Well-Wisher: Imam Shafi'i said:
"There never was born a more damned person in Islam than
Abu Hanifa." He also said: "I looked into the books
of the companions of Abu Hanifa, and I found in them 130 pages
containing matter in opposition to the Holy Qur'an and the Sunna."
Abu Hamid Ghazali in his book Manqul fi Ilmi'l-Usul says: "In
fact Abu Hanifa distorted the religious code, made its way doubtful,
changed its arrangement, and intermingled the laws in such a way
that the code prescribed by the Holy Prophet was totally disfigured.
One who does so deliberately and considers it lawful is an infidel.
One who does it knowing it to be unlawful is a sinner." According
to this great scholar, Abu Hanifa was either an infidel or a sinner.
Many other books condemn Abu Hanifa. Jarullah Zamakhshari, the
author of Tafsir-e-Kashshaf and one of your pious ulema, writes
in Rabiu'l-Abrar that Yusuf Bin Asbat said: "Abu Hanifa rejected
at least 400 hadith of the Prophet of Islam." Yusuf remarked
that "Abu Hanifa said: 'Had the Prophet of Islam known me,
he would have accepted many of my sayings.'"
Your own ulema have made similar criticisms of Abu Hanifa and
the other three Imams. They can be found in Ghazali's Mutahawwal,
Shafi'i's Nuqtu'sh-Sharifa, Zamakhshari's Rabiu'l-Abrar, and Ibn
Jauzi's Muntazim. Imam Ghazali says in his Mutahawwal, "There
are many mistakes in Abu Hanifa's work. He had no knowledge of
etymology, grammar, or hadith." He also writes, "Since
he had no knowledge of hadith, he relied on his own conjecture.
The first being who acted on conjecture was Satan."
Ibn Jauzi writes in his Muntazim, "All the ulema are united
in condemning Abu Hanifa. There are three categories of such critics:
one group holds that his faith in the fundamentals of Islam was
uncertain; another says that he lacked a strong memory and could
not remember hadith; a third believes that he acted on conjecture
and that his opinion was always at variance with the true hadith."
Your own ulema have criticized your Imams. The Shia ulema have
not attributed anything to them except what your own ulema have
said about them. On the other hand, there is no difference of
opinion among the Shia ulema concerning the position of the twelve
Imams. We regard the holy imams as the pupils of the same teaching.
These Imams - all of them - acted according to divine laws which
the last of the Prophets gave them. They never acted on conjecture
or approved of innovations. What they said or did agreed with
the sayings of the Prophet. Hence, there was no difference among
According to the definition given by the ulema, the Imamate or
Vicegerency of Allah, is one of the fundamentals of Islam. We
believe that the Imamate is the Vicegerency of Allah for all of
creation and the Khilafat-e-Rasul (successors of the Prophet)
for this world and the hereafter. Therefore, it is obligatory
for all mankind to follow its tenants in all matters, temporal
as well as spiritual.
Sheikh: It would be better if
you did not declare categorically that the Imamate is included
in the fundamentals of the faith, since the great ulema of Islam
deny its inclusion. It is included in the articles of the practice
of the faith. Your ulema have made it a part of the fundamentals.
Well-Wisher: My statement is
not confined to the Imamate of the Shias. Even your great ulema
have the same belief. One of them is your famous commentator Qazi
Baidhawi, who says in his Minhaju'l-Usul in connection with the
discussion on narrations of hadith, "The Imamate is one of
the fundamental principles of the faith, whose denial and opposition
leads to infidelity and innovation."
Mulla Ali Qushachi says in Sharh-e-Tajrid, "The Imamate is
the general vicegerent of Allah for both the affairs of this world
and religion, like the caliphate of the Prophet." And Qazi
Ruzbahan, one of the most fanatical of your ulema, points to the
same meaning. He says: "The Imamate, according to the followers
of Abu'l-Hasan Ash'ari, is the vicegerency of the Prophet of Islam
for establishing the faith and safeguarding the interests of the
Muslim community. All the followers are bound in duty to comply
with its dictates. Had the Imamate not been a part of the articles
of the practice of the faith, the Prophet would not have said
that 'Whosoever dies not knowing the Imam of his age, dies the
death of ignorance.'"
This has been quoted by your distinguished ulema, like Hamidi
in Jam'i-Bainu's-Sahihain and Mulla As'ad Taftazani in Sharhe
Aqa'id-e-Nasafi. Not knowing a single article of the practice
of the faith would not be equivalent to ignorance stated by Baidhawi
about not knowing the fundamentals, namely that ignorance of them
is the cause of infidelity. Therefore, the Imamate is one of the
fundamentals of the faith and is the completing stage of prophethood.
Hence, there is a vast difference between the concept of our Imamate
and those interpreted by you. You call your ulema Imams, such
as Imam Azam, and Imam Maliki. But this is in the verbal sense.
We also use the terms Imam-e-Juma'a, Imam-e-Jama'at. So there
may be hundreds of Imams at one time, but in the technical sense
in which we use the word "Imam," it means vicegerency
of Allah. In this sense there is only one Imam at one time. The
noble qualities of knowledge, magnanimity, valor, devotion to
Allah, and piety have been perfected in him. He surpasses humanity
in all merits and occupies a state of infallibility. The world
shall not be without such an Imam until the Day of Judgement.
An Imam of such excellence is at the highest stage of spiritual
attainment. Such an Imam is divinely commissioned and is appointed
by the Holy Prophet. He surpasses all creation, including the
prophets of the past.
Hafiz: On the one hand you condemn
the Ghalis, and on the other hand, you yourself unduly praise
the Imams and consider their position higher than that of the
prophets. Common sense denies this, and the Holy Qur'an has also
declared that the prophets are placed at the highest rank. Their
position lies between Divine Self-Existence and the possible.
Since your assertion is not supported by reason it cannot be accepted.
Well-Wisher: You have not yet
asked on what grounds I have made this statement, and therefore
you say it is without reason. The best proof for my statement
is the Holy Qur'an, which, narrating the life of the Prophet Abraham,
says that, after giving him three tests (of life, wealth, and
sons), Allah intended to make his rank more exalted. Since prophethood
and the title of Khalil (Friend) did not apparently warrant a
higher rank, the office of Imamate was the only office of a higher
order to which even a Prophet of Allah could be entrusted. The
Holy Qur'an says: "And when his Lord tried Abraham with certain
words, he fulfilled them. He said: 'Surely I will make you an
Imam of men.' Abraham said: 'And of my offspring?' 'My covenant
does not include the unjust,' He said." (2:124) This verse,
which indicates the position of the Imamate, also proves that
the rank of the Imamate is superior to that of prophethood, since
the position of the Prophet Abraham was raised from prophethood
to the Imamate.
Hafiz: This means, according
to your reasoning, that Ali's position was superior to that of
the last Prophet. This is what the Ghalis believed, as you have
Well-Wisher: I do not mean what
you have concluded. As you know, there is a great difference between
general prophethood and special prophethood. The rank of the Imamate
is higher than the rank of general prophethood, but lower than
special prophethood. The last Prophet is the highest stage of
Nawab: Excuse my interruption.
Weren't all the prophets sent by Allah? They are undoubtedly of
the same rank. The Holy Qur'an says: "We do not differentiate
between any of the prophets." (2:285) Then why have you differentiated
between them and divided prophethood into two categories, general
WISHER: Of course this verse is true in its proper context. That
is, so far as achieving the aim of prophethood is concerned (which
means teaching the people about existence of Allah, the Day of
Judgement, and the training of their minds), all the prophets
from Adam to the last of the prophets, are equal. But they differ
in their qualities, achievements, and rank.