Raafzi (Shia) beliefs
Shi’a is the second largest denomination after Sunni Islam. Shi’as, though a minority in the Muslim world, constitute the majority of the populations in Iran, 1 Azerbaijan, Bahrain, 2 and Iraq3 and over 20% of the Muslim populations in Lebanon, 4 Yemen5 Kuwait, 6 Brazil, Albania, 7 Turkey, 8 and Pakistan. 9
The Shi’a adhere to the teachings of the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace), and in contrast to other Muslims, believe that his family, the Ahl al-Bayt meaning People of the House, including his descendants known as Shi’a Imams, have special spiritual or political rule over the community.10 Unlike Sunni Muslims, the Shi’a believe that ‘Ali (may Allah be pleased with him), the Prophet’s (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) cousin and husband of his daughter Fatimah (may Allah be pleased with her), was the true successor to the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) who was appointed by Allah (The Exalted) and his Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace), and thus reject the legitimacy of the first three Rashidun caliphs, ‘Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him), ‘Umar, and ‘Uthman (may Allah be pleased with them). 11
The Shi’a faith is vast and inclusive of many different groups. There are various Shi’a theological beliefs, schools of jurisprudence, philosophical beliefs, and spiritual movements. Shi’as embodies a completely independent system of religious interpretation and political authority in the “Muslim” world. The Shi’a identity emerged soon after the death of the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace), and Shi’a theology was formulated in the second century12 and the first Shi’a governments and societies were established by the end of the third century. There are an estimated 130 to 190 million Shi’a, 10-15% of the world’s Muslim population. 13
Shi’asim is divided into three branches. The largest and best known are the Twelver (Ithna Ashariyya) which forms a majority of the population in Iran, Azerbaijan, Bahrain and Iraq, and the phrase Shi’a often refers to Twelver Shi’a only. Other smaller branches include the Ismaili and Zaidi, who dispute the Twelver lineage of Imams and beliefs.14
“Shia” is the short form of the historic phrase šīyat ‘Alī, meaning “the followers of ‘Ali (may Allah be pleased with him)” or “the faction of ‘Ali (may Allah be pleased with him).” Both Shia and Sunni sources trace the term to the years preceding the death of the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace).
Shias believe that the descendants from the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) through his daughter Fatimah Zahra and his son-inlaw ‘Ali (may Allah be pleased with him) (the Imams) were the best source of knowledge about the Qur’aan and Islam, the most trusted carriers and protectors of the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace)’s Sunnah (traditions), and the most worthy of emulation.
In particular, Shias recognize the succession of ‘Ali (may Allah be pleased with him) Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace)’s cousin, son-in-law, the first man to accept Islam — second only to the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace)’s wife Khadija — the male head of the Ahl al-Bayt or “people of the [Prophet’s] house”) and the father of the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace)’s only bloodline as opposed to that of the caliphate recognized by Sunni Muslims. Shias believe that ‘Ali (may Allah be pleased with him) was appointed successor by the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace)’s direct order on many occasions, and that he is therefore the rightful leader of the Muslim faith.
This difference between following either the Ahl al-Bayt or the Caliph ‘Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him) has shaped Shia and nonShia views on some of the Qur’aan, the Hadith and other areas of Islam. For instance, the collection of Hadith venerated by Shias is centered on narrations by members of the Ahl al-Bayt and their supporters, while some Hadith by narrators not belonging to or supporting the Ahl al-Bayt are not included. ‘Ali (may Allah be pleased with him) was the third successor to ‘Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him) and, for the Shia, the first divinely sanctioned “imam,” or male descendant of the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace). The seminal event in Shia history is the martyrdom of ‘Ali (may Allah be pleased with him)’s son Imam Husain, who led an non-allegiance movement against the defiant caliph (71 of Imam Husain’s followers were killed as well). For the Shia, Imam Husain came to symbolize resistance to tyranny
Regardless of the dispute about the Calipate, the Shia recognize the religious authority of the Shia Imams, also called Khalifa Ilahi.
There are two interpretations about the emergence of Shia. One of them emphasizes the political struggle about the succession of the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) after his death and. 15 The other one emphasizes on different interpretation of Islam which led to different understanding about the role of caliphs and Scholars.
In “Shi’a Islam,” the term Ahl al-Kisa, meaning People of the Cloak, refers to the the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace), his daughter Fatimah, his cousin and son-in-law ‘Ali, and his two grandsons Hasan and Husain (may Allah be pleased with them). Its origin is in the Hadith of the Event of the Cloak and the Hadith of Mubahala, hadith which are both accepted as authentic by Sunni and Shi’as, with differences only in interpretation. It is one of the foundations of the Shi’a conception of Imamate, which states that a male descendant of the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) has special rule over the Muslim community. The Ahl al-Kisa along with the Imams form the Shi’a definition of Ahl al-Bayt, a term used to designate the family of the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace).
The three branches of Shi’a differ on the nature of the Ahl al-Kisa and Imams. The two largest branches, the Twelver and the Ismaili, consider them to be in a state of ismah, meaning infallibility, a belief originating from the verse of purification in the Qur’aan. In contrast, the third branch, the Zaidi, view them only as political figures with the duty to lead revolts against corrupt rulers and governments.
