At the end of the 1st century hijrah (early 8th century) a doctrine appeared in the Muslim nation in which faith (īmān) was reduced to mere knowledge (maʿrifah) in the heart. This was promoted by a misguided innovator known as al-Jahm bin Ṣafwān (ex. 128H), founder of the Jahmite sect. In addition, some jurists in Irāq adopted the view that faith is merely belief in the heart and affirmation with the tongue and that righteous works are not from faith and thus, faith does not increase nor decrease. Meaning, works are are not from the essence of faith. This sect became known as the Murjiʾites (the Postponers, because they postpone deeds from the reality of faith). A consequence of this belief is that sins, whether major or minor, do not harm a person’s faith at all and that a person could never leave faith after entering it, because faith is mere knowledge in the heart and nothing more. The Righteous Predecessors, students of the Companions of Prophet Muḥammad, vehemently rejected this doctrine when it appeared and vilified its proponents because they recognised that this doctrine was a destruction of Islām itself. Similarly, they affirmed the truth that all previous Prophets taught, including Moses and Jesus, that faith is belief in the heart, expression with the tongue and obedience with the limbs and that salvation lies in belief, repentance and obedience combined. This is the teaching of Jesus in the Gospel as we shall see.
As for the heretical doctrine of the Murjiʾites, the early scholars spoke about it with very severe words. A sample of their statements are presented:1 Ibrahīm al-Nakha’ī (d. 96H) stated that this doctrine is to be “feared more than than the tribulation of the Azāraqites”, and they were an early radical, terrorist sect like ISIS who mercilessly slaughtered Muslims who did not agree with their views. In other words, this doctrine’s harm to religion is greater than that of the extremists and terrorists, because it essentially strips people of their religion by leading them to belittle good deeds and consider the matter of sin to be light. The harm to religion through this doctrine is hidden, subtle and not noticeable until nothing of religion is left to hold on to. Imām al-Zuhrī (d. 125H) stated that “no doctrine more harmful to Islām and its adherents has been innovated than this one”. Manṣūr bin al-Muʿtamar (d. 132H) said that two sects, the Murjiʾītes and Rāfidites2 are “the enemies of Allāh”.
1 These and hundreds of other similar statements can be found in the well known works which compiled the beliefs and positions of the Prophet’s Companions and the Righteous Predecessors. They include al-Ibānah of Ibn Baṭṭāh (d. 387H), al-Sharīʿah of al- jurrī (d. 360H) and al-Iʿtiqād of al-Lālikāʾī (d. 418H) and others.
2 The Rāfiḍites reject the Prophet’s Companions and excommunicate them.
THE REALITY OF FAITH
As for the reality of faith, then there are hundreds of statements related from the Righteous Predecessors to the effect that faith is belief, speech and deed, it can increase and decrease and that salvation is through a combination of all three, after Allāh’s grace and mercy. Ibn ʿAbd al-Barr (d. 463H) said, summarising what orthodox Muslims are agreed upon: “The people of law (fiqh) and Prophetic traditions (ḥadīth) are united that faith is both speech and action and that there is no action without intention. And to them, faith increases and decreases. It increases with obedience and decreases with sin (disobedience). All of the acts of obedience are from faith.”3
In the famous Prophetic tradition, the Prophet said: “Faith consists of seventy-odd branches. The highest of them is statement ‘None is worthy of worship but Allāh alone’ and the lowest of them is to remove something harmful from the floor. And modesty is a branch of faith.” Muslim scholars have explained that within this tradition the essential components of faith have been mentioned. There is outward testimony of faith, which must included inward belief of the heart for it to be a testimony. Then there are righteous deeds, the lowest of which is to remove harmful things from the floor for the benefit of others. And then there is modesty, which originates in the heart and is an action of the heart. As such faith comprises belief in the heart, affirmation with the tongue, the action of the heart and the action of the limbs. All of these are from the reality of faith and as such righteous deeds are inseparable from inward belief.
