The Prophet's Infallibility and its Impact on Ahl al-Sunnah
Muslims differ in regard of the notion of 'ismah (infallibility), which is in fact the only factor obligating all Muslims to adhere to the Prophet's decrees indisputably, if they believe that he never speaks of (his own) desire, it is naught save an inspiration that is inspired. So they should not believe that the Prophet's sayings and decrees are only of his ijtihad, if not being from a Qur'an that is revealed.
If they hold such a belief, submitting that everything is Allah's and the Prohet's being only a medium for propagation and exposition, so they are Shi'ah and many Sahabah were known of holding this belief, at the head of whom being al-'Imam 'Ali (A), who never changed a bit in the Prophet's Sunnah due to its being revealed by Allah, and it being impermissible to exert poinion or ijtihad against God's ordinances.
Should they believe in non-infallibility of the Prophet in his utterances and acts, and that 'ismah is exclusive for the Qur'an, and whatever other than is a human being who may be mistaken or right, then they prove to be Ahl al-Sunnah, permitting ijtihad of Sahabah and 'ulama'against the Prophet's sayings and rules, in a way that complies with public interest, and be according to the circumstances required by the opinion of the then ruler.
It is self-evident that al-Khulafa' al-Rashidun (except al'Imam 'Ali) have practised ijtihad with their opinions aginst the Prophetic Sunnah, and gone farther by practising ijtihad against the Qur'anic text (nusus), rendering their opinion then to binding rules to be followed by Ahl al-Sunnah, and imposing them upon Muslims.
We referred to the ijtihadatof abu Bakr, 'Umar and 'Uthman in the books ''ma 'a al-Sadiqin and Fas'alu Ahl al-Dhikr, and a separate Book may be dedicated for them later on God-willing.
We have recognized that Ahl al-Sunnah own many sources beside the two main sources of Islamic legislation (Qur'an and Sunnah), including Sinnat al-Shaykhayn (Abu Bakr and 'Umar), and ijtihad of the Companion, due to their belief in non-infallibility of the Prophet (S), and that he used to exert his opinion, which being approved by some Companions who would corrrect his errors. Thus it is esposed that the real purpose intended by Ahl al-Sunnah behind claiming of the Prophet's non-fallibility, lies in their pernission to contradict and disobey him knowingly or unknowingly. Obeying the non-infallible being non-obligatory by legislation (shar') or reason ('aql), and we are not to obey him as long as we believe in his being mistaken, as how can we obey the error?
On the other side we come to know that when the Shi'ah adopt the Prophet's absolute 'ismah, they intend to make obeying him obligatory due to his enjoying immunity against error, so it is impermissible to contradict or disobey him, and whoever does so, has in fact disobeyed Allah, the fact referred to in many verses the Qur'an:
-- ''And whatsoever the Messenger giveth you, take it. And whatsover he forbiddeth, abstain (from it)''.(59:7)
-- ''And obey Allah and the Messenger...''(3:132)
-- ''Say (O Muhammad to mankind ): If ye love Allah, follow me, Allah will love you...''(3:31)
Beside many verses obligating upon Muslims to obey the Prophet, never comtradicting him due to his being ma'sum, not communicating but that which is ordained by Allah - the Glorified.
This nedessarily indicates the Shi'ah's being the true followers of the Prohetic Sunnah due to their belief in its ismah and obligation of following it. It indicates also the Ahl al-Sunnah's remoteness from the Prophetic Sunnah, due to their belief in its being mistaken and permissibility of contradicting it.
''Mankind were one community, and Allah sent (unto them) prophets as bearers of good tidings and as warners, and revealed therewith the Scriptuer with the truth that it might judge between mankind concerning that wherein they differed. And only those unto whom (the Scripture) was given differed concerning it, after clear proofs had come unto them, through hatred one of another. And Allah by His Will guided those who believe unto the truth of that concerning which they differed. Allah guideth whom He will unto a straight path''.(2:213)
Adapted from the book: "The Shi'ah; The Real Followers of the Sunnah" by: "Dr. Muhamad al-Tijahi al-Samawi"
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