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A Concise Overview of the Various Sects and Creeds
The various innovations, deviant influences, ideas and creeds that were introduced into Islaam were not merely benign ideas that had no subsequent impact upon the faith (Eemaan), belief (aqidah), worship (ibaadah) of the Muslims. Rather, the effect of these innovations was to distort, damage and pollute that Islaam (the vehicle) by which Muslims attain their goal in this life (being granted honour, strength, victory) and in the Hereafter (entering Paradise). Thus, there is a very direct connection between purity of the religion, acting upon that pure, pristine religion and between the state and condition of the Muslim Ummah - this is a rule and law in Allaah's creation, as we have seen in preceding texts. We will now look at the major innovations and sects and look at their ideas and beliefs.
The Usool (Foundations) of All of the 72 Sects
Ibn Battah (d. 387H) in his "al-Ibaanah" and al-Aajurree (d. 360H) in "al-Arba'een" bring with their isnaads, the following statement of Yusuf bin Asbaat (d. ~190H):
أصول البدع أربعة: الروافض، والخوارج، والقدرية، والمرجئة
The foundations of the innovations are four: the Rawaafidh (Raafidah Shi'ah), the Khawaarij, the Qadariyyah and the Murji'ah.
The four innovations form the basis of all the other innovations that appeared and split the Ummah so it is worthy to look at each of these. These four orientations appeared in the period 30H to 100H.
The Khawaarij were the first sect in Islam to split from the way of the Prophet and his Companions. In the time of the Prophet (alayhis salaam) a man called Dhul-Khuwaisarah at-Tamimi questioned the integrity of the Prophet (alayhis salaam) in distributing booty and said to him, "O Muhammad be just!". The Prophet mentioned that from the offspring of this man, the Khawaarij will arise, and he mentioned their characteristics. From them,
And other such affairs which have come in the Authentic Sunnah.
As prophesized, the Khawaarij emerged during the Caliphate of Alee (radiallaahu anhu), revolting against them after declaring him to be a disbeliever for having made arbitration between himself of Mu'aawiyah (radiallaahu anhu). They considered this to be major disbelief because, as they chanted, "Judgement is for none but Allaah", a verse from the Qur'an, which they made their slogan.
Ibn 'Abbaas (radiallaahu) was sent to them to argue with them, and though they were in their thousands, they did not have a single Companion in their midst, which is a proof that they were certainly misguided. The Prophet (alayhis salaam) mentioned, these people will emerge in every age and era (see this hadeeth here), and they always show up with that same slogan of Dhul-Khuwaisarah at-Tamimi which is "social and political justice".
In the 20th century, Sayyid Qutb, after being heavily influenced by Marxist-Communist ideas from the early part of his life, and after evaluating early Islamic history through the spectacles of that influence, and after considering Islam to be made up of Communism in part, and of its notions of "social justice", he revived the madhhab of the Khawaarij. He declared all Muslim societies and the Muslims therein to be apostates against whom general and specific revolutions were obligatory (see here, here, here, here, here, here and here ). Most political groups originating in the 20th century are tainted with aspects of this ideology, and they come out to the Muslims under the banners of establishing "social and political justice", simply differing on how to achieve it - so some took to revolutions involving mobilization of the masses, others took the route of the military coup organized by the elite vanguard and others took to route of organized and disciplined political parties.
They are extreme Shi'ites who are commonly known as the Twelvers (Ithnaa Asharah). A Yemeni Jew, by the name of Abdullaah bin Saba' was the founder of this group, and he appeared in the time of 'Alee (radiallaahu anhu). He instigated a revolution against the Caliph Uthmaan (radiallaahu anhu) and mustered other Muslims together for that purpose, claiming that Alee had more right to be the Caliph. He, in common with the Khawaarij, raised the banner of "social justice" for that purpose. He eventually deified Alee, declaring him to be Allaah. Alee ordered him and followers to be burned to death, but Abdullaah bin Saba' escaped to a place called al-Madaa'in.