3 Al-Tahmīd (9/238).
In another tradition, the Prophet said to a delegation that came to him to learn and receive instruction: “I command you with faith in Allāh. Do you know what is faith in Allāḥ? It is the testification that none is worthy of worship but Allāh alone, and that Muḥammad is the Messenger of Allāh. To establish the prayer, give the obligatory charity and to give up a fifth of what you have taken as booty.” Once again, this tradition makes clear that faith comprises inward belief which is expressed as testimony, and performance of the outward obligations such as prayer and charity. This affair is very clear from the Qurʾan and Prophetic traditions and the early Muslim scholars conveyed this understanding.
The scholar, ʿAbd al-Razzāq al-Ṣanʾānī (d. 211H) stated: “I met sixty two Shaikhs… all of them saying: Faith consists of speech and action, it increases and decreases.” The great scholar of Prophetic traditions (ḥadīth), Imām al-Bukhārī (d. 256H) narrated from more than a thousand of his teachers from across the Muslim lands that faith consists of both belief and deed.4
4 As related by al-Lālikāʾī in Sharḥ Uṣūl al-Iʿtiqād.
DOCTRINES OF THE MURJIʾITES
As for the Murjiʾites, they opposed this and they were of numerous sects, having slight variations in their doctrine. They claimed that anyone who merely believed with the heart would be guaranteed Paradise, would never enter the Hellfire and that abandoning the obligations, committing sins and not abiding by law would not not harm or diminish faith, that faith was a constant in which all believers are equal.
There were moderate and extreme views among the Murjiʾites, but all were united by the underlying claim that outward works are not from the essence of faith and that faith cannot decrease.
The scholar and heresiographer Abu al-Ḥusayn Ibn ʿAbd al-Raḥmān al-Malṭīyy (d. 337H) mentions various sects of the Murjiʾites and we will present a few of them here.5 One should note here that Paul developed the same ideas when he altered the religion of Jesus. He said:
—“Amongst them are a faction who claim that whoever bore witness with the testimonial of truth (shahādah) will enter Paradise no matter what deeds he does thereafter and that he will never enter Hellfire even if he brings the adhāʾim [mighty destructive deeds], abandons the emphasized obligations (farāʾiḍ) and falls into the major sins.”
—“Amongst them are a faction who claim that they are believers, having perfected faith, there not being any deficiency in their faith, there being no doubt (in that) even if one of them fornicates with his mother or sister, and commits the mighty (calamitous) deeds, falls into the major sins, the shameful deeds, drinks alcohol, kills another, consumes interest and what is unlawful, abandons the prayer, zakāh, and all of the emphasized obligations (farāʾīḍ), backbites, mocks, ridicules (others) and speaks. And this is strong ignorance. How can he have perfected faith who has opposed its conditions, traits and required legislative duties? Do you not see that in the Book of Allāh there is the accepted faith and the rejected faith?”
—“Amongst them are a faction who claim that their faith remains constant permanently, it does not increase, even if he performs the great obligations, showed awe (piety) in his religion, abandoned what is unlawful, always made pilgrimage, and prayed or fasted continuously. And likewise, it will not decrease, even if he committed sins (sayyiʾāt) and the major sins (kabāʾir) and the shameful deeds (fawāḥish), committed what was unlawful openly, or abandoned the prayer and did not ever fast or perform Ḥajj.”
5 Al-Tanbīh wal-Radd ʿalā Ahl al-Ahwāʾ wal-Bidaʿ (Cairo, 1413H, from p. 105 onwards).
The Righteous Predecessors (the Salaf) who are the Prophet’s Companions, their students and those who held steadfastly to their way stood against this heretical doctrine and prevented it from gaining traction and strength.
Despite the efforts of the true followers of Jesus, his disciples, James the Just (Sādiq) who was put in charge of the church in Jerusalem by the disciples, his brother Jude and the earliest Ebionites—and they are the Righteous Predecessors (the Salaf) after Jesus—despite their efforts against the heretical Murjiʾite doctrine of Paul, it was Paul’s doctrine that became mainstream. This was due to certain factors which included the destruction of the temple in 70 CE and the subsequent role of empire in imposing Pauline Christianity upon subjects.
