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Mutazilah refers to an Islamic sect originating in 9th century Abassid Baghdad which attempted to reconcile Islam with newly uncovered and translated Greco-Roman and Persian texts.

Core Theology

Mutazilah theology was distinguished chiefly by asserting the authority of human reason over tradition and general superstition. For example, the Mutazilah theologians asserted that the Quran was a book that was created, written by men, rather than uncreated, the living word of God passed verbatim through the mouths of men.

Mutazilah theology accepted the central truths of Islam; the five pillars of faith, the Quran as divine, and the Sunnah as an appropriate frame of reference for daily life. However the Mutazilah's interpolation of Hellenic-latinate logic made more traditional scholars uncomfortable.

There are five central principles in Mutazilah theology. God is one and unified, God is a perfect judge who enacts perfect universal divine justice, God promises as well as punishes,a true believer shall not sin actively, in addition to advocating religious and social duties while opposing and condemning the opposite.

Mihna Ordeal

The Mihna ordeal was one of the earliest expressions of both heretical behavior and the formation of state funded religious inquisitions. The Caliph Al-Ma'Mun attempted to consolidate the authority of the Caliph by asserting one state religion, he chose the Mutazilah theology, which was then current at the Bayt Al Hikma in Baghdad. Muslims at the time were fully aware of this naked attempt for the state to assert authority over the theologian jurists. The Minha ordeal refers to the period of Al-Ma-'Mun's reign when he actively persecuted those jurists who did not give lipservice to the state religion. The period of persecution was slight, beginning in 833 and concluding by 845, however the attitude of Al-Ma-Mun was continued by Al-Mu'tasim (his name being derived from Mutazilah) and Al Wathiq.