Friday, January 12, 2007

Tackling The Shei'a Dilemma

The main reason behind this post is to answer two things:

  1. Are Shei'a something to worry about?
  2. What in the Shei'a idology is against (opposes) the Sunni view? how to answer them back?

Lately, there has been this fuss about Shei'a in Egypt.

I am of course an Egyptian Muslim. Egyptians are Sunnis except for a very few Shie'as which we started to hear of recently.

In Egypt a few years ago, if you'd go up to someone and ask him are you a Sunni or Shei'e, he'd reply and say: "What's a Shei'e?".

According to most sources, including the US Library of Congress, present estimates indicate that approximately 85% of the world's Muslims are Sunni and approximately 15% are Shei'a all over the world, and around three quarters of those (Shei’a) reside in Iran, Pakistan, Iraq, Afghanistan and India.

After the Americans invaded Iraq in 2003 and all the blood shed that started out there, Egyptians started to hear in detail about Shie'a (except for intellects who already knew about Shei’a).

Also, with the beating Israel had (military wise at least) from HEZBULLAH (Shei'a Muslims) in 2006 (2006 war Israel waged against Lebanon because of the kidnapping of two Israeli soldiers by Hezbullah), we heard even more about Shei’a.

During the war, there was a FATAWA from a Saudi Sheikh (ibn Jibreen) that we (Sunna) are not to support them (Shei'a).
Moreover, Israel and the US keep calling Iran and any similar group (Shei'a group) terrorists...etc.

In my opinion, all that is crap! because we as Muslims (whatever we are) our issue in life is "AL HAQ" (What is rightful).

We are commanded by God to stand with what is right. Even if it is a KAFR (infidel) if you think of it, and he is MAZLOOM (oppressed or so), we should help him!

Without any doubt what happened in Lebanon in 2006 by Israel was outrageous (the scale of retaliation by Israel was absurd). And we will always support HEZBULLAH and\or anyone (Patriot) who’d stop Israel’s attack on Lebanon.

Don’t give me that crap about who started the war because you’ll be neglecting 58 years of wars and the fact that Israel is occupying parts of Lebanon (Mazare Shebaa). I will not go on about who’s fault it is because that argument will be too long to discuss in this post!

Anyway, this is not the topic today. What triggered my topic today was the following... A while ago, i was watching "Ala El Hawa" on Orbit channel. The issue was about Shei'a and Sunna. I said to myself: "yoooooh, not again..eeeef!".

To tell you the truth, i am really sick hearing about it. I knew about them (Shei’a) and about their beliefs for sometime now. But, i thought i'd do more research about them and see what i come up with to try and decide once and for all... What are the differences between Sunna and Shei'a?! are Shei'a something to worry about?

Here are the major things (will highlight them in BOLD text) we as Suna have a problem with Shei'a about (actually, i wouldn't be caught dead agreeing with them about those topics):

  • Shi'as recognize the authority of the Shi'a Imam (also called Khalifa Ilahi) as a religious authority, though different sects within Shi'a Islam dispute the rightful succession of this Imam and the current rightful successor (Twelvers, Ismalis, and Zaydīs, for instance).

So, even one of their main basics is disputed amongst them. But, we can exclude this for now and say maybe the Twelvers who represent %80 of Shei’a are the right ones.

  • They believe that the Imam does not make mistakes.

Well, that is not right of course, for only Prophets can have that (by God’s will). The Imam is human; he can try and be the best he can… but he will make mistakes (I am talking about ordinary mistakes not big sins) that is human nature!
As the prophet said (meaning of):”All mankind make mistakes and the best of those (mankind), are the ones who remorse and ask for forgiveness”.

  • They think Abu Bakr (1nd Islamic leader after the Prophet), Umar Ibn Al Khattab (2nd Islamic leader after the Prophet) and Othman Ibn Affan (3nd Islamic leader after the Prophet) took what was not rightfully their’s (the leadership of the Islamic state) with the help of the Prophet’s followers (Al Sahaba). Shei’a say that Imam Ali should have been the successor of the Prophet.

Now that is the worst of all!
Not only are they accusing the prophets friends and followers (who gave everything for this religion and delivered his message after his death) of being unfair and power seekers, they are also accusing the prophet of not knowing how to choose his own friends and companions.

By them accusing the Sahaba (Prophet followers) of such bad things, it’s as if the Prophet even doesn’t know who is good and who is bad (although God is with him since he is a Prophet).

Don’t you think God would have told him (the prophet) to stay away from all those followers if they were so bad?!!! Or at least to warn people before he died since all his followers were bad?!!!

