Islam? Which Islam?


When one discovers the historical animosity, wars, and more wars, and yet more wars, against Muslims by one group, and the same warring group having never fought against non-Muslims, then, by what definition can the two be defined Muslims at the same time?

It is curiously noted at conferences, seminars, or gathering of Muslims that some (sometimes all speakers) make remarks which give their residential address as an island which has no means of communication, into which no current news and information arrives. Aside several other noteworthy remarks during these events, one is the constant refrain, by every intellectual concerning what they say as, “Muslims fighting Muslims.” Some of them add, “everywhere,” i.e., Muslims are fighting Muslims everywhere. To us, these complaints seem to emerge from the island identified. When asked to clarify, they punch out, “Syria, Iraq, Yemen.” So, their globe seems to be a page from a 100-page atlas of the world.

The statement concerning “Muslims pitted against Muslims,” however, needs some deliberation.

Confusion about how Islam is defined leads to confusion about how a Muslim is defined. Are Muslims fighting a people whose definition of Muslims is ‘those who sided with `Ali,’ and of non-Muslims as those ‘who agreed to the succession of Abu Bakr, `Umar and `Uthman as Caliphs preceding `Ali’ – then, are they fighting Muslims? When one group believes that the Companions of the Prophet were the best of Muslims ever, and another claims that the majority of them were hypocrites, then, which of the two is Muslim?

When one discovers the historical animosity, wars, and more wars, and yet more wars, against Muslims by one group, and the same warring group having never fought against non-Muslims, then, by what definition can the two be defined Muslims at the same time?

The Islam of the Sunnis began, so to say, with the birth of Prophet Muhammad. They celebrate the day. That was the day, they say, when Allah looked kindly upon mankind.

The Islam of the Shi`ah began, so to say, with the death of Prophet Muhammad. They mourn the day. That was the day, they say in sobbing notes, when `Ali was denied leadership of the Muslims.

Note that in this religion, Allah and His Messenger are already removed from a primary role.

The Shi`ah part ways with the Muslims over issues that they declare as “fundamental” to defining who a Muslim is, and who is not. They state as a matter of fundamental doctrine the following. (The sources are authoritative Shi`ah books):

  1. `Ali ibn abi Talib deserved to be the Caliph immediately with the Prophet’s death. The basis of this claim is the Prophet’s declaration at Ghadeer Khumm to this effect. Accordingly, their standard and central doctrine is:

“Allah did not create a Prophet or a Messenger except that He took covenant from them concerning Prophethood of Muhammad, (upon whom be peace), and Imamate of `Ali (upon whom be peace).” (Bihar al-Anwar, [a powerful Shi`ah source book] vol. 26, page 297).

  1. Abu Bakr, `Umar and `Uthman were usurpers of `Ali’s divine right to have become Caliphs before him. And, all those Companions who did nothing to right the situation were equal in crime with the usurpers.
  1. The said Companions were in actual fact hypocrites who concealed their hypocrisy from the Prophet until he died. As soon as he died, their hypocrisy came to surface. After all, has not the Prophet said that angels will drive away some of his Companions from his Pond, saying, “You do not know what they did after you?” (Tafsir al-Qummi, 9/13)
  1. To curse them, therefore, (to say, e.g. mal`oon after naming `Umar ibn al-Khattab) is a legitimate expression of anger and a sign of accurate perception. (`Allamah Majlisi, “Mir’atu al-`Uqul,” 20/42)
  1. If `Ali did not protest, or even speak out, during the Caliphate of the three usurpers, but instead, entered into bay`ah pacts with them, it was because right from the start, he was physically overpowered and threatened with execution. (Al-Mustarshid, Bihar al-Anwar, Majlisi, etc.)
  1. `Ali’s concealment of his differences with other Companions brought into free play a religious rule called “Taqiyyah” (dissimulation of faith), which dictates, theoretically, that if one is fearful of persecution he may resort to Taqiyyah. But that is only theoretically so; practically, it is to conceal faith all the time whether the situation is threatening or not. Says one of their scholars: ‘He is not a Shi`i who does not treat it as a fundamental element of the Shi`ah doctrine.’ (Mishkatul Anwar, p. 29)


What’s Wrong with the Doctrines?

