Our doctrine which we teach and our religion (diyana) which we follow consists in clinging fast to the Book of God and the Usage (sunna) of His Prophet and to that which is handed down from the Companions, their immediate followers (tabi‘s) and from the leaders (imams) in tradition--with that we take refuge; and we teach that which Ahmad ibn Hanbal--may God illumine his face, exalt his rank and make great his reward--followed; and we shun that which is opposed to his doctrine. For he is the excellent leader, the perfect chief, through whom God made plain the truth, when error was made manifest, and showed the path and smote down the innovations of the innovators, the deviations of the deviators and the doubts of the doubters. So, the mercy of God be upon him for an appointed leader and an instructed chief, and upon all the leaders of the Muslims.
The sum of our doctrine is this, that we believe in God, His Angels, His Books, His Apostles, in all that has come from God, and what trustworthy men (thiqat) have reported from
the Apostles of God; we oppose nothing thereof. That God is One God, Single, One, Eternal; beside Him no God exists; He has taken to Himself no wife (sahiba), nor child (walad); and that Muhammad is His Servant (abd) and His Apostle. That Paradise and Hell are Verity and that the Hour (as-sa‘a) will come without doubt, and God will arouse those that are in the graves. That God has settled Himself (istawa) upon His throne, as He has said, (Qur. 20, 4); "the Rahman has settled Himself upon His throne." That God has a countenance, as He has said, (Qur. 55, 27); "and the countenance of thy Lord will abide, full of majesty and glory;" and two hands, as He has said, (Qur. 5, 69); "much more! both His hands are spread out," and (Qur. 38, 75); "that which I have created with both My hands;" and two eyes, without asking how (bila kayfa), as He has said, (Qur. 54, 14'); "which swims forth under Our eyes." That whoever thinks that God's name is other than He, is in error. That God has Knowledge (ilm), as He has said, (Qur. 35, 12); "Not one woman becomes pregnant and brings forth, except by His knowledge." We maintain that God has Power (qudra), as He has said, (Qur. 41, 14); "and have they not seen that God who created them is stronger than they?" We maintain that God has Hearing (sam) and Seeing (basar) and do not deny it, as do the Mu‘tazilites, Jahmites and Kharijites. We teach that God's Word (kalam) is uncreated, and that He has never created anything except by saying to it, "Be!" and it forthwith became, as He has said, (Qur, 16, 42); "Our speech to anything when We willed it was, 'Be' and it was." Nothing exists upon earth, be it good or bad, but that which, God wills; but all things are by God's Will (mashya). No one is able to do anything before God does it, neither is anyone independent of God, nor can he withdraw himself from God's Knowledge. There is no Creator but God. The works (amals) of creatures are created and predestined by God, as He said, (Qur. 37, 94); "and God has created you and what ye do." Man is able to create nothing; but they are created, as He has said, (Qur. 35, 31); "Is there any Creator except God?" and (Qur. 16, 17)
[paragraph continues] "and is He who created like him who created not?" and (Qur. 52, 35); "were they created out of nothing, or are they the creators?" and such passages are many in the Qur’an. And God maintains the believers in obedience to Him, is gracious unto them, cares for them, reforms them, and guides them aright; but the unbelievers He leads astray, guides them not aright, vouchsafes them not Faith (iman), by His Grace, as the People of error and pride maintain. For should He be gracious unto them and help them aright, then would they be pious, and should He guide them aright, then would they allow themselves to be guided aright, as He has said, (Qur. 7, 177); "whom God guideth aright, he allows himself to be guided aright, and whom He leads astray, they are he losers." God is able to help the unbelieving aright and to be gracious unto thorn, so that they shall become believing, but He wills that they shall be unbelieving as is known. For He has made them impervious to all help and sealed their hearts. Good and Evil happen according to the Destiny (qada) and Decree (qadar) of God for good and. evil, for the sweet and the bitter. We know that the misfortune that befalls us is not in order that we may go astray, and that the good fortune which befalls us is not in order that we may go aright. We have no control over that which is good or hurtful to us, except so far as God wills. We flee from our anxieties to God and commit at all times our distress and poverty to Him. We teach that the Qur’an is God's Word, and that it is uncreated, and that whosoever says that it is created is an unbeliever (kafir). We believe that God at the Day of Resurrection (yawm al-qiyama) will be visible to the eyes, as the moon is seen upon the night of the full moon; the believers will see Him, according to traditions which have come down from the Prophet. We teach that while the believers will see Him, the unbelievers will be separated from Him by a wall of division, as God has said, (Qur. 83, 15); "Surely not! They will be separated from their Lord, upon that Day." We teach that Moses besought God that he might see Him in this world; then God revealed Himself to the mountain and turned it into
