"The severity of the Shaikh against the people of theoretical knowledge is well known, to the point that he even made a distinction between the principles of the fiqh of ash-Shaafi'ee and the principles of al-Ash'aree. Notes upon this were added by Aboo Bakr ar-Raadhiqaanee and it is with me. He was followed in this by Shaikh Aboo Ishaaq ash-Sheeraazww in his two books, 'al-Lumaa' and 'at-Tabsirah' to the point that if a point of al-Ash'aree agreed with one saying amongst our companions he made distinction and said: "It is the saying of the Ash'ariyyah" and he did not include them amongst the companions of ash-Shaafi'ee. They disdained and avoided them and their madhhab in the principles of fiqh not to mention with regard to the principles of the Religion."
As is known the author of at-Tahaawiyyah and its explainer were both Hanafees, and at-Tahaawee was a contemporary of al-Ash'aree. He wrote his Aqeedah to explain the Aqeedah of Imaam Abu Haneefah and his companions, and it is very like what is found in Fiqh al-Akbar from him. They report from the Imaam that he clearly states the Kufr (disbelief) of one who says that Allaah - the Most Perfect and Exalted - is not upon the Arsh (throne) or remains silent about it.
Also his student Aboo Yoosuf declares Bishr al-Maareesee to be a Kaafir, and as is well known the Ash'ariyyah deny Allaah's ascension and deny that He the Most High is above the Arsh (Throne) and it is also well known that their principles were taken from Bishr al-Maareesee!!
The position of the Hanbalees with regard to the Ash'ariyyah is more famous than to need mention. So since Imaam Ahmad declared 'Ibn Kullaab' to be an innovator and ordered to be ostracized, and he was the true founder of the Ash'aree madhhab. The Hanbalees have not ceased to be involved in a long battle with them. Even to the time of the state of Nizaam ul-Mulk in which they behaved presumptuously, and after it the Hanbalees ejected every speaker who mixed anything from the madhhab of the Ash'ariyyah into his speeches. Ibn ul-Qushairi was one of those who experienced this, and because their madhhab had become so widespread, and due to the agreement of the scholars of the state, especially the Hanbalees that he should be opposed, so the Khaleefah al-Qaadir sent out al-I'tiqaad al-Qaadiree which clarified the aqeedah which was binding upon the Ummah in the year 433H.
And Shaikhul-Islaam Ibn Taymiyyah quotes that when Abdul-Qaadir al-Jeelaanee was asked: "Has there ever been one who was a Walee of Allaah who was upon other than the aqeedah of Ahmad bin Hanbal?" He replied: "That has not occurred and will never occurr."
1. Shaikh Ibn al-Uthaimeen - may Allaah protect him - said: "So - for example - the Ash'arees and the Maatooreedees are not considered from Ahl us-Sunnah wal-Jamaa'ah in this particular matter (i.e. concerning the Names and Attributes of Allaah). Rather, they oppose what the Prophe (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam) and his Companions were upon with regards to accepting the Attributes of Allaah - the Most Perfect - upon their haqeeqah (real meaning). This is why, whoever says that Ahl us-Sunnah are three groups: the Salafees, the Ash'arees and the Maatooreedees - then such a person is indeed mistaken. Rather we say: How can all three be considered Ahl us-Sunnah and they differ with each other? What is there after Truth, except misguidance. How can they all be Ahl us-Sunnah, whilst each one of them refutes the other - this is not possible - except if it is possible to reconcile the opposites. There is no doubt however, that one of them is truly Ahl us-Sunnah - but which one? Is it the Ash'arees, the Maatooreedees or the Salafees? Whichever of them agrees with the Sunnah is considered to be Ahl us-Sunnah, whilst whichever of them opposes it is not. So we say: The Salaf are Ahl us-Sunnah wal-Jamaa'ah, and this description cannot be true for anyone else other than them. So how can those who oppose the Sunnah be called Ahl us-Sunnah - this is not possible. How is it possible to say Ahl us-Sunnah are of three differing groups, but we say that they are in agreement? So where is the agreement and concensus? Rather, Ahl us-Sunnah wal-Jamaa'ah are those who hold on to what the Prophet (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam) and his Companions were upon, and to the aqeedah of the Salaf - until the Day of Judgement - and they are the Salafees." Sharh Aqeedatil-Waasitiyyah (1/123)
2. Jaami Bayaan il-Ilmi wa Fadlihi (2/117)
3. See Ijtimaa ul-Juyoosh il-Islaamiyyah (p.62) for the belief of Ibn Suraij
4. At-Tis'eeniyyah (p. 238-239) and see 'Sharhul-Asfahaaniyyah' (5:31) from the Fataawaa al-Kubraa itself. See also Ijtimaa ul-Juyoosh il-Islaamiyyah and Mukhtasirul Uloom for his belief and also Tabaqaatush-Shaafiyyah for his biography.
5. See what is mentioned in Siyar A'laamin-Nubulaa in the Biography of Bishr (10/200-201) and al-Hamawiyyah (p.14-15)
6. See al-Muntazam of Ibnul-Jawzee, events of the year 433, 469 &475 - (vols 8 & 9)
7. Al-Istiqaamah (pp.85-86)