Early Heresies in Islam – An Introduction

In the following centuries the scholars of Ahl al-Sunna also faced down the innovations of the sect of Jahm ibn Safwan or “Jahmiyya,” those of the proponents of rationalism known as the “Isolationists” or “Mu`tazila,” both of which groups incorporated the doctrine of pure free will as well as those of the vilifiers of the Companions (ra), who came to be known as the “Rejectionists” or “Rawafid.” With those sects came that of the “Visceralists,” or “Stuffers,” or “Crammers” known as the “Hashwiyya,” who attributed corporal attributes to the Lord of the worlds and declared Prophets (as) able to openly and intentionally commit great sins (al-kaba’ir). They are also known as “Those who attribute a body to Allah” or “Mujassima,” and “Those who liken Allah to creation” or “Mushabbiha.”


[1] Narrated from `Umar (ra) by al-Tabarani in “al-Kabir” with a sound (sahih) chain as indicated by al-Haythami in “Majma` al-Zawa’id.” Muslim narrates it from Jabir ibn `Abd Allah thus: “There shall not cease to be a group in my Community who shall fight, standing for truth, and have the upperhand until the end of time.”

[2] Narrated from Mu`awiya (ra) by Bukhari and Muslim. The complete narration states: “He for whom Allah desires great good, He grants him the understanding of Religion. I only distribute and it is Allah Who gives. That group shall remain in charge of Allah’s Order, unharmed by those who oppose them, until the coming of Allah’s order.” The scholars have explained that the first order in the hadith is “Allah’s Law and Religion,” while the second is the “Day of Resurrection and Judgment.”

[3] A sound (sahih) hadith related with various wordings by al-Tirmidhi, Abu Dawud, Ibn Majah, Ibn Hibban, al-Hakim, al-Darimi, and others.

[4] As related from al-Qasim ibn Muhammad and `Umar ibn `Abd al-`Aziz (ra) by Bayhaqi in “al-Madkhal,” and from Malik (ra) by Ibn al-Athir in the introduction to his “Jami` al-Usul.”

[5] Narrated from Abu Hurayra (ra) by Abu Nu`aym in “Hilya al-Awliya'” (10:434) and Ibn `Asakir in the “Tabyin” (pp. 104-105). Al-`Ajluni cites it in the introduction of “Kashf al-Khafa’” and al-Suyuti indicated that it was a sound (sahih) narration in “al-Jami` al-Saghir.” The rest of the hadith states: “Therefore, take advantage of these gatherings in defending the weak, and rely on Allah, and Allah is enough to rely upon.”

[6] See the description of the Khawarij in the biographical notice on `Ali ibn Abi Talib (ra).

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Peace and Blessings upon the Prophet, his Family, and his Companions

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