By Yusuf Abdullahi
"…After the widely circulated BBC report on the so called female sexual exploitation which attracted mixed reactions, a unique side, is the level of enquiries about Shi’ism that people across the world pose to the adherents of this faith….."
In the name of Allah who states “O you who believe! Stand out firmly For Allah, as witnesses To fair dealing, and let not The hatred of others To you make you swerve To wrong and depart from Justice. Be just: that is Next to piety: and fear Allah, For Allah is well – acquainted With all ye do” Q5:8
May the everlasting peace and blessings of Allah be upon His noble servant, our master Muhammad and his pure progeny.
Most recent trending issue on Islamophobic drive by BBC, a leading media outfit presumably on investigative journalism was apparently against Shi’ism. It was an allegation against whom they referred to as Shi’ah scholars that exploit women in sexual trade in the name of religion. The role of Western media, as tools in promoting Islamophobia is known world over. Wikipedia relates, according to Nathan Lean, editor-in-chief and researcher at Georgetown University, the media plays a major role in promoting Islamophobia across the world. In the Encyclopedia of Race and Ethnic Studies, Elizabeth Poole stated that the media has been criticized for perpetrating Islamophobia, citing a case study examining a sample of articles in the British press between 1994 and 2004, which concluded that Muslim viewpoints were underrepresented and that issues involving Muslims were usually depicted a negative light. Such portrayals, according to Poole, include the depiction of Islam and Muslims as a threat to Western security and values. Benn and Jawad write that hostility towards Islam and Muslims are closely linked to media portrayals of Islam as barbaric, irrational, primitive and sexist".
Islamophobic tendencies and drive could be traced in recent and decades durations. However, the enemies have always miscalculated given the positive outcome of their intended purpose. After the widely circulated BBC report on the so called female sexual exploitation which attracted mixed reactions, a unique side, is the level of enquiries about Shi’ism that people across the world pose to the adherents of this faith. The questions were not solely on Mut’a – temporary marriage – rules and regulations but on general aspects including historical background, general doctrines and practices and the similarities and differences with the Sunni.
In view of this, I decided to present a response I wrote to our esteemed readers on similar request, before the point raised on marriage and related issues from the Shiite perspective. Obviously, the need for Shi’ah to enlighten the world on its origin and relevance to debunk the widely circulated propaganda against the creed is very crucial. There are so much lies, so much tales and so much calumniations. Blind critics were sponsored to write baseless versions that are freely distributed across the world. With the level of our society’s laziness in research at one hand and the calumnious efforts of the enemies and their paid agents on the other, hands must be concertedly on deck to deliver facts as a trust from Allah without mischief. I therefore urge all adherents to do their best in this direction, and appeal to those who sincerely wish to know the truth to reflect on the general command of Allah, "… Ask those who know" Q21:7. For such enquiry however, one should not rely on biased persons who always mislead. Allah states “O you who believe! Stand out firmly For Allah, as witnesses To fair dealing, and let not The hatred of others To you make you swerve To wrong and depart from Justice. Be just: that is Next to piety: and fear Allah, For Allah is well – acquainted With all ye do” Q5:8
To do justice as Allah enjoined in the verse above. Why shouldn’t the opponents defeat the Shiites by reasons? Discuss with them on the religion in its entirety? If proof is the weapon of a believer, why are those opposed to the creed afraid of reading their books or discussing with them on any topic of interest? Why does the creed super geometrically spread all over the world? Is it due to ignorance or brain wash? It is good that one establishes the fact before his or her children accept the faith ahead. The earlier one carries an unbiased study the better. Enough was enough on the propagated lies in the 21st century. The accusing fingers are mostly on Iran and Iraq as one could hardly lay hand on any book discussing a topic from a judicious point of view. But with the atmospheric change, only Allah knows what will happen in the next few decades. With religious freedom, development in information technology, intellectual discussions and discourses, there is no limit for the doctrine owing to the prophetic teachings on the principle of justice and unity. One with Allah is majority! No doubt, the terrorist measures of the enemies will never succeed and the victims weather in Yemen, Bahrain or Nigeria among others will finally emerge victors.