Point 1: At no time did the Prophet nominate anyone (neither `Ali, nor Abu Bakr, nor anyone else), to Khilafah after him. The most that he did was to insist on Abu Bakr to lead in Prayers, while he lay in his deathbed. He did not approve of even `Umar to lead in the Prayers.

The claim that Allah made every Prophet and Messenger enter into a pact that they shall believe in Muhammad’s Prophethood and `Ali’s Imamate is false. It is an untruth of universal ramifications.Within tens of thousands of reports in the collections of Sunnis, not a single report of this nature exists, neither Sahih nor fabricated.

The Qur’an would not have failed to mention a pact running through 1400 Messengers that were raised in human history.

Ghadir Khumm

Khumm is the name of a valley between Makkah and Madinah where the Prophet had camped after his Hajj, on his way back to Madinah after Hajj. Ghadir is ‘a well’ in Arabic.

The Prophet had heard complaints against `Ali’s leadership from those who had accompanied him to Yemen and back. They thought `Ali was very demanding on them in religious matters and pretty frugal in worldly matters. When one of them spoke to the Prophet about `Ali’s harshness, he disapproved of his complaint. The narrator himself reports: “(When I complained), the Prophet asked me,

‘Do I not come first to the believers before their own souls?’ I said, ‘Sure, you do, O Messenger of Allah.’ He said, ‘(Then) whoever has me as a friend has (to have) `Ali as a friend.'”

These words said at Ghadeer Khumm give no indication that he was appointing `Ali as his Khalifah or the immediate Imam after him. If at all he wished to say any such thing, he – who never minced words in his life – would have said it in direct terms, such as, “People! `Ali will be my immediate successor. Listen and obey him.”

Moreover, for any such declaration, the best time and place was the day of ‘Arafah, where he delivered his famous sermons before tens of thousands. But he said no such thing there.

2. Allegation of treachery on part of the three Khulafa’ is actually attribution of treachery to the Prophet because he said, “Surely whoever of you lives on, will witness many differences. So hold fast unto my Sunnah and the Sunnah of the rightly guided Caliph. Hold on to it, clutching it with your teeth.” (Ibn Hibban, Tirmidhi)

The close Companions of the Prophet, especially those who migrated, fought at Badr and took oath on the day of Hudaybiyya, were neither treacherous nor fell into hypocrisy at any time in their lives. How could they, when Allah registered His praise in their favor in a book to be recited till the Day of Judgment? It said,

“Allah was certainly pleased with the believers when they were swearing fealty to you under the tree. He knew what was in their hearts, and so sent down tranquility upon them and awarded them an imminent victory.”

How could Allah praise a people who, as the Shi`ah claim, were in actual fact, hypocrites?

3. As for those who would be turned away from the Prophet at the Pond, his prediction came true when many of the Arabs of the outlying areas of Arabia, either turned apostates after him, or refused to pay Zakah. It was Abu Bakr who fought them and subdued them. The general body of the Companions cannot be bracketed among those who would be turned away from the Pond because Allah was pleased with them. He said:

“As for the early outrunners of the Immigrants and Helpers and those who followed them in good stead, Allah is pleased with them and they are pleased with Him.”

4. It is not legitimate to curse `Umar ibn al-Khattab as found in Shi`ah books. For example, the author of Mustadrak Safeenatu al-Bihar mentions `Umar as the Taghut (vol.1, p. 387). Says `Allamah Majlisi (an extremely prominent scholar of the Shi`ah):

“Let me say that these two reports (to the effect that `Ali married his daughter Umm Kulthum) to this accursed, the hypocrite (i.e. `Umar) following a pressing reason, or pursuing Taqiyyah rules, do not prove that the event took place.” (Mir`aatul `Uqul, vol.20, page 42).

