The Turks, the Khawarizmis, the Uzbegs, and Afghans looted and
murdered innocent Shias. Muhammad Amin Khan Uzbeg, known as Khan
Khawa, and Abdullah Khan Uzbeg mercilessly murdered and looted
Shias and admitted doing so. The Sunni ulema proclaimed that the
Shias were infidels and that their lives could be taken according
to religious law. The Amirs of Afghanistan acted in like manner.
In 1267 A.H. on Ashura (the 10th of Muharram), the Sunnis attacked
the Imambara in Qandahar, where the Shias were mourning the murder
of the grandson of the Prophet. They brutally murdered many Shias,
including children, and plundered their property. For years the
Shias led miserable lives and were prohibited from observing their
religious rites. On the day of Ashura, a few of them would go
into underground halls and secretly mourn Husain's martyrdom and
the others who were slaughtered on the plains of Karbala. It was
King Amanullah Khan who removed the ban on Shias and treated them
In the cemetery of Akbarabad (Agra), India, there lies one of
the most pious and learned jurists of the Shias, Qazi Seyyed Nurullah
Shustari. He was savagely murdered at the age of 70 in 1019 A.H.
by King Jahangir, following a verdict from the Sunni ulema that
he was a Rafizi.
Hafiz: You are attacking us
without any reason. I am myself greatly shocked to hear the excessively
harsh behavior of ignorant people, but the practices of the Shias,
too, were responsible for such events.
Well-Wisher: May I know what
the Shias did which warranted murder?
Hafiz: Every day thousands of
people stand before the tombs of the dead and invoke them for
assistance. Isn't this practice an example of worshipping the
dead? Why do the ulema not object when millions of them put their
faces on the ground prostrate in worship of the dead? I wonder
at how you still call these things monotheism.
As the discussion with Mawlana Hafiz continued, the Hanafi Jurist,
Agha Sheikh Abdu-s-Salam, was studying Hidayatu'z-Za'irin. He
said with great emphasis, "Look here! (pointing to the book).
Your ulema say that when the pilgrims have finished their ziarat
(pious visit) in the mausoleums of the Imams, they should offer
two units of Namaz-e-Ziarat. Perhaps they do not intend it for
the name of Allah; otherwise, what does Namaz-e-Ziarat mean? Is
it not polytheism to offer the ritual prayer for the Imam? Pilgrims
who stand with their faces towards the tomb and offer prayers
are the best proof of their polytheism. This is your authentic
book. Can you defend your position?
Well-Wisher: You are indulging
in childish talk! Have you ever been on such a pilgrimage and
seen the pilgrims firsthand?
Well-Wisher: So how can you
say that the pilgrims offer prayers with their faces towards the
tomb, and that this prayer of Ziarat is a sign of polytheism?
Sheikh: This book says that
they should offer Namaz-e-Ziarat for the Imam.
Well-Wisher: Let me have a look
at it. Let me read the instructions concerning Ziarat, until we
reach the subject of prayer, which is the point of your objection.
Whenever you find any trace of polytheism, please point it out.
And if you find signs of monotheism from top to bottom, do not
feel sorry for that, but say that you were under a misunderstanding.
The book is here before you.
The instructions are as follows: "When the pilgrim reaches
the ditch of Kufa, he stands there and recites the following:
'Allah is Most Great, Allah is Most Great, the Possessor of Greatness,
Sublimity, and Eminence. Allah is Most Great, the Possessor of
Greatness, Holiness, Glory and Grace. Allah is Most Great above
that which I fear. Allah is Most Great. He is my Support; on Him
do I rely and in Him lies my hope, and towards Him I turn.'
When the pilgrim reaches the Gate of Najaf, he should recite:
'Praise be to Allah, who guided us to this. We would not have
been guided if Allah had not guided us.'
When he reaches the Gate of the Sacred Courtyard, he should recite,
after praising Allah: 'I bear witness that there is no god except
Allah, the One. He has no partner. I also bear witness that Muhammad
is His servant and His Prophet. He brought us truth from Allah.
I also bear witness that Ali is a servant of Allah and brother
of the Prophet of Allah. Allah is Most Great, Allah is Most Great,
Allah is Most Great. There is no god except Allah, and Allah is
Most Great. All praise is due to Allah for His guidance and His
support to respond to what He has revealed on the way to Him.'
When the pilgrim reaches the gate of the mausoleum, he should
recite: 'I bear witness that there is no god but Allah, the One.
He has no partner with Him....' until the end.
When, after having asked permission of Allah, the Prophet, and
the Imams, the pilgrim reaches the inside of the mausoleum, he
recites various Ziarats which contain salutations to the Holy
Prophet and the Commander of the Faithful. After Ziarat, he offers
six rak'ats of ritual prayer ù two rak'ats for the Commander
of the Faithful and two rak'ats each for the Prophets Adam and
Noah, who are buried in the same precincts."
