Tearing down Shiahs

Speaking of SunniPath, we happened to have dinner with a Shiah friend and his wife last night and I was shown some  statements posted on there concerning the Shiah tradition that really saddened me.

While I don’t always agree with SP, I’ve always been impressed by the profundity and knowledge of its contributors, and can only pray that I one day attain a fraction of their erudition and insight.  So I was quite surprised when I saw a posting that included the following comments:

  1. "…the Shi`a are considered Muslims who are people of innovation (ahl al-bid`a)…"
  2. "The sunna with the people of innovation [i.e., Shiahs] is to avoid keeping their company"
  3. "Their transmissions [that support differences in how Shiah Muslims pray] from Ahl al-Bayt are fabricated. [...] Shi`ite methodology in hadith is laughably weak and self-contradictory.".

Now, I concede that I’m not a scholar who’s able to evaluate the substance of these disputes and therefore accept the guidance of those who are.   I also believe in honestly acknowledging differences of opinion rather than papering them over for the sake of some nebulous sense of unity (in practice, that kind of "unity" often succeeds in denying others a voice rather than bringing people together), so I’m not at all against Sunnis and Shiahs debating the issues that divide them.   

But it seems to me that one can pick a side while acknowledging that there is another side–that there are competing conceptions of Islam–and without needlessly denigrating that other side.   After all, the Muslims are instructed in the Quran to refrain from even mocking the gods of idolators:

Revile not ye those whom they call upon besides Allah, lest they out of spite revile Allah in their ignorance. Thus have We made alluring to each people its own doings. In the end will they return to their Lord, and We shall then tell them the truth of all that they did. (6:108)

Even if the evidence is overwhelmingly for the Sunni view, I am surprised by how some Sunni Muslim scholars feel justified in speaking so dismissively of Shiah tradition and practice.  I don’t understand it from a factual perspective.  If one accepts, as I do, the Sunni stand, does it follow that Shiah scholars’ evidence is "laughably weak and self-contradictory"?  (The subtext to such a sweeping declaration is that the whole Shiah scholarly establishment is intellectually, if not morally, bankrupt.  That’s pretty problematic, as it seems to validate the worst prejudices and paranoid suspicions about Shiahs being "deviant".)  Can’t Shiahs and Sunnis honestly disagree over the historical evidence?  Don’t Shiahs have serious counterarguments (e.g., as this article notes, among other things, there is an ayat in the Quran that could be interpreted to support the practice of maatam) that need to be acknowledged and reviewed before coming to such a drastic conclusion?

Were we living in the Abbasid era–when Sunnis and Shiahs were vieing for control of the Ummah–perhaps there’d be a pragmatic argument for taking the low road, trashing your opponents to win the debate on the "street", where scholarly arguments hold less sway than appeals to pride and passion.  But do we live in such a time today?   

I mean no disrespect to Shiahs when I say this, but I don’t think there’s any danger of Al-Azhar being eclipsed by Qom anytime soon, at least not in terms of power and influence within the Muslim world.  Sunni scholars’ hold on the reins
of Islamic orthodoxy in the eyes of most of the world is assured by the
much larger number of Sunnis than Shiahs. 

Also, so far as I know there isn’t a significant trend of Sunnis "converting" [sic] to Shiah Islam.     Sunnis aren’t struggling to hold their own against Shiah missionaries (as was the case in Muslim India a century ago, when Christian and Hindu missionaries were converting Muslims) . 

The borders of these communities are more or less fixed by geography, demographics, and family history, so they’re generally not truly competing.

Given those realities, one would expect the analysis from the Sunni side to be temperate and dignified–in a certain sense, it is coming from a position of strength–but the opposite too often seems to be the case (and, it should be noted, is sometimes seen on the Shiah side, as well).

And you’d think we’d have bigger fish to fry than warning Sunnis to avoid hanging out with Shiahs.  Given all the social problems we have in Muslim communities, I’m not sure a typical Sunni’s top priority needs to be avoiding the company of a Shiah.  There’s no shortage of fellow Sunnis whose company one probably ought to avoid, to say nothing of how elastic this simple category of "Sunni" is for these purposes in an era of rampant secularism and religious experimentation.  One wishes that such statements were contextualized more (e.g., are they referring to hardline Shiahs who vilify highly regarded Sahaba, or all Shiahs regardless of their actions or piety).

Then there’s the eerily familiar ring this kind of talk has.  There’s a certain irony to Sufi scholars making categorical declarations that deny any intellectual legitimacy or dignity to Shiah beliefs, given how they were until quite recently on the receiving end of this phenonmenon at the hands of Wahhabis in many places.   The confidence with which these declarations about the self-evident illegitimacy of maatam reminds me of the way all these vowel-heavy websites (i.e., those that assault native English speakers’ aesthetic sense by insisting on using unsightly transliterations such as "Islaam", "Qur’aan", …) discuss tawassul (e.g., this rant on the appropriately voweled http://www.allaahuakbar.net).  For decades, Wahhabis (and the Wahhabized) defined Sufis and just about everybody else as outside the Ahl Sunnah wa Jama’at, and now that the tide is turning and Sufis are regaining their rightful voice within the community, some are taking a page from the Wahhabis and labeling Shiahs as being Ahl Bida etc.  It seems like some us nodded off during  class and missed the most important lesson of all.

Again, for me the point isn’t that we should become relativists who shy away from open debate, but that we should engage in such discussions with a sense of mutual respect and an awareness that there are competing paradigms (even when we think the evidence is clearly on our side).  Also, nuances in the other side’s beliefs and practices need to be acknowledged (e.g., Sunni polemicists tend talk as if all Shiahs  maim themselves, when the truth is that maatam takes many different forms with varying degrees of intensity and physicality).

I make these comments not to attack anybody–not that a critique from a lay person like me is terribly important in the grand scheme of things, anyway–but because I think that public statements denigrating a whole Muslim community need to be publicly challenged within the larger Muslim community because of the harm they do to us all.  There are real world consequences to such offhand statements–including loss of life–in some parts of the Muslim world (e.g., Pakistan, Iraq) where Sunnis and Sunnis clash needlessly.

Finally, as a Muslim and a Sunni, I want these issues to be discussed seriously and in a way that results in increased clarity and understanding for Sunni and Shiah alike.   I think a respectful and objective analysis would be far more effective towards this end.  It would ultimately be more convincing, as well, I believe.

Allahu a`lam.

Update (2005-12-09): 
SunniPath has since updated the webpage in question and rephrased the response I commented on in what I think is a balanced and respectful manner.  I’m relieved to see that they also take these concerns seriously and are receptive to constructive criticism.

Update (2005-12-11): 
Sh. Faraz has been kind enough to refer visitors to this posting from his blog, SeekersDigest.org

As he succinctly noted, "The comments are fascinating… "  I agree, and have learned a lot from these exchanges.

Boy, did my hits jump!  SeekersDigest clearly has a lot of readers, which makes a dialogue like this all the more important.  SunniPath obviously has a lot of influence.  Insha’Allah, this discussion will contribute to improved understanding and mutual respect.

  • http://www.SeekersDigest.org Faraz Rabbani

    Jazakum Allah khayr for bringing this up, Sidi. I agree that some of the comments weren’t expressed as they should have been. Some of the adab of difference of opinion is unfortunately lacking in my answer. Mea culpa.
    I will, insha’Allah, change some of these “adab details.” I do stand with much of the substance of the answer. But form is very important. Much of the Sunni-Shia bickering that takes places returns to matters of forms and propriety–considering that the differences themselves are undeniable.
    Jazakum Allah khayr, Sidi.
    Wassalam,
    Faraz Rabbani
    http://www.SunniPath.comhttp://www.seekersdigest.org/

  • http://www.SeekersDigest.org Faraz Rabbani

    Update: I made some changes to the answer you pointed out.
    Again, Jazakum Allah khayr for correcting my faults. Like they say, “Pointing out one mistake is better than 100 praises.”
    May Allah grant you all good.
    Wassalam,
    Faraz Rabbani
    http://www.SunniPath.comhttp://www.seekersdigest.org/

  • http://qunoot.org zahir

    I am not sure I can be happy about this change Faraz. Your website is still very insulting and condescending to Shias . While you maintain that most Sunni scholars hold this position, you fail to mention specific classical scholars.
    I would be curious, btw, to know what Shia books you have read. I always maintain that much of Shiism is viewed through non-Shia texts. If we are to tell non-Muslims that Islam should be judged by Muslim sources, should we not do the same within Islam? I await your response.

  • Irfaan Nooruddin

    Assalaam Alaykum,
    The refrences made by Traditional Sunni Scholars as per the labeling of blanket groups as “Shia”, and hence belonging to to “ahl al-bida” and hence guilty of ‘Fisq’ are very numerous, but usually outlined in defense of the Sahabah (At-Tahawi, Ibn Jawzi, Sharastani, As-Suyuti ect.) albeit ignorance is usually shown in the definition of Shia as many “ghulat”(extreme) beliefs are presented as being mainstream. At the same time Shi’i sources and scholarship have always used the same language of exclusion. Shaykh As-Saduq and his Student Shaykh al-Mufid (Authorities of the Aqida for the Ithna Ashari) consistantly use refrences of “fisq”, but more often use “Khas”(Selected,”special”) in referring to Shiites, and (A’m) to refer to the those regular Sunni’s. The language undoubtedly reflects the minority view, but is exclusion/chauvanism non the less. I agree almost entirely with Svend’s article, Zahir’s comments, and also with the views of Sidi Faraz. Language in our times needs to be re-defined away from manaic interpretations. While Muslims on both sides remain ignorant of their tradition and scholarship, Sunni’s as a majority in terms of size, and sectarian killers, have the obligation to clarify our stance. the most important thing to remember as Imam Ghazali commented in his Faysal is that we are all Muslims. undoubtedly we (each group) believes itself to be right and the others to be misled, or at best”unaware”( in fact despite differing collection of Ahadith that 72 sect to 1 is followed by all). Although i do find some tendencies among fellow followers of a spritual path to be a result of “proving one’s sunnism”, not to mention that many “traditonal” sunnis were once those same annoying “Akhee Salafies”, Its quite difficult for one to condemn wholsale activites like “Matham” by Shia and then promote “Sufi” Processions during the Mawlid and “Hadras”. Invariably all will….Thats why I’m Naqshbandi JK:). As my “Traditional Shafi’i” teacher instructs me, “we are not with it, but we do not condemn it”. Studying under Scholars from Syria, and at the same time being married to a Shiite is an oddity I have relished. Regarding myself as lover of Husayn and a spiritual follower of Abu Bakr, my very existence perplexes my Salafi and “traditonal” brethren alike. But in the end i like all muslims ascribe our way to the Prophet(SAW).

  • salman

    Salamu alaikum Wa Rahmatullah
    What exactly do you mean by “insulting and condescending” Sidi Zahir? i personally do not see anything “insulting” nor do I see anything “condescending”. I do, however, see Shaykh Faraz and others disagreeing with the Shi’a belief, a disagreement that certainly exists and has sound basis.
    The Shi’a and Ahl Al Sunna have clear methodologcal differences. Whoever denies this is someone living in a world of fairies and nymphs i.e. not this world. I find it slightly hyprocritical on peoples parts – and do not take this personally Sidi – how they criticise SunniPath for respectfully stating the “facts” regarding the view the Ahl Al Sunna hold on the Shi’a, a view that is not a recent phenomenon, but one that the Ulema held since the beginning of their (the Shi’as) emergence. Yet i see no cry of “foul play” or accusations of “insulting” from these same people, who critique the attitude of Ahl Al Sunnah, against Shi’a missionary websites such as rafed.net, answering-ansar, al-islam.org and the countless other websites on the web that ironically have a section “Shi’a Sunni debates” right underneath “Shi’a Sunni Unity”? So is unity saying “Yes lets unite (after you convert to Shi’ism!)”?
    If you compare the Shi’a websites on the web to the ones hosted by Ahly Al Sunnah you will see who is on the offensive of “misquoting and misrepresenting” the others sources.
    The stance of the Ulema – past and present – on the Shi’a are clear. The vast majority (Ash’aris and Maturidis) consider them people of innovation, but this is not to say they are not our brethren. This is a point that should be understood. Sayyidina ‘Ali fought wars against people and when asked about them said “They are our brothers.” These differences should not allow us to go contrary to the saying of the Prophet:
    la yu’minu ahadukum hatta yuhibbul akhihi ma yuhibbu li nafsi.
    Wasalam
    Salman

  • suad

    “vowel-heavy”–classic, what an witty and appropriate description.

  • Svend White

    Salaams and thanks for all the edifying comments.
    Thanks especially to Sheikh Rabbani for taking the time to respond. It’s a pleasure to get feedback from somebody so knowledgeable.
    Just wanted to note that my problem isn’t with a Sunni acknowledging that they believe Shiahs to be guilty of bida, so long as this claim is argued in a manner that is factual and respectful. We disagree on some important matters that can’t and shouldn’t be glossed over.
    Also, I think we need to define our terms carefully when discussing this. What to we mean by “Shiah”, “Sunni”, “bid`a”, etc. today?
    It’s like the distinction between “kafir” and “non-Muslim”. I don’t think the term kafir is always appropriate when discussing non-Muslims. To leave it at that is to mislead in some cases.
    Those terms and the principles and rulings that we’re relying might mean different things today from when they were originally coined. To use them today without clarifying how they apply today is to risk causing misunderstandings about our deen.
    I guess part of this is that I think we need to expanding our vocabulary beyond terms and categories that may no longer fully describe our reality, but in a way that allows us to continue to be guided by the classical sources.

