The three brothers : The birth of the Asharite creed


The year is 914, the place is Iraq, and the majority of Muslims are of the Mutazilite theology, a man called Abū al-Hasan Alī ibn Ismā’īl al-Ash’arī who was an accomplished Mutazilite student has now rejected that ideology, and started a new theological group within the Muslim community, a group which will later be called Asharites. 


One of the issues of contention was morality, or Divine Justice as it was termed, this topic included issues such as why does suffering happen, what happens to certain people when they die etc. Al-Ashari teacher was Abu ‘Ali Muhammad al-Jubba’i, Al-Ash’ari is alleged to have asked him about the likely fate of three brothers: a believer, an unbeliever and one who died as a child. Al-Jubba’i answered that the first would be rewarded, the second punished and the third neither rewarded nor punished. Al-Ashari objected and proposed that God should have allowed the third to live so that he might have gained paradise, al-Jubba’i replied that God knew that had the child lived he would have become an unbeliever. Al-Ash’ari then silenced him by asking why in that case God did not make the second brother (the unbeliever) die as a child in order to save him from hellfire!


The flaws of the Mutazilite school were exposed and the Asharites began to grow. 

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