Al-Murji'ah Sect, Its History and Beliefs

By Sheikh Muhammad Al-Qurashi

The nation of Islam in the past had always rejected the Bid'a (the unfounded innovation) and had always fought against it; thus it stayed on the right path and its light remained shinning. Then the nation became lazy and careless to fight Bid'a and its in novator. This has happened when the religious subconscious weakened and at the same period when Bid'a started spreading and finding its way and to have followers and supporters. Bid'a emerged fast to the point where it competed against the true religion and Sunnah. The situation started to deteriorate to the point where, if Bidaa was being fought, many would claim that the true Sunnah is at risk. Among the many misguided factions is "al-Murji'ah" (literally the delayers). What does this term mean and how did it start?

From the linguistic view; Murji'ah comes from Irjaa' which was mentioned in the Holy Qur'an as in the following verse: "You have a hope from Allah that for which they hope not" [4:105]. This verse was explained by Imam Ibn Katheer as follows: "both you and the Kafireen will suffer, but you hope for the forgiveness of Allah, His victory and His support, as on the other hand the Kafireen do not hope for anything of that. Hence, you ought to be more forthcoming and more persistent towards Jihad".

In another verse Allah (s.w.t.) says: "What is the matter with you, you hope not for reward from Allah or you believe not in His Oneness" [71:13]. Allah is asking us why we do not fear Him and believe in Him as being God Almighty and fear His punishment.

Also, in another verse Allah (s.w.t.) says: "They said put him and his brother off (for a while) and send callers to the cities" [7:111]. The theme needed in this verse is putting off.

Therefore, from the linguistic point of view and as mentioned in the abo ve verses, the meaning of al-Murji'ah (this misguided faction) is putting off all deeds and actions and isolating these deeds from Faith. By this they have given hope for all ill-doers that their bad deeds are not in conflict with their Faith.

One of Al-Murji'ah's most prominent figure once said that their faith is as good as that of Gabriel, the Prophet (may Peace Be Upon Him), Abu Bakr and Omar. The conclusion as believed by Al-Murji'ah is that the deeds and the faith are not related whatsoever and that deed s have no effect on faith neither positively nor negatively.

The roots Of Al-Murji'ah

The movement of Al-Murji'ah started with the appearance of the Khawarej and the Shiats. The Khawarej claimed that all the Sahabah are Kafirs, while some Shiats claimed that Othman, Mo'aweya, Aaisha and many others, are Kafirs; and at the same time they gave Ali a status much higher than any human. In between these two positions a third group emerged claiming not to abide to either side by putting off any judgment on either side. This group is definitely in contradiction with the righteous position which believe in and respect all companions of the prophet (may Peace Be Upon Him).

The first to proclaim Irjaa' is Bathr Bin Abdullah Alhamadani. This man was put down by the people of his time and they never returned his salaam. Then the Bida'a of Irjaa' appeared largely in all Koofa (Iraq) and it was represented by people like Mohammad Bin Karram.

Origins Of al-Murji'ah

With the appearance of many factions of Al-Murji'ah, big differences in their beliefs emerged as well. An example of these factions is Aljabria who believe that humans have no will; while on the other hand in the field of the Names and Qualities of Allah (Al Asmaa wa As- Sifat) they negate all the qualities and some of them believe in the termination of Heaven and Hell, and others have dropped so low in their beliefs by judging Allah and negated all the Names and disqualified all the Qualities of Allah pretending to Honour Allah Almighty. But all of them meet and agree on the one thing and that represented in their belief, that faith does not increase or decrease and they all agree that deeds do not affect the faith in anyway and that nothing hurts whether it is a large sin or a small one. With these believes they have led the nation into the Devil's road.

Signs Of Irjaa In The Nation

The misguided people nowadays in particular and in other times in general have made use of Al-Murji'ah's beliefs. In the name of faith and religion they have blessed the deeds of the Kafirs and the deeds of the dictators. On the other hand, when it comes to the true and faithful people of the Sunnah, they are very severe and very cruel to the point where they call such good people as Kafirs; while at the same time, they affirm the faith of the dictators. Such actions are merely a result of an ill-fated misguidance, and this is Jahm Bin Safwan telling us that knowing Allah and His prophet (may Peace Be Upon Him), is enough to confirm one's faith and to assert Heaven to that person after death.