  • aliabbasqureshi

    jak, for the comments so far, and particularly from Svend from bringing this up.
    i have written in the past to sunnipath.com, and even personally to sh Faraz. credit needs to be given where its due, and there was a very damaging fatwa penned from Faraz quoting Rida Khan, which they finally agreed to remove (i see that it was not on the list put by Svend). in essence, calling for prohibition of shi’i and sunni marriage, terming it as zina, and calling children out of the marriage as bastards!
    the charge of foul play against the shi’ites and the call for unity, despite calls for engagement, does not decry unity, for one is not asking for conformity here. mujtahids of the likes of Lankarani, Shirazi, Naeni have even called for ahlal sunna brothers to lead friday prayers and conduct friday sermons in mosques of shi’ite persuasions. it boils down to ijtihad, which is certainly excerbated by the crisis of leadership in the ahlal sunna World.
    for better or for worse, the world at large will look up to the ahlal sunna in this crisis of leadership and morality, and for them to pit statements of ahl al bida etc etc can serve as a strong emotive basis for violence against the other, which the likes of those who quote Rida Khan are oblivious to, for they are not at the receiving end of it, but rather perpetuating the non-sensical violence against the other.

  • aliabbasqureshi

    So is unity saying “Yes lets unite (after you convert to Shi’ism!)”?
    this is confirmity rather, and not Unity. shi’ites have never advocated it, and neither have the ahlal sunna. here is an article to ponder over
    http://al-islam.org/mot/default.asp?url=ghadir-relevance.htm
    actually, if one does a search on the term ‘balagha’ on SunniPath.com, Sidi Faraz answers a question on prohibiting the reading of shi’ite works, particularly ‘The Nahj al Balaghah’.
    to push forward shi’ite claims as “missionary” and then to pronounce a prohibition to reading their works as suggesting “shi’ite claims”, really strikes at the root at what Zahir had originally asked, which was not answered to begin with!
    has any one of them really read a shi’ite work !?!
    aK

  • aliabbasqureshi

    on the issue of matam, and other practices, i urge you to read some material from shi’ite ‘ulama of Lebanese origin. one in particular is Mahdi Shams al Din (CAIR had issued a statement of condolence when he had passed way).
    there is a certain element of protest within the ritual of matam, which manifested itself, first through poetry recitations, albeit in private gatherings encouraged by the shi’ite imams.
    when this form of peaceful protest took its root, and the grip over shi’ite polity laxed (because of the internecine power struggles between the ruling non shi’ite classes), there were other avenues where this manifested it-self.
    it is rather un-fortunate, that the ahlal sunna scholarship, even when they pen works on the tragedy of Karbala are more concerned with the excesses (as they perceive it, and they are right to an extent, which Murtadha Mutahhari dedicated an entire series to, and titled it ‘Tahrifat al Ashura’ also availble on http://www.al-islam.org) of the shi’ites, rather than the spirit, the intent and the sacrifice of Husayn.
    i will await criticism from the respected scholar-ship on this thread, but have witnessed this more to be the norm than the exception.
    there is practically no work to date in the english language on this topic, though two lectures from Zaid Shakir come to mind, where they strike Zaynab and Zayn al Abidin as beacons of courage. other than that, i have yet to see the ahlal sunna re-claim Husayn from the shi’ites, not that the shi’ites hold any exclusive claim to al-Husayn (only Abdullah Yusuf Ali penned a work on the topic, on the level of scholarship that the ahlal sunna will find acceptable, for there are other works from Mawdudi, Iqbal, Kalam Azad that are available in the english language)
    for the most part, it is the form (and i find the discussion on methodology rather surprising, since what preceedes methodology here is aqida, i.e belief) that has become the subject, though personified within the Iranian culture with the taziya (the Passion Play – every Year an Iranian Group performs one in NY), the discussion here seems to be hanging on that balance. Chelkowski’s work on the taziy and ritual drama in Iran is quite revealing
    in urdu, Mufti Shafi’i edited a work on the tragedy of al-Husayn which was riddled with foot-notes criticisizing ‘shi’ite claims’, and injections, which is quite lamentable
    any ways!
    before i forget, here is the work that i was referring to
    http://al-islam.org/revolution/

  • Svend White

    Thanks, folks, for all very informative and stimulating comments. They’re really enlightening.
    Nice to “see” you again, Ali. :-) Small world…

  • aliabbasqureshi

    i am curious to know, if ahlal sunna scholarship would resort to shi’ite scholarship in matters that they found agreements with. understandably that there are differences, yet do these differences really prohibit joint ventures (of the sort that would bring in shi’ite and non shi’ite literature together, may-be on a web site, a sort of a comparative study of sorts)
    i say so, since one of the contributors on SP.com puts the late Tabatabai’s work, al Mizan as a reference, which is a monumental work on the Commentary of the Quran. the scholar, sh Gibril Haddad cites it in several instances, though i have seen several pages of al Mizans Commentary on the subject of tawassul published in the Encyclopedia from the Naqshbandi Foundation
    is there a certain strain of ahlal sunna scholarship that is “accepting” of positing shi’ite scholar-ship in their works, albeit with the accepted notion of a “contemporary” commentator, or are we dealing with an exception
    i say so, since, avenues where progressive muslims of shi’ite, sunni, ahmadi, lahori persuasions can work together without the moralistic trappings of pronouncements that tend to tear the very fabric of faith
    where do you draw the line !?! is it alright to pronounce takfir on certain ghulat sections of shi’ites, and for that matter advocate complete exclusion of the other minority sects, like the 19er’s, ahmadies etc etc
    from the practical stand point, do we still resign to the status quo of the majority, i.e the ahlal sunan wal jama’ah: a key complaint of many progressive shi’ites who wish to be involved with the ahlal sunna in Community building and leadership positions
    to what extent, are they going to extend this position of “brother-hood”, and essentially that of “leadership”?
    takers !?!

  • http://qunoot.org zahir

    Salman: Please send me links to Shia websites that distort Shia views. I would like to see these.
    Faraz: I am still waiting to know. What Shia books by Shia authors have you read?
    Thanks!

  • http://qunoot.org zahir

    Salman: Please send me links to Shia websites that distort Shia views. I would like to see these.
    Faraz: I am still waiting to know. What Shia books by Shia authors have you read?
    Thanks!

  • http://www.SeekersDigest.org Faraz Rabbani

    Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullah, Br. Zahir,
    The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “Whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day should say that which is good or remain silent.” I can think of many ways of furthering our brotherhood and of promoting the good together than opening these cans of problems.
    This is something I emphasize in answers you disagree with so much: while recognizing our differences, we can and should still recognize that we are brethren in faith. The least of this is that we love each other for the sake of Allah; that we wish well for each other; and that we be of sincere counsel to each other. And I think we can agree to disagree, with dignity.
    And Allah alone gives success.
    Wassalam,
    Faraz Rabbani
    http://www.SunniPath.comhttp://www.seekersdigest.org/

  • http://qunoot.org zahir

    Faraz,
    Thanks for your msg. But you have a troubling sense of brotherhood. You write, “we be of sincere counsel to each other.” A few days ago, you were telling Sunnis to avoid the company of Shias and calling Shia hadith science laughably weak. Am I supposed to be happy that now you “love me for the sake of Allah” but also consider my understanding of Islam to be a bida.
    I asked you a simple question above and I will ask it again. Upon what teachings of Shia scholars do you base your opinions on? Its a fair question and its something we Muslims often ask our non-Muslim friends when they pick up a non-Muslim rendering on the holy Quran. If you have not read any Shia books, then I question your ability to speak about Shias.
    Sunnipath.com is still full of very negative, harsh comments about Shias. And I have yet to receive any formal apology from you about your comments . I believe that, at the very least, is in order.
    And when I asked a simple question, you failed to answer.
    I am not sure this constitutes “brotherly” behavior.

  • aliabbasqureshi

    assalam o alaykum sh Faraz
    i laud your effort to “amend” the wordings of certain posts on SP.com, though credit goes to Svend, for this, for our words of protest carried little weight if any, God is All Aware, All Knowing
    as if, my own “voice” needed “empowerment” from some one “other than” the one who espoused the cause. wonderful is the world we live in, fraught with cause and effects, of the Almighty making individuals wasila for noble causes, rewards of which transcend even acts of piety, even prayer and charity: the epitome of which is defined through the “re-conciliation” of hearts and minds
    may God bless you for taking the corrective steps, and bless Svend for much of the raising of the issue
    these comments were subject of much of the personal e mails that had transpired between us, if you recall, and now seeing them removed, delights the heart and relieves the soul, though much work needs to be done
    may God grant us the tawfiq to truly understand what ‘Ali (may his face be enobled) said, pay attention to what is being said, and not who says it.
    may God grant you stations of felicity, and perfect your adab in the mirror of your sincere devotion to the Almighty, which resonates itself among the stations of ihsan, which every “seeker” aspires to, yet few reach it, except by His Will and the qurba of the Chosen and the Elite of the Prophets, Muhammad al Mustafa (peace and blessings be upon him, his progeny and the Companions)
    iltimase duas, abu Kumayl

  • aliabbasqureshi

    if one browses through sites that are infused with a sense of scholar-ship, that is, traditional islamic scholarship from the ahlal sunna, one will find encouragement that at least one site, at least cross references the late imam Khumaynis (qs) commentary on the Chehel Hadith (Forty ahadith).
    you can browse through this link,
    http://www.livingislam.org/hadith.html
    and it is the 3rd link from the bottom of the page, which is truly an excpetion in this.
    i would leave the merits or de-merits of how it’s “innovatory, i.e bid’a” status open, and this is precisely where one ought to explore the link between sufism and shi’ism. Seyyed Hossein Nasr, in his work, ‘Sufi Essays’ published by Kazi Publications, dedicates an entire chapter on this intrinsic and innate relation-ship
    let’s face it, the most sought out work in Iran, at least among the religious and spiritual circles, after the noble Book, is al Ghazalis (may his grave be perfumed), ‘Ihya ‘ulum al din, and the references to this work, are adorned in many texts of sufi/irfani persuasions.
    i have personally listened to lectures from shi’ite ‘ulama on the efficacy of the teachings of this work, which forms the very basis of this connection, that is albeit, left dormant
    i think that Zahir, asking sh Faraz if he has read any shi’ite work, is rather in-conveniencing him, for it falls in the domain of something that is doubtful: which is their perspective on the shi’ite belief, and we ought to respect his belief, for the sake of God and His Messenger
    what is more appropriate would be to ask, if he can offer a perspective on what is common between us, i.e the ahl al bayt, the thaql, particularly the affinity with Sufism, which i think that he would be more comfortable with, and it’s relation with the noble Book
    insha ‘Allah, aK

  • http://www.SeekersDigest.org Faraz Rabbani

    Sidi Zahir, Walaikum assalam wa rahmatullah,
    I don’t the the problem in considering someone in error (whether in beliefs or practice), and at the same time loving them for the sake of Allah, sharing a sense of brotherhood, and keeping the door open for brotherhood and working towards common goals.
    While I was in Canada, I worked with some Roman Catholic priests for several years on projects related to third world issues, and African news [a quick google search for: Faraz Rabbani Africa-N will show you some results confirming this]. I had a strong personal relationship with a number of these priests. One of them–Peter (Pierre) Benson–I’d consider to have been a close friend. He was also a Catholic missionary, who’d spent 20 years in Africa. I consider (and considered) his beliefs to be not only “innovation” but actual disbelief and shirk. Yet this does not prevent associating and working together in other areas–and, when there is no need or benefit, to “go beyond” the difference.
    As for your question: it is unreasonable, and (frankly) offensive. I am not putting forward “Faraz Rabbani’s view” on the issues dealt with. Rather, I am merely transmitting what the recognized authorities of Sunni scholarship affirm. For the Hanafi fiqh of it, you could refer to Ibn Abidin’s Radd al-Muhtar, or the Fatawa Hindiyya–the two central works for fatwa in the Hanafi school. For the aqida aspects, see Sharh al-Aqa’id al-Nasafiyya of Imam Taftazani, with its commentaries by Ramadan Effendi and Farhari (al-Nibras), or Mulla Ali al-Qari’s Sharh al-Fiqh al-Akbar, or Bajuri’s Tuhfat al-Murid. However, I’m not willing to open discussion, debate, or argumentation on matters of belief or other polemics.
    May Allah unite our hearts in love of Him.
    Wassalam,
    Faraz Rabbani
    http://www.SunniPath.com
    http://www.seekersdigest.org/

  • http://qunoot.org zahir

    I am sorry that you are not open for discussion Faraz. I and many other Shias are open and ready to dialogue with you. For us Shias, this is just not a matter of an offensive website. There is a real persecution of Shias going on in places like Pakistan where groups like Sipah Sahabah target and kill Shias, including members of my family.
    The question is where do people get the idea that it is justifiable to kill Shias and blow themselves up in a mosque? (this is not to say that Shias have not done harm but for the record, Shias have not taken to attacking other mosques in Pakistan).
    Now when I raised the question about what books you have read within the Shia tradition, on three ocassions during this thread you have avoided the answer. Am I to take it that you have not read any books? Or is such a question offensive because I am not a scholar? Are you above this discussion because you are not a scholar? Then why do you then answer other people’s questions on Fiqh on your website but you will not answer my basic questions?
    What concerns me most about SP is not just the blatant disregard for Shias. Its also the lack of adab that you extend to either Ali Abbas or I in responding to us. Are we not dignified enough in your eyes to merit a response? Is only Svend? Or does our weak, deviant faith cast us as unable to muster up an inteligent question?

