Murji'ah

Early Islamic sect withholding judgement of sinners or charges of disbelief
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Murji'ah (Arabic: المرجئة, English: "Those Who Postpone"), also known as Murji'as or Murji'ites, were an early Islamic sect. Murji'ah held the opinion that God alone has the right to judge whether or not a Muslim has become an apostate. Consequently Muslims should practice postponement (ʾirjāʾ) of judgment on committers of major sins and not make charges of disbelief (’takfir’) or punish accordingly anyone who has professed Islam to be their faith. They also believed that good deeds or omission of them do not affect a person's faith, and a person who did no other act of obedience would not be punished in the afterlife as long as they held onto pure faith. They used to say that "disobedience does not harm faith as good deeds do not help with disbelief."[1] The members of the Murjite Order continue to adhere to this school. [2]

The emergence

During the early centuries of Islam, Muslim thought encountered a multitude of influences from various ethnic and philosophical groups that it absorbed.

The Murji'ah emerged as a theological school that was opposed to the Kharijites on questions related to early controversies regarding sin and definitions of what is a true Muslim.

The Khawarij believed that committing a sin amounted to leaving Islam and that serious sinners should be ousted from the community and that jihād (“holy war”) should be declared on them.

The Murji'ah reacted with the opposite extreme, that deeds not only do not result in leaving Islam, but do not affect one's faith at all.[1] They advocated the idea of deferring judgment of other peoples' belief. The word Murjiah itself means "one who postpones" in Arabic.[2] They urged unity among Muslims, and their conciliatory principles made them popular.

Khariji doctrine had led the adherents of the sect to revolt against the Umayyads, whom they regarded as corrupt and unlawful rulers whereas Murjite doctrine held that since only God has the authority to judge who is a true Muslim and who is not, Muslims should consider all other Muslims as part of the community.[3] This theology promoted tolerance of Umayyads and converts to Islam who appeared halfhearted in their obedience.[3]

Beliefs on major sin

In another contrast to the Kharijites, who believed that committing a major sin would render a person non-Muslim, Murjites considered genuine belief in and submission to God to be more important than acts of piety and good works. They believed Muslims committing major sins would remain Muslim and be eligible for paradise if they remained faithful.[4] Conversely, those engaging in shirk cannot benefit salvation from performing good acts.[5] Thus, faith is paramount.

Extreme Murji'ites, such as Jahm ibn Ṣafwān (d. ad 746), regarded faith as purely an inward conviction, thus allowing a Muslim outwardly to profess other religions and remain a Muslim, since only God could determine the true nature of his faith.

The Murji'ah thesis can be summed up as follows: 'sin does not do any injury where there is iman (belief), just as acts of obedience are of no use where there is kufr (disbelief).[6]

The Murji'ah were also in stark contrast to orthodox positions, (including those of the Maturidi and Ash'ari schools of theology), which can be summarised by Ibn Hazm's formulation: "The people of Sunnah and Tradition and the Fuqaha (jurists) hold that a man who has committed a grave sin is still a Believer (only, he is not any longer a perfect Believer), he is a Fasiq, imperfect in Belief. A grave sinner is still a Believer in his assent and verbal confessions but Fasiq in his 'work'.[6]

Legacy

Abu Hanifa, founder of the Hanafi (c. 699–767) school of Sunni jurisprudence, was often accused of holding Murji'ah beliefs[1], however, he was later cleared of these accusations by other Hanafis such as Tahawi through his foundational Sunni text, Al-'Aqida al-Tahawiyya; a popular exposition of Sunni Muslim doctrine.

Bibliography

  • Ibn Taymīyah, Abī al-ʻAbbās Taqī al-Dīn Aḥmad ibn ʻAbd al-Ḥalīm. al-Fatāwá.
  • Fakhry, Majid (2004). A History of Islamic Philosophy, 3rd ed. Columbia University Press. ISBN 0-231-13221-2.
  • Izutsu, Toshihiko (2001). Concept of Belief in Islamic Theology. The Other Press. ISBN 983-9154-70-2.

References

  1. ^ "Murjiʾah, ISLAMIC SECT". britannica. Retrieved 29 July 2019.
  2. ^ "Royal House of Tahir Buruj". 2021-04-17. Retrieved 2021-05-18.
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