The Murji'ites

In contrast to the Khārijites, the Murji'ites believed that mere affirmation of faith by professing the shahādah was enough to ensure salvation for a person in the next life. In other words, even if a Muslim commits a number of sins in his life, he will still not go to hell; but his place in the hereafter will be somewhat inferior to that of a more virtuous Muslim. The Murji'ites held that outward acts of faith and sin could not be judged except insofar as they affected the common good. They believed that commission of sin did not imply that the sinner should be expelled from the community. Consequently, they thought that the decision regarding the caliph 'Uthmān's or any Muslim's status as a believer or sinner must be left to God. In other words, it must be postponed until the Day of judgment.

The Murji'ites took their stand on the dictum in the Quran that bestows the glad tidings of heaven to everyone who possesses only the qualification of faith. With this moderate attitude, the Murji'ites found themselves largely in support of Mu'āwiyah and other Umayyad caliphs, although not without criticizing their alleged lack of piety.

The Khārijites were prone to thinking that the graver sins were fatal to faith and that committing them turned a Muslim into a kāfir (disbeliever). The Murji'ites, on the contrary, thought that to sin even in the extreme was not a matter of such importance as to destroy faith.

The Sunnis had all along emphasized the view held by the sahabah on this subject-the view that the commission of a major sin was neither the equivalent of kufr (disbelief), as the Khārijites thought, nor an insignificant matter, as the Murji'ites felt. In Sunni opinion, perpetration of a sin deserves divine reprobation and chastisement, and yet it is not unpardonable if God so wishes.