The Group of Murjia

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Some of the Imams here said that Imam E Azam Abu Hanifah has Irja in Aqeedah. What is that and is it correct or they label him as Murjiah?


The word Murjia comes from Irjaa which has two meanings:

1) To delay, postpone, to put off
2) To have hopes, to be hopeful

According to some scholars, the meaning of Irjaa is that one should not apply any judgement upon those who commit major sins in this world. The judgement of them going to Paradise or Hell should be left for the hereafter. In this meaning, Murjia would be opposite to the group called Wa’idiya.

It is also the statement of some scholars that what is meant by Irjaa is that when Al’s (R.A) khilafat was deferred and postponed to be No.4 (i.e. the fourth Caliph), those who accepted this as being acceptable were termed Murjia. In this sense, the group Murjia was in opposition to the Shia sect who believed that Au (R.A) was supposed to be the first Khalifa. (Al Milal Wan Nihal – Shahrastaani)

As such, people at that time fell either into the group Murjia or Shia.

When, at the time of the Khilafat of Uthman (R.A), many differences started to spread against Uthman (R.A) and his governors, which led to the assassination of Uthman (R.A), a group of the Sahabahs chose to remain completely silent over such affairs, and thus, decided to save themselves totally from such fitnas which the Muslims had fallen into. Apparently, these Sahabahs wanted to practice upon the hadith in which the Prophet (S.A) warned them to safeguard themselves against fitnas.

Based upon this guideline of the Prophet (S.A), some Sahabahs stayed clearly away from the issues and Ikhtilaafs that took place, and they did not apply any opinion to who was right and who was wrong. From among these Sahabahs were, Sa’d bin Abi Waqas, Abu Bakra, Abdullah bin Imran bin Husain, and others. They deferred any opinion and judgement, and entrusted it totally to Allah.

About this conduct, Allama Nawawi writes, ‘This affair was very serious and a group of the Sahabahs did not say what they thought, instead, they were very surprised and taken aback. They separated themselves from both parties and did not take part in any battle. They also did not make any decision as to who was right and who was wrong’. (Sharh Sahih Muslim)

The same has been mentioned by Hafiz Ibn Asakir with the statement, ‘They entrusted everything to Allah and did not make any decision for anyone’. (Tareekh Dimisq)

It is narrated that on the issue of a Muslim who commits a major sin, the khawarij placed the law of kufr above them, however, others refrained from doing so and entrusted everything to Allah. Because of this action, other people started to call them Murjia (since they delayed judgemant).

However, those coming after, who took the name of the Murjia did not remain only on this statement, but went ahead, bringing about a statement that others did not use/say. They said that Imaan is Iqraar (testimony with the tongue), Tasdeeq (confession in the heart), Itiqaad (belief/certainty) and Ma’rifah (recognition). They say that in the presence of Imaan, sins do not cause any harm. Imaan and Amal are separate from each other.

Some have gone further to say that Imaan is connected to the heart. If kufr comes from the tongue, or one worships idols, or does like the Christians, Jews, worship the cross etc; in all these cases, Imaan will remain. If one lives in Dam! Islam and has the belief in Trinity and then dies in this state, this person will be considered a believer (Mo’min), he will be a beloved of Allah and will enter Paradise. (This statement was made by Jahm bin Safwaan – Al Milal Wan Nihaal )

It is on account of this belief system which the Murjias brought about that there remained no difference (in their eyes) between good and bad, and this gave rise to a group of people who continued to do any wrong and sinful deed without having any sense of guilt in doing these wrongs. At this time, the word Murjia started to be used for this deviated group, to which none of the scholars attached themselves.

Based on these explainations, the scholars have stated that the word Murjia was used to refer to two different groups:

1) Those who remained away from the differences that came in the early period of the Umayad’s rule and opposed the Khawarij by saying that a Muslim who commits a major sin is not a kafir.
2) Those who believed that besides kufr, Allah will forgive every sin. While in the state of Imaan, sins not harm, just as in the state of kufr, no good deed has an effect.

