Abū Manṣūr al-Māturīdī
Tomb-shrine of Imam Māturīdī, Samarkand
Scholastic theologian, Jurist;
Leader of Guidance (Imām al-Hudā)
Shaykh al-Islām
Diver into the Sea of Knowledge
Aʿraf al-nās bi-madhāhib Abī Ḥanīfa
Born853 (238 H)[1]
Died944 (aged 90–91) (333 H)[1]
Samarkand, Samanid Empire
Venerated inTraditional Sunni Islam
Major shrineTomb of Imam Māturīdī, Samarkand
InfluencesAbu Hanifa
Influencedthe entire Maturidi school
Major worksKitab al-Tawhid
Ta'wilat Ahl al-Sunnah

Abū Manṣūr Muḥammad b. Muḥammad b. Maḥmūd as-Samarḳandī al-ḥanafi (853–944 CE; Arabic: أبو منصور محمد بن محمد بن محمود الماتریدي السمرقندي الحنفي‎), often referred to as Abū Manṣūr al-Māturīdī for short, or reverently as Imam Māturīdī by Sunni Muslims, was a Persian Sunni Hanafi jurist, theologian, and scriptural exegete from ninth-century Samarkand who became the eponymous codifier of one of the principal orthodox schools of Sunni theology, the Maturidi school,[2] which became the dominant theological school for Sunni Muslims in Central Asia[2] and later enjoyed a preeminent status as the school of choice for both the Ottoman Empire and the Mughal Empire.[2]

He was from a place called Maturid in Samarqand (Uzbekistan), and was known as Shaykh al-Islam, and the "Imam of Guidance" (Imam al-Huda). He was one of the two foremost Imams of the Ahl al-Sunnah in his time, along with al-Ash'ari in matters theological.[3]

In contrast to Ashʿarī (d. 936), the founder of one of the other major orthodox Sunni theological schools, Maturidi adhered to the doctrine of Abū Ḥanīfa (d. 772) as transmitted and elaborated by the Hanafi theologians of Balkh and Transoxania.[2] It was this theology which Maturidi systematized and used to refute not only the opinions of the Mutazilites, the Karramites, and other heterodox groups, but also non-Muslim theologies such as those of Chalcedonian Christianity, Miaphysitism, Manichaeanism, Marcionism, and Bardaisanism.[4]


Maturidi's epithet or nisba refers to Māturīd (or Māturīt), a locality in Samarkand.[2]


He studied under his teachers, Muhammad bin Muqatil al-Razi (d. 248 H/ 662 CE), Abu Nasr al-Ayadi "al-Faqih al-Samarqandi" (d. 260 H?), Nusayr bin Yahya al-Balkhi (d. 268 H/ 881 CE) and Abu Bakr al-Juzjani (d. 250 H?).[5][6][7][3] He narrated Abu Hanifa's Kitab al-Alim wa Mut'alim from Abu Bakr al-Juzjani, who narrated it from Muhammad ibn Muqatil ar-Razi (and Abu Sulayman al-Juzjani).[5][8][9]

His chains to Abu Hanifa are given as follows:[10][11]

  1. He took from Muhammad bin Muqatil al-Razi (d. 248 H), from Muhammad al-Shaybani (d. 189 H), from Abu Hanifa (d. 150 H).
  2. He took from Abu Nasr al-Ayadi (d. 260 H?),[6] Nusayr al-Balkhi (d. 268 H) and Abu Bakr al-Juzjani (d. 250 H?),[6] who all took from Abu Sulayman al-Juzjani (d. 200 H?),[6] who took from both Muhammad al-Shaybani and Abu Yusuf (d. 182 H), who both took from Abu Hanifa.
  3. He took from Muhammad bin Muqatil al-Razi and Nusayr al-Balkhi, who additionally both took from Abu Muti al-Hakam al-Balkhi (d. 199 H) and Abu Muqatil Hafs al-Samarqandi (d. 208 H), who both took from Abu Hanifa.
  4. He took from Abu Nasr al-Ayadi, who took from Abu Ahmad bin Ishaq al-Juzjani (died mid- third century), who took directly from Muhammad al-Shaybani, who took from Abu Hanifa.