  • http://qunoot.org zahir

    I am sorry that you are not open for discussion Faraz. I and many other Shias are open and ready to dialogue with you. For us Shias, this is just not a matter of an offensive website. There is a real persecution of Shias going on in places like Pakistan where groups like Sipah Sahabah target and kill Shias, including members of my family.
    The question is where do people get the idea that it is justifiable to kill Shias and blow themselves up in a mosque? (this is not to say that Shias have not done harm but for the record, Shias have not taken to attacking other mosques in Pakistan).
    Now when I raised the question about what books you have read within the Shia tradition, on three ocassions during this thread you have avoided the answer. Am I to take it that you have not read any books? Or is such a question offensive because I am not a scholar? Are you above this discussion because you are not a scholar? Then why do you then answer other people’s questions on Fiqh on your website but you will not answer my basic questions?
    What concerns me most about SP is not just the blatant disregard for Shias. Its also the lack of adab that you extend to either Ali Abbas or I in responding to us. Are we not dignified enough in your eyes to merit a response? Is only Svend? Or does our weak, deviant faith cast us as unable to muster up an inteligent question?

  • http://www.SeekersDigest.org Faraz Rabbani

    Walaikum assalam wa rahmatullah, Sidi Zahir,
    I have been very courteous to you in your posts. I have corresponded before with Sidi Ali Abbas and–as his posts above explicitly state–I was polite and courteous (or, at least, I did my best to do so).
    I have explictly affirmed that I consider you my brothers in faith, and that there is much opportunity for Sunnis and Shi`as to befriend each other and to work for common causes.
    Re-opening points of division and dispute–including “what have you read in Shi`a scholarship” (and yes, I have read Shi`a works)–isn’t the way forward. The way is to recognize that we *do* differ, and to move on.
    I don’t see how that is “blatant disregard.” Calling you “Sidi” (short for “Sayyidi”–”my master”) isn’t disregard. It is respect and affection.
    Making dua that Sunni should be loving Shi`as “for the sake of Allah, sharing a sense of brotherhood, and keeping the door open for brotherhood and working towards common goals,” isn’t blatant disregard.
    Making dua then, and now that, “May Allah unite our hearts in love of Him”–in a message addressed first to you, before anyone else, Sidi–isn’t blatant disregard. It is respect, and wishing well, and an expression of the love I hold for you as my brother in faith.
    If you’d condemn me, nonetheless, because I am Sunni and uphold mainstream Sunni beliefs, then I would urge you to reconsider–for I do not do the same with you, even if I may disagree with you.
    And Allah alone gives success.
    Wassalam, your brother,
    Faraz Rabbani
    http://www.SunniPath.comhttp://www.seekersdigest.org/

  • aliabbasqureshi

    Zahir, for better or for worse, sh. Faraz is bound to the taqlidi perspective, and we ought to respect that, out of courtesy: he is limited to what he can offer, and his reading of the “other” is restricted to what his masters define for him, not borne out of his own personal and scholarly disposition and effort.
    if i can answer for him, he has not read a shi’ite work, for he persists in not answering the question, and sh. Faraz can correct me, if he feels that i have mis-represented him, insha ‘Allah!
    it is indeed quite “comforting” to read of the “other”, without giving the “other” their due share of “recognition” through their sources, especially if that recognition actually requires reading of the “other”. it reminds me of the Orientalist enterprise.
    sh. Faraz wants us to believe that his rendition and understanding is better, well placed, for it comes down from his scholar-ship, petitio principe indeed, good for him. masha ‘Allah!
    in the questions posed and responded by sh. Faraz, especially on shi’i matters, he consistently on SP.com encourages individuals NOT to engage the shi’ites, to AVOID reading their works: and it would be counter to his own advice, if he did read them, and he is truthful to his word through deeds, may God bless him
    granted that when there are avenues where shi’is ask for further explanation, it shelved under the rubric of “polemics” and “debates”. it is not the first time, and it certainly isn’t the last either, and this is through personal correscpondence with sh. Faraz
    i even reminded sh. Faraz, that we live in very volatile times, and to resurrect fatawas from 100 to 200 years old on the shi’ites, as shi’ites and the ahlal sunna are creating their space particularly in the context of the ME, one has to tread carefully: i would have thought so, since he happens to reside in Amman, Jordan: well aware of the sensitivites of the calamity that has hit the Islamic World. do you think that we can seperate sh. Faraz the scholar, with sh. Faraz the scholar who lives in Jordan, and is student of sh Nuh Keller, whose pronounced views about the shi’ites, i do not wish to be-labor here
    to sh. Faraz, his scholar-ship has already issued the verdict, and it is NOT open to debate, scrutiny or discussion: that is his essential premise, and to press upon it further, will not avail much from him
    there is nothing more pejorative than the word ‘bida’: the salafis hurl it against traditional Islam as well: the challenge is, how does each sectarian disposition define the word ‘bida’? are there good bidas and bad bidas? can we apply a definition of ‘bida’ from x group and apply it to y group, even though y group undertakes it differently?
    there are several instances of bidas within the genre of ahlal sunna practice, that are deemed good, yet, the salafis tend to berate them more than quite often. it becomes very pertinent to hurl it against the shi’ites, for it de-ligitimizes their entire “enterprise”, it also sends a message to those would other wise want to investigate a certain putridness to the shi’ite, for what can be more appropriate to send such messages that portray the other as deviant
    i think that our collective responsibility as individuals is to constantly remind the scholars of their responsibility, yet, also creating avenues like this, where there is a dialogue, or more appropriately a non dialogue dialogue
    it is an irony, that sh. Faraz’s effort to foster relations with the People of the Book, extend far and wide, and when a shi’ite sits down and asks questions, it is shelved under the rubric of polemics and debate. it was quite poignant for Omid Safi, who spoke at Rutgers a few months ago, to remind the audience that while we engage in inter-faith dialogue with the People of the Book, one should also be done, with the shi’ites
    despite your questioning, and seeking for clarification, sh. Faraz persists not to transcend the confines of his “inherited” scholar-ship, granting a greater recognition of dialogue/interaction with the non Muslim, rather than people of innovation, i.e the shi’ites
    what could be more evident for this as proof than his last comment ?
    Zahir, you mentioned the place of such comments within the greater context of the Sipah Sahaba. this is a phenomena that is not restricted against the shi’ites: the same monstrosity of killing, persecution is being committed against the followers of Mirza Ghulam Ahmed in Bangladesh: a screening of which was very painful to watch. it all stems from rendering and pronouncing statements that speak of exclusivity, of rendering the other as non Muslims. this is the struggle of muslim minority “sects”, and within a larger context, is the reality of how the non muslim World, now views the Islamic World. words, can be very powerful, labels can be very deceiving and judgemental, and i feel eclipsed by the radiance of sh. Faraz’s acumen and insight, though i surprised that he fails to make this connection, God knows Better
    our perspectives are obviously are tainted with a greater sense of sensivity, of a commonality of beliefs, without the excessiveness of pronouncing deviancy on the others. i recall seeing a work on your book shelf, on Islam and Religious Pluralism, by the late Murtadha Mutahhari: can you share the details of his discussion of the shi’ite stance on the ahlal sunna in light of the shi’ite aqida !?! it is quite refreshing perspective, since a question of sorts was posed to imam Jafer al Sadiq (‘a), which will serve for some reflection for this audience
    i don’t recall any verse in the noble Book, that when the people of Book are spoken of, particularly within the context of “agreeing with what is common among us”, qualified with terms like ahl al kufr or ahl al bid’a.
    adl, ihsan, empathy … the search goes one
    i bid you all well, abu Kumayl

  • http://www.yursil.com Yursil

    as-salamua’alaikum,
    Quoting AliAbbasQureshi
    “to sh. Faraz, his scholar-ship has already issued the verdict, and it is NOT open to debate, scrutiny or discussion: that is his essential premise, and to press upon it further, will not avail much from him”
    Categorizing Shaykh Faraz like this is something that should be taken with great care. I cannot count the number of ways that I find his work to be progressive in the true sense of the word.
    The general mentality of any zealous minority is that the majority is ignoring their clear case or deliberately abusing their majority power to silence them.
    On the other hand, the actions of any abusive majority can seriously damage the pleasant life style of minority looking simply, to ‘live-in-peace’.
    In our daily life, we are all members of a minority in one way or another and we are all members of a majority in one way or another.
    We all know what it is to be the minority, whether it is as Muslims in a non-Muslim land, or in the case of Shia’s in a Sunni majority, or the Sufi in an community of Salafi’s.
    Similarly, in some way or another, we also know what it is like to be a member of the majority.
    My point is that reflection upon these things is something that is important to avoid ‘underdog syndrome’.
    That is much of what I see here.
    Shaykh Faraz’s explanation of his interaction with Catholic priests is the perfect example. He can work with them, and they with him, while at the same time he disagrees (profoundly) with their conclusions on matters of faith to help the poor.
    Would arguing the polemic details of individual biblical passages and quranic verses with them be the best use of his time?
    Similarly, I feel lumping Shaykh Faraz’s view into the ‘taqlidi’ category is really something that needs to be reconsidered.
    It is quite clear that the general point is these are literally -ancient- debates, and much blood has been spilt and is being spilt over an inability to respect differences.
    If we begin to open up these discussions again, what is the proposed outcome? That some sort of flaw in the argument will be found on either side that hasn’t sufficiently been trounced upon by the knowledgeable of our ancestors? I truly doubt it.
    What answer do you seek about the books that Shaykh Faraz has read? Will it be followed with, “which books?” And after that, “what of this point X” and “did you miss this obvious point Y?”
    Again, getting down to the debates which we -already- know we won’t agree upon.
    We need to be able to respect the difference of opinion which exists being various types of Muslims. It is the absence of this ability to accept one another as, at a minimum, human beings that allows for death and destruction to continue on both sides.
    On the other hand, it is this increasing level of acceptance among most of Western culture for the past years which has allowed it to surpass us greatly in terms of civilization and progress.