The Four Companions
The Four Companions, also called the Four Pillars of the Sahaba is a Shi’a term that refers to the four Sahaba Shi’a believe stayed most loyal to ‘Ali (may Allah be pleased with him) after the death of the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace):
- Abu Dharr
- Salman the Farsi
- Ammar ibn Yasir (may Allah be pleased with them).
Those among the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace)’s companions who were closest to ‘Ali (may Allah be pleased with him) were called Shiat ‘Ali during the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace)’s lifetime.
The Ahlul Bayt are viewed as the perfect example for mankind, and like the Prophets, should be emulated in acts and deeds. Twelver and Ismaili Shi’a believe that the Imams of Ahlul Bayt carry the divinely appointed responsibility of protecting Islam and enacting the example of the pure Sunnah of the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace). The Imams of Ahlul Bayt have guided Muslims throughout history, in many cases under the most horrible circumstances and under the most severe forms of discrimination due to the cruel policies of the reigning governments of the time. They are seen as incorruptible and infallible role models for Muslims that have shown the way of goodness and prosperity in this world and the next in the best way until their martyrdom or Occultation.
In contrast to the Twelver and Ismaili, the Zaidi only see the Imams as political figures who are descendants of ‘Ali and Fatimah (may Allah be pleased with them) who uprise against corrupt and oppressing rulers and governments.
The Occultation in Shi’a Islam refers to a belief that the messianic figure, the Mahdi, is an Imam who has disappeared and will one day return and fill the world with justice. Some Shi’a, such as the Zaidi and Nizari Ismaili, do not believe in the idea of the Occultation. The groups which do believe in it differ upon which lineage of imamate is correct, and therefore which individual has gone into the Occultation.
The Shi’as throughout its history split over the issue of imamate, with each branch supporting different imams. Contemporarily, the largest branch are the Twelver, which over 80% of Shi’a belong to. The only other surviving branches are the Zaidi and Ismaili. All three groups follow a different line of Imamate.
Twelver Shi’a believe in the lineage of the Twelve Imams. The Twelver Shi’a faith is predominantly found in Iran (est. 90%) , Azerbaijan (est. 75%), Bahrain (est. 75%), Iraq (est. 65%), Lebanon (est. 35%), 16 Kuwait (est. 35%), Turkey (est. 20%), Albania (est. 20%), Pakistan (est. 20%) and Afghanistan (est. 15%).17
The Zaidi dispute the succession of the fifth Twelver Imam, al-Baqir (may Allah be pleased with him), because he did not stage a revolution against the corrupt government, unlike Zaid ibn ‘Ali (may Allah be pleased with them). They do not believe in a normal lineage, but rather that any descendant of Hasan ibn ‘Ali (may Allah be pleased with them) or Husain ibn ‘Ali (may Allah be pleased with them) who stages a revolution against a corrupt government is an imam. The Zaidi are mainly found in Yemen.
The Ismaili dispute the succession of the seventh Twelver Imam, Musa al-Kadhim (may Allah be pleased with him), believing his older brother Ismail bin Jafar (may Allah be pleased with him) actually succeeded their father Jafar al-Sadiq (may Allah be pleased with him), and did not predecease him like Twelver Shi’a believe. Ismaili form small communities in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, India, Yemen, China and Saudi Arabia (est. 10-15%).18
The Twelve Imams
According to the theology of Twelvers, the successor of The Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) is an infallible human individual who not only rules over the community with justice, but also is able to keep and interpret the Divine Law and its esoteric/mystic meaning. The Prophet and Imams’ words and deeds are a guide and model for the community to follow; as a result, they must be free from error and sin, and must be chosen by divine decree, or nass, through the Prophet.19
It is believed in Shi’asm that Aql, a divine wisdom, was the source of the souls of the Prophets and Imams and gave them esoteric knowledge, called Hikmah, and that their sufferings were a means of divine grace to their devotees.20 Although the Imam was not the recipient of a divine revelation, but has close relationship with Allah (The Exalted), through which Allah (The Exalted) guides him, and the imam in turn guides the people. Because Allah (The Exalted) would not leave the world without some sort of divine guidance for humanity.21
According to Twelvers, there is always an Imam of the Age, who is the divinely appointed authority on all matters of faith and law in the Muslim community. ‘Ali (may Allah be pleased with him) was the first Imam of this line, and in the Twelvers’ view, the rightful successor to the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace), followed by male descendants of the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) through his daughter Fatimah Zahra. Each Imam was the son of the previous Imam, with the exception of Husain ibn ‘Ali (may Allah be pleased with them), who was the brother of Hasan ibn ‘Ali (may Allah be pleased with them). 22 The twelfth and final Imam is al-Mahdi, who is believed by the Twelvers to be currently alive, and in hiding. 23
- ‘Ali ibn Abu Talib (may Allah be pleased with him) (600–661), also known as Amir ul-Mu’mineen (commander of the faithful), Shah-e Mardan ‘Ali (may Allah be pleased with him) (King of men).
- Hasan ibn ‘Ali (may Allah be pleased with them) (625–669), also known as Hasan al Mujtaba.
