3. Shia’sm and the meaning of Imam, the Redeemer
We will present explanations of some magnitude in order to obviate mistakes since there are several. The taking shape and the Foundation of Shia’sm in the epoch of prophet-hood:
A. Historical events and constant traditions indicate that during the prophethood itself, the Shia faith started taking shape and gaining ground by its Salient feature that is the belief in Imamate fixed by the text. In the early years of his prophet hood when the Prophet commenced the call, a foundation was laid and officially announced to the people with much stress on the need for their adherence to it. This is quite obvious in the much known tradition of Thaqalain (two heavy things).
The Prophet did not suffice on that. He wanted to write it down in his will which he said was important and that they would never go astray if they adhered to it. He demanded a pen and paper for this purpose. As he was sick in his deathbed no one obeyed his order. Those who were present around him opposed him openly and said, “The man is uttering nonsense.” They stopped him from writing down his will by not giving him a pen and paper.
Those who accepted the Prophet’s invitation and stuck to this faith was and is a Shia. It is the contents of the Prophet’s call and the essence of his Mission. As for the leadership of the nation, on every occasion and in every opportunity this issue has been made known to the people by the Prophet (S).
Imamate is a comer stone in the proclamations of the Prophet (S). The importance of it comes to light by this saying of the Prophet (S), which he narrated on various occasions. “He who dies without knowing the Imam of his time dies a death of ignorance.” What we infer from this tradition is that to ignore the Imam or not to recognize him is tantamount to death, a death prior to Islam.
The station of Imam is such. The Prophet (S) has specified the qualities of the Imam as to who and how he should be, also as from which class and which clan he should be. Their number too which is twelve was told by the Prophet (S). He in his lifetime had disclosed their names individually.
Every Imam is a perfect man of his time. His conduct, moral, and knowledge is superior to all. He is the example in every aspect to be followed. The Quranic verses as well support this. Imamate is a Divine office like that of Prophet Hood.
As God chooses His prophet, He chooses His successor too because the office is the same; the prophet introduced a mission and the Imam was and is the guardian of that mission. One propagates while the other preserves.
The writer says that in the early years of Islam there was no sign of either Shi’ism or Sunnism. If he means by this that the Shia thought had no root in Islam in its early years; he is mistaken. He says openly quite contrary to the fact. The leadership of Ali (as) or his succession to the Prophet (S) was the most original thought expressed by the Prophet (S) himself. It is as old as Islam itself. In addition to the Prophet’s sayings, there are several incidents and occasions of no less importance which occurred and which pointed to the issue of Imamate, that is the leadership after the Prophet.
During that time a division had not yet occurred. Opposition to the Shia thought and Imamate took years to develop and identify itself by the name of Sunni. The individuals who channeled things to flow in quite the opposite direction, which caused the division, were quite resigned to the original Islam because that was the age of the Prophet, which to them was the age of ambush. The Islam of that age, that is, the time of their ambush, remained in its originality that later begot the name of Shi’ism because they had invented ‘Sunnism’ - a contrary school.
The life of the Prophet (S) rather shielded them. The death of the Prophet (S) exposed them. There they were feeble. Later they were cunning. What the Prophet had set up they upset. The upset one took the name of Sunni. The original setup preserved its entity in Shia.
Zero hour was the death of the Prophet (S). The meeting place was Saqifa. They gathered; laid bare their intentions. The clamor died down and a successor to the demised Prophet was suggested, nominated, and appointed – all in no time. Why was Ali not there? Ali (as) was occupied in the funeral of the Prophet (S). Actually the gathering at Saqifa drew a line between Islam dividing it into two.
Now, their allegation. The Holy Quran has not located a center nor accommodated the scholars with a choice in interpretation of the issues and of fashioning the affairs into a discipline. This is not correct. The Quran says in the chapter ‘Women’:
“If they had referred it to the Messenger and to those in authority among them, those of them whose task it was investigate would have known the mailer.” (4:85)
Of course, its interpretation requires a separate chapter. But at a cursory view we come to know that the term, ‘those in authority’ purports to the Imams, immune of sins.