Many 20th century writers and thinkers fell into some of this Raafidee poison when they began to interpret and evaluate early Islamic history through the standards of western secular materialistic philosophies (Marxism-Communism) and its notions of "social justice" as a result of which they attacked some of the Companions such as Uthmaan (radiallaahu anhu), Mu'awiyah, Amr Ibn al-Aas and others. Some of those affected with this poison include Sayyid Qutb and Taqi ud-Din an-Nabahani, who both reviled Mu'aawiyah, the trusted scribe of the Prophet (alayhis salaam). Mawdudi, a very close friend of al-Khomeini (the Iranian Rafidee Kafir and enemy of Abu Bakr and Umar - radiallaahu anhum), was influenced by the notion of Imaamate, and incorporated it into his political philosophy and party politics, claiming that the Prophets were revolutionaries who came to snatch power.
Today we have individuals and groups involved in "rectification of the Ummah" and "restoring the khilaafah" who call for unity between Ahl us-Sunnah and the Raafidee Shites, the enemies of Allaah, and they think this is from unity, rectification and strength.
This sect, like the Khawaarij, was mentioned explicitly by name as occurs in the hasan hadeeth (declared and declared as such by Abu Dawud, at-Tirmidhee, al-Haafidh Ibn Hajar and Imaam al-Albaani):
القدرية مجوس هذه الأمة إن مرضوا فلا تعودوهم و إن ماتوا فلا تشهدوهم
The Qadariyyah are Magians (Majoos) of this Ummah. If they fall ill do not visit them, and if they die, do not prayer over them.
They are named Majoos due to their resemblance to the Magians who say that this world has two creators: an-Noor (Light) which is the creator of good, and adh-Dhulmah (Darkness) which is the creator of evil. Similarly, the Qadariyyah say: Whatever happens in this world has two creators: That which proceeds from the humans in terms of their wilfully chosen actions (al-af'aal al-ikhtiyaariyyah), they are the creators of it. And that which proceeds from Allah (in terms of things that are outside of man's wilfully chosen actions and the inherent qualities of created things), He is the Creator of it.
And there two groups of the Qadariyyah.
This second groups is still present today and from those who explicitly propound this doctrine are the likes of the Taqi ud-Din an-Nabahani, the founder of Hizb ut-Tahrir, using the very same arguments of the Mu'tazilah (see here, here and here).
This innovation occurred just prior to the end of the first century hijrah, and there is some difference as to who the originator was, with the names presented such as Dharr bin Abdullaah al-Hamdaanee, Qays al-Maasir and Hammaad bin Abi Sulaymaan - they all lived in the same era and in the same locality, al-Kufah in Iraq, so it is certain that the idea origination in a certain location. This irjaa' was that of the Jurists (Fuquhaa) and which manifested in the Hanafis. Al-Jahm bin Safwaan (see the section on the Jahmiyyah below) also propounded irjaa' and his was an extreme form that was passed on through the factions of the Mutakallimoon.
irjaa' is to expel actions from the reality of faith (Eemaan) and to restrict faith to being only what is in the heart, or what is upon the tongue, or only in the heart and tongue. And thus, all the legislated actions, be the obligatory or recommended, are considered external to the essence and reality of Eemaan (faith).
The Murji'ah are of different groups and levels, and they are as follows:
It is no wonder that the Salaf considered this to be of the most vile, evil and harmful of innovations to the Ummah, in that it erodes and destroys their Eemaan and thus their connection to Allaah, their worship of Him and obedience to Him, and therefore it directly impacts their success in this life and the next. For this reason, there is severe speech in the words of the Righteous Salaf against this innnovation. Ibn Battah in his al-Ibaanah brings from az-Zuhree (d. 124H), his saying:
ما ابتدعت في الإسلام بدعة هي أضر على أهله من هذه - يعني الإرجاء
No innovation has been innovted into Islaam more harmful to its adherents than this - meaning al-Irjaa'.
And he also brings the saying of al-Awzaa'ee (d. 157H)
قال الأوزاعي : كان يحيى وقتادة يقولان: ليس من أهل الأهواء شيء أخوف عندهم على الأمة من الإرجاء
Al-Awzaa'ee said: Yahyaa and Qataadah used to say: There is not a [saying] of the people of desires (i.e. deviation, misguidance) anything more harmful to the Ummah, in their view, than that of al-Irjaa' (expelling actions from eemaan).