The three (Abu Bakr, Umar and Othman) were the prophet’s best friends. The Ahadeeth (Prophet’s sayings) that state their status are numerous (for instance, remember that the prophet choose non but Abu Bakr to be with him on the “Al Hijra” Journey to Madinah, and many other incidents) and even Some verses in Quran were related to them (like agreeing with Umar on a verdict on war prisoners..., and many other incidents).

For God’s sake, it is ridicules to say that all the prophet’s followers conspired after his death to give the leadership to Abu Bakr.
You want to convince me that suddenly all the followers just became bad people?!!!

In other words, you want to tell me that all the thousands of followers that were in the Madinah (city)… men, women, youngsters, all decided to betray when the prophet died?!! Ba2a da kalam ye7’osh el 3a2l?!
And do you want to tell me that when Abu Bakr took leadership by conspiracy (per the Shie’a view) no one objected?!
Even Sayedna Ali (the prophet's cousin whom Shei'a beleive should have been the Prophet's successor) didn’t object or even protest in a strong way when Abu Bakr, Umar and Othman were the consecative leaders of the nation before him (obviously he didn't object, since he stayed in the Islamic state under the first three leaders).

What does that tell us?
If he (Sayedna Ali) really thought that Abu Bakr or Umar or Uthman took what was not rightfully their’s, him being who he was wouldn’t have just stayed quite.

Actually, him being who he was (as we both Suna and Shie’a know him) would have stopped it and proclaimed what is right. He was no coward (7asha Lelah)!

  • The collection of Hadith venerated by Shi'a Muslims is centered around narrations by members of the Ahl al-Bayt (Prophet’s family), while some Hadith by narrators not belonging to the Ahl al-Bayt are not included.

That is a big draw back by them.
Shie’a think that (as mentioned in the previous point) the followers are not good people (or at least not worthy of taking prophet saying from them).
That’s ridicules for they (the Sahaba) were around him (the Prophet) all the time. And they are the ones the prophet taught Islam to. It is they who delivered the message to us (from one generation to another).

Shie’a think that Ahl Al Bayt members should be the successors of the prophet and they are the only ones who know what is right in this religion.

This of course is against what the prophet said:” There is no difference between an arab or a non-arab (Ajami), neither is better than the other except the one who is of more virtue”.
As mentioned in AL Hojorat Sora (verse 49):

إِنَّ أَكْرَمَكُمْ عِنْدَ اللَّهِ أَتْقَاكُمْ إِنَّ اللَّهَ عَلِيمٌ خَبِيرٌ

Being good is by who you are and what you do, not by who you are a descendent of (with all due respect for Ahl AL Bayt whom we love and cherish as Suna).

We as Sunna love and cherish Ahl AL Bayt. We pray (do Dua’a) for them in our prayer to God everyday. We know the value of them all. That is a fact Shei’a seem to miss out.

  • Shei'a believe that there is no set time for Asr and Ishaa prayers (not sure about this one).

And that is outrageous because Quran says in Sorat AL Nisaa (verse 4):

إِنَّ الصَّلاةَ كَانَتْ عَلَى الْمُؤْمِنِينَ كِتَابًا مَوْقُوتًا

Shei'a hitting and cutting themselves on Ashura day

The strange thing is that the prophet told us to fast the day of Ashura (that order was way before Al Hussain was killed), yet the Shie’a do other things on that day like morning, cutting themselves with knives, beating of their chests and slapping their faces..etc. (Latm wee ta2tee3 ya3ny minel a7’er!)

  • Shie’a seem to put sayedna Al Hussain (Prophet’s grandson) at a high state almost similar to the prophet himself. A lot of things in their religion are all about Al Hussain:
  1. They go for Hajj (pilgrimage) to Karbela (where Al Hussain was killed) which is outrageous because that is not stated in any part of Islam. Neither in Quran or Suna (which is where we get our rulings from).
  2. They call their gathering places for prayers “Al Huseeineya”.
  3. They idolize him (Al Hussain) in posters …etc.

We as Sunna also put him (Al Hussain) in a high status. But, not to the extent performing Hajj to the place he was killed (kdea out of the blue). This has no basis in our religion.

  • The Shia and Sunnis differ in their view of “Aisha” (one of the wives of the Prophet Muhammad). The Shei’a have a dim view of her character whereas the Sunnis consider her an exemplary woman.

Although Aisha is usually described as Muhammad's favorite wife and she is called Um AL mo’meneen (mother of the believers) like the rest of the prophet’s wives and believed to have been his only virgin wife, Shei’a think badly about her.

Some of them use the incident when Aisha was wrongfully accused of adultery. Even though, Muhammad (PBUH) received a revelation from God that the allegations were false as mentioned in One passage of the Quran, "Verily! They who spread the slander are a gang among you..." (24:11).
After that incident Muhammad received a revelation from God directing that adultery be proven by four eyewitnesses, rather than simply inferred from opportunity (like what happened with Aisha).

