In the Name of Allah, the compassionate, the all-merciful Greeting of Allah be upon Muhammad and the pure members of his House
A Shi'ite Encyclopedia
Version 2.0 October 1995
Revised January 2001
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
We are pleased to release a collection of information which addresses Shia/Sunni inter-school related issues. This encyclopedia which covers the most important lines of thought of the Shia, is the contribution of a few brothers. Most of the articles provided in this encyclopedia are original contributions, while the rest are excerpts from the Shi'i/Sunni books. The information presented in this encyclopedia is based on the understanding and the knowledge of the contributors. The subjects are classified and are divided into several chapters, so that one can get a overhead view of all the major issues.
This encyclopedia is Sunni-referenced-oriented. It is assumed that the reader would like to see all the proofs based on the references from major Sunni documents. However, in the discussions, both Shia and Sunni perspectives are presented to maintain a level of fairness and integrity in reporting the topics.
Enemies of Islam whose goal were/are to split the Muslims have centered their attack over the Followers of the Members of the House of the Prophet (PBUH&HF). They distribute anti-Shia booklets all over the globe to misrepresent the school of Ahlul-Bayt. They hope to create confusions in the minds of those who are curious to learn. These malicious attacks are being carried out with political motives aiming to destroy the true spirit of Islam and to nurture feelings of animosity and disbelief towards the Shia. They misquote traditions from Shi'ite sources or quote them out of context to misrepresent the Shi'ite beliefs and to mock the followers of Ahlul-Bayt.
In facing these attacks, we have two options. One is to disregard what they do and perhaps simply deny their accusations. The other way would be to provide a correct representation of our beliefs which have been enshrouded in false propaganda. The latter is the logical approach in this era of information and communication.
The rulers of the periods of the Umayad and Abbasid used to consider every follower of the Ahlul-Bayt extremely dangerous for their throne. They conspired against the Shi'ites and spread all sorts of rumors about them and accused them of heresy and disbelief. They encouraged the Muslims to shed their blood and usurp their rights and wealth. Centuries of oppression passed wrought with injustice and terrors for the followers of the Ahlul-Bayt.
It is now expected that in this age of technology and the era of the information superhighway, the mistakes of the past is corrected. It is now easy for Muslims to discuss problems and find their solutions. After centuries of misunderstanding and the distinct lack of communication, the only way to achieve this goal, is through inter-school dialogue, unbiased scholarship, and seeking out the truth from the depth of our Islamic heritage. This is the magnificent path which Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HF) introduced to humanity centuries ago, as mentioned in Quran:
"(O' Prophet) Say: 'This is my way: I do invite you unto Allah, on discernment (insight and enlightenment), I and whoever follows me.'" (Quran 12:108)
As the followers of the Messenger of Allah (PBUH&HF), it is incumbent upon us to base the Unity of the Muslims on enlightenment and cognizance. In our approach toward illumination of the Truth, we do our best to refrain from any provocation which may cause sedition, discord, and enmity among Muslims. We strongly believe in the Unity between the People of Islam, and make all efforts to support this idea. To achieve this we base our arguments ONLY on the following measures which are fundamental/common scales for this kind of discussions:
Employing these common tools can make different schools closer to each other. Since the traditions that we refer to, are narrated by both reliable Shi'ite and Sunnite sources, they are valid for both schools and can be presented as proof.
For this version, you may have a personal copy of this encyclopedia, and also you may provide single copies for your friends. If you wish to mass distribute this encyclopedia, please first contact the editors with the address given few lines later in this introduction for permission.
Some of the chapters have been upgraded to version 2.0 while the rest were upgraded to version 1.5. The main emphasis and major features of version 2.0 include: more accuracy, in-depth documentation, better style of writing, and integrity, and also incorporates the latest feedback from the Sunnis about our articles and the answers to them.
The encyclopedia can be obtained/accessed from the URL
The articles are being modified and improved. We appreciate your comments, improvements and corrections. Your feedback makes this work more insightful. Please do not hesitate to contact us by clicking on the "Contact Us" link above.
We hope you find this encyclopedia helpful and constructive, and we thank God for giving us this opportunity. Blessings of Allah be upon Muhammad and the Members of his House.