All praise is due to Allāh, the Lord of the worlds and Lord of all creation — may the salutations of Allāh, His peace and blessings be upon the noblest of all of the Prophets and Messengers, Muhammad, upon his family, his Companions and all those who follow them precisely until the establishment of the Hour.
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1. The Sunnis
After the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) died, there were differences of opinion about how the Muslims should be led and who should be given the leadership and authority. The Companions of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) agreed that only the Qur’ān and Sunnah had the authority to tell the people what to do. They decided, after looking into the Sunnah that Abu Bakr as-Siddeeq (may Allah be pleased with him) should be their leader – and that he would rule over them in accordance to the Qur’an and Sunnah. So he was the first Caliph. The second Caliph, ʿUmar Ibn al-Khattāb (may Allah be pleased with him) was appointed by Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him). The third Caliph, ʿUthman Ibn ʿAffān (may Allah be pleased with him) was chosen by a committee of six of the major Companions of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) who were themselves appointed by ʿUmar (radiyallāhu ʿanhu) before he passed away. The fourth Caliph, ʿAli Ibn Abi Tālib (may Allah be pleased with him) was appointed by the major Companions after the assassination of ʿUthmān. ʿAli gave (radiyallāhu ʿanhu) his pledge of allegiance to the previous three Caliphs and supported them wholeheartedly. He even named his children after them.
There are 73 sects amongst the Muslims according to several authentic ahādeeth – only one is recognized as being correct. And they are the ones who follow the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) and his Companions (may Allah be pleased with them all). That sect is referred to as Ahlus-Sunnah wal-Jamā’ah (The People of Sunnah and the Main Body of the Companions), or Ahlul-Hadeeth (The People of Hadeeth) or the Salafis (The Followers of the Pious Predecessors) – all these names are synonymous with each other.
There is much dispute amongst the Muslims as to who are truly the right sect. Sunnis (or Salafis) are those who follow the Sunnah of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) and the Path of the Sahābah (radiyallāhu ʿanhum) – so, whoever does that correctly are the People of the Saved Sect. The Caliphs were not lawmakers rather they derived judgements from the revealed texts; they were leaders who ruled by the Qur’an and Sunnah. The application of the Laws (Shareeʿah) was worked out by the Companions and jurists after them based upon their research into the Qur’an and Sunnah – much of the Law they agreed upon, and some they differed over based upon their understanding of the Qur’an and Sunnah, but all-in-all the principles and fundamentals were one and the same. Ahlus-Sunnah (i.e. the Sunnis) are very meticulous in acting upon the authentic hadeeth to the exclusion of the inauthentic hadeeth. They keep away from innovated practices that are not based upon the Qur’ān and Sunnah.
2. The Shiʿah
Decades after the death of the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him), a minority sect appeared claiming that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) had appointed ʿAli Ibn Abee Tālib (may Allah be pleased with him) as his successor. They believed that the Companions were wrong in not appointing ʿAli (radiyallāhu ʿanhu) as the first Caliph since ʿAli was the cousin and son-in-law of the Prophet. However, the Companions who were still present when the Shiʿah made their claims rejected their doctrines outright, including ʿAli himself.
- The Shiʿah believe that ʿAli (radiyallāhu ʿanhu) and his wife Fātimah (may Allah be pleased with her) continued to receive news from God after the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) passed away.
- They believe that all the Companions proved to be treacherous and heretics except a handful.
- They believe that ʿAli, Fātimah and their sons (radiyallāhu ʿanhum) are divine, so they call upon them and supplicate to them for aid and rescue.
- They also believe that there is a Chapter (Soorah) of the Qur’an that was deliberately left out by the Companions called Soorat al-Wilāyah that appoints ʿAli as the successor.
- The book, Usool al-Kāfi by the leading Shiʿite cleric Al-Kulaini states all of these doctrines and many more.
- They believe that their Imāms (leaders) have the right to be lawmakers alongside God.
- The Shiʿah believe that each Imām would appoint the next Imām before his death.
- The term Shiʿah means faction, and they believe that they are the Faction of ʿAli.
- They only follow religious rulings that come through their Imam or are confirmed by their Imams.