It is really disgusting that Shei’a use this against her (those who do at least).

Another incedent they use against her was (according to some accounts), when Muhammad's wife “Umm Salama” was given a skin filled with honey, which she shared with her husband. He (the Prophet) was fond of sweets and stayed overlong with “Umm Salama Hind bint Abi Umayya”; at least in the opinion of Aisha and her co-wife Hafsa.
Aisha and Hafsa were jealous. They agreed to tell Muhammad that the honey had given him bad breath. When he heard this from two wives, he believed that it was true and swore that he would eat no more of the honey. Soon afterwards, he reported that he had received a revelation, in which he was told that he could eat anything permitted by God In the following verses, “Muhammad's wives are rebuked for their unruliness your hearts are inclined (to oppose him)". (66:1).
Muhammad, saddened and upset, separated from his wives for a month. By the end of this time, his wives were humbled and harmony was restored.

So, they (Aisha and Hafsa) are two humans (wives) that felt jealous. Humans make mistakes as I mentioned before (another proof that Ahl AL Bayt are human and make mistakes, since the wives are from Ahl Al Bayt).
The prophet forgave them after a month. If they were bad people, surely the prophet was not going to keep them as wives…wala eh?!

Another proof that she (Aisha) is his the most beloved wife to the Prophet’s heart (in his last days) was during Muhammad's last illness, he sought Aisha's apartments (after asking his other wives if he could do so and they all agreed). The Prophet died with his head in her lap (the Sunni take this as evidence of Muhammad's fondness for Aisha).

The final accusation to Aisha… Sheia take it against Aisha that she went to war against Sayedna Ali after the killing of Saydna Uthman (third leader after the prophet) by some people who fludded Al Madinah (were Uthman and most prophet followers were).

Well think if it, she knew that Sayedna Uthman (3rd islamic ruler after the prophet) was killed in cold blood by some people. She gathered an army to fight them (since Sayedna Ali couldn’t do that at the time). At least that was her perspective to what she was doing.

Wait a minute…think of this…a muslim woman leading an army 1400 years ago…and they say Islam oppresses women…YEAH RIGHT! Lol.

On the other hand Sayedna Ali was the ruler and didn’t want mutiny which would mixup his preparation to deal with the killers. He had to stop her first (since she has a whole army).

Even this allegation (gathering an army aginst Sayedna Ali’s wish or order) was a difference in interpretation of the situation and how to deal with it.

Sayedna Ali after winning the battle (battle against Aisha) sent her back to Madinah without even saying a word to her or allowing anyone to come close to her or who were with her (in her defeated army).

If she was so bad (as some Shei’a think), do you think that would be the way to treat her?
In conclusion, any allegations against Sayeda Aisha (Radya Allah 3anha waa Ardaha) are nonsense!

  • During prayer, it is the Jafarī (Shei’a) view that it is preferable to prostrate on earth, leaves that are not edible, and/or wood, as these three things are considered purest by the Prophet in Hadith specifically mentioning Tayammum. Hence many Sheī'a use a small tablet of soil (a mixture of earth and water, and often taken from the ground of a holy site) during their daily prayers upon which they prostrate.

Nothing in Quran or Suna says that we take a piece of wood, leaves or whatever and put it under our forehead as we touch the ground.
I haven’t the faintest idea where they got that from. Especially, that they get the rocks from where Sayedna AL Hussain died (which happened many years after the prophet’s teachings about prayer and how to perform prayers have been reveled). Sob7an Allah!
But anyway, we can ignore this one since they think “it is preferable” not compulsory.

  • They dislike Salah EL Din because he ended the Fatimi empire in Egypt.

Well… Being who he (Salah El Din) is to us, I will not comment !!

The above are the major things I disapprove with the Shie’a about.
There are other things that differ in both views (Sunni and Shie’a) like Mut’a Nekaah (marrying for pleasure for a certain time) which Shei'a think is ok, or how they pray, ..etc.

In conclusion, there are (obvious) differences between Suna and Shei’a. There were always conflicts (historically) between both sects.

So, to answer the first question of this post...

I for one have no problem with them if they (the Shei’a) don’t insult the prophet’s followers, the first three leaders of the Islamic world, or Sayeda Aisha (God bless them all).

I am not worried about them at all. They can believe what they want, but without insulting… that’s all.
And finally, i think it is important to mention that the Al Azhar (one of the main centers of Sunni scholarship in the world) had a ten year long exchange with a Shia scholar.

After a long period of discussions, they announced the following on July 6, 1959:
"The Shi'a is a school of thought that is religiously correct to follow in worship as are other Sunni schools of thought."

