Who Are the Murji’ah?

Murji’ah is an active participle from ijrâ’. In the language, irjâ’ comes with two meanings. The first of them is with the meaning of delaying, just as in His statement, exalted is He, «They said, “Delay him and his brother”» (7:111), meaning give him time and delay him. The second is the presentation of hope.[1]

As for the Murji’ah in the terminology, then Imam Ahmad had defined them with his statement,

They are those who claim that faith is mere articulation with the tongue; that the people do not contend for precedence in faith; that their faith, the angels’ faith, the Prophets’ faith, may Allah’s salutations and peace be upon them, are one; that faith does not increase or diminish; that [making an] exception[2] is not in faith; and that whoever believed with his tongue and did not act is a believer in truth.[3]

The connection between the linguistic meaning for the root of the word “Murji’ah” and its terminological meaning is not hidden, so it is possible that the naming of this sect with Murji’ah is taken from the first meaning of the word irjâ’. That is because they delay the deed from the intention and the aim, just as it is possible that it is taken from the second meaning for the word, because they say with faith, disobedience does not harm, just as with disbelief, obedience does not benefit. Thus, they give the disobedient hope in Allah’s reward.[4]

The Murji’ah are three classes: just as Shaikh of Islam Ibn Taimiyyah, may Allah have mercy on him, mentioned. The first class are those who say faith is merely what is in the heart. Then from these are [those] who include the deeds of the hearts in it; they are most of the Murji’ah’s sects; while from them are [those] who do not include them[5] in faith, like Jahm bin Safwân and his followers.

The second class are [those] who say it is merely the statement of the tongue; and it is the statement of the Karrâmiyyah.

The third class are [those] who say faith is the attestation of the heart and the statement of the tongue; and this is the statement of the Murji’ah of the jurists.[6]

As for the scholars’ judgement on the Murji’ah, then Shaikh of Islam says about it:

Likewise, the moderates of the Murji’ah, although their heresy is from the heresies of the jurists, it does not contain disbelief, with no differing with anyone from the imams. And whoever from our companions included them in the heresies for which excommunication and support of it was mentioned, then he has made a mistake in that. Certainly, it was because they did not view including the deeds or the statements in faith; and this is the leaving of an obligation. As for the exaggerators of the Murji’ah, those who disbelieve in the penalty and claim that the texts cause fear through what has no reality, then this statement is tremendous and it is the leaving of an obligation.[7]

After his speech about the Murji’ah of the jurists in another place, he said,

Then, surely the Predecessors and the imams were harsh in their rebuke for these, in hereticating them, and coarsening the statement about them. I do not know of anyone from them who articulated their excommunication. Rather, they are agreed that they do not disbelieve in that. Ahmad and others from the imams had specified the lack of excommunicating these Murji’ah. Whoever transmitted excommunication of these [people] from Ahmad or others from the imams or the make these [people] from the people of heresies whose excommunication is contested has made a tremendous mistake.[8]

[1] See al-Qâmūs al-Muhît, vol. 1, pg. 16, and al-Milal wan-Nihal by ash-Shahrastânî, vol. 1, pg. 139.

[2] [t] Ar. istithnâ’ – to make exception or exclusion. Here it refers to saying “I am a believer, if Allah willed.”

[3] Tabaqât al-Hanâbilah by al-Qâdî Ibn Abî Ya’lâ – within Risâlah al-Istakhrî, vol. 1, pg. 31-32.

[4] See al-Milal wan-Nihal by ash-Shahrastânî, vol. 1, pg. 139, and Maqâlât al-Islâmiyyîn by al-Ash’arî (with verification by Muhammad Muhy ad-Dîn ‘Abdul-Hamîd), vol. 1, pg. 213 in the footnote.

[5] [t] I.e., the deeds of the hearts.

[6] See Majmū’ al-Fatâwâ, vol. 7, pg. 195.

[7] Majmū’ al-Fatâwâ, vol. 20, pg. 104.

[8] Majmū’ al-Fatâwâ, vol. 7, pg. 507.

Source: ar-Ruhailî, Dr. Ibrâhîm bin ‘Âmir. Mawqif Ahl as-Sunnah wal-Jamâ’ah Min Ahl al-Ahwâ’ wal-Bida’. Madînah, Saudi Arabia: Maktabah al-‘Ulūm wal-Hikam, 1423H. pgs. 151-153.

About Rasheed Gonzales
My name is Rasheed Gonzales. I’m a Muslim convert of Filipino descent. Born and raised in Toronto, Canada, I was guided to Islam through one of my younger brothers and a couple of friends, all of whom had converted to Islam sometime before me (may Allah reward them greatly). I am married with four children (and the praise is Allah’s) and also a volunteer for the Qur'an & Sunnah Society of Canada, based in Toronto.

2 Responses to Who Are the Murji’ah?

  1. Being Muslim says:

    Being Murji’ah is positive or negative???

  2. Being Murji’ah is positive or negative???

    Considering the fact that the Murji’ah are one of the first heretic sects to split off from orthodoxy, I’d say being Murji’ is quite negative.

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