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['Aalim Network QR] General questions on Shi'ism


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|       In the Name of Allah, the Compassionate, the All-Merciful       |\
|  Greeting of Allah be upon Muhammad and the pure members of his House |\
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Salaamun 'Alaykum

The following questions were kindly answered by Shaykh Hasnain.


Fee Amaanillah,

Akil Karim
Moderator - 'Aalim Network

---------- Forwarded Message ----------

Shaykh Hasnain: Ramadan Mubarak. May this holy month bring about peace, 
love, affection, prosperity and enhancement in spirituality for all Muslims.

Questioner: I must apologize for my total ignorance of Shi'ism. Forgive me 
for asking some very naive questions. I am not a scholar nor can I claim 
having any knowledge of Islam except some basic for my personal daily 
practice. My ancestors are followers of Shafi'i and as a natural course of 
event I am also basing my religious practice on Shafi'i guideline.

Shaykh Hasnain: You are most welcome to ask any question so as to know or 
clarify an issue on Shi'ah Islam. It is best to ask rather than make 
judgements or conjectures, for "surely conjectures in some cases is a sin" 
(Qur'an, 49:12). Very few of us acquire the tawfiq (success) to ask for 
things we do not know. Imam 'Ali in an advice says, "No one should feel 
ashamed of saying 'I do not know' when he is asked a matter which he does 
not know, [nor] should one feel ashamed of learning a thing that he does not 
know" (Nahjul Balagha, Saying #82). Please accept our apologies for the 
delay in responding to your questions. Our responses are interspersed 
between your messages.



QUESTION 1:

Could you please tell me if the four Mazhabs which are most familiar to me 
by name - Shafi'i , Hambali, Maliki and Hanafi- are acknowledging the 
practice of Shiaism as a true Islamic principles or otherwise. Please quote 
me their statements in relation to this.


ANSWER 1:

I have not seen an official pronouncement from each of the four above 
madhahib (schools of jurisprudence) which acknowledge the practices of the 
Shi'ah Ithna 'Ashari sect who follow the madhab of Imam Ja`far al-Sadiq. On 
the contrary I have come across readings of some extreme elements within 
Sunni Muslims which condemn the practices of other Sunni madhahib as well as 
the Ja`fari madhhab. However, on several occasions scholars have emerged in 
Egypt, Iraq and Iran who have put great efforts in bringing closer the 
different schools of jurisprudence and thought in Islam. In 1959, for 
instance, Shaykh Mahmud Shaltut, the then head of Al-Azhar at Cairo, in a 
religious ordinance recognized the Shi`ah Ithna 'Ashari school as an 
acceptable school in Islam. Currently an international journal RISALAT 
AL-TAQRIB appears quarterly from Tehran. The aim of the journal is to 
address "matters concerning the proximity of Islamic schools of Thought and 
Law." The last issue which I have seen is Vol. 14, No. 4 dated Shawwal-Dhil 
Hijjah, 1417.


QUESTION 2:

What is Shia stand on the Mazhabs of Shafi'i, Hambali, Maliki and Hanafi.


ANSWER 2:

The four Imams of the above sects Muhammad al-Shafi`, Ahmad ibn Hanbal, 
Malik bin Anas and Abu Hanifa, respectively, were mujtahids (jurists) of 
their times in their own capacities. A Sunni Muslim who acts on one of the 
four jurists is considered to have fulfilled the religious requirements 
according to his sect. The shi`ahs do not consider the acts of worships 
(`ibadat) of a Sunni following his own Imam of jurisprudence as invalid. On 
the contrary the Shi`ahs are supposed to administer funeral rites to a Sunni
corpse according to the ahkam of the dead person's sect. Thus, the Shi`ah 
recognise the fiqh of the above four schools for the followers of these 
schools.

A Shi`ah, however, is supposed to act on the ahkam (jurisprudential rules) 
derived by a learned jurist (mujtahid) from the Qur'an, hadith and the 
sunnah of the Prophet and the twelve Imams, rational principles (`aql) and 
consensus (ijma`) of scholars in the field. The process of following on the 
opinion of a Mujtahid is known as taqlid. A Shi'ah is usually required to do 
taqlid of one mujtahid at a particular time on most issues related to the 
acts of worship ('ibadat) and dealings (mu`amalat). He cannot follow the 
opinions of other mujtahids. Therefore, a Shi'ah cannot only follow on the 
opinions of the four Imams of Sunni schools of fiqh but also not the opinion 
of other Shi`ah mujtahids whose taqlid he/she is not doing.


