The Murji'a and the theological school of Ab« ¸¤an«fa : a historical

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  • This thesis has been submitted in fulfilment of the requirements for a postgraduate degree

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  • THE HURJI 'A AND THE THEOLOGICAL

    SCHOOL OF ABU HANIFA

    A HISTORICAL AND IDEOLOGICAL STUDY

    presented by

    Joseph Givony

    Thesis submitted for the degree of

    Doctor of Philosophy in the Faculty

    of Arts, University of Edinburgh.

    August 1977

  • TO MY PARENTS

  • ,. i

    ABSTR.l\.CT

    Towards the end of the 7th century A.D., Iraq

    was in a state of near civil war, caused by social

    and political malaise. Factional and tribal feuds

    and fierce antagonism to the Umayyad reign threatened

    the survival of the dynasty as the unifying force of

    the empire. Into this situation, al-Hasan b. Muhammad

    b. al-Hanafiyya (d.c. 100/718), a grandson of 'Ali,

    introduced a peace formula which was intended to

    pacify the rival religio-political parties. This

    idea found adherence especially among religious

    scholars, \vho quickly broadened its basis, attracting

    followers to its pacific message. Despite an unstable

    record of relations with the court, the movement

    basically supported with its ideology the legitimacy

    of the Umayyad rei~n. The popularity of the movement,

    especially in some scholarly circles in Kufa, led to

    the formation of a school of religious thought, which

    had relied on the basic political and religious

    attitudes of the early Nurji'a, but transformed it

    into a comprehensive theological system. Although

    not responsible for the actual forging of Iviurji 'ite

    attitudes, Abu Hanifa had emerged as the eponymous

    epitome of the movement and the theological school.

    The first chapter, 11 Irja', The Development of

    the Idea 11 , investigates several possibilities as the

  • ii ~

    source of this notion, among them the alleBed

    Qur'anic origin, and the Kitab al-Irja' attributed to

    al-Hasan b. Nuha.mmad b.

    al-Hanafiyya.

    The second

    chapter, 11 The Formation of the I~Iurji 'a as a Religio-

    Political l:ovement" surveys the social and the

    historical background of the Kufan milieu, the

    formation of the Nurji'ite circle and the social

    elements it was comprised of, and the position of

    the movement in political and religious affairs in

    the first t\'JO decades of the 8th century .A.D. The

    third and last chapter, "The Transformation of the

    Murji'a from a Political into a Religiously-Oriented

    School 11 studies and analyses vJhat is believed to be

    genuine Murji'ite treatises of religious thought,

    in comparison to sources of a contemporary rival

    school and the heresiographers. Special emphasis

    was laid in the analysis on the subject of theology

    as a.medium for political views.

  • i'

    iii

    ACKNOVi UDGENENT3

    I would like to take this opportunity to

    express my gratitude to the many people \'lho helped

    this research.

    Major thanks go to my supervisor, Professor

    \J.l'-1. Watt. His care and concern for the work I

    presented to him for comment constantly encouraged

    and reassured me. His influence as a scholar of

    Islamic studies is reflected in this work, and will

    no doubt, be an object to emulate.

    I am no less grateful to ~tt. J.R$ Walsh for

    many hours of his time spent commenting and correcting

    my work, and providing me with stimulating conversations

    and constant encouragement. . 1\lly thanks go also to

    Professor P.J .E. Cachia, Dr. Hichael f'tlacdonald and

    Dr. Ian Howard, who were always helpful whenever

    their advice was needed.

    Acknowledgement is a grievously inadequate word

    to describe my gratitude to my parents whose loving

    encouragement and real help enabled me to carry out

    this study.

    I am greatly indebted to the University of

    Edinburgh. Their generous material help enabled me

    to carry out this research.

    ~1o periods which I spent in the Oriental Seminar

    of the University of ~uoingen were made possible with

    the help of Professor and Mrs. Kuschke, the German

  • iv

    Academic Exchange Service (D~Vill) and Professor

    J. van Esq who, although not official supervisor,

    fuelled my thoughts and materials.

    A word of thanks and appreciation goes to the

    department c s. secretary, 11iss I. Cra\'lford, always

    kind, patient and helpful.

    Thanks are also due to the typists, Hrs. N. Bennett

    and Nrs. N. O'Donnell for their care and patience in

    the typing of this thesis.

    Last but not least, my thanks are expressed to

    Navi who shared with me more than anypody else the

    grievances and jubilations of this work.

  • Abstract

    Acknowledgements

    Table of Contents

    V

    Table of Titles and Abbreviations

    . Introduction

    -CHAPTER OHE: IRJA' THE DEVELOPHENT OF THE IDEA

    1) The Alleged Qur'anic Origin l.a) The Version of the Qurra' -

    ..

