(jabriyya, mujbira)
   An early theological movement that upheld the doctrine of jabr, or divine compulsion. The Jabrites maintained that it is not humans but God alone who acts, that human beings have no real power over their choices and actions, and that all events are ultimately determined by God’s will. Accordingly, they argued in defense of qadar, or predestination. The Jabrites drew primarily upon traditional sources such as the Qur’an and hadith in support of their position, pointing to numerous fatalistic-sounding passages, e.g. where Muhammad speaks of God’s ‘primordial pen’ (which sets forth everything that will happen until the Day of Judgement) and asserts that a person’s place in Paradise or Hell is predetermined. The Ash‘arites, who subsequently put forth a more qualified version of the predestination doctrine, supplemented this kind of exegetical defense with rational arguments that emphasized God’s absolute omnipotence, a premise that left little room for the power or freedom of the individual will. Although the Ash‘arites presented their own doctrine of ‘acquisition’ (kasb) as a happy mean between the Jabrites’ fixation on divine compulsion and the Qadarites’ privileging of free will, the Mu‘tazilites (who were also staunch defenders of free will) simply lumped them in with the other jabriyya. Obvious similarities notwithstanding, one can differentiate between different degrees of Jabrism. While more extreme versions of the doctrine would seem to suggest that everything is predetermined (i.e. not only what happens to an individual, but how he or she reacts), more moderate and subtle versions of the doctrine attempted to leave a little room for some kind of individual moral responsibility. This qualified version of Jabrism won out over the Qadarites’ and Mu‘tazilites’ free will theology and effectively became a mainstream Sunni position.
   Further reading: Watt 1948, 1962/85

Islamic Philosophy. . 2007.

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