  • aliabbasqureshi

    wa alaykum as salam’s Yursil
    jak, for the clarity of thought and perspective. in many ways, the ‘under dog’ or the ‘victim’ syndrome can spell out notions which can blur the lines of ‘understanding’, and i concur with you, and to an extent, am familiar with it, and have avoided much of it, in this exchange
    for the sake of clarification, the issue to be contended here, is that of labelling, of objectifying a specific set of beliefs to an innovatary nature, and the importantly the **consequences** it holds for the other.
    cited, and rightly so the interaction with the people of the Book, where the difference there-at are spelled out clearly and explicity from the noble Book, yet within the context of the shi’i and non shi’i raproachment, it is the very nature of the contesting visions and hermeneutics (which was spelled under the discussion of methodology).
    to this effect, yes, one contends and accepts the differences, and thus moves from the realm of what we do not agree with to the realm of what we agree with, and hence the questions i posed: of sufism and shi’ite relation-ship, of the hadith al thaqalayn (which in almost ahlal sunna work, takes the form of a foot-note): this is the basis of the relationhsip of Commonality: of the itrah and the noble Book. i aksed sh Faraz to comment on it, to share his perspective, insha ‘Allah
    by way of my own personal experience, i am three generation sunni-shi’i, my-self, my parents, and their parents, had a marriage of different persuasions: of shi’ite and ahlal sunnah. to this effect, i am acutely aware of the havoc, of the in-sensitivity that comments to the likes of ahl al bidah, rafidah, murtad (the bidah and the murtad were found on SP.com and have been diligently removed) and what not, can inflict on the “other”.
    i am well read on ahlal sunna literature, more so than shi’ite. grew up reading Sulayman Nadwi, Shibli Numani, Iqbal, Ibn Kathirs Commentary, Syed ‘Ala Mawdudi, and afforded myself dialogues with great literary giants on the shi’i and sunni issue, from participants of shi’i, ahla sunna and even hindu participants.
    i am not going to be-labor my reading of shi’ite literature for that is not the point here, but the point being that there is a certain fusion of respect that even came from personas who differed with the shi’ites.
    how has it stooped to this level? what went wrong, and continues to be repeated?
    i am not speaking from an under-dog mentality: i write from the experience of one who has seen the death, destruction and devastation of how these play out in the real world: on BOTH sides.
    that is precisely what i was pointing out to sh Faraz. my brother in faith, Zahir’s web site, has a survey that was done of young shi’ites in North America: and the number one complaint that they spoke of, in their interaction with the ahlal sunna, was the notion and the idea of deviancy that was ascribed to them. their spiritual deviancy, and hence the need to avoid them, is echoed in and out, which denies them the very basic norm of a treatment accorded to a human being. sure, we can speak of commonality with the people of the Book, like you mentioned, but what is the nature of deviancy that prevents this reaching out to the other !?! Hamza Yusuf, cites the late Tabatabai, Zaid Shakir has done a piece on Zaynab and Zayn al Abidin.
    the question before us: what books have you read of the shi’ites that can enrich our experience? shi’ite Islam, by and large is very comparative in its approach, and hence there isn’t the fear of deviancy, rather an profound understanding that stems from the innateness of human nature and understanding.
    i register my protest with the use of these labels: i have even vehemently question ignorant, mullas from the shi’i fore, on their views of the ahlal sunna. one is caught between the notion of deviancy on one hand, and of betrayal of the other, but indeed, God is our Witness
    even by way of example, i have worked with many ahlal sunna organizations on the web, including http://www.witness-pioneer.org, whose members are also part and parcel of the sunnipath.com team. WP.com brought Islamic Lesson to the web, from parenting, on fiqh, on sirah etc etc, and considerable effort was put into bringing them on-line. for what ever it is worth, i share it
    when i specifically refer to the “reading” of shi’ite literature, it is in the realm of what unites us: hence my reference and questioning to sh. Faraz on sp.com quoting the late Tabatabai’s al Mizan Commentary. with God’s grace, wp.com, brought an Islamic School to the fore, with Gods’ grace, i was able to assit with the digitizing of several non shi’ite Islamic texts, that were used for teaching on wp.com.
    now does that spell an under-dog mentality, or does that spell notions of how a minority relishes the idea of “ummah” even more, within the larger context, as you put it, living as a minority [shi'i], within a minority [ahla sunna], within a majority [US/Canada].
    sh. Faraz’s own words and admonitions on SP.com point to the reality of avoiding the shi’ites, of NOT reading their works, and i respect that, with the added protest of avoiding abelling and terming the shi’ites as ahl al bidah!
    let me cite one other example: which has been removed from SP.com. a questioner had posed a question on the relation between shi’i and ahlal sunna marraige, with the questioner, expressing his intent explicitly that in their opinion, since shi’ites were kafir, the marriage was not valid. now, sh. Faraz responded to it, without commenting, and quoting Rida Khan. the least amount of adab would have been for sh Faraz to make a correction, rather than have such a comment go by, thus leaving an attitude that condones such behaviour
    we have a unique opportunity to un-thaw, and move forward with a new vocabulary, for the sake of God, for the love of God and His Messenger. treating us as human beings: yes, this is an existentially luxury that many shi’ites are acutely aware of, and also cognizant of the radicilization of a righteous behaviour by virtue of the victim mentality. it goes both ways, and jak for pointing it out
    yet one can’t deny that they are not victims, and IF the only recognition that you are conveying to us is that of existence, of life, to live, the shi’ites are seeking more than just that.
    the ahlal sunna can continue to offer the spiritual apartheid of relations, with the shi’ites, but shi’ites are asking for more: of active roles in the centers, of leader-ship. given terms and ingrained beliefs fused from the practice of taqlid, can one expect changes in such behaviour?
    God bless you, abu Kumayl

  • aliabbasqureshi

    let me posit something, that will help towards reaching some semblance of acceptance of each other, of “brother-hood”
    there are several folks on http://www.sunnipath.com, who have known of me in their personal capacity: we shared halaqas, we consoled each other when our loved ones passed away, we even worked in resurrecting http://witness-pioneer.org
    this is my offer: bring me on to your http://www.sunnipath.com team, i offer you my help with your digitization efforts.
    those sefless, dedicated and God loving individuals, know of me, of my capacity, and God granteth to whom He wills and He taketh from Whom He wills
    i await your response with much hope and anxiousness, abu Kumayl

  • http://www.SeekersDigest.org Faraz Rabbani

    Sidi… If you know them personally, then why not contact them directly?

  • aliabbasqureshi

    sh. Faraz, i have written in the past: inquiring of other matters: i get no response bacl :-)
    insha ‘Allah you can pass it to them

  • aliabbasqureshi

    Svend, you spoke of al Azhar: for what-ever historical value it is worth, here is a fatwa from al Azhar, about the shi’ites, located at
    http://al-islam.org/encyclopedia/chapter1b/14.html
    the relevant portion is

    2) The Ja’fari school of thought, which is also known as “al-Shia al- Imamiyyah al-Ithna Ashariyyah” (i.e., The Twelver Imami Shi’ites) is a school of thought that is religiously correct to follow in worship as are other Sunni schools of thought.
    Muslims must know this, and ought to refrain from unjust prejudice to any particular school of thought, since the religion of Allah and His Divine Law (Shari’ah) was never restricted to a particular school of thought. Their jurists (Mujtahidoon) are accepted by Almighty Allah, and it is permissible to the “non-Mujtahid” to follow them and to accord with their teaching whether in worship (Ibadaat) or transactions (Mu’amilaat).
    —-
    like i stated, earlier, this is only of historical value, for i don’t think that the ahlal sunna give credence to it, and those more learned can comment on it
    insha ‘Allah, aK

  • aliabbasqureshi

    sh. Faraz, i extend my apologies for hastening towards the suggestion that you had NOT read shi’ite works.
    i was mistaken, as you duly suggested other-wise, and judging by the time stamps on the post, we must have crossed each other, when it got posted
    in any event, i should not have hastened to hazard that opinion
    i ask of your forgiveness for it, insha ‘Allah
    iltimase duas, abu Kumayl

  • Ahmed Weir

    Sheikh Faraz is a very nice man.

  • http://asunnifaqir.blogspot.com/ faqir

    Asalamu alaykum,
    Yep, Shi’a are Ahl al-Bid’ah.
    Wassalam

  • http://asunnifaqir.blogspot.com/ faqir

    Mahmood Shaltoot of al-Azhar was hardly considered a credible source according to Sunnis – I have heard that he was accused of Mutazili leanings – Allah knows best.
    The following is a useful article by Shaykh Musa Furber:
    http://mac.abc.se/home/onesr/h/151.html

  • Svend White

    I think it’s fair to say that from a Sunni perspective, Shiahs clearly are Ahl Bid`a in some sense, but many fellow Sunnis are, as well, in other respects. The world’s full of bid`a. Why do we use the b-word so freely with Shiahs, but pass over fellow Sunnis’ faults in silence?
    I’m not trying to restart a debate, but I just want to submit that when a Sunni scholar says point-blank “Shiahs are Ahl Bid`a,” TODAY, it is a very different thing from when classical Sunni scholars did so centuries ago:
    1) Bid`a as rebellion against established authority. Even by the strictest Sunni standards, modern Shiahs are not *equally* guilty of bida as the early Shiahs because most of them no longer live in an environment when Sunni Islam is normative. It is a well established tradition and civilization. You must make allowances for people’s environment, circumstances and intentions. Even if Shiahs 100% wrong in their differences from us (assuming we know who “us” is), it’s wrong to talk about them as if they’re simply “rebelling”. It’s more complicated than that, and black & white statements like that don’t contribute to improved understanding (or their part or ours), in my opinion.
    2) The statements I complained about aren’t part of a written scholarly exchange between scholars steeped in the facts and nuances of these issues. Sh. Faraz is undoubtedly a scholar, but I assume that most of SunniPath’s readers aren’t. Given that this is the Internet, I think it’s fair to assume that a portion of the readership are not only laymen but hardliners who already are highly prejudiced against Shiahs. This latter group is likely to read a lot more into “Shiahs are Ahl Bid`a” than you or I intend by that statement. In their hands, such a statement, if unaccompanied by an explanation of its limited scope, becomes a license to further stigmatize and even persecute our Shiah brethren.
    3) In a related note, I think that “Shiahs are Ahl Bid`a” means something very different when it happens to be accompanied by other derogatory comments. The presence of a tone of disdain or mockery can color such as statement so much that it becomes misleading. Context is very important.
    4) This exchange proves, if nothing else, that many Shiahs feel that they and their beliefs are not treated with the respect that should be their due from fellow Muslims. Given that context, adab and fraternal love should cause us to be careful in how discuss them. If we must make statements like “Shiahs are Ahl Bid`a”, we should not leave it at that (and we certainly should do it in a mocking manner, as one person here did).
    We should follow up and explain how they are and how they AREN’T. Otherwise, it’s just an insult rather than nasihah, which isn’t the Sunnah of the Blessed Prophet.
    Finally, we should end with “Allahu a`lam”, as we could be wrong! Yes, I said it. We could be wrong. What if we discover on the Day of Judgement that we’re the Ahl Bid`a? Then many of us will regret our snide putdowns and arrogant assertions.

  • salman

    Salamu ‘alaykum
    Barakallah Feekum to Shaykh Faraz. May Allah grant him all good in this life and next.
    Sidi Zahir: Im sure you can search the web for Shi’a manipulations of Ahly Sunna texts, for the purpose of “converting” the Sunnis to Shi’ism. I will not go into any detail whatsoever though.
    I think Shaykh Faraz summed it up pretty nicely. We follow the Ulema who were well aware of the Shi’a beliefs as well as the proofs the Shi’a put forth to justify their positions. To state that the Ulema were ignorant of Shi’a works is blatantly incorrect. Open up Ibn Hajars Lisan al Mizan and see how many times he refers to the books of Al Kashi, Saduq, Tusi and others to identify narrators of the Shi’a, as one example.
    [2] Yes, Shi’as may be offended with labels such as “ahl al bida’” This is our position which we state with no hesitation. However, the Shi’a can curse, ridicule and mock the Companions, the Imams and others and no one says a word about how Ahl Al Sunnah “can be offended”?
    If you go on shiachat.com, maybe you should look up Sayyid Mahdi Al Modaressi’s (son of Ayatullah Modaressis) answer regarding whether Sunnis will go to heaven. His answer was “chances are very slim”. Subhanallah.
    Our views on the Shi’a are clear. They are our brothers who have strayed into the land of misguidance and deviation. May Allah guide them.
    Wasalam

  • A.Imam

    It is said that Islam is a very misunderstood religion due to a lack of awareness on the part of non-Muslims about this faith. This argument can be extended further to within the fold of Islam itself to include the lack of awareness and serious misconceptions about Shi’as and Shi’i Islam. It is true that the terms Shi’a and Sunni have acquired meanings over time that are of course not quite what they were originally. It was not until the 2nd/3rd century AH that these terms started to get the shades of meanings we understand today. However, it is generally accepted that the origins of the shi’ism go back not to just the dispute at “saqeefah Banu Saai’da” for the leadership of the Ummah but even before i.e. during the lifetime of the Prophet, when some of his most respected Companions showed their affinity and support for Ali Ibn Abi Talib. This is hardly surprising as there are numerous reliable sayings of the Prophet (many through Sunni sources) that clearly show the Prophet’s great love and regard for his ward, pupil, most trusted follower and one closest to him spiritually, a person whom he had brought up personally from an early age. The question arises “What should the Muslims prior to 2nd/3rd century AH be categorized as?” Take, for example, Mohammed Ibn Abi Bakr, the son of the First Caliph. He was an ardent supporter of Imam Ali. This is clear when you see his stand at “waq’at-ul-jamal” (the Battle of Jamal), also referred to as the Battle of Basra. He not only supported Ali verbally but fought along side him against the forces that his sister, Ummul Mo’mineen Aisha, was leading at the instigation of Talha and Zubair.[The latter, incidentally, left the field before the battle commenced when he was reminded of what the Prophet had once said “A day shall come when you (Zubair) shall fight Ali and you’ll be a transgressor!”]. The fact that Mohammed Ibn Abi Bakr took this position at Jamal would make him a shi’a or more precisely a “Shi’at-ul-‘Ali”, and put him in the illustrious company of people like, Ammaar Ibn Yaasir, Salman al-Faarisi, Miqdaad Ibn Al-Aswad Al-Kindi, Abu Dhar Al-Ghaffaari and so on, all highly respected Companions. Moreover, in his correspondence with Mu’awiyah, the LATTER even attested that the Caliphate rightfully belonged to Imam Ali from the very start. Also, Mohammed Ibn Abi Bakr ‘s son, Qasim Ibn Mohammed Ibn Abi Bakr, too was a follower of the Ahl al-Bayt and thus he too is “guilty” of being a Shi’i. So the question is, should one “teardown” all these Shi’as as well, remembering that they include some honoured Companions? If not, then where do you start and stop?
    Questions concerning the Companions and those about Imamate are always very tricky. It all depends which Companions are being referred to and what did the Prophet say about succession. Most discussions about these issues fall victim to emotionalism and bigotry. Denigration is the last thing we need. Apart from the Quran, there are and have always been clear instructions from within the Shi’i literature as to how one should behave. Imam Ali said this to his followers:
    “laa takoonu min as sabbaabeen”
    [Be not an abuser and a slanderer.]
    (Ali Ibn Abi Talib –Nahjul Balaaghah)
    This was uttered by him when they reacted to the ritual cursing of their leader (Imam Ali) after every Friday prayers in Damascus on Mu’awiyah’s orders. The fact that Mu’awiyah started this vile act is NOT under dispute. He declared it as an act of “sunnah” which was to last for nearly seventy years!! The year he started this public cursing of Imam Ali, that year he called the “aam us sunnah” (the year of the sunnah). Quite what “sunnah” he had in his mind, I cannot fathom –can’t be from the Prophetic Tradition. Bye the way, the term As-Sunnah wal Jamaa’ah comes from the court of Mu’awiyah and did not exist before his reign.
    Many Muslims still live in a world of make believe as they do not read the history of their own faith. One cannot divorce doctrine from its own history. The Ummah was divided along many lines over time, not just spiritual, jurisprudential or political. Racial, clanish and tribal issues existed too. With the advent of dynastic rule came the twin evils of “al-‘asabiyyah wal mulk” (group feeling and royal dominion), to borrow the terminology of Ibn Khaldun. The egalitarian and spiritual principles of our faith were made subservient to autocratic rule, first under the Umayyids and then under the Abbasides. It explains a lot about the relative proportion of Shi’as vs. Sunnis in the Islamic world when we recall the adage:
    “yatba’un naas deena mulookihim”
    [People follow the religion of their kings/rulers.]
    Having said all this, it should perhaps be noted that the first FORMAL school of jurisprudence in Islam was after all founded by Imam Ja’far as-Saadiq, the great great grandson of the Prophet and the 6th Shi’i Imam, who lived through this dynastic transformation. But al-Sadiq himself was the successor to a long tradition of learning in his family. His grandfather, Imam Ali Ibn al-Husayn (Zainul ‘Abideen) is regarded as the “muassis al-madrastus saani” (founder of the Second School) that ultimately went back to the Prophet who, of course, found the First School.
    All four of the “Sunni” schools of jurisprudence are derived from the Jafari School in some sense or the other. While some may react strongly against this, regarding it an exaggeration, it pays to read what Imam Abu Hanifa, the founder of the first school of the Ahl As-Sunnah, himself said about the two years he spent under the tutelage of Imam Ja’far as-Saadiq:
    “lau lassanataan la Halaka Nu’maan”
    [Had it not been for the two years, Nu’maan (Abu Hanifa) would be finished.]
    There is no greater endorsement a student can give a teacher and is evidence that the Ja’fari School influenced the Hanafi School most directly. But we know too that those that followed were also influenced.
    (The remark by Imam Abu Hanifa is quite interesting as it reminds me of a similar one made at a different time by another person for someone just as important, if not more so, as as-Saadiq. I refer of course to the famous saying of the 2nd Caliph:
    “lau laa ‘Ali la Halaka Umar”
    [Had it not been for ‘Ali, Umar would be destroyed.]
    It is clear that members of the Ahl al-Bayt formed such a vital link to the Prophet, intellectually and spiritually, apart by way of kinship, that there advise on jurisprudential and other matters was sought time and again by discerning members of the Ummah, regardless of how we may label them.)
    There is also evidence that Imam Malik too benefited directly from Imam Jafar al-Sadiq and Imam Shafi’i composed a poetic adulation of the Ahl al-Bayt which can still be found in his writings despite many attempts by some to get rid of this material. All of these not only revered the Imams of the Ahl al-Bayt but fully recognised their own debt to both Imam Jafar al-Sadiq and his father, Imam Mohammed al-Baqir. More recently, the Tunisian scholar, Mohammed Teejaani Samaawi, has pursued the matter of Shi’a-Sunni debate in the light of this and other issues, including who follows what “sunnah”, in his many books which are now available in English (here):
    [ http://al-islam.org/index.php?t=sub_pages_74&cat=116&sid=0baff77075aba32b1676046fc1450698 ]
    Although some might be put off by the fact that he was once a Sunni (Maliki) and later changed to the Shi’i (Twlever) sect, I would still urge anyone interested in this debate to at least read through his arguments, esp. those in the book entitled “The Shi’ia are the Ahl as-Sunnah”.
    Moreover, much scholarly and CIVILISED debate has already taken place between our two sects. The following, for example, are highly recommended:
    1)Al-Muraaj’aat by Syed Sharafuddin al-Musavi
    [Found here: http://al-islam.org/murajaat/index.htm This is an excellent book as it shows how two luminaries interacted with each other on sensitive issues.]
    2)Peshawar Nights – a Shi’a-Sunni debate at the beginning of the 20th century.
    [Located here: http://al-islam.org/peshawar/index.html ]
    (There are many digital books at the “al-islam.org” website which are very relevant to this discussion and well worth reading.)
    Debate ought to be conducted as above. The first of the above is really strongly recommended. It is a highly engaging discussion between an illustrious Shi’i scholar of Najaf and the equally meritorious Mufti of Al-Azhar –an institution originally founded by the Shi’is (Fatimids) as a centre of learning, boasting one of the most original scientific minds of the Muslim Middle Ages amongst its teachers– Ibn al-Haytham (Alhazen) of Basra. It remained a great (shi’i) centre of learning until Salahuddin Ayyubi (Saladin) took over the reigns of power in Egypt and massacred the Shi’is and suppressed their beliefs.
    The second is a debate between a Shi’i scholar from Iran and a group of Sunni scholars in Peshawar, then in India, early last century. Both of the above are well worth reading very closely.
    I am great believer in reading with an open mind our rich historical and jurisprudential traditions from ALL sources. The trouble is that the bulk of this literature is still in Classical Arabic, a language that many in the Muslim world cannot handle. A serious effort is being made by some countries to translate these works into either the vernacular and/or the English language but it is still rather slow. For this reason alone the above digital books in English are a blessing. Books on Shi’i history that are worth reading, are:
    1)The Origins and Early Development of Shi`a Islam by S.H.M.Jafri
    [Available at: http://www.karbala-najaf.org/shiaism/shiaism.html ]
    2)Succession to Mohammed (A Study in Early Caliphate) by Wilferd Madelung (Cambridge University Press.)
    It is a pity that even when material becomes available, few of my co-religionists would bother. Reading, assimilation and above all analytical thinking are painful activities that regrettably few like to participate in. Most follow the beliefs of their (immediate) ancestors without giving much thought as to how they came to be at that position and are even prepared to defend this stance without recourse to reasoned and rational arguments.
    Do excuse the few vowel-cum-consonant-heavy words above, but as these may not be familiar words / names to some readers, I thought it would be useful to ensure a correct pronunciation. I do agree they are an eyesore.
    Lastly, I should like to make clear that I do not profess to be a scholar of Islam. At the same time I wish to learn, all the while keeping in mind the word of a very wise man who once said:
    “man taraka qaul laa adri fa useebat bimaa qaataluhu”
    [One who stops saying I do not know is doomed.]
    (Ali Ibn Abi Talib)
    When one recognizes that one doesn’t know enough, then one strives to know more. I am still learning. We all should do the same and get to know the point of view of the “other side”. Perhaps then we shall be less tempted to call others “Ahl alBid’!”
    Ma’assalaamah,

  • salman

    Salamu ‘Alaykum
    Sayyidi A. Imam:
    You accuse the Sunnis of not “understanding” the Shi’a then unearth the most implausible books discussing Sunni Islam such as Al Tijanis extremely weak “Then i was Guided”, the most-definite forgery “Al Murajat” and “Peshawar Nights” – all polemical books whose main purpose is to manipulate and misconstrue Ahl Al Sunna texts and beliefs. La Hawla Wa La Quwwuta Ila Billah!
    Then you quote, before that, narrations and statements such as “If it were not for two years, Nu’man would have perished” a forgery, with no source nor chain, but merely a claim that keeps passing from mouth to mouth, as Shaykh Gibril Haddad told me personaly, icing it with the claim that *all* the Sunna Madhabs actually come from the Ja’fari path! What happened to Hammad and Ibrahim Nakha’i from whom Abu Hanifa took plenty more then he did from Imam Ja’far? This is base ignorance.
    I have read “every” book you have mentioned in your thread, and none of them qualify as a “neutral read”. Rather, as i mentioned before they are typical missionary works.
    Wasalam

  • aliabbasqureshi

    bismihi Ta’ala
    assalam o alaykum br Salman
    jak, for the comments, which are borne out of nasiha and concern for the shi’ites in particular
    you have a heart imbued with love and concer for the other, may we emulate you in all that is good, insha ‘Allah
    i was not aware of shiachat.com, as being a “scholarly” and “authoritative” resource for shi’i beliefs, or for any beliefs for that matter.
    i am told that is quite a “wild” place: i am surprised that a brother of your iman, would be interested in such avenues, God Knows better!
    generally, within the shi’ite world, the muqallids, put the questions to the mujathids, at least the ones that i am aware of, Sistani, Sanaei, Lankarani, Khamanei, Sanei and Naini.
    now, have you put forth the question of how they view the ahlal sunna? i am in posession of letters from Sanei, Naini and Lankarani, where they encourage their followers to have the ahlal sunna lead prayers, conduct friday sermons/prayers. it disturbs me, to read, as you have suggested that Modaressi (is that right), has suggested matters that he is un-aware of. it is certainly an inconvenience for you my brother, but can you dig up the link from shiachat.com and e mail it to me personally, so we can raise the matter further.
    may God reward you abundantly and generously for bringing this up, and if there are other pressing matters, please share them with me as well. you can personally direct them to my e mail, aliabbasqureshi@yahoo.com, insha ‘Allah
    additionally, have you read of Murtadha Mutahharis work on ‘Islam and Religious Pluralism’? he dedicates several pages to the subject of Prophecy and Imamate, and is a useful read, contrary to what i have been reading from thy end. i will be happy to drop you the book in mail: better, i have seen a PDF some where on line, and will share the link when i find it, for others to read as well)!
    i was also surpised when you referred to the works of Tijani, Sharaf al Din, and even Peshawar Nights, as “discussing Sunni Islam”. you are obviously well read, and are in a better position, having read of both perspectives, but isn’t Tijanis work more a rendition of exploring shi’ite beliefs from within ahlal sunna sources? i don’t recall, if they discuss ahlal sunna beliefs at all.
    i must be confusing matters here, am i not?
    in-fact, the work al Murajaat being a forgery: that is new for me. is there a source that we can verify this against? i recall a friend of mine, showed me an academic work, from Brill (as you are aware they publish academic works, but also are in possession of Islamic manuscripts), where they captured the efforts of shi’i and ahlal sunna for raproachment, the product of it was the fatwa (much discredited though) from Shaltut, and al Muraja’at was there in it as well.
    please, do not deny me the opportunity to be corrected, for Sharaf al Din al Musawi, has written several works on the shi’i and ahlal sunna issue, and i have found his works to be quite non-inflammatory, since they suggest a plurality of understaning on the divisive issues, not only between shi’i and ahlal sunna, but also within ahlal sunna them-selves
    again, i don’t recall al Muraja’at being an expose on ahlal sunna beliefs: how is that? i was always under the impression that a question was posed to Sharaf al Din al Musawi, and he simply chose to share what he found common among the ahlal sunna and the shi’i. the first few chapters, are nothing but the fadhail of the ahl al bayt, from the ahlal sunna sources, are they not? again, i am not going to pretend that i know more than your knowledge-able self.
    i don’t find anything “missionary” about it, though with Tijani, i agree! i found his work to be rather offensive in nature, God knows Better!
    Peshawar Nights! i have seen many a instances of doubts created for this work. a friend of mine informed me that he had read it on ansar.org, which is a quite an inflammatory site. in-fact, he was able to get news clippings of the event back when it happened. this is truly fascinating, and i am indeed fortunate to have run into your acquintance. kindly share your evidence with me as well, i will be delighted to read it, for it seems that the deck of cards for shi’ite false-hood seems to be crumbling, and God is Certainly Great
    that tradition on abu Hanifa, i have read of it, even from al Doi, in his work on the Shariah! Shaykh Gibril is obviously a scholar, and i would trust him, but is there a scholarly critique of the tradition that one can pursue, insha ‘Allah.
    i have read of this tradition more so from ahlal sunna works, and truly i can understand, your sense of frustration, some ahlal scholar-ship is certainly scholarly, and some is just more scholarly than others, masha ‘Allah
    i truly and sincerely apologize for my response: i have shown more ignorance here, though i am hopeful that you would be kind enough to share of the much that you know, and that God would grant you much patience, with me, for i am the likes of those, as you put it so sincerely and succintly, “They are our brothers who have strayed into the land of misguidance and deviation. May Allah guide them.”
    your brother in faith, abu Kumayl

  • aliabbasqureshi

    However, the Shi’a can curse, ridicule and mock the Companions, the Imams and others and no one says a word about how Ahl Al Sunnah “can be offended”?
    Ya Shaykh Salman
    the shi’i of the ahl al bayt, do not curse the ashab, Ali’s pronouncement in the Nahj al Balaghah, the ahadith from the imams, explicit in the Usul al Kafi, are very very clear: they advised us to be with the “jama’ah”, to socialize with them, to care for them, to establish prayers with them. this is the shi’i Islam that i have known of, and hence i have request Hajj Imran to add me to SunniPath.com. given that he has a busy schedule, he has not responded as yet, and i look forward to it, insha ‘Allah
    lik-wise, it would be un-fair for any shi’i to associate the likes of those who pronounce takfir on them as the ahlal sunna: it would be extremely un-fortunate, but it is happening.
    how do we save us “all” from this predicament?
    i know that from the shi’ite side, in the last two years, dr Kalbe Sadiq, a prominent scholar, activist, philantropist, dedicated two years of Muharram majalis on the ‘couplet’ of imam al Shafi’i (ra) on his love for the ahl al bayt
    i am certainly ignorant, compounded to the extreme, on how much good work you and your scholarship has done in the face of the calamity that has hit the Islamic World: shi’ite and non shi’ite alike
    insha ‘Allah you can share that with us, and apply the balm of peace, serenity and brotherhood in this mayhem!
    aK

  • aliabbasqureshi

    Sidi Zahir: Im sure you can search the web for Shi’a manipulations of Ahly Sunna texts, for the purpose of “converting” the Sunnis to Shi’ism. I will not go into any detail whatsoever though.
    i think that Sidi Salman: you owe it to us. this is a serious charge is it not?
    are these deliberate distortions in the content, or are these differences of hermeneutics? ahlal sunna scholarship has even done stellar work on documenting, actual contents being missing, that is being done by our Salafi brothers
    as to the distortion of meaning: Sidi Salman, that is a matter of hermeunetics. even for the noble Book, a given verse, can have multiple meanings, depending on the scholar-ship, of the breadth of perspective, of the intimate knowledge of. i mean look at the issue of jihad: even ahlal sunna scholarship can provide for diverse meanings, now does that entail deliberate manipulation. you are more knowledge-able than i am, and i am sure that your answer will confound me more, than what i can handle, insha ‘Allah
    on a last note, if the tahrif is the nature of the likes of
    http://www.al-islam.org/tahrif
    from the shi’ite side, we would like to see the evidence. if it is a matter of interpretation, remember, even within your own 4 schools, differences of opinion are a rahma: it is just so that you don’t extend it to any one else, but just your-self, is that not right?
    i hope that my ignorance does not lend to a lack of a reponse
    iltimase duas, abu Kumayl

  • aliabbasqureshi

    Open up Ibn Hajars Lisan al Mizan and see how many times he refers to the books of Al Kashi, Saduq, Tusi and others to identify narrators of the Shi’a, as one example.
    masha ‘Allah! the way i look at it, it only adds to the inter-twining of shi’ite and ahlal sunna history. it is wonderful to see how you look at it in a divisive way, yet i look at it in a manner that is nurturing the common bonds and related histories.
    let me ask you: how many times do Sh. Faraz or Hajj Gibril open up al Tabatabais Commentary and adorn it to http://www.sunnipath.com?
    Hajj Gibril quotes it in two instances, and infact his teacher, Shaykh Muhammad Hisham Kabbani (and they way i know it is that Hajj Gibril had personally requested from me copies of the English translation), adorns pages 11-17 in his specific work on Tawassul, which is volume 4 of 7, for the Encyclopedia of Islamic Doctrine! yes, a shi’ite Commentator in a work of ahlal sunna Doctrine, akhi!
    i recall, that a brother took exception to it and reminded me that ahlal sunna also quote Zamakhshari, for lexical understanding, even though he is posited as Mutazali (i believe). i responded, that al Tabatabais commentary (and i call it commentary, for quoting 6 pages is beyond the lexical) is beyond the lexical, for it is purely imbued with an approach and hermeneutics that is indeed of an interpretation of the ‘Quran through the Quran’.
    i wish that you would further press Hajj Gibril and ask him, on how many shi’ite narrators are there in the works of the ahlal sunna ahadith literature, and most importantly, how are they graded? do we reject them all, summum bonum: which could bear out from the pronouncement of deviancy and mis-guidedness, only God is all Aware and All Knowing.
    not all shi’is are alike, and this is a distinction that i think is distinctively lost here. the defeaning silence from sh Faraz, will certainly await a piercement of sorts, for he can shed more light, or better else, dig up articles from Hajj Gibril, for he seems to be more aware of this issue
    have you actually read of Thematic Commentaries of the Shi’ites: to name just one, let’s begin with Tabatabai, how about Shirazi, how about Subhani?
    if there was such a mis-guidedness and deviancy that we would associate to the ahlal sunna (may God forgive me for saying this), why would they quote, classical commentaries, especially ahadith from the Prophet !?!
    either i am so blinded and brain washed, that your message is not resonating, or my intellect has incapacitated my sense of discernment, or perhaps the accursed one has taken reigns of my soul, that i fail to see, on how one can really propound such a difference in perspective, for indeed, you are guided beyond guidance, and i can only be dumb struck, incapacitated to the state of absolute inertia!
    Wallahu Alam, abu Kumayl

  • salman

    Salamu ‘Alaykum
    Sayyidi Ali Abbas:
    [1] Yes, Shiachat is a wild place. I do not associate with the site. However, I am informed of what happens there. As you may know Sayyid Mahdi Modaressi is very popular in England. Being the son of an Ayatullah, as well as a representative of some of the Marja3 as well it is noteworthy and rather sad to hear of his views regarding “sunnis going to heaven”.
    I’ll email you the link Insha’Allah – but it is on Shiachats “Ask the Scholars/Guests” section of their forum.
    [2] As for Sharaf Al Din Musawis work “al Murajat” which i have gone over a few times back in my younger days, then there are a number of internal contradictions, as well as astonishing ignorance by the Shaykh Al Azhar Salim Bishri that astounded me. Even a lay person and mere talib like me could see the mistakes from a mile. Once again, I will not go into details. Even if we do not consider it forged, it is certainly not a reliable source for Sunni beliefs. Merely quoting Sunni sources is not enough.
    [3] What is authentically established from Imam Abu Hanifa is the statement, “I have not seen anyone greater in Fiqh then Ja’far ibn Muhammad” (See: Dhahabis Tadhkhira Al Huffaz and Siyar). The above was also transmitted by Imam Abu Hanifas own student, Al Zuffar, in Kitab al Lu’lu’i.
    Yet, it remaisn true that our Imam primarily took fiqh from Hammad ibn Abi Sulayman with his chain to Ibn Ma’sud and Sayyidina ‘Ali.
    I asked Shaykh Gibril and he said that Imam Abu Hanifa did take some fiqh and hadith from Imam Ja’far, yet this certainly does not establish the claim that the Hanafi madhab derives from the Ja’fari!
    [4] Yes, on occassion someone may cite Shi’a sources in Ahl al Sunna works, but what is the reasoning behind this? I shall let you ponder over this.
    [5] Shi’as in Sunni hadith literature. Shaykh Gibril addressed this topic once, and I have personally researched it. However, such a thing cannot be compatible to the given situation, mainly because one who was addressed by the scholars of Rijal as “Shi’a” did not necessarily indicate “Rafdh”. In general terms, all the Marja3 and the vast majority of twelvers would fall into the second category if we were to apply such terminology now. The “Shi’a” never questioned the Imamate of Abu Bakr wa Umar – they accepted it -, but there may have been other considerations such as demeaning Sayyidina Uthman, cursing Mu’awiyah and so forth that gave them the label of “Shi’a”. This is an important distinction that many confuse.
    The principle as Dhahabi and Ibn Hajar mention is to accept the narrators of innovators as long as their innovation [1] does not take them out of Islam and [2] they do not spread their innovation.
    Wasalam

  • aliabbasqureshi

    My dear Sidi Salman
    jak, for the quick response, though i feel that some questions were left un-answered: or at least i did not see it that way, so kindly bear with my lack of comprehension
    [1] on the shiachat.com – yes, please send me the link. would like to investigate it, though i was sadenned that you took it face value that there was a sense of credibility. i insist that you write to the maraja’a, for clarification, and i felt that you raised the issue of shiachat, for sake of widening the differences here. i think that you know more about shi’i Islam, than many shi’is, perhaps more than myself, and should have availed the opportunity to write to them, insha ‘Allah
    [2] on al Muraja’at: Sidi Salman, you stated, “the most-definite forgery”, and now have toned it down to “it is certainly not a reliable source for Sunni beliefs”. i don’t get it.
    since when is al Muraja’at a source of ahlal sunna beliefs? it was simply a dialogue, and for the simple fact the learned Shaykh from al Azhar, was not to your liking, the shi’ites have to take the blame for it :-) i mean, to put it rather bluntly, you want to lay the blame on the shi’ites for the ahlal sunnans lack of scholarship? how judicious is that?
    in any case, what made you suggest that al Muraja’at was a definitive forgery !?! it would have been more appropriate to suggest what you suggested in the recent post, but out-right forgery: it actually … well let’s leave it at that. there are three other works from Sharaf al Din al Musawi, that are worth the read, and they are not dialogues, so no forgeries there. al Musawi is serious scholar-ship, at least as the shi’ites see it, and to suggest forgery is really stretching it to far
    [3] on imam abu Hanifa: i don’t really give it much thought. if the shi’ites quote him, certainly the ones that i know have not suggested that abu Hanifa’s (ra) fiqh is derived from Jafari! that is rather foregone conclusion, indeed, and i agree with you. just like imam al Shafi’i reciting the couplet for his love of the ahl al bayt: none of the shi’ites i know of, suggest that imam al Shafi’i is now Shi’i. what made you jump to that conclusion?
    [4] i have already expressed my intent on it: i give credit to ahlal sunna scholarship where it is due: they can see what is right even among the deviant sects, as you put it mildly and so sincerely, but al Tabatabais Commentary is certainly to be reckoned with, for indeed it may even spell an absence of a particular Quranic discovery that is now un-veiled, and one need not to be ahlal sunna or shi’ite persuasion, God grants to Whom He chooses, and He is certainly not Questioned about it, Subhan Allah!
    [5] i am glad that you offered a greater distinction, for it did not come out in the earlier post. it was sort of a reductive statement of sorts, which really lent an open ended conclusion of sorts, and jak for clarifying it
    on the other issues, i am not going to press upon, for we agree to dis-agree, but kindly share me with me evidence that
    (a) al Muraja’at is a definitive forgery
    (b) and so is Peshawar Nights
    these are claims that i take seriously, for it lends to an absolute reductionism of sorts, that is really un-healthy, if you want deviants and mis-guided souls of the shi’ites to accept thy noble and well intentioned prepositions and beliefs,
    wouldn’t you agree ?
    of course, God Knows Better, abu Kumayl

  • Sean Asalm

    Jazak-Allahu Khair Sidi Faraz for stepping up and for your continuing efforts to turn the senseless polemics in to a dignified difference. One thing I want to point out to my Shi’ia brethrens, I have several Shi’ia relatives from my father’s side of the family. Until I started to read and understand the teachings at Sunnipath, my behavior with them was very offensive and argumentative. Alhumdullilah it was through the teachings at Sunnipath that made my views much more tolerant towards our fellow Muslims. Also the recent traditional sunni ulemas likes of Shaykh Hamza, who in his advice to the seekers talk at http://www.zaytuna.org/multimedia.asp (RealAudio: Listen | MP3: Listen) clearly states how important it is to live in peace and harmony with our shi’ia brethrens and putting aside the polemics and argumentation. So Sidi Zahir rather than getting all worked up and upset at Sidi Faraz you should give Shukr to Allah(swt) for having such a tolerant and open minded sunni brother.