Is the performance of the ritual prayer as an offering for the
souls of parents and other believers not enjoined upon us? Are
these injunctions polytheism? It is for humanity's sake also that
when a man goes to see a friend he gives him some present. There
is a Chapter in the books of both sects in which the Prophet enjoins
us to offer presents to the believers. So when a pilgrim reaches
the tomb of his beloved master and knows that the thing which
he loved most was the prayer, he offers two rak'ats of prayer
in his approach to Allah and offers the prayer as a present to
the holy soul of the master. Is this polytheism? After having
read the principles underlying the prayer, read also the invocation
after the prayer, so that all your doubts may be removed.
The practice of the invocation is that after completion of the
prayer at the head of the tomb of the buried Imam, with our faces
towards the Ka'ba (not towards the tomb), we recite the following
invocation: "O Allah! I have made a present of this prayer
to my leader and master, your Prophet and the brother of your
Prophet, the Commander of the Faithful, Ali Bin Abu Talib. O Allah,
send your blessings on Muhammad and his progeny. Accept these
two rak'ats of prayer from me and recompense me, as you would
recompense the doers of good deeds. O Allah! I offered this prayer
for Your sake and bowed down before You and prostrated in obeisance
to You. You are One Who has no partner. It is not permissible
to offer prayer or to bow down or prostrate before any but You.
You are Allah, the Great, and there is no god except You."
Respected gentlemen! For Allah's sake, be fair. From the time
a pilgrim sets his foot on the soil of Najaf, until after he offers
his Namaz-e-Ziarat, he is busy remembering Allah.
Sheikh: It is strange that do
you not see here written: "Kiss the doorstep and enter the
haram (interior) of the mausoleum." We have heard that when
the pilgrims reach the doors of the mausoleum of their Imams,
they prostrate in obeisance. Is this prostration not for Ali?
Is it not polytheism when we prostrate before someone other than
Well-Wisher: If I were you,
I would not say a word. I would keep quiet until the last meeting
of this debate and listen to the logic of my responses. But I
will tell you briefly once more that kissing the threshold or
the floor of the mausoleums of the Imams is not polytheism. You
have misinterpreted the word "kissing" and consider
it equivalent to prostration. When you read the book in our presence
and make such radical changes, I wonder how you will slander us
when you are alone addressing the uninformed masses.
The instructions contained in this book and in all other books
regarding invocations and places of Ziarat are that the pilgrim,
by way of showing respect, should kiss the threshold, not prostrate.
How can you consider kissing and prostration the same thing? And,
where have you seen, either in the Holy Qur'an or in any hadith,
that kissing the threshold of the mausoleums of a prophet or an
Imam is prohibited? So if you have no reasonable reply to this
question, you should not waste our time. And, as you say, you
have "heard" that the pilgrims prostrate in obeisance.
You have not actually seen this. The Qur'an says: "O you
who believe! If an evil-doer comes to you with a report, look
carefully into it, lest you harm a people in ignorance, then are
sorry for what you have done." (49:6)
According to this injunction of the Holy Qur'an, we should not
rely on the statement of a wicked person. We should make strenuous
efforts to know the truth, even undertake journeys if necessary
in order to ascertain the truth of a report firsthand. When I
was in Baghdad, I went to the tombs of Abu Hanifa and Sheikh Abdu'l-Qadir
Jilani and saw what the people did. It was more serious than what
you described regarding Shia practices, but I never talked about
it. When I reached the tomb of Abu Hanifa at Mu'azza'm, I found
a group of Sunnis repeatedly kissing the floor, instead of the
threshold, and rolling on the ground. But since they did not appear
to be malicious and because I had no grounds for condemning them,
I never mentioned the incident to anyone. I understood that they
were doing so out of love, not as worship.
Respected sir! Certainly no pious Shia ever prostrated for anyone
but Allah. If, however, we fall down on the ground in a manner
similar to prostration and rub our foreheads on it (without intention
of worship), this is insignificant. To bow down before a respected
person without considering him Allah or to fall down on the ground
and rub one's face on it, is not polytheism. It is the result
of intense love.
Sheikh: How is that when we
fall down on the ground and put our forehead on it, that this
action would not amount to prostration?
Well-Wisher: Prostration depends
on intention, and intention is a matter of the heart. Only Allah
knows our heart's intentions. For example, we may see people lying
down on the ground in the manner of ritual prostration. It is
true that prostration to anyone but Allah is not proper, even
though it be without any intention. However, since we are not
aware of their heart's intention, we cannot call it ritual prostration.
Therefore, prostration in a manner similar to the ritual prostration
(but without its intention), to show reverence to someone is not
polytheism. For example, the Prophet Joseph's brothers prostrated
before him. At that time, two Prophets, Jacob and Joseph, were
present, but they did not forbid them to do so. Allah says in
the Chapter of Joseph in the Holy Qur'an. "And he raised
his parents upon the throne, and they fell down in prostration
before him, and he said: 'O my father, this is the significance
of my vision of old; my Lord has indeed made it to be true....'"