- They reject outright the first three Caliphs and they reject the ahādeeth and chains of narrations reported by Bukhāri, Muslim, Tirmidhi, Ahmad, Mālik, Abu Dawood, Ibn Mājah and so on.
Here is a list of the twelve Imams the Shiʿah hold to be divine, to whom they supplicate:
- ʿAli (d. 40 H)
- Hasan (d. 61 H)
- Husayn (d. 69 H)
- ʿAli (d. 95 H)
- Muhammad (d. 114 H)
- Jaʿfar (d. 148 H)
- Moosā (d. 183 H)
- ʿAli (d. 203 H)
- Muhammad (d. 220 H)
- ʿAli (d. 254 H)
- Hasan (d. 260 H)
- Muhammad al-Mahdi (the Hidden Imām)
The Shiʿah believe that they are guided by the Hidden Imām even today. They believe that by a miracle the Hidden Imām went into hiding as a child under the earth many centuries ago and that he communicates with the Shiʿite religious clerics. In Iran, Shiʿites pray for the return of the Hidden Imām. Iranian religious leaders are called Ayatollahs and are believed to be spokesmen for the Hidden Imām.
The doctrine of leadership and worship amongst the people of Sunnah is very different to the Shiʿah doctrine. The term Imām is used amongst the people of Sunnah, however, the term is not connected to sainthood or divinity. It is used to describe any Muslim ruler, Scholar or one who leads the prayer. The people of Sunnah refer to the overall leader as a Caliph (Khaleefah). A lesser leader is referred to as a King, President, Ameer or Sultān – the people of Sunnah hold these are legitimate rulers, even if they are sinful or oppressive and rebellion against these Muslim rulers is forbidden according to the authentic hadeeth.
Sayings of the Shiʿah:
- “To obey the [divine] Imām is to obey God. To disobey the Imām is to disobey God”
- “He who dies not knowing the Imām of his time dies as a Kāfir (Unbeliever)”
- “The Imāms are all free of sin guided by God.”
- “The Imāms have knowledge of the Universe.”
- “The Imāms are perfect and sinless.”
The Rāfidah Shīʿah (Twelvers and Ithnā ʿAshariyah)
The Rāfidah, which refers to those who ‘rejected Abu Bakr and ʿUmar’ is a title given to the largest sect of the Shiʿite who call themselves Ithnā ʿAshariyyah (The Twelvers), have many beliefs that contradict the Creed of Ahlus-Sunnah.
The differences between Ahlus-Sunnah and the Rāfidah are in the fundamentals of belief and ʿaqīdah. The Scholars of the People of Sunnah hold that the Twelvers have in their doctrine polytheistic doctrines that remove a person from the fold of Islam. Added to this is their religious enmity for the Muslims who are upon the Sunnah as is recorded throughout history till this day, and written clearly in their sourcebooks.
It is unfortunate that many of the general folk, who love the Qur’ān and Sunnah and desire good, do not know of the heretical beliefs and polytheistic practices of the Shīʿah—and this is partly due to the fact that the Shiʿite clerics do not make wide-spread the foundational books that their ideology is built upon.
The largest branch of the Shiʿah is the Ithnā ʿAshariyyah (Twelvers). They are referred to as the Rāfidah (Rejectors) due to their rejection of the first two Caliphs, Abu Bakr and ʿUmar and the other disciples of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him).
So, here we will mention just some of the beliefs of the Shiʿah that they themselves have penned in their own source reference books:
1. Their Belief Concerning The Twelve Imāms Of The Shiʿah
The foremost Shiʿite cleric Al-Kulainī mentioned in his book, Usūl al-Kāfī (1/258-260):
“If the Imāms desire to know something, they come to know it. They know when they will die — and none of them dies unless they choose to do so themselves.”
This book of al-Kulainī to the Shīʿah is the most reliable source reference to them — in essence, it is to the Shiʿah what Sahīh al-Bukhārī is to Ahlus-Sunnah wal-Jamāʿah. The Shiʿah ascribe divinity to these Imāms, worshipping them just as Allah is worshipped. One of their Scholars, Hāshim al-Bahrānī stated in his book, Yanābī’ ul-Ma’ājiz wa Usūl ud-Dalā’il (Chapter 5, p. 35-36) regarding the Twelve Imāms of the Shiʿah:
“They know what is in the Heavens and knowledge of what is in the Earth, they have knowledge of what has passed and they have knowledge of what is to come, and they know what happens in the night and the day, and from one hour to the next hour – and they have the knowledge possessed by the Prophets and even more than it.”
