Home Islam shia'ism2 The Origin of Shīism
   About Us
   Islamic Sites
   Special Occasions
   Audio Channel
   Weather (Mashhad)
   Islamic World News Sites
   Yellow Pages (Mashhad)
   Souvenir Album

The Origin of Shīism

Diverse views have been expressed with respect to the origin and beginning of Shīism, but in general, these views can be divided into two:
1. The writers and researchers who believe Shīism was created after the demise of the Holy Prophet (S)and who themselves can be subdivided into the following subgroups:
a. Those who believe that Shīism has come into being during the day of Saqīfahthat day when a group of prominent Companions explicitly said: Alī is the most deserving one to the office of Imamate [imāmah] and caliphate [khilāfah].
b. Those who regard the emergence of the Shīah as being related to the latter part of Uthmāns caliphate, connecting the spread of the views of Abd Allāh ibn Saba at this period with the beginning of Shīism.
c. Those who believe that the Shīah has come into being on the day of Fitnah ad-Dār (the day when the third caliph was murdered). Thereafter, accordingly, the followers of Alī (a) who were the very Shīah who confronted the so-called Uthmānīs, those who were avenging the murder of Uthmān. As Ibn an-Nadīm thus writes: When Ṭalḥah and Zubayr opposed Alī and nothing could convince them but to take revenge for the murder of Uthmān, while Alī also wanted to fight them so as to establish the truth, on that day those who followed him were called Shīah and he himself thus described them: They are my Shīah.
Ibn Abd ar-Rabbih al-Andalusī also says: The Shīah are those who regarded Alī as superior to Uthmān.
d. Those who believe that Shīism had come into existence from the coming into power, up to the martyrdom of Alī (a).
e. Those who link the origin of Shīism with the event at Karbalā and the martyrdom of Imām al-Ḥusayn (a).
2. The researchers who are of the opinion that Shīism can be traced back to the period of the Messenger of Allah (a). Apart from all the Shīah ulamā, some of the Sunnī scholars also hold such a belief, just as Muhammad Kird-Alīone of the distinguished Sunnī ulamāsays: A number of the Companions during the time of the Holy Holy Prophet (S)were known as Shīah of Alī.
Keeping in view of the opinions presented so far, it can be said that the event of Saqīfah, the latter part of the caliphate of Uthmān, the Battle of Jamal (Camel), the rule of Alī (a), and the events at Karbalā are phases of the events that have influenced the history of Shīism. Although the existence of a person named Abd Allāh ibn Saba is doubtful, the formation of Shīism at these stages seems incorrect because studying the Prophetic traditions, we find that the term Shīah, has been applied by the Messenger of Allah, Muhammad al-Mustafā

#7779;), to the sympathizers of Alī (a) before all these events, as recorded in many hadiths, some of which we shall cite below.
All these hadiths are accepted by the Ahl as-Sunnah as authentic and have been recorded in their hadith references. Take, for example, the hadiths which have been recorded by Suyūṭīone of the Sunnī exegetes [mufassirūn] of the Quranfrom the Holy Holy Prophet (S)on the commentary of the verse:
﴿ ﴾

Indeed those who have faith and do righteous deedsit is they who are the best of creatures.
Among them is this hadith of the Holy Prophet (S)when he said:
By He in Whose hand my life is! Verily, this man (Alī) and his Shīah shall secure deliverance on the Day of Resurrection.
The Holy Holy Prophet (S)said to Alī (a): God has forgiven the sins of your Shīah and the followers of your Shīah.
The Holy Prophet (S)also said to Alī (a): You and your Shīah will meet (on the Day of Resurrection) at the Pool [ḥawḍ] of Kawthar while having drank from it and having bright faces, whereas your enemies will meet me while they are thirsty and enchained.
In a long hadith regarding the virtues of Alī (a), the Holy Holy Prophet (S)thus says to his daughter Fātimah (a): O Fātimah! Alī and his Shīah are the saved ones of tomorrow.
Similarly, the Messenger of Allah

