Mallam Yusuf Abdullahi
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 noblest servant, our master Muhammad (s) and his pure progeny.
In response to the need of our esteemed readers, I chose the topic at this time when the Shi’ah all over the world and other lovers of the prophet and his oppressed progeny mourn the martyrdom of Imam Husain (as). No doubt, the need for the Shi’ah to enlighten the world on its unequalled origin and relevance to debunk the widely circulated propaganda is very obvious. And looking at the level of our society’s laziness in terms of research at one hand and the calumnious efforts of the enemies and their paid agents at the other, hands need to be concertedly on deck to deliver the truthful knowledge as a trust from Allah sincerely without mischief. Hence, I urge every adherent to the faith to do his best in this direction and appeal to those wishing to know the truth about Shiism or any other topic to reflect on the general command of Allah the most High, "….. Ask those who know" Q21:7. On such enquiry however, one should never rely on the biased minds as they always mislead.
There are so much lies, so much tales and so much calumniations propagated against Shiism! Blind critics were sponsored to write baseless versions that are freely distributed across the world. To do justice as Allah enjoined in the verse above, why don’t you read their books to defeat them by reasons? Why don’t you discuss with them on the religion in its entirety? If proof is the weapon of a believer, why are those opposed to Shiism afraid of reading their books or discussing with them on any topic of interest? And why is the geometric spread of Shiism across the world? Is it due to ignorance or brain wash? It is good that you establish the fact as your children may do it ahead of you. The earlier you carry an unbiased study the better. Enough was enough on the propagated lies against Shiism in the 21st century. We have heard and read so much with the accusing fingers on Iran and Iraq since 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 from the prophetic teachings on a sincere faith on the principle of justice to excel. One with Allah is majority!
A JUDICIOUS GLANCE AT SHIISM
According to the definition on page 411 in al – Munjid, the famous Arabic dictionary, 35th edition, published by Dar al – ulum in Beirut, Lebanon, 1987, 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 pronounciation and meaning. However, the word is applied on those that recognise the divine leadership of Ali and his family (may Allah be pleased with them) to the extent of specificity. Whenever one is said to be Shi’ah, he is regarded like them, in the Shi’a school of thought. 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.
SHI’AH IN THE QUR’AN
The word Shi’ah was used exactly in this 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).
SHI’AH IN PROPETIC TRADITIONS
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.
One of the most notable early Shi’ah scholars, Sheikh al – Mufeed who died in 413 AH defined Shi’ah as the followers of Ali and believers in his Immediate successorship to the noble prophet. He further elaborated on Imamiyyah the Shi’ah 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"
In the light of the above definition, the Shi’ah believe that successorship to the noble prophet was absolutely divine appointment. As the prophet was appointed, so also, the Imam on prophet’s promulgation, starting with Imam Ali to the final Imam, Muhammad al – Mahdy (as).
In the cause of this write up and beyond, I will use the term Shi’ah (with h although others write without) on the broad context depending on the situation. And the term Shiism as the noun form referring to the creed.
THE SHI’AH AMONG THE COMPANIONS
Some of the well known Shi’ah – followers of Imam Ali – among the companions of the prophet included Abdullah Bn Abbas, Aqil Bn Abi Talib, Naufal Bn Harith, Abdullah Bn Jaafar, Salman al – Farisy, Miqdad Bn al – Aswad, AbuDharr, Ammar Bn Yassir, Huzaifa Bn al – Yamani, Khuzaimah Bn Thabit, Abu Ayyub al – Ansary, Saad Bn Ubadah, Ubayyu Bn Kaab, Bilal al – Habashi, Hujr Bn Addy, Jabir Bn Abdullah al – Ansary, Muhammad Bn Abi Bakr and Sahl Bn Hunaif among others.
Unlike Ahl al – Sunnah wa al Jama’a which sprang in the year of Jama’ah during the Umayyad Mu’awiya – led regime, the Shi’ah otherwise original Islam was first heard from the Great Messenger (s). Although more attention is focused to the political aspect in most discussions regarding Shi’ah/sunna, – the known categories of Muslims with Sunna being the majority -, in the cause of this discourse fundamentals and branches of faith will be briefly studied from the Shiite point of view, in addition to some selected topics.
Interestingly, nothing is hidden in Shiism. Books are generally available in soft and hard copies. The living religious authorities that issue fatwas (religious verdicts) and their jurisprudential books and sites are also readily available. We also have scholars that could be referred to in search of truth.
THE FUNDAMENTALS OF RELIGION
The Usool el – deen or fundamentals of religion are five, namely; 1. Tauheed: monotheism 2. Adl: justice of Allah 3. Nubuwwat: prophethood 4. Imamate: institution of the Imams after the prophet 5. Ma’ad: the day of judgment
Highlighting the first fundamental and doctrine of faith, the most popular books on doctrines here are the Aqa’idul Imamiyyah by Sheikh Muzaffar – a great Islamic scholar from a prominent home of letters in Iraq and Aqa’iduna by the great religious authority Ayatollah Makarem Shiraz, Iran. Sheikh Muzaffar says with regard to believe in Allah or Tauhid;
We believe that Allah is One (wahid), Alone (ahad), Peerless (laysa kamithlihi shay’), Eternal (qadim), Without Beginning or End; He is the First and the Last (al – awwal wa al – akhir). He is the all – knowing (al – ‘alim), the Wise (al – hakim), the Just (al ‘adil), the Living (al – hayy), the Omnipotent (al – qadir), Independent of all things (al – ghaniy), the All – Hearing (al – Sami’), the All – Seeing (al – basir). He is not to be likened to His creatures, therefore He has neither body nor appearance, nor substance, nor form; He is neither heavy nor light, neither moving nor motionless; He has no place nor any time, and no one can point to Him as there is nothing like Him. Nothing is equal to Him, nor Has He any opposite, He has no wife, no child, no partner, and there is no one comparable to Him. Vision does not perceive Him, yet He perceives everything.
Anyone who likens Him to His creatures, for example, one who supposes that Allah has a face, hands and eyes, or says that He comes down to the lower Heaven, or that He will appear to the people of the paradise like a moon, and so forth, he is one who does not believe in Allah and is ignorant of the true nature of Allah, Who is above all deficiency. Yet everything we imagine will be a creature like ourselves. As Imam Baqir (as), said He is far greater than the explanation of the wise, and far beyond the reach of discriminative knowledge (‘ilm daqiq). ……."
To be continued.