The Creed of Ahlissunnath
The first thing necessary for all people is to have îmân and the creed of the Ahl-i sunnat scholars as communicated in their books. It is these scholars who have explained the way of our Prophet Hadrat Muhammad 'alaihis-salâm', who have comprehended murâd-ı ilâhî (the divine purpose) of the Qur'ân al-kerîm, and who have extracted the Prophet's purpose from the hadîth-i-sherîfs. It is the way shown by them that will save us on the Day of Resurrection. It is the Ahl-i sunnat scholars who have transferred the way of Allah's Prophet and his companions (radî-Allâhu ta'âlâ 'anhum ajma'în) into books and who have protected them against being changed or defiled.
Those scholars in the four madhhabs who reached the grade of ijtihâd and the great scholars educated by them are called the Ahl-i sunnat scholars. The leader and the founder of the Ahl-i sunnat is (Imâm-i a'zâm Abû Hanîfa Nu'mân bin Thâbit (radiy-Allâhu ta'âlâ anh).)
Sahl bin Abdullah Tusturî 'rahmatullâhi aleyh', one of the great Awliyâ who has reached the grade of haqîqat (the highest grade in sufism), says, "If there had been a person like Imâm-ı a'zâm Abû Hanîfa (rahmat-Allâhi ta'âlâ 'alaih) among the ummats of Hadrat Mûsâ and 'Isâ, they wouldn't have turned into Jews or Christians." [Awliyâ are people whom Allah loves.]
Millions of books written by this great leader and by hundreds of his disciples and by thousands of the great people educated by them, correctly spread and promulgate our Prophet's way all over the world. Today, there is not a city, a village or a person left in the free world that has not heard about the Islam communicated by our Prophet. Upon hearing about Islam, if someone sincerely wants to learn it correctly, Allâhu ta'âlâ promises that He will grant him true knowledge. Today, there are catalogues giving the names of the books on Islâm that fill the world's libraries. For example, there are about fifteen thousand names of books and some ten thousand names of authors in the book Kashf-uz-Zunûn by Kâtib Çelebi. This book, in two volumes, is in Arabic. Ismâ'îl Pasha from Baghdad wrote two supplementary volumes to this book. Nearly ten thousand names of books and authors exist in these supplementaries. Kashf-uz-Zunûn was first printed in 1250 [1835 A.D.] in Leipzig; the upper portions of its pages were written in Arabic, while the lower portions were in Latin. Before that, it was translated into French in 1112 [1700 A.D.] At exactly the same time it was printed in Egypt, too. Lastly, together with its two supplementaries, it was printed in Arabic in Istanbul between 1360-1366 (1941-1947). The books are in the order of the Arabic alphabet. Four of them were sold at the libraries of the Ministry of Education in Turkey. The two-volumed Arabic book Asmâ-ul-muallifîn by Ismâ'îl Pasha was printed in Istanbul in 1370 and 1374 (1951 and 1955). In these two volumes, the authors of the books in Kashf-uz-Zunûn and its supplementaries are written in the order of the Arabic alphabet and under each name are the books written by the owner of the name. Today, another very useful and valuable book listing only the Arabic Islamic books existing all over the world and their authors and in which library they can be found and at which call number they exist in each country is Carl Brockelmann's German bookGeschichte der Arabischen Literatur, which was printed in Leiden in 1362 (1943). The book Miftâh-us-sa'âdah by Tashköprüzâde Ahmad Efendî (rahmat-Allâhi ta'âlâ 'alaih), the author of the book Shaqâyiq-i Nu'mâniyya, which gives the biographies of the scholars educated in the Otttoman Empire, defines and explains nearly five hundred branches of knowledge and gives information about the books written in every branch of knowledge and their writers. His son, Kemâladdîn Muhammad, translated this book from Arabic to Turkish. It lists the Islâmic savants and their works, and he gave it the name Mawdû'ât-ul-'ulûm.This book was printed at the printing office of the newspaper Iqdâm in 1313. It is available in bookstores. After seeing Islam's twenty main branches of knowledge and its eighty – one sub – branches and the scholars of these branches and the books which each of them wrote tirelessly and perseverently, an understanding and reasonable person cannot help admiring the great number of Islâmic scholars and their skill at diving into the ocean of knowledge.
