Islamic theology

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

Islamic theology is a discipline which studies the various belief systems in Islam.

Sunni Islam[edit]

Sunni Muslims are the largest denomination of Islam and are known as Ahl as-Sunnah wa’l-Jamā‘h or simply as Ahl as-Sunnah. The word Sunni comes from the word sunnah, which means the teachings and actions or examples of the Islamic prophet, Muhammad. Therefore, the term "Sunni" refers to those who follow or maintain the sunnah of the prophet Muhammad.

The Sunnis believe that Muhammad did not specifically appoint a successor to lead the Muslim ummah (community) before his death, and after an initial period of confusion, a group of his most prominent companions gathered and elected Abu Bakr Siddique, Muhammad's close friend and a father-in-law, as the first caliph of Islam. Sunni Muslims regard the first four caliphs (Abu Bakr, `Umar ibn al-Khattāb, Uthman Ibn Affan and Ali ibn Abu Talib) as "al-Khulafā’ur-Rāshidūn" or "The Rightly Guided Caliphs." Sunnis also believe that the position of caliph may be attained democratically, on gaining majority votes, but after the Rashidun, the position turned into a hereditary dynastic rule because of the divisions that started by the Umayyads and others. After the fall of the Ottoman Empire in 1923, there has never been another caliph as widely recognized in the Muslim world.

Schools of theology[edit]

Aqidah is an Islamic term meaning "creed" or "belief". Any religious belief system, or creed, can be considered an example of aqidah. However this term has taken a significant technical usage in Muslim history and theology, denoting those matters over which Muslims hold conviction. The term is usually translated as "theology". Such traditions are divisions orthogonal to sectarian divisions of Islam, and a Mu'tazili may for example, belong to Jafari, Zaidi or even Hanafi school of jurisprudence.

Textualist approach[edit]

Athari

The Athari school derives its name from the Arabic word Athar, meaning "narrations." The Athari creed is to avoid delving into extensive theological speculation. They use the Qur'an, the Sunnah, and sayings of the Sahaba - seeing this as the middle path where the attributes of Allah are accepted without questioning 'how' they are. Ahmad bin Hanbal is regarded as the leader of the Athari school of creed. Athari is generally synonymous with Salafi. The central aspect of Athari theology is its definition of Tawhid, meaning literally unification or asserting the oneness of Allah.[1][2][3][4]

Kalām[edit]

Kalām is the Islamic philosophy of seeking theological principles through dialectic. In Arabic, the word literally means "speech/words". A scholar of kalām is referred to as a mutakallim (Muslim theologian; plural mutakallimūn). There are many schools of Kalam, the main ones being the Ash'ari and Maturidi schools in Sunni Islam.

Ash'ari

Ash'ari is a school of early Islamic philosophy founded in the 10th century by Abu al-Hasan al-Ash'ari. It was instrumental in drastically changing the direction of Islam and laid the groundwork to "shut the door of ijtihad" centuries later in the Ottoman Empire.[citation needed] The Asharite view was that comprehension of the unique nature and characteristics of God were beyond human capability.

Maturidi

A Maturidi is one who follows Abu Mansur Al Maturidi's theology, which is a close variant of the Ash'ari school. Points which differ are the nature of belief and the place of human reason. The Maturidis state that belief (iman) does not increase nor decrease but remains static; it is piety (taqwa) which increases and decreases. The Ash'aris say that belief does in fact increase and decrease. The Maturidis say that the unaided human mind is able to find out that some of the more major sins such as alcohol or murder are evil without the help of revelation. The Ash'aris say that the unaided human mind is unable to know if something is good or evil, lawful or unlawful, without divine revelation.

Murji'ah

Murji'ah (Arabic: المرجئة‎) is an early Islamic school whose followers are known in English as "Murjites" or "Murji'ites" (المرجئون). During the early centuries of Islam, Muslim thought encountered a multitude of influences from various ethnic and philosophical groups that it absorbed. 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.

They advocated the idea of "delayed judgement". Only God can judge who is a true Muslim and who is not, and no one else can judge another as an infidel (kafir). Therefore, all Muslims should consider all other Muslims as true and faithful believers, and look to Allah to judge everyone during the last judgment. This theology promoted tolerance of Umayyads and converts to Islam who appeared half-hearted in their obedience. The Murjite opinion would eventually dominate that of the Kharijites.

The Murjites exited the way of the Sunnis when they declared that no Muslim would enter the hellfire, no matter what his sins. This contradicts the traditional Sunni belief that some Muslims will enter the hellfire temporarily. Therefore the Murjites are classified as Ahlul Bid'ah or "People of Innovation" by Sunnis, particularly Salafis.

Mu'tazili

Mu'tazili theology originated in the 8th century in al-Basrah when Wasil ibn Ata left the teaching lessons of Hasan al-Basri after a theological dispute. He and his followers expanded on the logic and rationalism of Greek philosophy, seeking to combine them with Islamic doctrines and show that the two were inherently compatible. The Mu'tazili debated philosophical questions such as whether the Qur'an was created or eternal, whether evil was created by God, the issue of predestination versus free will, whether God's attributes in the Qur'an were to be interpreted allegorically or literally, and whether sinning believers would have eternal punishment in hell.

Shia Islam[edit]

Shia Islam (شيعة Shia, sometimes Shi'a; adjective Shi'ite), is the second-largest denomination of Islam, comprising 25%[5][6][7] of the total Muslim population in the world.[8] Shia Muslims, though a minority in the Muslim world, constitute the majority of the populations in Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Iran, and Iraq, as well as a plurality in Lebanon and Yemen.

Imam Ali Mosque in Najaf, Iraq, where Ali the first Shia Imam is buried.

In addition to believing in the authority of the Qur'an and teachings of Muhammad, Shia believe that his family, the Ahl al-Bayt (the "People of the House"), including his descendants known as Imams, have special spiritual and political rule over the community[9] and believe that Ali ibn Abi Talib, Muhammad's cousin and son-in-law, was the first of these Imams and was the rightful successor to Muhammad, and thus reject the legitimacy of the first three Rashidun caliphs.[10]

The Shia Islamic faith is broad and includes many different groups. There are various Shia theological beliefs, schools of jurisprudence, philosophical beliefs, and spiritual movements. The Shia identity emerged soon after the martyrdom of Hussain son of Ali (the grandson of the prophet Muhammad) and Shia theology was formulated in the second century[11] and the first Shia governments and societies were established by the end of the ninth century.

Shia Islam is divided into three branches. The largest and best known are the Twelver (اثنا عشرية iṯnāʿašariyya), named after their adherence to the Twelve Imams. They form a majority of the population in Iran, Azerbaijan, Bahrain and Iraq. Other smaller branches include the Ismaili and Zaidi, who dispute the Twelver lineage of Imams and beliefs.[12]

The Twelver Shia faith is predominantly found in Iran (90%), Azerbaijan (85%), Bahrain (70%), Iraq (65%), Lebanon (40%),[13] Kuwait (25%), Albania (20%), Pakistan (25%), Afghanistan (20%).

The Zaidi dispute the succession of the fifth Twelver Imam, Muhammad al-Baqir, because he did not stage a revolution against the corrupt government, unlike Zaid ibn Ali. They do not believe in a normal lineage, but rather that any descendant of Hasan ibn Ali or Husayn ibn Ali who stages a revolution against a corrupt government is an imam. The Zaidi are mainly found in Yemen.

The Ismaili dispute the succession of the seventh Twelver Imam, Musa al-Kadhim, believing his older brother Isma'il ibn Jafar actually succeeded their father Ja'far al-Sadiq, and did not predecease him like Twelver Shia believe. Ismaili form small communities in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, India, Syria, United Kingdom, Canada, Uganda, Portugal, Yemen, mainland China, Bangladesh and Saudi Arabia[14] and have several subbranches.

Branching of Shi'a Islam at a glance.

Ithnā'ashariyyah[edit]

Twelvers believe in twelve Imams. The twelfth Imam is believed to be in occultation, and will appear again just before the Qiyamah (Islamic view of the Last Judgment). The Shia hadiths include the sayings of the Imams. Many Muslims criticise the Shia for certain beliefs and practices, including practices such as the Mourning of Muharram (Mätam). They are the largest Shia school of thought (93%), predominant in Azerbaijan, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon and Bahrain and have a significant population in Pakistan,India,Afghanistan Kuwait and the Eastern province of Saudi Arabia. The Twelver Shia are followers of either the Jaf'ari or Batiniyyah madh'habs.

Ja'fari jurisprudence[edit]

Followers of the Jaf'ari madh'hab are divided into the following sub-divisions, although these are not considered different sects:

  • Usulism – The Usuli form the overwhelming majority within the Twelver Shia denomination. They follow a Marja-i Taqlid on the subject of taqlid and fiqh. They are concentrated in Iran, Pakistan, Azerbaijan, India, Iraq, and Lebanon.
  • Akhbarism – Akhbari, similar to Usulis, however reject ijtihad in favor of hadith. Concentrated in Bahrain.
  • Shaykhism – Shaykhism is an Islamic religious movement founded by Shaykh Ahmad in the early 19th century Qajar dynasty, Iran, now retaining a minority following in Iran and Iraq. It began from a combination of Sufi and Shia and Akhbari doctrines. In the mid 19th-century many Shaykhis converted to the Bábí and Bahá'í religions, which regard Shaykh Ahmad highly.

