Al-Muraja'at; A Shi'i-Sunni dialogue ('The Right Path')
Al-Muraja'at; A Shi'i-Sunni dialogue ('The Right Path')
Sayyid 'Abd al-Husayn Sharaf al-Din al-Musawi
Only a few names of men, who were distinguished for their gifts and genius which lifted them to the highest peaks of recognition, are etched upon the horizons of our Islamic world. Such names, like bright stars, have kept glittering in the depth of the skies.
As for those whose names are portrayed in every horizon of the Islamic world, these, indeed, are even fewer. They are a minority. They are none other than those whom nature has elevated, achieving such rare genius that made them unique throughout all Islamic lands. Among such people is our masterauthor, may Allah rest his soul in peace. The Supreme Will has decreed to bless his knowledge and pen, producing from them the best intellectual output. I may not exaggerate if I allow my pen to record this: the masterauthor is advanced through what he produced to the very front row of Shi'a scholars. The latter dedicated their entire lives to the service of their religion and school of thought. He, therefore, deservedly occupies the front seat among the Muslim world's contemporary elite.
Within such a limited undertaking, I do not find myself inclined to elaborate on what Sayyid 'AbdulHusayn Sharafuddin had accomplished in life's spheres and undertakings. The task may have been easier had the author being discussed been someone else. It would have been easier had the author been among those men whose lives and works were limited. But a man whose calibre is as vast as this author makes it very difficult for any writer to describe and be fair to. When the writer stands for such an undertaking, he will surely feel as though he is facing an entire generation reverberating with hues of life, overflowing from all sides and directions. He can hardly refer each hue to its source except through research with full responsibilities of logic and knowledge. This may even be beyond the capacity of trustworthy historians to tackle.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Birth and Upbringing
Sayyid 'AbdulHusayn Shrafuddin, may Allah expand his shade, was born in Kazimiyya (north Baghdad, Iraq) in 1290 A.H. for good parents linked to one another by kinship and united through a familytree of good roots. His father is noble Yousuf son of noble Jawad son of noble Isma'il. His mother is the virtuous Zahra daughter of Sayyid Hadi son of Sayyid Muhammad 'Ali, ending in a short kinship to Sharafuddin, one of the renown dignitaries of this good family.
He grew up in a house for which the avenues of scholarly mastership had been paved, whose pillars were erected upon renown dignitaries of good reputation, whose favour and services are acclaimed and appreciated throughout the Islamic world.
He grew up in that lofty house, nurtured in the gardens of knowledge and ethics, ascending the heights of dignity. When he reached tender adolescence, he became fully acquainted with the causes of goodness, the following of which made him the embodiment of virtue. Upon making his first stride in the scholarly life, he was distinguished by notable accomplishments and achievements. His students and admirers kept him company. He had a reverberating voice in the learning centers of Samarra and al-Najaf alAshraf where he achieved distinction. Ever since that day, his star had always been shining amidst the circles of knowledge, its light extending far and wide as his knowledge expanded. He advanced his stages until the scholarly life was cultivated for him at the hands of many a genius among the pillars of knowledge in al-Najaf alAshraf and Samarra such as Tabataba'i, Khurasani, FathAllah alAsfahani, Shaykh Hasan alKarbala'i, and many other renown pillars of religion and imams of knowledge.
When his maturity received recognition, his star in the circles of research and meetings of debate and learning started shining, he, at thirtytwo, went back to the mountain of 'Amil, south Lebanon, dignified, renown, selfsatisfied, promising, articulate, glowing in brilliance. The day of his arrival was memorable. 'Amila sent her sons to welcome his arrival, so luminous in lands and skies, welcoming him in demonstrations containing men of scholarship and public leadership, up to the borders of the mountain from Syria's highway, celebrating as though it was 'Id.
A new life started in 'Amila aiming at strict implementation of religion, improvement of manners, the strengthening of right with might, kindness to the weak, the enjoining of right and the forbidding of wrong, comfort with the masters of religion and humbleness towards the men of knowledge.
His eloquent lectures and terse methods of directives had the largest share in producing the much desired reform. This comes as no surprise when we know that the Sayyid possessed such an eloquence of speech which made him the envy of Arabia's orators. Religion, scholarship and ethics are all proud of him. He was great, besides his eloquence, in choosing the jewels of his thoughts, the garbs of his opinions which he masterly fitted and organized, breathing life into whatever he desired of arguments, explanations, logic, expositions, additions, and into all his works which are organized through harmony and equilibrium.
As regarding his contributions to the struggle against foreign colonialism, you may elaborate on these as you please. This undertaking does not allow us to go into such struggle in detail; however, I may summarize it in one statement: His great services during the Turkish regime, then the French occupation, then the postindependence, were simply extensions of the movements of liberation. He raised their level of effectiveness and directed them towards the noble objectives of securing justice and stability, thus bringing fresh hope to the masses. All authorities during these regimes, however, spared no effort to oppose him and undermine his plans through the implementation of whatever plots, persecution and harmful means they could improvise. The calamities from which this great imam suffered while trying to make his people happy may not have been endured except by the most outstanding Arab chiefs and leaders, those who struggled heroically and suffered a great deal in the process.
I do not need to elaborate on the surprise the occupying French authorities had in store for him when they felt sick and tired of him. They instructed some of their hoodlum hardliners to assassinate him. Ibn alHallaj suddenly broke into his house when he, together with members of his family and kin, had none of his supporters around. Allah the Glorious and Sublime willed for him the opposite of their will. He kept their evil away from him, and they retreated in humiliation, stumbling in their failure and shame. As soon as the news of this surprise attack was broadcast in 'Amila, crowds rushed to Sur from each and every direction in order to be under the command of their master as to what to do about that incident. Yet the Sayyid dispersed them after thanking them, advising them to simply overlook it. This incident was succeeded by many, many other similar ones. The gap became wider, and dissension exploded until, eventually, the Sayyid, together with his kith and kin among the chiefs of 'Amila, had to seek refuge in Damascus which he reached despite the French army's attempt to close the highway in his face. The aggressive authority was chasing him with some of its armed troops in order to forbid him from reaching Damascus. When it lost hope of capturing him, it went back to set his house in Shahur on fire, leaving it in ashes strewn in the air; then it set its hands on his big house in Sur after allowing the sinful hands to plunder and loot it until they left nothing valuable or otherwise in it. The most damaging in that tragedy was the burning of the Sayyid's library with all its precious books and most distinguished works including nineteen of his own which were still handwritten manuscripts.