[In these books of theirs, refuting through documents and argumentations the words of naturalists and materialists and the absurdities which non-Muslims wanted to inject into Islâm, they silenced them all, and thus extinguished the fire of instigation and corruption prepared by enemies of the religion. Moreover, exposing the shame of those who tried to give wrong meanings to the Qur'ân and who strove to prepare defiled translations with evil intentions, they, on the one hand, clearly wrote all the facts that have to be believed in one by one, and, on the other hand, they very correctly presented to humanity the religious aspect of every event and action that has happened all over the world and that will happen until the end of the world.
The names and biographies of more than eight hundred of Îmâm-i a'zâm Abû Hanîfa's 'rahmat-Allahu ta'âlâ alaih' and those who attended his lectures, are written in books. Five hundred and sixty of these are well known in the knowledge of fiqh, and among these, thirty-six have reached the grade of ijtihâd.]
Every bid'at holder has inferred wrong meanings from âyats of Qur'ân al-kerîm and hadîth-i-sherîfs with covered meanings. Our Prophet 'alaihis-salâm' said,"He who gives a false interpretation to the Qur'ân according to his own mind, thought and knowledge, and who writes made up interpretations[those opposed to the interpretations which the great men of religion have prepared after learning them from our Prophet and from his Ashâb] is a kâfir." Please read the fiftieth disaster incurred by one's speech, discoursed on in Berîqa.We shouldn't buy or read the false books of interpretations published to make money by those who know nothing of salât and îmân; we shouldn't believe their decorated advertisements.
The valuable and right teachings derived from the Qur'ân al-kerîm and hadîth-i-sherîfs is only what the [Ahl-i Sunnat] savants understood and explained. Every renegade, every deviant, every man of bid'at, and every ignorant person supposes and claims that the way he follows is compatible with the Qur'ân al-kerîm and hadîth-i-sherîfs. For this reason, not every meaning derived from the Qur'ân and hadîths is to be accepted and esteemed
Imâm Muhammad al-Ghazâlî (rahmat-Allâhi 'alaih) wrote in Kimyâ-yi sa'âdat: "It is fard for a Muslim to know and believe primarily the meaning of the phrase Lâ ilâha ill-Allâh, Muhammadun Rasûl-Allâh. This phrase is called kalimat at-tawhîd. It is sufficient for every Muslim to believe without any doubt what this phrase means. It is not fard for him to prove it with evidence or to satisfy his mind. Rasûlullâh (sall-Allâhu 'alaihi wa sallâm) did not command the Arabs to know or mention the relevant proofs or to search and clarify any possible doubt. He commanded them to believe only and not to doubt. It is enough for everybody also to believe briefly. Yet it is fard kifâya that there should exist a few 'âlims in every town. It is wâjib for these 'âlims to know the proofs, to remove the doubts, and to answer the questions. They are like shepherds for Muslims. On the one hand, they teach them the knowledge of îmân, which is the knowledge of belief, and, on the other hand, they answer the slanders of the enemies of Islâm."
"The Qur'ân al-karîm stated the meaning of kalimat at-tawhîd and Rasûlullah (sall-Allâhu 'alaihi wa sallam) explained what is declared in it. All as-Sabâhât al-kirâm learned these explanations and communicated them to those who came after them. The exalted scholars who conveyed to us what the as-Sahâbat al-kirâm had communicated, by committing them to their books without making any alterations in them, are called Ahl as-Sunna. Everybody has to learn the i'tiqâd of the Ahl as-Sunna and to unite and love one another. The seed of happiness is this i'tiqâd and this unification."
