The Ash’aris are a sect that is named after Imam Abu’l-Hasan al-Ash’ari (may Allaah have mercy on him). Al-Ash’ari passed through three stages – as mentioned by Ibn Taymiyah in Majmoo’ al-Fataawa, 4/72 – which may be summed up as follows: a Mu’tazili stage; then following Ibn Kilaab; then following Ahl al-Sunnah, chiefly Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal. Al-Ash’ari clearly stated his final position in his three books: Risaalah ila Ahl al-Thaghr, Maqaalaat al-Islaamiyyeen, and al-Ibaanah. Whoever follows al-Ash’ari at this stage is in accordance with Ahl al-Sunnah wa’l-Jamaa’ah in most issues. Whoever follows his path at the second stage is going against al-Ash’ari himself, and is going against Ahl al-Sunnah in many issues.
Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen said in al-Fataawa, 3/338:
Those later scholars who called themselves after Abu’l-Hasan al-Ash’ari were following the second of his stages of ‘aqeedah. They followed the method of misinterpreting most of the divine attributes, and this only affirmed the seven attributes mentioned in the following line of verse:
“Ever-Living, All-Knowing, Able (to do all things), He speaks, He wills, He hears and He sees.”
They also differed with Ahl al-Sunnah as to how these attributes are to be understood.
The Standing Committee issued a fatwa (no. 6606, vol. 3/220):
The Ash’aris are not kuffaar, rather they erred in their interpretation of some of the Divine attributes.
Based on this, it is better for a Muslim to study Islamic knowledge and sharee’ah only with scholars who are well known for their knowledge and sound belief (‘aqeedah), and to keep away from those who follow bid’ah and go against Ahl al-Sunnah, including the Ash’aris. This is something that is easy to do – praise be to Allaah – because the means of learning have become readily available to all people. The knowledge of the scholars of Ahl al-Sunnah is available through many means such as Islamic tapes, books, and leaflets; there are Islamic bulletin boards and sites on the internet, and many easy ways of accessing knowledge – praise be to Allaah.
O Allaah, teach us that which will benefit us, benefit us by that which we learn and increase us in knowledge.
For more information see Question no. 10693.
And Allaah knows best.