Sharah Aqaid Nasafi

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Commentary onNUMBER

the Creed of

Islam

XLIII OF

THE

RECORDS OF CIVILIZATION SOURCES AND STUDIESAUSTINP. EVANS, Editor

Commentary onCreed of IslamSa'd al-T)in aon the Creed of

the

al-T)in al-T^asaji

TRANSLATED WITH INTRODUCTION

AND NOTES BY

EARL EDGAR ELDER

MCMLColumbia University Tress,

COPYRIGHT 1950 BY COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY PRESS,

NEW YORK

Published in Great Britain, Canada, and India byGeoffrey Cumberlege, Oxford University Press

London, Toronto, and Bombay

MANUFACTURED

IN

THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

RECORDS OF CIVILIZATIONSOURCES AND STUDIESEDITED UNDER THE AUSPICES OF THE

DEPARTMENT OF HISTORY, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY

Editor

AUSTIN

P.

EVANS,

PH.D.

Professor of History

Advisory Board

DINO BIGONGIARI, Da

Ponte Professor of ItalianL.H.D.,

ROBERT HERNDON

FIFE,

Gebhard Professor

of the

Germanic Languages and Literatures

CARLTON

J.

H. HAYES,

LITT.D., Seth

Low

Professor of History

ROGER SHERMAN LOOMIS,

B.LITT., Professor ofLITT.D., Lieber

EnglishProfessor of

ROBERT MORRISON MAcIVER,Political

Philosophy and Sociology

DAVID

S.

MUZZEY,

PH.D.,

Gouverneur Morris Professor Emeritus

of History

JAMES

T.

SHOTWELL,

LL.D.,

Bryce Professor Emeritus of the

History of International Relations

LYNN THORNDIKE,WILLIAML.

L.H.D., Professor of

HistoryProfessor

WESTERMANN,

L.H.D.,

Emeritus of

Ancient History

To 0. N.

E.

Preface

D,this.

URING recent years there has been a revival of

interest in things

mediaeval.

The Neo-Thomist

school of philosophy

is

but one evidence of

Different scholars have reminded us that the Middle Ages arc not a backwater nor a bayou having little connection with the great stream of intellectual movements in our civilized world. Nor can one fully appreci-

ate this period in the history of

Europe and ignore the contributions of

Islam and Judaism.

on

of the theologians of the three faiths the metaphysics of Aristotle for terminology and expression made for a

The dependence

mutual exchange of thought that refutes forever the idea that the religions which thrived in the Mediterranean world existed in isolated compartments or dealt with one another only through war and persecution.larities

Etienne Gilson in his Unity of Philosophical Experience records the simiin principles and conclusions between al-Ash'arl and Descartes.

Spinoza, the Jew of Amsterdam, was influenced by Maimonides, the Jew of Cairo, who although a real Aristotelian was greatly indebted to Ibn Smsi

and other Musliminfluence of Ibn

writers.

Miguel Asin

in various

volumes has shown theof Ibn 'Arab!

Rushd on

the theology of

Thomas Aquinas,

on Raymondlar

Lull, and of Muslim eschatology on Dante's Divine Comedy. The three groups, the Christians, the Jews, and the Muslims, used simi-

arguments to prove the creatio exin the scholastic

nihilo.

Yet in

spite of

much

agree-

mentsisted.

method, doctrines peculiar to each naturally per-

The orthodox theology of Islam developed a unique theory for explaining the active relationship of the Creator to His universe. This contribution to the catalogue of cosmologies is not so well known in theWest. Maimonides, to

whom we

are indebted for the best systematic state-

ment

of this doctrine, 1 agreed with a

number

of

sidering these explanations of world

phenomena

as fantastic

Muslim thinkers in conand as contrary

to the accepted principles of Aristode.

But

it is

just because this theory of

Continuous Re-Creation and Atomic

Time

lies

behind the explanations given by al-Taftazam of the Creed of

al-Nasafi that this exposition of a1

Muslim creedI,

is

of great interest.