    Page

    i

    iii

    V

    viii

    1

    5

    Textual Variants 11 2) Possible Historical Roots 13 3) Kitab al-Irja' : The Nascent Idea 16 4) The Heaning of Irja' in the Risala 19 5) The Historical Circumstances 25 6) The Political and Theological

    Significance of the Risala 35 7) Conclusion 42

    CHAPr.!.!;R T';/0: THE l!,OHNATION OF THE HURJI 'A AS A RELIGIO-POLITIClili

    HOVEHENT

    1) Social and Historical Background of Kufa towards the Beginning of the 8th Century 49

    :2) 693-701 The Formative Period 55 ~~ The Prominent Figures 55

  • .. vi

    2.b) The Social Position

    2. c) Relations \-Ji th the Umayyads -

    693-701 2.d) 701 - The First Ideological

    Cleavage 3)

    3.a)

    5)

    The Rising of 'Abd al-Rahman b

    a1-Ash'ath and its Aftermath The r1urji'ites and the Qurra' in the Rising

    Relations with the Umayyads 701-714 The Roots of the Nurji'a in Kufa The f'1ur j i 'a in Basra

    Religious and Political Attitudes of the Nurji'a al-Ula Relations between the Hurji'a and their Rival Religio-Political Factions (c. 705/720)

    Page

    59

    61

    63

    69

    69

    7.1 ?4

    ?B

    ?9

    89 5.a) The Eurji'a and the Shi'a 89 5. b) The Nurji 'a and the Kha\~Jarij 93 5.c) The Nurji'a and the Qadariyya 94 6) The Triumph of Early Hurji'ism-

    The Reign of tUmar b. 'Abd al-'Az1z 9? ?) The Hurji'ite Part in the Rising of

    Yazid b. Muhallab 105 8) Conclusion 108

    CHAPI'.t.:R THRE.S: Tllli 'I'RAi{SFORJ'Ii.A'J:IO.N OF THE

    HUHJI 'A l?H0I'l A J:>OLI'fiC./~

    NOVEh_t;HT Ii{TO A RELIGIOUSLY-

    ORI..bNT.SD SCHOOL

    1) 2)

    3)

    The Murji'ite Circle (c.720-?30) The Hurji'ite Treatises Elements of Murji'ite Doctrine as Reflecte.d by Early Hurji 'ite

    110

    11?

  • vii

    Treatises

    4) The Nurji'ite Doctrine of Iman

    as Reflected by their Ideological

    Opponents in the Kitab al-Iman of

    Page

    121

    Abu 'Ubayd al-Qasim b. Sallam 151

    5) Murji'ite Principles as Reflected

    by the Heresiographers 164

    6) The Modern Outlook: accidental

    Scholars on the r-'lurji 'a 171

    ?) The Nurji'ite Thought: Critique

    and Analysis of Primary and

    Secondary Sources 181

    8) The Hurji'ites and their

    Scholarly Opponents 216

    9) The Impact of Abu Hanifa:

    The Account of the Early

    Hanafite Biographies

    Bibliography

    224

    235

  • viii ,..

    The title refers the reader to the author under

    which it was listed in the bibliography.

    Aghani s.v. Isfahani

    Akhbar al-Qudat s.v. Waki' . al-Akhbar al-Tiwal s.v. al-Dinawr~ . al-A'lag al-Nafisa s.v. Ibn Rusta

    al-'Alim s.v. al-'alim wa'l muta'allim

    'Amr b. 'Ubayd s.v. Van Ess

    Anrange s.v. Van Ess

    Ansab (Ahlwardt) s.v. Baladhuri

    Ansab (MS) s.v. Baladhuri

    al-Ansab s.v. Sam'an~

    Arab Kingdom s.v. Wellhausen

    Bidaya (wa-Nihaya) s.v. Ibn Kathir

    Dhikr akhbar Isbahan s.v. Isbahan1

    Early Development (of Islamic Jurisprudence) s.v.

    Fa~l al-I'tizal s.v. 'Abd al-Jabbar

    Fajr al-Islam s.v. Amin

    al-Farg s.v. Baghdadi (Abu Hansur)

    Fiqh Ab sat s.v. Fiqh Absat . ~,igh Akbar s.v. Maturidi

    Firao al-Shica s.v. Nav1bakhti

    Formative Period s.v. Watt

    Free V/ ill s.v. vlatt

    Has an

  • ix ..

    G~3 (Geschichte des arabischen Schrifttums) s.v. Sezgin

    Gharib al-Hadith s.v. Abu 'Ubayd

    "God 1 s Caliph" s.v. Watt

    Herrschenden s.v. Von Kremer

    Hilyat al-Awliya' s.v. Abu Nu'aym al-Idah s.v. al-Nisab~ri

    I'jaz al-Qur'an s.v. Balqilani

    a