In the name of Allāh,
the Beneficent, the Merciful.
Peace and Blessings of Allāh on Mohammad.
Allāh–the Glorious and the High,
Lord of the worlds
Mohammad–who brought the world
to our feet and eternity to our arms.
SUNNI & SHI’AH
(See also Islam-sectism among Muslims)
The Qur’an gives success: “O man, We have not revealed the Qur’an to thee that thou mayest be unsuccessful”-(Qur’an 20:1-2).
This throne of excellence is ever available for Muslims to ascend: “Allāh has promised to those of you who believe and do good that He will surely make them rulers”-(Qur’an 24:55).
Since the death of the Prophet we have thrown behind us the wisdom of Allāh to have military preparedness and protect one another–(Qur’an 3:199; 8:60; 8:72-73). We have foolishly polarized ourselves into sects –in the face of all our urgent adversities we are yet quibbling over who should have succeeded the Prophet. It is unGodly, tragic and disgraceful that Sunnis and Shi’ahs distrust and are even fearful of the other. We must visualize with what countenance we will face Allāh and His noble Messenger on Judgment Day.
Shi’ahs claim (on their website www.jaffari.org):
1. “Shī‘ism bases its arguments on the divine precedence in which God never left the issue of leadership in the hands of the people; He appointed the prophets and their successors. Professor Wilfred Madelung of the Oxford University makes an interesting observation in his book, The Succession to Muhammad, published in 1997. He writes, “The Qur’ãn advises the faithful to settle some matters by consultation, but not the succession to prophets. That, according to the Qur’ãn, is settled by divine election, and God usually chooses their successors, whether they become prophets or not, from their own kin.” (p. 17)”
But Allāh did not “choose” a successor to the Prophet Mohammad in the Qur’an. Nor did the Prophet announce to his followers that Allāh revealed to him to choose ‘Ali as his successor.
If God had chosen ‘Ali to be the successor of the Prophet there would not have been any need for the Prophet to inquire as to who will be his helper then announce that that individual is “my brother, my successor, and my caliph amongst you.” (Noted further on).
Also, the Prophet said that after him no prophets would come but Allāh will raise up Mujaddids/Reformers (to guide Muslims who have deviated from the practice of Islam). He did not say that his descendants or kins would become the leaders of Muslims.
2. “The Prophet of Islam, from the very first day of his mission started introducing ‘Ali bin Abi Tâlib as his successor. He clarified that this was done by the will of God.
Names of the Shí‘a Imams (successors of the Prophet) and their era of leadership:
1. ‘Ali bin Abi Talib 632-661
2. Hasan bin ‘Ali 661-669
3. Husayn bin ‘Ali 669-680
4. ‘Ali Zayn al-‘Abidin 680-712
5. Muhammad al-Bãqir 712-735
6. Ja‘far as-Sãdiq 735-765
7. Musa al-Kãzim 765-799
8. ‘Ali ar-Riza 799-818
9. Muhammad bin ‘Ali 818-835
10. ‘Ali an-Naqi 835-868
11. Hasan al-‘Askari 868-873
12. Muhammad al-Mahdi 873-Living in Occultation.
The Twelfth Shí‘a Imam (or successor of the Prophet) is believed to have gone into occultation (that is, he is alive but is not known to anyone). This occultation will last till the reappearance of the Twelfth Imam as the Saviour who will establish the Kingdom of God on earth. The Shí‘as believe that the Mahdi will be assisted in his mission by Jesus.”
Belief in the “Twelfth Imam” is not an Islamic teaching, it is a Shi’ah belief. This is the belief that spawned the Bahai religion. (See Baha’is & Baha’ullah).
If this “Twelfth Imam” is in “occultation” he must be over 1100 years old now. And if Jesus is coming back he must already be more than 2000 years old now. Can you imagine the physical condition of an 1100 years-old man and a 2000-years old one? (Please, do not try to say that Time is standing still for them to retain their original age). (For Jesus’ alleged return see Jesus-birth miracle or mechanix?).
3. “Appointment of ‘Ali by the Prophet:
From the very first day of his mission, Prophet Muhammad started introducing ‘Ali bin Abi Tâlib as his successor.
Islam began when the Prophet Muhammad became forty years old. Initially, the mission was kept a secret. Then three years after the advent of Islam, the Prophet was ordered to commence the open declaration of his message. This was the occasion when Almighty Allãh revealed the verse “And warn thy nearest relations.” (26:214)
When this verse was revealed, the Prophet organized a feast that is known in history as “Summoning the Family — Da‘wat dhu ’l-‘Ashīra”. The Prophet invited around forty men from the Banu Hãshim and asked ‘Ali bin Abi Tãlib to make arrangements for the dinner. After having served his guests with food and drinks, when the Prophet wanted to speak to them about Islam, Abu Lahab forestalled him and said, “Your host has long since bewitched you.” All the guests dispersed before the Prophet could present his message to them.
The Prophet then invited them the next day. After the feast, he spoke to them, saying:
“O Sons of ‘Abdu ’l-Muttalib! By Allãh, I do not know of any person among the Arabs who has come to his people with better than what I have brought to you. I have brought to you the good of this world and the next, and I have been commanded by the Lord to call you unto Him. Therefore, who amongst you will support me in this matter so that he may be my brother (akhhí), my successor (wasiyyí) and my caliph (khalifatí) among you?”
This was the first time that the Prophet openly and publicly called the relations to accept him as the Messenger and Prophet of Allãh; he also uses the words “akhí wa wasiyyí wa khalífatí— my brother, my successor, my caliph” for the person who will aid him in this mission. No one answered him; they all held back except the youngest of them — ‘Ali bin Abí Tãlib. He stood up and said, “I will be your helper, O Prophet of God.”
The Prophet put his hand on the back of ‘Ali’s neck and said:
“Inna hadhã akhhí wa wasiyyí wa khalífatí fíkum, fasma‘û lahu wa atí‘û — Verily this is my brother, my successor, and my caliph amongst you; therefore, listen to him and obey.”
This was a very explicit statement because the audience understood the appointment of ‘Ali very clearly. Some of them, including Abu Lahab, even joked with Abu Tãlib saying that your nephew, Muhammad, has ordered you to listen to your son and obey him! At the least, this shows that the appointment of ‘Ali bin Abí Tãlib was clear and explicit, not just implied.”
Shi’ahs claim that “Most Muslim historians and commentators of the Qur’ãn have quoted this event.” But Bokhari, the most recognized compiler of Hadiths, note that when this verse (Qur’an 26:214) was revealed the Prophet addressed the various tribes then said to them: “Suppose I told you there is an (enemy) cavalry in the valley intending to attack you, would you believe me?” They said, “Yes, for we have not found you telling anything other than the truth.” He then said, “I am a warner to you in face of a terrific punishment….”–(Bokhari, Vol. 6, # 293, 294).
There is no mention of this feast or gathering claimed by Shi’ahs.
As already noted, if ‘Ali was the successor of the Prophet there would have been no need for the Prophet to ask who will “support” him: he need only announce ‘Ali as his successor.
If Abu Talib had come forward as the Prophet’s “supporter” (and Abu Talib did give support to the Prophet) then Abul Talib (a much elder man) would have been the Prophet’s successor. (?)
And if no one had volunteered to be the Prophet’s “supporter” then there would have been no continuation of the Caliphate.
Equally significant, it is doubtful that if the Prophet had chosen ‘Ali as his successor that his dedicated followers such as Abu Bakr, ‘Umar, and ‘Uthman would have violated this order of the Prophet and assumed the Caliphate. Not to mention the outrage and uprising such a violation would have caused among the other devout Muslims.
4. “After that, the Prophet at various places emphasized the issue of loving his Ahlul Bayt, seeking guidance from them, and drew the attention of the people to the special status that they had in the eyes of God and His(See 42:23).”
But as Muhammad Ali commented on this verse of the Qur’an (42:23): “Commentators generally think that the love enjoined here in respect of relationship signifies loving the offspring (al) of the Prophet, but there is nothing in the words which entitles us to place that limitation upon the words. The correct significance of the words is that I ask of you naught in return for it; what I ask you is to love your own relatives. The statement that the Prophet did not ask for any reward at all is made very often in the Holy Qur’an, and the preacher of virtue never asks for any reward. What he asked them was to live in peace and harmony with each other. The Arabs, closely related as they were to each other, were in a state of constant warfare. They are told to give up mutual warfare and to love one another. A somewhat similar statement is made elsewhere: “I ask of you naught in return for it, except that he who will may take a way to his Lord” (25:57). In both cases what the Prophet wanted was not a reward for himself, but it was a good for the people themselves, being, in the second case, that they walk in the ways of God or lead godly lives and, in the first, that they love one another. Love of God and love of man are thus the two essentials of religion taught in these two verses. According to some, however, qurba here carries the same significance as qurbat or nearness, and what it meant is to love the attainment of nearness to God (R).” (Muhammad Ali’s translation of the Qur’an can be viewed online: www.muslim.org).