- Husayn ibn ‘Ali (may Allah be pleased with them) (626–680), also known as Husain al Shaheed, Sah Hüseyin.
- ‘Ali (may Allah be pleased with him) ibn Husayn (658–713), also known as Zainul Abideen.
- Muhammad ibn ‘Ali (may Allah be pleased with him) (676–743), also known as al Baqir.
- Jafar (may Allah be pleased with him) (703–765), also known as Ja’far as Sadiq.
- Musa ibn Jafar (may Allah be pleased with him) (745–799), also known as Musa al Kadhim.
- ‘Ali ibn Musa (765–818), also known as ‘Ali ar Ridha.
- Muhammad ibn‘Ali (may Allah be pleased with him) (810–835), also known as al Jawad Muhammad (at Taqi), also known as Taki.
- ‘Ali ibn Muhamad (827–868), also known as ‘Ali al-Hadi, also known as Naki.
- Hasan ibn ‘Ali (may Allah be pleased with him) (846–874), also known as Hasan al Askari.
- Muhammad ibn Hasan (868–?), also known as Hujjat ibn al Hasan, also known as Mahdi.
Principles of the Religion (Usūl al-Dīn)
Five basic elements of Islam according to Twelver Shi’a beliefs are:
- Tawhīd (Oneness): The Oneness of Allah (The Exalted).
- Adalah (Justice): The Justice of Allah (The Exalted).
- Nubuwwah (Prophethood): Allah (The Exalted) has appointed perfect and infallible prophets and messengers to teach mankind the religion (that is, a perfect system of how to live in ‘peace’ or ‘submission to Allah (The Exalted)’. Prophets are Messengers which are appointed by Allah to bring the message of Allah (The Exalted) to people and spread that message while the Imam (leader) is appointed by Allah to protect that message since ordinary people will fail to do so. Also, as the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) was the last Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) which means the message he brought was the last and final message to the people from Allah, none is supposed to bring a message from Allah after the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace), therefore, if people were left with the message alone, the true message could not survive long and would have undergone changes. Imams were therefore appointed to take care of the message and prevent people from going astray after the last prophet.
- Imamah (Leadership): Allah (The Exalted) has appointed specific leaders to lead and guide mankind — a prophet appoints a custodian of the religion before his demise. Shia believe in Twelve Imams, eleven of whom were killed, but they believe their twelfth Imam is still alive. Their history says that he disappeared after performing rituals of the eleventh Imam (his father’s) death. He is still under ‘ghaybat’ or ‘occultation’ and will appear on the face of the earth to raise the truth and bring an end to tyranny and oppression.
- Qiyamah (The Day of Judgment): After the annihilation of this world, Allah (The Exalted) will raise mankind for Judgement.
Practices of the Religion (Furū al-Dīn)
- Salat (Prayer).
- Sawm (Fast).
- Hajj (Pilgrimage).
- Zakat (Poor-rate).
- Khums (One-fifth of savings) – paying tax to the Imam.
- Jihad (Struggle) – struggling to please the Almighty. The greater, or internal Jihad is the struggle against the evil within one’s soul in every aspect of life. The lesser, or external, Jihad is the struggle against the evil of one’s environment in every aspect of life. This is not to be mistaken with the common modern misconception that this means ‘Holy War’. Writing the truth (jihad bil qalam) and speaking truth in front of an oppressor are also forms of Jihad.
- Amr-Bil-Ma’rūf – commanding what is good.
- Nahi-Anil-Munkar – forbidding what is evil.
- Tawalla – loving the Ahlul Bayt and their followers.
- Tabarra – dissociating oneself from the enemies of the Ahlul Bayt
Ja’fari Fiqh is the name of the jurisprudence of the Twelvers, derived from the name of Ja’far al-Sadiq, the 6th Shia Imam.
The Ja’fari Shia consider Sunnah to be the oral traditions of the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) and their implementation and interpretation by the Imams who were all scholars and descendants of the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) through his daughter Fatima and her husband, the first Imam, ‘Ali (may Allah be pleased with them).
The ‘Ismāīlī branch is the second largest part of the Shī’a community, after the Twelvers. The Ismaili get their name from their acceptance of Ismail bin Jafar as the divinely appointed spiritual successor (Imam) to Jafar alSadiq, wherein they differ from the Twelvers, who accept Musa alKazim, younger brother of Ismail, as the true Imam. The Ismaili and the Twelvers both accept the same initial Imams from the descendants of the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) through his daughter Fatima Zahra and therefore share much of their early history.