One of their important shaikhs of this era, Abdul-Muhsin al-Amīnī an-Najafī stated in his book Al-Ghadīr (1/214-216):
“Verily the [Twelve] Imāms are the sons of Allah and from the offspring of ʿAlī.”
They have stated in their writings and lectures:
“Indeed the Mahdi al-Muntadhir (the 12th Hidden Imām) entered an underground cavity whilst he was only five years old, yet he knows whatever takes place in every atom of the universe!”
2. The Shiʿite Belief Regarding The Noble Qur’ān.
The Rāfidites claim that the Qur’ān that is with the People of Sunnah is not that which was revealed to Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him). They claim it has been altered, changed and added to. Indeed the vast majority of their clerics and scholars believe the Qur’an has been altered and distorted from the original, as has been mentioned clearly by their cleric, An-Nūrī at-Tabrīsī (d. 1320 AH) in his book, Fasl ul-Khitāb fī Ithbāt Tahrīfi Kitāb il-Arbāb.
Al-Kulainī mentions in Usūl al-Kāfī (2/242) that the Qur’an that was brought by Angel Jibrīl to Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) had 17,000 verses. This means that the Qur’an the Rāfidites claim was revealed is more than what is with us today because what we have before us today consists of just over 6,000 Āyahs. And it is Allāh who has promised to preserve it:
“Indeed, it is We who sent down the Qur’an and indeed, We will be its guardian.” (al-Hijr 15:9)
Even their behaviour towards the Qur’ānic commentary is misguided as they explain it in accordance to their desires and fanatical ideology. Their scholar, as-Sāfī in his Tafsīr (1/156,361) of the statement of Allāh:
إِنَّ اللَّهَ لَا يَغْفِرُ أَن يُشْرَكَ بِهِ
“Indeed Allāh does not forgive that partners are associated with Him in worship.”
“Meaning: That He will not forgive those who disbelieve in the right of ʿAlī, may Allāh be pleased with him, [to be the first and lasting Caliph]. And as for His saying:
وَيَغْفِرُ مَا دُونَ ذَٰلِكَ لِمَن يَشَاءُ
‘And He forgives lesser than that to whomever He pleases.’
Meaning: For the one who gives allegiance to ʿAli [as the first rightful Caliph].”
Other examples of the distortion of the explanations of the words of Allah in accordance to their desires is the following: Allāh stated:
وَلَقَدْ أُوحِيَ إِلَيْكَ وَإِلَى الَّذِينَ مِن قَبْلِكَ لَئِنْ أَشْرَكْتَ لَيَحْبَطَنَّ عَمَلُكَ وَلَتَكُونَنَّ مِنَ الْخَاسِرِينَ
“And it was already revealed to you and to those before you that if you should associate [anything] with Allah, your deeds would surely become worthless, and you would surely be among the losers.” (az-Zumar 39:65)
The Shiʿite Qur’anic commentators said:
“That if you combine your allegiance to anyone along with allegiance to ʿAlī, then your deeds would surely become worthless, and you would surely be among the losers.” (Tafsīr as-Sāfī, 1/156,361, Tafsīr Nūr ath-Thaqalain, 1/151,488)
Regarding the statement of Allāh:
يُؤْمِنُونَ بِالْجِبْتِ وَالطَّاغُوتِ
“Those who believe in superstitious magic and false objects of worship.” (an-Nisā 4:51)
They said in their tafsīrs (commentaries):
“It refers to Abu Bakr and ʿUmar.” (See Furūʿ al-Kāfī with the notes Mirāt al-‘Uqūl, 4/416).
3. Their Belief With Respect To The Companions Of Allāh’s Messenger (sallallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam) And His Wives
The belief of the Rāfidites is built on reviling and abusing the Companions (may Allāh be pleased with all of them). They declare all the Companions to be disbelievers with the exception of three (or a few more). The Shīʿite cleric Al-Kulainī states this in his Al-Kāfī which is a source reference for them:
“All the people apostated after the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) except for three, those being: Miqdād ibn Aswad, Abu Dharr al-Ghifārī and Salmān al-Fārisī.”
(See Rijāl al-Kashshī, p.6, Al-Kāfī Kitāb ar-Rawdah, 12/312,322, with Sharh Jāmiʿ of Māzindarānī)
In the Shiʿite book Miftāh al-Jinān of Abbās al-Qummī there occurs a supplication of the Shīʿah scholars directed against Abu Bakr and ʿUmar and their two daughters ʿĀ’ishah and Hafsah (M), both wives of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him). They consider these as legislated supplications in the morning and the evening, wherein they utter:
“O Allah, send peace upon Muhammad and the family of Muhammad — and curse the two idols of Quraish, their two magicians, their two false deities, and likewise their slanderous daughters, those who opposed your commands.. (etc.)” (Rijāl al-Kashshī, p. 114).
They also refer to Abu Bakr and ʿUmar as “Pharoah and Hāmān!” (See Qurat ul-ʿAyn of al-Kāshānī, p. 432-433), and as “the two idols..” (Tafseer al-ʿAyāshī, 2/116, Bihār al-Anwār, p. 58,67) and as, “Al-Lāt and al-ʿUzzah.” (Ikmāl ad-Dīn of Ibn Bābawaih al-Qummī, p. 246, Muqaddimat ul-Burhān of Abul-Hasan al-ʿĀmalī, p. 294).
The Shiʿite clerics are very straightforward in their vile attacks upon the Sahābah. They state clearly that their ‘Awaited Mahdī (Hidden Imām) will bring to life Abu Bakr and ʿUmar and then he will hang them from the branches of a date palm tree, and he will kill them over and over, a thousand times a day. (See Ēqādh min al-Huj’ah bi Tafsīr al-Burhān ʿalar-Rujʿah of Hurr al-‘Āmalī, p. 287)
4. Their Belief Regarding The People Of Sunnah
The Rāfidah Shiʿite belief teaches that the wealth of the Sunni is permissible to take and his blood is permissible to spill. It is stated in their book, Al-Anwār an-Nu’māniyyah of al-Jazā’irī (2/206-207) that the ‘Ahlus-Sunnah are impure and filthy unbelievers by the consensus of the Shiʿite scholars, and are eviler than the Jews and Christians.’
In some other books, it states that it is permissible to kill Ahlus-Sunnah whom they refer to as Nāsibīs, because of their [false] belief that Sunnis hate ʿAlī ibn Abī Tālib (may Allah be pleased with him). They state that Sunni can be killed by drowning him, by crushing him under a wall, or by any other secretive means that leaves the Shiʿite killer undetected. These beliefs of the Shiʿites are openly stated in their books (See: Rijāl al-Kashshī, p. 529, Tahdhīb al-Ahkām, 1/384, Wasā’il ash-Shīʿah, 6/340).
5. The Rāfidah Shīʿah Believe That The Lord They Worship Is Not The Lord That Is Worshipped By Ahlus-Sunnah.
One of the leading Shi’ite clerics and scholars, Ni’matullāh al-Jazā’irī in his book, Al-Anwār an-Nu’māniyyah (2/278-279) stated:
“We are not united with them (i.e. Ahlus-Sunnah) regarding the Deity that is worshipped, nor regarding the Prophet, nor the Imām — and that is because they (Ahlus-Sunnah) say that their Lord is the one whose Prophet is Muhammad, and his Caliph is Abu Bakr — and we do not recognise such a Lord, nor such a Prophet. Rather we say: Indeed the Lord who made Abu Bakr the Caliph of His Prophet is not our Lord, and such a Prophet is not our Prophet!”
It is possible that there are some ignorant Shīʿah who ascribe themselves to the Shiʿite sect, or call themselves Jaʿfarīs or Twelvers and do not know the true beliefs of the sect. So upon them is to recognise the falsehood of the Shiʿite sect and free themselves from it, and not continue to ascribe themselves to the hateful Shiʿite doctrine. Truly, a religion is known by its sources, and not by its ignorant followers who have not studied. We have quoted here the beliefs of the Shiʿah from the source reference books of the sect that cannot be denied.
And all praise is due to Allāh, Lord of the worlds, and may the salutations of peace, security and blessings be upon our Prophet Muhammad, upon his family, upon all his Companions and true followers.
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