Rafed English

History of Shi'ism: From the Advent of Islam up to the End of Minor Occultation

History of Shi'ism: From the Advent of Islam up to the End of Minor Occultation by : Ghulam-Husayn Muharrami


In the Name of Allah, the All-beneficent, the All-merciful

The invaluable legacy of the Household {Ahl al-Bayt} of the Prophet (may peace be upon them all), as preserved by their followers, is a comprehensive school of thought that embraces all branches of Islamic knowledge. This school has produced many brilliant scholars who have drawn inspiration from this rich and pure resource.

It has given many scholars to the Muslim ummah who, following in the footsteps of Imams of the Prophet’s Household (‘a), have done their best to clear up the doubts raised by various creeds and currents within and without Muslim society and to answer their questions. Throughout the past centuries, they have given well-reasoned answers and clarifications concerning these questions and doubts.

To meet the responsibilities assigned to it, the Ahl al-Bayt World Assembly (ABWA) has embarked on a defence of the sanctity of the Islamic message and its verities, often obscured by the partisans of various sects and creeds as well as by currents hostile to Islam. The Assembly follows in the footsteps of the Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) and the disciples of their school of thought in its readiness to confront these challenges and tries to be on the frontline in consonance with the demands of every age.

The arguments contained in the works of the scholars belonging to the School of the Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) are of unique significance. That is because they are based on genuine scholarship and appeal to reason, and avoid prejudice and bias. These arguments address scholars and thinkers in a manner that appeals to healthy minds and wholesome human nature.

To assist the seekers of truth, the Ahl al-Bayt World Assembly has endeavored to present a new phase of these arguments contained in the studies and translations of the works of contemporary Shi‘ah writers and those who have embraced this sublime school of thought through divine blessing.

The Assembly is also engaged in edition and publication of the valuable works of leading Shi‘ah scholars of earlier ages to assist the seekers of the truth in discovering the truths which the School of the Prophet’s Household (‘a) has offered to the entire world.

The Ahl al-Bayt World Assembly looks forward to benefit from the opinions of the readers and their suggestions and constructive criticism in this area.

We also invite scholars, translators and other institutions to assist us in propagating the genuine Islamic teachings as preached by the Prophet Muhammad (S).

We beseech God, the Most High, to accept our humble efforts and to enable us to enhance them under the auspices of Imam al-Mahdi, His vicegerent on the earth (may Allah expedite his advent).

We express our gratitude to Hujjat al-Islam wa’l-Muslimin Shaykh Ghulam-Husayn Muharrami, the author of the present book,1 and Mansoor Limba, its translator. We also thank our colleagues who have participated in producing this work, especially the staff of the Translation Office.

Cultural Affairs Department
Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) World Assembly
1. Ghulam-Husayn Muharrami, Tarikh-e Tashayyu‘ az Aghaz ta Payan-e Ghaybat-e Kubra (Qum: Imam Khomeini Educational and Research Institute, Spring 1382 AHS (2003), 279 pp.
In the Name of Allah, the All-beneficent, the All-merciful
أَلْحَمْدُ للهِ رَبِّ الْعَالَمِيْنَ
وَ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلىٰ سَيِّدِنَا وَ نَبِيِّنَا مُحَمَّدٍ وَ آلِهِ الطَّاهِرِيْنَ وَ لَعْنَةُ اللهِ عَلىٰ أَعْدَائِهِمْ أَجْمَعِيْنَ
All praise is due to Allah, the Lord of the worlds, and may the blessings of Allah be upon our Master and Prophet, Muhammad, and his pure progeny, and may the curse of Allah be upon all their enemies.
History of Shi‘ism as the History of a Living School and Combatant Followers
The history of Shi‘ism {tashayyu‘} is inseparable from the history of Islam as it is the continuation of Islam of the Prophetic period under the stewardship of the successors of the Prophet of Islam (S)1—the members of his Household {Ahl al-Bayt} (‘a).2 Furthermore, the origin of the term Shi‘ah3 is traceable back to the Holy Prophet (S) himself.

The initial nucleus of the Shi‘ah was composed of the great and distinguished Companions {sahabah}4 of the Prophet of Islam (S) who, as per instruction of the Prophet (S), believed in the expediency of the leadership of ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib (‘a) after the Prophet (S).

After the demise of the Prophet of Islam (S), the formation of {the selection in} Saqifah and the climate that emerged in the selection of the caliph, the path of Shi‘ism took a different turn in history. It is because the Shi‘ah insisted on the leadership of ‘Ali (‘a) and remained around the members of the Prophet’s Household {Ahl al-Bayt} (‘a). By enduring the difficulties and adversities, they did not abandon their ideals and beliefs. Thus, they kept their distance from government affairs, causing them to face much enmity and disfavor from the governments of the time.

Although the Shi‘ah difference of view with the supporters of the de facto caliphate was first on the question of caliphate and succession to the Prophet (S), they also called on the Imams from the Ahl al-Bayt (‘a)—the genuine fountainhead of Islamic knowledge and learning—after the demise of the Prophet (S) for matters relating to the principles of beliefs {‘aqa’id}, jurisprudence {fiqh}, hadith,5 tafsir {exegesis of the Qur’an}, and other Islamic sciences. Over time, the Imams became renowned in these fields compared to the followers of the de facto caliphate, and the trend of their intellectual and cultural path took a different course.

This affair itself had an eminent effect on the historical and cultural trend in Shi‘ism, continuously protecting it from distortion {tahrif} and other forms of setbacks.

In the light of adherence to the Imams from the Ahl al-Bayt (‘a), the Shi‘ah actually became the repository of Ahl al-Bayt’s knowledge and their spiritual inheritors throughout history. The culture of Shi‘ism has always been an effulgent, dynamic, prolific, and authentic culture such that even some of their opponents have acknowledged this fact.

For example, Shams ad-Din Muhammad adh-Dhahabi (born 748 AH), one of Ahl as-Sunnah’s distinguished eighth century (hijri) scholars (known for his anti-Shi‘ah sentiment) in describing the status of Aban ibn Taghlib, one of the towering pupils of Imam Ja‘far as-Sadiq (‘a), bitterly acknowledges this fact and after accusing him of “innovation in religion” (Shi‘ism), approves of and introduces him as truthful, and thus writes:

Inclination to Shi‘ism among the religious, pious and honest followers, and their followers, are plenty. In case the hadiths they are narrating are rejected, a great portion of the Prophetic works and hadiths will be lost and this evil is serious enough.6

On the other hand, like any other madhhab {sect} and maktab {school}, the Shi‘ah, throughout these historical straitened circumstances and the ups and downs that transpired, was not immune from internal splits, which brought about immense predicaments. The infiltration of the ghulat7 into Shi‘ah ranks had also exacerbated these predicaments notwithstanding the rejection of the former by the Imams (‘a) of the Shi‘ah.

Keeping this background in mind, one can guess what stages and pathways the Shi‘ah have treaded during the past fourteen centuries in different realms and spheres.