3. “Then the Formal Declaration:
Finally, just two months before his death, the Prophet clearly appointed ‘Ali in Ghadir Khumm as the leader (religious as well as political) of the Muslims. He said, “Whomsoever’s Master I am, this ‘Ali is his Master.” He also said, “I am leaving two precious things behind, as long as you hold on to them both you will never go astray: the Book of Allãh and my progeny.”
 For further discussion on the event of Ghadír Khumm, see the chapter “Ghadír Khumm & the Orientalists” of my Shi’ism: Imamate & Wilayat.. For authenticity of this version of the hadíth (that is, “Book of Allãh and my progeny” as opposed to “Book of Allãh and my sunnah”), see the Sunni author, Hasan bin ‘Ali as-Saqqãf, “The Book of Allãh and What Else?” The Right Path, vol. 6 (# 3 & 4 Oct-Dec 1997) p. 44-49.
Regarding the Prophet’s saying: “Whomsoever’s Master I am, this ‘Ali is his Master.” It may be advanced that as the Prophet was/is the “Master” of all Muslims there was no need for him to make such a statement. And which statement may have referred to any “slaves” that were in his care that they are now in ‘Ali’s care.
As to the “two precious” things the Prophet left behind. Whereas the Prophet’s “progeny” is without doubt “precious” it is his Sunnah that supplements/explains the teachings of the Qur’an: “Obey Allāh and Obey the Messenger;” “And whatso-ever the Messenger gives you, accept it, and whatsoever he forbids you, abstain therefrom”–(Qur’an 3:132; 4:66, 81; 59:7. Bokhari, Vol, 6, # 408).
It is the Sunnah, and not his “progeny,” that forms an integral part of Islam.
What is there that can be more “precious” than the Words of Allāh–(Qur’an 7:185; 39:23; 77:50) and the Sunnah –sayings and practice– of His noble Messenger –(Qur’an 33:21; 68:4; 69:40)?
Even if it is taken that the Prophet did say that one of the two “precious things” he was leaving is his “progeny” this does not mean that ‘Ali was to succeed him.
Even if the Prophet had chosen ‘Ali to succeed him this is no precedence for hereditary succession in Islam. Allāh exhorts us that power is to be given only to those capable and to govern by consultation/counsel–(Qur’an 3:158; 4:58; 42:38).
And the noble Messenger of Allāh is reported to have said: “We do not assign the authority of ruling to those who ask for it, nor to those who are keen to have it”–(Bokhari, Vol. 9, # 263).
The Prophet is reported to have told Abdur-Rahman bin Samura not to “seek to be a ruler, for if you are given authority on your demand then you will be held responsible for it, but if you are given it without asking (for it), then you will be helped (by Allah) in it. If you ever take an oath to do something and later on you find that something else is better, then you should expiate your oath and do what is better”–(Bokhari, Vol. 9, # 260).
And, “Any man whom Allah has given the authority of ruling some people and he does not look after them in an honest manner, will never feel even the smell of Paradise”–(Bokhari, Vol. 9 # 264).
Equally significant, ‘Ali and the other Caliphs did not battle one another or divide themselves: they assisted one another.
Abu Bakr, though he had sons capable of the Caliphate, selected ‘Umar to succeed him as Caliph. But ‘Umar’s appointment was final only after consultation and confirmation with the other Companions.
Muhammad Ali has noted that
“legislation was not placed in the hands of the king. First of all the Qur’an, then the Prophet’s precept or practice, then the will of the people, such was the machinery that framed the law; and the law, not the king, was the supreme authority. In subordinating king-ship to the law of the land and the law of the land to the will of the people, Abu Bakr laid the foundations of a truly democratic government as also of liberty and equality in the truest sense of these words.”
But, as Muhammad Ali adds:
“To the misfortune of the community of Islam, how-ever, this golden rule of government was abandoned after the reign of ‘Ali, the fourth Caliph. Kingship again became private property, as also did the public treasury. Democracy gave way to despotism, and thus began the disintegration and decay of the power of Islam.” (The Early Caliphate, p. 52).
There is no hereditary succession to the Islamic throne, nor is there a stipulation that the Caliph must belong to the tribe of Quraish. The reason why a Quraish was chosen as Caliph upon the Prophet’s death was to prevent the “disruption of Islam” which was still in its infancy. The Arabs, accustomed to their legacy of tribal rulership, were not yet conditioned to centralize government; however, this (choosing a Quraish) was done after “much discussion” with the parties concerned, as Muhammad Ali has pointed out in his The Early Caliphate (pp. 9-11).
Muhammad Ali has noted that “Abu Bakr’s election settled once and for all the all-important problem of succession to king-ship in Islam. Under the constitution of Islam, it was demonstrated for the guidance of posterity that the head of the State must be elected by the people.”(Ibid; p. 14).
Dr. Ezzoddin Ibrahim in his Sunni vs. Shi’ah: A Pitiful Outcry, quotes from Dr. Mustafa al-Shaka’s book Islam Without Sects, who says: Shiites and Sunnis are connected “by ties of forgive-ness and by striving to bring together the schools of thought, because the heart of religion is one and its core is original and does not allow separation.”*
Dr. Ibrahim also quoted the writings of Anwar al-Jandi, from the book Islam and the Movement of History, that “The history of Islam has been filled with disagreement, ideological conflicts and political differences between Sunnis and Shi’ites.” But, “The truth is that the difference between the Sunnis and Shi’ites is not more than what exists between the four sects of the Sunnis.”*
From his book The Muslims–Who are They?, Samih Atif al-Zain, says in the preface: ““That which induced me to write this book is the blind division between Shi’ite Muslims and Sunni Muslims, a division that should have vaporized with the eradica-tion of illiteracy, but unfortunately still has some roots in ill-minded people because its roots were very firmly planted by groups of people who ruled the Islamic world on the basis of dividing brothers while stimulating love for the enemies of this religion and those who refuse to live unless as parasites on the blood of others. I will tell you my brother Shi’ite Muslim and brother Sunni Muslim, the most important basis of differences lies in understanding the Holy Book and the Sunnis and Shi’ites have never disagreed on the Holy Book and the Traditions; dif-ferences are in understanding them.”*
“At the end of his book, Samih Atif al-Zain adds, “…it is our duty as Muslims, especially in the present age, to stop and push back the ill-intentioned ones who use the Islamic schools of thought as a route for misleading the people and playing with the minds of the masses as well as increasing suspicions. We must eradicate the sectarian spirit, full of hatred and bar the road of those who spread rumors and quarrels in religion, until Muslims return to how they were before: One society, cooperative and friendly rather than divided, separated and hating each other. Moreover they must resemble the cooperative attitude of the Orthodox Caliphs.”*
Dr. Ibrahim also notes that “Ustad al-Ghannushi in his book al-ha-rakat al-islamiyah wal-tahdith quotes these words of Imam Khomeini, “We want to be judged and governed by Islam as it was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad, peace and the mercy of God be upon him and his descendants, and in which there is no such distinction between a Sunni and a Shi’ite since the various schools of thought did not exist at the time of the Prophet.”* (Emphasis added).
Allāh, the Glorious and the High, instructs us:
“(Be not) Of those who split up their religion
and become parties; every sect
rejoicing in that which is with it”
“And in whatever you differ, the judgment
thereof is with Allāh”
“Say: O Allāh, Originator of the heavens
and the earth, Knower of the unseen
and the seen, Thou judgest between
Thy servants as to that wherein they differ.”
(Qur’an 30:31-32; 42:10; 39:46
What part of do not split up your religion; Allah will show us the truth of the matter wherein we differ do you not understand?
Clearly, to divide ourselves into sects is to defy Allāh. And we expect Allāh to give us Jannah.
After nearly two thousand years of baseless and useless and Godless bickering and even animosity Sunnis and Shi’ahs must end their division.
You decide; what will you have –sectism or Jannah?
* Five quotes. Ibrahim, Dr. Ezzoddin, Sunni vs. Shi’ah: A Pitiful Outcry, pp. 26-49.