This irjaa' mindset is unfortunately rampant in the Ummah today and you recognize it straight away when you hear people saying - when being admonished to enter into Allaah's obedience - "faith is in the heart", "my heart is pure", "it's all what is in the heart", "modesty is in the heart" and other similar statements.
The point being here that many of these so-called reformative movements are plagued with the concepts of the major innovations in their thoughts and ideologies and methodologies. This is why having an absolutely solid grounding in aqidah is essential, especially in the modern era, where every Abdullah, Zaid and Nasreen comes out in the name of giving da'wah whilst being wholly ignorant of the aqidah of the Companions and the Righteous Salaf and where there are a plethora of so called "brotherhoods" and "liberation parties" competing for the hearts and minds of ordinary Muslims using propaganda and employing emotional sentimental issues (of a social, economical and political nature) rather than solid, firmly-grounded knowledge (of aqidah, tawhid) from its authentic sources, which in turn gives the correct, sound, authentic perception and evaluation of all things, events and occurrences, and which is the true basis of unity and rectification.
The Second Century After Hijrah and the Heads of Innovation
In the first century after hijrah we saw four main innovatory concepts and beliefs emerge, these were orientations in relation to specific topics. In the next century (after 100H), there appeared figureheads who took some of these innovations, and added their own innovations, and then further sects appeared as a result. They began to speak on a wider range of issues and topics related to the Islamic aqidah, and these doctrines became formalized into distinct schools of thought that began to debate and refute each other. These groups tried to refute innovation with another innovation and did not adhere steadfastly to the Book and the Sunnah upon the way of the Companions. Most of them employed the intellect as the definitive source of knowledge and made it to be decisive in the affairs of the religion, in particular the affairs of aqidah. They were forced into this orientation due to their interaction and debates with atheist philosophers schooled in Greek Philosophy and Indian Materialist Philosophy, and not being properly grounded in the Islamic aqidah and the revealed texts, and not holding fast to the way of the Companions and their followers, they started operating upon corrupt underlying premises (along with the associated terminology) without which they could not have debated with those Philosophers with a view to defending, as they thought, the Islamic aqidah.
Just as the Saamiree was to Banee Israa'eel, when he took all of their gold from them, melted it all, and made a calf which they worshipped - and thus he brought together all the idols and gods they used to worship whilst in Egypt, and merged all those falsehoods into one, the calf - then such is al-Jahm bin Safwaan (ex. 128H) to this Ummah, for he gathered together all the greatest falsehoods and doctrines of disbelief, combined them all together and spread this filth within the Ummah.
Whilst the label Jahmiyyah is taken after al-Jahm, al-Jahm himself, in speaking about Allaah, took from al-Ja'd bin Dirham (ex. 124H) whose sources in turn were from Jews and Sabean Philosophers. He also took the doctrines of the Murji'ah and in trying to refute the Qadariyyah, he innovated the doctrine of the Jabariyyah. And he was the first to devise a crude form of the rational proof (hudooth ul-ajsaam) - during his arguments with the Indian Materialist Philosophers, the Sumaniyah - that all the later Mutakallimeen would use and make as the base and foundation of their religion and speaking about Allaah in particular.
From al-Jahm's heresies:
For all of these doctrines, the Scholars and Imaams of the Muslims who wrote about al-Jahm after his demise, declared al-Jahm to be a kaafir (disbeliever) and he was executed in 128H by the ameer of Khurasaan, Salam al-Ahwaz, and his teacher al-Ja'd was also executed four years earlier in 124H.
The heads of the Mu'tazilah (Isolationists) are Waasil bin 'Ataa (d. 131H) and Amr bin Ubayd (d. 144H). They were called as such because Waasil bin 'Ataa deserted the gathering of al-Hasan al-Basree (d. 110H) whose lessons he used to attend.
Whilst the Jahmiyyah denied names, attributes and actions for Allaah, the Mu'tazilah affirmed names for Allaah (on the surface only) but denied that He has attributes (Sifaat) and actions (af'aal) which are tied to His will. Their later heads such as Abu al-Hudhayl al-Allaaf (d. 235H) also developed and refined al-Jahm bin Safwaan's rational proof, and incorporated other elements into it, such as the Atomism (al-jawhar al-fard) found amongst the Greeks and Indians.
