Aqeeda of Imam Al-Mizzi


Few days back, Abul Hasan of Marifah forum published a pdf article in which he tried to portray as though Al-Mizzi was Ash’ari. The main argument was that he himself testified in written that he was an Ash’ari and that was the pre-requisite for the professorship at Daaru Hadith Ashrafiyya. The pdf article of Abul Hasan can be downloaded from here.  He has discussed some other issues related to bro Haris Hammam. This has been discussed here and here. The original article which Abul Hasan has ‘refuted’ is here.

This issue can easily be divided into two parts..
1. What was the aqeeda of Al-Mizzi
2. Why did Al-Mizzi confessed to be an Asha’ari

Aqeeda of Al-Mizzi

Imam Dhahabi said in Tadhkirat Al-Huffaz (no.1176)[1]:

وكان يقرر طريقة السلف في السنة ويعضد ذلك بمباحث نظرية وقواعد كلامية

rough transl. “And he used to hold the way of Salaf in ‘Sunnah’ and supported it with knowledgeable statements and rules of Kalam”

Now all of us know, Imam Dhahabi was NOT an Asha’ari, and his views, in major issues of Sifat, were similar to Ibn Taymiyya, and that he was rejected as a teacher in the Daar Al-Hadith where being an Asha’ari was must to get hold to the job.
Therefore, him saying someone to be ‘on Aqeedah of Salaf’ that means ”aqeeda of salaf, according to Dhahabi’s understanding of salaf’s aqeeda” not like what Asha’aris consider to be the ‘aqeeda of salaf’. In short, Al-Mizzi was of the same view as Dhahabi on the issues of Sifat and other major issues related to belief.

Some bigot Asharis, like Abul Hasan of Marifa, can reject Dhahabi’s view. So let us go back to Tajud-Deen Ibn As-Subki,

Taaj As-Subki said[2]:

وله مشاركة في الفقه ويخوض في شيء من مسائل الصفات في أصول الديانات ليته برئ منها

Look at the statement of Allama Ibn Subki, he is saying that Al-Mizzi involved in some issues of Sifat, and he wished he wouldn’t have involved in those issues.
So why Ibn Subki disliked him having opinions in Sifat, when Al-Mizzi was an Asha’ari. The points derived from above statement are,
1. Mizzi had only few comments in the matters of Sifat.
2. That too were disliked by Ibn Subki who was among staunchest Asha’ari of his time.

Abul Hasan in his pdf article states on page.7 :

“He [Al-Mizzi] was the colleague of the infamous Ibn Taymiyya (b. 661 AH – d. 728 AH). The former was influenced by the later in some matters“.

Look how Abul Hasan is trying to fool the people. Who told him that Al-Mizzi was influenced by Ibn Taymiyya in only ”some matters”. Can he suggest us one statement from trustworthy sources of history which indicates his contradiction with Ibn Taymiyya (except his confession to be an Asha’ari which we’ll see soon) in major issues of Sifaat??
Atleast Ibn Subki was sincere enough to admit that these three (Al-Mizzi, Dhahabi, Barzali) great scholars were ‘harmed’ by Ibn Taymiyya in serious issues.
Ibn Subki said[3]:

واعلم أن هذه الرفقة أعني المزي والذهبي والبرزالي وكثيرا ما أتباعهم أضر بهم أبو العباس ابن تيمية إضرارا بينا وحملهم على عظائم الأمور أمرا ليس هينا وجرهم إلى ما كان التباعد عنه أولى بهم وأوقفهم في دكادك من نار المرجو من الله أن يتجاوزها لهم ولأصحابهم

[Translation of Abul Hasan] “The group comprised of Al-Mizzi, Al-Dhahabi, Al-Birzali and many of their followers were clearly harmed by Abul Abbas Ibn Taymiyya, who led them to gross acts of no little consequence and drew them to things that they should have avoided.”

Abul Hasan tried to dilute the ”gross acts of no little consequences” with ”some matters”.