Islām, the Qurʾān, and the Prophet Muḥammad brought back the truth that Paulites had buried and reconnected the world to the original teachings of Jesus and the Israelite Prophets prior to him.
THE GOSPEL OF JESUS AND THE QURAN: SALVATION IS THROUGH FAITH, REPENTANCE, OBEDIENCE AND WORKS COMBINED
That salvation is through faith, repentance, obedience and works, after Allāh’s grace and mercy, is a recurring message in the Qurʾān. Allāh stated in the Qurʾān:
“Except for those who repent, correct themselves, hold fast to Allah, and are sincere in their religion for Allāh, for those will be with the believers. And Allah is going to give the believers a great reward.” (4:179)
“But those who had committed evil deeds and then repented after [committing] them, and believed, indeed your Lord, thereafter, is certainly Forgiving and Merciful.” (7:153)
“But indeed, I am the Perpetual Forgiver of whoever repents and believes and does righteousness and then continues in guidance.” (20:82).
“O you who have believed, repent to Allāh with sincere repentance. Perhaps your Lord will remove from you your misdeeds and admit you into gardens beneath which rivers flow.” (66:8).
“And We did not send any messenger except to be obeyed by permission of Allāh.” (4:64).
“And obey Allah and the Messenger that you may obtain mercy.” (3:132).
“And give good tidings to those who believe and do righteous deeds that they will have gardens [in Paradise] beneath which rivers flow.” (2:25).
“These are the limits (laws) set by Allāh, and whoever obeys Allāh and His Messenger will be admitted by Him to gardens [in Paradise] under which rivers flow, abiding eternally therein; and that is the great attainment.” (4:13).
And this is what Allāh prescribed upon the Israelites:
“And Allāh had already taken a covenant from the Children of Israel, and We delegated from among them twelve leaders. And Allāh said, ‘I am with you. If you establish prayer and give obligatory charity and believe in My messengers and support them and loan Allah a goodly loan, I will surely remove from you your misdeeds and admit you to gardens beneath which rivers flow.’” (5:12).
From the above texts, leaving aside the abundant Prophetic traditions in this regard, it is clear that Allāh promises His believing servants forgiveness and Paradise if they:
—seek forgiveness and repent from their sins,
—obey His Prophet(s) and
—do the obligations and work righteous deeds.
These are the combined factors that lead to salvation – coupled with Allāh’s grace and mercy – in the teachings of all of the Prophets without exception. It is not possible to separate works and obedience from faith. This is because knowledge in the heart produces love (maḥabbah) and compliance (inqiyāḍ), and the outward limbs cannot be separated from the heart, which is their master. As such, inward belief leads to outward actions which are righteous works and compliance with law.
This was preached by Jesus in his true Gospel. This teaching can clearly be found in the words and the many parables given by Jesus, preserved in the four gospels in what is called the “New Testament”. One should note that the writings of Paul were circulating between 40CE to 60CE before the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John were constructed and written from 65CE onwards. These gospels, the first three in particular, preach a message which counteracts the Murjiʾite teachings of Paul.
Here are some quick examples:
—Luke 18:10-24. The parable of the pharisee and the publican in which acknowledging sin and seeking God’s mercy “justifies” a person. Which means his faith is genuine, fruitful and leads to salvation. In contrast the Pharisee who was boastful and thought he was above others and was free of sin, was not “justified”. In the same section, Jesus orders the honouring of the parents and shunning major sins as a means of inheriting eternal life, meaning Paradise. Just as he exhorted to charity as a means of entering the kingdom of God in the hereafter, which means entering Paradise.
—Luke 15:11-31. The story of the prodigal son. A father with two sons, one of whom squanders wealth and spends it in sin. He comes back acknowledging his sin against heaven and his father, being remorseful and repentant. His father rejoiced because his son was dead and came to life and was lost and is now found.
—Luke 19: 1-9. The repentant tax collector. An unscrupulous tax collector repents by giving half his possessions to the poor and promising to give four-fold back to those whom he cheated. Jesus said, “Today, salvation has come to this house.”
