Question: How did the first deviations in the matters of faith emerge in Islam?
The initial deviations in the matters of faith were instigated by a Jew called Abdullah ibni Saba, a hypocrite, after the martyrdom of Hadrat ‘Uthman. This was the earliest factious movement started with the intention of corrupting pure and clear faith of Muslims in order to disrupt the unity and solidarity in their faith.
Ibn Saba tried hard to divide Muslims under the pretext of the matter of the caliphate of Hadrat Ali. In order to increase his supporters and to impose his ideas on them, he fabricated lies such as, “Hadrat Ali is a prophet” or “Allahu ta’ala has penetrated into him.” By saying so, he deceived some people. Among them, there were those driven by political career and ambition. Thus, under the disguise of following Hadrat Ali, they mixed corrupt beliefs into Islam. In time, they deviated from Ahl as-Sunnah in other matters and split into many sub-sects.
Those were called Kharijites who did not like Hadrat Ali’s decision to cede the caliphate to Hadrat Muawiya through arbitration. They opposed Hadrat Ali and Hadrat Muawiya. Some Kharijites do not accept some parts of the Qur’an al-karim. Some of them went too far as to believe that a new prophet would be sent.
The Mu’tazila, one of deviant sects, was developed by Wasil ibn Ata, who studied under Hadrat Hasan-i Basri. Wasil ibn Ata deviated from Ahl as-Sunnah for his claim “One who commits a major sin is neither a Believer nor a disbeliever. Hasan-i Basri, who was a great Sunni scholar and wali, said about Wasil ibn Ata “I’tazala anna Wasil (that is, Wasil has withdrawn from us).” Because of the word “i’tazala”, Wasil and his followers were called Mutazilite.
Besides, many deviant sects were developed during Islamic history such as Murjia, Qadariyya, Ibahiya, Mujassima and Jabriyya in different regions. They split into many sub-sects and later were consigned to oblivion. However, Wahhabism, which has emerged in recent ages, has spread especially in Arabia. Today they make a great effort for its spread among Muslims in different Muslim countries. Other corrupt sects gradually disappeared. Followers of Ahl as-Sunnah wa’l Jama’ah have been dominant in every age. Islam has been defended and preserved in its original purity by Ahl as-Sunnah scholars and has been conveyed until today as faith, deeds and ethical principles. More than half of Muslims are on the faith of Ahl as-Sunnah wa’l Jama’ah.