What is the creedal sects? What are the 4 sects in islam?
Salaf literally means “the previous generation” and Salafiyya means “those who belong to this generation”. Salafiyya, as a term of theology, refers to the first generations called Ahl al-Sunnah al-Ḥassa, who accept the issues in the Qur’an and hadith as they are, including the allegorical (mutashabih) ones, and do not follow the path of analogy, tajsīm (anthropomorphism) and ta’wīl (allegorical interpretation). They are also known as those who follow the exact path of the Prophet and the Companions. The Followers (tābiʿūn), imams of the schools, great mujtahids, and hadith scholars are considered to be the people of Salafiyyah. All Ahl al-Sunnah scholars who lived until the establishment of the science of kalām by Imam Ash’ari and Maturidi in the fourth century of the Hijra shared the views of the Salaf.
Salafiyya also refers to a creedal view that emerged during the fourth century of Hijra as a view (school of thought) and was introduced and defended by the members of the Ḥanbali school. The school of thought in question was strengthened in the seventh century AH, and new ideas were added, especially by Ibn Taymiyya. The Salafiyya claim that the only way to follow is the way of the Qur’an and the method of calling to Islam is explained in the following verse. “Invite (all) to the Way of your Lord with wisdom and beautiful preaching, and argue with them in ways that are best and most gracious…”
Ibn Taymiyya (d.751/1350), Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya (d.751/1350), Ibn al-Wazir (d.840/1436), al-Shawkānī (d.1250/ 1834) and Mahmud Shukru al-Alusi (d.1324/1924) can be mentioned among the main representatives of Salafiyya in the later period.
Although the Salafi creed, which has a conservative character, was accepted as the simplest and most reliable way for the people, this method of the salaf has not been considered sufficient for those who were familiar with various philosophies and cultures, and the method of the Ahl al-Sunnah theologians has been presented as a more appropriate way.
Abu al-Hasan al-Ash’ari, who is considered the second imam of the study of Islamic creed together with Imam Maturidi, was born in Basra in 260/873 and died in Baghdad in 324/936. His real name is Ali, and his father’s name is Ismail. Imam Ash’ari was first affiliated with the Muʿtazila sect. He defended the views of Muʿtazila until the age of forty. Upon seeing Prophet Muhammad (saw) in his dream, he realized that he was on the wrong path. In the meantime, he prevailed over his teacher Abu Ali al-Jubbai (d.303/936) in the discussion of the issue known as “the issue of the three brothers,” and because he did not find his teacher’s views adequate, he left the Muʿtazila and founded Ash’arism.
After that, Imam Ash’ari adopted the new methodology of Islamic theology based on explaining and strengthening the revelation by means of reason. He became the guardian of the Ahl al-Sunnah school. Ash’ari, who lived during the same period as Imam Maturidi, shares the same views with him on matters of faith. There are some differences between them in regards to the details. For example, while Maturidi claims that the faith in the heart is a whole and will not increase or decrease, Ash’ari on the other hand argues that faith can increase or decrease.
In matters of creed, the Malikis and Shafiʿis adopted the Ash’ari school of thought. According to the Ḥanbalis, the school of law and creed are one and the same. They follow a belief based on the view of the salaf, separate from the school of law of Ahmad Ibn Ḥanbal.
The main works of Imam Ash’ari are as follows:
- a) Maqalat al-Islamiyyīn: In this work, Ash’ari gives information about sects, makes moderate criticisms, avoids accusing the people of the qibla with disbelief, and follows a tolerant path.
- b) al-Ibana ‘an Usul al-Diyana; In this work, the problems of Islamic theology such as to whether Allah can be seen or not, kalāmullah, istiwā, Allah’s attributes, time of death, sustenance, guidance, and aberration are explained according to the views of the people of the Book and the Sunnah.
- c) al-Risala fi Istihsan al-Hawd: In this work, Ash’ari responded to those who call him an innovator in religious matters with verses and hadiths and showed that independent reasoning is permissible in religion.
