The Splitting of the Muslim Ummah: Part 2 - The Emergence of the Sects and the Heads of Misguidance
Wednesday, July 07 2010 - by Abu.Iyaad
Read more articles at Aqidah.Com

Whilst the Companions (radiallaahu anhum) were alive and after they passed away (beginning of the 2nd century, after 100H), people of different backgrounds, beliefs and ideas entered into the religion, and they were from the offspring of the Persians, Jews, Christians, and idol-worshippers.

Thus, we find that the foundations of the deviant ideas and beliefs which spread amongst the ranks of the Muslims return to the beliefs of the Jews, Christians and the ideas of the Persians and to Greek Philosophy which was brought into the Arabic language through translation.

From the period of 30H to 100H there emerged the four major sects which are the foundations for the seventy-two sects mentioned in the Prophetic Sunnah, and they are the Khawaarij, the Raafidah, the Qadariyyah and the Murji'ah.

From around 100H to 150H some of the major heads of innovation appeared who consolidated numerous innovations, and they became callers to misguidance. The two main factions at this stage were the Jahmiyyah and the Mu'tazilah, and the individuals concerned were al-Ja'd bin Dirham (ex. 124H) and al-Jahm bin Safwaan (ex. 128H) - their followers became known as the Jahmiyyah. Alongside their own innovations, they carried the bid'ah of the Murji'ah and propounded exaggeration in al-qadar (the bid'ah of al-Jabr).

At the same time were Waasil bin 'Ataa (d. 131H) and Amr bin Ubayd (d. 144H) and they were the heads of the Mu'tazilah. They carried the innovations of the Qadariyyah and the Khawaarij and also took innovations from the Jahmiyyah pertaining to Allaah's Attributes. So in this period, these figureheads that emerged (and their followers) took some of the original innovations, and added their own, especially in the subject of Allaah's Names and Attributes.

And they (the Jahmiyyah and Mu'tazilah in the second century) carried the tribulation into the Ummah for the next 100 or so years into the 3rd century hijrah, with repugnant beliefs that were beliefs of kufr and they put the Ummah to trial with them, until the Mu'tazilah had many from the Imaams of the Sunnah killed in the fitnah of the (belief of) the creation of the Qur'an.

There was also Muqaatil bin Sulaymaan (d. 150H) who exaggerated in affirming Allaah's Attributes until he fell into something of resemblance of Allaah with the creation.

Then in the third century appeared the offshoots of the Jahmiyyah and the Mu'tazilah who are the Kullaabiyyah, the Karraamiyyah, the Ash'ariyyah and the Maturidiyyah and all of these are known collectively as "Mutakallimoon", the Theologians. They were all united in using a rational proof first pioneered by the Jahmiyyah and Mu'tazilah in proving the universe is created and therefore has a creator called "hudooth al-ajsaam" or "hudooth al-a'raad fil-ajsaam", which argues that the presence of qualities (Sifaat), incidental, non-permanent attributes (a'raad) and events, occurrences (hawaadith) that reside in or arise from bodies (i.e. all that is in the universe) constitutes evidence of the created nature of the bodies within which they reside or arise from, that these bodies themselves are "hawaadith" (things that came to be after not being). And since it is impossible for there to be no beginning-less events (as this would go on to infinity in the past), there must a creator behind them, who brought them into existence.

These Mutakallimoon opened a great door of evil for the Ummah in that there emerged those who were carrying the Platonic and Aristotelian philosophy and who were trying to bring it to the Muslims, and when they saw the corrupt rational proof that these Mutakallimoon were using to try and defend Islaam, they pounced upon the situation, because they saw the fundamental flaw in it, and saw it as a means to bolster their argument for the universe being eternal. They then used this to pound further the Islamic aqidah.

These Philosophers were the likes of Ya'qub al-Kindi (circa. 252-260H), Abu Nasr al-Farabi (d. 339H) and Ibn Sinaa (d. 429H), and they tried to mould Greek philosophy with Islam, but their real intent was to present the beliefs of the Greek philosophers (which they held to be true) to the Muslims, and they generally held that "religion" is for the common dumb people who need to be given some form of meaning and purpose to their lives (thus the need for religion) and as for absolute truths, and the higher truths, then it is for them (the Philosophers), and thus the Philosophers are more superior to the Prophets, since they Prophets (as they claim) only told the people what they invented and made up in their own minds in order to help the people live moral lives!

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 Shi'ites and Sufis, that brough much repugnance, filth and permissiveness over the centuries to follow.

The diagram below shows the main sects, groups and orientations that emerged in the first five centuries after hijrah.

Figure 1: The deviant sects and factions.

Erosion of the Islamic aqidah

With the emergence of all of these sects, individuals and groups, the Islamic aqidah was polluted, and this set the foundations for the permanent splitting of the Ummah, as the Messenger (alayhis salaam) foretold, that the Ummah will split into seventy-three sects, all in the Hellfire, except for one, and they are those who remained upon what the Companions were upon.

