Maturidi, Al- (?–944)

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MATURIDI, AL- (?–944)

Al-Maturidi, a major figure among Hanafite scholars of the Transoxiana (Mawara al-nahr) region of Central Asia, and the founder of the Maturidite school of kalam, was known as Abu Mansur Muhammad b. Muhammad. He was born in Maturid (or Maturit), a neighborhood close to Samarqand, in present-day Uzbekistan, in the second half of ninth century and died there in 944. Sources name Abu Bakr Ahmad al-Juzjani and Abu Nasr Ahmad b. al-˓Abbas al-Iyadi among his teachers.

Al-Maturidi had an extensive knowledge of other beliefs and responded to views of Christians and Jews regarding the doctrines of trinity and prophecy, as well as to Dualists, Manichaeans, Zoroastrians, and other ancient Persian or Indian religions. Moreover, al-Maturidi is a primary source for modern researchers on some controversial thinkers in Islamic intellectual history such as Ibn al-Rawandi, Abu Isa al-Warraq, and Muhammad b. Shabib.

He wrote many works, among which Kitab al-tawhid (On divine unity) is the main source of his theology. His Qur˒anic commentary Ta˒wilat al-Qur˒an includes rational interpretations on theological and juridical verses. Among his lost books, Kitab al-maqalat was about early Muslim theological groups, and Ma˒Khadh al-Shar˒i˓ and Kitab al-Jadal were on Islamic legal methodology. Three of his other books in the list given by al-Nasafi are refutations of Abu˒l-Qasim al-Balkhi's works, who is known as al-Ka˓bi; two are against the principles (usul) and derivations (furu) of al-Qaramita; one is against al-Bahili's Usul al-khamsa; and another is against Mu˓tazilism.

Al-Maturidi had a high standing among the Hanafite jurists of his age in Central Asia and their followers. He took a middle position between the Mu˓tazila and the Ash˓ariyya in some controversial subjects, such as free will, the attributes of God, and so on. His doctrine was in some cases more rationalist than Ash˓ari's and closer to Mu˓tazilism. On the issue of predestination and human will, as the best examples of his thought, Maturidi tried to preserve both human freedom and divine omniscience without resorting to fatalism or a deistic approach. According to al-Maturidi, since the Qur˒an gives moral responsibility to each person, human beings possess free will. There is no imposition by God on human actions, but human beings cannot create their actions or realize their potential without God's will and permission, which is the difference between al-Maturidi and the Mu˓tazilites on this issue. Maturidi's formula about human actions was formed of free intention (kasb) of an action by a human and creation (khalq) of this action by God if He wills. Human acts are thus acts of God in one respect, yet in another aspect (in reality not metaphorically) humans' acts are by their free choice (ikhtiyar). A person's power to act is valid for opposite acts of right and wrong. God's creation of human acts according to their own choice does not prevent human freedom, because human capacity (istita˓a) is already limited.

Al-Maturidi's school begins with his immediate follower, associate and student Abu 'l-Hasan al-Rustughfeni (d. 956). Abu Nasr al-Iyazi's two sons, Abu Ahmad Nasr and Abu Bakr Muhammad, were both students of al-Maturidi's and al-Rustughfeni. However, the outstanding followers of his school were from a later generation. Abu 'l-Yusr al-Pazdavi (d.1099), a chief qadi of Samarkand at the end of the eleventh century and the author of Usul al-din, was the first among them. Another follower, Abu 'l-Muin al-Nasafi (d. 1115), was considered the second founder of Maturidism, and his role in that school is compared to that of al-Baqillani among Ash˓arites. Maturidite scholars differ from Ash˓arites, the other Sunni kalam school, on a few theological questions such as whether bringing into existence (takwin) is a divine attribute, whether the actions of God are created, or whether good and bad are rationally known, and so on. But these differences are not major and are usually regarded as methodological.

See alsoAsh˓arites, Ash˓aira ; Central Asia, Islam in ; Kalam ; Mu˓tazilites, Mu˓tazila .


Ceric, Mustafa. Roots of Synthetic Theology in Islam: A Study of the Theology of Abu Mansur al-Maturidi. Kuala Lumpur: ISTAC, 1995.

Frank, Richard M. "Notes and Remarks on the Taba˒i˒ in the Teaching of al-Maturidi." In Mélanges d'Islamologie. Edited by Pierre Salmon. Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1974.

Özervarli, M. Sait. "The Authenticity of the Manuscript of Maturidi's Kitab al-Tawhid: A Re-examination." Turkish Journal of Islamic Studies 1 (1997): 19–29.

Pessagno, J. Meric. "Intellect and Religious Assent." The Muslim World 69, no. 1 (1979): 18–27.

Watt, W. Montgomery. "The Problem of al-Maturidi." In Mélanges d'Islamologie. Edited by Pierre Salmon. Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1974.

M. Sait Özervarli