Imam Abu al-Hasan al-Asha‘ri is the Imam of the Ahl as-Sunnah wa al-Jama’ah and at their forefront, followed by Imam Abu al-Mansur al-Maturidi. Some of the shuyukh have mentioned that the companions of Imam ash-Shafi‘i and his followers follow Imam al-Asha’ri in matters of doctrine and follow Imam ash-Shafi‘i in matters of law whereas the companions of Imam Abu Hanifa follow Imam al-Maturidi in doctrine and follow Imam Abu Hanifa in law.
There is no contention between the two scholars and their followers except in twelve issues. Sheikh Sa‘id Fawdah wrote in Sharh Risalah al-Ikhtilaf bayn al-Asha‘ira wa al-Maturidiyya,
It is not hidden to the reader that the scholars mentioned more than this number of issues over which there is disagreement. It seems, however, that the author chose to limit them to this number due to their obvious nature.
Firstly, Imam al-Maturidi said that takwin, creation, is an Eternal Attribute that subsists with Allah’s Being, as do all of His Attributes, and that it is distinct from that which is brought into existence, mukawwan, and that it is linked with that which is brought into existence in the world and every part of it from the time of its inception. Just as Allah’s Will is Eternal and linked with that which is willed at the time of its existence, so too is His Omnipotence Eternal and linked with that which is decreed.
Sheikh Sa‘id Fawdah wrote in Sharh Risalah al-Ikhtilaf,
In other words, takwin is a Pre-Eternal Attribute that subsists with Allah and has a contingently effective lineage with that which is brought into existence at the time it is brought into being.
For this reason, the scholars say that takwin is different from that which is brought into existence, mukawwan, because takwin is a Pre-Eternal Attribute and that which is brought into existence is contingent.
For this reason, the claim of some of the Rashawi that the Maturidis agree with them that contingents subsist within Allah’s Entity is incorrect. This is fallacious because according to the Maturidis, takwin is Pre-Eternal and not contingent. It is not to be called an Attribute in an unrestricted manner; rather it is an Attribute from which actions issue forth.
Imam al-Asha‘ri said that it is a contingent Attribute that does not subsist with Allah’s Being and according to him, it is from the Attributes of Action and not from the Eternal Attributes. As he saw it, the Attributes of Action are all contingent, such as takwin and bringing into existence and the emergence of the world with the Statement, “Be.” Therefore, according to Imam al-Asha‘ri, Takwin is a description for the self-same effective linkage of power by taking note of its effect, whereas according to Imam al-Maturidi, it is the Pre-Eternal Attribute from which the creation and that which is brought into existence come.
Secondly, Imam al-Maturidi said that the Speech of Allah, the Exalted, is not heard. rather, what is heard is that which points to it. Imam al-Maturidi said that which is heard, masmu‘, only applies to that which connects with the sense of hearing. According to him, that which connects with it are the sounds that points and indicates towards the Pre-Eternal Attribute. As for the actual Pre-Eternal Attribute, both Imam al-Maturidi and Imam al-Asha‘ri held that it has no connection with the senses and that the senses have no connection with it. The disagreement is regarding whether a Pre-Eternal Attribute being heard or not. For Imam al-Maturidi, hearing is conditioned upon the connection of the senses, and for that reason he denied that Inner Speech, kalam nafsi, can be heard.
Imam al-Asha‘ri said that it is heard – as is well known in the story of Moses. Sheikh ibn Furak said,
Two things are heard during the recitation of the reader: the voice of the reader who is reciting and the Speech of Allah the Exalted.Qadhi Abu Bakr al-Baqillani said, “Allah’s Speech is not heard in the conventional sense; rather, it is possible for Allah to allow any of His creation that He wills to hear it, contrary to customary means and contrary to it being with the medium of letters and sound.”
Imam Abu Ishaq al-Isfarayini and those who follow him said, “Allah’s Speech is not heard at all.” This was the chosen view of Imam Abu al-Manswur al-Maturidi as found in al-Bidayah.
Thirdly, Imam al-Maturidi said that the Creator of the Universe is described with wisdom, hikmah, whether that wisdom takes the meaning of knowledge. ‘ilm, or the meaning of perfection or mastery, ihkam. The Imam said that Allah is described with wisdom and that wisdom is a description of Allah’s Entity. This refers either to the knowledge of the precise or perfected actions or it refers back to the Pre-Eternal Attribute of Takwin that he affirmed. This means that mastery and precision are from the implications of Takwin.
Imam al-Asha‘ri said that if wisdom takes the meaning of knowledge then it is an Eternal Attribute that subsists with Allah’s Entity, and if it takes the meaning of perfection or mastery, then it is a contingent quality akin to Takwin, and the Entity of the Creator is not described with it.
Fourthly, Imam al-Maturidi said that Allah wills obedience or disobedience for all beings, be they essences or accidents; however, obedience occurs by Allah’s Will and Decree and His Pre-Ordainment and Predestination, Pleasure, Love and Command whereas disobedience occurs by Allah’s Will and Decree and His Predestination and Pre-Ordainment but not with His Pleasure, Love or Command. Imam al-Asha‘ri said that Allah’s Love and Pleasure are inclusive of all things just as His Will.