"The 'ulamâ' of the Ahl as-Sunna explain the meaning of kalimat at-tawhîd as follows: Men were nonexistent. They were created later. They have one Creator. He is the One who has created everything. The Creator is one. He does not have a partner or a likeness. There is no second creator. He has been ever-existent; His existence did not have a beginning. He will be ever-existent; there is no end to His existence. He will not cease to exist. His existence is always necessary. His nonexistence is impossible. His existence is of Himself. He does not need any means. There is nothing that will not need Him. He is the One who creates everything and makes it go on existing. He is not material or a thing. He is not at a place or in any substance. He does not have a shape and cannot be measured. It cannot be asked how He is; when we say 'He,' none of the things which occur to the mind or which we can imagine is He. He is unlike these. All of them are His creatures. He is not like His creatures. He is the creator of everything that occurs to the mind and of every illusion and of every delusion. He is not above, below or at one side. He does not have a place. Every being is below the 'Arsh. And the 'Arsh is under His Power, under His Omnipotence. He is above the 'Arsh. Yet this does not mean that the 'Arsh carries Him. The 'Arsh exists with His Favour and in His Omnipotence. Now He is the same as He was in eternity, in eternal past. He will always be the same in the everlasting future as He had been before creating the 'Arsh. No change occurs in Him. He has His own Attributes. His Attributes called as-Sifât ath-Thubûtiyya are eight: Hayât (life) 'Ilm (Omniscience), Sam' (Hearing), Basar (Seeing), Qudra (Omnipotence), Irâda (Will), Kalâm (Speech, Word) and Takwîn (Creativeness). No change ever occurs in these Attributes of His. Change implies deficiency. He has no deficiency or defect. Though He does not resemble any of His creatures, it is possible to know Him in this world as much as He makes Himself known and to see Him in the next world. In the present world He is known without realizing how He is, and in the Hereafter, He will be seen in an incomprehensible way.
"Allâhu ta'âlâ sent prophets ('alaihimu 's-salâm) to His human creatures. Through these great people, He showed His human creatures the deeds that bring happiness and those which cause ruination. The most exalted prophet is Muhammad ('alaihi 's-salâm), the Last Prophet. He was sent as the Prophet for every person, pious or irreligious, for every place and for every nation on the earth. He is the Prophet for all human beings, angels and genies. In every corner of the world, everybody has to follow him and adapt himself to this exalted Prophet."
The great scholar and Murshid-i-kâmil Sayyid 'Abdulhakîm-i Arwâsî (rahmat-Allâhi 'alaih) said: "Rasûlullâh (sall-Allâhu 'alaihi wa sallam) had three tasks: the first one was to communicate and make known (tabligh) the rules of the Qur'ân al-karîm, that is, the knowledge of îmân and of ahkâm fiqhiyya, to all human beings. Ahkâm fiqhiyya is composed of the actions commanded and actions prohibited. His second task was to transmit the spiritual rules of the Qur'ân al-karîm, the knowledge about Allâhu ta'âlâ Himself and His Attributes, into the hearts of only the highest ones of his Umma. His first task, tabligh, should not be confused with his second task. The lâ-madhhabî reject the second task. But, Abu Huraira (radî-Allâhu 'anh), said, 'I learned two types of knowledge from Rasûlullah (sall-Allâhu 'alaihi wa sallam). I told you one of them. You would kill me if I divulged the second one. This word of Abu Huraira's is reported in the 267th and 268th letters of the Turkish book Mujdeci Mektûblar, and also in those books namely Bukhârî, Mishkât, and Hadîqa. The third task was carried out upon those Muslims who failed to adhere to the advice and warnings concerning carrying out the ahkâm fiqhiyya. Even the use of force is to be applied to get them to obey the ahkâm fiqhiyya.
"After Rasûlullâh (sall-Allâhu 'alaihi wa sallam), each of the four Khalîfas (radî-Allâhu 'anhum) accomplished these three tasks perfectly. During the time of Hadrat Hasan (radî-Allâhu 'anh), fitnas and bid'as increased. Islâm had spread out over three continents. The spiritual light of Rasûlullâh (sall-Allâhu 'alaihi wa sallam) had receded away from the earth. The as-Sahâbat al-kirâm (radî-Allâhu 'anhum) had decreased in number. Later, no one was able to do all these three tasks together by himself. Therefore, these tasks were undertaken by three groups of people. The task of communicating îmân and ahkâm fiqhiyya was assigned to religious leaders called mujtahids. Amongst these mujtahids, those who communicated îmân were called mutakallimûn, and those who communicated fiqh were called fuqahâ. The second task, that is, making those willing Muslims understand the spiritual rules of Qur'ân al-karîm, was assigned to the Twelve Imâms of Ahl al-Bayt (rahmat-Allâhi ta'âlâ 'alaihim) and to great men of tasawwuf. Sirrî (Sarî) as-Saqatî (d. 251 in Baghdad) and al-Junaid al-Baghdâdî (b. 207/821 and d. 298/911 in Baghdad) were two of them (rahmat-Allahu ta'âlâ 'alaihimâ).