Among his students: Ali bin Said Abu al-Hasan al-Rustughfani, Abu Muhammad Abdal-Karim bin Musa bin Isa al-Bazdawi, and Abu al-Qasim al-Hakim al-Samarqandi.[3]


Al‑Maturidi was born at Maturid, a village or quarter in the neighbourhood of Samarkand. He came from the renowned family of Abu Ayyub al-Ansari of Madinah. This statement is also corroborated by the fact that some other Arab families of Madinah also settled in Samarkand.[12] Relatively little is known about the life of Maturidi, as the sources available "do not read as biographies, but rather as lists of works that have been enlarged upon by brief statements on his personage and a few words of praise."[13] What is evident, however, is that the theologian lived the life of a pure scholar, as "nothing indicates that he held any public office, nor that he possessed more disciples, popularity, or association with the Sāmānid court of Bukhārā than anyone else."[13] It is accepted, moreover, that Maturidi had two principal teachers, namely Abū Bakr al-Jūzjānī and Abū Naṣr Aḥmad b. al-ʿAbbās al-ʿIyāḍī (d. ca. 874–892), both of whom played significant roles in the shaping of Maturidi's theological views.[13] Maturidi is said to have lived the life of an ascetic (zāhid),[14] and various sources attribute numerous miracles (karāmāt) to him.[14] Although he is not usually considered a mystic, it is nevertheless very possible that Maturidi had some interaction with the Sufis of his area, as "Hanafite theology in the region could not always be sharply separated from mystical tendencies,"[14] and many of the most important Hanafi jurists of the area were also Sufi mystics.[14]


Maturidi defined faith (īmān) as taṣdīḳ bi ’l-ḳalb or "inner assent, expressed by verbal confession (ịḳrār bi ’l-lisān)."[15] For Maturidi, moreover, Islamic works (aʿmāl) are not a part of faith.[15] Additionally, Maturidi held that "faith cannot decrease nor increase in substance, though it may be said to increase through renewal and repetition."[15]

Maturidi supported using allegorical interpretation with respect to the anthropomorphic expressions in the Quran, though he rejected many of the interpretations the Mutazilites would reach using this method.[2] In other instances, Maturidi espoused using the traditionalist bilā kayf method of reading scripture, which insisted on "unquestioning acceptance of the revealed text."[2] Maturidi further refuted the Mutazilites in his defense of the Attributes of God "as real and eternally subsisting" in the Essence of God (ḳāʾima bi ’l-d̲h̲āt).[2] His chief theological divergence from Ashʿarī was that he held the attributes of essence and action to be "equally eternal and subsistent in the Divine Essence."[2] Thus, "he insisted that the expressions 'God is eternally the Creator' and 'God has been creating from eternity (lam yazal k̲h̲āliḳan)' are equally valid, even though the created world is temporal."[2] Furthermore, Maturidi staunchly defended the Beatific Vision (ruʾya, literally "vision [of God]") against the Mutazilites, but "consistently rejected the possibility of idrāk, which he understood as grasping, of God by the eyes."[2]

Contrary to popular assumption, Al-Maturidi was not a student of Al-Ash'ari. The historian al-Bayadi (d. 1078 H) emphasised this saying, "Maturidi is not Ash'ari's follower, as many people would tend to think. He had upheld Sunni Islam long before Ashari, he was a scholar to thoroughly explain and sytematically develop Abu Hanifa's and his followers' school".[5][16]


When Maturidi was growing up there was an emerging reaction[17] against some schools within Islam, notably Mu'tazilis, Qarmati, and Shi'a. Maturidi, with other two preeminent scholars,[18] wrote especially on the creed of Islam, the other two being Abu al-Hasan al-Ash'ari in Iraq, and Ahmad ibn Muhammad al-Tahawi in Egypt.[19]

While Al-Ash'ari were Sunni together with Maturidi, he constructed his own theology diverging slightly from Abu Hanifa's school. Gimaret argued that Al-Ash'ari enunciated that God creates the individual's power (qudra), will, and the actual act,[20] which according to Hye, gives way to a fatalist school of theology, which was later put in a consolidated form by Al Ghazali.[21] According to Encyclopaedia Britannica however, Al-Ashari held the doctrine of Kasb as an explanation for how free will and predestination can be reconciled.[22] Maturidi, followed in Abu Hanifa's footsteps, and presented the "notion that God was the creator of man’s acts, although man possessed his own capacity and will to act".[23] Maturidi and Al-Ash'ari also separated from each other in the issue of the attributes of God,[24] as well as some other minor issues.