In the above report, Majlisi denies that the marriage took place at all, although great majority of Shi`ah scholars have accepted that the marriage took place and explain in great detail how it happened.

At all events, our answer to this attitude towards `Umar is that it is not legitimate on many grounds, one of which is that it was largely because of the Prophet’s supplication that `Umar had embraced Islam.                          

5. The argument that `Ali did not protest against the three Caliphs because he was afraid of persecution, is not quite strong. `Ali is well-known for his courage. The Shi`ah themselves say that `Ali was better than Abu Bakr because – according to them – if Abu Bakr took risk to be with the Prophet in the cave during the migration journey, then, `Ali bore greater risk by lying down on the Prophet’s cot, while the Quraysh had surrounded the house, and could have murdered him that night. So, to say that `Ali showed weakness, in claiming what the Shi`ah allege was rightfully his, is to insult him.

6. No man with common sense would include Taqiyyah as a religious doctrine. A point of central doctrine has to be derived from the Qur’an.

At best, a man may conceal his faith when faced with an imminent danger. If, under life-threatening situation, he denounces Islam while free of denial in his heart, he can be forgiven. But, to say that one should always show something and hide something else, is a trait fitful to the hypocrites. Apart from the Shi`ah, it is the Jews who conceal their faith and identity. It is they who got the “religious” column removed from the passports.

But Mishkat al-Anwar records a scholar’s opinion:

Taqiyyah is my religion and the religion of my forefathers. He who does not practice Taqiyyah has no religion.”

Another scholar states,

“There is nothing more lovable to me on the earth than Taqiyyah.” (p. 29)

When Taqiyyah is considered as the most important element of Shi`ah faith, then, when a Shi`i says to a Sunni that he is no different from a Sunni, or that he never curses Abu Bakr and `Umar, while, at every Muharram he does it, and does it more than he did the last time, and no Shi`i scholar denounces it, year in and year out, then, this is a clear and powerful evidence that this Taqiyyah is a means of deception.

Sunnis believe that there is a huge difference between Shi`as and Sunnis, but the Shi`ah always say, “We are brothers, and there are only minor differences between the two.” Aside the question whether these differences are minor, the question that can be asked is, why should the Shi`ah not become Sunnis? Why did they let loose a massive persecution campaign in Iraq and Syria, resulting in the loss of tens of thousands of lives, which led to the struggle against them in these places?

In addition to Taqiyyah, the Shi`ah concealment of their books casts dark shadows of Batiniyyah on them. In the whole of the Indian sub-continent, for instance (Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan), not a single Shi`ah source book is available in any bookstore. Ordinary Sunnis do not even know that such Shi`ah books as al-Kafi, Bihar al-Anwar, Mishkatul Anwar and others exist. Why not? Why conceal them if all’s clear? After all, Islam is a universal religion. It is for the entire humanity. Islam is not Judaism, which is for a race, who have a special God of their own, called Yahweh. Islam on the other hand is an invitation to the entire humanity to become Muslims. Anyone can obtain and read any book on Islam. It is not only the Qur’an which is available to all, but tens of thousands of Sunni books are available in bookstores in every corner of the world. But Shi`i literature, although in hundreds, is not available anywhere. Even their major works (such as equivalent of what Sunnis have: Bukhari, Muslim, Al-Mughni, Hidayah, Tafsir ibn Kathir, Tarikh ibn Khaldun, etc.), have never been seen by other than the Shi`ah themselves. In fact, even the common Shi`ah are denied their possession. The core books are the prerogative of their scholars alone. The Shi`a books that the Sunnis have come to possess, had to be smuggled out of Iran in great secrecy. Is this the characteristic of a universal religion, or is it that the universal religion – Islam – has nothing to do with Shi`ism?

We may ask our readers: If one group offers its million books to the common public for study, examination and criticism, and another conceals its primary and secondary books, opening only the tertiary books (mostly propaganda work against the Sunnis) then, which of the two groups believes in a universal religion called Islam?

There are several other issues that need to be looked into, to understand what exactly Shi`aism is, but which we postpone for a future issue, Allah willing.

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