The Origin of Shī‘ism
Diverse views have been expressed with respect to the origin and beginning of Shī‘ism, but in general, these views can be divided into two:
1. The writers and researchers who believe Shī‘ism 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 Shī‘ism has come into being during the day of Saqīfah—that 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 Shī‘ah as being related to the latter part of Uthmān’s caliphate, connecting the spread of the views of ‘Abd Allāh ibn Saba’ at this period with the beginning of Shī‘ism.
c. Those who believe that the Shī‘ah 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 Shī‘ah 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 “Shī‘ah” and he himself thus described them: “They are my Shī‘ah”.
Ibn ‘Abd ar-Rabbih al-Andalusī also says: “The Shī‘ah are those who regarded ‘Alī as superior to ‘Uthmān.”
d. Those who believe that Shī‘ism had come into existence from the coming into power, up to the martyrdom of ‘Alī (‘a).
e. Those who link the origin of Shī‘ism with the event at Karbalā’ and the martyrdom of Imām al-Ḥusayn (‘a).
2. The researchers who are of the opinion that Shī‘ism can be traced back to the period of the Messenger of Allah (‘a). Apart from all the Shī‘ah ‘ulamā’, some of the Sunnī scholars also hold such a belief, just as Muhammad Kird-‘Alī—one of the distinguished Sunnī ‘ulamā’—says: “A number of the Companions during the time of the Holy Holy Prophet (S)were known as Shī‘ah 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 Shī‘ism. Although the existence of a person named ‘Abd Allāh ibn Saba’ is doubtful, the formation of Shī‘ism at these stages seems incorrect because studying the Prophetic traditions, we find that the term “Shī‘ah”, has been applied by the Messenger of Allah, Muhammad al-Mustafā
#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 Suyūṭī—one of the Sunnī exegetes [mufassirūn] of the Qur’an—from the Holy Holy Prophet (S)on the commentary of the verse:
﴿ Åöäøó ÇáøóÐöíäó ÂãóäõæÇ æóÚóãöáõæÇ ÇáÕøóÇáöÍóÇÊö ÃõæáóÆößó åõãú ÎóíúÑõ ÇáúÈóÑöíøóÉö ﴾
“Indeed those who have faith and do righteous deeds—it is they who are the best of creatures.”
Among them is this hadith of the Holy Prophet (S)when he said:
æÇáøÐí äÝÓí ÈíÏå Åäø åÐÇ æ ÔíÚÊå áåã ÇáÝÇÆÒæä íæã ÇáÞíÇãÉ
“By He in Whose hand my life is! Verily, this man (‘Alī) and his Shī‘ah shall secure deliverance on the Day of Resurrection.”
The Holy Holy Prophet (S)said to ‘Alī (‘a)
: “God has forgiven the sins of your Shī‘ah and the followers of your Shī‘ah.”
The Holy Prophet (S)also said to ‘Alī (‘a)
: “You and your Shī‘ah 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 Fātimah (‘a)
: “O Fātimah! ‘Alī and his Shī‘ah 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 Shī‘ah and the followers of your Shī‘ah 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 Shī‘ah 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 Shī‘ah are on pulpits on light…”
Ibn al-‘Abbās narrated that Jibra’īl (Archangel Gabriel) (‘a) gave the news that ‘Alī (‘a) and the Shī‘ah shall be brought to Paradise along with Muhammad
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: “Jibra’īl and Mīkā’īl.” ‘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 Shī‘ah 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 Shī‘ah and you are their Imām.”
Anas ibn Mālik thus narrates from the Holy Prophet
#7779;): Jibra’īl 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 Shī‘ah 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 Shī‘ah 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 Shī‘ah that I am [their] intercessor [shafī‘] on the Day of Resurrection—the day when neither wealth nor child is of any benefit except my intercession [shafā‘ah].”
The Holy Holy Prophet (S)said to ‘Alī (‘a)
: “The first four persons to enter Paradise are I, you, Hasan, and Husayn; our descendants are behind us; our spouses are behind our descendants and our Shī‘ah 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 Shī‘ah shall secure deliverance on the Day of Resurrection.”
There are even recorded traditions from the Most Noble Messenger
#7779;) about some of the Shī‘ah and what is interesting here is that these have been narrated by the opponents of the Shī‘ah! For example, there is a tradition about Ḥujr ibn ‘Adī al-Kindī which has been narrated by ‘Ā’ishah. When Mu‘āwiyah performed Ḥajj after killing Ḥujr and his companions and came to Medina, ‘Ā’ishah said to him: O Mu‘āwiyah! 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 Abī’l-Ḥadīd says
: What is meant by the Shī‘ah 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 Mu‘tazilite ‘ulamā’ have thus written in their books and treatises, “We are truly the Shī‘ah” and this statement is nearer to reality and more akin to truth.