As for Ibn Subki’s praise for Dhahabi and Al-Mizzi then it was regarding Jarh and Ta’deel and Hadith related issues, but in matters of Usul they both were ignorant and nobody according to Ibn Subki[4]. Ibn Subki mentioned[5] a discussion happened between Dhahabi and Al-Mizzi on some issue of belief (without mentioning the actual issue), after mentioning this Ibn Subki insulted them by saying that they both were nobody in this field to discuss the matter (see, footnote 4). He also criticised Dhahabi for saying that Al-Mizzi had knowledge of logic.

After knowing the that Al-Mizzi had the aqeeda of salaf according to Dhahabi (the Salafi), and Al-Mizzi had serious aqeeda issues according Ibn Subki (Al-Asha’ari), let us go back to other part of Al-Mizzi Issue…

Why Al-Mizzi confessed to be an Asha’ari?

The answer to this is: he simply considered himself on the aqeeda of Imam Al-Asha’ari based on his Al-Ibana, which was even discussed by his close friend Ibn Taymiyya. His confession was similar to Ibn Katheer’s confession of being an Asha’ari. People of their time were aware of the fact that it was only ta’weel to get the job.

Although Al-Mizzi confessed that he was an Asha’ari, on a written paper, but his contemporaries were aware of the fact that it was just a Ta’weel[6], and some even tried to sack him from his position because of his aqeeda.
Ibn Subki mentioned an incident in this regard.

Ibn Subki said[7]:

ولقد حكى لي فيما كان يحكيه من تسكين فتن أهل الشام أنه عقب دخوله دمشق بليلة واحدة حضر إليه الشيخ صدر الدين سليمان بن عبد الحكم المالكي وكان الشيخ الإمام يحبه قال دخل إلي وقت العشاء الآخرة وقال أمورا يريد بها تعريفي بأهل دمشق
قال فذكر لي البرزالي وملازمته لي ثم انتهى إلى المزي فقال وينبغي لك عزله من مشيخة دار الحديث الأشرفية قال الشيخ الإمام فاقشعر جلدي وغاب فكري وقلت في نفسي هذا إمام المحدثين والله لو عاش الدارقطني استحيي أن يدرس مكانه
قال وسكت ثم منعت الناس من الدخول علي ليلا وقلت هذه بلدة كبيرة الفتن
فقلت أنا للشيخ الإمام إن صدر الدين المالكي لا ينكر رتبة المزي في الحديث ولكن كأنه لاحظ ما هو شرط واقفها من أن شيخها لا بد وأن يكون أشعري العقيدة والمزي وإن كان حين ولي كتب بخطه بأنه أشعري إلا أن الناس لا يصدقونه في ذلك
فقال أعرف أن هذا هو الذي لاحظه صدر الدين ولكن من ذا الذي يتجاسر أن يقول المزي ما يصلح لدار الحديث والله ركني ما يحمل هذا الكلام

(rough translation in brief): “and he (my father) told me a story…….He (Taqi As-Subki) was with Shaykh Sadrud-Deen Al-Maliki, and Ash-Shaykh Al-Imam used to love him…… Taqi Subki said, “then he (Al-Maliki) mentioned Al-Birzali and his service to me, then he talked about Al-Mizzi and said that I should remove him from the position of teacher in Daarul Hadith Al-Ashrafiyyah”…..(on that Taqi as-Subki became angry, and mentioned some virtues of Mizzi in hadith field)……. On hearing that incident, I (Subki the son) said to Shaykh Imam (Taqi Subki): Indeed Shaykh Sadrud-Deen Al-Maliki was not denying the status of Al-Mizzi in the field of Hadith but it was like he knew the condition that it was necessary to be an Ashari to become teacher (in Daaru Hadith). And Al-Mizzi even though he wrote, when he was given hold to the position of teacher, with his handwriting that he was an Ashari, but people do not trust him on his claim.
To that he (Taqi Subki) said: I knew that was the intend of Sadrud-deen, but how one can have guts to claim that Al-Mizzi was not suitable for Daar Ul-Hadith.” —End Qoute—