Then he travelled to Egypt during the climax of upheavals which inflicted the region. When he arrived there, the Egyptians warmly welcomed him and recognized him in spite of his disguise behind a kaffiyya and iqal, outfits common to the bedouins of the desert. He took in Egypt certain stands which attracted the attention of the elite among the scholars of knowledge, the pillars of literature, and the men of politics, according to the demands of his revered personality. That was not his first visit to Egypt. Egypt knew him eight years earlier when he visited it at the close of 1329 A.H., staying in it till the year 1330 A.H. during a trip in pursuit of knowledge. He met then with the researchers and masterminds of learned Egyptians. After that, he and Shaykh Salim alBishri, the then rector of alAzhar, met quite often and exchanged discussions dealing with the significant matters of Kalam (logic) and Usul (basics of jurisprudence). Among the results of those meetings are the Muraja'at with which we are dealing here.
His Quest for Knowledge
Noting the preface above, you may first get the impression that the social problems surrounding him have diverted his attention from pursuing knowledge and kept him away from literary work. In fact, anyone who is inflicted as our Sayyid was is normally diverted from attainable knowledge and authorship. The problems surrounding him would have indeed limited his chances to look into the library, or to write. But the fact is that his time is blessed, his heart is spacious, and his mind is powerful. While dealing satisfactorily with the problems which he encountered, he also quenched his thirst for knowledge. He obtained from his library the portion of knowledge his practical life demanded. Ever since leaving alNajaf alAshraf, he continuously kept researching, reading, writing and debating. During his leisure hours, he daily went to his library in order to find his peace of mind in its subjects and forget whatever busy and exhausting life lay beyond its precincts.
1) AlMuraja'at is but a true specimen of his writing, and I cannot tell you enough about it here. His own tongue is indeed much more eloquent and outspoken than mine. It was printed at al'Irfan Press, Saida (Lebanon), in 1355 A.H., and all its copies were immediately sold out. It was translated into Persian, and I have heard that it has been translated into English by Dr. Zayd, an Indian, and also into Urdu.
2) Al Fusul Al Muhimmah fi Tal'if Al Ummah ["The Important Chapters in Unifying the Nation"] is one of the best Islamic books which deal with controversial matters regarding which Sunnis and Shi'as dispute in the light of Kalam, reason, deduction and analysis. It was finished in 1327 A.H. and was twice printed in Saida, 'Amil mountain. The text of its second edition (1347 A.H.) was increased. In its own subjectmatter, Al Fusul Al-Muhimmah fi Ta'lif Al-Ummah suffices for an entire library. It contains 192 small size pages.
3) Ajwibat Masa'il Musa JarAllah ["Answers to Musa JarAllah's Questions"]. Although small in size, this is a magnificent book of tremendous knowledge. As the title suggests, it contains answers to twenty questions put forth by Musa JarAllah to Shi'a scholars. He thinks they include some embarrassing questions such as why Shi'as consider some Companions kafir and denounce them, and the allegation that Shi'as altered the text of the Qur'an and made Jihad unlawful, and also matters like Bada' (change of destiny by Allah), mut'a (temporary marriage), bara'a (dissociation from the enemies of Allah), 'awl (a law of inheritance adopted by the Sunnis), etc. His answers were most authentic, derived from abundant knowledge and based upon proofs and logic, leaving no room for doubt. It has an Introduction about the call for unity and a Conclusion regarding the ignorance of those who raise such issues and propagate such allegations about Shi'a literature, and also of the confusion which exists in some Sunni books. It is in 152 small pages, printed at al'Irfan Press, Saida, in 1355 A.H./1936 A.D.
4) Al Kalimah Al Gharra' fi Tafdil alZahra' ["The Convincing Statement in Preferring alZahra'"]. Its 40 halfsize pages have combined with the text of the second edition of Al Fusul alMuhimmah. It contains the deepest studies. It is most authentic in style and derivation. It testifies to the overflow of the writer's pen, his fountainhead.
5) Al Majalis Al Fakhirah fi Ma'atim al'Itrah Al Tahirah ["The Magnificent Commemorative Speeches in Honour of the Purified Progeny"]. The Introduction to this book has already been printed. The total number of its halfsize pages is 72. The author explains in it the philosophy of conducting commemorative Husayni ceremonies, and the secrets of the Taff martyrdom are very nicely and precisely explained.
6) Abu Hurairah, printed in 1365 A.H. at Al-'Irfan Press, Saida. It is a new method in authorship and a victory in the world of biographies because of its absorbant analytical style. In its depth and style, it may well be compared with the most respectable works of its category. It deals in the light of knowledge and reason with the life of Abu Hurairah, his time, circumstances, friends, traditions, and the special attention meted to him by the six sahih books which quote his traditions.
7) Bughyat Al-Raghibin ["Quest of the Willing"] is a unique family manuscript tracing the Sharafuddin family tree and close relatives. It stands as a grand, magnificent and excellent work among the literature of diaries in its own accomplished method of classification. He narrates in it the biographies of some renown masterauthors, as well as their times and circumstances. You will, therefore, find it an excellent and interesting literary book, nay, an entire history of generations and dignitaries.
8) Thabt Al Athbat fi Silsilat Al Ruwat ["The Ultimate Proof in the Chain of Narrators"]. In this book, the author lists his mentors among renown Muslim sects in a sequence which goes back to the Prophet (pbuh) and Imams (as), to works and their authors traced through various numerous avenues. He narrates some of them by way of reading or hearing, or depending on the authority of renown men belonging to the Shi'a IthnaAsheri or Zaydi creeds, as well as from renown Sunnis. To elaborate on all his methods here will require lengthy details; therefore, I content myself with referring to the contents of alThabt which was twice printed in Saida.
He has authored other books not mentioned above such as Masa'il Khilafiyya ["Caliphate-Related Issues"] and Risaleh Kalamiyya [Dissertation in Theological Philosophy (i.e. derived from 'ilm alKalam).
His Precious Lost Works
Besides all these immortal jewels, he has written other precious works. Had they not been burnt or shredded during the 1920 raid, they could have been included among the few distinguished treasures of reason and thought. But alas; these were lost during such painful events; therefore, the institute of knowledge has suffered a severe loss. I wish our master's time will extend in order to compensate by bringing them back to life anew. Here we list them as the author does at the end of his commentary on AlKalemah AlGharra' (The Precious Word):
1) Sharh Al-Tabsirah ["Explicating the Tabsirah Book], i.e. Proofs in Fiqh Concerning Enlightening Deductions: They are three bound volumes containing chapters on cleanliness, justice, witness and inheritance.
2) His commentary, in one volume, on the topic of Istishab from Shaykh alAnsari's letters deals with the principles of jurisprudence (Usul alFiqh).
