Sects and Schools of Thought

Sects and Schools of Thought
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The emergence of Islamic sects was marked during the era of ‘Ali ibn Abi Taalib, May Allah Be Pleased with him. However, there were indications of their appearance prior to this but they did not take any official form. The most important of these sects are:

Al-Khawaarij:

This sect appeared during the time of ‘Ali and Mu‘aawiyah, May Allah Be Pleased with them, when there was a dispute over the caliphate. Muslims divided into two groups: supporters of ‘Ali and supporters of Mu’aawiyah, May Allah Be Pleased with them. Hence, the Battle of Siffeen took place. In this battle, Mu’aawiyah, May Allah Be Pleased with him, and his comrades raised copies of the Quran on the tips of their spears requesting the arbitration of the Book of Allah The Almighty.

‘Ali, May Allah Be Pleased with him, accepted to arbitrate through the Book of Allah The Almighty, because falsehood cannot approach it from either end. Abu Moosa Al-Ash‘ari was entrusted by Ali’, May Allah Be Pleased with them, as a representative for him and his comrades. Meanwhile, ‘Amr ibn Al-‘Aas was entrusted by Mu‘aawiyah, May Allah Be Pleased with them, as a representative for him and his comrades and these two representatives would judge the issue. However, some supporters of ‘Ali, May Allah Be Pleased with him, rebelled against him saying, “‘Ali made men arbitrators over the Book of Allah! How can Abu Moosa and ‘Amr judge over the Book of Allah The Almighty, whereas Allah The Almighty, Says (what means): {Legislation is not but for Allah} [Quran 12:40] As long as he does this, he rebelled against the religion of Allah The Almighty.” So they were called Al-Khawaarij because they rebelled against ‘Ali, May Allah Be Pleased with him. ‘Ali, May Allah Be Pleased with him, and those who came after him fought them until they were completely eliminated in the third century after Hijrah.

The Shee’ah:

They are those who supported ‘Ali, May Allah Be Pleased with him, so they were called the Shee‘ah (supporters or allies). They appeared during the era of ‘Uthmaan, May Allah Be Pleased with him. Their school of thought is based on preferring the household of the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) and that they alone have the right to the caliphate. They are not all in the same degree of excess and exaggerated praise. The moderate among them only prefer ‘Ali to the other Companions, May Allah Be Pleased with them, without considering any other Companion to be defiantly disobedient or a disbeliever. They also said that the only difference between the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) and ‘Ali, May Allah Be Pleased with him, is prophethood. They also claim that the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) appointed ‘Ali, May Allah Be Pleased with him, as his caliph after his death but the Companions, May Allah Be Pleased with them, concealed this.

Some sects of Shee’ah excel in their error because they deem preferring ‘Ali, May Allah Be Pleased with him, over the Caliphs is insufficient so they raise him to the level of prophethood. Others even went to the extreme and claimed that ‘Ali, May Allah Be Pleased with him, is a god. These are the ones whom, ‘Ali, May Allah Be Pleased with him, burned with fire because of their extremism and fabrications against Allah The Almighty. And their claim of alliance strictly for the household of the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) acted as a gateway for the Jews, Christians and enemies of Islam who want to destroy Islam and Muslims. They use love and support for the household of the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) as a cover to move about freely, attacking the foundations of Islam.

A Muslim loves the household of the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) respects them, holds them in high esteem, supplicates for them and gives them their just estimate without raising them above the status of humans. They are not able to do anything in the dominion of Allah The Almighty nor intercede for anyone without the Permission of Allah.

Al-Murji’ah:

In between the extremism of the Shee’ah and the ignorance of the Khawaarij arose a third sect that postponed the ruling between the two fighting parties saying, “We do not know which one is mistaken and which one is correct so we postpone their affair to be judged by Allah The Almighty.” Therefore, they were named Al-Murji’ah (those who postpone). They said that faith is merely trust in the heart and has nothing to do with actions. They also claimed that sins do not harm one’s faith.

Some of them even extended their error by claiming that faith is just belief in the heart and the actions of a person do not affect his faith even if the person verbally declares disbelief, worships idols, or enters Christianity or Judaism; as long as he dies in the land of Islam, he is a believer. The disobedient and deviant people found great justification in the Murji’ah sect to do whatever they want of acts of disbelief and polytheism in Islam without any care. Hence, Zayd ibn ‘Ali ibn Al-Husayn ibn ‘Ali, May Allah Have Mercy upon him, said, “I disavow myself from Al-Murji’ah who made the defiantly disobedient people hope for the pardon of Allah.”

Al-Jabriyyah:

It is one of the deviant sects; it claimed that man has no will nor any choice in his actions. They were called Al-Jabriyyah. They abandoned all actions and relied on their belief that everything was predestined. So why should they do anything if they are being compelled and destiny will determine everything for them? Among their principles is that they deny that anyone will see Allah The Almighty in the Hereafter. They also said that Hell and Paradise will perish (and are not everlasting). Many scholars declared them to be disbelievers.

A true Muslim believes in Destiny and the Decree of Allah and in the free will of man in all matters he faces and he has the choice to act or not. While he is compelled in other matters, he has the ability to do whatever he wants and he will be held accountable for his choices.

Al-Mu‘tazilah:

They are attributed to Waasil ibn ‘Ataa’. Waasil used to sit in the circle of knowledge of Al-Hasan Al-Basri. Once a man entered upon Al-Hasan Al-Basri, May Allah Have Mercy upon him, and said: “O Imaam, nowadays there are people who consider someone who commits a major sin to be a disbeliever, and they are Al-Khawaarij. On the other hand, another group of people postpone the judgment upon them and refer it to Allah The Almighty and they say: ‘Faith is not harmed by any sin just as disbelief is not reinforced by any obedience.’ They are Al-Murji’ah.” While Al-Hasan, May Allah Have Mercy upon him, was thinking about the issue, Waasil said: “I do not say that the committer of a major sin is an absolute believer or an absolute disbeliever. Rather, he will be in a state between these two states.” ‘Amr ibn ‘Ubayd agreed with him. And then he sat in a side of the mosque theorizing for this school of thought. Hence, Al-Hasan, May Allah Have Mercy upon him, said, “Waasil has withdrawn from us.” Hence, they were called Al-Mu‘tazilah (those who withdrew).

These sects and others paved the way for many other sects of various methodologies and thoughts. This fulfills the Hadeeth of the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ): “The Children of Israel split up into seventy-one sects and my Ummah will be split up into seventy-two sects. All of them will be in Hell except one, and it is Al-Jamaa‘ah (the majority).” [Ibn Maajah]

The sect which is promised to be saved from Hell is the one which adheres to the truth that was Revealed by Allah The Almighty and acts according to the Sunnah of the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ). Their principles and methodology for their lives is based on the Book of Allah The Almighty, and the Sunnah of the Messenger of Allah  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ). They follow the same path as the righteous predecessors among the Companions and the two subsequent generations after them.

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