Murji'a and the theological school of Abū Ḥanīfa : a historical and ideological study
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-Ḥasan b. Muḥammad b. al-Ḥanafiyya (d.c. 100/718), a grandson of 'Alī, introduced a peace formula which was intended to pacify the rival religio-political parties. This idea found adherence especially among religious scholars, who 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 reign. 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 Murji'a, but transformed it into a comprehensive theological system. Although not responsible for the actual forging of Murji'ite attitudes, Abū Ḥanīfa had emerged as the eponymous epitome of the movement and the theological school. The first chapter, "Irjā', The Development of the Idea", investigates several possibilities as the source of this notion, among them the alleged Qur'ānic origin, and the Kitāb al-Irjā' attributed to al-Ḥasan b. Muḥammad b. al-Ḥanafiyya. The second chapter, "The Formation of the Murji'a as a ReligioPolitical Movement" surveys the social and the historical background of the Kufan milieu, the formation of the Murji'ite circle and the social elements it was comprised of, and the position of the movement in political and religious affairs in the first two 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" studies and analyses what 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.