—Matthew 18:25-35. Forgiving others in order to receive God’s forgiveness.
—Matthew 6:12. Forgiving debts of others in order to receive God’s forgiveness for debts.
—Matthew 6:16. Fasting with utmost sincerity in order to gain reward from God.
—John 8:51. Whoever obeys Jesus, the Prophet of God, will never see death. Meaning he will remain alive through his faith and obedience and have eternal life in the hereafter.
—Matthew 5:17-20. Jesus said: “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets. I have not come to abolish them, but to fulfill them. For I tell you truly, until heaven and earth pass away, not a single jot, not a stroke of a pen, will disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. So then, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do likewise will be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever practices and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you that unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”
These are some texts which show from the actual words and teachings of Jesus that: acknowledging one’s sin, being remorseful, seeking forgiveness from God, repenting to Him, believing in Jesus (as a messenger from Him), obeying Jesus in what he commands, and working righteous deeds, such as charity, forgiving others, being good to parents and so on, that this is the way to gain forgiveness, mercy, reward and salvation from God. Likewise, that the law is to be fulfilled and not abolished. Thus one is “justified” by both faith and works combined.
These are the plain words of Jesus and no amount of juggling or distortion can take them away from their apparentness and clarity of meaning.
PAUL AND THE MURJIʾITES
Paul had been teaching otherwise through his writings and letters and he led people away from the teachings of Jesus and fabricated a new religion based on redemption and blood-sacrifice. Just by a one-time mental acknowledgement that Jesus was resurrected and died for sins of humanity, a person is “justified” and saved. Paul belittled the law, claiming it brought about enmity and burdens and claiming that it “kills” and is a “ministry of death”. Here are some sample statements from his writings:
—Romans 10:9. “If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” In other, words this is the initiation and basis of salvation, and works and law are not essential.
—Ephesians 2:8-9. “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.”
—Romans 4:4. “Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt.” Meaning, that to be rewarded on the basis of righteous works means that the reward from God would have to come by obligation, not by grace. But in the actual words and teachings of Jesus, God forgives and grants salvation on account of mercy and grace on His behalf and repentance, obedience and righteous deeds on behalf of the servant. It is a combination of these affairs which are part and parcel of faith itself and necessary to it.
—Romans 3:28. “Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.” This is an explicit statement that “justification” is via faith alone, without deeds of law.
—In Romans 4:1-24, Paul outlines an argument that Abraham was “justified by faith” alone and not law, and he claims that law brings wrath, meaning that if there is a law, people will transgress, and that will bring wrath, and “where there is no law there is no transgression” and hence no wrath. And he says: “Therefore, the promise comes by faith, so that it may be by grace…”, meaning God’s promise of salvation is through faith alone.
—In Romans 7:6 Paul says: “But now we have been released from the law, for we died to it and are no longer captive to its power. Now we can serve God, not in the old way of obeying the letter of the law, but in the new way of living in the Spirit.”
—In Ephesians 2:11-17 Paul makes the claim that Jesus united the uncircumcised Gentiles and the circumcised by removing the partition of hostility or enmity—by which he means the Mosaic law—, through his blood and flesh (his death and resurrection).
—In Colossians 2:14-17 Paul again claims that the laws that were against them were blotted out by the blood of Christ, and that man should not allow himself to be judged in the issues of meat, drink, holiday, the new moon or the sabbath. Meaning, that you are not to be judged for not adhering to law.
—In Corinthians 3 Paul speaks of the spirit (faith) and the letter (Law of Moses) asserting that the letter kills and was the ministry of death. He claims throughout this passage that this law is done away with and abolished through Christ and that this has brought liberty.
—Galatians 2:16. Paul says: “Know that a person is not justified by the works of the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law, because by the works of the law no one will be justified.”
—Galatians 3:11. Paul says: “Clearly no one who relies on the law is justified before God, because ‘the righteous will live by faith’.”
Seeing this misguidance and blatant departure from Scripture, the Righteous Predecessors after Jesus stood against this heretic and apostate from the law just as the Righteous Predecessors stood against al-Jahm bin Ṣafwān and the Murjiʾites seven centuries later after the revelation of the Qurʾān.
