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The Ash`aris: The Jahmiyya

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The Jahmiyya are the followers of Jahm ibn Safwan Abu Muhriz al-Rasibi al-Samarqandi or al-Khazari or al-Tirmidhi (d. 128). Bukhari narrated in the first chapter of his "Khalq Af`al al-`Ibad" that Jahm once came out of his house saying: "Allah is the wind and everything else." Ibn Hajar in the introduction of "Fath al-Bari" defined his sect as: "Those who deny Allah’s attributes which the Book and the Sunna affirm, and who say that the Qur’an is created." Ibn Kathir states that Jahm’s teacher in Kufa was al-Ja`d ibn Dirham, who was the first to say that the Qur’an was created, and that Jahm’s student was Bishr al-Marisi: "To him [Jahm] are ascribed the Jahmis, who claim that Allah is in every place in His Essence." Ibn `Asakir and others traced the genealogy of Jahm’s doctrine thus: Jahm ibn Safwan < Ja`d ibn Dirham < Bayan ibn Sam`an < Talut - the nephew and son-in-law of Labid ibn A`sam, who once cast a spell on the Prophet (saw). [19]

Al-Ash`ari described them as follows:

The Jahmiyya claimed that disbelief in Allah (al-kufr billah) is but ignorance of Allah. This doctrine is attributed to Jahm ibn Safwan. The Jahmiyya claimed that if a person receives knowledge, then disavows it with his tongue, he does not commit disbelief with such a disavowal. They claim that belief (eeman) is indivisible and that its subscribers are all in one-and-the-same category. They claim that belief and disbelief can only be in the heart at the exclusion of any other member of the body ... What Jahm alone said is that Paradise and the Fire shall pass away and become extinct; that belief is only knowledge of Allah and nothing else; that disbelief is but ignorance of Allah and nothing else; that no act is anyone’s doing in reality, other than Allah’s alone, and that it is His doing. [This is the core of the belief of the Jabriyya] ... Jahm used to profess the ordering of good and the forbidding of indecency ... He used to say that Allah’s knowledge is brought to be (muhdath). This is what they related from him. He also used to say that the Qur’an is created and that it must not be said that Allah has always been cognizant of things before they take place. [This is also what the Qadariyya and Mu`tazila professed.] [20]

The Jahmiyya were considered to be disbelievers, and it is related that al-Bukhari said: "I hold as ignorant whoever does not declare the Jahmiyya to be disbelievers." This was also the Hanbali position as shown in many places of Ibn Abi Ya`la’s "Tabaqat al-Hanabila" and the books of `Abd Allah ibn Ahmad ibn Hanbal, Abu Bakr al-Khallal, and `Uthman Abu Sa`id al-Darimi. Ibn Abi Ya`la relates from the Hanbali Abu Muhammad al-Barbahari:

1. Some of the scholars, among them Ahmad ibn Hanbal, said that the Jahmi is a disbeliever (al-Jahmee kafir), he is not of the People of the Qibla, and his blood is licit to shed. He neither inherits nor is inherited-from. This is because they say that there is no jum`a prayer, nor congregational (jama`a) prayer, nor `Eid prayer; they say that whoever does not say that the Qur’an is created is a disbeliever; they consider licit the use of the sword against the Community of the Prophet (saw); they contravene all those who came before them; they investigate people with something which the Prophet (saw) never said, nor any of his Companions (ra); they try to close down mosques, humiliate Islam, and get rid of jihad; they strive toward disunity; they contradict the narrations of the Prophet (saw) and the Companions (ra); they speak on the basis of abrogated (mansukh) texts; they use ambiguous (mutashabih) texts as proofs; they instill doubt in the people concerning their Religion; they argue concerning their Lord [i.e., they deny His Attributes]; they say that there is no punishment in the grave, nor Basin (hawd), nor intercession, and that neither Paradise nor the Fire are yet created; and they deny much of what the Prophet (saw) said. [21]


[19] Ibn Kathir, "al-Bidaya wa al-Nihaya" (9:382, 10:21).

[20] Al-Ash`ari, "Maqalat al-Islamiyyin wa Ikhtilaf al-Musallin" ("The Discourses of the Proponents of Islam and the Differences Among the Worshippers") (1:214, 338).

[21] Abu Muhammad al-Barbahari, "Sharh Kitab al-Sunna," in Ibn Abi Ya`la’s "Tabaqat al-Hanabila" (2:30).

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::  Dr. Gabriel F. Haddad  ::

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