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Aqidah: Basic Tenets of Faith

Back to Aqidah: Basic Tenets of Faith
Fatwa By : Sheikh Muhammed Salih Al-Munajjid
Language English
Reference By Islam Q&A
Addition Date 25/09/2013
He Is Asking About Al-Aqidah At-Tahhawiyyah?
What is Al-Aqidah At-Tahhawiyyah? What is it about?.

Praise be to Allah.

al-‘Aqidah At-Tahhawiyyah is a book dealing with ‘aqidah (basic tenets of faith) which was written by Imam al-Tahhawi and named after him. Discussing this ‘aqidah means that we must look at it from a number of angles.


The author is the imam, muhaddith and faqih Abu Jafar Ahmad ibn Muhammad ibn Salamah al-Tahhawi – who is named after a village in Upper Egypt – he studied with many Shaykhs and learned from them and benefited from them, and he listed their number as three hundred Shaykhs.

He was praised by more than one of the scholars:

Ibn Yoonus said: At-Tahhawi was trustworthy, sincere, a faqih and a man of wisdom, and after him there was no one else like him.  

Al-Dhahabi said: the faqih, muhaddith, hafiz, one of the prominent scholars, and he was trustworthy, sincere, a faqih and a man of wisdom.

Ibn Kathir said: He was one of the trustworthy, sincere and a hafiz.

He wrote books which were well-written, comprehensive and of great value, among which was his great book Ma’ani al-Athar, which contains research on fiqh accompanied by evidence and discussion of controversial matters, and pointing to  which view is more correct. His books also include Mushkil al-Athar and others.

He died (may Allah have mercy on him) in 321 AH and was buried in Egypt, in al-Qurafah.

See his biography in Siyar A’laam al-Nubala’ (15/33-37) and Al-Bidayah Wan-Nihaayah (11/174).


This ‘Aqidah which was written by At-Tahhawi mentions a number of the beliefs of the righteous salaf and those who followed them of Ahl-us-Sunnah wal-Jama’ah, which was approved by the imams of the Hanafis – as at-Tahhawi followed the madhhab of Abu Hanifah. He explained in his introduction his aims in doing that, and said:

“This is an explanation of the ‘aqidah of Ahl-us-Sunnah wal-Jama’ah according to the view of the fuqaha’ of this madhhab: Abu Hanifah An-Nu’man ibn Thabit al-Kufi, Abu Yoosuf Ya’qoob ibn Ibrahim al-Ansari, and Abu ‘Abdullah Muhammad ibn al-Hasan al-Shaybani, may Allah be pleased with them all, and the beliefs concerning the fundamentals of Islam, on the basis of which they submit to the Lord of the Worlds.” End quote.  

Then he mentioned these basic beliefs, and the total number of things he mentioned was 105 things believed by Ahl-us-Sunnah wal-Jama’ah in general.

He started by explaining the Oneness of Allah, may He be exalted, and said a little about the attributes of His Lordship (sifat ruboobiyyatihi), such as His being alive and self-sufficient, and His being the Creator and Provider, and he affirmed the attributes of perfection without discussing how or likening Him to any of His creation, because Allah says (interpretation of the meaning): “There is nothing like Him, and He is the All‑Hearer, the All‑Seer” [Al-Shoora 42:11]. Then he followed that with a discussion of the obligation to believe in the Prophet hood of Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) and that he was sent to all people. Then he spoke of the Holy Qur’an, stating that it is the word of Allah and not created, and he affirmed that the believers will see Allah in the Hereafter. Then he mentioned some matters of the unseen in which Ahl-us-Sunnah believe, such as the Cistern (al-hawd), intercession, the Throne and the Footstool (al-Kursiy). Then he mentioned the pillars of belief in al-qada’ wal-qadar (the Divine will and decree) and what Ahl-us-Sunnah wal-Jama’ah believe about this topic. Then he went on to define faith and its pillars, and explained that faith may increase and decrease, and he explained the view of Ahl-us-Sunnah in contrast to the views of the Khawarij and Murji’ah. He also described what Ahl-ul-Sunnah believe with regard to the noble Sahabah (may Allah be pleased with them), and that loving them is part of Islam, faith and ihsan, and that hating them is kufr, hypocrisy and sin. Then he mentioned some of the portents of the Hour and what will happen on the Day of Resurrection, then he ended his essay with an discussion of how this religion is the middle path, between exaggeration and falling short.


It is a book of ‘aqidah that is easy to read and clear in meaning. It is comprehensive and brief. It sums up the beliefs of Ahl-us-Sunnah wal-Jama’ah and, for the most part, includes matters on which there is scholarly consensus and agreement.

Many scholars have written commentaries on this ‘Aqidah and explained its words and meanings. One of the most famous of them is Ibn Abil-‘Izz al-Hanafi, who wrote a lengthy commentary on it; among later scholars, Shaykh ‘Abdul-‘Aziz ibn Baz and Shaykh Muhammad Nasir-ud-Deen al-Albani (may Allah have mercy on them) wrote commentaries on it, as did Shaykh Safar ibn ‘Abdur-Rahman al-Hawali (may Allah preserve him). The one who wants to understand more of the meanings of At-Tahhawiyyah can refer to these commentaries.


‘Aqidah At-Tahhawi discusses matters in brief and general terms, but what made it very famous and popular among the Salafis in particular is the commentary which was written by Shaykh Ibn Abil-‘Izz al-Hanafi (may Allah have mercy on him), which is the most important and most detailed of its commentaries. He based his commentary on the books of Ahl-us-Sunnah, especially the books of Shaykh-ul-Islam Ibn Taymiyah (may Allah have mercy on him) and his student Ibn al-Qayyim (may Allah have mercy on him).


Despite what we have referred to of the good features of this ‘Aqidah and its commentary by Ibn Abil-‘Izz, it also contains a number of issues which were criticized, because they go against what the salaf believed, such as his saying, when defining faith: “Faith is affirming with the tongue and believing in the heart,” because limiting it to that is the view of the Murji’i fuqaha’ who excluded physical actions from the definition of faith. The same applies to what he said after that, “Faith is one and the same, and believers are equal with regard to the foundation of faith.”

It also includes some general phrases that may be understood incorrectly, and are most often used by innovators to mean things that are contrary to the beliefs of the righteous salaf, such as his saying, “exalted be He above limits and boundaries” and “exalted be He above having faculties and parts” and “He is not subject to directions and dimensions which are attributes of created beings.” Such phrases are used by those who misinterpret the attributes of Allah (al-mu’attilah)  to deny what is affirmed in the Book of Allah and the Sunnah of His Messenger of the sublime attributes of Allah that befit His perfection, may He be glorified and exalted, such as His Countenance, hands and eyes. They call them faculties and parts, and deny that Allah possesses them.

Another example is His being above His creation, and His rising above His Throne in His heaven. They call this “directions and location” and deny that it applies to Allah, may He be exalted.  

Because of that, it is important for the seeker of knowledge to pay attention to learning this ‘Aqidah from a scholar of Ahl as-Sunnah who can explain it, such as Ibn Abil-‘Izz among classical scholars and from contemporary scholars who have written brief commentaries on it, as we have referred to above.

There are many audio commentaries on this book, such as the commentary by Shaykh Salih Aal al-Shaykh, and the commentary by Shaykh Yoosuf al-Ghufays, and others.

Shaykh Safar al-Hawali (may Allah preserve him) has commented at length on the commentary of Ibn Abil-‘Izz; you may refer to it on his website.

And Allah knows best.

Islam Q&A