[Scholars of Ahl-as-sunnat, learning this second task of our master the Messenger of Allah from the Twelve Imâms, established the (branch of) knowledge (called) Tasawwuf. Some people do not believe in the Awliyâ, in kerâmats, in Tasawwuf. This denial of theirs indicates that they have nothing to do with the Twelve Imâms. If hey had been following the way taught by the Ahl-i-Bayt, they would have learned this second task of Rasûlullah from the Twelve Imâms and scholars of Tasawwuf, Walîs would have been educated among them. Not only were no such people educated among them, but also they do not believe in the existence of such people. As it is seen, the Twelve Imâms are the imâms of the Ahl-i-Bayt. And the people who love the Ahl-i-Bayt and follow the Twelve Imâms are the Ahl as-sunnat. For being an Islamic scholar it is necessary to be an inheritor of the Messenger of Allah in these two tasks of his. In other words, it is necessary to become specialized in both these two branches of knowledge. Abd-ul-ghanî Nablusî, one of such great scholars, quotes the hadîth-i-sherîfs showing the spiritual principles taught in Qur'ân al-kerîm on the two hundred and thirty-third and later pages, and also on the six hundred and forty-ninth page of his book Hadîqat-un-nediyya, and writes that denying this fact is sheer ignorance and lack of good luck.
"The third task, having the rules of the religion done by force and authority, was assigned to sultans, i.e. goverments. The sections of the first class were called madhhabs. Sections of the second one were called tarîqas, and the third one was called huqûq (laws). Madhhabs that define îmân are called madhhabs in i'tiqâd. Our Prophet (sall-Allâhu ta'âlâ 'alaihi wa salam) had prophesied that Muslims would part into seventy-three groups in respect to îmân, and that only one of them would be right and the others wrong. And so it happened. The group that was given the good news of being on the right path is called the Ahl as-Sunnat wa'l-Jamâ'a. The remaining seventy-two groups, which were declared to be wrong, are called the groups of bid'a, that is, heretics. None of them are disbelievers. All of them are Muslims. But, if a Muslim who says he belongs to one of the seventy-two groups disbelieves any information that has been declared clearly in the Qur'ân al-karîm and the Hadîth ash-sharîf and that has spread among the Muslims, he becomes a disbeliever. There are many people today who, while carrying Muslim names, have already dissented from the madhhab of the Ahl as-Sunna and have become heretics or non-Muslims." This is the end of our quotation from Abdulhakîm Efendi.
Muslims have to keep on learning from birth to death. The knowledge which Muslims have to learn is called al-'ulûm al-Islâmiyya (Islâmic sciences), which consist of two parts: (1) al-'ulûm an-naqliyya; (2) al-'ulûm al-'aqliyya.
1) Al-'ulûm an-naqliyya (also called 'religious sciences'): These sciences are acquired by reading books of the 'ulamâ' of the Ahl as-Sunna. The 'ulamâ' of Islâm derived these sciences from four main sources. These four sources are called al-adillat ash-Shar'iyya. They are al-Qur'ân al-karîm, al-Hadîth ash-sharîf, ijmâ al-Umma and qiyâs al-fuqahâ'.
Religious sciences consist of eight main branches:
i) 'ilm at-tafsîr (the science of the interpretation of the Qur'ân al-karîm). A specialist in this branch is called mufassir. He is a profoundly learned scholar able to understand what Allâhu ta'âlâ means in His Word.
ii) 'ilm al-usûl al-hadîth. This branch deals with the classification of hadîths. The different kinds of hadîths are explained in Endless Bliss (second fascicle, sixth chapter.)
iii) 'ilm al-hadîth. This branch studies minutely the utterances (hadîth), behaviour (sunna) and manners (hâls) of our Prophet (sall-Allâhu ta'âlâ 'alaihi wa sallam).
iv) 'ilm al-usûl al-kalâm. This branch studies the methods by which 'ilm al-kalâm is derived from al-Qur'ân al-karîm and al-Hadîth ash-sharîf.