Later, with the impact of Turkic society states such as Great Seljuq Empire[25] and Ottoman Empire,[26] Hanafi-Maturidi school spread to greater areas where the Hanafi school of law is prevalent, such as Pakistan, Afghanistan, Central Asia, South Asia, Balkan, Russia, China, Caucasus and Turkey.

Maturidi had immense knowledge of dualist beliefs (Sanawiyya) and of other old Persian religions. His Kitāb al-Tawḥīd in this way has become a primary source for modern researchers with its rich materials about Iranian Manicheanism (Mâniyya), a group of Brahmans (Barähima), and some controversial personalities such as Ibn al-Rawandi, Abu Isa al-Warraq, and Muhammad b. Shabib.[27][28]

Legacy and veneration

Although there was in the medieval period "a tendency to suppress Maturidi's name and to put Ashʿarī forward as the champion of Islam against all heretics,"[29] except in Transoxiana, Maturidism gradually "came to be widely recognised as the second orthodox Sunni theological school besides" Ashʿarīsm.[30] It is evident from the surviving fifteenth-century accounts of Maturidi's tomb in the cemetery of Jākardīza in Samarkand that the theologian's tomb was "visited ... and held in honor for a long time" throughout the medieval period.[31] This veneration of the theologian seems to have arisen out of traditions preserved by several later scholars which detailed Maturidi's wisdom and spiritual abilities. For example, Abul Muīn al-Nasafī (d. 1114) stated that Maturidi's spiritual gifts were "immeasurably plentiful"[14] and that "God singled him out with miracles (kāramāt), gifts of grace (mawāhib), divine assistance (tawfiq), and guidance (irshād, tashdīd)."[14]

Contemporary Salafism and Wahhabism, however, tends to be very critical of Maturidi's legacy in Sunni Islam due to their aversion towards using any rational thought in matters of theology, which they deem to be heretical,[2] despite this antagonism being a position that conflicts with the consensus of Sunnism throughout history.[2][32] As such, it is often said that mainstream "orthodox Sunnism" constitutes the followers of the theological traditions of Maturidi and Ashʿarī,[2][33] while Salafism and Wahhabism have often been interpreted by the proponents of the two major schools to be minority splinter theological traditions opposed to the mainstream.[2][32] Furthermore, the minor theoretical differences between the theological formulations of Maturidi and Ashʿarī are often deemed by their respective followers to be superficial rather than real,[33] whence "the two schools are equally orthodox" in traditional Sunnism.[33] The traditional Sunni point of view is summarized in the words of the twentieth-century Islamic publisher Munīr ʿAbduh Agha, who stated: "There is not much [doctrinal] difference between the Ashʿarīs and Māturīdīs, hence both groups are now called People of the Sunna and the Community."[34]


