Did Ahl al-Qibla agree on the essentials of the religion?

The Details of the Question

“Ahl al-Qibla are those who agree on the essentials of the religion” (Ali al-Qari, Sharhul-Fiqhil-Akbar, 139).
- The scholars who divided Ahl al-Qibla into two as Ahl as-Sunnah and Ahl al-Bid’ah considered bid’ah sects such as Mutazila, Shia, Karramiyya, Mujassima, Mushabbiha, and Murjia as Ahl al-Qibla. However, they considered sects such as Batiniyya, Ghulat ash-Shia, Kharijiyya, Jahmiyya, Bahaiyya, Qadiyaniyya, Ahmadiyya, Nusayriyya and Durziyya, which openly changed, distorted and rejected the basic principles of Islam, to be among the people of misguidance (ahl ad-dalalah).
- Why are Mujassima, Mushabbiha and Karramiyya not considered as non-Islamic and not declared as unbelievers though they liken Allah to a body?”

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

First of all, we know that ahl al-qibla are ahl at-tawhid. If something contrary to this creed occurs in their words and actions, the opinions and ijtihads of the Islamic scholars regarding the issue - based on the knowledge they gained from various verses of the Quran and hadiths - are formulated in two points:

Point One: If an error in a person who is from ahl al-qibla is due to interpretation, he should not be declared as an unbeliever because a wrong interpretation based on a verse or hadith cannot outweigh the sound data showing the person’s belief.

Second Point: As some scholars state, even if a person has 99% probability of having irreligious attributes, if 1% probability shows a firm belief, this man cannot be declared as an unbeliever; he cannot be said to be an unbeliever.

Let us also listen to a wonderful subtlety regarding the issue from Badiuzzaman Said Nursi:

Some persons who belong to the divisions of the people of misguidance and innovation are found acceptable by the Muslim community, while others, just like them and not apparently different, are rejected. I always used to wonder about this. For example, although someone like Zamakhshari was one of the most bigoted members of the Mu’tazilite sect, the authoritative Sunni scholars did not pronounce him an unbeliever or misguided, despite his severe objections; they rather searched for a way to exonerate him.”

But then they held that Mu’tazilite authorities like Abu Ali Jubba’i, who was far less bigoted than Zamakhshari, should be rejected and refuted. I was curious about this for a long time. Then through divine grace I understood that Zamakhshari’s objections about the Sunnis arose from his love of his way, which he looked on as right. That is to say, for example, in his view God could be truly declared free of all fault and defect by saying that animals create their own actions. It was out of love for declaring God free of all fault that he did not accept the Sunnis’ principles concerning the creation of actions. Whereas the other Mu’tazilite authorities were rejected because their inadequate intelligences could not aspire to the elevated principles of the Sunnis and they could not fit the Sunnis’ extensive laws within their own narrow ideas, and so denied them.” (see Mektubat, pp. 453-454)

It will be very useful to listen to a very careful and very wise lesson of a sharia principle followed by Ahl as-Sunnah in his following statement too:

“There is no command in the Shari’a not to vilify and accuse them of unbelief (that is, there is no Shari’a decree against those who do not vilify and accuse a person of unbelief) but there is a Shari’a decree to vilify and accuse them of unbelief.”

Vilification and accusing someone of unbelief causes serious harm if it is unjust.  If it is justifiable, there is no good or reward involved. Those who deserve it are innumerable. However, there is no injunction in the Shari’a concerning not vilifying or accusing of unbelief; so, it is not harmful in any way. It is because of this fact that the people of reality, Ahl as-Sunnah, and foremost the Four Imams and the Twelve Imams, took the sacred law based on the above truth as their guide, and did not consider it permissible among Muslims to make that time’s mischief the subject of discussion and debate, saying that to do so was without benefit, and harmful.” (see Emirdağ Lahikası-I, p. 205)

Have a look at the following wise statement:

“There are some verses and hadiths that are specific and are considered to be universal. There are also some that are temporary and are thought to be permanent. There are also some that are conditional and regarded as general. For example, a verse or hadith says that this thing is unbelief. In other words, that attribute does not originate from belief; it is and attribute of unbelief. With that characteristic, it is said that this person became an unbeliever. However, since his attributes originate from belief and since he has other innocent attributes that have the manifestations of belief, that person is not said to be an unbeliever unless it is definitely known that this attribute arises from unbelief because it can also arise from other causes. There is doubt in the signification of the attribute and there is certainty in the existence of belief. And doubt does not cancel the provision of certainty. Let those who hurriedly dare to accuse people of unbelief think!...(see Sünuhat-Tuluat-İşarat, pp. 16-17)

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