  • aliabbasqureshi

    “If you go on shiachat.com, maybe you should look up Sayyid Mahdi Al Modaressi’s (son of Ayatullah Modaressis) answer regarding whether Sunnis will go to heaven. His answer was “chances are very slim”. Subhanallah.”
    In the Name of the Most High
    assalam o alaykum Sidi Salman
    i managed to go to shiachat.com for the sake of verifying what you had stated.
    per-chance is this the link that you are referring to
    http://www.shiachat.com/forum/index.php?showtopic=28240
    and to conclude, what he said,
    “Therefore, without the love of Ahlulbayt, chances of one to enter paradise are very bleak, to say the very least.”
    un-less, that i missed another post, kindly share with us the evidence, for this is a matter of grave and serious concern, would you not agree?
    i will also recommend that you read up on verse 42:34 (i think, it is also known as the aya of al-muwaddah), which like my-self, my ahlal sunna brothers and sisters believe in the love and sancity of the family of the Chose One. there are beautiful couplets in the Commentary of Fakhr al Din al Razi, that are worthy of thy read as well, insha ‘Allah!
    i urge you again, to share with us the evidence, that per chance we missed, for the sake and Love of God and His Messenger, insha ‘Allah
    with much love and regards, abu Kumayl

  • aliabbasqureshi

    In the Name of the Most High
    assalam o alaykum …
    Sidi Salman,
    i have written to the office of al-Modaressi seeking clarification, if he ever suggested, as you had proposed,
    “If you go on shiachat.com, maybe you should look up Sayyid Mahdi Al Modaressi’s (son of Ayatullah Modaressis) answer regarding whether Sunnis will go to heaven. His answer was “chances are very slim”. Subhanallah.”
    along-with a link to this thread. i will post my letter that i wrote to them here as well, so there are no mis-understandings, insha ‘Allah!
    you can either reach them directly at Office@Almodarresi.net, or share the evidence here, insha ‘Allah
    iltimase duas, aK

  • aliabbasqureshi

    – letter to al Modaressis Office seeking Clarification
    bismihi Ta’ala
    assalam o alaykum …
    i write to you with a concern shared from a dear ahlal sunna brother salmany@sunnipath.com, on this blog
    http://akramsrazor.typepad.com/islam_america/2005/12/tearing_down_sh.html
    according to the our ahlal sunna brother, sheikh al Modaressi, is believed to have said that,
    —-
    “If you go on shiachat.com, maybe you should look up Sayyid Mahdi Al Modaressi’s (son of Ayatullah Modaressis) answer regarding whether Sunnis will go to heaven. His answer was “chances are very slim”. Subhanallah.”
    —-
    the only reference that i was able to find, and i am still awaiting clarification and response from our ahlal sunna brother, if infact, Sayyid Mahdi did suggest as such is from this link
    http://www.shiachat.com/forum/index.php?showtopic=28240
    with a quote from the Sheikh towards the end,
    “Therefore, without the love of Ahlulbayt, chances of one to enter paradise are very bleak, to say the very least.”
    our ahlal sunna brothers/sisters deem that the shi’ites are ahl al bida, and given the nature of the comment, i am seeking further clarification, and also a semblance of mature minds that can set matters aright to this grave and serious matter, at the level of Islamic Scholarship from both ends, for issues of takfir and mis-guidance are certainly at the heart of the issues that divide the Islamic Ummah!
    insha ‘Allah
    Ali Abbas – aliabbasqureshi@yahoo.com

  • http://sister-scorpion.blogspot.com Leila

    I think one of the biggest problems in the Sunni and Shia “gazes” of each other has to do with the fact that BOTH sides tend to look at the other through their own tinted lenses.
    For example: A Sunni brother or sister will observe or read something about an aspect of the Shia school of thought using their own Sunni-based criteria and background as a litmust test. You may certainly switch this around vice-versa, and you will end up seeing the exact same thing taking place.
    To be perfectly blunt, opening one eye and keeping the other closed only leaves you with 2-D vision, know what I mean?
    Regards,
    Leila M

  • http://sister-scorpion.blogspot.com Leila

    Whoops, a minor “PS” to add:
    1. Shiachat is probably the worst place to find out information on shia Islam. The WORST. It’s a discussion board, many of the members are pretty young, and there’s a huge variety of outlooks on Jafari Islam, as well as a number of non- 12er Muslims, and non-Muslims on the list. It’s an interesting place to go (I post on a rare occasion), but it is neither the place for learning nor for any sort of logic-based debate.
    2. ANY scholar of any school who says those from another school aren’t Muslim etc, etc– is not a scholar I’d be interested in– whether that person is Sunni, Jafari, Ismaili, Whattheblahblahi, etc.

  • http://israinternational.com Irfaan Nooruddin

    A Call to accept our Respective Traditons
    As tempted as i have been the past few days in responding to various posts i’ve tried to restrain myself. But i took a “Hint” from Svend. The languange of many of the posts seems to be defensive and to highly apologetic at time. Although many of the posts, especially by the writers involved, have been examples of the adab of dialogue. This issue is highly emmotive. We live in an era of “un-civility”, where argumentation and the “loudness” and shock of our words are the criteria. Apart from random posts, the steady conversation that has evolved seems to be seeking “books one has read” and scholarly “evidence”. The asking of “daleels” is more often then not proof of our collective ignorance( seriously is there a sentimental difference from “slim chance” and “bleak Chance” (refer above)) Both sects as mentioned earlier have equal statments of “Kufr” & “Fisq” against one another. These statments being made and buffered with Ayat and Ahadith. People active on the post should ask themselves with full honestly what they seek from this discussion. These debates have raged for 1400 years. For us to believe that our differences can simply be overcome by the likes of us, when the greatest scholars of Islam could not, would be the height of arrogance. What has been missing in these labels and insinnuations is the voice of tradition and what our greatest scholars have said. We quote and support works and versions of history that should honestly be looked upon as sectarian attempts to convert or keep followers of their respective sects. our traditon is one based on transmission. From the Quran,Ahadith, Fiqh and Aqidah all the sciences have been transmitted in a isnad (even the Prophet(saw) has an isnad by way of Gibri(as)from Allah). One should bear in mind that Ahl As-Sunna has always viewed itself from a theological perspective(Ashari/Maturidi) vis a vis other sectarian groups that have existed since the earliest centuries of Islam, so by blurring the lines of so called orthodoxy one would compromise that orthodoxy. Unlike many of those who fell into a group mentality of elitism and exclusion the main opinion shared by both Sunni and Shi’i is that we are all Believers and hence have the opprotunity to divine grace and paradise. what follows are statements in the authoritative texts of Aqaid (Beliefs) from both the Shi’i and the Sunni perspectives. The Itqidatul Imamiyyah by the luminary Shaykh As-Saduq (Sh. Saduq is among the writers of the four collection of authoritive ahadith for the Shi’i known as the books by the “4 Muhammads”(actually 3 Muhammads, Al-Tusi wrote two of them)) is the authoritative text of beliefs for 12er Shia, while his student Shaykh Al-Mufid (famous scholar writer of sacred history “Kitab Al-Irshad”) made minor ammendments in his version. The Sunni Aqaid for those interested is most authoritatively expressed in the Aqida of Imam Tahawi http://www.almadinamasjid.org/SATISFYING%20THE%20NEED.doc ,a famous scholar of Ahadith and fiqh according to the Hanafi rite. Both scholars lived at the same time in the 3rd century AH. I Quote from the Shi’i, which is more explicit in its proclaimations of kufr, only to illustrate that the languange of perceived exclusion is not so onesided. The whole text can be found at http://www.wofis.com/publications/003/003.pdf:
    CHAPTER 36 THE BELIEF CONCERNING
    INFALLIBILITY (`isma) (of Prophets, angels, Imams.)
    “He who denies infallibility to them in any matter appertaining to their status is ignorant of them, and such a one is a
    kafir (unbeliever)”. (This would include Sunni’s as they do not permit isma beyond prophecy, and do not except the Imams of the Ahl Al-Bayt to be Masum)
    CHAPTER 38
    THE BELIEF CONCERNING EVIL-DOERS
    “Our belief concerning them (zalimoun) is that they are accursed [145] and dissociation
    from them is necessary.” ( Sounds like the not hanging with “Ahl Al-Biddah thing)
    Who are the evil-doers?,
    …”(The literal meaning of) zulm is the placing of a thing at a place which is not its own. So he who claims the Imamat, not being an Imam, is an accursed wrong-doer
    (zalim ).And he who ascribes Imamat to those who are not entitled to it, he too is an accursed wrong-doer.”( Would that not include Abu Bakr(ra), Umar(ra), and Uthman(ra)? and hence all Sunni’s who believe in their rule)
    …”And our belief concerning him, who denies the Imamat to the Prince of Believers ‘Ali b. Abi Talib, on whom be peace, and the Imams after him, is that he is the like of him who denies the apostleship of all the
    prophets, on whom be peace.”
    …”And Imam Ja’far as-Sadiq said: He who doubts in the infidelity (kufr) of our enemies who have wronged us is himself an infidel (kafir)”
    There is much more such quotations in this and other traditional texts. Before we take the perilous path of rebuking traditional sources and start with the “unity” talk (and i have a letter from this marja talk), lets all take seriously what our traditions teach. While this issue of Heresy and Innovation is what seems to be the crux of the issue.If both parties involve are guilty of the same action is there really a need to try and continue the discussion if it strays away from our commonalities, and further alienates our hearts. Sensitivity should always be borne in mind in our interactions. Both communities should stand firm against extremism and the political violence that is fueled by ignorance. As Imam Tahawi states in his Aqidah: Pts 68-70
    “We agree with doing the prayer behind ANY of the people of the qiblah whether right-acting or wrong-acting, and doing the funeral prayer over any of them when they die.”
    “We do not say that any of them will categorically go to either the Garden or the Fire, and we do not accuse any of them of kufr (disbelief), shirk (associating partners with Allah), or nifaq (hypocrisy), as long as they have not openly demonstrated any of those things. We leave their secrets to Allah.”
    “We do not agree with killing any of the Ummah of Muhammad, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, unless it is obligatory by Shari’ah to do so.”
    May Allah unite our hearts and increase our knowledge. Ameen

  • aliabbasqureshi

    jak, for the post.
    it is very thought provoking, so bear with me, as i seek further clarification, insha ‘Allah
    you are very kind in not sharing traditions that are more “adverse” to the nature of the “uniting” of hearts and minds, spoken off in the last sentence.
    i have read of more damaging traditions from the shi’ite works though: enough said (Majlisi being one)!
    if one is expected to be “true” to our “respective” traditions, is there really any hope in the “uniting” of hearts that one yearns and speaks of, rather than –pronouncements– of “brother-hoods”?
    at “face” value isn’t “rigid-exclusivism” the way to go then, or perhaps “pietistic-avoidance”? if it is, then doesn’t this border on the avenues of “sects”?
    all the “catechisms” of ahlal sunna and shi’ites that we read of, of this “respect” of tradition that suggests notions that braces itself against what an “ummah” notion, how much of this “tradition” do we respect?
    while we speak of this “tradition”, what about the authoritative of them all: the Holy Quran? what can we learn from a “tradition” that is common to us “both”?
    while you suggest, and rightly so to return to traditions AND scholar-ship, doesn’t the “marja talk” spell notions of how a certain tradition is under-stood and passed on? how could you not?
    i find the tone rather dismissive in its suggestion, and find that the position hinges alone on “tradition” as if the “tradition” and the “traditionalist” are seperable.
    i am certainly not bound to any tradition, that is adverse to 3:103, be it in the way of rigid exclusivism, or pietistic avoidance (one mirrors it in the expression of a righteous over tone of moral indignation, and the other in the utter loss and hope of bringing amr bil ma’ruf and a loss of purity)
    yes, we live in trying and difficult times: isn’t it time that we at least pay attention not to each INDIVIDUALS tradition, but the COLLECTIVE tradition, that is the Holy Qur’an, which is common to both
    can we at least adorn a verse from the Holy Quran, in the pages that have followed
    insha ‘Allah, aK

  • aliabbasqureshi

    “Both communities should stand firm against extremism and the political violence that is fueled by ignorance”
    and what practical examples can you share with us? by and large “extremism” and “violence” is also being fueled to the extent that “each” other is reading the others tradition, are they not?
    each reading what they want to read, as a siter proposed. how do you rid of this dissonance? how about an avenue for dialogue?
    i have to pre-face this with a caution: i had the opportunity to listen to a learned, know-ledgeable, God fearing, pious man, who is revered by many, especially our ahlal sunna brothers and sisters, Shaykh Nuh Keller.
    it is not that he is not “knowledge-able”, certainly pious of many, God fearing of many, imbued with a sensitivity on how the shi’i are mis-lead, continue to mis-lead, and how specifically their scholars, aware of their tradition (or lack there-of), have mis-lead the shi’ite populace.
    aside, this issue: i personally feel that he while being know-ledge-able, did not share a “perspective” of the other. he spoke of Safawid Iran, remarked about taqiya, and also about his past following of Catholicism, particularly with reference to how the notion of isma (infallibility) of the imams within the context of the Pope!
    i respect the difference of opinion: whole heartedly, and am acutely aware of the responsibility of respect that is accorded to both ends.
    but given the sensitivity, not to mention the very positive, optimistic beliefs he extended to the shi’ites, having a “perspective” of the other, of a sense of how “offensive” and “offending” it can be, can easily turn listening ears to hardened hearts (insha ‘Allah not). may God grant him long life, and may his voice continue to be receptacle of nasiha for us all, insha ‘Allah
    i will be glad to send the file, for those who want to listen.
    yes, let’s agree to dis-agree, as sh. Faraz has reminded me over and over again, but also appreciate that there is a long history of “violence” and “extremism” that is part and parcel of the shi’ite psyche.
    one can call it the minority syndrome, but given the geo political constructs, Iraq, Iran, Pakistan, Yemen, Bahrain, Kuwait: these comments can fill in a void that would be other-wise be better filled with a message of hope for a better future.
    shi’ites have indeed become victims to the very element that has given them strength, yet it has also turned it against them as their weakest point. doesn’t the Quran state itself, that oppression is worst than killing, and only few ‘ulama have de-constructed the pedagogy of the oppressed (Fadhallah of Lebanon)!
    given, how muslims are treated, and the complaints that we marshall against the media and other theocon and neocon pundits, we should be in a better position to “emphatize” with the more marganilized entities, other sects and genders
    so to ask again, my learned contributor, as Ali Shariati posed: where shall we begin !?!
    abu Kumayl