3) Risaleh fi Munjazat Al-Marid ["Dissertation on A Sick Person's Road to Recovery)"] written in a rationalizing approach.
4) Sabil Al-Muminin, in three volumes, deals with the topic of Imamate.
5) Al-Nusus Al-Jaliyyah ["The Obvious Texts"] also deals with Imamate, and it contains forty texts unanimously agreed upon by Muslims in addition to forty others narrated through Shi'a ways polished by analysis and philosophy.
6) Tanzil Al-Ayat Al-Bahira ["Revelation of the Dazzling Verses"] also deals with the topic of Imamate. It is written in one volume based upon one hundred Qur'anic verses revealed in praise of the holy Imams (as) according to sahih books.
7) Tuhfatul Muhaddithin fima Akhraja 'anhu Al-Sittah minal Muda''afin ["Ornament of the Entertainers from the hadith Regarded by the Authors of the Six (sahihs) as 'Weak'"]. This is a book totally new in its subjectmatter, one the like of which has never been written before.
8) Tuhfatul Ashab fi Hukm AhlelKitab ["The Companions' Ornament in Judging the People of the Book"].
9) Al-Thari'a ("The Pretext") is a book rebutting alNabahani's Badi'a.
10) Al-Majalis Al-Fakhira ["The Excellent Sessions"] is a four-volume book. Its first volume deals with the Prophet's biography, the second with the biographies of AmirulMuminin, alZahra and alHasan (as), the third with the biographies of Imam Husayn (as), and the fourth with the biographies of the nine Imams, Allah's peace be upon all of them.
11) Mu'allifu Al-Shi'a fi Sadr Al-Islam ["Shi'a authors at the Dawn of Islam"]. Some of this book's chapters were published in Al-'Irfan mgazine of Saida (see Al-'Irfan, Vols. 1 & 2).
12) Bughyatul Fa'iz fi Naql Al-Jana'iz ["The Winner's Quest in Coffin Bearing"]. Most of this book's text was published in Al-'Irfan.
13) Bughyatul Sa'il 'an Lathm Al-Aydi wal Anamil ["Quest of the Inquirer about Hand and Finger Kissing"]. This is a scholarly thesis in literary and intelligent humour containing eighty traditions from our way and the way of others.
14) Zakat al-Akhlaq ["Behavioural Purification"]. Al-'Irfan published some of its chapters.
15) Al-Fawa'id wal Fara'id ["The Benefits and the Rareties"] is a useful inclusive book.
16) His commentary on Bukhari's Sahih.
17) His commentary on Muslim's Sahih.
18) Al-Asalib Al-Badi'ah fi Rujhan Ma'atim Al-Shi'a: ["The Witty Methods in the Properiety of Shi'as' Commemorations"] is a book based on logical and traditional proofs, and it is, in its subjectmatter, a new production.
He has written an Introductions, besides these, dealing with different topics some of which were lost while others were resurrected and are yet to be finished. His books are characterized by keen observation, vast investigation, inclusive research, authentic conclusion, good finish, honest quotations and interrelation of chapters in qualities which wear the critic out and challenge the mischievous.
His Manners and Gifts
He is very patient, dignified, openminded, gentle, brave, and highlyrespected. He inspires an awe which forces you to respect and love him even if you do not know him.
He does not compromise justice, nor does he admit relaxation or leniency when an effort is exerted to counter injustice or wrongdoing, yet he remains humble, generous, maintaining a pleasant countenance.
Evenhandedness has such a position within him that he is fair to both strangers and kin; doing right is his motive and motto. He is a model of piety, selfease, clarity of conscience, and the speaking of what is right. Besides, he is wise in his views, far-sighted. He sifts people's temper and reaches the reality and depth of affairs. He cannot be deceived by appearances, nor can he be cheated outrightly. He does not deviate from accuracy nor be tempted into hypocrisy. These good manners may have contributed to his accomplishments, influence, and true qualifications. He is, then, counted among the most eloquent Arabs when he talks, the most outspoken when he lectures, the most hearttouching when he preaches, the most efficient in implementing the law, the most fair in judgment and clarity of argument, and he is the most deep in philosophy of life.
In 1329/1330, he undertook a scholarly visit of Egypt, as we mentioned above. During that visit he met with the most distinguished intellectuals in Egypt headed by Shaykh Salim alBishri alMaliki, the then rector of Al-Azhar Mosque. The outcome of meeting him and corresponding with him is this book which suffices to be the sweet fruit of that visit. By 1338, he made his religiopolitical migration about which you have learned a short while ago. In it he visited Damascus, Egypt, and Palestine. In all these countries, he reaped the fruits of knowledge and delivered invaluable lectures.
He was the first learned Shi'a to lead the thronged stampeding masses which assembled at the Haram mosque (the Sacred Mosque) in the holy precincts of Mecca for prayers. It was the first time that people in thousands openly prayed behind a Shi'a Imam without resorting to taqiyya. This is why the news of his performing the pilgrimage earned such a great fame that people kept talking about it in all Muslim lands. King Husayn son of 'Ali offered him the best welcome, and they met more than once and together washed the Ka'ba.
By the close of 1355 A.H., he visited the Imams' shrines in Iraq and had a reunion with his family and kinfolk. On the day of his arrival, the Iraqi cabinet ministers, dignitaries, and chiefs, headed by his holiness Sayyid Muhammad Baqir alSadr, welcomed him and escorted him the entire distance from Baghdad to Falluja's bridge in motorcades. At Kerbala and Najaf, he was met with a magnificent welcome from learned men as well as the general public. The similitude of that fantastic welcome is indeed rare. I imagine him saying, when he reached the playgrounds of his childhood and youth:
Tears overcame me when the Tawbad did I see;
And it glorified the Merciful upon seeing me ...
It was only natural that he would burst into eager tears because of his anxiety to see such heartcomforting institutes, and the latter would glorify Allah while welcoming him, ecstatic at his arrival after an absence which lasted for many long years. Had he not left them satisfied? Had they not acclaimed him when he was filling their halls with the best that fills an institute thronged with outstanding students?
Yes, indeed. They both exchanged passion, eagerness, anxiety and greetings. Such a purely spiritual exchange was reciprocated by all elements of goodness and sincerity at Najaf, Kerbala, Kazimiyya and Samarra'. There were many merry and colourful celebrations from which time had kept him away and obstructed him from seeing them and their distinguished dignitaries. His meetings with the distinguished pioneers of knowledge and research were full of benefits in the different scholarly branches of knowledge. He proceeded travelling from Iraq to Iran. In the latter country, he was blessed by visiting the mausoleum of Imam Rida, peace be upon him. While he was en route, he passed by Qum and Tehran and other Iranian cities. In all of those cities, he was met with all sorts of welcome his beloved personality deserved.
