The Main Sects

3.         In the chapter of Reward and Punishment, the Mu‘tazila held that Allah, of necessity, rewards those who do good and punishes those who do evil. This was refuted by Ibn Khafif who summed up the Sunni position in his al-‘Aqida al-Sahiha (§32-34): “Allah is doer of what He will: Injustice is not attributed to Him, And He rules over His dominion as He will, without [anyone’s entitlement to] objection whatso­ever.” I.e. He rewards and punishes without being obliged to do so by the actions of His servants and He is free to place the disbeliever in Paradise and the believer in Hellfire without any injustice on His part, since He owns all sovereignty over the heavens and the earth, and no one received any share of authority from Him to ob­ject to what He does. The Mu‘tazila denied all this and further held that Allah does not forgive grave sinners unless they repent before death, even if they are Muslims. Al-Maturidi refuted this position in his book Radd Wa‘id al-Fussaq (“The Refutation of the [Doctrine of the] Eternal Damnation of Grave Sinners”). The Mu‘tazila also denied the Prophet’s (s) intercession, since he said: “My intercession is for the grave sinners of My Community.” [14] Al-Hakim stated, after narrating this hadith: “It contains a rebuttal of the inno­vators who differentiated between interces­sion for light and grave sin­ners.” [15] Ibn Hajar similarly adduced this hadith against the Mu‘tazila by saying: “He did not restrict his interces­sion to those who repented.” [16] Ibn Abi ‘Asim even mentioned the apostasy of those who deny the Prophet’s (s) intercession, as it is related through mass transmission(tawâtur). [17]

4.         In the chapter of îmân the Mu‘tazila held that grave sinners were con­sidered neither believers nor disbelievers and so construed for them a “half-way status” between the two (al-manzila bayn al-manzilatayn). They claimed that grave sinners belonged eternally in the Fire – as men­tioned in the previous heading – but in a less harsh situation than pure disbelievers.

5.         Finally the Mu‘tazila held, as do Ahl al-Sunna and the Shi‘a, that commanding good­ness and forbidding evil was obligatory upon the believers. However, in deriving this and the previous four headings, the Mu‘tazila and Shi‘a gave precedence to reason and reason-based methods over the Sunna, the Sunna-based principles of the Imams of the Salaf, and the Consensus of the Companions and Salaf. They picked and chose whatever verses and narrations suited their views and rejected the rest either through manipulation of the meanings or through flat denial of the authenticity of transmission, as did the rest of the sects with limited or no knowledge of the Sunna and its methodology.

The status of the Mu‘tazilaQadaris, and Shi‘is in the eyes of Ahl al-Sunna varied. The majority do not consider them disbelievers, however, Ibn al-Subki spoke of “a difference of opinion concerning the apostasy (takfîr) of theQadariyya.” [18] Ibn Abi Hatim in the introduction to his al-Jarh wa al-Ta‘dil (1:373) relates that Ibn al-Mubarak stopped narrating from ‘Amr ibn ‘Ubayd because “he used to propagate the doctrine of absolute free will.” Al-Dhahabi refuses to call ‘Amr a disbeliever, [19] although some early sources such as Ibn Abi ‘Asim’s (d. 287) al-Sunna, al-Ajurri’s (d. 360) al-Shari‘a and Ibn Batta’s (d. 387) al-Ibana relate that the Qadariyya were held so by Ibn ‘Abbas, Mu­jahid, ‘Umar ibn ‘Abd al-‘Aziz, Malik ibn Anas, Ibn al-Mubarak, Sufyan al-Thawri, and Ahmad ibn Hanbal among others.

The fact is that Sufyan al-Thawri, Ibn al-Mubarak, and Ahmad all nar­rated from Qadaris, such as Thawr ibn Yazid, Dawud ibn al-Husayn, Zakariyya ibn Ishaq, Dawud al-Dastuwa’i and others, all of which are also among al-Bukhari and Muslim’s narrators as shown by al-Suyuti’s list of Qadaris in the two books of Sahih in his Tadrib (1:389). These narrators could never have been retained if the Imams had considered them disbeliev­ers. However, the verdict of apostasy is true from Imam Malik who did not narrate from a single Qadari in his Mu­watta’. Malik held that they should be killed unless they repented, and the nar­rations reporting his position of takfîr of the Qadariyya are sound. [20]

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