From Anarchy In Action

Some members of the Mu'tazalite school of ninth-century Iraqi Islam believed that government was not necessary or desirable. Their views paralleled those of some Kharijites in the same region. At the time, imams ruled locally and often turned into unaccountable despots. Some Mu'tazalite ascetic thinkers reasoned, in Patricia Crone's summary: "Since imams kept turning into kings, the best solution was not to set them up in the first place."[1]

The Mu'tazalite thinkers Hisham al-Fuwati and Abbad ibn Sulayman thought that there should be no public authority at all. Less anarchistic Mu'tazalites argued that authority should be transferred from the state to patriarchs and local leaders.[2]

In 817 CE, the government temporarily collapsed in Baghadad, and the "result was complete lawlessness." In this situation, a Mu'tazalite man named Sahl ibn Salama formed a non-governmental community patrol group. Other Mu'tazalite anarchistic thinkers celebrated his actions and boasted, according to one account, "At a time when government disintegrated and the plebs and ruffians took over...we saw a small number of people of integrity and standing get up in their district, tribe, street and quarter to...subdue the...ruffians so that the weak could once more move freely...and so that merchants could go around again."[3]

  1. Patricia Crone, "Ninth-Century Muslim Anarchists," Past and Present, 2000,
  2. Crone, "Ninth-Century Muslim Anarchists," 17.
  3. Crone, "Ninth-Century Muslim Anarchists," 24.