The modern salafi creed is largely founded on Ibn Taymiyyah’s perception of what the early generations believed, whereas the Ashʿarī creed is based on Abū al-Ḥasan al-Ashʿarī’s (d. 324 AH) perception. We know that Ibn Taymiyyah (d. 728 AH) was one of the strongest critics of the Ashʿarī creed in history. In fact, one of the reasons for the existence of the taymiyyan philosophy is Ibn Taymiyyah’s reaction to the Ashʿarī creed.
However, despite all his criticisms of the Ashʿarī creed, when Ibn Taymiyyah (r) met Imam ʿAlī al-Bājī (r), who was the leading Ashʿarī theologian of his era, the historians write, “He honored him and wouldn’t dare say a word before him.”
ʿAlāʾ al-Dīn al-Bājī (r) was a close friend of al-Nawawī (r) and a teacher of al-Taqī al-Subkī (the father). His distinction in knowledge was such that Ibn Daqīq al-ʿīd (r) would refer to every person in the world, even Sultans, as “O human”, but he wouldn’t dare refer to al-Bājī except as “O Imam”, just as he wouldn’t dare refer to Ibn al-Rifʿah (r) except as “O Faqih”.
Shocked by his silence, Imam al-Bājī (r) said to Ibn Taymiyyah (r), “Speak, so we can discuss with you.” This is the type of thing that a philosopher says to another to initiate a debate. It goes without saying that both of them were expert philosophers of their own traditions. Ibn Taymiyyah responded, “A person like me is not worthy of speaking before you. My role is to simply benefit from you.” [See: al-Ṭabaqāt al-Kubrā, al-Tāj al-Subkī (r)]
By appreciating the greatness of someone, even if one disagrees with them, he doesn’t become less great, he becomes even greater. Everyone has to shatter their own egos to realize their own respective status in this world. If you try to overstep your role in the world, you will always be left without a role.