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.
As opposed to the Kharijites, Murjites advocated the idea of deferred judgement of peoples' belief. The word Murjiah itself means "one who postpones" in Arabic. Murjite doctrine held that only God has the authority to judge who is a true Muslim and who is not, and that Muslims should consider all other Muslims as part of the community. This theology promoted tolerance of Umayyads and converts to Islam who appeared half-hearted in their obedience.
In another contrast to the Kharijites, who believed that committing a grave 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 grave sins would remain Muslim and be eligible for paradise if they remained faithful. Conversely, those engaging in shirk could not benefit from performing good acts.
The Murjite opinion on the issue of whether one committing a grave sin remains a believer was adapted with modifications by later theological schools – Maturidi, Ash'ari, and Mu'tazili.