Al-Murji'ah's Negative Effects

A) On the faith: They put people under Allah's curse by them disregarding the Qur'an and the Sunnah and the path of the companions. This in turn will keep them away from Allah's blessing and mercy.

B) On morals and behaviour: Al-Murji'ah have misled the people by telling them that all deeds are not important for them to enter Heaven and that the worst of the people will be alongside the most believing in Heaven. This concept led to the loss of morals and values; it also led to ridiculing Allah's religion. There fore, this loss of values have subsequently led the people to slowly pull away from their religion, while at the same time making them believe that they will enter Heaven along the best of the companions.

C) On the religious guidelines : They claimed Islam for someone that has been qualified as being Kafir by Allah and His Prophet (may Peace Be Upon Him). They also allowed him to marry a Muslim woman, when in the true religion it is a corrupted marriage.

Henceforth, you will realise that when Al-Murji'ah's scholars saw how corrupt their beliefs were, they created ways to name and classify people as Kafirs. Such characteristic is not known among the Sunni people. And in order for them not to appear lenient with religiously uncommitted people they agreed with the Sunni people in calling someone as Kafir if he deserves this qualification but in a tricky way. For example, they have agreed with Sunnah people that whoever insults Allah, His prophet or the Qur'an is Kafir; but they didn't call him Kafir because of his deed, which took him out of Islam, but rather because this deed has shown that he has no faith and belief in his heart and consequently he is Kafir. The religion and the human mind are both in conflict with what these Murji'ah are claiming. Furthermore, the mind could very easily rule that a person is a believer but with no faith and Allah (s.w.t.) says in witness to this "And they know him as they know their children" [2:46]. In another verse Allah says: "It is not you that they deny, but it is the Verses of Allah that the wrong doers deny" [6:33].

And to shed more light on what has been discussed we quote what Sheikh Ul-Islam Ibn Taymeeya says about the Murji'ah "Those who say what Jahm and Al Salhi say that insulting Allah or His Prophet or talk of the trinity is not a blasphemy in the heart but rather an indication of blasphemy, and that the insulator is knowledgeable of Allah and His Oneness and that he is a believer. To these people, when you prove to these people by the Qur'an or Sunnah or what has been agreed up on by the scholars that this insultor has committed an act of blasphemy they react by saying that faith requires none of that; these people are very much misguided" (Al-Fatawa).

Al Murji'ah's Proofs

Al-Murji'ah have invented proofs to fit their beliefs, as is the norm with the people of innovation who usually invent the Bid'ah and then look for proofs to support it. And this misguided way contradicts the correct way of seeking the truth, as those who are seeking the truth should be objective and sincere in their research, rather than upholding the innovation then searching for supporting proofs.

However, committing yourself to Ahlu-Sunnah and Jama'a and their beliefs is the best and the only way to get Allah's rewards and His Paradise. So, stick to the Book of Allah and the Sunnah of His prophet and this will keep you away from any wrong-doing and from Allah's punishment and you will be able to look at Allah in His Heaven in the Hereafter which is the eternal pleasure.

The Origins of the Disagreement

The disagreements within all sects and their deviation from the right path lies behind the fact that they have not committed their minds to the essence of the Qur'an and the Sunnah, as taught by the Prophet (may Peace Be Upon Him) to his Companions and their followers, may Allah be pleased with them. Instead, they committed themselves to their own understanding. Hence, the first signs of deviation began with the meaning of faith (Eeman) and its definition. Regarding this matter, people split into two main groups which believe:

A- Eeman is one entity that cannot be portioned.

B- Eeman is something that can be portioned.

Those who said that Eeman is one entity and that it does not increase nor decrease are Al-Murji'ah, who differed between themselves about the reality of Eeman. Some of their dominations, known as Al-Jahmiyah (attributed to Jahm), declared that it is enough to know Allah in your heart, and hence all people are faithful, except someone who says that he does not know Allah. By this illogical argument they judged that Christians, hypocrites, Jews and other Kafirs to be all people of faith.

Another domination, led by Muhammad Bin Karam and his friends, claimed that Eeman is only a matter of confession by the tongue, even if the person was Kafir in his heart; he is a believer and will still end up in Heaven.