Sheikh Sa‘id Fawdah wrote in Sharh Risalah al-Ikhtilaf,
As for Imam al-Asha‘ri, the Ustadh reported that he believed Allah’s Love is inclusive of every accident, be it an act of obedience or an act of disobedience. This general statement suggests that Allah the Exalted loves disobedience. The correct view is that this is not the doctrine of al-Asha‘ri.
On the contrary, he said that Allah loves disobedience insomuch as He punishes on account of it, just as He loves obedience insomuch as He Rewards on account of it. There is a distinction between this and what Ustadh ibn Kamal Basha and others mentioned and ascribed to al-Asha‘ri.
Fifthly, according to Imam al-Maturidi, being legally ordered with that in which there is no capacity to endure is impermissible, whereas being burdened with that which cannot be borne is permissible. Imam al-Maturidi distinguished between being legally ordered and being burdened. According to Imam al-Asha‘ri both are permissible.
Sixthly, Imam al-Maturidi said that some of the rulings that relate to legal responsibility, taklif, are known by the intellect, because the intellect is a tool by which the goodness and evil of some things can be comprehended, and it is a tool by which the obligation of faith is comprehended, as well as the obligation of gratitude to the Giver of Bounties. The One Who makes this known and obligatory is Allah the Exalted; however, it is through the medium of the intellect, just as the Apostle made the obligations known and the One Who made things obligatory in reality is Allah the Exalted, but it was through the medium of the Prophet. Imam al-Maturidi said,
No one is excused by ignorance of his Creator due to whatever that he sees in the design and creation of the Heavens and the Earth.He also said,
Had Allah not sent a Messenger, still it would have been obligatory for creation to know Him through their intellects.Imam al-Asha‘ri said that nothing is made an obligation or a prohibition except by the Sacred Law – not the intellect, even if the intellect is able to comprehend the goodness and evil of some things. According to Imam al-Ash‘ari, all of the rulings that relate to legal responsibility are taken from Revelation.
Seventhly, Imam al-Maturidi said that the wretched person could become felicitous and the felicitous person could become wretched. Imam al-Asha‘ri said that there is no consideration given to either felicity or wretchedness except during the End, Death, and Requital.
According to Imam al-Maturidi, felicity is defined as Islam and wretchedness is defined as disbelief.
According to Imam al-Asha‘ri, felicity is dying upon Islam and wretchedness is dying upon disbelief.
Eighthly, Imam al-Maturidi said that it is rationally impermissible for disbelief to be pardoned. Imam al-Asha‘ri said that it is rationally permissible but textually impermissible. Imam al-Ash‘ari’s view is based upon a rational judgement alone, whereas Imam al-Maturidi’s view is based on observation of Allah’s Will.
Ninthly, Imam al-Maturidi said it is rationally and textually impermissible for the believers to abide eternally in the Hellfire and for the disbelievers to abide in Paradise. Imam al-Asha‘ri said that it is rationally quite permissible, but textually impermissible.
Tenthly, some of the Maturidis say that the name and the thing named, al-ism wa al-musamma, are one and same. Imam al-Asha‘ri believed that there is a distinction between the two and the “act of naming,” tasmiya. Some of them divided a name into three categories: itself, other than itself, and a third category that is neither itself nor other than itself. There is agreement that the act of naming, tasmiya, is other than them, the name and the thing named, and it is what is established with the one named. This is taken from Bidayah al-Kalam.
Eleventhly, Imam al-Maturidi said that being male is a condition for Prophethood, and consequently, he said, it is absolutely impermissible for a woman to be a prophetess. Imam al-Ash‘ari said that being male is not a condition for it, and that being female does not negate it. This is taken from Bidayah al-Kalam.
Twelfthly, Imam al-Maturidi said that the action of the servant is called an acquisition and not creation, and that the Action of the Real is called creation and not acquisition – and both are inclusive of action. Imam al-Asha‘ri said that “action” denotes the Real bringing into existence and the acquisition of the servant is called “action” only figuratively. It has been said, “That which is permissible for the Almighty to be singularly is called creation, and that which is impermissible for the Almighty to be described with is acquisition.”
The gist of this disagreement is that Imam al-Asha‘ri held that the word “action” is literal when applied to Allah since He is the Doer, and is figurative when applied to the servant. Imam al-Maturidi on the other hand, held that the word “action” is also literal when applied to the servants.
— Imam Shamsuddin Ahmed ibn Sulayman ibn Kamal Pasha, The Disagreements Between Asha'ris and Maturidis, exegesis by Sheikh Sa‘id Fawdah from Sharh Risalah al-Ikhtilaf bayn al-Asha‘ira wa al-Maturidiyya, transmitted via Sidi Terence Helikaon Nunis of A Muslim Convert Once More