His Legacies and Construction Projects
1) He inaugurated his construction projects with a waqf Husayniyya which he built so that people might meet there on different occasions and circumstances to uphold the tenets and receive religious education and spiritual guidance, and also to offer their prayers. Shi'as, when he visited Sur, did not have a mosque there.
2) He erected, in the first stages, six stores at the city's entrance. He had a spacious house built on their rooftops wherein he planned that it would hopefully be converted into the desired school. Unfortunately, the completion of the project was not possible then because of the ruling authority's opposition as well as that of seekers of selfinterest who followed its line; therefore, he had to content himself with that portion, waiting for the opportune chance.
3) Over the other side of the building he had a unique club erected which he named Imam Jafar alSadiq Club, 22.5 meters long and 15.5 meters wide, which he reserved for celebrations, learning, religious, social and academic occasions. Then he established in 1361 A.H. a school for girls. Like the one for boys, this school implemented a curriculum which promoted the education of useful topics that would secure a more ideal norm of life.
The location of the school and the club is the best in beauty, landscape and spacious openness. The view is the beautiful water, extending endlessly, and if you are tired of the sea and its waves, look in another direction: towards the plains and mountains embracing the villges as far as your eyes can see. Your sight will wander from here to there, active, dazzled, dreaming of that captivating and enchanting beauty of natural scenery, extending in felicity, roaming unobstructed in pleasure and joy.
If you stand by the row of all these huge adjacent buildings, you will see in them a great structure very well put together, strongly erected, inspiring an awe within you because of their engineered beauty and magnificent design. Then your awe will increasingly intensify when you come to know its fertile output which combines both abundance of quantity with goodness of quality. All of this, in its completion and perfection, is but a seed, considering the ambition of our masterauthor who purchased to the south of its location a vast tract of land and linked it to the institution in order to complement through it his charitable projects and achieve his Islamic objectives. He hoped that in the end he might lay the foundation of a university that would teach its students the best principles in the widest fields of knowledge. He saw that that way was the best to deal with any imminent danger, to protect the new generation descending from our own to generations which might force it to be an enemy to ours. May Allah take his hands and lead him to whatever brings forth the wellbeing of this life and religion and the welfare of Islam and Muslims; praise be to Allah, Lord of the Universe.
1365 A.H./1946 A.D.
These pages have not been written today, and these thoughts have not been born recently: they have been organized for over quarter of a century; they could have appeared in print sooner barring hostile circumstances and calamities that put strong obstacles in their way. They had, therefore, to remain waiting for a chance to gather whatever limbs they squandered and parts they lost, for the events that delayed their publication did, at the same time, alter their organization.
As for the book's idea, this has long preceded its debates. It shone within my chest ever since my young days just like lightning shining among the clouds, and were boiling in my blood enthusiastically, searching for a straight avenue to stop Muslims at a deadline terminating their chaos and lifting the veil from their vision so that they might look at life more seriously and go back to the roots of their religion as they are enjoined to do. It is only then that they will be able to make their strides to uphold the Rope of Allah all together under the banner which calls unto them to educate themselves and behave as dutiful Brethren strengthening each other.
But the sight of these brethren, who are linked to one another by one principle and one creed, has unfortunately been a violent controversy that gets heated during arguments, just as ignorant folks go to extremes, so much so that it seemed as if controversy in the methods of purusing knowledge was an etiquette in debating, or a final resort. This, indeed, is enough reason for worry which calls for contemplation. This, indeed, invites grief, agony and sorrow; so, what is the solution? What should be done? These circumstances have been plaguing us for hundreds of years, and these calamities have been endangering us from front and back, right and left. That is a pen twisted with barrenness once and harmed by greed another; partisanship pushes it once and once it permits itself to yield to emotion, and between this and that there is reason for embarrassment; so, what should we do? What is the solution?
I have been fed up with all this, and grief has filled my heart; therefore, I reached Egypt by the close of 1329 A.H. hoping to achieve my objective. I was inspired by the hope that I would succeed in satisfying at least part of my desire and be in direct contact with someone with whom I might exchange my views. I hoped that by discussing useful advice, Allah might assist us in achieving our objectives in the land of Kinana (Egypt) and cure the persisting disease endangering Muslims with tearing them apart and plaguing their groups with dissension. I have been able, Praise to Allah, to achieve that goal, for Egypt is a country which plants knowledge and the latter grows in it nurtured by sincerity and submission to the deeprooted Truth through the power of evidence. This distinguishes Egypt and puts it even above all its other unique distinctions.
There, my circumstances being good, my mind peaceful, my soul delighted, I was lucky enough to come in contact with one of its distinguished renown personalities who possessed a broad mind, gentle manners, throbbing heart, vast knowledge and high honour which he rightly enjoyed due to the quality of his religious leadership.
How good are the spirits men of knowledge are known to have, how acceptable their sayings, and how prophetic their manners! As long as an 'alim is so well attired, he will always remain good and prosperous, people will be safe and blessed, and nobody will hesitate to voice his opinion or unveil his thought to him.
That was the renown dignitary and Imam of Egypt, and such were our meetings for which we thanked the Almighty without an end or limit.
I complained to him about my worries, and he complained to me about similar worries and uneasiness, and it was a right hour for both of us to contemplate upon that which would, by the Will of Allah, unite ourselves and our nation. We have agreed, thereupon, that: both groups, i.e. the Shi'a and the Sunni, are Muslims who indeed follow the right religion of Islam, that they all are in unanimous agreement regarding the Prophet's message, that there is no basic difference among them on fundamental issues which would impair their adherence to the glorious principles of Islam, that there is really no dispute among them about the basic tenets except that which naturally occurs among mujtahids regarding some rules because of the latter's derivations from the Book or the Sunnah, the consensus, or the fourth proof, and that this does not in any way justify such a huge gap or bottomless pit. What then caused all of this dispute of which the flashes have been sparkling ever since there were two nouns: "Sunni" and "Shi'a"?
If we scrutinize the Islamic history and discern the beliefs, views and precepts which bred therein, we will come to know that the causing factor for this dissension is agitation for a particular belief, a defense of a theory, or partisanship for an opinion, and that the greatest dispute which has occurred to the nation is the dispute about Imamate, for there have never been more swords unsheathed because of an Islamic principle as they have been because of Imamate. The issue of Imamate, then, has been among the most direct factors causing such a dissension. The various generations that differed among themselves concerning Imamate became used to being fond of such fanaticism, and such partisanship was created without precautions or care. Had either of these groups looked into the explanations of the other in understanding eyes, not in those of a cursing antagonist, the truth would have then become very clear and morning light could have been noticed by all those who can see.