Moreover, the Holy Qur'an says in several places that the Angels
performed the prostration before the Prophet Adam. So if prostration
is polytheism, then the brothers of the Prophet Joseph and the
angels of Allah were all polytheists. Only the cursed Iblis (Satan)
was a monotheist!
Now I want to reply to the respected Hafiz, who said that invocation
before the tombs of the Holy Imams is tantamount to worshipping
the dead. You ask why the Shia seek help at the tombs of the Imams.
Perhaps, you believe that there is no life after death and say,
"What is dead is annihilated." Allah describes in the
Holy Qur'an this mistaken point of view, saying: "There is
naught but our life in this world; we die and we live and we shall
not be raised again." (23:37) As you all know, those who
believe in Allah know that there is life after death. When a man
dies, his body becomes lifeless, but, unlike the animals, his
soul and sense of speech remain with similar, but purer bodies,
and will be blessed or chastised in the transitory state (barzakh)
Martyrs and those killed in the way of Allah enjoy special blessings.
This has been narrated in the Holy Qur'an. "And reckon not
that those who are killed in Allah's way to be dead; nay, they
are alive (and) are provided with sustenance from their Lord,
rejoicing in what Allah has given them of His grace, and they
rejoice for the same of those who, (being left) behind them, have
not yet joined them, that they shall have no fear, nor shall they
grieve." (3:169-170) I focus on the words, "They are
alive (and) are provided with sustenance from their Lord...."
(3:169) They reply to us, but since our hearing is blocked by
the veils of the material world, we do not hear their voices.
Accordingly, in the salutation (ziarat) to Imam Husain, we say,
"I bear witness that you hear what I say and that you reply."
Have you read sermon No. 85 of Nahju'l-Balagha? The progeny of
the Prophet are introduced as follows: "O, people, this is
a saying of the Prophet: 'He who dies from among us is not dead,
and he who decays (after dying) from among us does not really
decay.'" (Nahju'l-Balagha, English translation, Volume 1,
page 130, published by Peer Muhammad Ebrahim Trust, Karachi.)
That is, in the realm of light and spirituality, the Ahle Bait
live and remain imperishable.
Accordingly, Ibn Abi'l-Hadid Mu'tazali and Sheikh Muhammad Abduh,
the famous mufti of Egypt, commenting on the above, say that the
descendants of the Holy Prophet are not dead in the way others
are. So when we stand before the tombs of the Imams, we do not
stand before the dead, and we do not address the dead. We stand
before the living and speak to the living. Hence, we are not worshippers
of the dead. We worship Allah. Don't you believe that Ali, Imam
Husain, and the martyrs of Badr, Hunain, Uhud, and Karbala sacrificed
their lives in the way of Allah for the sake of truth? Didn't
they face the tyranny of the Quraish, the Bani Umayya, Yazid,
and his followers, whose aim was to obliterate the religion? Just
as the firmness of the companions of the Prophet and the sacrifices
of the martyrs of Badr, Hunain, and Uhud led to the defeat of
infidelity, in the same way Imam Husain's firm resolve to sacrifice
his life strengthened Islam. If the Imam had not stood firm against
evil forces, the damned Yazid would have destroyed Islam and would
have infused his infidelity into the Muslim community.
Sheikh: It is surprising that
you call the caliph of the Muslims, Yazid Bin Mu'awiya, an unbeliever.
You should know that Mu'awiya Bin Abu Sufyan, appointed him caliph.
The second caliph, Umar Bin Khattab, and the third caliph, Uthman
the oppressed, appointed Mu'awiya Amir of Syria. Because of their
ability and talent, people sincerely accepted them as caliphs.
So your reference to the caliphs of the Muslims as unbelievers
means that you have insulted not only all the Muslims who accepted
them as caliphs but you have also insulted the previous caliphs,
who sanction their being caliph or Amir.
Of course they made a mistake, a pardonable mistake, which occurred
during their caliphate. The Prophet's grandson, Imam Husain, was
murdered, but this was forgiven. Since they repented, Allah, the
Merciful, excused them. Imam Ghazali and Damiri have elaborately
dealt with this point in their books and have proven the purity
of Caliph Yazid.
Well-Wisher: I never expected
that your fanaticism would go so far as to defend the cause of
damned Yazid. You say that since their predecessors thought it
fit to make them Amir or ruler, that all Muslims should have accepted
them. This statement makes no sense. We say that a caliph should
be pure (absolutely free from all sin) and divinely commissioned,
so that we may not have to endure oppression. You say that Ghazali
and Damiri have defended the position of Yazid. But they were
as fanatical as you are. No sensible person would every try to
defend the actions of the cursed Yazid. You say that Yazid committed
a "mistake" in murdering Imam Husain. But to murder
the dearest son of the Prophet, along with 72 other people, including
small children and old men, and to take the pious daughters of
the Prophet prisoner bareheaded and barefaced, was not a mere
"mistake." It was an unspeakable atrocity. Moreover,
his crimes were not confined to this gruesome slaughter alone.
There are many other instances of his infidelity.