Sects of Islam

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SECTS OF ISLAM. Arabic firqah فرقة
pl. firaq. Muhammad is related to have prophesied that his followers would be divided into numerous religious sects.
‘Abdu ‘llah ibn Umar relates that the Prophet said Verily it will happen to my people even as it did to the Children of Israel. The Children of Israel were divided into seventy-two sects, and my people will be divided into seventy-three. Every one of these sects will go to Hell, except one sect.” The Companions said, “O Prophet, which is that?” He said, “The religion which is professed by me and my Companions.” (Mishkat, book i. ch. Vi. Pt. 2.)
The number has however, far exceeded the Prophet’s predictions, for the sects of Islam even exceed in number and variety those of the Christian religion.
The Sunnis arrogate themselves the title of the Najiyah, or those who are “being saved” (as, indeed, do the other sects), but within the limits of the Sunni section of Muslims there are four which are esteemed “orthodox,” their differences consisting chiefly in minor differences of ritual and in varied interpretations of Muslim law. These four orthodox sects or schools of interpretation amongst the Sunnis, are the Hanafiyah, the Shafi’ iyah, the Malakiya’, and the Hambaliyah.
1. The Hanafiyahs are found in Turkey, Central Asia, and North India. The founder of this sect was the Imam Abu Hanifah, who was born at al-Kufah, the capital of al-‘Iraq, A.D. 702, or A.H. 80. at which time, four of the Prophet’s companions were still alive. He is the great oracle of jurisprudence, and (with his two pupils. the lmams Abu Yusuf and Muhammad ) was the founder of the Hanafiyah Code of Law.
2. The Shafi’ iyahs are found in South India and Egypt. The founder of this school of interpretation was Imam Muhammad ibn ‘Idris as Shafi’i’, who was born at Asqalon, in Palestine A.D. 767 (A.H. 150).
3. The Malaiktyahs prevail in Morocco, Barbary and other parts of Africa, and were founded by Imam Malik, who was born at al-Medinah, A.D. 714 (A.H. 95) He enjoyed the personal acquaintance of Abu Hanifah, and he was considered the most learned man of his time.
4. The Hambaltyahs were founded by Imam Abu Abdi ‘llah Ahmad ibn Muhammad ibn Hambal, who was born at Baghdad A.D. 780 (A.H. 164). He attended the lectures delivered by ash-Shaifi’i, by whom he was instructed in the Traditions. His followers are found in Eastern Arabia, and in some parts of Africa but it is the least popular of the tour schools of interpretation. They have no Mufri at Makkah whiIst the other three sects are represented there. The Wahhabis rose from this sect. [WAHHAB.]
From the disciples of these four great Imams have proceeded an immense number of commentaries and other works all differing on a variety of points. In their constructions, although coinciding in their general principles.
The Ghinasu ‘l-Lughat gives the following particulars of the seventy-three sects spoken of in the Traditions, arranging them in six divisions of twelve sects each, and concluding with the Najiyuh, or “Orthodox” Sunnis.

I. — The Rafiziyah, ” the Separatists” who are divided into —
1 ‘Alawiyah, who esteem the Khalifah ‘Ali to have been a prophet.
2. Abadiyah, who hold that ‘Ali is divine.
3. Shu’sibiyah, who say that ‘Ali was the first and best of the Khalifahs.
4. Ishaqiyah, who say the age of prophecy is not yet completed.
5. Zaidiyah, who hold that prayers can only be led by a descendent of ‘Ali.
6. ‘Abbasiyah, who say al-‘Abbas, the uncle of Muhammad, was the only rightful Imam.
7. Imamiyah, who state that the world was never left without an lmam of the Banu Hashim to lead the prayers.
8. Narisiyah, who say it is blasphemy for one person to say he is better than another.
9. Tanasukhiyah, who believe in the transmigration of souls.
10. La’iniyah, those who curse the of names of Talhah, Zubair, and ‘Ayishah.
11. Raji’iyah, who believe that ‘Ali is hidden in the clouds and will return again to this earth.
12. Murtuziyah, who say It is lawful for a Muslim to fight against his Imam.

II. — The Kharifiyah, “the Aliens,” who are divided into—
I. Azraqiyah, who say there is no holy vision now to be obtained by the sons of men as the days of inspiration are past.
2. Riyaziyah, who say a man is saved by good works, and not by faith.
3. Sa’labiyah, who say God is indifferent to the actions of men, as though He were in a state of sleep.
4. Jazimiyah, who hold true faith has not yet been made evident.
5. Khalfiyah, who say to run away even from double the number of infidels is a modal sin for Muslims.
6. Kuziyah, who say that the human body is not made ready for prayer unless the ablutions be such as entirely cleanse the body.
7. Kanziyah, who do not regard the giving of zakat as necessary.
8. Mu’tazilah, who maintain that evil actions are not according to the decree of God, and that the prayers of a sinful man are not acceptable to God, and that faith is of man’s free will, and that the Qur’an is created, and that almsgiving and prayer do not benefit the dead, and that there is no mizun or kitab, &c., at the Day of Judgment.
9. Maimuniyah, who hold that belief in the unseen is absurd.
10. Muhkamiyah, who say God has not revealed His will to mankind.
11. Sirajiyah, who believe the example of the saints is of no importance.
12. Akhnasiyah , who hold that there is no punishment for sin.