See also




  1. ^ a b Nasir, Sahilun A. "The Epistemology of Kalam of Abu Mansur al-Maturidi." Al-Jami'ah: Journal of Islamic Studies 43.2 (2005): 349-365.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o Madelung, W., “al-Māturīdī”, in: Encyclopaedia of Islam, Second Edition, Edited by: P. Bearman, Th. Bianquis, C.E. Bosworth, E. van Donzel, W.P. Heinrichs.
  3. ^ a b c Gibril Fouad Haddad (2015). The Biographies of the Elite Lives of the Scholars, Imams and Hadith Masters. Zulfiqar Ayub. p. 141.
  4. ^ G. Vajda, Le témoignage d’al-Māturīdī sur la doctrine des Manichéens, des Daysanites et des Marcionites, in Arabica, xii [1966], 1–38, 113–28
  5. ^ a b c Akimkhanov, Askar Bolatbekovich, et al. "Principles of Abu Mansur al-Maturidi, Central Asian Islamic theologian preoccupied with the question of the relation between the Iman/credo and the action in Islam." European Journal of Science and Theology 12.6 (2016): 165-176.
  6. ^ a b c d Çandur, Yasemin. Ebû Bekir Ahmed b. İshak el-Cûzcânî ve Cûzcâniyye. MS thesis. Uludağ Üniversitesi, 2015. p.6
  7. ^ Wan Ali, Wan Zailan Kamaruddin. "Aliran al-Maturidi dan al-Maturidiyyah dalam dunia Islam." Jurnal Usuluddin 8.1 (1998): 81-96.
  8. ^ Rudolph, Ulrich. Al-Māturīdī und die sunnitische Theologie in Samarkand. Vol. 30. Brill, 1997.
  9. ^ Çandur, Yasemin. Ebû Bekir Ahmed b. İshak el-Cûzcânî ve Cûzcâniyye. MS thesis. Uludağ Üniversitesi, 2015.
  10. ^ Aisyah, Dollah. Kaedah pentakwilan Al-Qur'an: Kajian perbandingan antara Al-Maturidi (M: 944) dan Al-Tabari (M: 923)/Aisyah binti Dollah@ Abdullah. Diss. University of Malaya, 2015. p.75 - transmission diagrams A, B and C correspond to 1, 2 and 3 below.
  11. ^ Çandur, Yasemin. Ebû Bekir Ahmed b. İshak el-Cûzcânî ve Cûzcâniyye. MS thesis. Uludağ Üniversitesi, 2015. pp. 22-25 - the diagram on page 22 corresponds with 4 below, diagrams on pages 24 and 25 correspond to 2, 3 below respectively. The chain on page 23 was weakened by the researcher so has not been quoted.
  12. ^ Al Maturidi, Kitab al Tauhid, MS. Cambridge, fol. 1, footnote al Sayyid Murtada, Sharh Ihya' of al Ghazali, Cairo, 1893, Vol.II, p.5.
  13. ^ a b c Ulrich Rudolph, Al-Māturīdī and the Development of Sunnī Theology in Samarqand, trans. Rodrigo Adem (Leiden, Boston: Brill, 2015), p. 125
  14. ^ a b c d e f Ulrich Rudolph, Al-Māturīdī and the Development of Sunnī Theology in Samarqand, trans. Rodrigo Adem (Leiden, Boston: Brill, 2015), p. 131
  15. ^ a b c Madelung, W., “al-Māturīdī”, in: Encyclopaedia of Islam, Second Edition, Edited by: P. Bearman, Th. Bianquis, C.E. Bosworth, E. van Donzel, W.P. Heinrichs.
  16. ^ İskenderoğlu, Muammer. "Al-Māturīdī and the Development of Sunnī Theology in Samarqand." (2016): 336-338.
  17. ^ Williams, J. A. (1994). The word of Islam. London: Thames and Hudson. p. 145.
  18. ^ Ali, A. (1963). Maturidism. In Sharif, p. 260. Wiesbaden: Otto Harrassowitz.
  19. ^ Ali, A. (1963). Maturidism. In Sharif, p. 259. Wiesbaden: Otto Harrassowitz.
  20. ^ Gimaret, D. (1980). The´ories de L’Acte Humain en The´ologie Musulmane. Paris: J. Vrin.
  21. ^ Hye, M. A. (1963). Ash'arism. In Sharif, p. 226. Wiesbaden: Otto Harrassowitz.
  22. ^ "Kasb". Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica, inc. 12 December 2016. Retrieved 5 June 2020.
  23. ^ Shah, M. (2006). Later Developments. In Meri, J. W. (Ed.),Medieval Islamic civilization: an encyclopedia, (Vol. 1), (p. 640). New York:Routledge.
  24. ^ Lucas, S. C.(2006). Sunni Theological Schools. In Meri, J. W. (Ed.),Medieval Islamic civilization: an encyclopedia, (Vol. 1), (p. 809). New York:Routledge.
  25. ^ Hughes, A. (2004). Ash'arites, Ash'aria. In Martin, R. C. et al. (Eds.), Encyclopedia of Islam and the Muslim World, (Vol. 1), (pp. 83–84). New York: Macmillan Reference USA
  26. ^ DeWeese, D. (2004). Central Asian Culture and Islam. In Martin, R. C. et al. (Eds.), Encyclopedia of Islam and the Muslim World, (Vol. 1), (p. 139). New York: Macmillan Reference USA
  27. ^ See G. Vajda, "Le Témoignage d'al-Maturidi sur la doctrine des manichéens, des daysanites et des rnarcionites", Arabica, 13 (1966), pp. 1–38; Guy Mannot, "Matoridi et le manichéisme", Melanges de l'Institut Dominicain d'Etudes Orientales de Caire, 13 (1977), pp. 39–66; Sarah Stroumsa, "The Barahima in Early Kalam", Jarusalem Studies In Arable and Islam, 6 (1985), pp. 229–241; Josef van Ess, "al-Farabi and Ibn al-Rewandi", Hamdard Islamicus, 3/4 (Winter 1980), pp. 3–15; J. Meric Pessagno, "The Reconstruction of the Thought of Muhammad Ibn Shabib", Journal of the American Oriental Society, 104/3 (1984), pp. 445–453.
  28. ^ The Authenticity of the Manuscript of Maturidi's Kitäb al-Tawhid, by M. Sait Özervarli, 1997. (Retrieved on: 23 December 2008)
  29. ^ Macdonald, D. B., “Māturīdī”, in: Encyclopaedia of Islam, First Edition (1913–1936), Edited by M. Th. Houtsma, T.W. Arnold, R. Basset, R. Hartmann.
  30. ^ Madelung, W., “Māturīdiyya”, in: Encyclopaedia of Islam, Second Edition, Edited by: P. Bearman, Th. Bianquis, C.E. Bosworth, E. van Donzel, W.P. Heinrichs.
  31. ^ Ulrich Rudolph, Al-Māturīdī and the Development of Sunnī Theology in Samarqand, trans. Rodrigo Adem (Leiden, Boston: Brill, 2015), p. 130
  32. ^ a b Thomas, David, “Al-Māturīdī”, in: Christian-Muslim Relations 600 – 1500, General Editor David Thomas.
  33. ^ a b c Macdonald, D. B., “Māturīdī”, in: Encyclopaedia of Islam, First Edition (1913–1936), Edited by M. Th. Houtsma, T.W. Arnold, R. Basset, R. Hartmann.
  34. ^ Munīr ʿAbduh Agha, Namudhaj min al-A`mal al-Khayriyya, p. 134