Others of Al-Murji'ah said that Eeman is knowledge in the heart and confession by the tongue. So, if a person knows his religion in his heart and testifies this by his tongue, then he is a Muslim who accomplished Eeman and Islam, and deeds cannot be classified as Eeman, rather they are the codes of Eeman. This was said by Hammad and his student Imam Al-Nu'man Bin Thabit and most of his friends. This last group consists of what we call the Faqih's Murji'ah (Faqih is someone with juridical knowledge).

Maqeedah (may Allah have mercy on him) said: "Those who said that Eeman can be portioned, can decrease and increase, and that it is a matter of deeds and sayings are the consensus Muslim scholars Faqihs (Jurists), Muhadithun (Hadith narrators) and eminent Imams, such as Malik, Al-Shafi'i, Ahmad Bin Hanbal, Al-Bukhari, Ibn Al-Mubarak, all the scholars of Hadith and tradition and those who followed the path of as-Salaf as-Saleh (the Righteous Predecessors)". He added that when they (i.e. the Murji'ah) left out the deeds and did not include them as part of the Eeman, the rest of the Muslims labeled them as Murji'ah".

Refuting Al-Murji'ah's Proofs

They say that they can prove their claims by the Prophet's Hadiths (may Peace Be Upon Him) that aspire Eeman, such as his saying: "Whoever says 'there is no god but Allah with sincerity in his heart' will enter Paradise", "Whoever prays the two cold times (i.e. Fajr and Isha') will enter Paradise" . Such Hadiths are very much mentioned by them in order to lessen the fear of wrong doing and the slipping into bad deeds.

It was mentioned in the last article that it is appropriate to note the Hadiths that the Khawarej had adhered to, in order to refute al-Murji'ah's proofs. Such Hadiths that talk of Allah's warnings. This is also a misleading argument because it leads to harm being inflicted upon the people due to their lack of knowledge in their God and His religion. Examples of such Hadiths are: "Whoever breaks relatives' ties will not enter Paradise", "Insulting a Muslim is a crime and fighting him is Kufur", "Whoever cheats us is not from amongst us", "Whoever swears by other than Allah is Mushrik" and "He has no Eeman who commits adultery during the act, and he has no Eeman who drinks alcohol, during drinking".

So, dear brother -may Allah guide you-, if you examine Al-Murji'ah's proofs you will note the weakness of the proofs of Al-Khawarej, and if you examine Al-Khawarej's proofs you will note how weak the proofs of Al-Murji'ah are. And then you will conclude that both sects are not following the path of the Prophet (may Peace Be Upon Him) and his Companions'. You should also note that we are convinced that the above mentioned Hadiths are genuine authentic Hadiths, but the people of Bid'ah (innovation) have dealt with these Hadiths according to their own desires. A man of truth and Eeman is that who deals with the religion as a whole as was revealed by Allah without any differentiation between His Verses nor the Prophet's Hadiths. Since the Verses and the Hadiths were revealed from the same source and the same and only God, Allah, the All-Wise All-Knowledgeable, all praise be to Him.

The other argument which they use to justify their claim is a proof in the Arabic language. Al-Ash'ariyah, the Matordiyah and others on this side, have said that the Qur'an was revealed in Arabic and they claim that in the Arabic language the word Eeman (faith) means believing in or acknowledging, and Eeman is also acknowledging Allah's Oneness and this has nothing to do with deeds and actions. They further added that if deeds are part of the Eeman, therefore if someone had left some deeds then he had left the Eeman and became Kafir.

Imam Ibn Hazm, a great Muslim scholar, had mentioned that: "Eeman in the (Arabic) language is believing in and acknowledging and this alone negates the claims of Al-Ash'ariyah and Al-Jahmiyah. The claim that Eeman in the language with which the Qur'an was revealed is believing by the heart only is utterly unfounded. Believing by the heart merely without confessing by the tongue was never called Eeman in the language of the Arabs. And no Arab has ever said that believing in something by the heart less the tongue is Eeman. Also, no Arab has ever said that confessing by the tongue without the heart is Eeman. In the Arabic language, Eeman is confessing by the tongue and believing by the heart".

What was quoted from Ibn Hazm disproves the claim of Al-Jahmiyah and Al-Ash'ariyah about Eeman and the language.