This book, a relatively comprehensive, elegant and worthy glance at the historical trend of Shi‘ism, is a product of relentless efforts and studies of the diligent researcher, Hujjat al-Islam Shaykh Ghulam-Husayn Muharrami, and has many distinguishing merits compared to other similar works—whose number is unfortunately few. Fortunately, it has now earned the kind attention of the authorities and is about to be published, after passing (with an excellent grade) as a master’s thesis. We are currently awaiting other significant works from this author.

Mahdi Pishva’i
Khordad 1380 AHS
Rabi‘ al-Awwal 1422 AH
May-June 2001
1. The abbreviation, “S”, stands for the Arabic invocative phrase, sallallahu ‘alayhi wa alihi wa sallam {may God’s salutation and peace be upon him and his progeny}, which is used after the name of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (S). {Trans.}

2. The abbreviation, “‘a” stands for the Arabic invocative phrase, ‘alayhis-salam, ‘alayhimus-salam, or ‘alayhas-salam {may peace be upon him/them/her}, which is used after the names of the prophets, angels, Imams from the Prophet’s progeny, and saints (‘a). {Trans.}

3. In this volume, I maintained the word “Shi‘ah” to refer to both the group (single collective unit) and the individuals constituting the group (plural). {Trans.}

4. Companions {sahabah} refer to the Companions of the Prophet (S). In earlier times, the term was restricted to his close friends who had close contact with him. Later, the term was extended to include the believers who had seen him, even if only for a brief moment or at an early age. {Trans.}

5. Hadith (pl. ahadith): tradition or report, specifically the traditions of the Prophet (S) and the infallible Imams (‘a), i.e. their sayings, actions and tacit approvals of others’ actions, or the narrations of these. {Trans.}

6. Shams ad-Din Muhammad ibn Ahmad adh-Dhahabi, Mizan al-I‘tidal (Beirut: Dar al-Fikr, n.d.), vol. 1, p. 4.

7. Ghulat (sing. ghali) are those who declare their faith in Islam but exaggerate in their beliefs about some prophets or Imams, e.g., those who believe that an Imam is an incarnation of God. This is against the fundamental Islamic belief that God does not incarnate into anyone or any­thing. {Trans.}
Lesson 1: Historical References
In this writing, I do not claim to be able to comprehensively study and analyze everything that is relevant to the history of Shi‘ism. Instead, I shall try to cite the most important references and citations, and to present and analyze them concisely.

Since there have been many books on history and books about the life account of the Infallibles {ma‘sumin}1 (‘a) as well as books on hadiths and rijal,2 which are related to the history of Shi‘ism, I have divided the references dealing with the history of Shi‘ism into two: (1) special references and (2) general references, which we shall deal with in two lessons.
Special References
In this lessons, some of the references on the history of Shi‘ism have been cited. These references which have been introduced in brief are the following:

1. Maqatil at-Talibiyyin;

2. Ad-Darajat ar-Rafi‘ah fi Tabaqat ash-Shi‘ah;

3. A‘yan ash-Shi‘ah;

4. Tarikh ash-Shi‘ah;

5. Shi‘eh dar Tarikh;

6. Jihad ash-Shi‘ah; and

7. Tarikh-e Tashayyu‘ dar Iran az Aghaz ta Qarn-e Haftum-e Hijri.
1. Maqatil at-Talibiyyin
One of the most significant references dealing with the history of Shi‘ism is the book Maqatil at-Talibiyyin. Its author, Abu’l-Faraj ‘Ali ibn al-Husayn al-Isfahani, was born in 284 AH in the city of Isfahan. He grew up in Baghdad and was educated under the guidance of scholars and learned men there. His genealogy can be traced back to the Umayyads but he is a Shi‘ah {‘alawi madhhab}.3

As indicated in its title, the book deals with the descendants of Abu Talib {talibiyyun} who were killed at the hands of the oppressors and tyrants of the time, as the author thus writes:

In this book of mine, by the help and will of Allah, I shall give a summary of the reports on the murdered ones among the descendants of Abu Talib from the time of the Messenger of Allah (S) up to the moment when I started writing this book in Jumadi al-Awwal 313 AH (circa July-August 925 CE). It includes those who were killed by means of eating or drinking poison; those who escaped from the ruler of the time, hid somewhere else and died there; and those who died while languishing in prison. And in mentioning them, I observed the chronological order of their deaths and not their merits…4

This book is generally divided into two parts. The first part covers the period from the time of the Prophet (S) up to the establishment of the ‘Abbasid caliphate while the other part covers the ‘Abbasid period.

Although this book deals only with the life account and martyrdom of the martyrs among the descendants of Abu Talib {al abi talib}, including life account of the Imams (‘a), martyred leaders and leading figures among the ‘Alawis (descendants of ‘Ali (‘a)) and their own followers, a part of the history of Shi‘ism can be extracted from every part of it. Of course, since this book is more relevant to Shi‘ism’s political history, it is less beneficial with respect to other aspects of the history of Shi‘ism.
2. Ad-Darajat ar-Rafi‘ah fi Tabaqat ash-Shi‘ah
The author of this book is Sayyid ‘Ali Khan Shirazi who was born on Jumadi al-Awwal 5, 1052 AH (August 2, 1642) in the holy city of Medina where he was educated. In 1068 AH (circa 1657-8) he migrated to Hyderabad, India where he lived for 48 years. He then went to Mashhad, Iran for the ziyarah {visitation} of Imam ar-Rida (‘a). During the reign of Shah Sultan Husayn Safawi, he went to Isfahan in 1117 AH (circa 1705-6) where he stayed for two years. Thereafter, he proceeded to Shiraz where he shouldered the religious and educational management of the city.5

The book, Ad-Darajat ar-Rafi‘ah fi Tabaqat ash-Shi‘ah, is one of the works of this high-ranking Shi‘ah scholar. Although the subject of this book is a description of the condition of the Shi‘ah and their history, general history of Shi‘ism can also be deduced from it for two reasons. One reason is that it is a study of the conditions of the Shi‘ah in the different periods and places, while the other reason is that the author himself has dealt briefly with the history of Shi‘ism especially during the Umayyad period of strangulation. He thus says in the introduction:

Be aware that—may God be merciful to you— in every epoch and period the Shi‘ah of the Commander of the Faithful {Amir al-Mu’minin} (‘Ali) (‘a) and other Imams (‘a) from among his descendants were hiding in the nook and corner, keeping away from the attention of the rulers…6

Then, he described the beginning of repression from the time of the Umayyads up to the period of the ‘Abbasids.

This book, as it is noted by the author in the introduction, has been arranged in 12 classes. That is, he has classified and then examined the Shi‘ah into the following 12 classes:

(1) As-Sahabah {Companions of the Prophet (S)};

(2) At-Tabi‘un {Followers};7

(3) Al-Muhaddithun alladhi rawu ‘an al-A’immah at-Tahirin {Scholars of Hadith who Narrated Traditions from the Pure Imams (‘a)};

(4) ‘Ulama’ ad-Din {Religious Scholars};

(5) Al-Hukama’ wa’l-Mutakallimin {Philosophers and Scholastic Theologians};

(6) ‘Ulama’ al-‘Arabiyyah {Scholars of Arabic Language};

(7) As-Sadah as-Sawfiyyah {Commoners};

(8) Al-Muluk wa’s-Salatin {Kings and Sultans};

(9) Al-Umara’ {Rulers};

(10) Al-Wuzara’ {Viziers and Ministers};

(11) Ash-Shu‘ara’ {Poets}; and

(12) An-Nisa’ {Women}.

What is available so far from this valuable reference is the first class, i.e. the Class of the Companions in complete form, part of the fourth class, and a small portion of the 11th class.

This book is considered the most significant reference on the subject of Shi‘ism among the Companions and in this respect, it has also a good sense of comprehensiveness. The writer of this book was able to compile the views and opinions of the Shi‘ah scholars and biographers {rijaliyyun} regarding the Shi‘ah among the Companions, and as such, he has not much engaged in expressing his own views, opinions, analyses, and investigations.
3. A‘yan ash-Shi‘ah
The writer of this unique book is the great Shi‘ah researcher and scholar, the late Sayyid Muhsin Amin. The book, A‘yan ash-Shi‘ah, as its title indicates, is a book concerning the life account and description of the leading Shi‘ah figures. This book has three introductions. The first introduction explains the author’s method of writing. The introduction begins thus: “In stating our method in this book which is as follows…” and then he explains in detail in 14 parts the method of his writing.

The second introduction, meanwhile, is about the general history of Shi‘ism, which is consisted of 12 discussions. The third introduction deals with the references and authorities used in the book:

Discussion 1: The meaning and connotation of the word Shi‘ah; other Shi‘ah terminologies; criticizing the view of the Ahl as-Sunnah writers regarding the Shi‘ah sects.

Discussion 2: The emergence of the Shi‘ah and their expansion; the Shi‘ah among the Companions; Shi‘ah Companions; growth of the Shi‘ah.

Discussion 3: Points to the some of the oppressions perpetrated against the Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) and their Shi‘ah.

Discussion 4: Unjust treatment of the Shi‘ah of the Ahl al-Bayt (‘a).

Discussion 5: Incessant attacks against the Ahl al-Bayt (‘a).

Discussion 6: The existence of many calumnies against the Shi‘ah and a summary of the Ja‘fari Shi‘ah Ithna ‘Ashari beliefs.

Discussion 7: Factors behind the spread of Shi‘ism in the Muslim lands.

Discussion 8: The virtues of the Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) and their services to Islam.

Discussion 9: On the beliefs of the Shi‘ah Imamiyyah.

Discussion 10: Concerning the Shi‘ah ‘ulama’, poets, men of letters, and writers, and their works.

Discussion 11: Viziers and ministers, rulers, judges, and chiefs among the Shi‘ah.

Discussion 12: Enumeration of the Shi‘ah-populated cities.8

It must be beyond our responsibility to talk about the importance, reputation and value of the book, A‘yan ash-Shi‘ah, as it is an ocean of historical knowledge and information which we cannot fathom, overcome, or measure. Rather, we can benefit from it in proportion to our capability. The articulacy of writing, depth of the subjects, approach to the subjects, arrangement of the topics, logical order, and the like are among its merits.

With regard to the points of criticism that can be made against it, secondary cases may be indicated such as the following:

On the discussion of the other terms for the Shi‘ah, they are mentioned very briefly and only the names such as Imamiyyah, Muta’awwalah, Qizilbash, Rafidhiyyah, Ja‘fariyyah, and Khassah have been enumerated,9 whereas the names applied to the Shi‘ah are more than these. Only in the first century hijri, the labels such as ‘Alawi, Turabi, Husayni, etc. have been applied to the Shi‘ah.

The other criticism that can be made with respect to this book is related to the meaning of Shi‘ah. The Shi‘ah writers of rijal do not regard as Shi‘ah some of the people whom he counted as Shi‘ah because although these people were Shi‘ah in the political sense, they cannot be considered as such in the ideological sense.

That is to say that in the political disputes they took the side of the Ahl al-Bayt (‘a), but in terms of belief, they did not benefit from that fountainhead {of knowledge} (Ahl al-Bayt (‘a)). A separate section is supposed to be allotted to this discussion, and the beginning should have stated to whom the label Shi‘ah refers.
4. Tarikh ash-Shi‘ah
The book, Tarikh ash-Shi‘ah, written by the late great ‘Allamah Shaykh Muhammad Husayn Muzaffar, is one of the important references and authorities on the history of Shi‘ism. This book, reprinted many times, has been translated into Persian by Prof. Sayyid Muhammad Baqir Hujjati.

The late Muzaffar has surveyed and discussed in 82 headings the history of Shi‘ism from the time of the Prophet (S) up to his own time. In general, the topics of this book can be summed up in three parts:

(1) periods of the spread of Shi‘ism,

(2) Shi‘ah-populated places, and

(3) Shi‘ah governments.

The late Muzaffar has been an able writer and erudite scholar whose pen, apart from being versatile and fluent, has the necessary power and firmness.

One of the most important merits of the book, Tarikh ash-Shi‘ah, is its comprehensiveness as it has examined the presence of the Shi‘ah in all parts of the world. This book can be one of the most important references and authorities for the researchers dealing with the history of Shi‘ism in every period and epoch.

In spite of all these merits that Tarikh ash-Shi‘ah does possess in comparison with other books, on account of its brevity, it fails to present the absolute truth except in topics such as the meaning of Shi‘ah, the specific time when the label Shi‘ah was applied to the sympathizers of the Ahl al-Bayt (‘a), the beginning of Shi‘ism, and the spread of Shi‘ism, which are related to the main discussions about Shi‘ah. In these cases, he has engaged in giving a detailed account, which is appropriate to the subjects. The late Muzaffar thus says in the introduction of this book:

“I have no other aim but to let the people know that Shi‘ism commenced at the time of the Receiver of Message (Muhammad al-Mustafa (S)), and the Iranians and Ibn Saba’ had no hand in founding it.”

The other defect of this book that can be cited is its lack of scholarly character. Due to the observance of brevity, the honorable writer has failed to quote and analyze the views of others.

Parts of this book dealing with the formation of Muslim states are supposed to be completed. For, with the passage of time, main changes and developments in the Shi‘ah states under discussion have occurred and some of them have even ceased to exist, but the honorable translator of the book has not discussed some of the new states and not conducted up-to-date research. As a result, it has been translated in such a form that the sections dealing with the Shi‘ah states gives an impression of antiquity.
5. Shi‘eh dar Tarikh
The book, Ash-Shi‘ah fi’t-Tarikh {Shi‘eh dar Tarikh}, written by Muhammad Husayn Zayn ‘Amili, has been translated into Persian by Muhammad Rida ‘Ata’i and published by Astan-e Quds-e Radhawi (Custodianship of Imam ar-Rida’s Holy Shrine). As one of the authorities on the history of the Shi‘ah, this book consists of five chapters and the concluding part:

• The first chapter is about the meaning, concept, background, and a summary of the Shi‘ah beliefs.

