Abu Hasan al Ashari, the father of modern Islamic theology, whose logic has held over a millennium, began as a Mu’tazilite. Despite his reverence for scholarship and tradition, he confronted his teachers in order to arrive at Truth.
He probed his teacher al Jubbai’s theological positions by inquiring about the fate of 3 brothers: one evil, one pious, and one a child who passed away in youth. Jubbai answered, “the pious will precede to heaven, the evil to hell, and the child to “the People of Peace.”Al Ashari then pushed forward asking, “If the child wished to visit his brother in paradise, would it be granted?” According to the Mutazilite position on God’s justice, Jubbai responded, “No, because paradise must be earned through good deeds.” Al Ashari then plays the role of child and states, “If I had lived longer I would have earned paradise.” Al Jubbai relying on the principle of absolute Divine Omnigoodness held, “It was better for the child to die early [before he turned to evil].”
Ashari then finished his argument, “The evil brother may then ask God, ‘You knew of the good of the minor and terminated his life to prevent him from evil before he could ruin himself. You knew of my future too. Why did you favor him and not me?”
Through this al Jubbai was shown the absolute principles of Justice and Omnigoodness could not be held in tandem. Al Ashari founded his own rational system of Islamic theology which was popularized under Nizam Mulk, who had it taught in his Nizammiyah schools.
1. Islamic theology is rational and has been debated until a comprehensive system emerged.
2. As Muslims, arriving at Truth is a priority over deference to authority.
3. It’s okay to change positions as you learn, reflect on, and grow in faith. God knows best.
(Story related in The Cultural Atlas of Islam by Dr. Ismail al Faruqi Rahimullah) #chaplainnotes