The Prophet had often said that the Quran was with them, and they with the Quran are inseparable from earth other. In this respect readers may refer to the traditions ‘Taqalain’, ‘Safeena’, and ‘Imam’ and several other ones.
In another tradition the Prophet says: “In every generation to come out of my nation, there are just people alongside the members of my House, who cleanse the religion from deviation of the arrogant and wrong of the wrong doers.”
This issue has always been much in attention. The prophet hood was still in its start and the Revelations had started coming down, this issue too made its appearance as a matter of no less magnitude. There is a story of a man who approached the Prophet and told him that he would embrace his faith on one condition and that was that he becomes leader after the Prophet (S). The Prophet (S) rejected the man.
In the meantime, it is true that in the current of some great events of historical significance the religions view of Shi’ism sometimes used to palpitate and sometimes the Islamic rays have had so glared through the prism that its reflection has astonished the viewers and captured their attention.
It is a historical fact that governments came to power, which were quite incompetent and not fit for the leadership. Although bad they were imposed on the people because they facilitated the ground which became easily accessible for the leadership. Leadership thus obtained their rule over the people. People were helpless. They could do nothing beyond disdaining and cursing them. The governments in spite of the power could not rule over the dominion of hearts.
In the lifetime of the Prophet (S) nobody dared to show his true identity.
As there was no opposition openly, the underground movements took root. What they could not accept was the leadership of Ali (as), announced many times and again by the Prophet. Secret plots were concocted. The Prophet himself was to be assassinated.
After the death of the Prophet (S) what was underground became open. The Prophet was no more to be feared; but his house and its members were there. The opposition had a plan, and they proceeded with it. Now the front was the very house of the Prophet (S). Whoever was a member, friend or sympathizer to the Holy Prophet’s household was to be crushed, so that their opposition should gain ground. Thus the division became wider and the opposition reached every house, if that house was a friend of the Prophet’s house. Those who were supporters of the Prophet’s household were called Shia. In other words, those who adhered to the Prophet’s household or remained in his camp became Shia. Wherever a Shia be, he had to confront this opposition.
The only daughter of the Prophet (S), Zahra (as), was not excluded. They came to her house and tortured her and showed the people that they could go to that extreme and beyond. Thereafter the events took their course. Some of the followers of the Prophet went astray and a split was now the rule. This deviation from the original course became a school and whoever adhered to it became a Sunni. And a Sunni was to oppose a Shia who remained in the line of the Prophet (S) which was under the protection of his household.
Although such was the case, however face to face confrontation was very prudent but avoided in the time of Abu Bakr and also in the regime of Omar. What did the people do? The legality or the legitimacy of the government mattered to some, which others remained indifferent. Some people rather enjoyed the opportunity as they affiliated themselves to the ruling junta. There were also three who considered the issue as finished and settled. But a few among them, like Omar, never considered themselves safe and secure, because the legitimacy of their rule was under question by some.
As long as doubt existed the danger too existed that the people might return to the original track. Therefore Omar adopted very calculated policies in which to keep Ali (as) at a distance from power. So, Omar wrote a plan, which introduced the proposal of a six men committee. Othman carried out the plan. As a result Ali once again stayed away from power. In the meantime, this occasioned for the people to recall the words of the Prophet (S) about Ali (as) when he had introduced him as the one who would succeed him.
An outpour of memory excited the passions in such an effective way that they, the people, showed and expressed their disappointment as they saw the deviation from the track of the Prophet (S) was getting wider.
The hatred and abhorrence towards Othman was in such an abundance that Muslims could not restrain their anger and anguish. The huge fire, which had erupted, was fueled by the irregularities and injustice of Othman himself. The original Islam was in need of the rightful successor of the Prophet. As there was no other than Ali, huge crowds of Muslims gathered around to support him. After twenty-five years of straying off the right path, people were once again shown the correct path. Ali (as) and a holy war under his command was considered by Muslims a great honor.
Allegiance to him was pledged and his succession to the Prophet’s place was celebrated. Shi’ism considers nothing wrong with this, but quite the contrary, this was done in compliance with logic and reason.
This is a fact that the faith of the Shia was never forgotten. The hearts of the people have always hung to the Prophet’s household. They were victims and deprived of their rights. People gave their support as the occasion arose and the opportunity invited. Poets have narrated this faith. Farazdog is a good example of one of these poets whose famous laudation addresses Husham telling him as to who Imam Zainul Abideen was. Musa Bin Naseer was the governor of Africa.
He had a slave by the name of Tariq. Tariq conquered Spain. Even though they held offices in the government of Bani Ummayah, they were Shia. Because of his being a Shia, Tariq’s properties were confiscated and he himself was dismissed, regardless of his services. The Shia belief had penetrated even into Mawiya’s family. Mawiya’s grandson, Yazid, was a Shia. He openly accused his father and grandfather and announced his allegiance to Ali and other members of the Prophet’s House. Likewise was the situation in the Bani Abbas dynasty.
It is the Truth and the originality that the Shia faith has survived throughout ages in spite of the ups and downs that has disturbed it and posed as a threat to its holder. From the political aspect, any Shia was restricted from holding any office in the government. The tyrant and cruel rulers of the Bani Abbas dynasty like Mansoor, Haroon and Ma’mun had knowledge of Shi’ism, however contrary to their knowledge they crushed the Shia thought in order to obtain and keep their power.
Going down the line of the Bani Abbas dynasty we see another ruler, Muntasar, who held the Shia thought. Again, another by the name of Naser; he too was Shia. At Samarra (Iraq), the place of disappearance of Mahdi (as), the twelfth Imam, had been entrusted to and was repaired by Nasir. There are narration from Shia sources, which say that Nasir was Shia and regarded himself as a deputy of the twelfth Imam, Mahdi (as). The Shia faith is Islam.
Neither greed corrupted nor ambition has polluted it. They did not desert the Prophet. When he was no more, the tradition of Thaqalain goaded them to the Prophet’s household - the Imams, twelve in succession. Nothing was added there to; nothing was reduced there from. It was the same in the Prophet’s lifetime and remained the same throughout the fourteen centuries. What had history to do with it? They attribute it to history. What we do understand is that the Shia faith has been the cause for uprisings, movements either open or underground ones, revolts, and revolutions.
The Shia faith has always stood against tyrants. It is quite contrary to what some think and say. Of course, there who think such are men of no knowledge or little information. They do not know; and those who know conceal; but history knows and tells and does not conceal. There were Shia governments. In Egypt, Dyalama, North Africa, Iran, and Iraq. The upraising of the Safavids was an event caused by Shi’ism. All these dominions were under Shia rule. There were the events that the Shia faith caused; and not the other way around.
The analysis of the writer in his book in this chapter is such as to indicate that Shi’ism as well as Sunnism were political forms and that they gradually took the status of a religions support which was necessary to their political ends. Failure of Shi’ism in political avenues, the writer attributes to the lack of a corresponding ideology. In this respect, that is, the ideology we would like to correct the writer because he has made himself free to tell what is not a reality. The Shia was opposed to accepting the successor to the Prophet who had been wrongly appointed. This is itself a political dimension.
This very policy and the reason for this policy resulted in the division; this division, in fact, stretches to the difference of belief in leadership. To make it short, a new belief came into existence against the belief of a divinely fixed or established Imamate. As a result, the real followers of Islam or the adherents to real Islam were cornered into taking the guise of a group or a party or a sect under the name of Shia to oppose the politics by listing and leaning to a particular quarter. But why is this fact deliberately overlooked?
The policy, the Shia as a political group introduced after that undesired division for the administration of society was itself a real Islamic ideology. It is untrue to say that Shia lacked an ideology. They had one; this was a religion, a faith, a belief before it took a political tint. It was so rich that it provided shade to politics.
Politicians were against this belief. So, their effort was to create a group so as to face the belief of Shia. They gave to that adversary group a religion form. What was the most valuable treasure to them, was the caliphate, which they had already snatched from its rightful owner and had diverted it in their own direction. In order to keep it they spent money, dissipated their tactics in creating terror among the people and purchasing the silence of those whose voice was a threat to them.
To hold the administration of society in their hands as long as possible; this was the fundamental of their politics. It is quite simple that a group by the name of Sunni would have never been invented had the Shia not opposed the point where they had departed from. The only element of opposition with Shi’ism is the politics.
On the other hand, it was that they who did not have an ideology. Had they one, they would have announced it or introduced it. In that confused hour of time they only captured the moment without announcing what their ideology was.
They could have at least prevented an armed conflict between the religions rivalry groups for the safety of Islam. There was no interest of any ideology at their hearts except to capture the opportunity. Later on which ideology did they follow? The writer is mistaken. The people had already long ago accepted Ali (as) as the successor to the Prophet (S) at Ghadir, however this decision had not been respected by the rivalry group (Sunnism). The ideology they had was, yes, that of terror and fear which stood as the base of their government. Why has the writer forgotten the sword of Omar? Abu Bakr was nominated at Saqifa.
Later, Omar started sauntering, loitering and roaming about in the streets with a naked sword in hand calling the people to yield to the authority of Abu Bakr or choose to taste the blade. People were dumb founded. Such a force and violence was their ideology. He continued his rampage through the streets until he approached the house of Zahra, the only daughter of the Prophet (S), demanding Ali’s surrender to Abu Bakr’s authority. Ali (as) retrained from doing that. He was tortured and dishonored at his door; and taken away by force to the mosque in order to acknowledge Abu Bakr’s caliphate.
At the end of his life on the verge of death he wrote a will. Abu Bakr was rarely in his senses, he wrote the names of Othman and Omar leaving it a guess as to which are of the two was to succeed him. When he came to his senses he was asked as to whom he actually meant. In reply he confirmed both. He died. Omar succeeded him. No one pointed out that “the man is uttering nonsense” or “The pain has overtaken him.” A man who has lost his senses cannot make a will.
But when Prophet (S) wanted to write down his will they did not allow him by refraining to give him pen and paper. In the progress of all these events we do not see any fixed ideology. Omar came to power without any rival and any opposition. Omar too appointed a committee of six men. Till here there seems to be no ideology or any respect to the public opinion. Only after Othman had been killed did the people rush to Ali’s house and yield to his authority and acknowledge him as caliph. This they did with their own will, as there was no force, no compulsion and no violence. From the view point of Shia Ali (as) had been the caliph since the moment the Prophet had died.
Regardless to what they have written in their books the fact is that the people were compelled to accept whom the caliph had appointed in advance. Therefore, the Sunni people had no ideology in their government. Even to this day of ours one of their scholars says that Islam has no specific method in appointing a ruler.
Love to govern and to attain pomp and ostentation is the prime factor. They pondered and saw nothing would avail them nor would they avail a thing if they left things go as they were in the preaching and the teachings of the Prophet. In his lifetime they should plough so as to harvest after his death: Ambition held them together and the secrecy of intentions brought a confederation between them. They contrived a plan. What the Prophet says or orders or permits or prohibits should not constitute a binding upon them nor should it have a bearing on what they wished. Such a line suited the trend and fitted to the taste.
So a thought, void of the Prophet’s teachings should be pushed ahead side by side along the Prophet’s line, a banner, a slogan, a title that could deceive much and do nothing was a necessity to push the thought ahead. “The book of God is enough for us”, this they chose and adopted as their mission. The name of God and the name of His book served as a tool. They turned it in whatever direction the need was. The screw was tightened and loosened.
Whatever direction it turned, the banner stood a justification for it. In other words, so to say, it actually served as a fortification for them where they were quite safe.
They obeyed and disobeyed the Prophet; they accepted and rejected the Prophet; they believed and disbelieved in the Prophet; they were the Prophet’s friends and also his enemies. Such was the banner and such was the use they drew out of it.
It was through this means that they invalidated the sayings of the Prophet. Thus they were preparing for the great event which was yet to come. They put it to test when the Prophet (S) in his last days demanded a pen and paper to write down his will. They said; “Pain has overtaken him. The Book of God is enough for us.” According to some narration they said; “The man is uttering nonsense.” So, by this slogan they stood up against the Prophet. We need not go into long discussion. It is quite obvious that their lust for power was the prime factor of the division in Islam. It is true, it was the Prophet (S) who gave the name of Shia to the followers of Ali (as).