After the passing away — or occultation (according to Sevener Ismailis) – of Imam Muhammad ibn Ismail in the 8th century C.E. the teachings of Ismailism further transformed into the belief system as it is known today, with an explicit concentration on the deeper, esoteric meaning (batin) of the Islamic religion. With the eventual development of Twelverism into the more literalistic (zahir) oriented Akhbari and later Usooli schools of thought, Shi’ism developed into two separate directions: the metaphorical Ismaili group focusing on the mystical path and nature of Allah, and the manifestation of himself in the personage of the “Imam of the Time” as the “Face of Allah”, while the more literalistic Twelver group focusing on divine law (sharia) and the deeds and Sunnah of the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) and his successors (Ahl al-Bayt) who as Imams were guides and a light to Allah.24
Though there are several sub-groupings within the Ismailis, the term in today’s vernacular generally refers to the Nizari community, who are followers of the Aga Khan and the largest group among the Ismailis. While many of the branches have extremely differing exterior practices, much of the spiritual theology has remained the same since the days of the faith’s early Imams. In recent centuries Ismailis have largely been an Indo-Iranian community,25 but Ismaili are found in India, Pakistan, Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, Saudi Arabia, 26 Yemen, China, 27 Jordan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, East Africa and South Africa, but have in recent years emigrated to Europe, Australia, New Zealand, and North America. 28
Ismaili Imams (Seveners)
After the death of Isma’il ibn Jafar, many Ismaili believed the line of imamate ended, and that one day the messianic Mahdi, whom they believed to be ibn Ismail, would return and establish an age of justice. One group included the violent Qarmatians who had a stronghold in Bahrain. In contrast, some Ismaili believed the Imamate did continue, and that the Imams were in hiding and still communicated and taught their followers through a network of da’i.
In 909 C.E. Ubayd Allah al-Mahdi Billah, a claimant of the Ismaili imamate, established the Fatimid Empire, a political power where Ismaili Imams would rule for centuries. Egypt became the center of an empire that included at its peak North Africa, Sicily, Palestine, Syria, the Red Sea coast of Africa, Yemen and the Hijaz. Under the Fatimids, Egypt flourished and developed an extensive trade network in both the Mediterranean and the Indian Ocean, which eventually determined the economic course of Egypt during the High Middle Ages.
During this period three lineages of Ismaili Imams formed. The first branch (Druze) occurred with the Imam Al-Hakim bi-Amr Allah. Born in 386 AH (985 AD), he ascended as ruler at the age of eleven and was feared for his eccentricity and believed insanity. The typical religiously tolerant Fatimid Empire saw much persecution under his reign. When in 411 AH (1021 AD) his mule returned without him, soaked in blood, a religious group that was even forming in his lifetime broke off from mainstream Ismailism and refused to acknowledge his successor. Later to be known as the Druze, they believe Al-Hakim to be the incarnation (human form) of Allah and the prophesized Mahdi, who would one day return and bring justice to the world. 29 The faith further split from Ismailism as it developed very unique doctrines which often classes it separately from both Ismailism and Islam.
The Mustaali line split again between the Taiyabi and the Hafizi, the former claiming that the 21st Imam and son of Al-Amir went into occultation and appointed a Da’i al-Mutlaq to guide the community, in a similar manner as the Ismaili had lived after the death of Muhammad ibn Ismail. The latter claimed that the ruling Fatimid caliph was the Imam, and they died out with the fall of the Fatimid Empire.
The Pillars of the Ismaili The Shi’a Ismaili
– the Nizari, Druze and Mustaali – have Pillars beyond those of the Sunni. While most Ismailis have eight, the Bohras and Druze have only seven.
- Walayah “Guardianship” denotes love and devotion to Allah (The Exalted), the Prophets, the imam and the du’at “missionaries”. In Ismaili doctrine, Allah (The Exalted) is the true desire of every soul, and he manifests himself in the forms of Prophets and imāms; the appointed du’at lead believers to the right path. The Druze refer to this pillar as Taslīm “Submission”.
- Taharah “Purity”: The Druze
- Shahādah: Most Ismāˤīlīs add aliyun wāliyu l-Lāh “Alī is the friend of Allah” at the end of the shahādatayn: the exception is the Druze. The Bohra do not list this as a Pillar of Faith, and hence have only seven pillars.31
- Salah “Prayer”: Unlike Sunni and Twelvers, Nizari Ismāˤīliyya reason that it is up to the current imām to designate the style and form of prayer, and for this reason the current Nizari practices resemble dua and pray them three times a day. These three times have been related with the three times that have been mentioned in the Qur’aān: sunrise, before sunset, and after sunset. In contrast, the Mustalī maintain five prayers and their style is generally closely related to that of the Twelvers. The Druze believe that the meaning of prayer is sidqu l-lisān “speaking Truth (to/about Allah)” and do not believe in five daily prayers. They do sometimes attend prayers, which is the practice of the “uninitiated” (juhhāl) and historically was also done for reasons of taqiyya.
- Zakah “Charity”: with the exception of the Druze, all Ismāˤīlīs have practices resembling that of Sunni and Twelvers with the addition of the characteristic Shīˤa khums: payment of 1/8th of one’s unspent money at the end of the year to the imām. In addition to khums, Ismāˤīlīs pay 12.5% of their monthly gross income to the imām, which goes to the central accounts and then spent on welfare of the humankind like education and health projects. One of the major examples of these projects is the Aga Khan Development Network, that is one of the biggest welfare networks of the world. Thus, Ismāˤīlīs believe that as the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) was designated to take zakāt from the believers in the past, it is now the duty to pay the imām or his representative. The Druze practice hifzu l-‘Ikhwān “Protection of One’s Brothers” instead of paying a fee, a culturally complex practice of interdependence.