dust and taught Moses thereby that he could not see Him in this world (Qur. 7, 139). We are of the opinion that we may not accuse anyone of unbelief (kufr), who prays towards Mecca, on account of sin committed by him, such as unchastity, theft, wine drinking, as the Kharijites believe, who judge that these thereby become unbelievers. We teach that whoever commits a great sin (kabira), or anything like it, holding it to be allowed, is an unbeliever, since he does not believe in its prohibition. We teach that Islam is a wider idea than Faith (iman), so that not every Islam is Faith. We believe that God turns the hearts upside down, and holds them between two of His fingers, that He lays the heavens upon a finger and the earth upon a finger, according to the tradition from the Prophet. We believe that God will not leave in Hell any of those who confess His Unity (muwahhid) and hold fast to the Faith, and that there is no Hell for him whom the Prophet has by his witness appointed to Paradise. We hope for Paradise for sinners and fear on their account, that they will be punished in Hell. We teach that God will release a few out of Hell, on account of Muhammad's intercession (shafa‘a) after they have been scorched there. We believe in the punishment of the grave. We believe that the Tank (hawd) and the Balance are Verities: that the Bridge as-Sirat is a Verity; that the Arousing (ba‘th) after death is a Verity; that God will set up His creatures in a place (mawqif) and will hold a reckoning with the Believers. 1 We believe that Faith (iman) consists in word (qawl) and in work (amal) and that it increases and diminishes. We trust in the sound Traditions handed down from the Apostle of God, which trustworthy people (thiqat), just man from just man, up to the Apostle, have transmitted. We hold by the love of the early
[paragraph continues] Believers (salaf), whom God chose to be Companions to the Prophet, and we praise them with the praise with which God praised them, and we carry on their succession. We assert that the Imam succeeding the Apostle of God was Abu Bakr; that God through him made the Religion (din) mighty, and caused him to conquer the Apostates (murtadds). The Muslims made him their Imam, just as Muhammad had made him Imam at prayers. Then followed [as legal Imam] Umar ibn al-Khattab; then Uthman ibn Affan; his murderers killed him out of wickedness and enmity; then Ali ibn Abi Talib. These are the Imams after the Apostle, and their Khalifate is that of the Prophetic office [i.e., they are, though not prophets, successors of the Prophet]. We bear witness of Paradise for the Ten (al-asharatu-l-mubashshara), to whom the Apostle bore witness of it, and we carry on the succession of the other Companions of the Prophet and hold ourselves far from that which was in dispute between them. We hold that the four Imams were in the true way, were rightly guided and excellent, so that no one equals them in excellence. We hold as true the traditions which the People of Tradition (naql) have established, concerning the descent of God to the lowest heaven (sama ad-dunya), and that the Lord will say, "Is there a supplicant? Is there a seeker for forgiveness?" and the rest of that which they have handed down and established, contrary to that which the mistaken and misled opine. We ground ourselves in our opposition on the Qur’an, the Sunna of the Prophet, the agreement of the Muslims and what is in accordance therewith, but put forth no novelty (bid‘a) not sanctioned by God, and opine of God nothing that we have not been taught. We teach that God will come on the Day of Resurrection, as He has said, (Qur. 89, 23); "When the earth shall be turned to dust, and the Lord shall appear and the angels, rank on rank," and that God is near to His servants, in what way (kayfa) He wills, as He has said, (Qur. 50, 15); "and We are nearer to him than the artery in his neck;" and (Qur. 53, 8); "Then He approached and came near and was two bows' length distant or even nearer." To our Religion (din)
belongs further, that we on Fridays and on festival days pray behind every person, pious and profane--so are the conditions for congregational prayers, as it is handed down from Abd Allah ibn Umar that he prayed behind al-Hajjaj. To our Religion belongs the wiping (mash) of the inner boots (khuffs) upon a journey and at home, in contradiction to the deniers of this. 1 We uphold the prayer for peace for the Imams of the Muslims, submission to their office, and maintain the error of those who hold it right to rise against them whenever there may be apparent in them a falling away from right. We are against armed rebellion against them and civil war.