• The second chapter deals with the sects and groups that have separated from the Shi‘ah.

• The third chapter covers the history after the Prophet (S) up to the martyrdom of Imam al-Husayn (‘a) and an analysis of the events and occurrences during that period.

• The fourth chapter is about the position of the Shi‘ah during the Umayyad and ‘Abbasid caliphates.

• The fifth chapter deals with the Shi‘ah disavowal {bara‘ah} of ghulu {extremism} and ghulat {extremists}.

The book, Shi‘eh dar Tarikh, is a good authority on the discussion of the splits within the Shi‘ah, it has especially analyzed various factors behind the separation of groups and sects from the Shi‘ah.

As a book on the history of Shi‘ism, it does not cover all the topics and subjects dealing with the Shi‘ah. This is because at times the discussion drifts away from the subject of Shi‘ism, embarking on such subjects as the Khawarij (Kharijites)10 and the history of caliphate, which are not so relevant to the history of Shi‘ism.
6. Jihad ash-Shi‘ah
Another reference for the history of the Shi‘ah is the book Jihad ash-Shi‘ah (even though its main focus is the armed struggles and movements of the Shi‘ah). This book is written by Dr. Samirah Mukhtar al-Laythi, university professor at the ‘Ayn Shams University, Egypt. The Beirut-based Dar al-Jayl publisher has published Jihad ash-Shi‘ah in 1396 AH (1976) with 424 pages, 16.2x22.9 cm size, and hard-bound cover.

After the introduction, this book has been arranged into 5 parts and a conclusion, and its subject is the jihad of the Shi‘ah. It has examined and discussed the subject approximately up to the end of the 2nd century hijri. In other words, the author of the book, on one hand, talks about the armed struggles and movements of the Shi‘ah against the ‘Abbasids, states the ‘Alawi uprisings and factors for their defeat, and discusses the role of the Shi‘ah movements and sects in the socio-political currents and conditions of that period.

On the other hand, she has also analyzed the policy of the caliphs toward the Holy Imams (‘a) and the Shi‘ah. Topics on the general history of the Shi‘ah have been discussed in a certain section of the first part which covers such topics as: Shi‘ah in the lexicon; the concept of Shi‘ah; history of the emergence of the Shi‘ah; the impact of the jihad of Imam al-Husayn (‘a) in the emergence of the Shi‘ah; the Shi‘ah jihad in Iraq; the emergence of the Kaysaniyyah sect; and the Shi‘ah Imamiyyah. In discussing the emergence of the Shi‘ah, she has advanced various views and opinion regarding the history of the Shi‘ah.

One problem that can be cited with respect to the book is in elucidating the “political theory” of the Holy Imams ('a) whom the author has described as “the Imams of the Imamiyyah sect”. As the author is not a Shi‘ah, she has failed to discern and explain the foundation of the political thought of the Imams (‘a). As such, she describes the basis of Imamate after Imam al-Husayn (‘a) as spiritual and intellectual Imamate, regarding their method as different from that of the Commander of the Faithful, Imam al-Hasan and Imam al-Husayn (‘a).11
7. Tarikh-e Tashayyu‘ dar Iran az Aghaz ta Qarn-e Haftum-e Hijri
The writer of this book, Mr. Rasul Ja‘fariyan, is among the valuable researchers of the Islamic Theological Center in Qum. This book is a well-researched and distinctive one in its own right, and it is one of the best writings and literary works of this author. It is also one of the most important research references on the history of Shi‘ism.

This book has valuable historical information and data, which no researcher on the history of Shi‘ism will be needless of. Among the merits of this book is its rich content. If it has any defect, it (only) pertains to the form and appearance. For example, its footnotes have not been printed in a standard and technical manner.

The other one is that some subjects such as critique of the references used in the book are inserted in the (main) subjects, which gives confusion to the readers. Of course, it would have been better to discuss them in a separate chapter with the same heading, or at least, they must have been mentioned in the footnotes so as to cause no disruption to the main subjects.
Lesson 1: Summary
All history books can be good references for the research on the history of Shi‘ism. Among the special references on the history of Shi‘ism, however, are the following:

• Maqatil at-Talibiyyin – the life account of the descendants of Abu Talib {talibiyyin} who were murdered at the hand of the tyrants of their respective times.

• Ad-Darajat ar-Rafi‘ah fi Tabaqat ash-Shi‘ah – the history of the Shi‘ah and not history of Shi‘ism, but a part of the history of Shi‘ism can be learned from its survey of the conditions of the Shi‘ah as well as from its introduction.

• A‘yan ash-Shi‘ah – Although it is about the conditions of the Shi‘ah, its second introduction is about the general history of Shi‘ism.

• Tarikh ash-Shi‘ah –“This book has surveyed the periods of the spread of Shi‘ism, the Shi‘ah-populated places, and Shi‘ah states.” {The late Muzaffar}

• Shi‘eh dar Tarikh – “It has explained the meaning and concept of Shi‘ah, the Shi‘ah beliefs and its sects.” {Muhammad Husayn Zayn al-‘Amili}

• Jihad ash-Shi‘ah – Examines Shi‘ah uprisings till the end of the 2nd century hijri.

• Tarikh-e Tashayyu‘ dar Iran az Aghaz ta Qarn-e Haftum-e Hijri – This book contains precious information regarding the history of Shi‘ism in Iran, which no researcher can be needless of in his research.
Lesson 1: Questions
1. How many types do references on the history of Shi‘ism have?

2. What is the subject of the book Maqatil at-Talibiyyin?

3. Give a brief description of the book, Ad-Darajat ar-Rafi‘ah fi Tabaqat ash-Shi‘ah.

4. What is the relationship between the book A‘yan ash-Shi‘ah, and the history of Shi‘ism?
1. Ma‘sumin: those possessing the quality of ‘ismat (see n. 67 above); i.e., the Prophet, Fatimah, and the Twelve Imams. See A Brief History of the Fourteen Infallibles (Tehran: WOFIS), http://www.al-islam.org/brief-history-of-fourteen-infallibles [11] ; Sayyid Murtada al-‘Askari, The Twelve Successors of the Holy Prophet (S), http://www.al-islam.org/twelve [12]. {Trans.}

2. Rijal or ‘Ilm ar-Rijal: a branch of the science of hadith dealing with the biography of the hadith transmitters or reporters. {Trans.}

3. Sayyid Ahmad Saqar, “Introduction to Maqatil at-Talibiyyin”, 2nd edition (Qum: Manshurat ash-Sharif ar-Radi, 1416 AH, p. 5.