- Sawm “Fasting”: Nizari and Mustaˤlī believe in both a metaphorical and literal meaning of fasting. The literal meaning is that one must fast as an obligation, such as during the Ramadan and the metaphorical meaning being that one is in attainment of the Divine Truth and must strive to avoid worldy activities which may detract from this goal. In particular, Ismāˤīlīs believe the real and esoteric meaning of fasting is avoiding devilish acts and doing the good deeds. Not eating during the month of Ramadan has been considered as a metaphorical implementation of fasting and is not compulsory. The Druze emphasise the esoteric meaning, which they call tark ˤibādat al-awthān “deserting idol-worship”: that which detracts from communion with Allah (The Exalted) is an idol (wathan).
- Hajj “Pilgrimage”: For Ismāˤīlīs, this means visiting the imām or his representative and that this is the greatest and most spiritual of all pilgrimages. The Mustaˤlī maintain also the practice of going to Makkah. The Druze interpret this completely metaphorically as “fleeing from devils and oppressors” and rarely go to Makkah. 32
- Jihad “Struggle”: The definition of jihad is controversial as it has two meanings: “the Greater Struggle” and the “The Lesser Struggle”, the latter of which means a confrontation with the enemies of the faith. The Nizari are pacifist and interpret “adversaries” of the faith as personal and social vices (i.e. wrath, intolerance, etc.) and those
- individuals who harm the peace of the faith and avoid provocation and use force only as a final resort only in self-defense. It is unclear what the Mustali believe. The Druze have a long history of military and political engagement but refer to this pillar solely as Rīda “Contentment” – the war to fight that which removes you from the ease of the Divine Presence, a meaning similar to that of the Nizari. In addition, the ˤUqqāl “Wise Ones”, the religious cadre of the Druze, are pacifists.
In the Nizari branch of Ismaili Shi’as, there has been less of a scholarly institution because of the existence of a present Imam. The Imam of the Age defines the jurisprudence and may differ with Imams previous to him because of different times and circumstances
However, divine leadership has continued in the Mustali branch through the institution of the Da’i al-Mutlaq, meaning unrestricted missionary. According to Mustali Ismaili tradition, before the last Mustali Imam, Taiyab abi al-Qasim went into seclusion, his father, the 20th Imam Mansur al-Amir Bi-Ahkamillah had instructed Queen Al-Hurra AlMalika in Yemen to appoint a vicegerent after the seclusion – the Da’i alMutlaq, who as the Imam’s vicegerent, has full authority to govern the community in all matters both spiritual and temporal while he is in the Occultation. The three branches of the Mustali, the Alavi Bohra, Sulaimani Bohra, and Dawoodi Bohra differ on who the current Da’i alMutlaq is.
The Zaidi are a branch of Shi’as named after the Imām Zayd ibn ˤAlī. Followers of the Zaidi fiqh are called Zaidis (or occasionally, Fivers by Sunnis). However, there is also a group called the Zaidi Wasītīs who are Twelvers (see below)
Since the earliest form of Zaidism was of the Jarudiyya group,33 many of the first Zaidi states, like those of the Alavids, Buyids, Ukhaidhirids and Rassids, were inclined to the Jarudiyya group.
The first Zaidi state was established in Daylaman and Tabaristan (northern Iran) in 864 C.E. by the Alavids; 34 it lasted until the death of its leader at the hand of the Samanids in 928 C.E. Roughly forty years later the state was revived in Gilan (north-western Iran) and survived under Hasanid leaders until 1126 C.E. After which from the 12th-13th centuries, the Zaidis of Daylaman, Gilan and Tabaristan then acknowledge the Zaidi Imams of Yemen or rival Zaidi Imams within Iran.35
The Buyids were reported to have been Zaidi, as well as the Ukhaidhirite rulers of al-Yamama in the 9th and 10th centuries.36
The leader of the Zaidi community took the title of Caliph. As such, the ruler of Yemen was known as the Caliph, al-Hadi Yahya bin al-Hussain bin al-Qasim ar-Rassi (a descendant of Imam al-Hasan) who, at Sa’da, in 893-7 C.E., founded the Zaidi Imamate and this system continued until the middle of the 20th century, until the revolution of 1962 C.E. that deposed the Zaidi Imam. The founding Zaidism of Yemen was of the Jarudiyya group, however with the increasing interaction with Hanafi and Shafi’i Sunni Islam, there was a shift from the Jarudiyya group to the Sulaimaniyya, Tabiriyya, Butriyya or Salihiyya groups.37
Zaidis form the dominant religious group in Yemen. Currently, they constitute about 40-45% of the population in Yemen. Ja’faris and Isma’ilis are 2-5%.38 In Saudi Arabia, it is estimated that there are over 1 million Zaidis (primarily in the western provinces).
Currently the most prominent Zaidi movement is Husayn al-Huthi’s Shabab al-Mu’mineen, who have been the subject of an ongoing campaign against them by the Yemeni Government in which the Army has lost 743 men and thousands of innocent civilians have been killed or displaced by government forces, causing a grave humanitarian crisis in north Yemen.