We have made it incumbent upon us to deal with this issue by looking into the arguments of both groups in order to thoroughly comprehend them, without being motivated by our own personal inclinations derived from environment, habit, or custom. Instead, we must be stripped of all emotions and fanaticism and aim at reaching the truth from its generally acclaimed route, and touch upon it. This may attract the attention of Muslims, bring tranquility of mind with its decided facts from us to them and put, by the Will of Allah, a definite deadlock. We decided, therefore, that he would present his own question in writing so that I would provide him with my written answer stating the correct conditions and supported them by either reason or authenticated quotations from both groups. Thus were all of our debates conducted, through the help of Allah, the Sublime and Mighty. Later on, we wanted to have them published so that we could enjoy the fruits of our labour purely seeking the pleasure of Allah, the Exalted, the Sublime, but cruel days and overcoming fates discouraged us, and maybe that was, after all, for the best.
I do not claim that these pages are confined to the texts composed then by us, or that any of the forthcoming statements is not written by my own pen. The circumstances that delayed their publication also altered their organization, as we said above. But the sessions concerning the issues we debated are included herein verbatim with some necessary additions called forth by counsel and guidance, or they may have been caused by the sequence of discussion without violating our mutual agreement. I have today the same wish I had yesterday: that this book will cause reform and goodness. If it wins the attention and acceptance of Muslims, then that is a grace from my Lord, and that is what I wish for my labour to accomplish: I want nothing but reform, as much as I can get, and my success depends upon Allah; in Him do I trust, and unto Him do I return. I present my book to each and every man of reason who pursues knowledge, to the keen researcher who is acquainted with the intricate facts concerning the quest for knowledge, and to the learned outspoken scholar whose speech is an authority on the sayings and practices of the Prophet (pbuh), to the philosopher who has mastered the science of speech, and to each and every educated youth who is free from all chains or shackles, who can be depended upon for the new life of freedom: if all of these accept it, realizing the advantage therein, then I am most pleased.
I have painstakingly produced this book by providing its answers in the best way from all aspects, aiming thereby at inspiring the fairminded people with its thought and taste with evidences which do not leave out any probability, and arguments which do not permit any loophole. I have paid a special attention to the authentic evident texts and the sayings and practices of the Prophet (pbuh), a care which has made this book suffice for a library entirely wellequipped with the most precious books on Islamic theology, traditions, biographies, and the like. The latter are all related to this most significant subject. I have applied therein a philosophy which is very well balanced and authentic, and methods which force anyone who is acquainted with such books to walk behind this work while they, I mean the lovers of the truth, are its own followers from its beginning till the last paragraph. If my book, therefore, is accepted by fairminded readers, then this is exactly what I desire and for which I thank Allah. As regarding my own self, I am well satisfied with this book, pleased with my life after it. It is, I believe, a work which must make me forget all that which has made me fed up: life's heavy burdens, the impoverishing worries of time, and the enemy about whom I complain to none but Almighty Allah; He alone is his Judge and Muhammad (pbuh) his adversary. Forget about the looting called for in its own quarters... I have also endured the calamities pouring like a flood from every direction, bearing woeful presentiments, combined with uneasiness and grief. But my life, which will be immortalized through this book, is one of mercy in this life and the life to come; within it my soul has been pleased and my conscience eased. Therefore, I implore to Allah to take my labour with acceptance and overlook my mistakes and faults; my reward for this book will inshaAllah be the benefit and guidance of believers.
Those who believe and do good deeds: their Lord guides them through their faith; rivers flow from beneath them in the Gardens of Immortality; their prayer therein is: "Lord! Glory to Thee!" and their greeting has peace therein, and they conclude their prayers with: "All praise is due to Allah, Lord of the worlds." (Qur'an, 10:9-10)
I Greeting the Debater,
II Asking Permission to Debate.Thul Qi'da 6, 1329 A.H.
1) Peace and Allah's mercy and blessings be upon the learned honourable Shaykh 'AbdulHusayn Sharafuddin AlMusawi.
I have not been acquainted yet with Shi'as' conscience, nor have I tested their manners, for I have never kept company with any of them, nor come to know the traditions of their folks. But I have always been eager to debate with their renown scholars, anxious to mix with their commoners, in order to sift their trends and attempt to know their inclinations, until Allah helped me stand by the spacious shore of your ocean of knowledge, and you let me taste of your brimful cup; Allah helped me quench my thirst. I swear by the city of Allah's knowledge, your Chosen Grandfather, and by its gate, your pleased ancestor, that I have never tasted anything so satisfying to the thirsty, and so curing to the sick, like your overflowing stream. I used to hear that you, Shi'a folks, prefer to avoid your brethren, the Sunnis, and keep away from them, and that you find your ease in loneliness, resorting to isolation, and so on and so forth. But I have found your person to be gently charming, keen in debating, courteous, strong in argument, well humoured, honest in duel, appreciated in misunderstanding, cherished in competition; therefore, I have found the Shi'a a pleasant fragrance to sit with, and the quest of every man of letters.
2) While standing by the shore of your tumultuous sea, I ask your permission to swim in it and dive deeply in pursuit of its jewels. If you grant me your permission, we will dig deeply for the root causes of particulars and obscurities which have long been agitating me; if not, it is entirely up to you. In raising my questions, I do not look for a fault or a defect, nor do I oppose, nor refute; instead, I have only one quest: searching for the truth. When truth is manifest, it then deserves to be followed; if not, I am only like one (poet) who said:
We in what we have, and you in what you offer,
Are all satisfied, even when our views differ.
I will, if you permit me, confine my debate with you to two topics: one deals with the sect's Imamate, in its roots and branches,1 and the other deals with the general Imamate, i.e. succession to the Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him and his progeny. My signature at the close of all my debates shall be "S," and let yours be "Sh." In advance, I solicit your forgiveness for every fault, and peace be with you.
I Greetings Reciprocated,
II Permission to Debate Granted.Thul Qi'da 6, 1329 A.H.
1) Peace of Allah be with Maulana Shaykh alIslam, His mercy and blessings.
Your very kind letter has granted me and bestowed upon me so many graces for which the tongue can hardly thank you enough, nor can it fulfill a portion of its duty even in a lifetime.
You have placed your hopes on me and brought me your request while you yourself are the hope of anyone with a quest, the refuge of whoever seeks refuge. I myself have come to you all the way from Syria in order to relish your knowledge and seek your favours, and I am sure I will leave you strong in optimism except if Allah wills otherwise.
2) You have asked permission to speak up. You have the right to bid and forbid. Say whatever you will: you have the favour; your judgment is final, your verdict fair, and peace be with you.