We believe in the appearance of anti-Christ (ad-Dajjal) according to the tradition handed down from the Prophet; in the punishment of the grave, and in Munkar and Nakir and in their questions to the buried in their graves. We hold the tradition of the journey to heaven (mi‘raj, Qur. 17) of Muhammad as true, and declare many of the visions in sleep to be true, and we say that there is an explanation for them. We uphold the alms for the dead of the Muslims and prayer for them, and believe that God will help them therewith. We hold as true that there are enchanters in the world, and that enchantment is and exists. We hold as a religious duty the prayer which is held over the dead of those who have prayed toward Mecca, whether they have been believers or godless; we uphold also their right of testation. We acknowledge that Paradise and Hell are created, and that whoever dies or is killed, dies or is killed at his appointed time (ajal); that the articles of sustenance (rizq) from God, with which He sustains His creatures, are permitted (halal) and forbidden (haram); 2 that Satan makes evil suggestions to men, and puts
them in doubt, and causes them to be possessed, contrary to that which the Mu‘tazilites and the Jahmites maintain, as God said, (Qur. 2, 276); "Those who take usury will [at the Resurrection] stand there like one whom Satan causes to be possessed by madness," and (Qur. 114, 4 ff.); "I take my refuge in God, from the evil suggestion, from the stealthy one who makes suggestions in the hearts of men, by means of men and Jinn." We affirm that God may distinguish the pious by signs which He manifests through them. Our teaching concerning the little children of the polytheists (mushriqs) is this, that God will kindle a fire in the other world for them, and will say, "Run in there;"--as the tradition says. 1 We believe that God knows what men do and what they will to do, what happens and how that which does not happen, if it should happen, would happen. We believe in the obedience of the Imams and in their counsel of the Muslims. We consider right the separation from every inciter to innovation (bid‘a) and the turning aside from the People of wandering desires (ahl al-ahwa).--Translated from the Arabic text in Spitta's Zur Geschichte al-As‘ari's, pp. 133 ff.
296:1 For Muslim eschatology reference may still he made to Sale's introduction to the Qur’an, § 4. The punishment of the grave is what, in the case of unbelievers, follows the inquisition by the two angels Munkar and Nakir; see on them Lane's Modern Egyptians, chap. xxviii; on the whole subject, see translations by Gautier and Wolff and tractate by Rüling (Bibliography, p. 367)
298:1 This, one of the dividing questions between Sunnites and Shi’ites, belongs to theology as well as law. See p. 314 and Goldziher, Zur Literaturgeschichte der Si‘a, p. 87.
298:2 The Mu‘tazilites held that articles of sustenance of a forbidden nature, such as pork or wine, could not be called rizq in this technical sense; that God could not so use them. The orthodox retorted p. 299 that a man might live his life out on forbidden things; had he then been independent of God as to his sustenance? The Mu‘tazilites defined rizq as "a possession which its possessor eats" and as "that from which one is not hindered from profiting"; the orthodox, as a name for that which God sends to man and the other animals and they eat it and profit by it.
299:1 Some will run into the fire and find themselves immediately in Paradise; these would have been believers. Others will refuse, and will be treated as their parents.