The talks about the Shia in the last years, especially after the victory of the Islamic Revolution in Iran, have been so widespread. The western information and its media spread everywhere in the world, focused on the Iranian Shia, describing them as ‘the fool of Allah’ one time and ‘terrorists’ another time.
This included the Lebanese Shia as well after they had threatened the American and western interests in Beirut. They were described as ‘excessive and extreme’. Not long after this, these descriptions were ascribed to all the Shia in the world. In fact, they included the Islamic movements everywhere in the world even if they were Sunni movements having nothing to do with the Shia.
It does not matter to us what the western information and enemies of Islam say or the false justifications and fabrications they follow, for ‘you may hope for the friendliness from every enemy, except the enemy of your religion’. What does really concern us is that which some Muslims say about the Shia. You hear from them wonders and wonders! It is too odd that they do not have any evidence, clear proof or irrefutable argument in their false accusations, but they only repeat what their ancestors used to say without any analysis or verification.
In addition to the actual definition of Shiism we have mentioned in our fourth book “The Shia are the People of the Sunna”, we see that we must show the Muslims, who seek the mere truth and do not fear a blame in the way of Allah, the sayings of Allah and His messenger (S) about the Shia. Then, we shall be able to discuss the sayings of some approving and disapproving scholars and thinkers.
Allah the Almighty says:
As for those who believe and do good - surely they are the best of men. Qur'an, 98:7
Jalaluddeen as-Sayuti says in his commentary (tafsir) of the Qur'an called ad-Durr al-Manthur fit Tafsir al-Ma’thur, “Abu Hurayra narrated that the Prophet (S) said:
Do you wonder at the position of the angels to Allah? I swear by Him, in whose hand my soul is, that the position of a faithful servant to Allah on the Day of Resurrection is greater than the position of an angel. If you want, you can read this verse:
As for those who believe and do good, surely they are the best of men.
Aa’ishah narrated, “Once, I said, ‘O Messenger of Allah (S), who is the best of people to Allah?’ He said: O Aa’ishah, do you not read:
(As for) those who believe and do good, surely they are the best of men)?
Jabir ibn Abdullah narrated, “One day, we were with the Prophet (S) when Ali (a.s.) came and then the Prophet said:
(I swear) by Him, in whose hand my soul is, that this (Ali) and his Shia (followers) shall be the winners on the Day of Resurrection.
Then, this Verse was revealed:
(As for) those who believe and do good - surely they are the best of men.
Whenever Ali (a.s.) came, the Prophet’s companions said, ‘The best of men has come.’”
Abu Sa’eed narrated that the Prophet (S) said:
Ali is the best of men.
Ibn Abbas narrated, “When this verse was revealed
As for) those who believe and do good - surely they are the best of men, the Messenger of Allah (S) said to Ali:
Surely, you and your Shia (followers) shall on the Day of Resurrection be pleased and be pleased with (by Allah).
Imam Ali (a.s.) said, “The Messenger of Allah (S) said to me:
Have you not heard this saying of Allah:
As for) those who believe and do good, surely they are the best of men?
These are you and your Shia, and your appointment and my appointment shall be at the Pond (in Paradise). When nations shall come for reckoning, you shall be called ‘ghurran muhajjaleen - honorable and marked with lumosity.
The Sunni scholars, who have mentioned this interpretation when interpreting this verse, are too many. Besides Jalaluddeen as-Sayuti, we can mention at-Tabari in his Tafsir, al-Hakim al-Hasakani in his Shawahid at-Tanzeel, ash-Shawkani in Fath al-Qadeer, al-Aaloosi in Roohul Ma’ani and al-Manawi in Kunooz al-Haqa’iq.
We can also mention al-Khawarizmi in his al-Manaqib, ibn as-Sabbagh al-Maliki in al-Fusool al-Muhimmah, ibn Asakir in Tareekh Damashq, ash-Shabalanji in Noor al-Absar, ibnul Jawzi in Tathkiratul Khawass, al-Qandoozi al-Hanafi in Yanabee’ al-Mawaddah, al-Haythami in Majma’ az-Zawa’id, al-Mutaqqi al-Hindi in Kanzol Ummal, and ibn Hajar in al-Sawa’iq al-Muhriqah.