I Why do Shi'as not Uphold the Majority's Sects?
II The Need for Unity,
III Unity Achieved Only by Adhering to the Majority's Sects.Thul Qi'da 7, 1329 A.H.
1) I ask you now about the reasons why you (Shias) do not follow the sect of the majority of Muslims, I mean the sect of alAsh'ari, in determining the principles of the creed, and the four sects in its branches. Muslims agreed to abide by them in each time and clime, unanimously acclaiming their founder's fairness and ijtihad, their trustworthiness, piety, renunciation of worldly riches, straightforwardness, good morals and lofty status in knowledge and deeds.
2) How great our need today for unity and uniformity is! This can be achieved through your own adherence to these sects according to the general consensus of Muslims, especially when the religion's enemies have made up their minds to harm us by all possible means. They have set their minds and hearts upon such goals while Muslims are heedless, as if they are overcome by slumber, assisting their enemies against their own selves by letting them split their own ranks and tear their unity apart through partisanship and fanaticism, leaving them disunited, divided, leading each other astray, excommunicating one another; hence, wolves preyed on us while dogs coveted our flesh.
3) Do you see other than what we state here, may Allah lead your steps to unite our ranks? Tell me, for you will be heard when you speak and obeyed when you command, and peace be with you.
I Juristic Proofs Mandate Adherence to the Sect of Ahl alBayt,
II There is No Proof for Mandating Adherence to the Majority's Sects,
III Generations of The First Three Centuries Never Knew Those Sects,
IV Possibility of Ijtihad,
V Unity can be Achieved by Respecting Ahl alBayt's Sect.Thul Qida 4, 1329 A.H.
1) Our adherence, in the principles of the creed, to a sect other than that of alAsh'ari, and our following in the branches of Islam of a sect other than those four sects, has never been due to partisanship nor fanaticism, nor has it been because of doubting the ijtihad of the Imams of these sects, of their fairmindedness, trustworthiness, integrity, or loftiness in knowledge and deeds.
Juristic proofs, rather, have mandated upon us to follow the sect of the Imams from the Household of Prophethood, the cradle of the Message, and the place the angels frequent, the abode of revelation and inspiration. We have always, therefore, referred to them in order to comprehend all matters related to the creed's branches and doctrines, in the roots and in the bases of fiqh, in the knowledge of ethics, behaviour, and manners. We have done all this in accordance with the judgment of evidence and proof, following the Sunnah of the Master of Prophets and Messengers, peace of Allah be upon him and all his progeny.
Had the proofs allowed us to differ from the Imams of Muhammad's progeny, or had we been able to achieve nearness to Allah, Glory to Him, by following others' sects, we would then have followed in the general public's footsteps, asserting the friendship and strengthening the ties of fraternity. On the contrary, positive proofs stand in the believer's way, diverting him from following his own inclinations.
2) Still, the majority cannot prove that their own sect must be preferred over those of others, let alone making it obligatory. We have looked into Muslims' pretexts as one inquiring in depth with keen eyes, but we have found no proof for your argument except what you mentioned of their ijtihad, trustworthiness, fairmindedness and loftiness.
You, however, know that ijtihad, trustworthiness, fairmindedness and loftiness of status are not a monopoly of them only; therefore, how, since the case is as such, can their sects be obligatory by your merely pointing them out?
I do not think that there is anyone who dares to advocate their preference in knowledge or deeds over our Imams who are the purified 'itra, the nation's life-boats, the Gate of Salvation, the security against dissension in religion, the flags of its guidance, the descendants of the Messenger of Allah and his remnant in his nation. He, Allah's peace be upon him and his progeny, has said: "Do not go ahead of them lest you should perish, nor should you lag behind them lest you should perish. Do not teach them, for they are more learned than you." But it is the dictates of politics at the dawn of Islam.
I wonder about your claim that the good previous generations adhered to those sects, finding them the most fair and the best of sects, and that they agreed to adhere to them in every time and clime. You say so as if you do not know that our predecessors, the good past generations that followed the progeny of Muhammad and that, literally, constituted half the Muslim population, followed only the faith of the Imams among the descendants of Muhammad, peace of Allah be upon him and his progeny. They did not find for it any substitute, and they have been this way ever since the days of 'Ali and Fatima, when neither alAsh'ari nor any Imam of the other four sects, or even their fathers, existed, as you very well know.
3) The generations of the first three centuries, then, never followed any of those sects at all. Where were those sects during those three generations, the best generations ever? AlAsh'ari was born in 270 A.H. and died in 320 A.H. Ibn Hanbal was born in 164 A.H. and died in 241 A.H. AlShafi'i was born in 150 A.H. and died in 204 A.H. Malik was born in 95 A.H. 2 and died in 179 A.H. Abu Hanifah was born in 80 A.H. and died in 150 A.H. Shi'as follow the sect of the Imams from the Prophet's Household, and the household surely know what their house contains. NonShi'as follow the sects of the learned sahabah and tabi'in; so, what makes it "mandatory" on all Muslims, after those three centuries had gone by, to follow those sects instead of the one followed before them? What made them divert their attention from those who were peers only to the Book of Allah and its own companions, the descendants of the Messenger of Allah and his trustees, the nation's ark of salvation, the leaders, the security, and the Gate of Salvation?
4) What caused the door of ijtihad to be shut in the face of Muslims after it had been kept widely open during the first three centuries other than resorting to reluctance, comfort, laziness, the acceptance of deprivation and the satisfaction with ignorance? Who would permit himself, knowingly or unknowingly, to say that Allah, Dignity and Glory to Him, has not sent the best of His Messengers and Prophets with the best of His religions and codes, nor has He revealed unto him His best Books and Tablets, judgment and doctrines, nor has He completed His Religion for him and perfected His blessing unto him, nor has He taught him the knowledge of the past and the present, except for the sole purpose that the whole matter would end to the Imams of those sects to monopolize for their own selves? They would then forbid all others from acquiring it from any other source, as if the Islamic faith, in its Book and Sunnah, and in all other signs and testaments, a property of their own, and that they forbade faring with it in any way contrary to their own opinions... Were they the Prophets' heirs, or had Allah sealed through them the successors and Imams, or taught them the knowledge of the past and the present, and that He bestowed upon them what He had never bestowed upon anybody else among all human beings?
No! They were just like many others, pillars and caretakers of knowledge, ministers and callers. Those who call for knowledge are far above closing its doors against others or forbidding others from reaching it. They never curb the minds, nor confine public attention only to their own selves, nor can they seal people's hearts or make others deaf, blind, dumb, handcuffed, or chained. This can never be attributed to them except as a liar's allegation, and their own statements bear witness to ours.
