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Dhul Hijjah 24 Friday Hijrah 1441
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Title – The Message   Preface   Arabian Peninsula the Cradle of Islamic Culture   Arabia before Islam   Conditions of Roman and Iranian Empires   Ancestors of the Prophet   Birth of the Prophet   Childhood of the Prophet   Rejoining the Family   Period of Youth   From Shepherd to Merchant   From Marriage up to Prophethood   The First Manifestation of Reality   The First Revelation   Who were the First Persons to Embrace Islam?   Cessation of revelation   General Invitation   Judgement of Quraysh about the Holy Qur’an   The First Migration   Rusty Weapons   The Fiction of Gharaniq   Economic Blockade   Death of Abu Talib   Me’raj – The Heavenly Ascension   Journey to Ta’if   The Agreement of Aqabah   The Event of Migration   The Events of the First Year of Migration   Some Events of the First and Second years of Migration   The Events of the Second Year of Migration   Change of Qiblah   The Battle of Badr   Dangerous Designs of the Jews   The Events of the Third Year of Migration   The Events of the Third and Fourth years of Migration   The Jews Quit the Zone of Islam   The Events of the Fourth Year of Migration   The Events of the Fifth Year Of Migration   The Battle of Ahzab   The Last Stage of Mischief   The Events of the Fifth and Sixth years of Migration   The events of the Sixth Year of Migration   A Religious and Political Journey   The Events of the Seventh Year of Migration   Fort of Khayber the Centre of Danger   The Story of Fadak   The Lapsed ‘Umrah   The Events of the Eighth Year of Migration   The Battle of Zatus Salasil   The Conquest of Makkah   The Battle of Hunayn   The Battle of Ta’if   The Famous Panegyric of Ka’b Bin Zuhayr   The Events of the Ninth Year of Migration   The Battle of Tabuk   The Deputation of Thaqif goes to Madina   The Prophet Mourning for his Son   Eradication of Idol-Worship in Arabia   Representatives of Najran in Madina   The Events of the Tenth Year of Migration   The Farewell Hajj   Islam is completed by the Appointment of Successor   The Events of the Eleventh Year of Migration   A Will which was not written   The Last Hours of the Prophet  

13. Other Mu’tazilite Notions and Beliefs

Whatever we said in the last two lectures was related to the basic doctrines of the Mu’tazilah. But as we mentioned before, the Mu’tazilah raised many an issue and defended their opinions about them. Some of them were related with theology some with physics, some with sociology, and some with the human situation. Of the theological issues, some are related to general metaphysics (umur ‘ammah) and some with theology proper (ilahiyyat bi al-ma’na al-‘akhass). 8 Like all other mutakallimun, the intended purpose of the Mu’tazilah by raising metaphysical questions is to use them as preparatory ground for the discussion of theological issues, which are their ultimate objectives. So also the discussions in the natural sciences, too, serve an introductory purpose for them. That is, the discussions in the natural sciences are used to prove some religious doctrines, or to find an answer to some objections. Here we shall enumerate some of these beliefs, beginning with theology:


  1. Al-tawhid al-sifati (i.e. unity of the Divine Attributes);

  2. ‘Adl (Divine Justice);

  3. The Holy Qur’an (Kalam Allah) is created (kalam, or speech, is an attribute of Act, not of the Essence);

  4. The Divine Acts are caused and controlled by purposes (i.e. every Divine Act is for the sake of some beneficial outcome);

  5. Forgiveness without repentance is not possible (the doctrine of retribution – wa’d wa wa’id);

  6. Pre-eternity (qidam) is limited to God (in this belief, they are challenged only by the philosophers);

  7. Delegation of a duty beyond the powers of the mukallaf (al-taklif bima la yutaq) is impossible;

  8. The acts of the creatures are not created by God for five reasons;9 the exercise of Divine Will does not apply to the acts of men;

  9. The world is created, and is not pre-eternal (only the philosophers are against this view);

  10. God cannot be seen with the eyes, either in this world or in the Hereafter.


  1. Physical bodies are made up of indivisible particles;

  2. Smell relates to particles scattered in air;

  3. Taste is nothing but the effect of particles;

  4. Light is made up of particles scattered in space;

  5. Interpenetration of bodies is not impossible (this belief is attributed to some Mu’tazilah);

  6. Leap (of particles) (i.e. tafrah) 10 is not impossible (this belief, too, is attributed to some Mu’tazilah).

Human Problems:

  1. Man is free, endowed with free will; not predetermined (this problem, the problem of the nature of human acts whether [created by God or man], and the problem of Divine Justice, all the three are interrelated);

  2. Ability (istita’ah); that is, man has power over his own acts, before he performs them or desists from them;

  3. The believer (mu’min) has the power to become an infidel and the infidel (kafir) is able to become a believer;

  4. A fasiq is neither a mu’min, nor a kafir;

  5. Human reason can understand and judge some matters independently (without the prior need of guidance from the Shari’ah);

  6. In case of conflict between reason and Hadith, reason is to be preferred;

  7. It is possible to interpret the Qur’an with the help of reason.

Political and Social Problems:

  1. The obligatory nature of al-‘amr bi al-ma’ruf wa al-nahy ‘an al-munkar, even if it necessitates taking up of arms.

  2. The leadership (imamah) of the Rashidun Caliphs was correct in the order it occurred.

  3. ‘Ali (A) was superior to the Caliphs who preceded him (this is the view of some of the Mu’tazilah, not of all. The earlier Mu’tazilah – with the exception of Wasil ibn ‘Ata’ considered Abu Bakr as the best, but the majority of the latter Mu’tazilah considered ‘Ali (A) as superior).

  4. Evaluation and criticism of the Companions of the Prophet (S) and their deeds is permissible.

  5. A comparative study and analysis of the state policies of ‘Umar and ‘Ali (A).

These represent a sample of the issues touched by the Mu’tazilah, which are far more numerous than what we have referred to. In some of these problems, they were contradicted by the Asha’irah, in some by the philosophers, in some by the Khawarij, and in some by the Murji’ah.

The Mu’tazilah never submitted to Greek thought and did not accept Greek philosophy indiscriminately, which entered the Islamic world contemporaneous with the emergence and rise of the Mu’tazilah. On the other hand, with great courage, they wrote books against philosophy and philosophers, boldly expressing their own opinions. The controversy between the mutakallimun and the philosophers benefited both kalam and philosophy. Both of them made progress, and in the course of time came so close to each other that there did not remain any disagreement except on few issues. An elaborate discussion of the reciprocal services of kalam and philosophy, and an exposition of the essential differences between the two, are outside the scope of these lectures.


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