The Main Sects

The QadariyyaMu‘tazila, and Shî‘a

These three groups are essentially one and the same in several of their fundamental tenets of doctrine, especially in their annullment of the reality of the Divine Attributes apart from the Essence and their rejection of the Divine foreordainment (al-qadar) of evil as well as good on the rational grounds that “Allah cannot but will good” – in effect setting up as many co-creators for evil as there are rational beings.

The Prophet (s) said: “Talk about fore­ordained destiny is for the worst of my Community at the end of time.” [1] Al-Suyuti succintly defined Qadari doctrine as “the claim that evil is created by human beings.” [2] Ibn Abi Ya‘la relates the following description of the Qadariyya: “They are those who claim that they possess in full the capacity to act (al-istitâ‘a), free will (al-mashî’a), and effec­tive power (al-qudra). They consider that they hold in their grasp the ability to do good and evil, avoid harm and obtain benefit, obey and disobey, and be guided or misguided. They claim that human beings retain full initiative, without any prior status within the will of Allah for their acts, nor even in His knowledge of them. Their doctrine is similar to that of Zoroastrians and Christians. It is the very root of heresy.” [3]

The Qadariyya or “Libertarians” are little different from the rational­ists known as the Mu‘tazila or “Isolationists.” Both are traced back to the same founders: ‘Amr ibn ‘Ubayd Abu ‘Uthman al-Basri (d. ~144) who left al-Hasan al-Basri’s teaching circle and “isolated” himself, and Ma‘bad al-Juhani (d. 80) “the first who spoke about qadar in al-Basra. [4] Al-Dhahabi in­troduces the former as “the ascetic (al-zâhid), the devout (al-‘âbid), the Qadari, the elder of theMu‘tazila and the first of them.” [5] However, the name of Qadariyya high­lights the doctrine of qadar, while the name of Mu‘tazila refers to the broader “Five Principles” – tawhîd‘adlthawâbîmân, and amr bi al-ma‘rûf which al-Ash‘ari and al-Maturidi refuted in whole and in detail in many of their books. Following is a survey of these Five Principles integral to Mu‘tazili doctrine: [6]

1.         In the chapter of tawhîd, the Mu‘tazila – and the Shi‘a in their wake – held that Allah cannot be seen at all, whether in the world or on the Day of Resurrec­tion as that would necessitate corporeality and direction for Him. In contrast, Ahl al-Sunna held that Allah will most certainly be seen by the believers on the Day of Resurrection without our specifying how. Al-Ash‘ari authored several refutations of the Mu‘tazili and Shi‘i view, and early Hanbalis considered that the belief that Allah will not be seen on the Day of Resurrection entails kufr. [7] Further­more, the Mu‘tazila – and the Shi‘a in their wake – held that the Attributes are none other than the Essence, otherwise, they claimed, there would be a multiplicity of Pre-eternal Entities (qudamâ’); therefore, to them, the Qur’an is created and both they and the Shi‘is deny the reality and pre-existence of the Attribute of Divine Speech. The vast majority of the early Muslims including Ahl al-Bayt reject this fallacious reasoning as summed up by Imam Malik: “The Qur’an is the Speech of Allah, the Speech of Allah comes from Him, and nothing created comes from Allah Most High.” [8] Similarly al-Tahawi said of the Qur’an in his “Creed of Abu Hanifa and his Companions” known as the ‘Aqida Tahawiyya: “It is not created like the speech of creatures.” This is the position of the totality of the Salaf including the Four Imams and their immediate colleagues, in addition to Sufyan al-Thawri, ‘Abd Allah ibn al-Mubarak, al-Awza‘i, Ja‘far ibn Muhammad , Abu Ja‘far al-Tabari, Dawud ibn Khalaf, Zayd ibn ‘Ali and others of Ahl al-Bayt, Ishaq ibn Rahuyah, al-Bukhari and his 1,000 shaykhs by his own verbatim report in Khalq Af‘al al-‘Ibad, and count­less others of the pious Predecessors. [9] Dr. Sa‘id al-Buti wrote:

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