According to al-Munjid, the famous Arabic dictionary, 35th edition, published by Dar al – ulum in Beirut, Lebanon, 1987, page 411, the word Shi’ah etymologically is used for a person, two people or a group, male or female. However, it is technically applied on the people that believe in the divine leadership of Ali and his family. Company, to accompany or followers. In page 2,144 of volume 2 of the Lisanul Arab, a more advanced Arabic dictionary, the word Shi’ah originally refers to a group of people which equally applies to one or two, male or female with the same pronunciation and meaning. Technically, the word is applied on those that recognise the specific divine leadership of Ali and his family (may Allah be pleased with them). Whenever one is said to be Shi’ah, he or she is regarded as their adherent. Zuhry, a renowned scholar said, the Shi’ah are known for their love to prophetic progeny and recognition of their leadership. Abu Ishaq said when the word is related to somebody, it refers to the person’s followers. The word Shi’ah was used in the same context in the noble Qur’an, chapter 28 verse 15 in reference to one of the followers of prophet Musa (AS), just as it was used in chapter 37 verse 8 referring to prophet Ibrahim as a follower of prophet Noah (AS).
In a prophetic tradition narrated by Ibn Athir who died in 606 AH, the prophet (S) addressed Ali as "O Ali! you and your Shi’ah will reach Allah being pleased with him and well pleasing Him, and your enemies will reach Him, being angry and will be seized by their necks. Then the prophet demonstrated how this would be by putting his hand on his neck". In another tradition by the same narrator, the prophet said "Surely there is a spring in paradise sweeter than nectar, smoother than butter, cooler than ice and more fragrant than musk. In that spring is the clay (tinah) from which we (my household and I) were created and our Shi’ah are made from the same clay" Volume 1 page 129, no. 180. In some traditions, the prophet (S) used the term "Shi’ah of your descendents" -believing in the divinely appointed institution. In the narration of Ibn Abbas by Ibn Hajar who died in 974, the prophet said to Imam Ali after the revelation of "Surely those who believe and do good deeds are the best of creation" Q98:7. Those are you and your Shi’ah. On the day of resurrection, you will be pleased and well pleasing (to Allah) and your enemies will come angry and will be seized by their necks. Then the prophet demonstrated how this would be by putting his hand on his neck. (Ibn Hajar, section 11, chapter 1, verse 11. In a prominent narration by Ibn Asakir who died in 571 AH, from Jabir Bn Abdullah who said: "Once we were with the prophet Muhammad, when Ali arrived, upon which the prophet said, I swear by Him who has my life in His hand that surely this man and his Shi’ah will be happy on the day of resurrection" then the verse "Surely those who believe and do good deeds are the best of creation"Q98:7 was revealed. From then, whenever the companions saw Ali coming, they would say, the best of creation has come. -Ibn Asakir, Volume, 2, page 442 and al-Suyuty, Volume, 6, page 589
In al-Milal wa al-Nihal, a famous source on different sects in Islam by Shahrestani who died in 548 AH mentioned "the Shi’ah are those who followed Ali in particular and believed in his Imamate and caliphate according to the explicit teachings and will of the prophet Muhammad" On the other hand, Al-Hasan Ibn Musa al-Nawbakhti, a renowned Shi’ah scholar who died in 313 AH, mentioned in his book, Firaq al-Shi’a, "the Shi’a are the party of Ali son of Abi Talib. They were called Shi’ah of Ali during and after the life of the prophet and were known as the followers of Ali and believers in his Imamate" Page 17.
Sheikh al-Mufeed, a remarkable Shi’a scholar who died in 413 AH defined Shi’ah as the followers of Ali and believers in his immediate successorship to the noble prophet, with further elaboration on Imamiyyah they are also known. This is a title for those who believe in the necessity of Imamate and continuity in all ages and that every Imam must be explicitly designated and must also be infallible and perfect as it relates to the religion.
To be continued.