But, we have to notice that the FATWA said “correct to follow in worship as are other Sunni schools of thought.". It said in "worship" as in how to worship not as in everything the Shei’a say or do.
It didn’t say that the Shie’a insulting the prophet’s followers, the first three leaders of the Islamic world, and Sayeda Aisha is ok. The insulting part is not worshiping it’s something else.

Another important part in the fatwa is this…
Muslims must know this (Jafari Shei'i school is a way of thought), and ought to refrain from unjust prejudice to any particular school of thought”.

Note: the above statement is about Islamic schools of thought that abide with Quran.

Mood: Tired of typing :)


OpeRon® said...

This is a very interesting and long post, I have been reading it from the very beginning to the very end.. with intrigue .. I adore it

There're a lot I did not know about She'a in this post However, I do have to add that the She'a have differ Azan than the Sunna

May I broadcast abstracts from your post in my new radio ? copyrights reserved of course

Fadfadation said...


Sure, be my guest :)
You are right about the azan too.

bibi-aisha said...

Im readin this frm my phn so didnt read it all.bein brought up in a strict hanafi community,i also heard lots of bad things bout shi'ites.but i then learned that amongst them,there r those who r very close to sunnis,n who regard wot othrs do as wrong.wen i wen2 lebanon n met with a leader frm hizbullah,n shi'a uni students,i didnt find any differences in our beliefs. I thght it disgustin for the

bibi-aisha said...

Saudi scholar to say we shudnt support hizbullah durin the war. I was goin2 mail u n xplain bout muslims in sa,but i c u dnt hav it enabled.we r about 1million in sa,n hav a very strong presence,alham.many,like myself,r of indian descent(my greatgrandparents came frm india)but theres arab blood too frm wen the arabs wen2 has a feature on this.n u can mail me 4info

bibi-aisha said...

The phn only allows me limitd space mail btw,operon,i also used to b on radio. Wot type of show do u present?

Fadfadation said...

",there r those who r very close to sunnis,n who regard wot othrs do as wrong."
Well, it's good to hear that :)

Fadfadation said...

Oh, by the way...the e-mail you can use is

EVA said...

I really appreciate all your work done on this piece. I had happened to see the discourse below on the subject and thought you might find it interesting as well:

EVA said...

Sorry, here is the link:

I guess you'll have to piece it together.

Fadfadation said...

lol, OK, i'll do that. Thanks Eva :)

Anonymous said...

thanx for the info,im a 3alawe muslim and we follow more of the shia beliefs
that makes two sect against 1.

observer said...

Dear bloger:
I red your article and was impressed with your english and would like to draw attention that all the attempts to find differences between the muslim groups are clearly motivated by so many things none of which is religeous due to the common origin of islam for both parties.thank you for your moderate and none offensive attitude.

Fadfadation said...

thank you observer.

Shadabmz said...

I appreciate your sense of justice and logic through which u have tried to get a basic understanding of the shi'ite traditions....... however being a Shia myself, I would like to point out some inaccuracies in your account.

i)Shias dont go to Karbala for the Hujj.....Shias offer Salat everyday facing the Ka'aba and thats where they perform Haj as well, along with the rest of the Muslim world.

ii) Karbala is for us, of immense importance, not out of any Religious Significance but for the simple reason that its the place where the beloved grandson of the Prophet and the son of Ali n Fatima laid down his life upholding the fundamentals of Islam and not bowing before the might and tyranny of Yazeed the scum of humanity.... so for most Shias Karbala is the place where we want to visit and see the tomb of Saiyedna Husain.

iii) Theres nothing wrong with Shie Azan...the Azan is supposed to be a call for prayers while at the same time proclaiming our belief...even Azan of our Sunni Brethren has been altered after the Prophet....Assalato-khairumm-innan-Naum has been added to the Azan of Fajr after the Shias say the Azan just like the Sunnis but they add one phrase which is an integral part of their belief that Ali is the vicegerent of the Prophet(SA).

iv) You seem to have a very vague idea of the Battle of Jamal (between Ummul Momineen Hazrat Aisha and Hazrat Ali)... i would request you to study it in detail.... I do admit that some extremist Shia elements go overboard in their criticism of Hazrat Aisha's actions against the ruling Caliph Hazrat Ali...but it is highly deplorable and there are fatwas from the highest Shia ulema which prohibit any slander against the wives of the Prophet.

v) why Shias regard Hazrat Ali as the rightful successor to the Prophet? why do Shias regard the Imams as Infallible? why do they believe that many companions of the Prophet succumbed to material and physical factors when the Prophet left?...these are all questions which can be answered to your complete satisfaction... however I would personally suggest for u a greater study of Sura Munafequn, Ghadeer-e-Khum, Battle of Siffeen (Between Ali and Muawiya)...this will answer many of your questions.