“Ahlul Sunnah wal Jama`a” have followed the four Imams after whom their sects are known, namely Abu Hanifah, Malik, al-Shafi`i, and Ahmad ibn Hanbal.
These four Imams were never among the sahaba of the Messenger of Allah, nor did they know him, nor did he see them, nor did they ever see him. Their senior in age is Abu Hanifah whose time is separated from that of the Prophet by more than a hundred years: he was born in 80 A.H./699 A.D. and died in 160 A.H./777 A.D. Their youngest is Ahmad ibn Hanbal: he was born in 165 and died in 241 A.H. (782 - 855 A.D.). All this is in reference to the religion's branches (furoo` al-deen).
As for the roots of the creed (usool al-deen), “Ahlul Sunnah wal Jama`a” refer to Imam Abul-Hasan Ali ibn Isma`eel al-Ash`ari who was born in 270 A.H. and died in 335 A.H. (883 - 946 A.D.)
These are the Imams of “Ahlul Sunnah wal Jama`a” to whom the latter refer with regard to the roots and branches of their creed. Do you find any of the Imams of Ahlul Bayt among them? Or do you find among them anyone who was a companion of the Messenger of Allah, or about whom the Messenger of Allah said that he is the most wise person to lead the nation? Of course not! There is nothing like that at all.
If “Ahlul Sunnah wal Jama`a” claim that they uphold the Prophet's Sunnah, why did these sects appear so late in time after the Prophet's demise, and where were “Ahlul Sunnah wal Jama`a” before the existence of these sects, and what religion were they following, and to whom were they referring?!
Having asked these questions, let us add this one: “How can they be so dedicated to men who were neither contemporary to the Prophet nor did they ever know him but who were born after the dissension had already taken place, and after the companions fought and killed one another, charging one another with apostacy, and after the caliphs treated the Holy Qur'an and the Sunnah according to their own ijtihad, their own personal views?”
Having taken control of the reins of government, Yazid violated the sanctity of sacred Medina, giving his army permission to wreak whatever havoc it desired in it, so the said army inflicted death and destruction in it, killing the best among the sahaba who refused to swear the oath of allegiance to him, raping chaste women to the extent that there were many who were born thus illegitimately.
How can any wise person place his trust in these imams who belong to such type of human beings who waded in the mud of dissension, who were colored by its various hues, who grew up mastering its cunning and cunniving, vesting upon themselves the false medals of knowledge and scholarship? Indeed, no scholar ever rose to distinction except one with whom the government was pleased and who was pleased with the government.1
How can anyone who claims to adhere to the Sunnah forsake Imam Ali, the gate of knowledge, or Imams al-Hasan and al-Husayn, masters of the youths of Paradise, or other purified Imams from the progeny of the Prophet who had inherited the knowledge of the Messenger of Allah, and prefer to follow “Imams” who were not knowledgeable of the Prophetic Sunnah but were the product of Umayyad politics?
How can “Ahlul Sunnah wal Jama`a” claim that they follow the Prophetic Sunnah while neglecting those who safeguard it? How can they abandon the recommendations and explicit orders of the Prophet to uphold the Purified Progeny then claim to be the ones who follow the Sunnah?!
Can any Muslim individual who is familiar with the Islamic history, the Holy Qur'an, and the Sunnah, doubt the fact that “Ahlul Sunnah wal Jama`a” are followers of the Umayyads and Abbasides?
And can any Muslim who is familiar with the Holy Qur'an and Sunnah, and who has come to know the Islamic history, deny the fact that the Shi`as who emulate and pay homage to the Progeny of the Prophet are, indeed, followers of the Prophetic Sunnah, whereas nobody else can claim to do so?
Have you seen, dear reader, how politics turns matters upside down, making right look wrong and vice versa?! Those who remained loyal to the Prophet and his Progeny came to be called Rafidis and people of innovations, while those who excelled in inventing innovations and renounced the Sunnah of the Prophet and his Progeny, following the ijtihad of their oppressive rulers, came to be called “Ahlul Sunnah wal Jama`a”?! This is truly strange.
As for me, I firmly believe that Quraysh was behind this label, and it is one of its secrets and riddles.