  • Irfaan Nooruddin

    Insha’allah your comments concerning concentrating on our collective tradition, such as the Quran bring up an often times ignored point. In fact our commonalities go beyond the fact that we share a sacred text, a messenger, and love and respect for those closest to that messenger. Beyond the Sciences of the Quran ( Tajwid, Tafsir, ect.) there is great amount of “cross-intellectual” influence within our traditon. Beyond the realm of Islamic Law and Theology ( Mutazzila on the Shia and Khwaja At-Tusi on Sunnis, albeit limited), there is a rich heritage of shared spiritual growth. Ibn Khaldun even goes as far as to suggest the influence of Shi’ism on Sufism in terms of the concept of the the Qutb and its functionary similarities with the Hidden Imam. The greatest testament to this shared spiritual heritage is the fact that the great Sunni Dhahiri Scholar “Shaykh al-Akbar” Ibn Arabi is looked upon in Shi’i and scholasticism as the greatest esposer of the science of Irfan(Gnosis). That the great poems and spiritual texts of Ibn Farid, Rumi, Hafiz, Khwaja Al Ansari (quoted by imam khomeini in his letters, author of Manzil Sairin and a Hardline Hanbali Scholar), Suwaridi, and Ghazali are still used amongst Shi’i scholars is a testamant to our collective traditions. And most of these scholars held the traditional opinion of groups designated as Shia.Recent works such as Tabataba’i’s Al-Mizan underscore the greatness of scholarship on both sides. the texts of Sunni scholarship such as As-Suyuti and Taftanzani are still used in preliminary Howza studies known as Muqadimat in Iran. All Muslims should return to their respective traditions in full, and not truncated versions that allow for indiscrimate hatred and killing. All Muslims should also be students of history and gain a greater understanding of others within our traditions. Studying the failed uprisings of the Alids and the historic persecution of the Imams of the Family and their supporters is critical,As is learning of the support they enjoyed amoungst the Mujtahid Imams of Ahl As-Sunna. Knowing that Imam Abu Hanifah was whipped everyday untill he died in prison under suspicion of supporting the revolt of Muhammad “the Pure Soul”, the grandson of Imam Hasan, and refusal to official post is important. Knowing that Imam Malik’s arms were broken for the his support of the Alids is important. Knowing the Duplicitious of Al-Mamun when he promised succession to the Ahl Al-Bayt only to poison Imam Ali Al-Rida is important. And learning about the sacrifice of the Martrys of Karbala is important. Beyond a shared History and spirituality is the trancendent truth that we are one Ummah, defined as a group having one goal, and our goal is Jannah. As quoted by Imam Ashari(The Imam of Kalam for most Sunnis), “When death came to Abul Hasan al-Ash’ari in my home in Baghdad, he called me to him and I came, and he said, ‘Be my witness: I do not declare anyone an unbeliever who prays towards the qibla, for all direct themselves to the One who alone is worshipped, while all this [controversy] is but different ways of speaking” [1] (Siyar al-a’lam, 15.88).

  • Irfaan Nooruddin

    My last post, as i am ashamed of writing this much, is from a friend with far more piety then myself, may allah perserve is secret:
    “The Divine Providence has allowed both the Sunni and Shi’i perspectives to exist since the very foundational era of Islam. Both of these branches have produced men of the greatest piety and sanctity. Who could doubt the efficacy of both perspectives given the likes of such saints as each has produced? Is this not what religion is all about – that it provides man a path to become a Friend of God?
    Why then do these statements of kufr and damnation, made by the great spokesmen of each branch, exist? It is quite obvious that the positions of both groups concerning the other is a defensive strategem that seeks to protect the simple faiths of simple believers. We must remember that theology (kalam) – and these issues pertain to theology – developed primarily as a rational defense of doctrinal points. The defensive nature of these arguments should always be kept in mind; it is important to not only understand what has been said in each tradition but also why it has been said. Might we accept that these statements, which seem to categorize the other camp as disbelievers, have ultimately the purpose of protecting those simple believers who might waver in their path to God, if not presented with this extreme dichotomy?
    Today, given the conditions of our age, it is not advantageous for anyone – from a spiritual point of view – to adhere uncompromisingly to some of these harsh theological positions. There is no “threat” that the faith of Sunni Muslims will waver if Shiism is proclaimed to be an orthodox perspective. Nor will Shiis be swallowed by a Sunni ocean if their scholars acknowledge the legitimacy of Sunnism. Each group has crystallized over the centuries to an extent that such a scenario is hardly imaginable. For this reason, it would seem that scholars – even those who merely function as transmitters of traditional wisdom – do not need to transmit ideas that are unnecessary from a spiritual point of view or divisive from a societal point of view. When asked the question “what is our position about them?” it would be enough to say, “they are our brothers with whom we disagree.”

  • Svend White

    I’m not sure why a number of recent comments disappeared, but they reappeared once I added a new comment. Perhaps there’s a bug in TypePad. Will keep on eye the page in case there’s a relapse.

  • aliabbasqureshi

    bismihi Ta’ala
    assalam o alaykum …
    jak, for putting out these thoughts so eloquently, all with the assistance, the grace of the Almighty
    in many ways, what you write, i shared with a dear friend, who is well aware of the thoughts that have been penned down on this blog.
    being, that i have inherited the shi’ite-ahlal sunna tradition, by virtue of my parents disposition, one is in a unique position to suggest to
    (a) the shi’ites:
    [1] that there has to be a greater recognition of the services of the Khulafa al Rashidun, particularly abu Bakr and ‘Umar (may God have mercy on them both), particularly their establishment of justice, as it pertains to the rule of law and establishment, despite, and i say despite the differences that are part and parcel of the collective identities that every one brings to the table
    [2] one also has to recognize the rich history, of civil society, of the role taken up by the imams of the ahlal Sunnah wal jama’ah in the preservation of the din. a brilliant work to this effect in english is that of Sohail Hashmi, where several contributors bring to fore this much neglected aspect. shi’ites in their ignorance, and partly to the lack of scholarship of their dhakirs (orators) are so ill equipped with their own history to say the least, that they shelve everything and anything under the rubric of Umayyad propaganda. their history simply stops at the door step of Yazid, the son of Muawiya, without the necessary exploration of the lives of the shi’ite imams in detail, particularly of the role they played in maintaining a semblance of Civil Society, along-with the ahlal sunna imams. it is a history remark-able soaked with the sacrifices of learned, and God fearing individuals, and to ignore it, will be much to our detriment
    [3] shi’ites also need to pay close attention: infact, let me correct my-self here: they need to play *more* attention to the sirah of the Prophet (pbuh), for it is the basis of the unification between the two schools. shi’ites by and large have spent much time on the history of the schism of the two persuasions, of the life of ‘Ali and upto and until the life of Husayn ibn ‘Ali, the doyen of the martyrs
    [4] shi’ites also need to embrace the notion of sacrifice, of service to Islam as rendered by the ashab, not just those who are restricted to the Shi’at u ‘Ali. there are many of them, whose lives, whose sacrifices are a source, and ought to be a source of emulation
    [5] the shi’ites, need to for-sake elements of extremism that have permeated into their rituals and practices, and pay heed to the warnings and admonitions of scholar-ship like Mutahhari, who wrote Tahrifat al Ashura. shi’ites are reaping the fruits of their ill intention, ill willed diatribes against the divines of the ahlal sunna, as they pay a blind eye to the teachings of their imams, who were well aware and even cautioned their followers to diss-associate from such acts
    and lastly to my ahlal sunna brethren
    [a] please for the sake of God, stop levelling accusations of taqiyya as a hidden disposition of inward deception, which even came from the erudite scholar-ship of Shaykh Nuh Keller. there is nothing “missionary” about it, and there can be nothing more that can insult the shi’ite, as you so rightly put on the long history of persecution met out to them. shi’ites don’t accuse the muslims of al Andalusia, when they hid their faith, when forced to convert to Christianity, and the noble Book is a testimony to this practice, details of which rulings are delineated in the works of the fiqh
    [b] stop equating, “”notions of isma, to that of the Pope””, as it came from the erudite scholar-ship of Shaykh Nuh Keller. humour aside, there has to be sense of semblance when speaking of such! it is un-becoming of a man of such spiritual marifa to even make comments of this nature. the prophet are masum, yet they are human, and shi’ites do not assign any supra human traits to them either. what purpose, what aim do comments like these really serve?
    [c] stop suggesting, that the entire Iranian nation, was put to the sword, by the Safawids, resulting in a forceful conversion to shi’ite Islam. any one, any one with a semblance of Iranian history, will point to history and list you several, several factors, particularly the notion of mawali introduced to Islam. even the learned Hamza Yusuf, points to this notion, and rule during the first Umayyad caliphate, as negative growth in Islam. the Abbasids, were more pluralistic, more accepting of foreigners, and hence the explosion of Islamic sciences during their reign. the prof Khalid Yahya Blankinship, picks the strand in his work ‘The End of the Jihad State’, SUNY press, on the notion of Umayyad aristrocracy.
    [d] stop equating Shi’ites, as “ahl al hawa”, as individuals with no tawfiq. these are terms used by Shaykh Nuh Keller, a man whose spiritual insight, acumen, far exceeds the likes and wretcheds like myself. to rather proceed on these lines, and then also suggest that there are ahlal sunna and shi’ites in the audience, when he delivered the speech is rather difficult to accept
    [e] and for the love of God and His Messenger, stop treating the hadith al thaqalayn as foot-notes to your works. give it the due it deserves. also accept that the imams of the ahlal sunna and the shi’ites, have suffered, which Hamza Yusuf admits to this period of dark history during the Umayyad reign (listen to his lecture, World Tour, when he was in the UK/Ireland, the title of it was to the effect of ‘The Question of Violence in the Modern World’.)
    if both “sides” can share this sense of perspective, in addition to what you shared, yes, we can begin to not only “call” upon each other as “brothers”, but “treat” each other as “brothers” also.
    am i asking too much for such equitable treatment?
    i asked the folks on http://www.sunnipath.com if they would allow me to partake in the wonderful work that they are doing: i have yet to receive a response.
    if we are not able to go beyond words, then it is has not hit the heart, it has not embraced it-self against the grain of time
    iltimase duas, abu Kumayl

  • aliabbasqureshi

    http://ieb.world-federation.org/Publications/ieb_current.htm
    the above link, will offer you several shi’ite works, one in particular, ‘Islam and Religious Pluralism’ by the late Mutahhari, download-able in PDF format
    there is an entire section on ‘Shi’i perspective on the Ahlal Sunna’, as it pertains to the position of imamate. it is a commentary to say the least on al Saduq’s work on Shi’ite Beliefs.
    in essence and in summary, those who dis-agree with the position of the Imamate, are accorded all the rights that are conferred upon by virtue of al Tawhid, the prayer, fasting, hajj as in the noble Book, not as dis-believers.
    i hope that you will be encouraged to read the work, for he does tackle the extreme reductionist attitude of the belief in the wilayah of ‘Ali ibn Talib (5:55) of the shi’ites.
    regards, abu Kumayl

  • http://profile.typekey.com/MahmoodKara/ Mahmood Kara

    One of my favorite prayers in the Holy Quran is “Qul Rabbi Zidni Ilma – Say, O my Lord, Increase my knowledge” In that spirit, it would be wise to take with a grain of salt, those who advocate that we should not READ books of others and those who avoid discussions just because the matter has remained unsolved by “great scholars for over 1400 years”. Was not the first revelation to our beloved prophet, an order to READ? Does the Holy Quran not decry those who excuse themselves by “blindly” following the religion of their fathers and forefathers (without thinking)?
    Congratulations to all those who participated in this excellent discussion. May Allah reward you for all your efforts.

  • http://www.nuradeen.com Yahya al-Hayderi

    Asalaamu Alaikum W/r W/b,
    I hope this message reaches all of you in the best Iman and health Insha Allah.
    I just wanted to correct Ali Abbas, on what he said regarding Hujjat-al-Islam Sayyid Mahdi al-Modaressi. What the brother said on Shiachat is that without love of the Ahlul Bayt, the chances of a Muslim entering heaven are slim.
    Unless Sunni brothers have an intentional animosity in their hearts and rooted hatred for the Ahlul Bayt which in fact would take them out of the fold of Ahlus Sunnah wa Jamaat in my opinion then I don’t see why they should be offended by the Sayyid’s statement.

  • mu’mina mayss amafhh

    shia is the right path for islam and so is sunni. but to get a higher place in heaven taking to path of ahlulbayt(a.s) will bring you closer to the prophet his family and to allah (swt) because allah loves who loves the prophet and his family, and allah loves thows who follow in there footsteps. we are both part of the muslim umma we should come together with peace.
    sayed mehdi almuderassi is an amazing sayed he has tones of knowledge and his whole life is devoted to islam these kind of people should be respected.
    wasalam

  • http://www.willmorkhana.biz AngelaBridget

    Ola.! Ano Novo Feliz


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