Unity of the Muslims and the School of Ahl al-Bayt
As we come to the end of our discussion, we find that Sunnites and Shi'ites do not disagree on any fundamental point in Islam, and that the mercenary writers, whose goal is to divide Muslims, can not substantiate any of their accusations. They have tried to spread falsehood and deliberately mislead some uneducated Muslims. The vicious campaign which they have waged is opposed to the Holy Qur'an and the authentic hadiths of the Prophet. To prove this, we only need to read the first five verses from the second chapter of the Qur'an, in which the Almighty has defined the meaning of Al-Muttaqin (the righteous).
"Alif Lam Mim. This is the Book whereof there is no doubt, a guidance to those who are righteous, who believe in the unseen, and offer prayer, and spend of what We have provided them, And who believe in that which is revealed to thee (Muhammad) and that which was revealed before thee, and who are certain of the Hereafter. They follow the guidance (which comes) from their Lord; and they are the ones who will prosper." These Qur'anic verses inform us of the requirements which, if a person fulfills them, he will be of the righteous people, and whoever is righteous, is a Muslim and a believer.
These requirements are the following:
1. To believe in the unseen (as we believe in the Creator and the Hereafter without seeing them).
2. To offer the five daily prayers.
3. To spend, in the way of God, a portion of the wealth God had provided us (by paying Zakat).
4. To believe in that which God has revealed to His Messenger Muhammad.
5. To believe in that which was revealed to all Messengers before Muhammad.
6. To believe in the Hereafter.
Thus, whoever meets these six requirements, as indicated by the first verse, will be righteous, and as indicated by the last verse, will be well-guided and successful.
Here, we can say that every Muslim who is committed to the principles of Islam will meet all the requirements. True Muslims do not disagree on any Islamic principle, and all of them believe in that which the Almighty revealed to Muhammad and the previous Prophets. Authentically reported statements of the Prophet are in accordance with the Holy Qur'an. The following seven hadiths clearly point this out.
1. Al-Bukhari, in his Sahih, part 1, page 19, and Muslim, in his Sahih, part 1, page 66, recorded that Talhah Ibn Ubaydullah reported that a Bedouin had the following dialogue with the Messenger:
The Bedouin: What is Islam?
The Messenger: Five daily prayers.
The Bedouin: Do I have to add to them any prayer?
The Messenger: No, unless you volunteer. And fast in the month of Ramadhan.
The Bedouin: Do I have to add to it any other fast?
The Messenger: No, unless you volunteer. Then he mentioned to him the prescribed charity.
The Bedouin: Do I have to add to it?
The Messenger: No, unless you volunteer.
The Bedouin: By God, I shall not add to these; nor shall I subtract from them.
The Messenger: The bedouin has succeeded if he is true.
2. Muslim, in his Sahih, recorded that Abu Hurayrah reported that a Bedouin said to the Prophet: "Advise me of a deed that if I accomplish, I will be admitted to Paradise." The Messenger said: "Worship God, ascribe no partner to Him, offer the prescribed prayer, give the prescribed charity, and fast the month of Ramadhan." The Bedouin said: "By God, in Whose hand is my soul, I shall not add to these, nor shall I subtract from them." When he turned his back, the Messenger said: "Whoever desires to look at a man from the people of Paradise, should look at this man."
3. Muslim also recorded that Abadah Ibn Al-Samit, while he was on his deathbed, said to the people around him: "I have reported to you all the beneficial Hadiths I heard from the Messenger except one. I shall report it to you while my soul is being taken by God. I heard the Messenger of God say:
"Whoever testifies that there is no God but the Almighty, and that Muhammad is Messenger of God, God shall protect him from Hell."
4. Muslim also recorded that 'Ubadah Ibn Al-Samit reported that the Messenger of God said: "Whoever says: I bear witness that there is no God but the Almighty, alone without partner; that Muhammad is His servant and Messenger; that Jesus is His servant and Messenger and the Son of His maid, and word, which He (Allah) had given to Mary and a spirit from Him, that Paradise is a reality and Hell is a reality, God shall admit him into Paradise through any of its eight gates He chooses.
5. Muslim also recorded that Mu'adh Ibn Jabal reported that the Messenger said: "What is due to God from His servants is that they worship Him, ascribe to Him no partner; and what is due to God's servants from Him is that He will not punish anyone that does not ascribe to Him a partner."
6. Al-Bukhari, in his Sahih, recorded that Abu Hurayrah reported that the Messenger said to a questioner: The Iman (faith) is to believe in God, His Angels, His meeting, His Messengers, and to believe in the resurrection. He said also to the questioner: Islam is to worship God, ascribing to Him no partner; to offer the prescribed prayers; to pay the prescribed charity, and to fast the month of Ramadhan.
7. Muslim recorded, in his Sahih, that 'Umar reported that the Messenger said to a questioner: "Islam is to testify that there is no God but the Almighty and that Muhammad is the Messenger of God; to offer the prescribed prayer; pay the regular charity; fast the month of Ramadhan, and visit the Ka'bah.
The same questioner asked the Prophet to inform him about Iman. The Prophet said to him: To believe in God, His Angels, His Book, His Messengers, the Day of Judgement, and to believe in: "Qadar," pleasant and unpleasant.
These authentic hadiths, plus many other reliable hadiths which I did not quote, agree with the Qur'an and indicate that whoever believes in God, His Angels, His scriptures, His Messengers, the Hereafter, worships God alone by offering the prescribed prayer, fasts the month of Ramadhan, pays zakat, and performs the pilgrimage if he has the financial and physical ability, will be considered a Muslim in good standing.
There is no real difference between the Shi'ites and Sunnites concerning articles of the Faith of Islam. There is a disagreement between the two schools in two areas.
1. The Caliphate.
2. The Islamic rule when there is no clear Qur'anic statement, nor is there a hadith upon which Muslim schools have agreed.
The disagreement about the caliphate should not be a source of division between the two schools. Muslims agree that the Messenger did not appoint Abu Bakr as the first Caliph. They agree that his caliphate came through election. Election implies choice and freedom, and that every Muslim has the right to elect or not elect the nominee. Whoever refuses to elect him does not oppose God or His Messenger because neither God nor His Messenger appointed the nominee.
Election, by its nature, does not compel any Muslim to elect a specific nominee. Otherwise, the election would be a coercion. This means that the election would not lose its own nature. It would be a dictatorial operation. It is well known that the Prophet said: "There is no validity for any allegiance given by force."
Imam Ali refused to give his allegiance to Abu Bakr for six months. He gave his allegiance to Abu Bakr only after the death of his wife Fatima Al-Zahra, Daughter of the Holy Prophet. (Al-Bukhari, his Sahih, part 5, page 177).
If refusal to give allegiance to an elected nominee was prohibited in Islam, Imam Ali would not have allowed himself to delay in giving his allegiance. The well known companions, Abdullah Ibn 'Umar and Sa'd Ibn Abi Waqqas, refused to give their allegiance to Imam Ali for the duration of his caliphate. (Ibn Al-Athir, his history AI-Kamil, part 3, page 98). But the Imam did not punish the companions, nor did he call them transgressors.
If it was permissible for a Muslim, who was a contemporary of a caliph, to refuse to give his allegiance, it would be more permissible for a person who came in a later century to believe or not believe in the qualifications of that elected caliph. In doing so, he would not be sinning.
Adapted from the book: "The Shi'ites Under Attack" by: "Imam Muhammad Jawad Chirri"
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