But this did not create nor did it cause a division. The presence of close friends of Ali (as) like Salman, Abuzar and Migdad had no part in creating a sect by the name of Shia. When the Prophet called the followers of Ali (as) by the name of Shia he meant it for all. His desire was that all should be Shia. All should follow Ali (as). It is not even forcibly convincing that the Prophet himself should divide his own nation. If we reflect back we see the division actually took place and came into being the moment the Prophet died.
Who was to govern? Who was to succeed? This was the issue. This issue was a long awaited one; and long anticipated; and some had toiled hard for it. Although the Prophet (S) had introduced Ali (as) as his successor, yet they were still hopeful to steal it. At the cost of division among Muslims they attained their goal.
If at all we ignore this division and find a justification for it, we cannot overlook a factor, which did play a part. Some of the Muslims held a view which justified their disobedience to the Prophet or to discard his orders. They did not regard the sayings or the instructions of the Prophet (S) as Divine revelations. As such, according to them, there was no binding. The Book of God they sufficed on and they saw no need for the Prophet’s (S) words.
They regarded themselves in the same level of that of the Prophet (S) in conceiving the Quranic text. So why should they remain in the very same line prescribed by the Prophet (S)? Whatever they thought necessary with reports to their personal interest or that of a group stood in preference to the Prophet’s words. With such a view, the instructions of the Prophet (S) became to them amendable in accordance with the time, place, circumstance or the condition.
In the administration of Society the word of the Prophet to them was not final nor did it constitute an obligation upon them to its obedience. The lawful and the unlawful to them were not a divine legislation. Likewise, the issue of the caliphate too was in the same category. Although the Prophet had appointed his successor, they felt they were not obliged to accept his choice because they wrongfully thought it had no validity of a divine revelation.
Therefore, to oppose him was lawful. Such was their reason and such was their belief; and such they have even proved. They changed the whole cause immediately after the Prophet’s death by appointing their own man as the caliph.
They had said that for the administration of a society it was not prudent to have one as the caliph even though he should be the Prophet’s candidate or appointed by him. They can go against his choice... On the other hand, in several matters they insisted that the Prophet’s instructions should be carried out strictly. But, with regards to the caliphate they did quite the opposite. This shows that personal interests mattered to them much.
There is another instance where they openly disobeyed the Prophet (S). The Prophet (S) had appointed Asama as the commander in chief, however they refaced to accept him as their chief. They gave themselves the right to either obey the Prophet or to disobey him. They did both. They obeyed him and also disobeyed him. When the Prophet’s orders were contrary to their interests, they did not obey him.
Now we ask; who was the opposing group? Followers of Ali. They believed in the Prophet’s words. What the Prophet said was a divine word to them. In this respect their point was this verse of the Quran:
“And he does not utter upon lust; but it is a Revelation that he is vested with.”(53: 3-4)
This argument sounds reasonable. So they regarded the Prophet’s (S) word a binding upon them because of its being a Divine Revelation. This Quranic verse too is put forward in support of their thought:
“What is brought to you by the Prophet, take it, and what he prohibits you refrain from it.”(59:7)
Therefore, the orders of the Prophet, to them, were to be obeyed and followed. They believed that every instruction of the Prophet (S) was and is valid and cannot be ignored. This group of believers was also called ‘people of the text’. They also believed that the interpretation was beyond their understanding. To them the caliphate of Ali (as) and his guardianship over the Muslims was a thing desired by God.
They depended upon this Quranic Verse in support to their belief:
“O Messenger, announce that which has been revealed to you from your Lord, and if you do not, then you have not conveyed His message. And Allah will protect you from the people. Indeed, Allah does not guide the disbelieving people.” (5:67)
Such is a brief sketch of the start of the division. It can be well noticed that the name of ‘Ahl Sunnat’ (people of tradition) to those ones who actually did not adhere to it is not fair. The more deserving ones to this name are those who saw incumbent upon them to stick to the Quran and the tradition of the Prophet (S). They are Shia. Some clamored “The Book of God is enough to us”; and some maintained that in addition to the Book of God the Prophet’s instructions too are necessary. For the sake of one we cannot forego the other. In the absence of either, one falls short of the other.
Anyway, these two thoughts are fundamental ones. The belief of the Shia rests on the second one. “The Book of God is enough” is a thought that rejects the dimension of what the Prophet said and did. And this thought resulted in the division of Muslims. Well, in exploring this thought “The Book of God is enough” we come across disagreement among some of this very school. There are some that openly campaigned against the Prophet’s word and his text so far as Ali was concerned.
Some insisted that in politics or in the political field there was no necessity to follow the Prophet. Some on some occasions resorted to the Prophet’s tradition because they well knew that the thought “The Book of God is enough” was bleak and barren that it could not hold long. Little by little it dawned that the thought “The Book of God is enough” was void of a sense. It was only an approval to invalidate the divine legislation.
In the beginning this slogan worked well to their advantage. In deceiving the people who generally were illiterate and not well informed, this thought went a great deal of length. It was under this pretext that they prevented the Prophet (S) from writing down his will. And, they stood against those who used to say that the Prophet’s decree was essential for the office of caliphate by saying that only a Quranic text could determine such an issue. So, the events of Ghadeer as well as that of Yum Al-Daar were both overlooked.
As time went on, experience told them that the affairs could not be ruled or administered without the backing of the Prophet’s traditions; they resorted to interpretation. This paved the way for them to deduce from the Divine Decrees and the Prophet’s words as the demand suggested or as the need stood. They justified; they interpreted; and they expounded God’s laws; and had it been possible they would have even questioned the very text of the Holy Quran.
The religious matters are viewed from both a material and political dimension. For instance, they say that the Shia did not see things to their advantage, therefore they refused to yield to the caliphate and choose a different way.
The prime error that entails several other subsequent errors is that they do not consider Shi’ism a religious reality or an entity of a belief. They regard it as a political phenomenon. The writer says that it gathered support as people joined the movement even though at times it was given different names. The name of Ahlul Bait (The Prophet’s household) gave them a push. As time advanced they too advanced. But this theory is wrong. The existence of the Shia belief has no relation to any historical episode.
The writer considers historical events as a proof for the birth of the Shia thought. Likewise the Sunni. The writer struggles his way through such blunders till he reaches the occultation (the disappearance) of the twelfth Imam, Mahdi. Amidst the conditions and circumstances he sees the gleam of reason. The mist rises and he sees the light!
There has always been this fact - that people will mingle in political events or take no part in the governmental posts, or oppose openly, or flouting a proposal, or scouting an idea. But, in no way could this have a link with a religion, as a religion cannot be founded or established or propagated on such a ground.
According to some narration, the disappearance of Mahdi happened in order that some could avoid the obligation of yielding to his authority. However, such a thing has happened, has taken place, has occurred. It is a fact. It is a reality. It is a tyrannical conjecture or a wounding lies, that the Shia had no other way but to switch their belief in such an event after the death of the eleventh Imam, Hasan Askari.
One, who is a stranger to religions, is totally ignorant to the realities of the invisible or unseen world, who has seen only matter or any other tangible thing; he wants to see, justify and even interpret the religious matters, no matter of its magnitude, and then decide or pass judgment. Everything he thinks is the effect of a cause or a policy in a political class. Similar is the argument of Marxists too. Such should be, because of no acquaintance, no awareness.
From the ancient times they have questioned, because they want to see the matter and they have rejected, because they know not of anything or something beyond. Ulterior dimensions are sealed to their sight. It would be accepted if he shouts that he has seen; but, no, the cry of a blind has always been that he has discovered.
Of course, such type of analysis we see runs in all religions, true or otherwise. Such analysis is only workable in religions, which are not true because there is no other way. The viewpoint of the Sunni is vague. According to them there was no text nor was there a religious basis. The appointment of Abu Bakr to the caliphate was the consequence of the turmoil and confusion among Muslims that followed the death of the Prophet (S).
A gathering took place at Saqifa and to avoid a conflict or a civil disorder or any other danger it was important that Abu Bakr be appointed. Abu Bakr too in his turn with the same intention appointed Omar. Omar created a six men committee to decide after his death. These events were influenced by outside causes and which were gestate with historical aspects too. But political ends supervised and exercised guidance upon them.