v) 'ilm al-kalâm. This branch covers the study of the kalimat at-tawhîd and the kalimat ash-shahâda and the six fundamentals of îmân which depend on them. These are the teachings to be believed by the heart. The scholars of kalâm usually wrote 'ilm al-usûl al-kalâm and 'ilm al-kalâm together. Therefore, the layman takes these two branches of knowledge as one single branch.
vi) 'ilm al-usûl al-fiqh. This branch studies the derivation of the methods of fiqh from the Qur'ân al-karîm and the Hadîth ash-sharîf.
vii) 'ilm al-fiqh. This branch studies af'al al-mukallafîn, that is, it tells how those who are sane and pubescent should act on matters concerning the body. This is the knowledge necessary for the body. Af'al al-mukallafîn has eight categories: fard, wâjib, sunna, mustahâb, mubâh, harâm, makrûh and mufsid. However, they can be briefly classified into three groups: actions commanded, actions prohibited and actions permitted (mubâh).
viii) 'ilm at-tasawwuf. This branch is also called 'ilm al-akhlâq (ethics). It describes not only the things we should do and should not do with the heart but also helps the belief to be heartfelt, makes it easy for Muslims to carry out their duties as taught in 'ilm al-fiqh and helps one attain ma'rifa.
It is fard 'ain for every Muslim, man or woman, to learn kalâm, fiqh and tasawwuf as much as is necessary out of these eight branches, and it is a crime, a sin, not to learn them.
2) Al-'ulûm al-'aqliyya (also called 'experimental sciences'): These sciences are divided into two groups: technical sciences and literary sciences. It is fard kifâya for Muslims to learn these sciences. As for Islâmic sciences, it is fard 'ain to learn them as much as is necessary. To learn more than is necessary, that is, to become specialized, in Islâmic sciences is fard kifâya. If there is no 'âlim who knows these sciences in a town, all of its inhabitants and the government authorities are sinful.
Religious teachings do not change in the course of time. It is an unexcusable crime to go wrong as a result of reasoning and erroneous thinking on 'ilm al-kalâm. In matters pertaining to fiqh, the variations and facilities shown by Islâm can be made use of when one has the excuses permitted by Islâm. It is never permissible to make alterations or to make reforms in religious matters with one's own opinion or point of view. It causes one to go out of Islâm. Change, improvement and progress in al-'ulûm al-'aqliyya are permissible. It is necessary to develope them by searching, finding and learning them from non-Muslims, too.
The following article is quoted from the book Al-majmû'at az-Zuhdiyya. The book was complied by an ex-Minister of Education as-Sayyid Ahmed Zühdü Pasha (rahmat-Allâhi ta'âlâ 'alaih):
"The word 'fiqh', when used in Arabic in the form of 'faqiha yafqahu', that is, in the fourth category, means 'to know, to understand.' When it is used in the fifth category, it means 'to know, to understand Islâm.' A scholar in 'ilm al-fiqh is called faqîh. 'Ilm al-fiqh deals with the actions which people should do and those which they should not do. The knowledge of fiqh is obtained from the Qur'ân al-karîm, the Hadîth ash-sharîf, ijmâ' and qiyâs. The consensus of the as-Sahâbat al-kirâm and the mujtahids, who came after them, is called ijmâ' al-Umma. The rules of the religion derived from the Qur'ân al-karîm, the Hadîth ash-sharîf and ijmâ' al-Umma are called qiyâs al-fuqahâ'. If it could not be understood from the Qur'ân al-karîm or the Hadîth ash-sharîf whether an action was halâl (permitted) or harâm (forbidden), then this acion was compared to another action which was known. This comparison was called qiyâs. Applying qiyâs required the latter action to have the same factor which made the former action permitted or forbidden. And this could be judged only by those profound 'ulamâ' who had attained the grade of ijtihâd.