4. Abu’l-Faraj ‘Ali ibn al-Husayn al-Isfahani, Maqatil at-Talibiyyin, 2nd edition (Qum: Manshurat ash-Sharif ar-Radi, 1416 AH, p. 24.

5. Sayyid ‘Ali Jan ash-Shirazi, Ad-Darajat ar-Rafi‘ah fi Tabaqat ash-Shi‘ah (Beirut: Mu’assasah al-Wafa’, n.d.), pp. 3-5.

6. Ibid., p. 5.

7. Tabi‘un {‘Followers’ or ‘Successors’} refers to the second generation of Muslims who came after the Companions, who did not know the Prophet (S) but who knew his Companions. {Trans.}

8. Sayyid Muhsin Amin, A‘yan ash-Shi‘ah (Beirut: Dar at-Ta‘aruf Li’l-Matbu‘at, n.d.), vol. 1, pp. 18-209.

9. Ibid., pp. 20-21.

10. Khawarij (Kharijites or dissenters) were a group of quasi-holy, narrow-minded Muslims who were originally followers of Imam ‘Ali (‘a) and fought with him at the Battle of Siffin. Initially they supported arbitration, pushing Imam ‘Ali to accept it; however, later they revolted against it arguing that because God was the only true arbitrator, Imam ‘Ali and those who agreed with him in the arbitration were not just wrong they were unbelievers, hence they could have no dealings with them. On Imam ‘Ali’s return to Iraq from Siffin, this group split off from his army and set up camp on the banks of the Nahrawan canal where they began terrorizing the people whom they regarded as unbelievers. Imam ‘Ali was at first able to talk to them and persuade some of them to cease in their hostilities, but eventually he was forced to take up arms against them. In 659 CE he attacked their army under the leadership of ‘Abdullah ibn Wahhab al-Rasibi at Nahrawan almost annihilating them. Nahrawan was the third and last battle Imam ‘Ali had to wage with his enemies. {Trans.}

11. Samirah Mukhtar al-Laythi, Jihad ash-Shi‘ah (Beirut: Dar al-Jayl, 1396 AH), p. 36.
After having a general survey of some of the special references on the history of Shi‘ism, we shall examine the general references for this history. The general references with respect to their subjects are as follows:

1. Tarikh-e ‘Umumi {General History};

2. Zendeginameh-ye Imaman (‘a) {Biography of the Imams (‘a)};

3. Kitab-ha-ye Fitan va Hurub {Books on Revolts and Wars};

4. Kitab-ha-ye Rijal va Tabaqat {Books on Rijal and Classes};

5. Kitab-ha-ye Jughrafiya {Books on Geography};

6. Kitab-ha-ye Akhbar {Books on Narrations};

7. Kitab-ha-ye Nasab {Books on Genealogy};

8. Kitab-ha-ye Hadith {Books on Hadiths};

9. Kitab-ha-ye Milal va Nihal {Books on Nations and Religions}.
1. General History
In this book’s survey of the history of Shi‘ism, the most widely used books are those relating to the general history of the first centuries hijri and the history of the caliphate, such as Tarikh al-Ya‘qubi, Murawwij adh-Dhahab, Tarikh at-Tabari, Al-Kamil fi’t-Tarikh, Al-‘Abr, Al-Imammah wa’s-Siyasah, Tarikh al-Khulafa’, Sharh Nahj al-Balaghah of Ibn Abi’l-Hadid, including even the analytical history research and books written by contemporary writers. Among the general history books, I have used Tarikh al-Ya‘qubi and Murawwij adh-Dhahab extensively.

In these two books, historical events and occurrences have been recorded fairly impartially and without any attempt at concealing the truth. Ya‘qubi has expressed in detail the oppositions of Companions of the Prophet (S) with the caliphate of Abubakr, criticizing the groupings after the demise of the Prophet (S).1

He has embarked, as far as he could, on mentioning the events relevant to the history of the Shi‘ah such as the government of the Commander of the Faithful (‘a),2 the peace treaty of Imam al-Hasan (‘a),3 the martyrdom of Hujr ibn al-‘Addi,4 ‘Amru ibn Hamq5 and that of Imam al-Husayn (‘a),6 more or less presenteing the truth of the matter.

Mas‘udi is also among the historians who had no intention of concealing the truth. Although he has only dealt in passing with the event of Saqifah in the books Murawwij adh-Dhahab and At-Tanbiyyah wa’l-Ashraf, he nevertheless has mentioned the differences of the Companions and the Banu Hashim’s refusal to pay allegiance to Abubakr.7

In another part of the first book, Mas‘udi wrote the issue of Fadak8 and discussed in detail the events that took place during the caliphate of the Commander of the Faithful (‘a) and the martyrdom of Imam al-Hasan (‘a).9

He has mentioned the names of the Shi‘ah and their tribes as well as the enemies of the Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) in various parts of Murawwij adh-Dhahab.10 Also, in the years of the Holy Imams’ (‘a) demise, he has given a short account of their lives.11 He has, in particular, detailed the uprisings of the ‘Alawis during the 2nd century hijri.12
2. Biography of the Imams (‘a)
Among the books relevant to the life accounts of the Imams (‘a), the book, Al-Irshad, by Shaykh al-Mufid and Tadhkirah al-Khawas by Ibn al-Jawzi occupy (special) importance. Al-Irshad is the first and most important available Shi‘ah reference authority on the life account of the twelve Imams (‘a).

In view of the fact that part of ‘Ali’s (‘a) life overlapped that of the life of the Prophet (S), the life account and conduct {sirah} of the Prophet (S) has also been included in this book, especially his battles in all of which ‘Ali (‘a) had been present, with the exception of the Tabuk expedition. Concerning the book, it is enough to say that no researcher on the history of Shi‘ism and the biography of the infallible Imams (‘a) is needless of it.

The Tadhrikah al-Khawas of Ibn al-Jawzi occupies special importance in the sense that the biography of the Shi‘ah Imams (‘a) has been expressed through the language of a Hanafi and non-Shi‘ah person, but no sort of negligence of the truth and concealment of the reality has taken place.
3. Books on Revolts and Wars
These references deal particularly with the wars that have great importance in the historiography of Muslims. The Waq‘ah as-Siffin of Nasr ibn Mazahim al-Munqari (born 212 AH), which deals with the event and confrontation at Siffin, can be regarded as the oldest among them.

This book contains valuable information regarding the correspondence between ‘Ali (‘a) and Mu‘awiyah as well as the various sermons and speeches of the former. Valuable information concerning the opinion of the Companions of the Prophet (S) regarding ‘Ali and the influence of Shi‘ism among the different tribes can be acquired from the different parts of the book.

