Mahmood Abu Maryam

Trying to make sense of it all...

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It is the consensus of the Shi'a scholars that there is no distortion in the Qur'an. You can read more about this topic in the article below that gives references to the statements of a variety of scholars.

https://www.al-islam.org/articles/beliefs-do-shiah-believe-different-quran

A famous scholar Ayatullah Sayyid Abu'l Qasim al-Khu'i has a detailed discussion around this topic in his book that you can also go through for a more in-depth treatment of this subject.

https://www.al-islam.org/al-bayan-fi-tafsir-al-quran-prolegomena-quran-ayatullah-sayyid-abulqasim-al-khui/7-protection-quran

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There are plenty of books written by Shia scholars who have explained in detail the evidence for all the matters in which the Shia have a different view compared to their Sunni brethren.

You can find many of them on this site. For instance you can start by exploring material listed under the following topic:

https://www.al-islam.org/tags/sunni-shia

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Perhaps you are referring to the practice in the Shia community of combining the Zuhr and Asr prayers and the Maghrib with Isha prayers.

This is considered permitted on account of abundant evidence in the Islamic sources that the Prophet (s) had combined these prayers without any special reason.

You can read more about this topic here:

https://www.al-islam.org/articles/laws-and-practices-why-do-shiah-combine-prayers

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Eid is determined and celebrated based on the present location of a Muslim, not according to the sighting of the moon in the town where they were born or have a permanent home.

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The Prophet (s) used to pray on earth and is also reported to have shown reverence towards the soil of Karbala in his lifetime with the foreknowledge of what would happen upon it.

So although it is not compulsory for the Shia to pray on a turba made from the soil of Karbala, it is considered meritorious to do so.

You can read more details with full references here:

https://www.al-islam.org/articles/laws-and-practices-why-do-shiah-prostrate-turbah

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You will find much material on this site on the topic of the Ahl al-bayt (a).

Check out this link to see a list of books, articles and videos:

https://www.al-islam.org/tags/ahl-al-bayt

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It is important to remember that people have always had choices. That is the reason why we hold those accountable who committed misdeeds, because they chose to do so. They were not born to play the part of villains.

It is not as if God had determined that Fadak must be usurped and that someone must be created who will do so.

It is also not the case that God had determined that a wife of the Prophet (s) must fight Imam 'Ali (a) and so she was put out there in the world of creation to fulfil that role.

Think of it this way. It was entirely possible for the first caliph and his daughter not to commit the misdeeds that they did. So why ought they have been punished before they could even be tested with that choice?

Did not Abu Bakr have another child, and Ayesha a brother, who was the most devoted Shi'a of Imam 'Ali (a) and fought against his own sister in defence of Imam 'Ali?

He was not predestined to be the good person in a pre-planned drama, like some kind of an angelic robot. He also made choices in his life. And so we remember him with affection and praise.

I believe that the nature of knowledge given by God to the Prophet (s) and the Imams (a) must be understood with the above in mind.

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The Qur'an does mention Imam Ali (a) in numerous places. But it does not mention him by name. Being mentioned in the Qur’an is distinct from being mentioned by name in the Qur’an.

Let's analyse both types of mention and try and determine the style of the Qur'an in these matters.

Mention By Name

Should we believe that being mentioned by name in the Qur’an is an honour? Well, Abu Lahab is mentioned by name in a verse that reprimands him and his wife and assures of their place in hellfire.

Clearly, then, being mentioned in the Qur’an by name is not necessarily an honour.

Now, let’s turn to the virtuous people who are mentioned by name. If it was the mere incidence of them being named that was a token of superior merit, then Prophet ‘Isa (a) - Jesus - is mentioned by name more often than Prophet Muhammad (s) is referred to by his blessed name.

Clearly, then, being mentioned in the Qur’an by name does not mean anything other than that God in His infinite wisdom decided that it was appropriate in the context of the various narratives contained in the Holy Book.

This brings us to the other type of mention in the Qur’an.

Mention By Attribute

Many important people are mentioned by attributes and it is clear from the tafsir literature who those people are. With that certainty, we can say that those people are mentioned by the Qur’an.

Let’s start with two well-known Companions who were the reason why the first few verses of Surah al-Hujurat were revealed.

Abu Bakr and ‘Umar Mentioned In The Qur’an

Narrated `Abdullah bin Az-Zubair: A group of Bani Tamim came to the Prophet (and requested him to appoint a governor for them).

Abu Bakr said, "Appoint Al-Qaqa bin Mabad." `Umar said, "Appoint Al-Aqra' bin Habeas."

On that Abu Bakr said (to `Umar). "You did not want but to oppose me!" `Umar replied "I did not intend to oppose you!"

So both of them argued till their voices grew loud. So the following Verse was revealed: 'O you who believe! Be not forward......' (49.1)

Source - Sahih al-Bukhari, Book 65, Hadith 4847

The full verse that was revealed mentioning by attribute Abu Bakr and ‘Umar was

O you who have believed, do not put [yourselves] before Allah and His Messenger but fear Allah. Indeed, Allah is Hearing and Knowing. (49:1)

There are others but let’s move on.

Imam ‘Ali Mentioned In The Qur’an

In the same way, Imam ‘Ali b. Abi Talib is also mentioned in multiple places in the Qur’an but always in a favourable and praiseworthy light.

And this is by absolute consensus of all Muslims, Sunni’s and Shi’a. Nobody is able to show a mention of ‘Ali in the Qur’an that reprimanded him for anything or criticised him.

The number of verses that mention him are really a huge number. Entire books have been written that list the verses in ‘Ali’s favour and the evidence from Sunni sources that prove it.

Here is one example from the occasion of Mubahala

Amir b. Sa'd b. Abi Waqqas reported on the authority of his father that Muawiya b. Abi Sufyan appointed Sa'd as the Governor and said:

What prevents you from abusing Abu Turab (Hadrat 'Ali), whereupon be said:

It is because of three things which I remember Allah's Messenger (s) having said about him that I would not abuse him and even if I find one of those three things for me, it would be more dear to me than the red camels.

I heard Allah's Messenger (s) say about 'Ali as he left him behind in one of his campaigns (that was Tabuk). 'Ali said to him: Allah's Messenger, you leave me behind along with women and children. Thereupon Allah's Messenger (s) said to him: Aren't you satisfied with being unto me what Aaron was unto Moses but with this exception that there is no prophethood after me.

And I (also) heard him say on the Day of Khaibar: I would certainly give this standard to a person who loves Allah and his Messenger, and Allah and his Messenger love him too. He (the narrator) said: We had been anxiously waiting for it, when he (the Holy Prophet) said: Call 'Ali. He was called and his eyes were inflamed. He applied saliva to his eyes and handed over the standard to him, and Allah gave him victory.

(The third occasion is this) when the (following) verse was revealed: "Let us summon our children and your children." Allah's Messenger (s) called 'Ali, Fatima, Hasan and Husain and said: O Allah, they are my family.

Source - Sahih Muslim, Book 031, Number 5915

Here is the full Qur’anic verse that mentions - as confirmed by Sahih Muslim - not just Imam ‘Ali but also Lady Fatima and Imams al-Hasan and al-Husayn.

The truth is from your Lord, so do not be among the doubters. Then whoever argues with you about it after [this] knowledge has come to you - say, "Come, let us call our sons and your sons, our women and your women, ourselves and yourselves, then supplicate earnestly [together] and invoke the curse of Allah upon the liars [among us]." (3:60–1)

Th Qur’an not only mentioned Imam ‘Ali (a) but called him the self of the Prophet Muhammad (s). And it also confirmed that they were all on the position of utmost truthfulness and piety.

And those against them are the liars and the curse of God is upon them!

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It is widely known that the Qur'an as recorded in writing is not in the order of its revelation. However, a common misunderstanding is that any single numbered verse would have been revealed at the same time as a single unit. That has not always been the case.

Before looking at 33:33 we can examine the famous verse of 5:3 to see an example of this phenomenon.

  • You are prohibited carrion, blood, the flesh of swine, and what has been offered to other than Allah, and the animal strangled or beaten to death, and that which dies by falling or is gored to death, and that which is mangled by a beast of prey—barring that which you may purify —and what is sacrificed on stone altars [to idols], and that you should divide by raffling with arrows. All that is transgression. Today the faithless have despaired of your religion. So do not fear them, but fear Me. Today I have perfected your religion for you, and I have completed My blessing upon you, and I have approved Islam as your religion. But should anyone be compelled by hunger, without inclining to sin, then Allah is indeed all-forgiving, all-merciful.

The first and last parts of this verse, discussing food law, were revealed a year or so earlier to the highlighted portion that was revealed in 10 AH. It is commonly called the Ikmal verse, which, as you can see, is actually a part of the Qur'anic verse 5:3 rather than the entirety of it.

So in a similar manner 33:33 is also made up of parts that were not all revealed together.

  • Stay in your houses and do not flaunt your finery like the former [days of pagan] ignorance. Maintain the prayer and pay the zakat, and obey Allah and His Apostle. Indeed Allah desires to repel all impurity from you, O People of the Household, and purify you with a thorough purification.

The Qur'anic commentaries from all schools of thought in Islam demonstrate that the second part, famously called Ayat al-Tathir, was revealed separately and distinctly from the previous portion of 33:33 and also the subsequent verses.

Just like the mention of food law in 5:3 shows the continuity of the food law theme before and after the completion of religion theme, so also here the use of the all-feminine gender in the grammar of the part of 33:33 before the Ayat al-Tathir and afterwards in 33:34 onwards shows that those sentences were on the theme addressing the wives of the Prophet (s).

The Ayat al-Tathir part, on the other hand, uses the masculine gender that is grammatically appropriate when addressing a set of people that contains at least one male.

The reference to the Ahl al-Bayt in 33:33, therefore, is not a continuation of the address towards the wives of the Prophet (s), but an independent theme addressing 'Ali, Fatima, Hasan, and Husayn, on them all be peace, as the chosen Family of the Prophet Muhammad (s).

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As the respected Sayyid al-Musawi has explained, the person who banned Mut'a was 'Umar b. al-Khattab and not the Prophet (s). However, it is true that many of our Sunni brothers and sisters believe that the practice was abrogated by the Prophet (s) himself. This view is based on some hadith narrations that seem to suggest so.

The notable scholar and Marja' Sayyid al-Khu'i has covered these narrations from the Sunni sources and debunked them in his work Al-Bayan while discussing the topic of abrogation of Qur'anic verses.

You can read the chapter here, the relevant section is to be found after some scrolling, or you can simply search for '4:24'. Hope this helps.

https://www.al-islam.org/al-bayan-fi-tafsir-al-quran-prolegomena-quran-ayatullah-sayyid-abulqasim-al-khui/10-abrogation-quran

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You can start by exploring this link, and the sub-sections from it, that will lead you to many relevant books and articles.

https://www.al-islam.org/explore/shia-and-sunni

If you are looking for short Fact Sheets on various topics related to Shi'a belief and practice, then check this out:

https://www.al-islam.org/nutshell/

If you would like to sample the words of the Imams of the Ahl al-Bayt (a) when they speak of God, or address Him in supplications, then these two resources may be of interest:

https://www.al-islam.org/shiite-anthology-sayyid-muhammad-husayn-tabatabai

and

https://www.al-islam.org/sahifa-al-kamilah-al-sajjadiyya-imam-ali-zayn-al-abidin

Hope this helps!