" 'Ilm al-fiqh is very extensive. It has four main divisions:
i) 'ibâdât, composed of five subdivisions: salât (namâz), sawn (fast), zakât, hajj, jihâd. Each has many sections. As it is seen, it is an 'ibâda to make preparations for jihâd. Our Prophet (sall-Allâhu 'alaihi wa sallam) said that jihâd against the enemies of Islâm was of two kinds: by actions and by words. It is fard to learn how to make and use new weapons in preparation for jihâd by actions. Jihâd is done by the State. It is fard for the people to join in the jihad by obeying the State laws and orders. Nowadays, the attacks of our enemies through publications, motion pictures, radio broadcast and every means of propaganda – the second kind of war – has tremendously increased, and it is also a jihâd to stand against the enemies in this field.
ii) munâkahât, composed of subdivisions, such as marriage, divorce, alimony and many others [written in detail in our book Se'âdet-i Ebediyye].
iii) mu'âmalât, composed of many subdivisions, such as purchase, sale, rent, joint-ownership, interest, inheritance, etc.
iv) 'uqûbât (penal code), composed of five main subdivisions: qisâs (lex talionis), sirqa (theft), zinâ (fornication and adultery), qadhf (forgery) and ridda (case of becoming an apostate).
"It is fard for every Muslim to learn the 'ibâdât section of fiqh briefly. It is fard kifâya to learn munâkahât and mu'âmalât, in other words, those who have anything to do with them should learn them. After 'ilm at-tafsîr, 'ilm al-hadîth and 'ilm al-kalâm, the most honourable ilm is 'ilm al-fiqh. The folowing six hadîths will be enough to indicate the honour of fiqh and the faqîh 'rahmatullâhi ta'âlâ alaihim ajma'în':
'If Allâhu ta'âlâ wants to do a favour for a servant of His, He makes a faqîh of him.'
'If a person becomes a faqîh, Allâhu ta'âlâ sends what he wishes and his sustenance from unexpected sources.'
'The person about whom Allâhu ta'âlâ says 'most superior' is a faqîh in the religion.'
'Against Satan, a faqîh is stonger than one thousand 'âbids (those who worship much).'
'Everything has a pillar to base itself upon. The basic pillar of the religion is the knowledge of fiqh.'
'The best and most valuable 'ibâdat is to learn and teach fiqh.'
The superiority of al-Imâm al-a'zam Abu Hanîfa (rahmat-Allâhi ta'âlâ 'alaih) is understood also from these hadîths.
The rules of Islâm in the Hanafî madhhab were transmitted through a chain beginning with 'Abdullâh ibn Mas'ûd (radî-Allâhu anh), who was a sahâbî. Al-Imâm al-a'zam Abû Hanîfa (rahmat-Allâhi ta'âlâ 'alaih), the founder of the madhhab, acquired the knowledge of fiqh from Hammâd, and Hammâd from Ibrâhîm an-Nakhâ'î. An-Nakhâ'î learnt it from Alkama and Alkama, learnt it from Abdullah ibn Mas'ud, who learnt it from Rasûlullâh (sall-Allâhu 'alaihi wa sallam).
Abu Yûsuf, Imâm Muhammad ash-Shaibânî, Zufar ibn Hudhail and Hasan ibn Ziyâd were al-Imâm al-a'zam's disciples (rahimahum-Allâh). Of these, Imâm Muhammad wrote about one thousand books on Islâmic teachings. He was born in 135 A.H. (752) and passed away in Rayy, Iran, in 189 (805). Because he was married to the mother of al-Imâm ash-Shâfi'î, one of his disciples, ash-Shâfi'î inherited his books upon his death, thus his knowledge increased. For this reason, al-Imâm ash-Shâfi'î (rahmat-Allâhi ta'âlâ 'alaih) said, 'I swear that my knowledge of fiqh has increased by reading Imâm Muhammad's books. Those who want to deepen their knowledge of fiqh should be in the company of the disciples of Abu Hanîfa.' And once he said, 'All Muslims are like the household children of al-Imâm al-a'zam.' That is, as a man earns a living for his wife and children, al-Imâm al-a'zam took it upon himself to find out the religious knowledge which people needed in their affairs. Thus, he spared the Muslims from a lot of work.
