The Ash`aris: The Qadariyya and Mu`tazila
Dr. Gabriel F. Haddad
Al-Suyuti succintly defined Qadari doctrine as "the claim that evil is created by human beings." Ibn Abi Ya`la relates the following description of the Qadariyya: "They are those who claim that they possess in full the capacity to act (al-istita`a), free will (al-mashEE'a), and effective power (al-qudra). They consider that they hold in their grasp the ability to do good and evil, avoid harm and obtain benefit, obey and disobey, and be guided or misguided. They claim that human beings retain full initiative, without any priority in Allah's will for their acts, nor even in His knowledge of them. Their doctrine is similar to that of Zoroastrians and Christians. That is the very root of heresy."
The Qadariyya or "Libertarians" are little different from the rationalists known as the Mu`tazila or "Isolationists" and both are traced back to the same founder, `Amr ibn `Ubayd Abu `Uthman al-Basri (d. ~144), who walked out of the teaching circle of al-Hasan al-Basri and "isolated" himself. Al-Dhahabi introduces him as "the ascetic (al-zahid), the devout (al-`abid), the Qadari, the elder of the Mu`tazila and the first of them." He returned onto the Ahl al-Sunna the label of Qadariyya --in the opposite sense of those who over-emphasize Allah's Decree --in a book entitled al-Radd `ala al-Qadariyya.
The status of Qadaris in the eyes of Ahl al-Sunna varied. Al-Subki spoke of "a difference of opinion concerning the apostasy (takfEEr) of the Qadariyya." Ibn Abi Hatim in the introduction to his al-Jarh wa al-Ta`dil (1:373) relates that Ibn al-Mubarak stopped narrating from `Amr ibn `Ubayd because "he used to propagate the doctrine of absolute free will." Al-Dhahabi refuses to call `Amr a disbeliever, although some early sources such as Ibn Abi `Asim's (d. 287) al-Sunna, al-Ajurri's (d. 360) al-Shari`a and Ibn Batta's (d. 387) al-Ibana relate that the Qadariyya were held so by Ibn `Abbas, Mujahid, `Umar ibn `Abd al-`Aziz, Malik ibn Anas, Ibn al-Mubarak, Sufyan al-Thawri, and Ahmad ibn Hanbal among others.
The fact is that Sufyan al-Thawri, Ibn al-Mubarak, and Ahmad all narrated from Qadaris, such as Thawr ibn Yazid, Dawud ibn al-Husayn, Zakariyya ibn Ishaq, Dawud al-Dastuwa'i and others, all of which are also among Bukhari and Muslim's narrators as shown by Suyuti's list of Qadaris in the two books of Sahih in his Tadrib (1:389). These narrators could never have been retained if the imams had considered them disbelievers. However, the verdict of apostasy is true from Imam Malik who did not narrate from a single Qadari in his Muwatta'. Malik held that they should be killed unless they repented, and the narrations reporting his position of takfEEr of the Qadariyya are sound.
Imam al-Nawawi gave the following explanations of the belief in Allah's Decree in his "Commentary on the Forty Hadiths":
The evidence that Allah Almighty created both good and evil is His saying: "The guilty are in error and madness. On the day they are dragged to the fire on their faces, they will be told: 'Taste the touch of hell.' Lo! We created every thing with proportion and measure (qadar)" (54:47-49). That verse was revealed concerning the proponents of absolute free will or Qadariyya who were thus told: "That belief of yours is in hellfire."
As further evidence of what has been decreed the Exalted said: "Say: I seek refuge in the Lord of the Cleaving from the evil of what He has created" (113:1). The reading of that oath at the time something good befalls Allah's servant will repel (foreordained) evil before it reaches him. There is also in the hadith that good deeds and upholding family ties repel a bad death and eventually turn it into a good one. Also, "Supplication (al-du`a) and affliction (al-bala') are suspended between heaven and earth, vying, and supplication repels affliction before the latter is able to come down."
The Mu`tazila claimed that Allah the Exalted has not foreordained matters, that His knowledge does not precede them, that they begin to exist only when they occur and that He knows them only at that time. They lied concerning Allah. Exalted is He above their falsehoods, and higher yet. They went into oblivion.
Now the latter-day Qadariyya say that the good is from Allah while the bad is from other than Him. Allah is also Exalted high above such a statement. In a sound hadith the Prophet said: "The Qadariyya are the Zoroastrians of this Community." He named them Zoroastrians because their school of thought resembles that of Zoroastrian dualism. The Dualists claim that good is effected by light and evil by darkness, and thus earned their name. Similarly the proponents of free will ascribe the good to Allah and the bad to other than Him, whereas He is the creator of both good and evil.
The Imam of the Two Sanctuaries said in his Kitab al-Irshad that some of the Qadariyya said: "It is not we but you (Ahl al-Sunna) who are the Qadariyya because of your belief in the so-called Decree." Al-Juwayni answered these ignoramuses that they had ascribed the power of decree to themselves, and whoever claimed, for example, the power of evil and ascribed it to himself, he has earned its label, rather than one who ascribes it to other than himself and denies any authorship of it.
 In Tadrib al-Rawi (1:389).
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