#7779;) said: O Alī! Your sins as well as that of your progeny, your Shīah and the followers of your Shīah have been forgiven
Again, the Messenger of Allah

#7779;) said: O Alī! During the Day of Resurrection, I shall cling to God while you shall hold fast to me; your descendants shall hold fast to you; and the Shīah of your descendants shall hold fast to them.
The Holy Prophet (S)again said to Alī (a): In the hereafter, of all the people, you are the nearest one to me and the Shīah are on pulpits on light
Ibn al-Abbās narrated that Jibraīl (Archangel Gabriel) (a) gave the news that Alī (a) and the Shīah shall be brought to Paradise along with Muhammad

Salmān al-Fārsī narrates that the Most Noble Messenger

#7779;) said to Alī (a): O Alī! Put a ring on your right hand so as to be with the nearest ones [muqarrabīn]. Alī (a) asked: Who are the nearest ones? He

#7779;) replied: Jibraīl and Mīkāīl. Alī (a) again asked: Which kind of ring shall I put on? He

#7779;) replied: A ring whose stone is a red aqīq because aqīq is a testimony that one has acknowledged and accepted the divine servitude [ubūdiyyah], my prophethood [nubuwwah], your guardianship [wiṣāyah], and your descendants Imamate [imāmah]. Your followers are people of Paradise and the abode of your Shīah is the Garden of Firdaws [jannah al-firdaws].
The Most Noble Messenger

#7779;) again said: Eighty thousand from my ummah shall be admitted to Paradise without reckoning. Alī (a) asked: Who are they? He

#7779;) replied: They are your Shīah and you are their Imām.
Anas ibn Mālik thus narrates from the Holy Prophet

#7779;): Jibraīl said to me: God, the Exalted, loves Alī to such a degree that is not expressed to any angel. Just as the taṣbīḥs [glorifications to Allah] that are being uttered, God creates angels to seek forgiveness for the admirers and Shīah of Alī till the Day of Resurrection.
Jābir ibn Abd Allāh al-Anṣārī narrates that the Holy Prophet (S)said: By God Who sent me in truth as the Prophet! The angels are regularly seeking forgiveness for Alī and they pity him and his Shīah as a father does (with respect to his child).
Alī (a) himself narrates that the Holy Prophet (S)said: O Alī! Give glad tidings to your Shīah that I am [their] intercessor [shafī] on the Day of Resurrectionthe day when neither wealth nor child is of any benefit except my intercession [shafāah].
The Holy Holy Prophet (S)said to Alī (a): The first four persons to enter Paradise are I, you, Hasan, and Husayn; our descendants are behind us; our spouses are behind our descendants and our Shīah are on our right and left sides.
Finally, many of the Sunnī muḥaddithūn and historians such as Ibn al-Jawzī, Balādhurī, Shaykh Sulaymān al-Qandūzī al-Ḥanafī, Khwārazmī, and as-Suyūṭī have narrated that the Messenger of Allah

#7779;) thus said while addressing Alī (a): Verily, this man (Alī) and his Shīah shall secure deliverance on the Day of Resurrection.
There are even recorded traditions from the Most Noble Messenger

#7779;) about some of the Shīah and what is interesting here is that these have been narrated by the opponents of the Shīah! For example, there is a tradition about Ḥujr ibn Adī al-Kindī which has been narrated by Āishah. When Muāwiyah performed Ḥajj after killing Ḥujr and his companions and came to Medina, Āishah said to him: O Muāwiyah! Where was your forbearance at the time of killing Ḥujr and his companions? Be aware that I heard that the Messenger of Allah