But their proof was a corrupt one that in reality proved the opposite of what they intended, and as a result of this - in order to save their proof and remain consistent in the face of the Philosophers who took the opportunity to pound them through this route, they were forced to:
The Mu'tazilah entered the notion of reason being superior to revelation and gave it prominence, and it was one of their hallmarks. They also invented the term "Hashawiyyah" (worthless ones) which they used to denigrate the People of the Sunnah, who remained steadfast upon the Straight Path and guided themselves by the Prophetic traditions.
From their later figureheads were the likes of Bishr al-Mareesee (d. 218H) and Ibn Abee Du'aad (d. 240H) who were instrumental in stirring the rulers of the time against the People of the Sunnah on the issue of the creation of the Qur'an, and in particular against Imaam Ahmad bin Hanbal (d. 241H) who was imprisoned and beaten for not agreeing to their doctrine of disbelief that the Qur'an we have is something created. There were many other prominent Scholars who were executed for not succumbing to these heretics and their intellectual terrorism, just as there were many who were forced outwardly to agree, out of fear for their lives.
The Mujassimah, Mushabbihah (Anthropomorphists)
As we mentioned in the previous article, one of the reasons for the increase in innovation was when individuals tried to refute one innovation with another innovation. Thus, in the face of those who rejected Allaah's Attributes, such as the Jahmiyyah, some went to the other extreme in affirmation and resembled and likened Allaah's attributes with those of the creation, since to them, this would be the only way to truly affirm for Allaah whatever attributes He affirmed for Himself.
In the second century, Muqaatil bin Sulaymaan (d. 150H), is said to be the originator of this misguidance, and he used to know al-Jahm bin Safwaan, and debate with him. It is narrated from Abu Haneefah (d. 150H), as occurs in Taareekh Baghdaad (13/164), that he said:
Two vile views have come to us from the East: Jahm the Mu'attil (negator) and Muqaatil the Mushabbih (resembler).
Thus, whilst the Jahmiyyah denied that Allaah is described with attributes such as hearing, seeing, face and so on, the Mushabbihah claimed Allaah's attributes are just like ours, thus resembling Him to the creation. These are innovations at two opposite extremes. This faction (the Mushabbihah) were not from the Mutakallimeen (those trying to defend Islam using speculative theology), but they merely exaggerated in affirmation of Allaah's attributes. It is also important to note that those wrote about Muqaatil in later centuries, did so by relying upon the books of the Mu'tazilah and thus, it is possible that much of what is ascribed to Muqaatil may not be accurate.
This was a false accusation and label, and this became their legacy which has been carried on and used to attack Ahl us-Sunnah wal-Jamaa'ah to this day. The innovation of the Mushabbihah in the second century would be taken up further by another group called the Karraamiyyah (see below), who were from amongst the Mutakallimeen.
They are named after Abdullaah bin Sa'eed bin Kullaab (d. 240H) and he was the first to affirm something of the attributes of Allaah, in opposition to the Jahmiyyah and the Mu'tazilah. The Jahmiyyah denied Allaah's Names (asmaa), Attributes (Sifaat) and chosen Actions (al-af'aal al-ikhtiyaariyyah), and the Mu'tazilah affirmed the Names (on the surface only claiming they are synonymous labels devoid of independent meanings that denote attributes) and denied the Attributes and Actions. So Ibn Kullaab was the first to affirm something of the Attributes. He affirmed the Attributes of Allaah's essence (dhaat) which are: hayaat (life), ilm (knowledge), iraadah (will), qudrah (power), basr (seeing), sam' (hearing), kalaam (speech), and in addition to that he also affirmed the attributes such as wajh (face), 'ayn (eyes), yad (hands). However, because Ibn Kullaab could not refute the Mu'tazilah on the issue of Allaah's wilfully chosen actions (al-af'aal al-ikhtiyaariyyah), he denied these attributes, which include Allaah speaking when He wills, becoming angry, pleased, and ascending over His Throne and so on.