And the Ummah never lost its strength except due to the erosion and pollution of its aqidah, since the aqidah is the foundation of Islaam, and it is from the aqidah that the actions of one's heart and one's limbs emanate from, and with the corruption in the foundation, there inevitably showed corruption in the branches. And thus the divine law came into operation:

إِنَّ اللّهَ لاَ يُغَيِّرُ مَا بِقَوْمٍ حَتَّى يُغَيِّرُواْ مَا بِأَنْفُسِهِمْ

Verily! Allaah will not change the good condition of a people as long as they do not change their state of goodness themselves (by committing sins and by being ungrateful and disobedient to Allaah). (Ra'd 13:11)

Which is explained in the books of Tafseer that when the people change their condition from one of Eemaan (faith), taqwaa (piety), shukr (gratefulness), taa'ah (obedience) - and these are all affairs that emanate from and are directly tied to the aqidah, since the aqidah is the spring and fountain - then Allaah changes their condition from one of security, safety, strength, honour to one of fear, weakness and dishonour.

Factors Behind the Emergence of Innovation and Deviation

There were numerous reasons and causes (asbaab) and from the main ones were:

Falling into al-ghuluww (exaggeration) such as what occurred with the Khawaarij and the Raafidah. The Khawaarij exaggerated in the understanding of the revealed texts, and the Raafidah Shi'ah exaggerated in the status of the Companion Alee (radiallaahu anhu) and his offspring.

Another reason was the refutation of innovation (bid'ah) with another innovation. So the Murji'ah refuted the innovation of the Khawaarij (declaring Muslims to be disbelievers on account of major sins) with irjaa' (claiming actions have no effect on Eemaan, in its increase or decrease), and then the Mu'tazilah appeared trying to take a middle position between the Khawaarij with the Murji'ah and innovating a new saying (a sinful Muslim is neither a Muslim or Kaafir in this life, but is in an "in-between position"). And the Mushabbihah (like Muqaatil bin Sulaymaan) tried to refute the deniers of Allaah's Attributes (the Mu'attilah, such as the Jahmiyyah and Mu'tazilah) by exaggerating in their affirmation. And likewise the Jahmiyyah tried to refute the Qadariyyah (who denied al-qadar giving man complete independent will and power) by exaggerating at the other end and bringing a new innovation of al-jabar, which denies man any independent will and power in his actions.

Another reason was foreign influences, the Raafidah Shi'ah were started by Abdullah bin Saba', a Yemeni Jew who proclaimed Islaam. And the Jahmiyyah have their roots in Labeed bin al-A'sam, the Jew who poisoned the Messenger (alayhis salaam) - as is documented in the books of aqidah and history, as well as the Sabean Philosophers. And the bid'ah of the Qadariyyah originated with a Christian called Soosan or Sansawaih, which was taken by al-Ma'bad al-Juhanee and then Gheelaan ad-Dimashqee.

Another reason was making the intellect (aql) decisive over the revealed texts and in particular in the affairs of aqidah, and those who gave prominence to this were the Mu'tazilah and then the Ash'arites took it from them thereafter. This was upon their claim that the evidence of the intellect is decisive (qat'ee) and as for the revelation, then from it is that which in its authenticity is decisive (i.e. the Qur'an and the mutawaatir hadeeth), but whose meanings are only qualified by the proof of the intellect which is decisive over them. And as for what is not from the Qur'an and mutawaatir hadeeth (i.e. the bulk of the Sunnah), then it cannot be accepted as proof in matters of aqidah (belief). And they innovated these principles in order to combat the People of the Sunnah and Hadeeth, the carriers and transmitters of the Prophetic heritage of knowledge.

And another reason was the translation of the books of Greek philosophy into Arabic at the end of the second century (around 180-200H) which the Mu'tazilah incorporated into their polemics and found to be a great treasure to bolster their creed.

The innovators and Deviants

It is for the above reason that you will understand the position taken by the Companions, the Taabi'een, those following them, and then the Imaams of the Sunnah and Hadeeth, towards the innovators and Deviants and you can get a glimpse of that in this article here:

  • The Innovators: They are More Evil and Harmful Than the Disobedient Sinners - (see here)

In the next installment we will look briefly at the main ideas and doctrines that were introduced by the heads of innovation and the various groups and sects, and after that we will be looking at how the Imaams of the Sunnah and Hadeeth stood to preserve and safeguard the truth during the second, third, fourth, fifth and sixth centuries after hijrah. This will be in light of certain revealed texts indicative of the fact that the very religion that the Companions were upon, in aqidah (belief), ibaadah (worship), manhaj (methodology) and akhlaaq (manners), will be preserved and safeguarded and accessible to Muslims in all ages until the Day of Judgement.

Related Articles: