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Sources of Legislation for the Shi'ah

Anyone who follows up the Imamiyyah Shi'ah fiqh,will verily see them devoted absolutely, in (taking) all fiqhi rules -except the recently originated ones110 to the Prophet (S) through the Twelve Imams of Ahl al-Bayt (A).

They follow only two sources of legislation: The Book and the Sunnah, with which I mean the first source i.e. the Holy Qur'an, and the second one being the Prophetic Sunnah, upon its bearer be the best of benediction and peace.

These are the beliefs of the Shi'ah in the past and lately, and rather of the Imams of Ahl al-Bayt, of whom no one claimed of exerting his opinion or issueing a rule according to his conjucture.

The first Imam 'Ali ibn Abi Talib is the best example, as when they have acknowledged him as a caliph provided that he should rule according to the Sunnah of the Two Shaykhs (Abu Bakr and 'Umar), he replied; I will never rule but according to the Book of Allah and His Messenger's Sunnah.111

In the forthcoming chapters, we will clarify that he (A) has been all the time adhering to the Prophet's Sunnah without deviating from it,doing his best to restore people to follow it. This practise has resulted in exciting the Caliphs' rage, and people's turning away from him, due to his hardness and devotion in God's Essence (Dhat Allah), and clinging to the Prophet's Sunnah.

Further, al-'Imam al-Baqir (A) used to say: "If we debate with you according to our opinion we shall be misguided as happened to those before us, but we give you an evidence from our Lord, that He has revealed upon His Prophet,who in turn has manisfested for us"

In another place he (A) said: "O Jabir, if we were used to talk to people according to our opinion we would have perished, but we disclose to you traditions we have hoarded up from the Messenger of Allah (S) as others hoard up gold and silver.

Al-'Imam Ja'far al-Sadiq (A) has also said:

By God we never utter anything according to our desire nor to our opinions, but our utterance is exactly as revealed by our Lord (God). Whatever replies I give you are verily reported from the Messenger of Allah, and by God we never follow our opinion in everything.

All men of letters and investigation are aware of this fact about the Imams of Ahl al-Bayt, as they have never reported from any of them exerting the opinion, or to act by qiyas (analogy) or istihsan or anything other than the Qur'an and the Sunnah.

When refering to the contemporary great religious authority (marji), Ayatullah Muhammad Baqir al-Sadr (may God be pleased with him), we see him saying in his treatise (risalah), "al-Fatawa al-wadhiha": It is necessary to refer briefly to the references upon which we mainly depended in deducing in the outset of our speech, the Holy Qur'an and the Prophetic Sunnah, reported from trusworthy pious narrators, wherever be their madhhab112 (school of thought). We do not see any legislative justification to depend upon analogy and istihsan (approval), or alike things.

Concerning what is called the rational evidence (al-dalil al-'aql), that mujtahidun and muhaddithun have differed as to wheather acting according to it was permissible or not.Though we believe that is justifiable to apply it, but we have never found even one rule (hukm) whose establishment (ithbat) relies solely on the rational evidence with this meaning, but rather, what is established by al-dalil al-'aql, is already established at the same time by the Book or the Sunnah.

As regards the so-called ijma' (unanimity), it cannot be considered a source (of legislation) beside the Qur'an and Sunnah. It is unreliable but only due to its being a means for affirmation in some cases.

Therefore it is confirmed that the Qur'an and the Sunnah have been the only two sources of legislation. We implore the Almighty to make among those clung to them. "Whoever graps them has grasped a firm hand-hold which will never break. Allah is Hearer, Knower".113

So this phenomenon is prevalent among the Shi'ah throughout history, as the only dependable sources of legislation being only the Qur'an and the sunnah, and none of them has issued even one fatwa (verdict) derived from qiyas or istishan. The episode of al-Imam al-Sadiq with Abu Hanifah is quite known for all, when he forbade him from applying qiyas (anology). He (A) said to him: "Don't use qiyas in regard of God's religion, since the Shari'ah (Islamic law) will be obliterated when qiyas is applied on it, and the first one who applied qiyas was Iblis when he said (to God): I am better than him (Adam) as You have created me from fire but You created him out of clay.

These are the sources of legislation for the Shi'ah, from the time of 'Ali ibn Abi Talib till the present day. What are the sources of legislation for Ahl al-Sunnah wa al-jama'ah?

110. We mean by it the ijtihad of the 'ulama, concerining that for which not text is revealed, as occurred after occulation of the Twelfth Imam.

111. In some narrations he said: "and other than them, I exert my opinion", which is false addition by the followers and the supporters of ijtihad. As al-'Imam 'Ali has never claimed to exert his opinion, but he used to extract the rulers from the Book of Allah and His Messenger's Sunnah, or used to say: We have al-Jami'ah, which contains whatever needed by People even the minute points. This Sahifah is dictated by the Messenger of Allah and written by 'Ali. We refered to al-Sahifah al-Jami'ah in the chapter "Ahl al-Sunnah and Obliterating the Sunnah" in this book.

112. Here it is proved how the Shi'ah 'ulama' refer to the righteous trustworthy men whtever be their madhhab, which is a good refutation against the claimants that the Shi'ah never trust the Sahabah. While the fact is that the Shi'ah reject the ahabi's hadith only when it contradicts what is narrated by Ahl al-Bayt Imams.

113. Al-Fatawa al-wadihah, by the Martyr Muhammad Baqir al-Sadr, p. 98.

Adapted from the book: "The Shi'ah; The Real Followers of the Sunnah" by: "Dr. Muhamad al-Tijahi al-Samawi"

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