On this firm basis, researchers cannot be satisfied with the opinions, which suppose that Shiism did not appear except after the martyrdom of Imam Husayn (a.s.).
The Messenger of Allah (S) many times talked about the Shia. Each time he confirmed that the followers of Ali (a.s.) would be the winners, because they supported the truth and kept away from and let down the untruth. He also confirmed that the followers of Ali (a.s.) were the followers of the Prophet (S) himself.
Here, we mention the following tradition that has been mentioned by Ibn Hajar in as-Sawa’iq al-Muhriqah and other Sunni scholars.
The Messenger of Allah (S) said to Ali:
Are you not pleased that you shall be with me in the Paradise, and al-Hasan, al-Husayn and our progeny after us, our wives after our progeny and our Shia (followers) to our left and right sides?1
Many times, the Prophet (S) said about Ali (a.s.) and his followers:
By Him, in whose hand my soul is, this (Ali) and his Shia are certainly the winners on the Day of Resurrection.2
It is very natural that the Prophet (S) praised the followers of the truth and distinguished them with a sign by which they would be known throughout the ages, so that Muslims would know the suppressed truth and be guided to it through the nearest way.
Because of the Prophet’s praise and continuous instructions, a group from the best of his companions became adherents to Imam Ali (a.s.). They were famous for their love and support to him after the death of the Prophet (S). Among these great companions there were Salman al-Farisi, Abu Dharr al-Ghifari, Ammar ibn Yasir, Huthayfah ibn al-Yaman and al-Miqdad ibn al-Aswad. Thus, the word “shia” became a surname for these men.
Dr. Mustafa Kamil ash-Shaybi mentions this fact in his book ‘The Relation between Sufism and Shiism’, and the same is mentioned by Abu Hatim in his book az-Zeenah when saying, “The least name of a creed that appeared in Islam was the “Shia” and this was a surname of four companions who are Abu Dharr al-Ghifari, Ammar ibn Yasir, Salman al-Farisi, and al-Miqdad ibn al-Aswad.”
This shows clearly that the orientalists and some of Muslim researchers, who had quoted from those orientalists, were not truthful when they said that Shiism was a political phenomenon that came out as a result of the circumstances after the martyrdom of Imam Husayn (a.s.). It also clearly demonstrates the falsehood of those who tried to attach Shiism to the Persians. In fact, these people just reveal their own ignorance and fanaticism.
How would these biased people justify the existence of Shiite states in the Arab land in north Africa like Morocco and Tunisia and in the east like Egypt and Halab (in Syria) centuries before the appearance of Shiism in Persia? The state of the Idrisids (Adarisah) in Morocco was in the second century of hegira and the state of the Fatimids was in Tunisia at the end of the third century of hegira. The Fatimids also ruled in Egypt in the middle of the third century of hegira. The Shiite state of the Hamadanids ruled Halab (Syria) and Iraq in the fourth century, whereas Iran turned to be Shia in the tenth century of hegira at the hand of the Shah Ismael.
Those, who try in a way or another to attach Shiism to the Persians, will never be able to prove that whatever they try to do.
As I have mentioned before in my book ‘Then I was guided’, most of the Sunni scholars and imams who were Persian, were not Shia! In fact, they were very puritan and fanatic against the Shia and Shiism. Some historians mention that the people of Persia used to abuse Imam Ali (a.s.) on their minbars even after Umar ibn Abdul Aziz, the Umayyad caliph, had prohibited it (the abusing of Imam Ali).3
If we know that the first and most famous interpreter az-Zamakhshari was Persian, the great traditionists al-Bukhari and Muslim were Persian, Abu Haneefah the Greatest Imam, as called by the Sunni, was Persian, the master and most famous of scholars Seebwayh was Persian, the master of theologians Wasil ibn Ata’ was Persian, the master of linguists al-Fayrooz Abadi the author of al-Qamus al-Muhit (Comprehensive Dictionary) was Persian. Imam al-Ghazali, ar-Razi, Avicenna, and Ibn Rushd all were Persian… and all of the mentioned above men were from the scholars and heads of the Sunni, then would those fabricators and agitators turn to reason and let alone the true scholars and researchers conclude and arrive at the truth derived from the true history through their reasons and not emotions and fanaticism?