Also, in the book, Aṣ-Ṣawā‘iq al-Maḥriqah fī’r-Radd ‘alā Ahl al-Bid‘a waz-Zindiqah, which is a book rejecting the Shī‘ah creeds and beliefs, while quoting this hadiths, Haythamī has said
: What is meant by the Shī‘ah in these hadiths are the Shī‘ah that no longer exist. It refers to progeny and followers of ‘Alī who are neither afflicted with innovation [bid‘ah] 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 Shī‘ah are the Ahl as-Sunnah! And I do not know if the reason behind this is the similarity of “Shī‘ah” 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 Shī‘ah do!
The late Kāshif al-Ghiṭā’ also says
: “By applying the term “Shī‘ah” to the Shī‘ah of ‘Alī (‘a), its purport can be understood because other than this group, there is no other Shī‘ah.”
The existence of the term “Shī‘ah” 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 “Shī‘ah” has been clarified during the time of the Holy Prophet (S)and a number of the Companions were known at the time as “Shī‘ah of ‘Alī”.
The Companions of the Holy Prophet (S)also referred to ‘Alī’s (‘a) followers as “Shī‘ah”. Hāshim Marqāl thus writes concerning a person named “Maḥal ibn al-Khalīfah aṭ-Ṭā’ī”
: “O Commander of the Faithful! He is among your Shī‘ah.” The Shī‘ah themselves used to call one another as Shī‘ah. As Shaykh al-Mufīd narrates, some people came to ‘Alī (‘a) and said: “O Commander of the Faithful! We are among your Shī‘ah.” He (‘a) in turn said: “The faces of my Shī‘ah turn pale on account of night vigil and their eyes weak due to weeping…”
In many instances, Hadrat ‘Alī (‘a) himself, as in the abovementioned case, used to apply the word “Shī‘ah” to his followers. For example, when he heard the news of martyrdom of some of his Shī‘ah in Baṣrah at the hand of Ṭalḥah and Zubayr, he (‘a) cursed the two and said
: “O God! They have killed my Shī‘ah. Kill them too.”
Even the opponents of ‘Alī (‘a) used to refer to his followers as “Shī‘ah”, just as what ‘Ā’ishah, 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 Shī‘ah.”
In any case, the truth of Shī‘ism, 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;) used to enjoin the people in his speeches to follow ‘Alī and his family as exemplified by the event in Ghadīr Khumm. As Ibn Abī’l-Ḥadīd says: “This report [akhbār] has been narrated by muḥaddithūn none of whom has been accused of rafḍ and Shī‘ism [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.”
Sa‘d 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 [mi‘rāj], I saw that it is thus written on the gate of heaven:
áÇ Çáٰå ÇáÇø Çááå¡ ãÍãøÏ ÑÓæá Çááå¡ Úáìø ÍÈíÈ Çááå¡ ÇáÍÓä æÇáÍÓíä ÕÝæÉ Çááå¡ ÝÇØãÉ ÇãÉ Çááå¡ Úáì ãÈÛÖåã áÚäÉ Çááå
Lā ilāha illallāh, Muhammadan Rasūlullāh, ‘Aliyyun Ḥabīb Allāh Al-Hasan wa’l-Husayn Ṣifwat Allāh, Fātimah Ummat Allāh, ‘alā mabghaḍuhum la‘nat Allāh.
Zubayr ibn Bakkār—who 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 Abī’l-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 Jibra’īl thus informed me of it.”
After narrating this hadith, Ibn Abī’l-Ḥadīd thus says
: If they would say, “This is an explicit proof for (Imām ‘Alī’s) Imamate [imāmah],” how will then the Mu‘tazilites 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 Mu‘tazilite 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 Shī‘ism to have emerged on the day of Saqīfah while others regard the same to be on the latter part of ‘Uthmān ibn al-‘Affān’s caliphate. The third group believe that Shī‘ism 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 Shī‘ism originated after the event in Karbalā’.
Apart from the Shī‘ah ‘ulamā’ as a whole, some Sunnī scholars such as Muhammad Kird-‘Alī maintain that the root of emergence of Shī‘ism is during the lifetime of the Messenger of Allah
#7779;) and it was the Holy Prophet (S)who first applied the term “Shī‘ah” to the comrades of ‘Alī (‘a).
A number of Companions of the Holy Prophet (S)were also known during that time as “Shī‘ah of ‘Alī (‘a)”.
In addition to this, Shī‘ism 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 Shī‘ism? Explain.
2. Who was the first person to apply the name “Shī‘ah” to the comrades of ‘Alī (‘a)?
3. Write two hadiths from the Messenger of Allah
#7779;) regarding the Shī‘ah.
4. What has Ibn Abī’l-Ḥadīd said regarding the hadiths pertaining to the Shī‘ah?
5. What is Ibn Ḥajar al-Haythamī’s opinion with regard to the hadiths relating to the Shī‘ah?
6. What is the truth of Shī‘ism?
7. Write the opinion of Ibn Abī’l-Ḥadīd concerning the hadith narrated by Zayd ibn al-Arqam.