5) Let us now concentrate on the matter to which you attracted our attention: the unity of Muslims. What I see is that this matter does not depend on Shi'as forsaking their faith, nor the Sunnis forsaking their own. Asking Shi'as to do so without asking others (Sunnis) to do likewise is to prefer without preponderance, or even to favour the less preferable. It is demanding what is beyond one's capacity as it is known from our Introduction.
Yes. Unity and uniformity can be achieved if you release Ahl alBayt's sect and view it as you view any of your own sects so that the Shafi'is, Hanafis, Malikis and Hanbalis may consider the followers of Ahl alBayt just as they consider each other. Only then can the unity of Muslims be achieved, and they will be unified in one fold.
The difference among Sunni sects is not less than it is between the Sunni and Shi'a schools of thought as thousands of books on the principles and branches of the creed of both groups testify; therefore, why have several people among you condemned the Shi'as for differing from the Sunnis? Why have they not, by the same token, condemned the Sunnis for differing from the Shi'as, or even for differing from one another? If sects can be four, why cannot they be five? How come it is alright to have four sects but not five? How can four sects be considered as "unifying" Muslims, and when they increase to five unity is shattered and Muslims are divided unto themselves? I wish when you invited us to "sectarian unity" you also invited the followers of the four sects to the same. The latter will be a lot easier for you and for them. But why have you singled us out for your invitation anyway? Do you find the followers of Ahl alBayt breaking the unity while the followers of others unite the hearts and determination eventhough their sects and minds are different, their tastes and inclinations are numerous? I think of you to be above that, knowing your love for your kinfolk, and peace be with you.
I Admitting Our Argument,
II Asking for Detailed Proofs.Thul-Qi'da 9, 1329 A.H.
1) Your letter has been quite clear, very well arranged, praiseworthy. It is eloquent, powerful in determination, and strong in argument. It spares no attempt to prove that it is not compulsory to follow the majority's sects in the principles and branches of religion, saving no effort to confirm that the doors of ijtihad must remain open. Your letter, therefore, is strong in both matters, correct in proving each one of them, and we do not deny your careful research in their respect, your clarification of their obscurities, although we really were not acquainted with them, and our view in their regard is identical to yours.
2) We had asked you about your reason for not accepting the sects followed by the Muslim majority, and your answer was that because of "judicial proofs," whereas you were expected to explain that in detail. Could you please yield now to explaining them with positive proofs from the Book (Qur'an) or the Sunnah which, as you mentioned, divert the believer from following his own inclinations? Thank you, and peace be with you.
I References to Proofs Mandating Following the 'Itra,
II The Commander of the Faithful (as) Invites to Ahl alBayt's Sect,
III Relevant Statement of Imam Zainul'Abidin.Thul-Qi'da 12, 1329 A.H.
You, thanks to Allah, can be convinced by a mere hint, without the need for an explanation, and you are above doubting the very fact that the purified offspring ('itra) are superior to all others. Their case is quite clear: they have surpassed those with qualifications and have distinguished themselves from seemingly equal peers. They have carried from the Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him and his progeny, the knowledge of the prophets, and from him have they digested secular and religious jurisdictions.
1) The Prophet, hence, has made them equal only to the Glorious Book and set them models of conduct for those endowed with reason, and the ark of safety when hypocricy with its tumultous waves overwhelms the security of the nation, safeguarding it against dissension if the tempests of division rage, the Gate of Salvation: whoever enters it is forgiven, and the strong Rope of Allah which is unbreakable.
2) The Commander of the Faithful is quoted in sermon 86 in NahjulBalagha as saying:
"'Where are you heading (Qur'an, 81:26),' and 'where are you straying (Qur'an, 6:95, 10:34, 35:3, 40:62),' since the flags are poised up high, the Signs are clear, and the lighthouse is erected? So, where are you straying? Nay! How can you be blindfolded while you have among you the household ('itra) of your Prophet? They are the reins of righteousness, the religion's flags, and the tongues of truth; therefore, accord them as you accord the Qur'an and approach them as thirsty camels approach the water. O people! Take this 3 from the last of the Prophets, Allah's peace be upon him and his progeny: 'whoever among us passes away, he is not really dead, and whoever disintegrates (after dying) from among us does not really disintegrate; therefore, do not say what you do not know, for there is the greatest truth in what you deny. Accept the argument of one against whom you have no argument and it is: 'Have I not dealt with you according to the Greatest Weight 4 (Qur'an)? Have I not left among you the Lesser Weight (Ahl alBayt) and laid firm among you the flags of faith?'"
He, peace be upon him, said, in sermon 96 of NahjulBalagha, "Behold the Household of your Prophet; emulate their example and follow in their footsteps, for they shall never take you out of guidance, nor shall they ever bring you back into destruction; halt when they halt, and rise when they rise, and do not go ahead of them lest you should stray, nor should you lag behind them lest you should perish." He, peace be upon him, has mentioned them once, as stated in sermon 237 of Nahjul-Balaghah, saying: "They are the life of knowledge and the death of ignorance; their forbearance informs you of their knowledge, and their outward appearance informs you of their conscience. Their silence indicates the wisdom of their speech. They neither differ from truth, nor do they differ among themselves about it. They are the pillars of Islam and the gateways to salvation. Through them, justice was achieved and wrongdoing was removed, and its tongue was uprooted. They comprehended the creed with care and concern, not like hearing and reporting, for the 'reporters' of knowledge are many indeed, but those who safeguard it are few." He, peace be upon him, as stated in sermon 153 in Nahjul-Balaghah, has also said, "His offspring ('itra) is the best, and his family is the best. His tree is the best of trees: it was planted in the sacred place (Haram), and it grew like a vine; it has long branches and its fruit is not unattainable."
He, peace be upon him, is quoted in sermon 153 of Nahjul-Balaghah saying: "We are the banner, the companions, the trustees and the gates. Houses are not supposed to be approached except through their gates: whoever approaches them otherwise is called a thief," until he said, describing the purified offspring ('itra), "They are the vital portions of the Qur'an, and they are the teasures of the Merciful. They tell the truth when they speak, or when they remain silent; none can speak ahead of them. Therefore, let the forerunner speak the truth to his people, maintaining his reason."
He has said in sermon 146 of Nahjul-Balaghah: "You should know that you will never know guidance unless you know who abandons it, nor will you abide by the Book (Qur'an) unless you know who contradicts it, and you will never uphold it unless you know who has discarded it; so, seek that from those who possess it, for they are the life of knowledge and the death of ignorance. They are the ones whose judgment informs you of their knowledge, their silence of their power of speech, their outer appearance of their inner selves; they neither violate the religion, nor do they differ among themselves about it, while it is among them a truthful witness and a silent speaker."
