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The Creed of Imam At Tahawi
Translator: Hamza Yusuf
Publisher: Zaytuna Institute
Hardback w/ dust jacket, 167 pages
Translated, Introduced, and Annotated by Hamza Yusuf
In an age of bewildering spiritual and intellectual confusion, creed has never been more important. Every Muslim is obliged to learn it and is promised protection from deviant beliefs by following the unassailable texts of the scholastic community of Islam. Of them all, The Creed of Imam al-Tahawi is the simplest, the most effective, and the least controversial. It serves as a sound basis for Islamic faith and is the most reliable of the early articulations of Muslim belief. Because Imam al-Tahawi avoided involuted theological issues and systematically presented the most fundamental aspects of dogmatic theology, his creed has achieved an unusual degree of acceptance in the Muslim milieu. In the thousand years since it was written, many great Muslim scholars have penned commentaries on it. It is still studied throughout the Muslim world and increasingly in the West.
Born in Taha in Upper Egypt in 239 AH/853 CE, Imam Abu Jafar al-Tahawi lived until 321/933. He came from a family where intellectualism and aristocracy, as well as piety and passion were the hallmarks. He mastered both the primary sources of Islam and the ancillary sciences necessary for independent reasoning. A first-rate jurist, a brilliant grammarian and philologist, and an erudite man of letters, Imam al-Tahawi is best known for his eponymous creed.
Imam al-Tahawi is called "al-Azdi," in reference to the Yemeni clan known as "Azd al-Hajar"; thus he was a descendent of a people about whom the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, said, “Faith is Yemeni." It is altogether fitting that the man who penned such a unifying creed, free of controversy, descended from the land of which faith itself is a descendant. His creed is a beacon of certainty in the darkness of doubt and ambiguity, and it provides seekers of knowledge with a luminous set of simple yet sound creedal statements.
Appreciation for The Creed of Imam al-Tahawi:
Out of several translations of Imam al-Tahawi's creed available in the market, Shaykh Hamza Yusuf's is, in my opinion, by far the best rendition to date of this famous and very important treatise. We can expect no less of a scholar of the caliber of Shaykh Hamza Yusuf due to his command over his native tongue, English, as well as his acquired and well-learned Arabic.
- Dr. Nizam Yaquby, Mufti of Bahrain
Shaykh Hamza Yusuf has rendered a service not only to Muslims, but also to a wider audience by his new translation of the Creed of Imam al Tahawi accompanied by an illuminating historical introduction and by helpful biographies and extensive notes. His translation is formal without being archaic and is written in a style that Christians can recognize from their own credal formulations. The work is of value to others than Muslims, for two reasons: first, it provides in 130 short paragraphs a clear presentation of core Muslim belief in a way that is not easily available by other means, thereby providing a very positive instrument for the essential work of dialogue. Secondly, it provides Christians, who have also developed and continue to use credal formulations, with the opportunity to see just where the Islamic understanding of God comes close to the Christian understanding of God. This does much to reduce the credibility of approaches which insist on a thoroughgoing bipolar understanding of Christianity and Islam. Muslims and Christians should welcome this publication.
- Dr. Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury, UK
Hamza Yusuf's Creed of Imam al-Tahawi is an important contribution to scholarship and to Muslim self-understanding. This fluid and accurate translation provides access and insight into a major scholastic work that sets out core Islamic beliefs/doctrines. It will be welcomed by Muslim and non-Muslim readers alike.
- Dr. John L. Esposito, Director, Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding, Georgetown University, Washington, DC.
Students of Islam often have little exposure to the basic theological creeds around which communal and sectarian boundaries were formed for many centuries. Ordinary Muslims did not study advanced theological treatises, but memorized and defined themselves by the pithy dogmas advanced in texts like al-Tahawi's creed. These creeds address universal questions, as well as issues particularly relevant to the political and social context of their formulation. Imam al-Tahawi's creed is therefore useful both as a record of core and enduring principles of Sunni theology, as well as a glimpse into some of the dynamics of the early formative period of Islamic thought. Hamza Yusuf's eloquent and accurate translation is especially helpful as it is accompanied by the well-edited original Arabic text.
- Dr. Ingrid Mattson, President, Islamic Society of North America and Professor of Islamic Studies, Hartford Seminary, Connecticut.
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