Because of this belief, the second group accommodated the wicked and sinful people, who found a justifiable reason for doing wrong and committing sins. It is because of this state, Zaid bin Au (R.A) said, ‘I exempt myself from being a Murjia. This party has now given room for the worst type of people. Due to this, this group got a bad name and was known to be a deviated sect.

The Mutazilites used to call every such person a Murjia who did not believe that one who commits a major sin will remain forever in Hell. It is for this reason, they considered Imam Abu Hanifa, Imam Abu Yusuf and Imam Muhammad to be Murjias.

Allama Shahrastani writes: ‘Imam Abu Hanifa and his companions were called ‘Murjatus Sunnah’. Many of the mutakalimeen have called him a Murjia. The possible reason is that, according to him Imaan is the conviction of the heart. From this, people thought that he has separated Imaan from actions. They did not understand how firm Imam Abu Hanifa was upon doing good actions’. (Al Milal Wan Nihaal)

Another reason is that Imam Abu Hanifa strongly opposed the Qadariya and the Mu’tazila who emerged in the first century, and the Mu’tazila used to call every such person a Murjia who opposed them in the issue of Taqdeer. The Khawarij did the same. Hence, this name (Murjia) was a fabrication of the Mu’tazila and Khawarij. (Al Milal Wan Nihaal pg.226)

In a similar manner, many other great scholars from the Sahabahs were given the name Murjia. From among the Sahabahs were: Sa’d bin Abi Waqas, Abu Bakra, Abdullah bin Imran bin Husain.

From among the Tabieen were: Hasan bin Muhammad bin Ali bin Abi Talib, Saeed bin Jubair, Talq bin Habeeb, Amr bin Murrah, Muharib bin Dithar, Maqatil bin Sulaiman, Hamad bin Abi Sulaiman, Qudaid bin Jafar.

These scholars howevwe, were well known and accepted Imams of Fiqh and Hadith. They did not make the Takfeer of those who committed major sins, nor did they say that they would remain in Hell forever. (Al Milal Wan Nihaal pg.323)

It is therefore evident that the word ‘Murjia’ that was used for some Sahabahs and Tabieen (including Imam Abu Hanifa) was on account of their strict adherence to the teachings of the Quran and Sunnah. These scholars opposed the fabricated doctrines of the Khawarij and Mutazilites and were thus given this ‘fabricated name’ by the deviated sects.

The deviated sect that was formed later bearing the name ‘Murjia’, was a separate group altogether, who had coined their own teachings. They had no connection and relation to the Sahabahs and Tabieen who were called ‘Murjia’, and this new group had gone against the teachings of the Sahabahs (R.A).

It is in this regard, the great scholar Allama Salimi has written, ‘The Murjia (refer) to two groups; one group is that of those who were blessed and they were the companions of the Prophet (S.A). The other group is that which was cursed, and they were those who said that with Imaan, sins do not cause any harm, and a sinner would not be punished’. (From – Difa’ a Abu Hanifa pg. 105)

As mentioned before, the word ‘Jrja’ or ‘Murjia’ which was used for Imam Abu Hanifa, was used in the sense that he opposed the doctrine of the Khawarij and Mutazila. While they said that a Muslim who commits a major sin is a kafir, and will remain in Hell forever, Imam Abu Hanifa debated with them and proved that their doctrine was against the teachings of Islam. The Imam therefore, followed the path of the Sahabahs, and held on to the true teachings of the Holy Quran and Sunnah.

This was the true Aqeedah, and since the Sahabahs held on to this belief, the Khawarij and Mutazila also used the word ‘Irja’ and ‘Murjia’ for some of them and for some of the Tabieen. If the words ‘Irja’, – ‘Murjia’ were used for Imam Abu Hanifa, while referring to the second group whose teachings were deviated, then this is a clear fabrication and false accusation against the great Imam. It is in this regard, many great scholars have refuted this allegation.

Allama Ibn Atheer has stated, ‘And it is very clear that Imam Abu Hanifa is free from this allegation’. (From – Difa’a Imam Abu Hanifa taken from Jamiul Usool)

And Allah knows best.

Mufti Waseem Khan

This answer was collected from DarulUloomTT.net, which is operated under the supervision of Mufti Waseem Khan from Darul Uloom Trinidad and Tobago.