Now we move to address the Matoridiah who say that Eeman is both acknowledging by the heart and the tongue, supporting this by the linguistic meaning as well. We say to them that their argument in language is unfounded and untrue, because language necessitates that whoever confesses to something is ought to believe in it. They all acknowledge the term Eeman but do not assign it to anyone who believes but instead they tend to limit its usage to certain features excluding the others like believing in Allah and His Messenger, the Qur'an, resurrection, Heaven and Hell, Praying and Zakah. All these which the Muslims have all agreed that whoever disbelieves in any of them is not a believer.

If they claim that they are obliged to do so due to the teaching of the religion, then we tell them: do not adhere to the linguistical proof where the Shari'a has changed a certain term.

If they say that according to our saying it is then necessitated that if someone loses part of his Eeman then he will end up losing all of his Eeman and will be a Kafir, we tell them: this is utterly wrong because you will be contradicting Allah and His Prophet (may Peace Be Upon Him).

It is concluded then that terms like Eeman and Kufur are religious ones that could neither be confirmed nor denied of anyone except with a proof. With this all of their claims are dropped down meaningless.

The Proofs of Ahlus-Sunnah

We now would like to mention some of the solid proofs of the people of the truth, Ahlu-Sunnah Wal-Jama'ah:

Allah says: "He it is Who sent down calmness and tranquillity into the hearts of the believers that they may grow more in Faith along with their Faith" [48 - 4].

"As for those who believe, it has increased their Faith" [9 - 124].

"Those unto whom the people said: 'Verily, the people have gathered against you, therefore fear them, but it only increased them in Faith'". [3 - 173].

The Prophet (may Peace Be Upon Him) says: "Eeman is seventy and some parts, the highest of which is (to declare that) there is no God worthy of worship but Allah, and the lowest of which is cleaning the road of harmful objects".

The Prophet (may Peace Be Upon Him) says: "Whosoever of you sees an evil action, let him change it with his hand; and if he is not able to do so, then with his tongue; and if he is not able to do so, then with his heart - and that is the weakest of Eeman."

The above mentioned Noble Verses show us that Eeman increases and the opposite is true. Therefore, good deeds increase Eeman and forsaking good deeds or doing bad deeds decreases Eeman. This fact is witnessed very clearly in every day life and everyone of us can sense it. Once we do what we are commanded by Allah, we sense the pleasure of Eeman, and if we do a bad thing we feel a lessening of Eeman. This is recognised by the average person, needless to mention the scholars.

The interpretation of the Verse "And Allah would never make your Eeman (prayers) to be lost" is that it was revealed in relation to the prayers the Companions had performed at the time when the Qiblah was towards Jerusalem; there, Allah has regarded the prayer to be Eeman, simply because it is part of the Eeman, and from the Arabic lexical principle, part of the thing may be called the whole thing itself. An example of this is the Verse "They thrust their fingers in their ears" (and it is obvious that only one finger can be thrusted into each ear, and the word "fingers" is the translation of the Arabic word "Asabi'ahum" which means three or more fingers). Furthermore, the Prophet (may Peace Be Upon Him) had called modesty as part of the Eeman, the same is true with cleaning the harm off the road and preventing evil in all the foretold measures. These Verses and Hadiths are as clear and obvious as the sun at the midday. And so is the true religion, very clear and simple.

In conclusion, the Bid'ah of Irjaa' school is one of the most dangerous innovations that conquered the Muslim Nation and created changes; its example is one of which, when spreading among people, a Sunnah of the Prophet's would disappear. This innovation will change the features of the Right Path in the spirits and souls of the people and would damage the true picture of Religion.

Theref ore, the preachers of Islam ought to shake the dust of laziness and fight all innovations, the apparent ones and the hidden ones. They should acknowledge and learn the Sunnah of the Prophet (may Peace Be Upon Him), as his guidance is the best, and all roads to Allah are closed but through Muhammad (may Peace Be Upon Him). This Bid'ah has affected the process of calling to Allah and people got confused as Muslims and Kafirs were tangled together and the right and wrong doers mingled. This has led to weakening the principle of loyalty and getting away from Kufur. It has also weakened the prevention of wrong doing and consequently led to shaking the foundations of the Muslim nation.

So, may we all go back to the Right Path.

We end this article by reminding the reader with Allah's Saying: "Whoever hopes for the meeting with his Lord, let him work righteousness and associate none as a partner in the worship of his Lord". [18 - 110]