We have already come to know that Quraysh was the one that prohibited Abdullah ibn Umar from writing the Prophetic Sunnah down in the pretext that the Prophet was not infallible. Quraysh, in fact, is comprised of specific individuals who weilded a great deal of influence, and who were known for their fanaticism and powerful influence over Arab tribes. Some historians call them “the most shrewd Arabs” due to their reputation in cunning and conniving and superiority in managing the affairs, whereas others call them “the people who tie and untie.”
Among them are: Abu Bakr, Umar, Uthman, Abu Sufyan and his son Mu`awiyah, Amr ibn al-As, al-Mugheerah ibn Shu`bah, Marwan ibn al-Hakam, Talhah ibn Ubaydullah, Abdul-Rahman ibn Awf, Abu Ubaydah Amir ibn al-Jarrah, and many others.2
These “shrewd men” used to meet to discuss and decide something upon which they would eventually agree, then they would make up their mind to propagate it among the people so that it might become thereafter a matter of fact and a followed reality, without most people kowing how it came to be.
One such scheme, which they plotted, was their claim that Muhammad was not infallible, and that he was as human as anyone else: he could err, they claimed, so they would belittle him and argue with him about the truth while fully knowing it. And among such schemes was their cursing Ali ibn Abu Talib and using a misnomer for him, calling him “Abu Turab” (father of dust), portraying him to people as the enemy of Allah and His Messenger.
Another is their taunting and cursing the highly respected sahabi Ammar ibn Yasir, using for him a borrowed name: “Abdullah ibn Saba'“ simply because Ammar opposed the caliphs and was calling people to the Imamate of Ali ibn Abu Talib.3
Another was their calling the Shi`as who were loyal to Ali “Rafidis” in order to mislead the public by giving them the impression that the latter had rejected Muhammad and followed Ali.
Another is calling themselves “Ahlul Sunnah wal Jama`ah” in order to mislead sincere believers into thinking that only they are the ones who uphold the Prophet's Sunnah versus the Rafidis who reject it.
They, in fact, mean by their “Sunnah” the infamous innovation which they invented: the custom of cursing and condemning the Commander of the Faithful and the Prophet's Progeny from the pulpits in every mosque throughout the Muslim world and in all other lands, cities, and villages where Muslims lived. This innovation lasted for eighty years. Whenever one of their preachers descended from the pulpit before leading the prayers, he would curse Ali ibn Abu Talib, and if he did not, everyone at the mosque would yell at him: Tarakatal Sunnah! Tarakatal Sunnah! (“You left out the Sunnah!).
When caliph Umar ibn Abd al-Aziz wanted to change that “Sunnah” with the Qur'anic verse saying,
“Surely Allah enjoins the effecting of equity and of goodness (to others) and the giving (in charity) to the kindred” (Holy Quran, 16:90),
they plotted against him and killed him for killing their “Sunnah” and taking lightly the statements of his predecessors who had brought him to caliphate. They poisoned him when he was only thirty-eight years old, having ruled no more than two years. He became the victim of his reform because his cousins, the Umayyads, did not agree to his laying their “Sunnah” to rest and thus raising the status of “Abu Turab” and the Imams among his offspring.
After the fall of the Umayyad government, the Abbasides came and persecuted the Imams from Ahlul Bayt and their followers till the reign of Ja`far son of al-Mu`tasim, who was titled “al-Mutawakkil,” came, and he proved to be the most bitter enemy of Ali and his offspring. His hatred and animosity caused him to desecrate the grave of Imam Husayn in Karbala. He prohibited people from visiting it4, and he never gave anything nor was he generous to anyone except to those who cursed Ali and his offspring.
The incident involving al-Mutawakkil and the famous scholar of linguistics `allama Ibn al-Sikkeet is well known; he killed him in the very worst manner, cutting his tongue off when he discovered that he was a follower of Ali and his Ahlul Bayt, although he was the tutor of both of his [al-Mutawakkil's] sons.
Al-Mutawakkil's animosity towards Ali and his adherence to Nasibism went as far as killing any new born named “Ali” because it was the most hateful name to him. When Ali ibn al-Jahm, the poet, met al-Mutawakkil, he said, “O commander of the faithful! My parents have done me a great deal of injustice.” Al-Mutawakkil asked him, “How so?” He said, “They named me Ali although I hate this name and anyone named by it.” Al-Mutawakkil laughed and ordered him to be richly rewarded.