Thus James the Just wrote his epistle just like the Scholars of the Muslims from the students of the Prophet’s Companions wrote refutations of the Murjiʾites. The Epistle of James, particularly the second one, comprises a detailed refutation of this heretical doctrine. One will find the same arguments in the writings of Salafi Muslim scholars in the early period of Islām.
In the Epistle of James 1:22-25 we find a clear confirmation of this teaching: «“But be doers of the word, and not merely hearers who deceive themselves. For if any are hearers of the word and not doers, they are like those who look at themselves in a mirror; for they look at themselves and, on going away, immediately forget what they were like. But those who look into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and persevere, being not hearers who forget but doers who act—they will be blessed in their doing.”»
And in James 2:14-26 there occurs: «“What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but do not have works? Can faith save you? If a brother or sister is naked and lacks daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace; keep warm and eat your fill,’ and yet you do not supply their bodily needs, what is the good of that? So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead. But someone will say, ‘You have faith and I have works.’ Show me your faith apart from your works, and I by my works will show you my faith. You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder. You foolish person, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless? Was not our ancestor Abraham justified by works when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was brought to completion by the works. Thus the scripture was fulfilled that says, ‘Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness,’ and he was called the Friend of God. You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone. Likewise, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she welcomed the messengers and sent them out by another road? For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is also dead.”» 6
6 Compare with Matthew 25:34-46: “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’ “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’ “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’ “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”
James made it very clear that righteous works and obedience to God through faithful observance of the law is the way to God’s kingdom, meaning bliss in Paradise. In refuting Paul, James alludes to numerous parables given by Jesus emphasising the necessity of works in salvation. In contrast, Paul never cites Jesus in the establishment of any of his doctrines, they are just his own beliefs about Jesus and not the actual beliefs of Jesus himself.
Similarly, Jude, the brother of James refuted this Pauline doctrine and established that sin destroyed past nations.7 He warns against infiltrators who pervert the teachings of Jesus into a license for immorality. Both James and Jude were refuting Paul and his extreme Murjiʾite doctrine in which a one time mental acknowledgement that Jesus died for sins and was resurrected is sufficient for salvation, thereby removing repentance, righteous works, obedience and observance of law from being necessary for salvation and that sins do not harm or destroy in the presence of a mere mental acceptance of Jesus as saviour and redeemer from sin.
The above facts establish that the vast majority of Christians have in fact rejected Jesus the Messenger and instead fallen for the innovated Murjiʾite doctrine of Paul and given him a higher status that Jesus, and this is because they put the words of Paul above the words of Jesus and distort the actual teachings of Jesus through the words of Paul, despite the blatant contradiction between them.
7 Refer to the Book of Jude, 3-22.
PROOF THAT THE RELIGION OF ISLAM BROUGHT BY MUḤAMMAD IS THE RELIGION OF PREVIOUS PROPHETS AND WAS REVEALED BY ALLAH, THE MIGHTY AND MAJESTIC
The above discussion is proof that what the Prophet Muḥammad came with, was the same as what Jesus was sent with and that the message of the Qurʾān is the true message of the original Gospel, which was carried by James, Jude and the righteous predecessors after Jesus who opposed Paul and considered him an apostate and a false apostle. This is made even clearer by the fact that the scholars of the Muslims stood to refute the heretical Murjiʾites just as the early true followers of Jesus stood to refute the Paulite Murjiʾites and dismantle their false arguments and twisting of scripture. In fact when one reads the Epistle of James, it as if one is reading from Ibn Battah (d. 387H) or al- jurrī (d. 360H) and others from the Salaf in their refutation of the Murjiʾites. This shows that the scriptures, the original true Gospel and the Qurʾān, both came from Allāh, the Mighty and Majestic, and that Muḥammad who was sent with the Qurʾān came to restore what was preached in the Gospel and the Torah.
@abuiyaadsp ♦ islamjesus.ws
12 Rabīʿ al-Awwal 1441 / 8 November 2019 v. 1.2