The

The Guide

for the Perplexed,

tr.

Fricdlandcr,

chap. 73.

viii

PREFACEis

book

also valuable as a comprehensive

and

authoritative statement of

Islamic belief

made

at the time

Western world has reveled

in a

when it had become crystallized. While the new birth of ideas which continued throughand the Enlightenment the world of

the Renaissance, the Reformation,

Islam has largely held with a tenacious grasp to the doctrines set forth here. Until the present day it has remained an authoritative compendium of thesetting forth an explanation of the articles of Muslim faith. As a textbook of theology it has long held a leading place among the scholars attached to the great Muslim University of Al-Azhar in Cairo. The translation was first made as a part of the requirements for the

arguments

degree of Doctor of Philosophy at the Kennedy School of Missions of the Hartford Seminary Foundation. I am greatly indebted to the late Professor

Duncan Black Macdonald

for having been

my

guide to the

way

of under-

standing many thanks arc due to Professorassistance

of the intricate problems of

Muslim theology. My sincere A. Wolfson of Harvard University for Harrydifficult

in

translating

many

portions of scholastic reasoning.

Among

Professor

mention the late G. Shcllabcar and Professor E. E. Calverley of the Kennedy School of Missions of the Hartford Seminary Foundation. I wish to acothersthis task I gratefully

who

have helped in

W.

knowledge the help and advice of Professor Austin P. Evans, general editor of the Records of Civilization. Professor Arthur JefTery of Columbia University has given valuable assistance, especially in reading the proof.

E. E. ELDEREvangelical Theological Seminary, Cairo

Introduction

fj

ust over a millennium ago

Abu

'1-Hasan al-Ash'arl (d. A.D. 935) formu-

lated the doctrinal position of orthodox Islam.

He

is

credited with having

saved the faith from corruption and having silenced the heretics. Three centuries separate his death from that of Muhammad. In time of appearance and

importance he occupies in Islam a place comparable in the history of Christian doctrine to that of the Council of Nicaea. There is something representative in these two, al-Ash'ari, the individual,

and Nicaea, the churchare written byis

council. In Islam creeds

and expositions

of

dogma

men who

though they claim

to give expression to that

which

according to the

Approved Way of the Prophet and the Agreement of the Muslim Community have no more ecclesiastical authority back of them than their own pens. Inthe evolution of doctrinal statements one never hears of "church" councils

and

their decisions but only of learned

men and

their convictions as to the

essential truths of the

Muslim's

belief.little

Muhammadtions to

himself, as reflected in the Qur'an and Traditions, gave

attention to the systematic arrangement

and

logical presentation of the revela-

which he

laid claim.

theologian.

As long asAs

His message was theocentric, but he was not a he lived there was no necessity for a reasoned, methodi-

cal statement of Belief, just as there

was no need

for a political constitution

or a code of laws.

the

medium

of instruction

met events

as they came. If necessity

and guidance Muhammad demanded, verses were abrogated by

new

ones, or a

more

detailed explanation left

no uncertainty

as to Allah's

purpose and desire.

When

the Prophet died, loyalty led his followers to seek guidance from

the verses of the Qur'an which he had given

them although they were

not yet collected into one volume. One interpretation of such verses as "This is a detailed explanation of everything" (Qur'an 12:111) and "We haveneglected nothing in the

Book" (Qur'an 6:38) wassufficient in itself for all

that this revelation

through

Muhammad

was

times and occasions. But

experience taught the community of Islam that even a book purporting to come direct from the Almighty and All-Wise was not enough. Recourse

was had

to the practice

and commands of the Prophet, then analogies were

xdrawn, andof theif

INTRODUCTIONguidance wasstill

lacking one looked for the Agreement

Muslim Community.is

Orthodox Islamof the Prophetdialectics

accustomed to consider the days of the Companionstheir Successors as the

and

golden age

when

the use of

was unnecessary. Because of cause throughout their lives they were

their fidelity toin the

Muhammadof the

and

be-

shadow

memory

of hishis

presence, these earl