The book, Al-Gharat, written by Ibrahim Thaqafi al-Kufi (283 AH), is one of the other references written about this subject. This book is related to the events that occurred during the caliphate of the Commander of the Faithful (‘a), and examines the plunders and pillages committed by Mu‘awiyah’s agents in the realm of ‘Ali’s (‘a) government. The conditions and situations of the Commander of the Faithful’s (‘a) Shi‘ah can be extracted from various sections of the book.

Al-Jamal or Nusrah al-Jamal of Shaykh al-Mufid, which examines the event of the Battle of Jamal (Camel) is yet another valuable references in this regard. As it is about the Commander of the Faithful’s (‘a) first battle during his caliphate, this book illustrates ‘Ali’s (‘a) station among the people of Iraq prior to his arrival there.
4. Books on Rijal and Classes
‘Ilm ar-Rijal is one of the sciences mentioned in relation to the science of hadith. Its utility is in the study of the chain of transmission of hadith through which it deals with the life account and background of the hadith narrators and on the rectification of the Companions of the Prophet (S).

In the Shi‘ah rijal, apart from the Companions of the Prophet (S), the companions of the infallible Imams (‘a) have also been discussed. The science of rijal started in the 2nd century hijri and continues to exist to the present, having acquired perfection with the passage of time.

Some of the most famous and reputable writings of the Ahl as-Sunnah in this context are Al-Isti‘ab fi Ma‘rifah al-Ashab, written by Ibn ‘Abd al-Barr al-Qurtubi (463 AH); Asad al-Ghabah fi Ma‘rifah as-Sahabah, authored by Ibn Athir al-Juzri (630 AH); Tarikh Baghdad, penned by Khatib al-Baghdadi (392-463 AH); and Al-Isabah fi Ma‘rifah as-Sahabah, written by Ibn Hajar al-‘Asqalani.

Similarly, the most important Shi‘ah rijali books are Ikhtibar Ma‘rifah ar-Rijal, written by Shaykh at-Tusi (385-460 AH); Rijal an-Najasi (Fihrist Asma’ Musannif ash-Shi‘ah) better known as Rijal, Kitab ar-Rijal, and Kitab al-Fihrist of Shaykh at-Tusi (385-460 AH); Rijal al-Burqa, authored by Ahmad ibn Muhammad ibn Khalid al-Burqa (280 AH); Al-Mashaykhah of Shaykh as-Saduq (381 AH).

Ma‘alim al-‘Ulama’ of Ibn Shahr Ashub Mazandarani (488-588 AH); and Rijal Ibn Dawud of Taqi ad-Din Hasan ibn ‘Ali ibn Dawud al-Hilli (647-707 AH). Of course, the science of rijal has acquired greater perfection among the Shi‘ah and has been divided into various branches.

Some books on rijal such as Asad al-Ghabah, Fihrist Shaykh, Rijal an-Najashi, and Ma‘alim al-‘Ulama’ have been written in (Arabic) alphabetical order while some others such as Rijal Shaykh and Rijal al-Burqa have been arranged according to the classes of the Companions of the Prophet (S) and the Imams (‘a).

There are other types of rijal books in which the people are surveyed according to various classifications, and the most important of them is the Tabaqat of Ibn Sa‘d.
5. Books on Geography
Some of the geography books are travelogues most of which have been written after the third century hijri. Since in this book the history of Shi‘ism has been examined in the first three centuries hijri, a number of them have not been used so much, but other geography books which have presented documents are among the references used in this research.

Among them, Mu‘jam al-Buldan has been used most on account of its comprehensiveness. The writer of the book, Yaqut al-Hamawi, has treated the Shi‘ah with bias; mentioning the names of the great families in Kufah, he has failed to mention any of the names of the great Shi‘ah scholars and families.
6. Books on Narrations
What is meant by references and books on narrations {akhbar} is not the books on hadith that dealt on the lawful {halal} and the prohibited {haram}. They referred instead to history books based on the method of writing history during the period of Islam in which historical events and news have been mentioned in narrative form with the inclusion of the chain of narrators; that is, following the method of the people of hadith in recording and narrating historical events.

This kind of history writing has some salient features. Firstly, any set of news regarding isolated event is mentioned distinct from other events, and it is by itself complete without any link with other news and events. Secondly, literary characteristics can also be observed in it; that is, sometimes the writer makes use of poem, story and debate.

In most cases, this feature can be seen particularly in narrative works which were influenced by the form of Ayyam al-‘Arab narrations. On account of this, some researchers have regarded the historiography of khabar {news, report, narration} to have originated from the khabar of the stories about the period prior to the advent of Islam.

Thirdly, the chain of narrators is mentioned. In reality, this method of history writing, particularly during the first two centuries hijri, was in most cases the way of presenting the primary sources of history. Significant corpus of the written works of the Islamic period is through this method.

Among the books on narrations {akhbar}, Al-Akhbar al-Mu’affaqiyyat of Zubayr ibn Bakkar occupies special importance. The writer of this book, Zubayr ibn Bakkar, apart from being among the descendants of Zubayr who had ancient hostility to the Ahl al-Bayt of the Prophet (S), had good relations with Mutawakkil, the ‘Abbasid caliph, who was a staunch enemy of the Commander of the Faithful (‘a) and his descendants; the teacher of his children13 and had been appointed as the judge in Mecca.14 In spite of this, valuable information regarding the Companions of the Prophet’s (S) protest against the caliphate of Abubakr has been recorded in this book. The narration of their poems, in particular, which contain their belief on the guardianship {wasayah} of ‘Ali (‘a), is an expression of these protests.
7. Books on Genealogy
Among the books on genealogy, Ansab al-Ashraf of Baladhuri, which is the best reference in this regard, has been used most. On the other hand, this book can be considered as among the books on (personal) backgrounds {ahwal}.

This is in spite of the fact that in terms of genealogical knowledge, the book Jumharah Ansab al-‘Arab is the most comprehensive book, which has also presented a brief explanation of the description of some individuals.

The book, Muntaqilah at-Talibiyyin, has examined the migration of sadat (sing. sayyid) and descendants of the Prophet (S). By utilizing its subjects, the trend of Shi‘ism during the first centuries hijri in the Muslim lands can be examined.
8. Books on Hadith
Another set of the references on the history of Shi‘ism includes the books on hadith. Hadith in the Sunni usage refers to the Prophet’s (S) sayings, actions and tacit approvals of others’ actions, but the Shi‘ah regards the infallible Imams (‘a) as also attached to the Prophet (S), treating their sayings, actions and tacit approvals as proofs {hujaj} as well.

The hadith books of the Ahl as-Sunnah such as As-Sahih of al-Bukhari (194-256 AH), Al-Musnad of Ahmad ibn Hanbal (164-241 AH), and Al-Mustadrak ‘ala’s-Sahihayn of Hakim an-Nayshaburi (d. 450 AH) are good references for the study of Shi‘ism among the Companions and of the rightfulness of the Commander of the Faithful (‘a) which is the basis of Shi‘ism.

