‘What is Shi’ism?’ The origin of ‘Shi’ism began after the death of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) with respect to the followers of Ali Ibn Abe Talib (as), the First Imam or the vicegerent of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). In order to understand Shi’ism, we have to comprehend the meaning of a ‘Shi’a’. The 5th Imam of the ‘Shi’a’ faith, Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (pbuh) once told a student of His, by the name of Jabir Ibn Abdullah Ansari,“Is it enough for a person to embellish himself as our shi’a (follower) by professing love for us, the ahl al-bayt? Nay! By Allah, a person is not our shi’a unless he fears Allah and obeys Him. Our followers are only recognized, O Jabir, by their humility; submission; honesty; abundant praise of Allah, fasting and prayers; goodness to their parents; attention to the poor, needy, debtors, and orphans living nearby; speaking of the truth; recitation of the Qur’an; holding their tongues except for good words; and trustworthiness towards relatives in all affairs” 1Thus, Shi’ism is consorting to the way of the Holy Qur’an and the tradition of Holy Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) as passed on by his Progeny whom he (pbuh) authorized (the ahl al-bayt).1 Al-Kafi, al-Kulayni, 2:74`What would you say, overall, are the main characteristics of Shi’ism? `, In accordance to the Shi’a faith, Islam is established on five pillars; Tawheed (Oneness of ALLAH), Adl / Adalat (Justice), Nabuwat / Risalat (Prophet hood), Imamat (Divine appointments), Qayaamat (Judgment Day). Among these 5 pillars, the Shi’a faith differs with the other schools of thought of Islam only in the Imamat (Divine appointments).
The Shi’a faith upholds the conviction that all the messengers of Allah, from Adam (pbuh) to Muhammad (pbuh), with the twelve descendants to the Holy Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and his daughter Lady Fatima al-Zahra’ (pbut), were infallible all through their whole existence and by no means committed any kind of offense that would displease Allah. The Holy Qur’an and accepted knowledge mutually demonstrates the significance; the Holy Qur’an cites infallibility thirteen times. Allah speaks to Satan: “Certainly you shall have no authority over My servants except those who follow you and go astray.” 2, to which the Satan replies,” Satan says back to Allah: “By Your might, I will surely mislead them all, except Your chosen servants among them (the messengers and the imams).” (Qur’an 38:82)Another Shi’it belief is ‘intercession’ (shifa’ah). Shifa’ah is not to request the Prophet (pbuh) or the imams (pbut) for security or deflect misfortune or to fetch for contentment and triumph. Instead, it is to reach to Allah, the Almighty in the name of those who are close to Him, like the prophets and the imams.The Shi’a believe the Imam (a.
s) to be in ‘Hiding’. Ghayb’ is used in the context of ‘that isn’t visible’, it does not signify the end of existence. The presence of an Imam in each era is imperative. Thus, if he cannot intuitively be seen then he is in Ghayb and is concealed in the guise of nature. The Shi’it belief of ‘ahl al-bayt-e-Muhammad (pbuh)’, which includes Ali Ibn Abe Talib (a.
s.), Fatima al-Zahra’ (pbut), Hasan Ibn Ali (a.s.), Hussein Ibn Ali (a.s.); this is being referred to those people who were not just related to the messenger of Allah specifically by blood but also most significantly by principles and beliefs. “Allah only desires to keep away uncleanliness from you, O People of the House (ahl al-bayt), and to make you as pure as possible.”(Qur’an 33:33)2 Qur’an 15:42‘Does Shi’ism have a distinctive spirit, and what is it that exemplifies that spirit?` Essence of Shi’ism is the same as the essence of true Islam.
Shi’a Asna Asharyi or the followers of the 12 Imams have the same beliefs as to what the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) preached. The Shi’a faith is the lone fiqah that considers Allah (swt) to be chaste, free from making malevolence, immortal, he holds never-ending knowledge, He (swt) is free from embodiment, has no associates is self-governing and controls all. Imam Ali Ibn Abe Talib (a.s.) in his book of sermons, says that,” Praise be to Allah for Whom one condition does not proceed another so that He may be the First before being the Last or He may be Manifest before being Hidden. Everyone called one (alone) save Him is by virtue of being small (in number); and everyone enjoying honor other than Him is humble.
Every powerful person other than Him is weak. Every master (owner) other than Him is slave (owned).” (Nahjul Balagha, Sermon 65)In the farewell sermon at Arafat Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) stated, “I am leaving you two weighty things, if you follow them you will never go astray, they are the Qur’an and my ahl al-bayt “.
(Sahih al-Tirmidhi, v5, page 662-663) The only ‘fiqah’ of Muslims that have adhered to the mentioned two basics as an everlasting form of direction are identified as the ‘Shi’a’. It is in honor of the Shi’a of Ali that Allah (swt) sent the subsequent revelation: “Those who believe and do righteous deeds are the best of the creatures. Their reward from their Lord shall be everlasting gardens, below which flow rivers, they will abide there forever. Well pleased is God with them and they are well pleased with Him.” (The Holy Qur’an 98:7) A number of Sunni researchers have confirmed that when this verse was sent down the Holy Prophet proclaimed,” “I swear by the one who controls my life that this man (Ali) and his Shi’a shall secure deliverance on the day of resurrection”.3`What would you say are the highlights or major turning points in Shi’it history?` One cannot pin-point a single period for this; for that one has to go back to the time of ‘Migration to Medina’ from Makkah. Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) made brothers of himself and Imam ‘Ali (a.s.
