The Prophet Muhammad ﷺ said:
تَفْتَرِقُ هَذِهِ الأُمَّةُ ثَلاثَةً وَسَبْعِينَ فِرْقَةً كُلُّهَا فِي النَّارِ ، إلا وَاحِدَةً , قَالُوا : وَمَا تِلْكَ الْفِرْقَةُ ؟ ، قَالَ : مَنْ كَانَ عَلَى مَا أَنَا عَلَيْهِ الْيَوْمَ وَأَصْحَابِي
“This Umma shall split into seventy-three sects; all of them in the Fire except One.” They asked: Which Sect is it? He said: “The One which is upon what I am upon today, and my Companions.”
(Mu’jam al-Awsat of Tabarani)
In the time of the Prophet’s ﷺ own Companions, four major sects emerged; 1. the Khawarij, 2. the Shi’a, 3. the Qadariya, and 4. the Murji’a. Virtually all of the seventy-two deviated sects and parties are derived from a few major branches, particularly these four. In this entry we will look at some of the peculiar and heretical doctrines of various Mu’tazilite sects. Keep in mind the Mu’tazila are included within the Qadariya branch:
1. Hudhailiya: Abu ‘l-Hudhail Hamdan b. al-‘Allaf (752 – 840 CE).
Doctrine: The movements of those who dwell eternally in heaven or hell will cease, and will be followed by an everlasting rest and stillness. In this state of rest those in heaven will experience all their pleasures and those in hell all their suffering. Abu ‘l-Hudhail was forced into this position in order to overcome a difficulty about the beginning of the universe, namely, that phenomena which have no beginning are like those which have no end as they are both infinite. To this he replied: ‘I do not believe in a movement that has no end, just as I do not believe in a movement that has no beginning; all will turn into an everlasting rest.’
2. Nazzamiya: Ibrahim b. Sayyar b. Hani’ al-Nazzam (775 – 845 CE).
Doctrine: God created all existing things as they are now in the one act of creation: minerals, plants, animals and men. His creation of Adam did not precede that of his posterity except that some of them were put in a latent condition in others. The order of their precedence is simply the result of their coming forth from this hidden state, not that of their creation and coming into being at that time.
The miraculous nature of the Qur’an, according to Nazzam, consists in giving information about past and future events, in averting temptations to challenge the Qur’an, in [God’s] forcibly preventing the Arabs from engaging in such attempts and rendering them incapable. Had they been left to themselves, they would have been able to produce a chapter like one in the Qur’an with its beauty, eloquence and style.
3. Khabitiya: Ahmad b. Khabit (d. 332 H).
Doctrine: They assign to the Messiah one of the divine prerogatives, agreeing with the Christians in their belief that he is the one who will call mankind to a reckoning in the next life. He is the one meant by God’s words: ‘Your Lord comes with angels in their ranks.’ He is also the one who will come in shadowing clouds, and who is referred to by the words of God: ‘Until your Lord comes.’ Again, he is the one of whom the Prophet spoke when he said, ‘God created Adam in the image of the Most Merciful.’ Also when he said, ‘The Most Powerful will put his foot in the fire.’ Ahmad b. Khabit maintained that the Messiah put on a body of flesh.
Ibn Khabit says that every species of animal forms a separate community, according to God’s words: ‘There is not an animal that lives on the earth, nor a bird that flies on its wings but forms part of communities like you.’ To every community, moreover, there is a messenger of its own kind; as God says, ‘There never was a community without a warner having lived among them.’
4. Bishriya: Bishr b. al-Mu’tamir (d. 210 H / 825 CE).
Doctrine: Whoever repents of a grave sin and commits it again deserves punishment for the first sin also, because his repentance was accepted on condition that he did not sin again.
5. Mu’ammariya: Mu’ammar b. ‘Abbad al-Sulami (d. 215 H / 830 CE).
Doctrine: It is related of Mu’ammar that he objected to saying that God is qadim (eternal), because the word qadim is taken from qaduma, yaqdumu, hence qadim (active participle). It is, therefore, a verb, as for example, ‘He took from it both what had become old, qaduma, and what was new, hadutha.’ He also said that qadim implies priority in time, whereas God’s existence does not belong to the sphere of time.
6. Murdariya: ‘Isa b. Subaih known as Abu Musa al-Murdar (d. 226 H).
Doctrine: On the question of power he said God can lie and do injustice; and if he did lie or commit an injustice then he would be a lying and unjust God.
With respect to the Qur’an he held that men have power to produce something similar to it in diction, style and excellence of composition.
7. Hishamiya: Hisham b. ‘Amr al-Fuwati (d. 230 H / 845 CE).
Doctrine: An imam, he said, may not be appointed in time of civil war and strife, but may be appointed only when there is concord and peace.
Hisham also held the unusual view that heaven and hell are not yet created, because there is no advantage in their existence if they are both empty, and if no one is enjoying them or suffering in them.
8. Jahiziya: ‘Amr b. Bahr Abu ‘Uthman al-Jahiz (776 – 869 CE).
Doctrine: Among the heresies of al-Jahiz there is also his view that Allah does not cause anyone to enter hell, but that hell attracts its people of itself by its very nature, and then holds on to them of itself forever.
To be continued… ان شاء الله