In the light of these analysis’s it is acceptable that the governments that came into being after the Prophet (S) were absolutely due to the causes and effects which were never religious. But with regards to the Shia belief, these interpretations are not true nor are they acceptable because they believed in Imamate as they believed in the prophet hood. Their belief was in that which was a reality and their religion was a fact. They did not go beyond that.
In this chapter the writer has composed comments which history and traditions reject. Documentary evidences and historical events repudiate his conclusions.
For instance, says he: “The support to the leadership of Alavees was at first not on the basis of any planning...” The fact is opposite. The religious basis pushed the people to the support of the Alavees. Those who opposed the events took place at Saqifa and consequently rejected the authority of Abu Bakr, did so on a religion ground. Else, there was no other motive. The Prophet’s (S) words, his recommendations in this respect stood obligatory to them for their obedience.
People embraced the Shia faith only on a religion basis. The motive was religion. The instigation was the obedience to the Prophet (S). One has to refer to the books “Reality of Shi’ism and its principles” (Asl Al-Shia Wa Asooloha), “The History of Shi’ism” (Tareekh Al-Shia) and “Shi’ism in History" (Al-Shia Fil Tareekh).
To become convinced of the facts. The speeches of Ali Bin Abi Talib compiled in Nahjul Balaghah (the tone of eloquence) throw light on this fact that the position of Ahlul Bait (Members of the Prophet’s House) was that of leadership morally and materially. The angle of government is subordinate to it.
The writer in this chapter gives this opinion that it was exaggeration that gave shape to Imamate and brought forward the belief in the guardianship of Ali Bin Abi Talib. Why in this respect and in this particular regard has he not studied or searched or collected the sayings of the Prophet (S). Had he too heard as others had heard directly from the mouth of the Prophet (S) would have never told what is false and would have respected the truth? Since history has recorded every word uttered by the Prophet (S) he could have made himself acquainted with the Prophet’s trend or tendency. But the writer appears to be prejudice; not willing to take his look beyond the angle he has chosen.
Since l0 A.D writers have collected the sayings and the conversations and the speeches of the prophet (S); all point to the way Shi’ism and all indicate what an established fact Shi’ism is. To turn a blind eye to all these and to say that till the tenth and twelfth century there was no sign of the Shia belief, is not only injustice but a shear lie. The blood that was shed prior to this period of those who were Shia by Ziad and his like is also neglected and ignored.
Why were they martyred? They adhered to this belief. Such a type of research into the history of Shia the writer has made and with such an outlook he has emerged that one cannot but doubt his honesty and fear his intention which is full of venom.
Since the beginning, the Shia have acknowledged, the Imamate. “Oulil Amr” (Master of command) he attributed to the twelve Imams individually. It is an irrefragable fact that ever since the beginning the Shia has had a religious fundamental. Denial of this fact is to deny the existence of historical personalities. To reject is to admit.
Sometimes the writer says that Shi’ism from the very beginning was a party, which stood opposing the Sunnism. How wrong he is! The very Islam in its pristine purity and in its virgin originality is the Shi’ism - Committed to the sayings of the Prophet (S) and adhered to the text. On the other hand, Sunnism came into being in the periods subsequent to Islam and subject to the circumstances that were forced into existence immediately after the Prophet’s death.
The text was not important to them. It was a party created to oppose a prescribed program of Islam. It was a party only to impede the progress of Islam. In order to not hurt the feelings of our Sunni brothers we will not go further. It was a deliberate creation to stop the current of a religion; up not be stopped, to divert its flow; or if not, to deviate the people and to confuse the thing for them.
Finally we should pronounce that party which balanced the text of the Prophet’s words and that of the Quran in the scale of interests, fostered its own conclusions against the authority of the Prophet, and preferred its own interpretation to justify its ends. This was a particular class grouped together with a deliberation; as the time elapsed, their scholars who were courtiers worked out an ideology to it. Theirs is an invention and Shia’s is the religion.