QUESTION 3:

Is your Quran identical to the last word  to the Quran being used by the 
four Mazhabs. This Quran is universally used in Makkah and Madinah and all 
the Muslim worlds I have visited. ( I have not been to Iran yet. Inshallah I 
will.). Often it is being quoted by some of the FOLLOWERS (emphasis 
FOLLOWERS) the Quran used by the Shia has an additional Chapter than the 
Quran used by the four Mazhabs. How did this happen historically?


ANSWER 3:

Al-hamdu lil... we use the same Qur'an which other Muslims use. You will be 
surprised to learn that majority of our centers, madrasahs and homes receive 
the copies of Holy Qur'an for their daily use from Sunni publishers & 
distributors. Shia pilgrims who return from Hajj and `Umrah invariably bring 
with them copies of Qur'an purchased from the markets of Makkah and Madinah. 
As I am writing this message, I am listening to the holy Qur'an CD produced 
by Dar al-Hidayah of Jeddah. The recitation of Suratul Asraa by Shaykh 
al-Sudays and Shaykh al-Shuraym is beautiful and clear. The only concern I 
have with some of the CDs from Saudi Arabia is that they have dropped the 
saying of Basmalah before beginning the recitation of all surahs except 
Al-Fatiha! 

As for our belief concerning the authenticity and genuineness of one Holy 
Qur'an with all Muslims one can refer to numerous books on this issue by our 
past and present scholars. Suffice for me to quote a contemporary Grand 
Jurist of the Shiah late Ayatul... Sayyid Abul Qasim al-Khu'i (d.1992). In 
his book "Al Bayan fi Tafseer al-Qur'an" after quoting views of a number 
great Shi'i scholars on the authenticity of the Qur'an, al-Khu'i writes, "To 
sum up, the general belief of Shiah ulema has been that the Qur'an is intact
and pristine. Of course there has been a small group of traditionalists, 
both among Shiahs and Sunnis who held that the Quran has been tampered with" 
(The Collection & Preservation of Qur'an, tr. of two chapters from 
Al-Khu'i's Al Bayan fi Tafseer al-Qur'an, Stanmore, 1987, p.14).


QUESTION 4:

Could you please tell me the relationship of Kerbala and the Shia.


ANSWER 4:

The tragedy of Kerbala refers to the brutal massacre in AH 61/680 CE of the 
second grandson of the Holy Prophet, Imam Abu 'Abdillah al-Husayn b. 'Ali b. 
Abi Talib, with his friends, helpers and family members. This unprecedented 
tragedy in the history of Islam at the orders of Umayyad ruler Yazib b. 
Mu`awiyah b. Abi Sufyan has never been forgotten by the followers of the 
Ahlul Bayt, the household of Prophet Muhammad (s). Every year in the months 
of Muharram and Safar we remind ourselves of this heart breaking tragedy by 
recalling the historical events as well as the great teachings of Islam as 
found in the Qur'an and Hadith and Sunnah of the Prophet (s). We use 
interpretations and practices of the Imams from the Prophet's household to 
learn about the importance of holding steadfastly to Islamic values under 
all circumstances, at all times and in all places. These reminders take
place in the form of maw`idah (admonitions and advices) in gatherings 
(majalis) held at our centers known as Husayniyyahs.


QUESTION 5:

There are some practices of Shia being published in printed paper with 
regards to some 'Shiah' slicing their bodies with razors blades on the 
occasions of the death of Ali and Hussain. Is this an accepted form 
sacrifice on the part of Shiah followers in general?


ANSWER 5:

The tragedy of Kerbala, as mentioned above, cannot be forgotten by us. It 
has left a great impact on the consciousness of our people. People express 
their grief, shock and mourning in different ways. Our jurists (mujtahidun) 
have permitted this practice provided it is done to express our true love 
for the Ahlul Bayt (a) symbolically and not as a sign of self destruction. 
Some people are not only grieved when they hear about the provocative 
destruction of the members of the Prophet's family, but they become angry 
and sometimes filled with rage. Therefore they are seen grieving and weeping 
in ways which are difficult for both the friends and
foes to comprehend. 