Al-Imâm al-a'zam Abu Hanîfa (rahmat-Allâhi 'alaih) compiled the knowledge of fiqh, classified it into branches and sub-branches and set usûls (methods) for it, and also collected the knowledge of i'tiqâd, as Rasûlullah (sall-Allâhu 'alaihi wa sallam) and the as-Sahâbat al-kirâm (ridwân-Allâhi 'alaihim ajma'în) had preached, and taught them to thousands of his disciples. Some of his disciples became specialists in 'ilm al-kalâm, that is, in the teachings of îmân. Of them, Abu Bakr al-Jurjânî, one of Imâm Muhammad ash-Shaibânî's disciples, became famous. And Abu Nasr al-'Iyâd, one of his pupils, educated Abu Mansûr al-Mâturîdî in 'ilm al-kalâm. Abu Mansûr wrote in his books the knowledge of kalâm taught by al-Imâm al-a'zam (rahmat-Allâhi ta'âlâ 'alaih). By contending against heretics, he consolidated the i'tiqâd of the Ahl as-Sunna. He spread it far and wide. He passed away in Samarkand in 333 A.H. (944). This great 'âlim and another 'âlim Abu'l-Hasan al-Ash'arî, are called the imâms of the madhhabs of i'tiqâd of the Ahl as-Sunna.
The fiqh scholars are grouped in seven grades. Kemâl Pasha Zâde Ahmad ibn Sulaiman Effendi (rahmat-Allâhi ta'âlâ 'alaih), in his work Waqf an-niyyâ, explained these seven grades as follows:
1. The mujtahids of Islâm constructed the methods and the principles of deriving rules from the four sources of the religion (al-adillat ash-Shar'iyya) and thus derived rules. The four a'immat al-madhâhib were of these.
2. The mujtahids in a madhhab, following the principles formulated by the imâm of the madhhab, derived rûles from the four sources. They were Imâm Abû Yûsuf, Imâm Muhammad, etc. (rahmat-Allâhi ta'âlâ 'alaihim ajma'în).
3. The mujtahids of matters (mas'ala), for the matters that were not dealt with by the founder of the madhhab, derived rules by using the methods and principles of the madhhab. Yet in doing this, they had to follow the imâm. They were at-Tahâwî (238-321 A.H., in Egypt), Hassâf Ahmad ibn 'Umar (d. 261, in Baghdad), 'Abdullâh ibn Husain al-Karkhî (340), Shams al-a'imma al-Halwânî (456, in Bukhârâ), Shams al-a'imma as-Sarahsî (483), Fakhr al-Islâm 'Alî ibn Muhammad al-Pazdawî (400-482, in Samarkand), Qâdî-Khân Hasan ibn Mansûr al-Farghânî (592), etc. (rahmat-Allâhi ta'âlâ 'alaihim ajma'în).
4. As'hâb at-takhrîj were not able to employ ijtihâd. They were the scholars who explained brief, unclear rules derived by mujtahids. Husâm ad-dîn ar-Râzî 'Alî ibn Ahmad (d. 593 A.H., in Damacus) was one of them. He (rahmat-Allâhi ta'âlâ 'alaih) wrote a commentary to Al-Qudûrî.
5. The arbâb at-tarjîh selected one of several riwâyas (narrations or the opinions of mujtahids as narrated) coming from mujtahids. They were Abul'-Hasan al-Qudûrî (362-428 A.H., in Baghdad) and Burhân ad-dîn 'Alî al-Marghinânî (rahmat-Allâhi ta'âlâ 'alaihâ), the author of Al-hidâya, who was martyred by the soldiers' of Jenghiz in the Bukhârâ Massacre in 593 A.H. (1198).
6. Certain muqallids wrote various riwâyas about a matter in an order with respect to their reliability. They did not include any refused riwâya in their books. Abû 'l-Barakât 'Abdullâh ibn 'Ahmad an-Nasafî (d. 710 A.H.), the author of Kanz ad-daqâ'iq; 'Abdullâh ibn Mahmûd al-Musûlî (d. 683), the author of Mukhtâr; Burhân ash-Sharî'a Mahmûd ibn Sadr ash-Sharî'a 'Ubaid-Allâh (d. 673), the author of Al-wiqâya; and Ibn as-Sâ'âtî Ahmad ibn 'Alî al-Baghdâdî (d. 694), the author of Majmâ' al-bahrain, are of these (rahmat-Allâhi ta'âlâ 'alaihim ajma'în).
7. Muqallids incapable of distinguishing weak riwâyas from genuine ones. These were counted among fiqh scholars because they were able to understand what they read and explained it to the muqallids who could not understand.