Sunni & Shi’a relations
The Shi’a believe that the split between the Shia and Sunni began with the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace)’s death, when ‘Abu Bakr was accepted as the successor to the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) by the majority of Muslims, then ‘Umar and ‘Uthman (may Allah be pleased with them). They believe that the successorship was given to ‘Ali (may Allah be pleased with him) at Ghadir Khum (a hadith accepted by Shi’a scholars), and that the testimony that can be traced back to reliable sources is to be trusted, while traditions that cannot be fully verified are suspect.
Shi’a and Sunni historians record that many Shi’a have been persecuted, intimidated, and killed, through what Shi’a consider a coup d’état against ‘Ali (may Allah be pleased with him)’s caliphate. Many prominent Sunni scholars are known to have openly considered the Shia as “kafir” (disbelievers). Imam Ash-Shafi’i, one of the most prominent early scholars of his time said in regards to the Shi’a “I have not seen among the heretics a people more famous for falsehood than the Raafidite Shi’ites.”39 Such statements stem mainly from differences in beliefs regarding ‘Ali, ‘Umar, and other companions (may Allah be pleased with them), and in the Shia’s use of various concepts, such as Muta
The renowned al-Azhar university of theology in Egypt, originally founded by the Ismaii Imams during the reign of the Fatimid Empire in 988 CE,40 considers Shi’a philosophy to be an indivisible part of the body of Islamic jurisprudence. Today, both Sunni and Shi’a students graduate from the Al-Azhar university which also teaches regarding both doctrines and uses certain Shi’a material in its courses.
The Shia and Sunnis differ in their view of Aisha (one of the wives of the the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace)). The Shia have a dim view of her character whereas the Sunnis consider her an exemplary woman. The differences stem primarily from the Shia claim of dishonourable behaviour with the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) and her taking a position opposed to the position of the fourth Caliph ‘Ali (may Allah be pleased with him) regarding how to handle the prosecution of the assassinators of the third Caliph ‘Uthman.
Because Islamic law and theology is based partly on hadith the Shia rejection of some Sunni hadith and Sunni rejection of some Shia hadith means that the versions understandings of Islam emerge.
Unlike most Sunni Muslims and Zaidi Shi’a, Twelver and Ismaili Shi’as believe that the Ahl al-Bayt, who include the Ahl al-Kisa (People of the Cloak) and lineage of Imams, are in a state of ismah, meaning infallibility.41
For example, while Twelver and Mustali Shi’a, and all Sunni Muslims pray five times each day, some of the prayer times differ. Shia perform ritual prayers (Salah) back to back, sometimes worshipping two times consecutively, as in (1+2+2) – Asr with Dhuhr, and Isha’a with Maghrib, respectively. Shi’a do not perform non-obligatory prayers in congregation, like Tar’raweeh, which Sunnis pray during Ramadaan. Nizari Ismaili have a completely different style of prayer from both mainstream Shi’a and Sunni tradition.
Another issue of difference between the sects is that of Nikah Mut‘ah or “temporary marriage”. While the Sunni claim that Mut`ah is forbidden, Shia accept it because it is found in a number of Shia traditions that the practice is permitted. There are Sahih Shia traditions which maintain that mut’ah is forbidden, but these are dismissed as they contradict other narrations on mut’ah which were deemed more acceptable.42 Many Shi’a discourage the practice of Mut’ah, but maintain that it is permissible. The Nizari Ismaili do not allow it at all.
Another difference is that some Shia use soil (turbah) or clay tablets (mohr) during their prayers. They say it is the blessed soil of Karbala and no place on earth is more blessed than this!
Differences in beliefs and practices
Successors of the Prophet
The Sunnis hold that ‘Abu Bakr was the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace)’s rightful successor and that the method of choosing or electing leaders (Shura) endorsed by the Qur’an is the consensus of the Ummah. Shia believe that the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) divinely ordained his cousin and son-in-law ‘Ali (may Allah be pleased with him) in accordance with the command of Allah (The Exalted) to be the next caliph, making ‘Ali (may Allah be pleased with him) and his direct descendants the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace)’s successors.
Sunnis follow the Rashidun (rightly-guided caliphs), which were the first four caliphs who ruled after the death of the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace). Shias discount the legitimacy of the first three caliphs and believe that ‘Ali (may Allah be pleased with him) is the second-most divinely inspired man (after the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace)) and that he and his descendants by the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace)’s daughter Fatimah, the Imamah (Shia imams) are the sole legitimate Islamic leaders.
The imamate of the Shia encompasses far more of a prophetic function than the Caliphate of the Sunnis. Unlike Sunni, Shia believe special spiritual qualities have been granted not only to the the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) but also to ‘Ali (may Allah be pleased with him) and the other Imams. They are all immaculate from sin (ma’soum), and can understand and interpret the hidden inner meaning of the teachings of Islam. In this way the Imams are trustees (wasi) who bear the light of the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace). 43
Shia, and Sunni differ on the nature of the Mahdi. Shia as well as many Sunni, particularly Sufi Muslims,44 believe that the Mahdi will appear at end times to bring about a perfect and just Islamic society. Twelver Shia believe the Mahdi will be al-Mahdi, the twelfth Imam returned from occultation where he has been hidden by Allah (The Exalted) since 874 AD. In contrast, mainstream Sunnis believe the Mahdi will be a descendant of the Prophet and will revive the faith, and will be connected with the end of the world.45
The Shias accept some of the same hadiths used by Sunnis as part of the Sunnah to argue their case. In addition they consider the sayings of Ahl al-Bayt that is not attributed directly to the Prophet as Hadiths. Some Sunni-accepted hadith are less favored by Shia, for example, because of Aisha’s opposition to ‘Ali (may Allah be pleased with him), hadith narrated by Aisha are not given the same authority as those by other companions.