The writer has made so many mistakes that to point them out one by one is indeed a great task. For instance, one is this. He says that the radical Shias, as he has them termed, who believed in the armed uprising, were too lavish in attributing extraordinary tributes to Imam. To give him information we would like to comment here:
Those who had insisted on an armed uprising were the Shias of the Zaidi sect. They thought that the Imam should carry a sword and he should carry the armed upraisal. Unlike the Shia, that is common Shia, they had some particular specification and tributes for the Imam, which was special to themselves.
The revolution that took place against Bani Umaiyah cannot be attribute to any group among the groups of Shia. The atrocities committed by them and the cruelties, which they showed against the people of the Prophet’s House (Ahlul Bait) constitute the real reason, the cardinal cause and the fundamental factor of their downfall. A general turmoil and a common turmoil had already emerged everywhere and had established a ground of uncertainty.
The situation was that of excitement either to deliver a revolution or to lead people to revolt. As is usually the case every opponent tried to gain benefit of the situation. Of course, the most zealous of all was the Zaidaia faction. Besides, there was also another faction by the name of Bani Abbas who considered themselves heir to Ali Bin Abi Talib because of the link to Abu Hashim Abdulla Bin Mohhamad Hanefi.
In these groups and factions there was, indeed, one who had the right to the leadership and to whom the leadership had been offered however he rejected the offer. He was Jafar Al-Sadiq, the sixth Imam. This policy which he adopted and practiced was what the Prophet (S) had fixed for him, was to the greater interest of Islam. The Islamic justice, the Islamic teaching were promoted by not accepting the political leadership. He re-opened the school for lessons long forgotten and corrected those, which were wrong.
The flurry settled down and the turmoil ended as the government of Bani Abbas came into being. They came as one should have come. The ground itself paved the way for an armed revolt; they did not pave the way for the armed upraisal. All counted the armed revolt effective but the Zaidi faction thought that the armed revolt was effective but exercised by the Imam. He who does so is the Imam, no matter whether he comes out a victor or vanquished.
The prime factor for the disappointment of the Shia was the lack of a uniform or coherent ideology; and this continued to be so till the time of the great Imam of the Shias, Ja’far Al-Sadiq. This is what the writer says.
We do not know what he actually means. If he means, positively, that the uniform ideology of Shia as it was, the friends and the supporters of Ahlul Bait (The Prophet’s Household) had not known it or were not aware of it or had not recognized it correctly but they were made acquainted with it by the Imam Al-Sadiq. And that he, Imam Al-Sadiq, subsequently due to the awareness, which he had brought about amongst them, could establish that great school of knowledge, which educated the people with the true Islam to follow Ali and his offspring, the AHLUL BAIT, was its reality and entity.
In his time, Al-Sadiq’s, the knowledge was spread and made within the reach of all those to whom mattered the facts. Many misconceptions. Wrong conclusions, and mistaken ideas about Islam that were propagated earlier were revised for the people reputed, rescinded, repudiated and retained only realities. This was a great achievement.
Now, if the writer means, negatively, that Imam Ja’far Al-Sadiq was the inventor of the ideology; it is not true.
Who was he to invent one? The ideology of Shia is what Islam is. From the very beginning, from the days of the Prophet (S) it was at a uniformity. The Prophet’s words his sayings and his addresses had already made it clear. The passage of time had no bearing on them. It was in itself complete and consummate. The Shia ideology was the element that made the propagation perfect. The events which occurred, in themselves carry the element of truth, goes a long way to establish the truth of this ideology and manifests the mistaken aspect of the opponents and adversaries.
The behavior and the conduct of Bani Ummayah, who led the government in their hands, itself gave the awakening to the people. They as successors to the Prophet (S), adopted wicked ways and deeds which made the people hate them because their actions were not coherent with the seat of the Prophet they had occupied. The more they hated them the more they pondered the position of Ahlul Bait (The Prophet’s House members).
There was not the remotest resemblance with the teachings of Islam. Soon it became obvious that the leadership must go to its rightful owners, those of the Ahlul Bait. The very difference in the mode of life of the Members of the Prophet’s household and that of the caliphs of Bani Ummayah was quite open to the observation of the people, it brought the Shia ideology closer to their hearts.