Saturday, 14 July 2018

Najjariyya Sect

Jabriyya is the term used to describe a range of sects that believe man is compelled by God in all of his deeds and acts. They believe that all activity is predicated to God, and man can only be said to commit acts figuratively. This is a Satanic doctrine because it necessitates that God is the doer of all evil deeds. Allah Himself says:

مَّا أَصَابَكَ مِنْ حَسَنَةٍ فَمِنَ اللَّـهِ ۖ وَمَا أَصَابَكَ مِن سَيِّئَةٍ فَمِن نَّفْسِكَ

Whatever befalls you of good is from Allah, and whatever befalls you of evil is from yourself.

(Sura 4:79)

The Jabriyya are the polar opposite of the Qadariyya. The latter believe that man is independent of God in the sense that he creates his own deeds. So while one heresy ascribes evil to God, the other limits His power and dominion. Because the Qadariyya attribute powers to man which are the domain of Allah only, they have been compared to the dualist Magians by the Prophet Muhammad (sall Allahu alayhi wa-Aalihi wasallam) as reported in the Hadith of Ibn UmarRA:

الْقَدَرِيَّةُ مَجُوسُ هَذِهِ الأُمَّةِ

“The Qadariyya are the Magians of this Umma”

(Sunan Abi Dawud: Kitab al-Sunna; Bab Fil-Qadar)

The doctrine of the Qadariyya that man is the independent creator of his own deeds became one of the five fundamentals of the Mu’tazila. The Mu’tazila, however, would argue that it was the orthodox Sunnis who should be described as Qadariyya, being aware of Prophetic traditions condemning the group that would come to be known by that appellation. They argued that since the orthodox Ahl al-Sunna were the ones who believed in the divine decree [al-Qadar] of Allah, it was they who should more appropriately be described as the “Qadariyya”. However, by comparing the Qadariyya to the dualist Magians, it becomes quite clear to whom exactly the Prophet (sall Allahu alayhi wasallam) was referring to. The Magians of Iran, also called Zoroastrians or Parsis, believe in two rival “gods”, namely, Ahura Mazda and Ahriman, both of whom are independent of each other and engaged in a cosmic struggle for domination. It is this kind of dualism, contrary to the orthodox Islamic creed of Tawhid and absolute supremacy and sovereignty of Allah alone, which the Prophet (sall Allahu alayhi wasallam) had forecast would come to characterize a tendency within his own Umma. The Qadarite Mu’tazila, in making man the independent creator of his own deeds, assigns to man that power (al-Qadar), making him a rival and partner of God, and therefore dualists like the Magian infidels of Iran. On the other hand, the orthodox belief in assigning al-Qadar to Allah alone is in keeping with the manifest and plain meaning of the holy Qur’an:

إِنَّا كُلَّ شَيْءٍ خَلَقْنَاهُ بِقَدَرٍ

Indeed, everything We created with measure [Qadar]

(Sura 54:49)

But as for the Jabriyya, who believe that Allah is the Doer [Fa’il] of all acts in reality, this absurdity is refuted repeatedly throughout the holy Qur’an. The orthodox belief is the middle path between the two extremes of the Jabriyya and the Qadariyya. We believe that man really is the doer of his deeds, but only by the will of Allah, Who creates man’s deeds, though man earns those deeds, acquires them and does them:

وَلَا تَقُولَنَّ لِشَيْءٍ إِنِّي فَاعِلٌ ذَٰلِكَ غَدًا ﴿٢٣﴾ إِلَّا أَن يَشَاءَ اللَّـهُ

And do not say of anything “Indeed, I will do that tomorrow.”

Except “If Allah wills”

(Sura 18:23-24)

Just as the Mu’tazila are the prime example of Qadariyya, one of the most prominent examples of the Jabriyya were the Najjariyya. The Najjariyya are attributed to Husayn b. Muhammad al-Najjar, a 9th century CE theologian. The Najjariyya believe that God is the doer of all acts, and man can only be said to be the doer of a deed figuratively. But apart from this, the Najjariyya, like the Mu’tazila, denied the holy attributes of Allah and even believed that the Qur’an is created. The Najjariyya were a sect of Kalam theology like the Mu’tazila and others who went to extremes in debating these issues because they felt it necessary to rationalize the theological statements of the Qur’an. Of course, the rationalism of these Kalam theology sects was based on the obsolete framework of ancient Greek philosophy. The Najjariyya sect was centered in the district of Rayy in medieval Iran. While the Qadarite Mu’tazila contradicted themselves in arguing that man creates his own deeds independent of God, but simultaneously claimed that God created the Qur’an because He is the “Creator of everything”, the Najjariyya were more consistent in admitting that God creates man’s deeds while maintaining the heretical doctrine of khalq al-Qur’an. While the Mu’tazila denied that Allah is visible and can never be seen, including in the Hereafter, al-Najjar had a more nuanced and moderate position, claiming that God can create in the eye the power to see what is known in the heart, and through this vision one may behold Him. A common thread in these Kalam sects is the apophatic theology in denying the positive nature of God’s attributes. For example, the Najjariyya do say that Allah is Murid which otherwise means one who wills, having the attribute of irada. But according to their bizarre negative theology, when Allah is described as Murid it means He is not maqhur, one who is coerced or maghlub, one who is subdued by a superior force.

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