For this reason, the likes of Imaam Ahmad were very severe against Ibn Kullaab and those who adopted his views such as al-Haarith al-Muhaasibee - because they were simply rekindling the fitnah of the Jahmiyyah and Mu'tazilah of the Qur'an being created after they had been subdued and defeated. Ibn Kullaab also adopted the aqidah of al-Jahm bin Safwan in the topic of al-eemaan (faith), expelling actions from it. This Kullaabi creed was later taken up by Abu al-Hasan al-Ash'ari and it became popularized through the name of al-Ash'ari, even though Ibn Kullaab is its true author.
They are also from the Mutakallimoon who were upon that same rational proof, and they are the followers of Muhammad bin Karraam (d. 255H). Opposing the Jahmiyyah, Mu'tazilah and Kullaabiyyah, they tended towards tajseem and tashbeeh (anthropomorphism) and thus they stated Allaah is a body (jism), and that Allaah is in contact (touching) the Throne. For this reason, they were refuted by the Kullaabiyyah and Early Ash'aris (who adopted the Kullaabi creed). The Karraamiyyah also adopted the creed of the Murji'ah which was to expel actions from faith (Eemaan). They claimed faith is merely the expression on the tongue, (which means the hypocrites would be considered believers).
This was simply a replay of what happened in the century earlier, when the Mu'tazilah accused Ahl us-Sunnah with the tajseem and tashbeeh of Muqaatil bin Sulaymaan, who had gone to the other extreme of the negation and denial of the Jahmiyyah and Mu'tazilah.
They are name after Abu al-Hasan al-Ash'ari (d. 324H) and he was brought up in the house of one of the prominent Mu'tazilah, Abu Ali al-Jubaa'ee. He remained a Mu'tazili for forty years of his life, after which he abandoned them due to a dispute regarding a particular theological matter. After he abandoned the Mu'tazilah he adopted the creed of Ibn Kullaab, and thereafter, the Kullaabi creed became popularized through the name of Abu al-Hasan al-Ash'ari. However, the original Kullaabi creed was only adhered to by the Early Ash'aris and their contemporaries, such as al-Ash'ari himself, Abu al-Abbaas al-Qalaanisee, Ibn Mahdee at-Tabaree (d. 380H), Abu Bakr al-Baqillaani (d. 403H), al-Bayhaqee (d. 458H). The later Ash'aris starting mainly from al-Juwaynee (d. 478H), al-Ghazali (d. 505H), ar-Raazee (d. 606H) hybridized that early Kullaabee creed with some of the usool of the Mu'tazilah and Jahmiyyah, and took it into a different direction. This is what all Ash'aris today are upon.
The Ash'aris, therefore were upon the following:
The polemics of the later Ash'aris turned out as nothing but contradictions, inconsistencies and mostly plays with words and definitions with a view to trying to obfuscate the reality of their views which are nothing but the leaves that cover the twigs emanating from the branches of the Jahmiyyah and Mu'tazilah. You can read more about them at Asharis.Com, and in particular this article.
The Maturidiyyah are a faction amongst the factions of Ilm al-Kalaam (Mutakallimeen), sharing with the Jahmiyyah, Mu'tazilah, Kullaabiyyah and Ash'ariyyah in the foundations of their approach (i.e. Ilm ul-Kalaam) but differing with them on subsidiary matters following on from those foundations. There was no immediate faction known as the Maturidiyyah after the death of its founder, Abu Mansur al-Maturidi (d. 333H), but the sect and its creed became formalized and codified a few centuries later. The creed is similar to that of the Ash'aris for the most part.
In their debates with the Mu'tazilah, they (Kullaabiyyah, Ash'ariyyah, Maturidiyyah) were not able to free themselves completely of the doubts and arguments of the Mu'tazilah against them in this regard, whilst they did manage to argue rationally for the affirmation of the attributes. Thus, the creed of these factions became settled upon affirming the Names and some of the Attributes whilst rejecting the Sifaat Fi'liyyah (wilfully chosen actions). You can learn more at Maturidis.Com.