III. – The Jabariyah, the “Deniers of Free Will,” who are divided into—
1. Muztariyah, who hold that both good and evil are entirely from God, and man is not responsible for his actions.
2. Af’ahyah, who say man is responsible for his actions although the power to do and to act is alone from God.
3. Ma’iyah, who believe that man possesses an entirely free will.
4. Tariqiyah, who say faith without works will save a man. 5. Bakhtiyah, who believe that as every mortal receives according to God’s special gift, it is not therefore lawful for one to give to another.
6. Mutamanniyah, who hold that good works are those front which comfort and happiness are derived In this world.
7. Kaslaniyah, they, who say punishment and reward is inflicted by God only according to the actions of man.
8. Habibiyah, who hold that as one friend never injures another, so God, who is a God of love, does not punish his own creation.
9. Khaufiyah, who say that just as a friend does not terrify his friend, so God does not terrify his people by judgments.
10. Fikriyah, who say contemplation is better than worship, and mere pleasing to God.
11. Hasabiyah, who hold that in the world there is no such a thing as fate or predestination.
12. Hujjatiyah, who say that inasmuch as God doeth everything and everything is of God, man cannot be made responsible for either good or evil.

IV. — The Qadariyah, the “Asserters of Free Will,” who are divided into—
1. Ahadiyah, who accept the injunctions of God but not those of the Prophet.
2. Sanawiyah, who say there are two eternal principles, good and evil; good being of Yazdan and evil being of Ahraman.
3. Kaisaniyah, who say our actions are either the creation of God or they are not.
4. Shaitaniyah, who deny the personality of Satan.
5. Sharikiyah, who say faith is ghair makhluq, or “uncreated.”
6. Wahmiyah, who say the actions of man are of no consequence, whether they be good or evil.
7. Ruwaidiyah, who maintain that the world, has an eternal existence.
8. Nakisiyah, who say it is lawful to fight against the Imam or KhaIifah.
9. Mutabarriyah, who say the repentance of sinners is not accepted by God.
10. Qasitiyah. who hold that the acquirement of wealth and learning is a religious duty ordered by God.
11. Nazamiyah, who maintain that it is lawful to speak of the Almighty as a thing (shai’).
12. Mutawallif iyah, who say it is not evident whether evil is by God’s decree or not.

V. — The Jahimiyah, the followers, of Jihim ibn Safwan, who are divided into—
1. Mu’attaliyah, who say the names and attributes of God are created.
2. Mutarabisiyah, who hold that the power, knowledge, and purpose of God are created.
3. Mutaraqibiyah, who say God has a place.
4. Waridiyah, who state that those who enter hell well never escape from it, and that a mu’min, or “believer” will never enter hell.
5. Hariqyah, who say the inhabitant of hell will so burn, that in time they will be annihilated.
6. Makhluqiyah, who believe that the Qur’an, the Taurat, the Injil, and the Zubur are created.
7. ‘Ibariyah, who say Muhammad was a learned man, and a philosopher, but not a prophet.
8. Faniyah, who say both Paradise and Hell will be annihilated.
9. Zanadiqiyah, who say the Mi’raj, or “ascent of Muhammad to heaven, was only in the spirit, and that the world is eternal, and that there is no Day of Judgment.
10. Lafziyah, who hold’ that the Qur’an is not an inspired writing, but that its instructions are of God.
11. Qabriyah, who say there is no punishment in the grave.
12. Waqfiyah, who state that it is not certain whether the Qur’an is create or un-create.

VI. — The Murjiyah, or “Procrastinators,” who are divided into —
1. Tariqiyah, who say nothing is necessary but faith.
2. Sha’iyah, who maintain that when once a person has repeated the Muslim creed he is saved.
3. Rajiyah, who believe that the worship of God is not necessary to piety, nor are good works necessary.
4. Shakkiyah, who say a man cannot be certain if he has faith or not, for faith is spirit.
5. Nahiyah, who say faith is knowledge, and those who do not know the commandments of God have not faith.
6. ‘Amaliyah, who say faith is but good works.
7. Manqusiyah, who say faith is sometimes less and sometimes, more.
8. Mustasniyah, who deprecate assurance in religion, but say, “we are believers if God wills it.”
9. Ash’ariyah, who say qiyas, or “analogical reasoning”, in matters of faith is unlawful.
10. Bid’iyah, who hold that it is a duty to obey a ruler, even if he give orders which are evil.
11. Mushabbihiyah, who say God did literally make Adam in his own image.
12. Hashawiyah, who consider that in Muslim law there is no difference between wajib, sunnah, and mustahab.

VII.—The Najiyah, or “Saved- Ones,” make up the complete number of seventy-three.
Mr. Sale traces all the Muslim sects to four sources :—
I. The Mu’taziliyahs, the followers of WadiI ibn ‘Ata, who may be said to have been the first inventor of scholastic divinity in Islam.
2. The Sifatiyahs, or Attributists, who hold the contrary opinions of the Mu’taziliyahs.
3. The Kharijiyahs, or Aliens. Those who revolted from ‘Ali.
4. The Shi’ahs, or the followers of ‘Ali.
The author of the Sharbu ‘l-Muwaqif says there are eight leading divisions of the sects of Islam:-
1. The Mu’tazalah.
2. The Shi’ahs.
3. The Khawirij.
4. The Murjiyah.
5. The Najjariyah.
6. The Jabariyah.
7. The Mushabbihiyah.
8.~ The Najiyah
For an account of these leading sects, the reader is referred to the articles under their respective titles.
Shaikh ‘Abdu ‘l-Qadir says there are not less than 150 sects in Islam.

Based on Hughes, Dictionary of Islam

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