The Shi‘ah books on hadith such as the “four books” {kutub al-arba‘ah}, viz. Al-Kafi of al-Kulayni (d. 329 AH); Man La Yahdhuruh al-Faqih of Shaykh as-Saduq (d. 381 AH); and Tahdhib al-Ahkam and Al-Istibsar of Shaykh at-Tusi (d. 360 AH).

And other books such as Al-Amali, Ghurar al-Fawa’id and Durar al-Qala’id of Sayyid Murtada (355-436 AH); Al-Ihtijaj of at-Tabarsi (6th century hijri); and the bulky encyclopedia of hadith, Bihar al-Anwar of ‘Allamah Majlisi (d. 1111 AH), apart from having the merit of the books of the Ahl as-Sunnah, can be utilized, by referring to the hadiths of the infallible Imams (‘a), in knowing about the scattering of the Shi‘ah, their resident places, their social relations, and their mode of communication with the infallible Imams (‘a).
9. Books on Nations and Religions
One of the most important references and authorities in this regard is the book, Al-Milal wa’n-Nihal of Shahristani (479-548 AH). In terms of comprehensiveness and oldness, this book is considered a good reference and as a reference authority of researchers and scholars.

This is in spite of the fact that the author has approached the subject with bias. In the beginning of the book, he has quoted the hadith on “73 sects” and introduced the Ahl as-Sunnah as the “saved sect”. As such, he tried his best to highlight the spread of “Shi‘ah sects” so as to prove that the plentitude of the “Shi‘ah sects” is a proof of the falsehood of this school of thought {madhhab}.

He has regarded the sects such as Mukhtariyyah, Baqiriyyah, Ja‘fariyyah, Mufdhalah, Nu‘maniyyah, Hishamiyyah, and Yunusiyyah as “Shi‘ah” although these sects do not exist in reality. Similarly, in the book, Khutat, Maqrizi has said that the “Shi‘ah sects” are 300 all in all, but at the time of enumerating them he failed to mention more than 20 sects.

Among the oldest and most important books on nations and religions are Al-Maqalat wa’l-Firaq of Ash‘ari al-Qummi and Firaq ash-Shi‘ah of Nawbakhti. Ash‘ari al-Qummi and Nawbakhti are among the Shi‘ah scholars who lived in the second half of the 3rd century hijri. The book, Al-Maqalat wa’l-Firaq, in terms of presenting information, is so extensive and has good comprehensiveness, but its subjects are diverse with any proper classification.

According to the views expressed by some researchers, the book, Firaq ash-Shi‘ah of Nawbakhti is actually the same book as Al-Maqalat wa’l-Firaq.
Lesson 2: Summary
General references for the history of Shi‘ism are the following:

• Books on general history, which have been written in the first centuries hijri, and among them Murawwij adh-Dhahab and Tarikh al-Ya‘qubi, occupy special importance;

• Books on the biography of the Imams (‘a) such as Al-Irshad of Shaykh al-Mufid;

• Books on revolts and wars such as Waq‘ah as-Siffin;

• Books on rijal and classes as well as books written about (personal) backgrounds {ahwal};

• Books on geography such as travelogues and history of cities;

• Books on narrations which have been the same in form with the first history writing;

• Books on genealogy such as Jumharah Ansab al-‘Arab;

• Books on hadith as well as books on nations and religions.
Lesson 2: Questions
1. Among the books on general history, which of the earlier books that have dealt more with the history of Shi‘ism?

2. Briefly describe the books, Al-Irshad and Tadhkirah al-Khawas.

3. Which type of books does Waqi‘ah as-Siffin belong to?

4. Briefly describe the books on rijal.

5. How many types do the books on geography have?

6. What are the salient features of the books on narrations {akhbar}?

7. Name two books on genealogy.

8. What is the relationship between the books on hadith and the history of Shi‘ism?

9. What is the title of one of the most important books written on nations and religions?
1. Ahmad ibn Abi Ya‘qub ibn Wadhih, Tarikh al-Ya‘qubi (Qum: Manshurat ash-Sharif ar-Radi, 1414 AH0, vol. 2, p. 123-126.

2. Ibid., pp. 178-179.

3. Ibid., pp. 214-215.

4. Ibid., pp. 230-231.

5. Ibid., pp. 231-232.

6. Ibid., pp. 243-246.

7. ‘Ali ibn al-Husayn Mas‘udi, Murawwij adh-Dhahab (Beirut: Manshurat Mu’assasah al-A‘lami Li’l-Matbu‘at, 1411 AH), vol. 2, p. 316; At-Tanbiyyah wa’l-Ashraf (Cairo: Dar as-Sawi Li’t-Tab‘ wa’n-Nashr wa’t-Ta’lif, n.d.), p. 427.

8. Murawwij adh-Dhahab, vol. 3, p. 262.

9. Ibid., vol. 2, pp. 246-266.

10. Ibid., vol. 3, pp. 59, 74.

11. Ibid., pp. 180, 243, 313, 388.

12. Ibid., pp. 324-326, 358.

13. Al-Hafiz Abubakr Ahmad ibn ‘Ali Khatib al-Baghdadi, Tarikh Baghdad (Egypt: Matba‘ah as-Sa‘adah, 1349 AH), vol. 8, p. 467.

14. Ibn Nadim, Al-Fihrist (Beirut: Dar al-Ma‘rifah, n.d.), p. 160.
Lesson 3: “Shi‘ah” in the Lexicon and the Qur’an
The word “Shi‘ah” in the lexicon is derived from the root-word شيع {shaya‘a} which means escorting {mushayi‘ah}, victory and bravery {shuja‘ah}.1 It is equally applied to the followers and supporters as it is usually applied to the followers and supporters of ‘Ali (‘a).2 As Azhari has said, “Shi‘ah refers to a group that loves the progeny {‘itrah} and descendants of the Prophet (S).”3
Ibn al-Khaldun says:
Be aware that ‘Shi‘ah’ in the lexicon means ‘followers’ and ‘supporters’, and in the parlance of the past and present jurists {fiqh} and scholastic theologians {mutakallimun}, it is applied to the followers of ‘Ali and his descendants.4
But Shahristani limits the definitional scope of the word ‘Shi‘ah’, saying:
‘Shi‘ah’ is referring to those who follow ‘Ali alone and believe in his Imamate {imamah} and caliphate {khilafah} to be based on revelation {nass}, and they say: ‘Imamate shall not bypass him except {that it is done} through injustice {zulm}’.5
There are also many cases in the Qur’an in which “Shi‘ah” connotes “followers” and “supporters” such as:
﴿ وَإِنَّ مِنْ شِيعَتِهِ لإبْرَاهِيمَ ﴾
Indeed Abraham was among his followers {shi‘ah}”6
and the verse,
﴿ فَاسْتَغَاثَهُ الَّذِي مِنْ شِيعَتِهِ عَلَى الَّذِي مِنْ عَدُوِّهِ ﴾
“The one who was from his (Moses’) followers {shi‘ah} sought his help against him who was from his enemies.”7
The word “Shi‘ah” has also been mentioned in the Prophetic traditions to mean “followers and friends of ‘Ali (‘a)”.8

