu Bakr al-Baqillani, al-Khatib al-Baghdadi, and Abu Bakr ibn `Udhra. Al-Qadi `Iyad mentions that among his books are a work on the principles of the Law according to the Maliki school; a famous epistle on the doctrine and beliefs of Ahl al-Sunna; and a book on kalam entitled Nihaya al-Mutabassir wa Ma`una al-Muntasir ("The Goal of the Seeker of Insight and the Aid to the Victor"). Among his sayings in poetry:

O faithful follower and student! Every science is a slave to the science of kalaam. You ask for fiqh so that you correct a legal ruling But then neglect the abode of all rulings.

© copyright As-Sunna Foundation of America, 1998