#7779;) said: There is a group that shall be killed in a place called Marj Adhrā for which Allah and the inhabitants of heaven will be filled with wrath.
Since these hadiths are undeniable and have been narrated by prominent Sunnī muḥaddithūn, some Sunnī writers have resorted to unjust interpretation of them. For instance, Ibn Abīl-Ḥadīd says: What is meant by the Shīah in many hadiths who have been given the glad tidings of Paradise are those who believe in the superiority and preeminence of Alī (a) over others. For this reason, our Mutazilite ulamā have thus written in their books and treatises, We are truly the Shīah and this statement is nearer to reality and more akin to truth.
Also, in the book, Aṣ-Ṣawāiq al-Maḥriqah fīr-Radd alā Ahl al-Bida waz-Zindiqah, which is a book rejecting the Shīah creeds and beliefs, while quoting this hadiths, Haythamī has said: What is meant by the Shīah in these hadiths are the Shīah that no longer exist. It refers to progeny and followers of Alī who are neither afflicted with innovation [bidah] nor curse and abuse the Companions of the Prophet

In reply to him, the late Muẓaffar says: It is strange that Ibn Ḥajar imagined that what is meant here by the Shīah are the Ahl as-Sunnah! And I do not know if the reason behind this is the similarity of Shīah and Sunnī. Or, it is because these two sects are identical. Or, it is for the reason that the Ahl as-Sunnah follow and love the family of the Holy Prophet (S)more than the Shīah do!
The late Kāshif al-Ghiṭā also says: By applying the term Shīah to the Shīah of Alī (a), its purport can be understood because other than this group, there is no other Shīah.
The existence of the term Shīah in the hadiths and sayings of the Holy Prophet (S)is clear and indisputable, and with these (unjust) interpretations, they wanted to conceal the truth but in the end they have deceived nobody but themselves. This is particularly true in view of the fact that the connotations of Shīah has been clarified during the time of the Holy Prophet (S)and a number of the Companions were known at the time as Shīah of Alī.
The Companions of the Holy Prophet (S)also referred to Alīs (a) followers as Shīah. Hāshim Marqāl thus writes concerning a person named Maḥal ibn al-Khalīfah aṭ-Ṭāī: O Commander of the Faithful! He is among your Shīah. The Shīah themselves used to call one another as Shīah. As Shaykh al-Mufīd narrates, some people came to Alī (a) and said: O Commander of the Faithful! We are among your Shīah. He (a) in turn said: The faces of my Shīah turn pale on account of night vigil and their eyes weak due to weeping
In many instances, Hadrat Alī (a) himself, as in the abovementioned case, used to apply the word Shīah to his followers. For example, when he heard the news of martyrdom of some of his Shīah in Baṣrah at the hand of Ṭalḥah and Zubayr, he (a) cursed the two and said: O God! They have killed my Shīah. Kill them too.
Even the opponents of Alī (a) used to refer to his followers as Shīah, just as what Āishah, Ṭalḥah and Zubayr said during their conversation about their route from Mecca to Iraq: We shall go to Baṣrah and expel the governor [āmil] of Alī and kill his Shīah.
In any case, the truth of Shīism, which is the same love and fellowship to Alī (a) and to regard him as superior (to others), is related to the time of the Prophet

#7779;). He

#7779;) used to enjoin the people in his speeches to follow Alī and his family as exemplified by the event in Ghadīr Khumm. As Ibn Abīl-Ḥadīd says: This report [akhbār] has been narrated by muḥaddithūn none of whom has been accused of rafḍ and Shīism [tashayyu] and they have not even believed in the superiority and preeminence of Alī (a) over others.
Now, we shall quote some of these hadiths. Buraydah Aslamī says: The Messenger of Allah

#7779;) said: God, the Exalted, has ordered me to love four persons and said to me that He also loves them. They asked: O Messenger of Allah! Tell their names. He

#7779;) said thrice: Alī and then Abū Dharr, Miqdād and Salmān.
Aṭ-Ṭabarī narrates that in the course of the Battle of Uḥud, the Most Noble Messenger

#7779;) said: Alī is from me and I from him.
It has thus been narrated on the authority of Umm Salmah: When the Messenger of Allah

#7779;) was angry, no one could dare to speak except Alī.
Sad ibn Abī Waqāṣ narrated that the Most Noble Messenger

#7779;) said: He who loves Alī loves me and he who loves me loves God. Also, he who is hostile to Alī is hostile to me, and he who is hostile to me is hostile to God.
Ibn al-Jawzī narrated that the Holy Prophet of Islam

