(4) Status of the Sunnis in Shi‘a Fiqh

By the Grand Ayatullah Sayyid ‘Ali Sistani


As-Salāmu ‘alaykum wa raḥmatullāhi wa barakātuh.

An independent [television] channel has repeatedly claimed that Sayyid Sistani (may Allāh protect him) has given the fatwa of kufr (infidelity) for one who does not believe in Imamate [of the Ahlul Bayt], and among such people are the Sunni brethren. This is based on what has been quoted from Al-Abḥāthu ’l-‘Aqā’idiyyah website which is under the patronage of the respected Sayyid as claimed in the beginning of the “al-Hiwār aṣ-Sarīḥ” program of the channel.

What is your response on their specific claims since they are repeating that almost every day since the beginning of the present month of Ramadhan [1431].

With thanks.

In the name of Allāh, the Beneficent, the Merciful
As-Salāmu ‘alaykum wa raḥmatullāhi wa barakātuh.

The respected Sayyid Sistāni in the manual of his fatwas, Minhāju ’-Saliīn, vol. 1 (1st edition) p. 138 has clearly stated that a kāfir (infidel) is one who

1. does not have a religion

2. or follows a religion other than Islam

3. or follows Islam but rejects what is known as an essential part of the Islamic faith (i.e., what has come from the Prophet [a.s.]) in a way that his rejection leads to belying the Prophet (a.s.) in what he has conveyed from Almighty Allāh.

By considering the fact that most of our brethren from Ahlus Sunnat wal Jamā‘at who deny the Imamate of the Twelve Imams (a.s.) believe that Imamate is not part of [the faith] that was brought by the Prophet (s.a.w.), therefore their rejection does not harm their Islam based on the view of the respected Sayyid.

This is [also] clear from his other fatwas such as:

1. His verdict on obligation of doing the funeral prayer on a Muslim even if he is of a different sect (madhhab). (Minhãju ’ṣ-Ṣãliḥīn, vol. 1, p. 106)

2. And his verdict on validity of a Shī‘a lady marrying a Muslim from other madhhab. (Minhãju ’ṣ-Ṣãliḥīn, vol. 3, p. 70)

3. And his verdict that the Muslims can inherit from one another even if they differ in their madhhab, principals and beliefs. (Minhãju ’ṣ-Ṣãliḥīn, vol. 3, p. 323)

In short, whoever is aware of the fatwas of the respected Sayyid knows that he considers the general Ahlus Sunnah wal Jamā‘at as Muslims whose lives are to be preserved, whose properties are sacrosanct, and all rules specific to Muslims would apply on them…
May Allãh grant you success. Was-salaamu ‘alaykum wa raḥmatullãhi wa barakãtuh.

12 Holy Ramadhan 1431 AH
[Seal of the Office of As-Sayyid as-Sistãni, an-Najaf al-Ashraf]


By the Grand Ayatullah Wahid Khurasani

In the name of the Almighty

We are a group who reside in a Sunni neighbourhood, and they call us ‘kãfir’ (infidel) and say that Shi‘as are kãfir. In such a situation, can we retort in kind and treat them as kãfirs? Please clarify our religious duty in face of such confrontations.

A group of mu’mineen.

In the name of Allãh, the Kind, the Merciful

Whosoever bears witness to the unity of Almighty God and the prophethood of the Last Prophet (s.a.w.) is a Muslim. His life, honour and property is as sacrosanct as the life, honour and property of a follower of the Ja‘fari sect.

Your religious duty towards one who believes in God’s unity and the Prophet’s messengership, even if he calls you a kãfir, is cordial association with him. And if they behave wrongly with you, you should not deviate from the right path of truth and justice.

If anyone of them becomes ill, go and visit him; if he passes away, participate in his funeral; if he needs something from you, fulfill it. Accept Allãh’s command, “And let not hatred of a people incite you not to act equitably Act equitably, that is nearer to piety;”[5:8] and follow the Almighty’s injunction, “And do not say to anyone who offers you peace: You are not a believer..”[4:94]

Was-salaam ‘alaykum wa rahmatullãh.