). He said,’ “You are in the same position with relation to me as Aaron was with Moses, except that there will be no prophet after me.” 4 The battle of Khyber, when the Holy Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) gave his flag to ‘Ali (a.s) and Allah blessed victory at his (a.s) hand for Allah and His Messenger loved him. The events of Mubahila and Ghadeer-e-Khum, declaring Ali Ibn Abe Talib (a.s)’s succession and infallibility of the ‘ahl al-bayt’.
The occasion of Ghadeer has a lot of significance in the Shi’it history, for it was when the succession to the Prophet hood was bestowed on Ali Ibn Abe Talib (a.s). “O Apostle! Deliver what has been sent down to you from your Lord; and if you don’t do it, you have not delivered His message (at all); and Allah will protect you from the people …
” (Qur’an 5:67) and after the declaration of Imam Ali (a.s.)’s successor ship the 2nd ayat was revealed, “Today I have completed for you the religion, and favored you with my bounty, and accepted Islam for you as the religion.
(Qur’an 5:3 )3 Tafsir Ibne Jarir, Volume 33 page 146 (Cairo edition) narrated from Hadhrath Muhammad bin Ali (as)4 Sahih Bukhari, Book on Outstanding Traits, hadith #3430; Battles hadith #4064The events that occurred after the death of Holy Prophet (pbuh) divided Islam into 2 factions; one of Amir Muwa’yah and the other of Imam Ali Ibn Abe Talib (a.s.). The atrocities against the ‘ahl al-bayt’ , led to the event of Karbala, which signifies the sacrifice of a leader, who forfeited his household and the lives of his dear ones to save Islam from the clutches of Yazid Ibn Muwa’yah.
Shi’ism took a new turn in history in the time of the 6th Imam of Shi’a Fiqah, Imam Ja’far ibn Muhammad al-Sadiq (a.s.) who lived from 83 h. to 148 h. The 6th Imam was presented with a golden chance to put together and reach to the masses with the tradition of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and his family (pbut). Once, four thousand scholars, Qur’anic commentators, historians, and philosophers were his students in Medina.
Thus, he passed down the genuine traditions of the Holy Qur’an and the Holy Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and resolved in what is now al-fiqh al-ja’fari, the Ja’fari jurisprudence.`What is the difference between Sunni and Shi’a, and why is there so much trouble between them?` The Shi’a and Sunni schools of thought hold opposing views chiefly in jurisprudence and hence the basic teachings differ from each other. Though both schools of thought believe in the Oneness of Allah, Justice, Prophet Hood, Day of Judgment, the Holy Book, but their teachings differ in many ways. The discipline of ahl al-bayt upholds that the succession to prophet hood or the office of imamah is a divine office – signifying that the imam or khalifah has to be chosen and declared by Allah unswervingly, as this office embraces the equal implication as that of prophet hood.
People are as a result ruled by Allah to follow exact heir (imams) subsequent to the Holy Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). Further schools of thought articulate that the imamah is decided by shura (election) and that this system was used to decide the succession to the Holy Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). In contrast, the Shi’a fiqah believes that the notion of shura was by no means completely endorsed. Now, Shi’a are those who consider Imam Ali (a.
s.) as the First Imam and Rightful successor of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and follow the 12 infallible Imams. While Sunnis follow the 4 Caliphs, among whom the First one is, Hazarat Abu Bakr Siddique (rz), Second is Hazarat Umar Farooq (rz), third is Hazarat Usman Ghani (rz), and lastly the fourth Caliph, Ali Ibn Abe Talib (a.
s). Several verses in the Holy Qur’an submit to the reality that, all the way through history, Allah alone has the right to declare an imam or a khalifah for humanity. “And remember when your Lord said to the angels, “Verily, I am going to place [mankind] a successor (khalifah) on the earth’.
” (Qur’an 2:30)While a learned Muslim researcher has said, those who dare to cause dissection between the Shi’a and the Sunnis are neither Shi’a nor Sunni. Owing to a deficiency of apparent information, the Shi’a imamiyyah school of thought has till now been a phenomenon to a lot of Muslims. A number of Muslims have been pleased to ascertain the reality of Shi’a Islam from trustworthy resources. On the other hand, the adversaries of Islam have established that the greatest approach to defame Islam and upset the tranquility contained by the Muslim population is to support the splitting up of both factions and sectarianism. Thus, innumerable unconstructive and fake anecdotes with no foundation in the genuine manuscripts of the Shi’a school of thought have been broadcasted.
These anecdotes have two sources: hostility towards Islam in connection with those who formulate them, and lack of knowledge in connection with those who accept as the truth and broadcast them.’ And when it is said to them, “Come to what Allah has revealed and to the Messenger,” they say, “Enough for us is that which we found our fathers following,” even though their fathers had no knowledge whatsoever and no guidance.’ (Qur’an 5:104) ‘When it is said to them, “Follow what Allah has sent down,” they say, “Nay! We shall follow what we found our fathers following.” Would they do that even though their fathers did not understand anything, nor were they guided?’ (Qur’an 2:170)ConclusionLastly, I would like to say that historical information or jurisprudential disparities ought to put off Muslim harmony as the greater part of Muslim scholars from all schools of thought have the same opinion on alike historical facts.
Discrepancies amid the academics, researchers and intellectuals of the schools of thought can be moreover productive or disparaging. If they show the way to the disintegration of the Muslim nation, then they are intolerable, since the Holy Qur’an says: “But they have broken their religion among them into sects, each group rejoicing in its belief” (Qur’an 23:53)