#7779;) said: O Alī! You are the separator of heaven and hell. And you shall open the door of heaven and enter it without any reckoning.
Khwārazmī narrated in Al-Manāqib on the authority of Ibn al-Abbās that the Holy Holy Prophet (S)said: When I was brought to the heavenly ascension [mirāj], I saw that it is thus written on the gate of heaven:
Lā ilāha illallāh, Muhammadan Rasūlullāh, Aliyyun Ḥabīb Allāh Al-Hasan wal-Husayn Ṣifwat Allāh, Fātimah Ummat Allāh, alā mabghaḍuhum lanat Allāh.
Zubayr ibn Bakkārwho is among the grandchildren of Zubayr and known for deviation from the Commander of the Faithful (a)has narrated that the Most Noble Messenger

#7779;) said: I enjoin anyone who believe in God and confirm my apostleship [risālah] to love Alī ibn Abī Ṭālib and recognize his guardianship [wilāyah]. He who loves him loves me and he who loves me loves God.
Ibn Abīl-Ḥadīd narrates on the authority of Zayd ibn al-Arqam that the Most Noble Messenger

#7779;) said: I shall guide you to something which if it would be known to you, you shall never go astray. Your guardian [walī] and Imām is Alī ibn Abī Ṭālib. Acknowledge him as Jibraīl thus informed me of it.
After narrating this hadith, Ibn Abīl-Ḥadīd thus says: If they would say, This is an explicit proof for (Imām Alīs) Imamate [imāmah], how will then the Mutazilites solve this problem? In reply, we say: It is possible that the Prophet means that Alī is their Imām in religious edicts [fatāwā] and laws [aḥkām] and not in caliphate [khilāfah]. Similarly, what we quoted in the explanation of the statements of the great and leading Mutazilite figures of Baghdad can be the answer, the gist of which is as follows: The Imamate and caliphate belonged to Alī with the condition that he would show inclination to it and fight others for it. As he relinquished it to somebody and kept silent, we do accept the guardianship [wilāyah] of the other person and believe in the legitimacy of his caliphate. As the Commander of the Faithful did not raise any opposition against the three caliphs, did not unsheathe his sword and call on the people against the three, it follows then that he has approved their caliphates. It is based on this that we do accept them and believe in their purity, goodness and righteousness. If he would have waged war against them and called on the people to fight them, we would then believe in their transgression, deviation and misguidance.

Some writers regard Shīism to have emerged on the day of Saqīfah while others regard the same to be on the latter part of Uthmān ibn al-Affāns caliphate. The third group believe that Shīism came into being after the murder of Uthmān while the fourth group say that it has come into existence after the martyrdom of Alī (a). The fifth group is of the opinion that Shīism originated after the event in Karbalā.
Apart from the Shīah ulamā as a whole, some Sunnī scholars such as Muhammad Kird-Alī maintain that the root of emergence of Shīism is during the lifetime of the Messenger of Allah

#7779;) and it was the Holy Prophet (S)who first applied the term Shīah to the comrades of Alī (a).
A number of Companions of the Holy Prophet (S)were also known during that time as Shīah of Alī (a).
In addition to this, Shīism is the same love and fellowship to Alī (a) to which the Holy Prophet (S)had enjoined his Companions on many occasions.

1. How many views have been expressed regarding the emergence of Shīism? Explain.
2. Who was the first person to apply the name Shīah to the comrades of Alī (a)?
3. Write two hadiths from the Messenger of Allah

#7779;) regarding the Shīah.
4. What has Ibn Abīl-Ḥadīd said regarding the hadiths pertaining to the Shīah?
5. What is Ibn Ḥajar al-Haythamīs opinion with regard to the hadiths relating to the Shīah?
6. What is the truth of Shīism?
7. Write the opinion of Ibn Abīl-Ḥadīd concerning the hadith narrated by Zayd ibn al-Arqam.

Copyright 1998 - 2019 Imam Reza (A.S.) Network, All rights reserved.