“Shi‘ah” in the Shi‘ah references does not have more than one meaning and conception and that is belief in the succession of ‘Ali (‘a) and his eleven descendants in which no change has ever taken place since the demise of the Prophet (S) up to the minor occultation {ghaybah as-sughra}. Just as the Shi‘ah of the second half of the third century hijri believed in all the twelve Imams (‘a), the pioneering Shi‘ah among the Companions of the Prophet (S) also believed in this affair because they had been informed of the names of these Imams from the Prophetic traditions.9

Although many of the Shi‘ah had no access to these traditions due to the atmosphere of strangulation maintained by the tyrant rulers, what was obligatory (for them) was to recognize the Imam of their respective times. As the Holy Prophet (S) said, “He who will die without recognizing the Imam of his time dies in a state of ignorance {jahiliyyah}.”10

As such, we can see that when Imam as-Sadiq (‘a) attained martyrdom, Zurarah who was an old man sent his son, ‘Ubayd, to inquire about the successor of Imam as-Sadiq (‘a). But before ‘Ubayd was able to return to Kufah, Zurarah, who was about to die, took hold of a copy of the Qur’an and said: “O God! Be my witness that I testify to the Imamate {imamah} of the one who has been designated in this Qur’an.”11

Of course, with the passage of time, the meaning and concept of Shi‘ah assumes an explicit form and its scope is determined. Thus, the infallible Imams (‘a) have regarded those who are identified with the false sects and faiths as outside Shi‘ah circles, as Shaykh at-Tusi narrates from Hamran ibn A‘in:

I asked Imam al-Baqir (‘a): “Am I really among your Shi‘ah?” The Imam (‘a) replied: “Yes, you are among our Shi‘ah in this world and in the hereafter, and the names of the Shi‘ah and their fathers are written for us. Why, are there those who turn their back to us?” I replied: “May I be your ransom! Is it possible for somebody to be your Shi‘ah and to have knowledge of your being in truth, and then to turn his back from you?” The Imam (‘a) said: “Yes, O Hamran! You will not perceive them.”

Hamzah az-Zayyat, who is one of the narrators of this hadith, thus says:

Concerning this hadith we made a discussion and we were not able to understand the purport of the Imam (‘a). As such, I wrote a letter to Imam ar-Rida (‘a) and I asked him (‘a) (about this). The Imam (‘a) said: “Imam as-Sadiq (‘a) was referring to the Waqifiyyah (a deviant sect).”12

It is for this reason that in the parlance of the Shi‘ah rijal writers, the title Shi‘ah is only applied to the Shi‘ah believing in the twelve Imams (‘a) and in the language of the jurists {fuqaha}, they are sometimes described as “our companions” {ashabuna} or “our Imami companions” {ashabuna al-imamiyyah}.

And those who had inclined toward the deviant sects and drifted away from the course of Shi‘ism have described with such labels as Fathi, Waqifi, Nawusi, etc. and if ever the names of some of them are mentioned in the Shi‘ah books on rijal, the reason is that they had narrated these traditions prior to their deviation, just as the names of a number of Sunni narrators who have narrated from the infallible Imams (‘a) have been mentioned in these books.

The Sunni scholars and rijal writers, however, have used the word Shi‘ah in broader sense and they have applied it to all the sects that have separated from the body of Shi‘ism and even to the ghulat as well.

In addition, they also refer to those who love and admire the Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) as “Shi‘ah”. This is while some of these people do not have any sort of belief in the infallibility {‘ismah} and Imamate {imamah} of the Ahl al-Bayt (‘a), such as Sufyan ath-Thawri, a rector {mufti} in Iraq who issued edicts {fatawa} based on the Ahl as-Sunnah, but Ibn al-Qutaybah has enlisted him along with the Shi‘ah.13 Regarding ash-Shafi‘i, who is the founder of one of the four Sunni schools of thought {madhahib}, Ibn Nadim thus says:
كَانَ الشَّافِعِي شَدِيْداً في التَّشَيُّع.
“Ash-Shafi‘i had extreme Shi‘ism {tashayyu‘}.”14
Of course, during the second and third centuries hijri, besides the Shi‘ah Imami, the Zaydis constituted the greatest number of Shi‘ah. They were “Shi‘ah” more in the political sense than in ideology because, in terms of jurisprudence {fiqh}, they were not followers of the Ja‘fari fiqh; rather they were followers of the Hanafi fiqh.15

From the viewpoint of the ideological principles also, as narrated by Shahristani, “For sometime, Zayd was a student of Wasil ibn ‘Ata’, the founder of the Mu‘tazilah (Mu‘tazilite) madhhab and has learned from him the principles of the Mu‘tazilah madhhab.”

Therefore, the Zaydis are Mu‘tazilites in principles {usul}. It is for this reason that they used to regard as permissible {jayiz} the Imamate {imamah} of a deserving person {mafdhul} in the existence of the more deserving person {afdhal} and in that they do not disrespect the two sheikhs {shaykhayn} (Abubakr and ‘Umar).16 And in terms of beliefs, they are closer to the Ahl as-Sunnah, as Ibn al-Qutaybah thus says: “Among the rafidhi (Shi‘ah) sects, the Zaydis have the least extremism {ghulu}.”17

It was for this reason that the uprising of Muhammad Nafs az-Zakiyyah—one of the Zaydi leaders—was praised by some jurists {fuqaha} of the Ahl as-Sunnah, and as narrated by Waqidi, Abubakr ibn Sirah,18 Ibn ‘Ajlan,19 and ‘Abd Allah ibn Ja‘far20—who were among the great hadith scholars {muhaddithun} of the Medina school {maktab} and from whom Waqidi himself has narrated hadith—were involved in the uprising of Muhammad Nafs az-Zakiyyah. Also, Shahristani says: “Abu Hanifah was among the followers of Muhammad Nafs az-Zakiyyah.”21

The Mu‘tazilites of Basrah also agreed with the uprising of Muhammad and based on Abu’l-Faraj al-Isfahani’s narration, “A group of the Mu‘tazilites in Basrah such as Wasil ibn ‘Ata’ and ‘Amru ibn ‘Ubayd have paid allegiance to him.”22

As such, the Zaydis can be regarded as Shi‘ah only from the political viewpoint although they believe in the superiority of the descendants of Fatimah (‘a). Lesson 3: Summary

Shi‘ah, according to the lexicon, refers to the followers and supporters of ‘Ali (‘a). In the Shi‘ah references, “Shi‘ah” does not have more than one meaning and that is belief in the succession of ‘Ali (‘a) and his eleven descendants.

The infallible Imams used to consider those who were identified with the deviant sects as outside the circle of Shi‘ism, but the Sunni scholars and rijal writers have used the word Shi&ls

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