One man used to live inside al-Mutawakkil's meeting house. He was an etertaining buffoon who used to mimick Ali ibn Abu Talib and thus make fun of him. Upon seeing him, people would
laugh and say, “Here comes the bald man, the man with the big stomach!” So he would be ridiculed by everyone meeting there to the delight and amusement of the caliph.
We must not forget in this regard to point out to the fact that this al-Mutawakkil, whose animosity towards Ali revealed his hypocrisy and promiscuity, was very much loved by the scholars of hadith who vested upon him the title of “Muhyyi al-Sunnah,” the one who revived the Sunnah. And since those scholars of hadith were themselves “Ahlul Sunnah wal Jama`ah,” it is proven by the evidence which has no room for any doubt that what they meant by the “Sunnah” was simply hating Ali ibn Abu Talib and cursing him and dissociating themselves from him; it is, in a word, Nasibism.
What makes this matter more clear is that al-Khawarizmi says the following on p. 135 of his book: “Even Haroun ibn al-Khayzaran and Ja`far al-Mutawakkil alal-shaitan (the one who relies on Satan), rather than on al-Rahman (the Merciful One), used not to give any money or wealth except to those who cursed the family of Abu Talib and who supported the sect of the Nasibis.”
Ibn Hajar has quoted Abdullah ibn Ahmad ibn Hanbal saying, “When Nasr ibn Ali ibn Sahban narrated a tradition saying that the Messenger of Allah took the hand of al-Hasan and al-Husayn and said, `Whoever loves me and loves both of these men and their parents will be in my level on the Day of Judgment,' al-Mutawakkil ordered him to be whipped one thousand lashes. He almost died had Ja`far ibn Abd al-Wahid not kept interceding on his behalf with al-Mutawakkil, saying to him, `O commander of the faithful! He is one of Ahlul Sunnah,' and he persisted in doing so till he (Nasr) was left alone.”5
Any wise person will understand the statement made by Ja`far ibn Abd al-Wahid to al-Mutawakkil that Nasr was among “Ahlul Sunnah,” in order to save his life, to be an additional testimony to the fact that Ahlul Sunnah are the enemies of Ahlul Bayt who are hated by al-Mutawakkil. The latter used to kill anyone who mentioned even one of their merits even if he was not a Shi`a.
Ibn Hajar indicates in the same book that Abdullah ibn Idris al-Azdi was a man of “al-Sunnah wal Jama`ah,” that he was very strict in upholding the “Sunnah,” pleasing others, and that he sympathized with Uthman.6
About Abdullah ibn Awn al-Basri, the [same Sunni] author says: “He is held as reliable, and he used to be consistent in his worship, very firm in upholding the Sunnah, and in being tough against the people who invent innovations; Ibn Sa`d says that he was a supporter of Uthman.”7 He has also indicated that Ibrahim ibn Ya`qub al-Jawzjani used to follow the Hareezi sect (i.e. the sect founded by Hareez ibn Uthman al-Dimashqi), who was well known for adhering to the beliefs of the Nasibis, and Ibn Hayyan has said, “He was very zealous in adhering to the Sunnah.”8
All this makes us draw the conclusion that Nasibism and hatred towards Ali and his offspring, the cursing of the descendants of Abu Talib, the condemning of Ahlul Bayt..., is regarded by them as “zeal in adhering to the Sunnah.” We have also come to know so far that the supporters of Uthman are the ones who promoted Nasibism and hatred towards Ahlul Bayt, and they are the ones who were very tough with anyone who was loyal to Ali and his offspring.
The label of “innovators” was attached by them to the Shi`as who called for the Imamate of Ali because, to them, that was an innovation, since it disagreed with the policies of the “righteous caliphs” and the “good predecessors,” the policy of expelling the Imam and not recognizing his Imamate and Wisayat.
Historical facts supporting this statement are quite abundant, but what we have already stated here should suffice those who wish to research this issue further and investigate it on their own. We have, as has always been our habit, tried to be brief, and researchers have to keep in mind that they can find many times this much if they wish.
(As for) those who struggle hard for Us, We will most certainly guide them in Our ways, and Allah is most surely with the doers of good. (Holy Qur'an, 29:69)