- d) al-Lumaʿ: It is an important work that includes Ash’ari’s views on Islamic theology.
Imam Maturidi and Imam Ash’ari prevented the propagation of corrupt creeds, philosophies, and false beliefs that emerged in their time and did not allow divisions and factions to fester in the ʿummah.
Abu Mansur Muhammad, the founder of Maturidism, a school of Islamic creed, was born in Maturid, one of the villages of Samarkand, and died in 333/944.
At that time, it was deemed necessary to use the mind and the rules of logic in order to defend the principles of Islam in the face of mass conversion to Islam from various cultures and due to the mass translation that took place of Indian and Greek philosophies into the Arabic language. This new branch of study, created by Muslim scholars to defend matters of faith, was called “Kalām.” The Latin word for kalām is “theology.” Abu Mansur Muhammad Maturidi is a great theologian who grew up during this period. He explained the creed of Islam in accordance with the Book and Sunnah and by making use of rational data, defended the way of Ahl al-Sunnah against the aberrant and innovators, and became the imam of the creed of the Ḥanafis, especially in Transoxiana.
The basis of the Maturidi creed is Abu Ḥanīfa’s (d.150/767) thoughts, especially his work entitled “al-Fiqh al-Akbar.” This work of Abu Ḥanīfa includes the main principles of the issues of faith and the solutions to controversial theological issues. It is known that Abu Ḥanīfa dealt with the study of kalām before fiqh and wrote five treatises bearing the titles of al-Fiqh al-Akbar, al-Risāla, al-Fiqh al-Awsat, Kitāb al-ʿAlim, and al-Wasiyya.
After Imam Maturidi, Ḥanafis were known also as Maturidis. In the matter of creed, in general, most Ḥanafis and Turks followed the Maturidi sect. The two-leading works of Imam Maturidi are as follows:
- a) Kitāb al-Tawḥid: This work of Imam Maturidi, in which he defended the Islamic faith against false views, was published by the Egyptian scholar Fathullah Hulayf. Imam Maturidi especially worked to refute the views of the Mu’tazilites and wrote some refutations in response to the views of al-Kabi, who is considered the representative of Mu’tazilites. Moreover, he also struggled against the Qarmatians and Rafidis.
- b) Ta’wilāt al-Qur’an: It is a commentary on the Qur’an where Imam Maturidi defends the belief of Ahl al-Sunnah based on intellectual and textual evidence. The subjects were explained in a simple style so that everyone could understand, and the views of other schools of thought and factions were also included when they were required.
Since we will dwell further on the principles of faith of the Ahl al-Sunnah in another part of the book, this much information about the views of creedal schools of thought is sufficient at this juncture.
 Al-Naḥl, 16: 125.
 For more information see Bekir Topaloğlu, Kelam İlmi, Giriş, İstanbul 1987, p. 87 ff.; İsmail Hakkı İzmirli, Yeni İlmi Kelam, İstanbul 1339/1341, I, 98 ff.; Neşet Çağatay- İ. Agah Çubukçu, İslam Mezhepler Tarihi, Ankara 1976, p. 191.
 For editions of Ash’ari’s works see Maqalāt, Istanbul 1928; Ibāna, Hayarabad 1948; Risāla, Haydarabad, 1323; 1344, Beirut 1923. (in Lum‘a with English translation); Lum’a, Beirut 1955.
 Kamāl al-Dīn al-Bayazī collected these five treatises of Abu Hanifa in his book titled Ishārāt al-Marām min Ibarāt al-Imam and this work was published in Egypt in 1949.
 See al-Maturidī, Kitab al-Tawḥīd, ed. by Fatḥullah Hulayf, Beirut 1970.
 Kemal Işık, Maturidi’nin Kelam Sisteminde İman, Allah ve Peygamberlik Anlayışı, Ankara 1980, p.19.
 Işık, ibid, p.18