Further reading



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Ibrahim al-Nakha’i taughtAli ibn Husayn Zayn al-Abidin (659–712) taughtHisham ibn Urwah (667–772) taughtIbn Shihab al-Zuhri (died 741) taughtSalim ibn Abd-Allah ibn Umar taughtUmar ibn Abdul Aziz (682–720) raised and taught by Abdullah ibn Umar
Hammad bin ibi Sulman taughtMuhammad al-Baqir (676–733) taughtFarwah bint al-Qasim Jafar's mother
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Abu Yusuf (729–798) wrote Usul al-fiqhMuhammad al-Shaybani (749–805)Al-Shafi‘i (767–820) wrote Al-Risala, jurisprudence followed by Sunni and taughtIsmail ibn IbrahimAli ibn al-Madini (778–849) wrote The Book of Knowledge of the CompanionsIbn Hisham (died 833) wrote early history and As-Sirah an-Nabawiyyah, Muhammad's biography
Isma'il ibn Ja'far (719–775)Musa al-Kadhim (745–799)Ahmad ibn Hanbal (780–855) wrote Musnad Ahmad ibn Hanbal jurisprudence followed by Sunni and hadith booksMuhammad al-Bukhari (810–870) wrote Sahih al-Bukhari hadith booksMuslim ibn al-Hajjaj (815–875) wrote Sahih Muslim hadith booksMuhammad ibn Isa at-Tirmidhi (824–892) wrote Jami` at-Tirmidhi hadith booksAl-Baladhuri (died 892) wrote early history Futuh al-Buldan, Genealogies of the Nobles
Ibn Majah (824–887) wrote Sunan ibn Majah hadith bookAbu Dawood (817–889) wrote Sunan Abu Dawood Hadith Book
Muhammad ibn Ya'qub al-Kulayni (864- 941) wrote Kitab al-Kafi hadith book followed by Twelver ShiaMuhammad ibn Jarir al-Tabari (838–923) wrote History of the Prophets and Kings, Tafsir al-TabariAbu al-Hasan al-Ash'ari (874–936) wrote Maqālāt al-islāmīyīn, Kitāb al-luma, Kitāb al-ibāna 'an usūl al-diyāna
Ibn Babawayh (923–991) wrote Man la yahduruhu al-Faqih jurisprudence followed by Twelver ShiaSharif Razi (930–977) wrote Nahj al-Balagha followed by Twelver ShiaNasir al-Din al-Tusi (1201–1274) wrote jurisprudence books followed by Ismaili and Twelver ShiaAl-Ghazali (1058–1111) wrote The Niche for Lights, The Incoherence of the Philosophers, The Alchemy of Happiness on SufismRumi (1207–1273) wrote Masnavi, Diwan-e Shams-e Tabrizi on Sufism
Key: Some of Muhammad's CompanionsKey: Taught in MedinaKey: Taught in IraqKey: Worked in SyriaKey: Travelled extensively collecting the sayings of Muhammad and compiled books of hadithKey: Worked in Iran