Batini jurisprudence[edit]

On the other hand, the followers of the Batiniyyah madh'hab consist of Alevis and Nusayris, who developed their own fiqh system and do not pursue the Ja'fari jurisprudence.

  • Alevi – Alevis are sometimes categorized as part of Twelver Shia Islam, and sometimes as its own religious tradition, as it has markedly different philosophy, customs, and rituals. They have many Tasawwufī characteristics and express belief in the Qur'an and The Twelve Imams, but reject polygamy and accept religious traditions predating Islam, like Turkish shamanism. They are significant in East-Central Turkey. They are sometimes considered a Sufi sect, and have an untraditional form of religious leadership that is not scholarship oriented like other Sunni and Shia groups. They number around 24 million worldwide, of which 17 million are in Turkey, with the rest in the Balkans, Albania, Azerbaijan, Iran and Syria.

Ismā'īlīsm[edit]

The Ismailis and Twelvers both accept the same initial Imams from the descendants of Muhammad through his daughter Fatima Zahra and therefore share much of their early history. However, a dispute arose on the succession of the Sixth Imam, Ja'far al-Sadiq. The Ismailis are those who accepted Ja'far's eldest son Ismail as the next Imam, whereas the Twelvers accepted a younger son, Musa al-Kazim. Today, Ismailis are concentrated in Pakistan and other parts of South Asia. The Nizari Ismailis, however, are also concentrated in Central Asia, Russia, China, New Zealand, Afghanistan, Papua New Guinea, Syria, Australia, North America (including Canada), the United Kingdom, Bangladesh and in Africa as well.

Nīzār'īyyah[edit]

Tayyābī Mustā'līyyah[edit]

  • Mustaali – The Mustaali group of Ismaili Muslims differ from the Nizāriyya in that they believe that the successor-Imām to the Fatimid caliph, al-Mustansir, was his younger son al-Mustaʻlī, who was made Caliph by the Fatimad Regent Al-Afdal Shahanshah. In contrast to the Nizaris, they accept the younger brother al-Mustaʻlī over Nizar as their Imam. The Bohras are an offshoot of the Taiyabi, which itself was an offshoot of the Mustaali. The Taiyabi, supporting another offshoot of the Mustaali, the Hafizi branch, split with the Mustaali Fatimid, who recognized Al-Amir as their last Imam. The split was due to the Taiyabi believing that At-Tayyib Abi l-Qasim was the next rightful Imam after Al-Amir. The Hafizi themselves however considered Al-Hafiz as the next rightful Imam after Al-Amir. The Bohras believe that their 21st Imam, Taiyab abi al-Qasim, went into seclusion and established the offices of the Da'i al-Mutlaq (الداعي المطلق), Ma'zoon (مأذون) and Mukasir (مكاسر). The Bohras are the only surviving branch of the Mustaali and themselves have split into the Dawoodi Bohra, Sulaimani Bohra, and Alavi Bohra.
  • Dawoodi Bohra – The Dawoodi Bohras are a denomination of the Bohras. After offshooting from the Taiyabi the Bohras split into two, the Dawoodi Bohra and the Sulaimani Bohra, over who would be the correct dai of the community. Concentrated mainly in Pakistan and India.
  • Sulaimani Bohra – The Sulaimani Bohra named after their 27th Da'i al-Mutlaq, Sulayman ibn Hassan, are a denomination of the Bohras. After offshooting from the Taiyabi the Bohras split into two, the Sulaimani Bohra and the Dawoodi Bohra, over who would be the correct dai of the community. Concentrated mainly in Yemen.
  • Alavi Bohra – Split from the Dawoodi Bohra over who would be the correct dai of the community. The smallest branch of the Bohras.
  • Hebtiahs Bohra – The Hebtiahs Bohra are a branch of Mustaali Ismaili Shia Islam that broke off from the mainstream Dawoodi Bohra after the death of the 39th Da'i al-Mutlaq in 1754.[citation needed]
  • Atba-i-Malak – The Abta-i Malak jamaat (community) are a branch of Mustaali Ismaili Shia Islam that broke off from the mainstream Dawoodi Bohra after the death of the 46th Da'i al-Mutlaq, under the leadership of Abdul Hussain Jivaji. They have further split into two more branches, the Atba-i-Malak Badra and Atba-i-Malak Vakil.[18]

Durziyyah[edit]

  • Druze – The Druze are a small distinct traditional religion that developed in the 11th century. It began as an offshoot of the Ismaili sect of Islam, but is unique in its incorporation of Gnostic, neo-Platonic and other philosophies. Druze are considered heretical and non-Muslims by most other Muslims because they are believed to address prayers to the Fatimid caliph Al-Hakim bi-Amr Allah, the third Fatimid caliph of Egypt, whom they regard as "a manifestation of God in His unity." The Druze believe that he had been hidden away by God and will return as the Mahdi on Judgement Day. Like Alawis, most Druze keep the tenets of their Faith secret, and very few details are known. They neither accept converts nor recognize conversion from their religion to another. They are located primarily in the Levant. Druze in different states can have radically different lifestyles. Some claim to be Muslim, some do not, though the Druze faith itself abides by Islamic principles.[citation needed]

Zaidiyyah[edit]

Zaidiyyahs historically come from the followers of Zayd ibn Ali, the great-Grandson of 'Ali b. Abi Talib. They follow any knowledgeable and upright descendant of al-Hasan and al-Husayn, and are less esoteric in focus than Twelverism or Ismailism.