There are many similarly impressive statements of his, peace be upon him, in this regard; consider this one which is excerpted from sermon 4 in Nahjul-Balaghah: "Through us you received guidance in the darkness, ascending the zenith of nobility, and through us you reached the light and dissipated the gloomy night. May the ears that do not listen to the summoner be deafened." 5 He is quoted in sermon 104 of Nahjul-Balaghah saying: "O people! Secure your light from the flame of the lamps of a preacher who follows what he preaches, and drink from a spring cleansed from impurity."
He has also said the following in sermon 108: "We are the tree of Prophethood, the place of the Message, the ones to whom the angels make a pilgrimage, the treasures of knowledge, the springs of wisdom. Our supporter and lover awaits the mercy, while our enemy or antagonist us awaits the wrath." 6
Among what he has said in this regard is sermon 143 of Nahjul-Balaghah wherein he says: "Where are those who claimed to be deeply versed in knowledge other than our own selves? (See also Qur'an, 3:7 and 4:162). It is a lie and a transgression against us, for Allah has raised us high while putting them down; He bestowed upon us while depriving them, and He permitted us to enter (in the fortress of knowledge) while turning them out. Through us, guidance is achieved and blindness is removed. Surely the Imams from Quraysh have been planted in Hashim's loins. Imamate can never fit anyone else, nor can government either." Then he stated: "But they preferred a speedy gain to a later one, forsaking a pure well to drink from an impure one," up to the end of his statement. He has also said at the conclusion of khutba (sermon) 189 of Nahjul-Balaghahh: "Whoever among you dies on his bed knowing the rights of his Lord and knowing the rights of His Messenger and his family (Ahl alBayt) dies as a martyr, and his reward will be incumbent upon Allah, and he deserves the reward of what good deeds he has intended to do: his own intention will make up for his use of his sword (in jihad)."
Also, he, peace be upon him, has said: "We are the virtuous; our descendants are the descendants of Prophets; our party is the party of Allah, the Sublime, the Glorified, while the transgressing party is the devil's; whoever equates us with our enemy is certainly not of us." 7
Imam alMujtaba Abu Muhammad alHasan, the patient, master of the youths of Paradise (as), has said the following in one of his sermons: "Fear Allah regarding us, for we are your rulers." 8
3) Whenever Imam Abu Muhammad, 'Ali son of alHusayn Zainul'Abidin, master of those who prostrate in prayer, used to recite this verse of the Almighty: "O ye who believe! Fear Allah and be with the Truthful," he would make a lengthy invocation to Allah containing his plea to be included among "the Truthful" to attain the high ranks. He would then count the calamities and innovations of the group that split from the Imams of Faith and the Tree of Prophethood. Then he would say: "Some people went as far as underestimating us, making excuses for the Qur'anic verses which seem to them to be alike, giving their own interpretation thereof, and casting doubts about the transmitted narrarations in our honour," until he would say: "With whom shall people in this nation seek refuge, since the pillars of this creed have been forgotten and the nation has divided upon itself with dissension, each party accusing the other of kufr, while Allah says: 'Do not be like those who became divided and disagreed (with each other) even after receiving the Clear Evidences (Qur'an, 3:104)?' Who can be trusted to convey the Divine proofs and interpret the Judgment other than the peers of the Qur'an and the descendants of the Imams of Guidance, the lamps amidst the darkness, those whom Allah made as His Arguments against His servants? He has never left His creation alone without a Proof. Do you know them or find them except from the branches of the Blessed Tree, the remnant of the Elite from whom Allah has removed all impurity, purifying them with a perfect purification, clearing them from sinning and decreeing their love in His Book?"
That was his own speech, peace be upon him, verbatim. 9 Look into it and into our quotations from the speech of the Commander of the Faithful; you will find them both representing the Shi'a School of Muslim Thought in this regard very clearly. Consider this much of their speech as a specimen for all such speeches of the Imams from Ahl alBayt. They all are unanimous in this respect, and our sahih books quoting them are mutawatir (consecutively reported), and peace be with you.
I Requesting Proofs from Statements by Allah and His Messenger,
II Proofs from Ahl alBayt are Circumventive.Thul-Qi'da 13, 1329 A.H.
1) Bring the proofs from the statements of Allah and His Messenger bearing witness to the mandatory allegiance to the Imams among the Ahl alBayt exclusively, and leave aside the speech of anyone else in this respect except those of Allah and His Messenger.
2) Your Imams' statements cannot serve as arguments against their rivals, and such an argument creates a logical cycle, as you know, and peace be with you.
1. Having sought permission to debate, he starts explaining the debate's subject-matter, thus demonstrating his moral accomplishments and excellence as far as the norm of debate is concerned. The use of the initials "S" and "Sh" is an obviously suitable vehicle for carrying such a debate on, since "S" denotes his name "Salim" and his being a Sunni, while "Sh" signifies the author's surname "Sharafud-Din," and his being a Shi'a.
2. In his biography of Malik, Ibn Khallikan indicates in his Al-a'yan that the man lingered in his mother's womb for almost three years. The same is mentioned by Ibn Qutaybah who includes Malik among wise sages on page 170 of his book Al-Ma'arif, recounting him on page 198 among men whose mother's pregnancy outlasted the normal period.
3. He means to say: "Learn this from the Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him and his progeny: 'When a member of the Prophet's Household dies, he in reality does not die," that is, his soul remains shining in the real world. This is also stated by Shaykh Muhammad 'Abdoh and others.
4. The Commander of the Faithful (as) acted upon the Greater Weighty Thing, namely the Holy Qur'an, leaving the Lesser Weighty Things, i.e. both his sons, behind. It is also said that his progeny are the models of conduct for others, as stated by Shaykh Muhammad 'Abdoh and other commentators of Hahjul Balaghah.
5. In his commentary, Shaykh Muhammad 'Abdoh says: "The 'sarar,' pronounced like 'sahab' and 'kitab,' is the last night of the lunar month during which the moon disappears. The meaning would be: 'You entered into the dawn,' meaning 'You used to live in utter darkness, the darkness of polytheism and misguidance, till you emerged into the light through our guidance and instruction,' a reference to Muhammad, peace be upon him and his progeny, and his cousin Imam (as), the one who supported his mission.
6. See the conclusion of sermon 105, page 214, Vol. 1, of Nahjul Balaghah. Ibn 'Abbas has said: "We are members of the Prophet's Household whose homes are the visiting places of the angels, the Ahl al-Bayt of the Messenger of Allah, and members of the household of mercy and knowledge." He is quoted saying so by a group of most reliab
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