Later Hanbalis Affected by The Principles of the Kullaabiyyah
It is very important to highlight one point which is that some of those ascribing to the madhhab of Imaam Ahmad who came later fell into some of the doubts of the Mu'tazilah and Kullaabiyyah pertaining to Allaah's chosen actions (sifaat fi'liyyah) which they considered to be hawaadith (created events) that had to be denied and figuratively interpreted. And thus they adopted some of their sayings and orientations, and there appeared amongst them some of the shubuhaat (misconceptions) of the Mutakallimeen. These were the likes of al-Qadee Abu Ya'laa (d. 458H), Ibn 'Aqeel (d. 488H), Ibn az-Zaghuni (d. 527H), and then later, Ibn al-Jawzee (d. 597H).
It is necessary to understand this for a couple of reasons. Firstly, the deviation that occurred amongst those ascribing to Imaam Ahmad was much less compared to what happened amongst those acribing to the other Imaams, Abu Hanifah, Malik and ash-Shaafi'ee, amongst whom appeared many of the usool of the Jahmiyyah and Mu'tazilah (and Kullaabiyyah Ash'ariyyah) and deviation in the affairs of creed and likewise, the extreme teachings of the Sufis. Secondly, when the contemporary Jahmiyyah Ash'ariyyah wish to attack the creed of the Salaf, they take the route of these Hanbali scholars who ascribed to Imaam Ahmad but who departed from his creed as an opening for the rest of their polemics. And thus it is a way to ascribe to Imaam Ahmad what he is in fact free of as a means to deceive others regarding the aqidah that he was upon.
We have already mentioned some words about them in the previous article, and these were not from the Islamic factions, but external movements that came to Islam and its people in order to compromise and harm the religion. We can repeat what was said earlier:
The Mutakallimoon tried to argue against these people (the Philosophers) but fell into the mistake of accepting the platform of pure reason and the language, terms and definitions of the Philosophers themselves as the tools of argumentation (in particular the Ten Categories of Aristotle, "al-Maqoolaat al-Ashar" - see here, here and here), and as a result of this, they went astray themselves from Islamic aqidah and also opened the door for the Philosophers to attack Islam and its aqidah even further. And thus, you will understand well the saying of Imaam ash-Shaaf'iee (d. 204H) as reported by as-Suyuti in Sawn al-Mantiq (1/47-48):
ماجهل الناس ولااختلفوا إلا لتركهم لسان العرب وميلهم إلى لسان ارسطوطاليس
The people did not become ignorant and nor differ (with each other) except due to their abandonment of the language of the Arabs and their inclination to the language of Aristotle.
And you would do well to ponder over what was said by Ibn Suraij as-Shaafi'ee (d. 306H), as narrated from him by Abu Ismaa'eel al-Harawi in "Dhamm ul-Kalaam" and as mentioned by Ibn Taymiyyah in "Bayaan Talbees al-Jahmiyyah":
توحيد اهل العلم وجماعة المسلمين أشهد أن لا اله الا الله وان محمدا رسول الله وتوحيد اهل الباطل الخوض في الأعراض والأجسام وانما بعث النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم بانكار ذلك
The Tawheed of the people of knowledge and the jamaa'ah of the Muslims is "I testify none is worthy of worship except Allaah (alone) and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allaah". And the Tawheed of the people of falsehood is disputing about al-a'raad (incidental attributes) and al-ajsaam (bodies) and the Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) was sent with the rejection of that.
These people (Philosophers and Mutakallimoon) operated on the principle that where reason and revelation oppose each other, the reason is given precedence because it is definitive, since it qualifies the revelation (in its meaning and explanation). As for Ahl us-Sunnah, they hold that reason and revelation can never contradict each other and where they do, it is reason that is deficient and lacking, and that reason is used to understand revelation and is guided by it.
The Esoteric (Baatinee) Movements
Within this period as well, from the end of the third century hijrah (around 300H onwards), the Esoteric (Baatiniyy) movements appeared and these were the foundations of the heretical mystical Shi'ites and Sufis mixed with philosophy, that brough much repugnance, filth and permissiveness over the centuries to follow. All of these people believed that there are higher truths beyond religion, which is only a veil for the common people, and thus they denigrated the notions of revelation and prophethood, as did the Philosophers.
These are the most prominent factions, sects, groups, along with their founders that played a role in the erosion of Islaam by promulgating erroneous doctrines and countering falsehood with other falsehoods, and refuting innovation with other innovations. And they split and divided the Ummah, tore apart its aqidah, and thus its unity and strength, and this affair has continued to this day.
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