Table of Contents

Caliphate is From Allah or Caliphate is From People – Its Connection with Composition of Marsiya (Elegy) Writing

It should be clear that Ahlul Sunnat Caliphate includes Imamate and in fact, Caliphate cannot be separated from Imamate. They consider it as an affair of people while Shias consider Caliphate as an affair ordained by Allah. Since Mir Anees1 was also a Shia, he also had the same view regarding Caliphate. That Caliphate which includes Imamate, is an affair ordained by Allah and in no case can it be an affair decided by the people.

All the elegies (Marsiya) of Mir were based on this very belief and all Shia Marsiya writers follow this belief in the past and still are. If the reader is not aware of this matter that Shia consider Caliphate a divine affair, which means that the Holy Prophet’s Caliph cannot be man-made because the Holy Prophet’s Caliph should be like the Holy Prophet (S), an infallible, this unaware person cannot gain any benefit from these Marsiya writers. For example if any person is not aware of the Christian belief of Trinity, he cannot appreciate Milton’s Paradise Lost.

Thus, the reader of Shia Marsiya must keep this in mind that as per the belief of Shias from the fourteen divine personalities, the personality about whom he is reading the Marsiya, is indeed infallible. Allah makes his infallibility obvious and only Allah has made him infallible, and if he is from the Twelve Imams, he is the Caliph and Imam from Allah’s permission and people have not selected him.

It is seen in the writings of Shia Marsiya writers that all these Shia poets consider Imam Husayn (a.s.) as the rightful Imam and the rightful successor of the Holy Prophet (S). They all confess to his infallibility. They consider his military action as Jihad and his killing as martyrdom. It is obvious that these views have no compatibility with Sunni faith.

The principles of faith of Ahlul Sunnat state that Imam Husayn (a.s.) was neither the Caliph of the Holy Prophet (S), nor the Imam of the time or infallible. His battle against Yazeed was an uprising and that is why his killing cannot be considered martyrdom. As mentioned by them: “Husayn engineered an uprising and was killed by the sword of his grandfather.” It is well-known that this statement was of Pir Dastagir Abdul Qadir Jilani in Ghaniyatu Talibeen. But it cannot be found in the printed version of this book.

But there can be no doubt that it is the statement of Abu Bakr Ibn Gharbi as Nawab Siddiq Husayn Khan Bhopali writes in his book Hujajil Karamah and the words are as follow: “There is no doubt that from the aspect of demand of religion of Ahlul Sunnat, the belief of Abu Bakr Ibn Gharibi is not inappropriate. It is a necessary thing that from the aspect of roots of belief, only this should be the belief of Ahlul Sunnat, but those Sunnat who have a contrary belief, are indeed unprincipled.”

In short, to read the Marsiya of Shia, it is necessary for the reader to be aware of Shia beliefs. Otherwise, he would not be able to fully understand the principles of Shia faith and nor would he be able to derive any pleasure from them. It should be clear that Ahlul Sunnat of Bihar who follow the Hanafite religion and who are safe from the influence of Wahhabis, look at the tragedy of Karbala’ as viewed by Shia. They consider Imam Husayn (a.s.) as the oppressed one and believe that his killing was martyrdom. Though they may be opposed to the rituals of mourning as practiced by Shias, they have no difference of opinion regarding the tragedy of Karbala’ itself.

According to the belief of Shias, Imam Husayn (a.s.) was infallible like his grandfather, the Holy Prophet (S) and his father, mother and brother were, like the Holy Prophet (S) also infallible. And his successors from Imam Zainul Aabideen (a.s.) to Imam Sahibul Asr (a.s.) are considered infallible. The Imamiyah consider these fourteen infallibles to be pure from small and great sins and to be immaculate in all aspects.

This however is not the belief of Ahlul Sunnat. But since Shia Marsiya writing is based on Shia beliefs, Imam Husayn (a.s.) is mentioned as an infallible in Shia Marsiya and his Imamate is considered a divinely ordained affair. On the basis of his infallibility and divine appointment, Shias ascribe to the belief in his oppressed position and his death is considered a martyrdom.

Thus, if the matter of infallibility and divine office is taken away, the structure of Marsiya writing crashes to the ground. Sometime ago, a book was published by Maulavi Nazir Ahmad Dehlavi, which shows that the writer had no connection with the belief of infallibility. That is, he did not even ascribe to the belief in the infallibility of the Holy Prophet (S).

  • 1. A very famous Urdu poet of India.