When prostrating during ritual prayer (Salah), Shia place their forehead onto a piece of naturally occurring material (usually a clay tablet (mohr), soil (turbah), or at times sand from Kerbala, the place where Imam Husain was martyred), instead of directly onto a prayer mat, as Sunnis do. There is precedence for this in Sunni thought as well however, as it is recommended not to prostrate on a non-natural surface.
perform prayers back to back, sometimes worshipping two times consecutively (1+2+2), thus praying at three separate times during the day instead of five as is required by Sunni.
Shia, and the followers of the Sunni Maliki madh-hab, hold their hands at their sides during prayer; All other Sunnis cross their arms and clasp hands,46 although it is commonly held by Sunni scholars that either is acceptable.
Shia permit mutah—fixed-term temporary marriage—which is not acceptable within the Sunni community. Mutah is not to be confused with normal marriage, which has no date of expiration and is permitted by Sunnis. A Misyar marriage differs from a conventional Islamic marriage in that the man does not have financial responsibility over the woman by her own free will, and women are given more rights than in Mutah marriage.47
Hijab and dress
Devout Shia women traditionally wear black, as do the male religious leaders. Mainstream Shia’ and Sunni women wear the hijab differently. Mainstream Sunni women cover around the perimeter of the face, but only to below their chin, thus the part of the chin shows. Shia women believe that the hijab must cover around the perimeter of the face and up to the chin. Some Shia’ women, such as those in Iran and Iraq, use the black chador to cover half of their face or chin by their hands when in public.
Shia are often recognizable by their names which are often derived from the proper names or title of saints. Shia who trace their ancestry back to the imams carry the title sayyid. 48
If anyone wishes to look at their corrupt beliefs in detail, then he should peruse “Tuhfa Ithna Ashariyyah.” A few of their corrupt beliefs are being presented here (so that you may stay away from them and protect your Imaan). This group calls themselves Shias. SHIAS: The Shias have been divided into 22 groups and from them many off shoots or branches. Due to their erroneous beliefs in connection with the personality of Sayyiduna ‘Ali (may Allah be pleased with him) they have been expelled from the fold of the Ahle Sunnah Wa Jamaah. They reject the Khilaafat of Sayyiduna ‘Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him) Siddique, Sayyiduna ‘Umar Farooq, and Sayyiduna ‘Uthman Ghani (may Allah be pleased with them all).
We seek forgiveness from Almighty Allah for reproducing such utterances even though our sole purpose in doing so is to warn Sunnis about such corrupted groups.
- This sect openly slanders the companions (Sahaba) of the Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and grant him peace). They even call some of the companions of the Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) Kaafirs and Munafiqs (Allah forbid). This is something knew which neither we nor our forefathers have ever heard of as Allah (The Exalted) has mentioned in the Qur’aan: “And to all (companions) has Allah already promised the reward of the Paradise.” 49 And in the Qur’aan He has mentioned: “Allah is pleased with them and they are pleased with Allah and for them He has prepared gardens under which rivers flow. This is the great success.” 50
The Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) said: “Respect my companions because they are better than you.” 51
He also said to them: “Fear Allah (The Exalted) about my companions. Fear Allah (The Exalted). Do not make them your target after me.” 52
The Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) said: “Do not swear at my companions.” 53
- They hold the three Khulafa namely ‘Abu Bakr, ‘Umar and ‘Uthman, may Allah be pleased with them, in hatred. They say that these companions stole the khilafat from ‘Ali (may Allah be pleased with him) and he remained silent out of fear for them. It is completely unacceptable to label Sayyidina ‘Ali (may Allah be pleased with him) as a coward and frightened person. Is it possible that ‘Ali (may Allah be pleased with him) took the oath of allegiance out of fear at the hands of those who the Shias call Kaafirs and Munafiqs and remained silent about this all his life? Is this the quality of the ‘Lion of Allah’? The Qur’aan blesses the companions with great excellence and commands their obedience. The Qur’aan mentions that they are pleased with Allah and Allah is pleased with them. Could Allah hold them in such excellence if they were Kaafirs and Munafiqs? Never! ‘Ali (may Allah be pleased with him) gave his beloved daughter in the marriage of ‘Umar (may Allah be pleased with him). The Shias say that ‘Ali (may Allah be pleased with him) made (Taqaiyya – used deception) when he allowed his daughter to marry ‘Umar (may Allah be pleased with him). How can it be so that a companion of such grandeur like ‘Ali (may Allah be pleased with him) would give his daughter in the marriage of someone he recognised as an unbeliever? This is thus totally baseless.
