ON THE DOCTRINES OF THE MU’TAZILA AND THE QADARIYY
[Ed. Qadariyya are not to be confused with the Sufi order of the Qadiriyya].
The Mu’tazila [Separatists] came to be so called on account of their separation [i’tizal] from the truth, or, as some prefer to put it, because of their separation from the generally accepted doctrines [aqawil] of the Muslims. This separation came about in the following circumstances:
The members of the Muslim community were in disagreement over the question of how to classify a person who has committed a major sin [kabira]. Some of them said: “Such people are believers [mu’minun], to the extent of the faith [iman] they still possess.” There were also some among them who said: “No, they are unbelievers [kafirun].” Then along came Wasil ibn ‘Ata’ with a third opinion on the issue. He parted company with the Muslims, and separated himself off from the believers, for he said: “Those who commit major sins are neither believers nor unbelievers.”
There we have one explanation of how they [as the followers of Wasil ibn ‘Ata’] came to be known as the Mu’tazila. According to some, however, they acquired this name on account of their i’tizal [separation in the sense of withdrawal or secession] from the council [majlis] convened by al-Hasan al-Basri (may Allah bestow His mercy upon him). As he walked past them, al-Hasan remarked:
“These people are mu’tazila [a bunch of separatists],” and so it came about that this nickname stuck to them.
They also looked up to ‘Amr ibn ‘Ubaid as one of their leaders. On a certain occasion, when al-Hasan al-Basri became angry with ‘Amr ibn ‘Ubaid, and was sharply criticized on that account, he responded by saying: “How dare you rebuke me so harshly for the sake of a such a man? I saw him in a dream, prostrating himself in worship to the sun instead of to Allah!”
As for the Qadariyya, they are so called because of their refusal to acknowledge the foreordainment [qada‘] of Allah (Almighty and Glorious is He) and His predestination [qadar] with respect to the sins of disobedience committed by His human servants, and because of their insistence that human beings are themselves the authors of those actions.
With respect to the denial of the divine attributes [nafy as-sifat], the doctrine of the Mu’tazila, the Jahmiyya and the Qadariyya is one and the same. We have already discussed some of their teachings on the subject of religious belief [i’tiqad].
The name of the authors who compiled their textbooks are as follows: Abu’l-Hudhail, Ja’far ibn Harb, al-Khayyat, al-Ka’bi, Abu Hashim, Abu ‘Abdi’llah al-Basri, and ‘Abd al-Jabbar ibn Ahmad al-Hamadhani.
The majority of the people who adhere to their doctrine are to be found in [the districts of the Iranian province of Khuzistan called] al-‘Askar, al-Ahwaz and Jahzam.1
They can be subdivided into six factions, namely the Hudhaliyya, the Nazzamiyya, the Mu’ammariyya, the Jubba’iyya, the Ka’biyya and the Bahshamiyya.
The point on which all the various factions of the Mu’tazila are in virtually unanimous agreement is the negation of the divine attributes [sifat] in their entirety. They deny that Allah (Almighty and Glorious is He) has knowledge [‘ilm], power [qudra], life [hayat], and the faculties of hearing [sam‘] and sight [basar].
They likewise deny the reality of those divine attributes that have been corroborated by traditional report, such as istiwa‘ [firmly establishing Himself (on the Throne)], nuzul [descending (to the heaven of this lower world)], as well as others that could be mentioned.
They are also in general agreement in professing the following doctrines:
That the Speech [kalam] of Allah is not eternal, but has been created subsequent to the beginning of time, and that His Will [irada] is likewise a product of creation [muhdatha]. That He speaks [not directly but] by means of a faculty of speech that He has created in others, and that He wills by means of a will that has been brought into existence for no effective purpose [la fi mahall]. That He (Exalted is He) may wish for something contrary to that which has been fixed by His own predetermination [yuridu khilafa ma’lumih]. That He may want from His servants something that will never come to be, while something that He does not wish may actually come into being. That He (Exalted is He) is powerless to influence the decisions made by others, and that the very idea of His exercising such influence is really quite absurd. That He does not create the actions of His servants, since they themselves, not their Lord, are the creators of those actions. That much of the food consumed as nourishment by a human being is not made available to him by the providence of Allah-not, that is, in the case where the food is unlawful [haram], since the only food provided by Allah is that which is lawful [halal], to the exclusion of what is unlawful. That a human being may be killed before his appointed time [ajal], and that the killer may cut the life of his victim short, before the moment when he was destined to die. That if anyone professing to be a monotheist [muwahhid] is guilty of committing a major sin, even if the offense does not amount to explicit unbelief [kufr], he thereby removes himself from the protection of his faith [iman] and is doomed to abide in the Fire of Hell for all eternity, while all his good deeds are rendered null and void. They even maintain that the intercession [shafa’a] of the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) can be of no avail as far as people guilty of major sins [ahl al-kaba’ir] are concerned.msthemelist>Most of them deny the reality of the torment of the tomb [‘adhab al-qabr]. They regard it as permissible to rebel against the ruler [sultan] and to withdraw one’s obedience from him. They reject the idea that a person who has died can receive any benefit through an offering made on his behalf by someone who is still alive, whether it be a prayer of supplication [du’a‘] or an act of charity [sadaqa], for they do not believe that the spiritual reward for such an offering could ever reach him. They also maintain that Allah (Glory be to Him) did not speak to Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus and Muhammad (the blessings of Allah be upon them all), not to Gabriel, not to Michael, not to Israfil, and not to the bearers of the Heavenly Throne [hamalat al-‘arsh], nor did He look upon them, just as He does not speak to Iblis and the Jews and Christians.
1 In the author’s time.
© 2016 As-Sunnah Foundation of America