So here we have some famous scholars who acknowledged that even though Al-Mizzi wrote that he was an Asha’ari but his aqeeda was not in line with what was famous as ”Asha’ari aqeeda”. Following are those scholars:

1. Sadrud-Deen Al-Maliki, 2. Taqi As-Subki, 3. Taaj As-Subki.
None of them in the qoute defended Al-Mizzi for his writing. Taqiyud-Deen only supported him because of his status in Hadith and there wasn’t anyone like him in field of Rijal. He could have contradicted Al-Miliki or Ibn Subki by saying that Al-Mizzi was consistent in his claim and he was a good Asha’ari but he never said so.

Statement of Taqi Al-Faasi

Abul Hasan then tried to misrepresent the statement of Al-Fasi. He quotes brother Abuz Zubair’s post where he translated a statement of Taqiyud-Deen Al-Faasi from his “Ta’reef dhawil ‘Ula”[8]. Following is what he quoted,

The historian Al-Fasi (d. 832) writes in his Ta’rif Dhawil ‘Ula in biography of al-Dhahabi:

It has reached me that al-Dhahabi refused to take up the teaching position at Dar al-Hadeeth al-Ashrafiyya in Damascus because he was not an Ash’ari. This is when the position was vacated due to the death of the previous teacher al-Hafidh Jamal al-Din al-Mizzi. Al-Mizzi himself did not attain the position until he testified for himself that he is an Ash’ari, for that was the stipulated condition for the teacher therein. This indicates the richness of al-Dhahabi’s religiosity and piety, for it was also possible for him to testify for himself that he is an Ash’ari and take up the position, and that wouldn’t have affected him, in that he does not have Ash’ari beliefs.” (page 50)

Regarding this Abul Hasan states,

“No matter how the likes of Abuz Zubair and his cohorts hope to explain away this quotation that Al-Mizzi was not an Ash’arite in the strictest sense, the question still remains that Al-Mizzi did testify by his own pen that he was an Ash’ari and that was the pre-requisite to attain the Professorship in Hadith at Darul Hadith Al-Ashrafiyya in Damascus.”

But he totally failed to understand the quotation from Al-Faasi. The reason that Al-Faasi compared Dhahabi’s case with Al-Mizzi’s one, was because of their identical Salafi belief. Let me explain it one by one:

  1. Dhahabi and Al-Mizzi both had salafi belief.
  2. Dhahabi and Al-Mizzi both were invited for the professorship of Daarul Hadith.
  3. Dhahabi denied to call himself Ash’ari while Al-Mizzi wrote that he was an Ash’ari[9] to fulfill the condition of Professorship at Daar Al-Hadith.
  4. By that, Al-Faasi said that Dhahabi could also have testified just like Al-Mizzi and that would not have affected the Salafism of his just as it did not affect the Salafism of Al-Mizzi.

Actually all those who mention Al-Mizzi while speaking about Dhahabi was because of similarity in both of them with regards to aqeedah. WAllahu A’alam


[1] (1176/7/21) Daar Ihya At-Turath Al-Arabi

[2] Tabaqaat (10/399)

[3] (10/400)

[4]See pg. 399,400. For ex.


[5] By quoting from Dhahabi’s Tadhkirah Al-Huffaz. Dhahabi didn’t mention the actual matter on which they discussed.

[6] Or in more clear term, it was ‘Tawriyyah’.

[7] See, Tabaqaat Ash-Shafa’iyyah (10/397-398)

[8] “Ta’reef Dhawil ‘Ula bi man lam yadhkurahu Adh-Dhahabi fi An-Nubla” (pg.50) Daar Sader, Beirut.

[9] Ash’ari of Al-Ibana, whom Hasan As-Saqqaf consider Mujassim and said that today’s Ash’aris follow Al-Ghazali not Al-Ash’ari.