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Ash‘ariyya and Mu‘tazila

DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-H052-1
Version: v1,  Published online: 1998
Retrieved April 24, 2024, from

Article Summary

The Mu‘tazila – literally ‘those who withdraw themselves’ – movement was founded by Wasil bin ‘Ata’ in the second century AH (eighth century ad). Its members were united in their conviction that it was necessary to give a rationally coherent account of Islamic beliefs. In addition to having an atomistic view of the universe, they generally held to five theological principles, of which the two most important were the unity of God and divine justice. The former led them to deny that the attributes of God were distinct entities or that the Qur’an was eternal, while the latter led them to assert the existence of free will.

Ash‘ariyya – named after its founding thinker, al-Ash‘ari – was the foremost theological school in Sunni Islam. It had its origin in the reaction against the excessive rationalism of the Mu‘tazila. Its members insisted that reason must be subordinate to revelation. They accepted the cosmology of the Mu‘tazilites but put forward a nuanced rejection of their theological principles.

Citing this article:
Robinson, Neal. Ash‘ariyya and Mu‘tazila, 1998, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-H052-1. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
Copyright © 1998-2024 Routledge.

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