Kharijite Islam[edit]

Kharijite (literally, "those who seceded") is a general term embracing a variety of Muslim sects which, while originally supporting the Caliphate of Ali, later on fought against him and eventually succeeded in his martyrdom while he was praying in the mosque of Kufa. While there are few remaining Kharijite or Kharijite-related groups, the term is sometimes used to denote Muslims who refuse to compromise with those with whom they disagree.

Ibadi[edit]

The only surviving Kharijite sect is the Ibadi. The sect developed out of the 7th century Islamic sect of the Kharijites. Nonetheless, Ibadis see themselves as quite different from the Kharijite. Believed to be one of the earliest schools, it is said to have been founded less than 50 years after the death of Muhammad.

It is the dominant form of Islam in Oman, but small numbers of Ibadi followers may also be found in countries in Northern and Eastern Africa. The early medieval Rustamid dynasty in Algeria was Ibadi.

Ibadis usually consider non-Ibadi Muslims as unbelievers, though nowadays this attitude has highly relaxed.[citation needed] They approve of the caliphates of Abū Bakr and Umar ibn al-Khattab, whom they regard as the "Two Rightly Guided Caliphs". Specific beliefs include: walāyah, friendship and unity with the practicing true believers and the Ibadi Imams; barā'ah, dissociation and hostility towards unbelievers and sinners; and wuqūf, reservation towards those whose status is unclear. While Ibadi Muslims maintain most of the beliefs of the original Kharijites, they have rejected the more aggressive methods.[citation needed]

The Sufris (Arabic: سفريين‎) were a sect of Islam in the 7th and 8th centuries, and a part of the Kharijites. They believe Sura 12 (Yusuf) of the Qur'an is not an authentic Sura.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyah, Muhammad ibn Abi Bakr Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyah (1991). Tariq al-hijratayn wa-bab al-sa'adatayn. Dar al-Hadith (1991). p. 30. 
  2. ^ al-Hanafi, Imam Ibn Abil-'Izz. Sharh At Tahawiyya. p. 76. 
  3. ^ al-Safarayni, Muhamad bin Ahmad. Lawami' al-anwar al-Bahiyah. Dar al-Kutub al-Ilmiyah. p. 1/128. 
  4. ^ Abd al-Wahhab, ibn Abd Allah, Ibn, Sulayman (1999). Taysir al-'Aziz al-Hamid fi sharh kitab al-Tawhid. 'Alam al-Kutub. pp. 17–19. 
  5. ^ https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/fields/2122.html
  6. ^ "Shīʿite". Encyclopædia Britannica Online. 2010. Retrieved 2010-08-25. 
  7. ^ "Mapping the Global Muslim Population: A Report on the Size and Distribution of the World's Muslim Population". Pew Research Center. October 7, 2009. Retrieved 2010-08-24. 
  8. ^ Miller, Tracy, ed. (October 2009). Mapping the Global Muslim Population: A Report on the Size and Distribution of the World's Muslim Population (PDF). Pew Research Center. Retrieved 2009-10-08. 
  9. ^ Corbin (1993), pp. 45–51
  10. ^ Tabatabaei (1979), pp. 41–44
  11. ^ Dakake (2008), pp.1 and 2
  12. ^ Tabatabae (1979), p. 76
  13. ^ The Revenge of the Shia
  14. ^ International Crisis Group. The Shiite Question in Saudi Arabia, Middle East Report N°45, 19 September 2005
  15. ^ "Muhammad ibn Āliyy’ūl Cillī aqidah" of "Maymūn ibn Abu’l-Qāsim Sulaiman ibn Ahmad ibn at-Tabarānī fiqh" (Sūlaiman Affandy, Al-Bākūrat’ūs Sūlaiman’īyyah - Family tree of the Nusayri Tariqat, pp. 14-15, Beirut, 1873.)
  16. ^ Both Muhammad ibn Āliyy’ūl Cillī and Maymūn ibn Abu’l-Qāsim’at-Tabarānī were the murids of "Al-Khaṣībī," the founder of the Nusayri tariqat.
  17. ^ Alawi Islam
  18. ^ Islamic Voice

External links[edit]