Athari ("al-Athariyya"), in English is translated as textualism, which is derived from the
Arabicword "Athar", which means "Narrations". schools of Sunni Aqidah. Their disciples are called the Atharis in the English language. The Atharis are considered to be one of three accepted Sunnischools of Aqidah: Ashari, Maturidi, and Athari.
The Athari methodology of textual interpretation is to avoid delving into extensive theological speculation. They believe in
Allahand his characteristics only in the fashion that they were mentioned in the Quran, the Sunnahand by the Sahabah. They do not attempt to further interpret the aforementioned texts through tahreef (distortion), ta‘weel (figurative interpretation), tamtheel (making a likeness), tashbeeh (resemblance), nor ta’teel (denial). They avoid entering into philosophical and rational discussions of matters relating to Islamic beliefs that are not supported by the Quran, the Sunnah or the understanding of the Sahabah with specific wording; rather, their discussion and presentation of beliefs revolves entirely around textual evidences found in these sources. The Atharis believe this to be the methodology adhered to by the first three generations of Muslims (i.e. the Salaf), therefore making it the school of Sunni Aqidah that they believe is the closest to the truth.
Due to the emphasis of the
Hanbalischool of thought on textualism, Muslims who are Hanbali in fiqh are often also Athariin Aqidah. However, many muslims form the other four schools of thought, including Hanafis, adhere to the Athari school of Aqidah also.
While there is no precise founder of this school of creed within
Islam, Ahmad ibn Hanbalis often pointed to as the first champion of the Athari creed. This became a serious issue within the Muslim Worldduring the Mu'tazilicontroversy over the belief of the Qur'an being created, rather than being the speech of Allah.
Sufyan al-Thawri(d. 778) was a Tabi‘infrom Kufawho held what would later become the Athari creed.. [http://spubs.com/sps/downloads/pdf/AQD040005.pdf]
Muhammad al-Bukhari(d. 870) was a contemporary of Ibn Hanbal's and one of the most renowned Sunni hadith compilers, having authored Sahih al-Bukhari.
Ibn Taymiyyah(d. 1328) was arguably the second most significant proponent of this creed after Ibn Hanbal, often facing persecution for his interpretations (dhahir - i.e. the most apparent meaning given) of the Qur'an and of Allah's attributes. [Encyclopedia of Islam and the Modern World, Macmillan Reference, 2004, p.339]
Ibn Kathir(d. 1373) was a Syrian scholar and the author of Tafsir ibn Kathir, one of the most widely read commentaries on the Qur'an.
* [http://www.al-athariyyah.com/ Al-Athariyyah]
* [http://www.salafimanhaj.com/pdf/SalafiManhaj_AshariCreed.pdf The 'Ash'aris: In the Scales of Ahl us-Sunnah]
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