It is very sad to note that such things are said about the blessed companions, who strived for their entire lives for the sake of Islam and who finally were martyred in the same path. It is not possible that a brave and courageous personality like ‘Ali (may Allah be pleased with him) made Taqqaiya. Taqqaiya is to use deception as a vice when you find yourself in a compromising situation.
- It must also be noted that two of the beloved daughters of the Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) were married to ‘Uthman-e-Ghani (may Allah be pleased with him).
- The Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) married the daughters of both ‘Abu Bakr and ‘Umar (may Allah be pleased with them).
All the above clearly indicates the closeness of the first three companions to the Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and grant him peace). After knowing of their closeness to the Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and grant him peace), who has the audacity to slander these beloved companions of the Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and grant him peace). Some of the beliefs of this sect are being quoted below:
- They believe in ‘Aslah’ in other words that Almighty Allah is compelled to do that which is best for his servants. In other words they say that Allah has to do such and such a thing. It must be noted that Allah does not ‘have’ to do anything. He does as He wills. When He does anything for his servants, then this is his Mercy.
- They say that the Great Imams are greater in status than the Prophets. This is totally contrary to the Shariah as it is saying a non-Nabi to be greater than a Nabi and this is kufr
- They say some Surahs, verses and words of the Qur’aan were removed by ‘Uthman (may Allah be pleased with him) and other companions, thus leaving the Qur’aan incomplete. (It is amazing that they say that this was done and yet ‘Ali (may Allah be pleased with him) did nothing about this). This belief also is Kufr and is unanimously agreed upon.
- They also say that sometimes Almighty Allah gives a command and then finds that it is not appropriate, and he then regrets giving this command. This too is kufr. Such a corrupt belief says that Allah is ignorant (Allah forbid)
- They say that Almighty Allah is the Creator of all good and people are the creators of mischievous and evil deeds. The fire worshippers believed in two Allah’s, ‘Yazdan’ who they called the creator of good and ‘Aharman’ the creator of evil. But these corrupt Shias have even left the fire worshippers far behind, by believing in millions of Allah (The Exalted).
- Together with the testifying of the Oneness of Allah and accepting the Prophethood of the Prophet, they say it is also a condition of Imaan to testify to the Imaamat of the 12 Imaams
- They say it is Fardh to follow the A’IMMA in the same manner as a Muslim ought to follow Prophet.
- They say Mu’tah (Temporary Marriage) is not only permissible but also a source of great blessings and reward. Temporary marriage amongst the Shias does not require the procedure of marriage as shown to us by the Prophet. It is just a temporary agreement between a man and a woman either to spend the night, a week, a month or a year together for the purposes of satisfying their lust.
- They say the chain of Prophethood is not complete, but rather it is still in progress in the form of the appearance of Imaams from time to time.
- The Qur’aan in its present form is Muharraf (i.e. it has been changed and it is in an incomplete form). The Qur’aan has two-thirds of its volume missing. The present form only represents one-third of the original Qur’aan.
- They say the original Qur’aan was that which was compiled by ‘Ali (may Allah be pleased with him) and Imaam-e-Ghaib (the hidden Imaam who will appear with it in the future).
- They say taqiyyah is Fardh. Taqiyyah is a Shia’ite practice of concealing the truth for the purposes of misleading unsuspecting people into the Shia’ite fold.
- They say the Khulafa-e-Rashideen – The first three Khulafa who ruled after the Messenger of Allah, namely, Sayyiduna ‘Abu Bakr Siddique, Sayyiduna ‘Umar Farooq and Sayyiduna ‘Uthman Ghani are regarded as wicked and sinful; and insults are heaped upon the beloved Companions of the Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) to the extent that they are called Murtad or apostate (one who is out of the fold of Islam). After the Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) left this world only few companions were steadfast in spreading Islam. The rest turned apostate or Murtadds. The four companions accepted by the Shi’ites are:-
- Salman Farsi,
- Abu Dharr Ghaffari,
- Miqdad bin Aswad and
- Amaar bin Yaasir (may Allah be pleased with them all).
- They say Imaamat is the fifth pillar of Islam, the rejection of which amounts to Kufr
- All the above Shia’ite beliefs are in direct conflict with established Islamic practices as shown by the Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) and the teachings of the Qur’aan. The lives and character of the illustrious companions (may Allah be pleased with them all) have been confirmed by both Muslim and non-Muslim historians. The distorted views regarding the companions, as presented by the Shia’ites, contradicts confirmed historical proof on the lives of the companions.
Due to the nature of the beliefs of the Shias and the disrespect of the companions of the Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) and beliefs mentioned above, according to the unanimous consensus of the scholars they are out of the folds of Islam. May Allah (The Exalted) protect us from their mischief, Aameen!
Those who are true Muslims can never doubt that they are Kaafirs once they are aware of all the above mentioned beliefs (of this corrupt and evil sect). The Ruling of the Shariah on these corrupt and mislead sects is:
“MAN SHAK’KA FI KUFRIHI WA ADHAABIHI FA QAD KAFARA”
“HE WHO DOUBTS THERE KUFR AND THEIR PUNISHMENT IS ALSO A KAAFIR (LIKE THEM).”
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