This depicts various levels of love and reverence for the members of the 
Prophet's family. In the process, however, some extreme actions (e.g. 
slicing heads with razor blades) are also seen amongst some of the Shi'ahs. 
This has never been the practice of the bulk of Shi'ahs nor is it condoned 
universally. Moreover, it should be noted that remembrance of Kerbala 
despite being an important part of our rituals has never been made 
obligatory like Salat, Sawm and Hajj. It is the individual commitment to the 
teachings and practices of the Ahlul Bayt which determines a person's 
participation in the mourning for the Ahlul Bayt. My experience shows that
some born shi'ahs as well as converts, who are initially opposed to the 
rites of lamentations for al-Husayn suddenly are seen as active 
participants. When you ask them about the change, they say that the great 
sacrifice of Imam Husayn in Kerbala is far above the comprehension of an 
ordinary Shi'ah. God knows the best.


QUESTION 6:

Are there many forms or sub groups or Mazhabs among the Shia. Could you 
please name me the groups. Among these which are the groups or Mazhabs 
generally recognized by majority of the Scholars of Shiah are genuine and 
conforming to the Quran. Any of the groups considered to be deviating from 
the Quran and the words of our Prophet S.A.A.H.W.S.


ANSWER 6:

Three main groups are identified as Shi'ahs. These are Ithnaa 'Asharis, 
Isma`ilis and Zaydis. The Ithna 'Asharis (followers of twelve Imams) form 
the bulk of the Shi'ahs, numbering between 150 to 200 million. It is the 
state religion in Iran. Besides this they are found in Iraq, Lebanon, 
Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and some central Asian 
countries. Organised communities of Shi'ah Ithnaa `Asharis can also be found 
in East Africa, Europe and North America. Zaydis are prominent in Yemen, 
whilst the Isma`ilis are found in Pakistan, India and North America. They 
also have communities in East Africa.

`Allamah Tabatab'i writes, "the Isma`ilis have a philosophy in many ways 
similar to that of Sabaeans (star worshippers) combined with elements of 
Hindu gnosis" (Shi`a, S.M. Tabatab'i, p.79). A branch of Isma`ilis by the 
name Nizaris or Agha Khanis do not give due importance to the Qur'an, salat, 
sawm and hajj. The Zaydis are the followers of Zayd the son of Imam `Ali 
Zaynul `Abdieen. Zayd was martyred in AH 121/737 CE when he rebelled against 
the Umayyad caliph Hisham b. `Abd al-Malik. Regarding their belief,
Tabataba'i writes that "in the principles of Islam (usul) they follow a path 
close to that of Mu`tazilies, while  . . . in law (furu`) they apply the 
jurisprudence of Abu Hanifah: (ibdi.,p.77).


QUESTION 7:

Do Shia recognize the Hadis collected and verified by the four Mazhabs I 
mentioned above?. Could you please give me some examples of the Hadis 
compiled by the four but not recognized by the scholars of Shia and vice versa.


ANSWER 7:

If a hadith can pass the test of its authenticity for the reliability of its 
narrator and the veracity of its text, it will be accepted a Shi'ah
scholars. Their appearance in a particular book does not make it acceptable. 
Therefore, hadiths found in the sahih sitta need to go through the test of 
veracity before being accepted by our scholars.


QUESTION 8:

In your opinion is there any possibility to bring together the followers of 
the four Mazhabs and others related mazhabs and the followers of Shia to 
RECOGNIZE each other as true Brothers and Sisters of Islam. The historical 
events that leads to the split of the Muslims groups and evaluation of the 
Mazhabs has long past in history. As it is now, what are the issues that are 
still the cause of the separations of the groups.


ANSWER 8:

If we were to go by history it seems unlikely that all Muslims will unite as 
one single ummah recognising each other as true Muslim brothers and sisters 
and be tolerant to each other's belief and practices. This is because harms 
done by Muslims against the lives, wealth and integrity of fellow Muslims 
over centuries is so significant that the followers find it difficult to 
overlook the clear defiance of Islamic tenets at the hands of other Muslims. 
However, each Muslim can surely work to understand each other, respect the 
life, wealth and integrity of each other and avoid things which light the 
flames of discord.

May the Almighty help us to treat fellow Muslims according to the great 
teachings of the Qur'an and Prophet Muhammad (s).

Only God knows best.

Hasnain Kassamali
Humble servant of the Ahlul Bayt(a)



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