These were the most important objections and criticisms that the Sunni often raise against the Twelver Shia. They deserve to be studied impartially by every researcher and scholar who seeks the truth in everything and does not have fear on the way of Allah about being blamed and states the truth, however bitter it is.
Today the learned youth of our Muslim nation no longer believe in superstitions, false fables, and rumors that the media broadcast here and there against the Shia to show them as groups of extremism and terrorism, or “the insane of Allah” as they call them.
I have already discussed some mistakes practiced by ordinary Shia, though these (mistakes) are not from the religion or from the necessities that may make impermissible things permissible. They do not cause but harms and disagreements among Muslims.
I have confirmed in my previous works and studies that I have published among Muslims through clear evidences, that the Twelver Shia are the most right of all the Muslim sects with respect to the beliefs and laws of the religion, and that the Shiite sect is the saved one from among all the Muslim sects by the will of Allah. This is not for anything, but because they are truly adherent to the Two Weighty Things (the Book of Allah and the Immaculate Prophet’s Progeny).
Nevertheless, this cannot prevent me from criticizing the Shia when I find errors or slips in the conduct of some of them, for I believe that “there is nothing other than the truth, except that it is untruth”.
Sometimes, a good doing may turn to be a bad doing if it exceeds the usual. For example, once when I was invited for an Islamic conference in the United States of America, some Muslims invited me to their houses to be their guest as a kind of honor and respect. I accepted their invitations unwillingly. Many others were invited me in my honor. Foods and refreshments were unimaginable in excellence and sometimes they cost thousands of dollars.
On the following day, or even the same day, I was invited by others and the same things happened, as if they competed with each other. The same invitees attended with me. I would not be excessive in saying that the kinds of western and eastern foods served were more than ten in each meal. Whatever guests ate - half of that food would be leftover without doubt, to be thrown into the rubbish bin.1
This habit has become a necessity for them. Whatever is said about the Arabic generosity and the honoring of guest, and whatever some people argue by means of this verse:
Say: Who has prohibited the embellishment of Allah which He has brought forth for His servants and the good provisions… (Qur’an, 7:32)
I shall not be satisfied and I will criticize that and try my best to convince people of other than this.
Those, who take their evidence from the Qur'an on the permitting of good provisions, forget or overlook this saying of Allah
…and eat and drink and be not extravagant; surely He does not love the extravagant, (Qur’an, 7:31)
Or, this saying of the Prophet (S):
We are a people who do not eat, except when we feel hungry, and when we eat, we do not become fully satiated (do not eat much).
Where are we from the education of Imam Ali (as) who has accustomed himself to eating dry barley and who sealed his bag lest al-Hasan or al-Husayn (peace be on them) wet his dry piece of bread with oil?
Do Muslims not feel shy today before their Lord that they sleep in silk beds with stomachs full of all kinds of foods, whereas their Iraqi Shia brothers die of hunger in the Saudi camps, not finding the simple means of living?
I thank those who invited and honored me, but my duty requires me to remind them of what is better, for reminding benefits of the faithful. It is my duty to encourage them to do good for the sake of Allah, in the way of Allah and not for fame and hypocrisy. Many wealthy Muslims, who live the life of kings, become very stingy when they are asked to help the poor and the needy, whereas they spend millions of dollars recklessly on their lusts and desires.
The fact that makes you wonder too is that most of these wealthy people had escaped with their faith from the oppression of unjust rulers and emigrated to the United States of America or England while they had no money in their pockets. Then Allah made them rich and they possessed buildings, shops and millions of dollars. Thereafter, they behaved like Th’alaba who came to the Prophet (S) complaining of his poverty and asking the Prophet (S) to pray Allah for him to be rich as he wanted to help the poor and the needy.
The Prophet (S) prayed Allah for him, and he became too wealthy. When the Prophet (S) asked him to pay the zakat, he refused to pay anything. Then, Allah revealed this verse about him:
And there are those of them who made a covenant with Allah: if He gives us out of His grace, we will certainly give alms and we will certainly be of the good. But when He gave them out of His grace, they became niggardly of it and they turned away, averse. (Qur’an, 9:75-76)
Certainly, there are wealthy people who spend their monies charitably in the night and the day, openly and secretly, looking forward to the mercy and contentment of their Lord. However, these people are few in comparison to the majority who run after fame and refuse any charitable doing.
You may see wealthy Muslims, whom Allah has given too much to be trustees on it and to give from their wealth a share to the beggars and the destitute. They perform the major Hajj every year and the minor Hajj two or three times a year - and I am not being excessive when I say that some of them have performed the Hajj twenty times and the minor Hajj more than forty times. They show their pride of that openly before people.
Such people from among the Shia are too many. They do not know the actual amount of their wealth. They spend their times in the best hotels, eat the most expensive meals, and travel in the first class airplanes. After that, they go to visit the holy shrines of the infallible imams (as). When you see how they eat and what they throw in their rubbish bins, you say with no hesitation that they are too far away from the Islamic ethics and human morals.
It is true that the Hajj is recommended after performing the first obligatory one, but do these people not understand that Allah, first of all orders them to help His poor people, the needy, orphans and the oppressed? Has Allah the Almighty not said to them in His Book:
It is not righteousness that you turn your faces towards the East and the West, but righteousness is this that one should believe in Allah and the last day and the angels and the Book and the prophets, and give away wealth out of love for Him to the near of kin and the orphans and the needy and the wayfarer and the beggars and for (the emancipation of) the captives…? (Qur’an, 2: 177)
O Muslims, righteousness is not to go every year to perform the Hajj or to visit the holy shrines of saints…yes, the Hajj is obligatory and recommended and so is the ziyara, but to be a habit every year while your brothers are dying of hunger - this is something that does not please Allah at all.2
Did the Messenger of Allah (S) not say
The nearest of you to Allah is most helpful among you to His people.3
Did he not say
Who sleeps his night satiated while his neighbor is hungry is out of the covenant of Islam.4
Did your first Imam, Ali ibn Abi Talib, whom you pride on and follow, not say?
Surely, every led one has a leader (imam) whom he follows, and from the light of whose knowledge he seeks light. Surely, your Imam (Ali) has been satisfied from all his life with his two coarse garments, and from his food with his two loaves…by Allah, I have never hoarded from your world gold, nor have I saved from its booties anything…
….and if I wanted, I could follow the way to the pure honey, the kernels of this wheat, and the textiles of this silk - but how far for my fancy to overcome me, or my greed to lead me to choose between foods, that there may be in Hijaz or Yamama one who cannot even wish for a loaf of bread and one who has never been satisfied with food? Or, can I sleep my night satiated, while around me there are hungry stomachs and very thirsty lives!
…I was not created to be busy with good foods and pleasures like a tied animal, whose concern is only its fodder, or a released one whose business is seeking in rubbish…
O worldly life, be away from me! Your halter is on your wither (free to do whatever it likes). I have sneaked away from your claws and escaped from your traps, and avoided going into your slips.
Where are the generations, whom you incited with your plays? Where are the nations, whom you fascinated with your adornments? Here they are captives in the graves and hidden in the tombs…Be away from me! By Allah, I do not submit to you so that you degrade me, and do not be mild for you, so that you drive me (as you like)…
Blessed is a soul that offered its obligation for its Lord and was patient in distress, gave up its sleeping in the night until slumber overcame it, took the ground as its bed and its hand as a pillow, from among people whose fear of the Hereafter made their eyes sleepless, and whose bodies kept away from their beds, and whose lips always murmured with the remembrance of their Lord, and whose sins were dispelled by their long asking for forgiveness:
…those are Allah's party; surely the party of Allah are the successful ones. (Qur’an, 58:22)
This speech5 is addressed to every Shia who takes Ali (as) as his imam after the Prophet (S).
As we have confirmed in our previous studies that the Shia are the true Muslims who have kept to the Book and the Prophet’s progeny after the Prophet (S). We must obey the commands of the Book and the immaculate progeny (as). They order us to glorify and sanctify the rites of Allah, because it is from true piety.
Observing the rites of Allah includes observing of congregational prayers inside and outside the mosques, the keeping to prayers in the best way and keep the mosque sanctified, clean and unpolluted with cigarettes smoke. Rather, mosques must be refreshed with good scents and perfumes. Certainly, all these are the rites to be observed for Allah.6
How better it is for us to be ascetic towards many pleasures of this life, not to squander our monies in what does not benefit us, and not to be excessive in food and amusement while our faithful brothers are dying of hunger! How better it is for us to think of serving the servants of Allah and save them from deviation instead of performing the Hajj forty times and the minor Hajj eighty times!
If these monies are spent on publishing and sending books as gifts to the Muslim countries that do not know anything about the Ahlul Bayt (as) nor do they hear anything about the Shia except the fabrications. They shall be effective means to make millions of deviated people, who seek the truth, turn to the right path and the reward of this near Allah shall be greater than the reward of a recommended Hajj that one goes to offer, wishing that Allah may forgive his sins of the last year. The Prophet (S) said:
The ink of scholars is holier near Allah than the blood of martyrs.
Fear Allah by maintaining kinship, because it is better near Allah than all prayers and fasting.
How it is better for us to think of the future of Muslims in the world who face a plot of annihilation in every place on the earth!
After all this and through my personal experiment of twenty-five years the most of which was arguments and disputes with learned and unlearned Sunni, I knew that overlooking some beliefs that are not from the essence of Islam is the only way to get to the sought goal.
How many obstinate opponents, who never preferred anyone at all to Abu Bakr and Umar, began after turning Shia to wish that Imam Ali (as) had fought and relieved Muslims from them? And, how many protestant deniers, who denied the concept of “infallibility” and considered it as being excessive from the Shia, believed in it after having turned Shia, more than the Shia themselves?!
All that would lead to enmity and grudge if I insisted on the concept of “infallibility” or “I bear witness that Ali is the friend (wali) of Allah” in the azan or that “Ali is the best of all human beings and whoever denies that is a disbeliever”.
I am sure that Muslims shall be near to each other and would be united if both the Shia and the Sunni tried to overlook some of their beliefs that are not from the fundamentals of the religion. If the Sunni gave up their belief that all of the Prophet’s companions are totally fair, just and honest, (and certainly this belief has nothing to do with the religion), they would relieve their Shia brothers from their continuous efforts to prove the opposite.
And if the Shia overlook “I bear witness that Ali is the friend (wali) of Allah” which was not a part from the azan or the iqamah at the time of the Messenger of Allah (S), they would relieve their Sunni brothers, who criticize and accuse them of being extravagant and excessive, from toiling for that.
Do Muslims, Shia and Sunni, not take a lesson from what the Messenger of Allah (S) did on the day of Truce of al-Hudaybiyyah? He gave up many things and did not oppose the polytheists in anything? He did so because he knew that resisting them and not giving up some of his conditions would be an obstacle in the way of guidance and the getting to the truth.
They said to him, “We do not acknowledge that you are the Messenger of Allah (S). You are Muhammad son of Abdullah.”
He said, “Yes, I am Muhammad son of Abdullah. O Ali, do not write down ‘Muhammad the Messenger of Allah (S)’.”
If one of the Shia says, “How do we give up ‘Ali is the friend (wali) of Allah’ which is right and the truth and we remember that the Prophet (S) said that ‘whoever keeps silent before the truth is a dumb devil’?” We respond that, just as Muhammad son of Abdullah (S) gave up his attribute as the Messenger of Allah (S) before the polytheists in order to not cause an obstacle between him and them and to invite them towards guidance when he actually was the Messenger of Allah (S) whether the polytheists accepted or denied that.
And Allah is sufficient as a witness. (Qur’an, 58:22)
In the same way - “Ali is the friend (wali) of Allah” is also right and true, whether people bear witness to that or not. Their witness does not add anything to his value, nor does their denial decrease anything from his virtues.”7
The result of Muhammad’s concession in the al-Hudaybiyya Truce was so great that no one of the companions had ever imagined. It was a great victory after one year when groups after groups embraced Islam willingly and without effort or fighting.
If you both (the Sunni and the Shia) take the Messenger of Allah (S) as your example and you claim that you do according to the Book of Allah and the Sunnah of His messenger, then follow his (the Prophet) deeds, O you men of understanding!
Allah the Almighty says:
If you obey Allah and His Messenger, He will not diminish aught of your deeds; surely Allah is Forgiving, Merciful. (Qur’an, 49:14)
- 1. Yes! This has changed to be a habit and tradition. People pride and compete with each other and the victim is the guest who compliments to satisfy the host. Otherwise, the guest even if he is a scholar or a thinker and attracts their attention to the offensiveness of this practice, might not be invited anymore. So how about ordinary people?!
In this way, detestable social classes appear which look down on the poor and prevent them from attending such invitations. (The rich are invited and the poor are kept away). Its undesirable outcome is division of people into different classes. Such invitations affect the mentality of the guest (when he is a scholar or thinker) that he acknowledges their conducts, or they pervert his thinking of caring for the right affairs of Muslims to their own world and life.
Unfortunately, an example is one of the wealthy people in Iraq who was in such a reckless state that he did not know how to spend his wealth, so that whatever he did to it, it would not run out because of abundance. Saddam exiled him out of Iraq and confiscated all his wealth and properties. In the place of immigration, I heard a wealthy man saying, “I cannot be convinced the Iraqi people suffer famine, except when they become like Indians who die in the streets and then, the municipality personnel carry their corpses altogether.”
Surely, a Muslim cannot be a true Muslim except when he follows the true Islam, imitates its high examples, and apply it in the true way. A true Muslim must be a true faithful away from vanities, wastefulness, dissipation, and worldly desires; otherwise, life shall be beastly.
- 2. The responsibility of changing the conducts of these people is on the ulama and preachers that they may repent and return to the true path of Islam and the Ahlul Bayt (as).
- 3. Bihar al Anwar vol.77. P. 152
- 4. Bihar al Anwar vol.75. P. 362
- 5. Nahjul Balagha letter 45. From the letter of Imam Ali (as) to his governor on Basra, Uthman ibn Hunayf al-Ansari, when he (Imam Ali) was informed that Uthman was invited to a banquet and he accepted and went to it. Nahjul Balaghah - commentary by Muhammad Abduh, p. 558.
- 6. It is noted in general that a praying person usually stands to offer prayers with the clothes he usually wears, not caring whether they are tidy and clean or not. The important thing is that they must be ritually pure. People think that there is no problem for this with Allah! But, if one of them wants to meet someone, he puts on the best of his clothes, especially if that someone is an important personality. Thus, is person whom one meets in life more important than Allah? One does not perceive or think of this!
Let each one of us think of this matter - when one of us is inside his house wearing night clothes, he does not let others (visitors) see him in that clothes, because this is as a kind of insult to them. Should he offer the prayer in these clothes so easily? We have to be aware of Whom we are standing before to offer our prayer. We have to put in mind that Allah the Almighty is always with us wherever we are and behave on this basis,
…and He is with you wherever you are… (Qur'an, 57:4)
We stand before Him all the time and especially in the prayer. Therefore, we have to put on the best of our clothes, using perfume, in order to appear in an acceptable state to Him. After preparing our appearances, we have to purify our inwards to be real travelers toward Allah the Glorified. It is not bad to pay attention to the recommended things as to the prayer’s clothes and etiquettes especially for women who may put on white clothes and…be in the best shape that makes us actually feel that Allah is with us.
- 7. We have confirmed before that no one of the Shiite ulama say that “I bear witness that Ali is the saint of Allah” is a basic part of the azan or the iqamah, and whoever calls it as a “good heresy” is totally mistaken. It is but a witness that Imam Ali (as) is the saint of Allah and the commander of the believers, and a witness of the injustice he suffered and the suppression of history against him, though he was the establisher of the cornerstone of Islam after the Prophet (S) with his knowledge and jihad. It is like the qualities of Talut mentioned in the Holy Qur'an when the Israelites asked from their prophet to send for them a king so that they would fight under his leadership.
And their prophet said to them: Surely Allah has raised Talut to be a king over you. They said: How can he hold kingship over us while we have a greater right to kingship than he does, and he has not been granted an abundance of wealth? He said: Surely Allah has chosen him in preference to you, and He has increased him abundantly in knowledge and physique, and Allah grants His kingdom to whom He pleases, and Allah is Ample giving, Knowing. (Qur'an, 2:247)
This is besides many other instances that this and that has witnessed of (and the virtue is that which opponents witness of). So why do we not actually take a strict situation against heresies like the omitting of “Come on to the best of deeds” from the azan by Umar ibn al-Khattab? It is related to Akrimah that he said, “Once, I said to ibn Abbas, ‘Would you tell me why “come on to the best of deeds” was omitted from the azan?” He said, ‘Umar wanted people not to rely on prayer and give up jihad; therefore, he omitted that from the azan.”
Refer to Sunan al-Bayhaqi, vol. 1 p. 524-525, as-Sira al-Halabiyyah, vol. 2 p. 105, Sa’d as-Sa’oud, p. 100, Mizan al-i’tidal by ath-Thahabi, vol. 1 p. 139, Lisan al-Mizan, vol. 1 p. 261, Nayl al-Awtar by al-Shawkani, vol. 2 p. 32, Kanul Ummal, printed in the margins of Musnad Ahmad, vol. 3 p. 276, Kanul Ummal, vol. 4 p. 266, ar-Rawdh an-Nadhir, vol. 2 p. 42.
On the other side, Umar added to the azan of the Fajr (dawn) Prayer “the prayer is better than sleep”. This shows that Muslims do not wonder at this omission and the addition, because the Sunni do not believe that the azan and the iqamah have been legislated by Allah through His revelation to the Prophet (S), or that the Prophet (S) has done it like the other rites and rulings that he received from Allah the Almighty!!!
They narrate that the azan was a dream which one of the companion saw in his sleep after the Prophet (S) had been confused (as they say) either to call people for the prayer by the bell or by beating two pieces of wood against each other…Refer to Sunan Abu Dawud, vol. 1 p. 335, as-Sira al-Halabiyyah, vol. 2 p. 93, Sahih at-Tirmizi, vol. 1 p. 359, al-Muwatta’, vol. 1 and its explanation by az-Zarqani, vol. 1 p. 120-125, Sunan al-Bayhaqi, vol. 1 p. 390, Sira of Ibn Hisham, vol. 2 p. 154, al-Bidaya wal-Nihaya, vol. 3 p. 232, al-Mawahib al-Laduniyyah, vol. 1 p. 17, Muntakhab Kanul Ummal, printed in the margins of Musnad Ahmad, vol. 3 p. 273, Tabyeen al-Haqa’iq by az-Zuray’ee, vol. 1 p. 9, ar-Rawdh al-Anaf, vol. 2 p. 285, Hayat as-Sahaba (the lives of the companions), vol. 3 p. 131, Kanul Ummal, vol. 4 p. 263, Sunan ad-Darqutni, vol. 1 p. 241, and others.
Thus, the azan, for you (the Sunni), has not been legislated by Allah, and you omit from and add to it, and even if you add to the azan of the Noon Prayer the statement of “the prayer is better than lunch” it shall be given legality by you and you shall approve it as you have approved some things else, whereas you deny those who have consensually agreed that the azan and the iqamah in their actual chapters had been revealed to the Prophet (S) by Gabriel (as).
Yes, we all have to deny everything that contradicts the real azan. Once, Muslims heard the muezzin saying in the azan: “They say that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah (S)”. They were astonished and they denied that. They went to the imam of the mosque objecting to him. He said to them, “I found no one to announce the azan in the mosque; therefore, I hired a Jewish man to announce it, and he does not believe in the prophethood of Muhammad (S).”
As for the mention of Imam Ali and the Ahlul Bayt (peace be on them all), we do not say that it is a part of the azan, nor do we add it instead of another basic part. We do not omit from or add fixed part to the azan, which was revealed to the Prophet (S) by Gabriel in his sleep. We believe that the revelation to the Prophet (S) in his sleep is like the revelation to him in his wake state.
However, they (the Sunni) chanted the azan in tones and recited it in groups like anthems. They omitted and added, since they believe that it (the azan) has not been divinely legislated, but a vision of one of the companions.
The Shia unanimously say that the azan was a revelation from Allah, and therefore, they believe that any omission or addition to it is not permissible; otherwise, it is considered a man’s legislation against Allah’s legislation, and this is impermissible among the Shia. This is not that case in saying “I bear witness that Ali is the saint of Allah”, because this is mentioned as generally recommended and to show our adherence to the saint of Allah.