RE: Twelve reasons to leave Shia Islam
TSN and youpunctured have decided to draft twelve reasons [mirroring the number of Imams] as to why Shia muslims should reconsider their faith. The arguments centre on the following twelve reasons:
- A Pure Focus on Allah the Almighty
- Access to the Hadith of the Noble Prophet
- Acceptance of the Companions of the Noble Prophet
- Access to the Real Teachings of Ahlubayt
- Uniformity in the Teachings of Ahlulbayt
- A Taqiyyah-free Ahlulbayt
- Access to the Context of Qur’anic Verses
- Reliable Books of Tafseer
- Access to the Prophetic’s Biography
- Trust in the Hadith Compilers
- A Karbala Narrative that Makes Sense
- Disbelief in a Twelfth Imam that has been hidden for over a Thousand Years
DISCLAIMER: The article by TSN was weak and had a number of errors. We also do not think its s possible to refute it, nor for them to refute us, because these twelve topics can span volumes of debates and are beyond the scope of a single article. All we want to do is generally address their post.
A pure focus on Allah the Almighty
Claim: Shia’s do not have a pure focus on Allah the almighty, but rather place more emphasis on their Imams. This is also evidenced as to how much the mention the Prophet [saw] and his Ahlulbayt in their lectures. They also believe that it is permissible to seek the favours of Allah by asking the Prophet [saw] to pray to Allah [swt] on their behalf, and thus asking through the Prophet and his Ahlulbayt [saw] and asking the aforementioned to intercede on their behalf.
Response: This is a baseless generalisation. Every thursday, Shia muslims recite a heartfelt supplication to Allah [swt] named ‘Dua Kumayl’ which is an incredibly emotional, heartfelt, and beautiful plea to the creator. The words used in this supplication can make ones heart melt and it is recommended to go and listen and read the translations of the Dua for yourself: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D88F1C6fFpQ In fact, Shia muslims possess far more supplications directed towards Allah [swt] that are profound in depth and meaning and we ask whoever is reading this with an objective mind to go and listen to Dua Iftitah [recited every night during Ramadhan] Dua Sahar, Dua Hazeen [recommended to be recited in the night prayer], Dua Baha, Dua Adeelah, Munajat of Ali ibn Abi Talib. Dua Aba Hamzah al-Thumali, In fact, we highly recommend one to look at the dua’s attributed to Al bin Hussain [as]: https://www.al-islam.org/sahifa-al-kamilah-sajjadiyya-imam-zain-ul-abideen In fact, if one wishes, they may even go into Kitab Al Kafi, and look at the book of Dua’s where why will come across some of the most heart-felt and powerful supplications. Here is just one example:
From Jaffer as-Sadiq: “O Lord, You are my trustee in every distressful condition, You are my hope in all suffering, You are for me in all of my problems, (You are) my trustee and my resources. How many were the distressful conditions wherein the heart weakened, patience ran thin, people near left out and the enemies rejoiced all matters were exhausted? You assisted me in the matters that I had brought before You and complained about them to You, turning away from everyone besides You and You changed it into happiness, removed the hardships and sufficed it (in its removal). You are the patron of all blessings, the provider of all help, the end of all interests, all praise belongs to You a great deal and thanks to You in addition.”
From Ali ibn Hussain: “Once I saw Ali ibn al-Husayn, recipient of divine supreme covenant, praying in the vicinity of al-Ka’bah in the night. He prolonged in standing so much so that he would lean on his right leg once and then on the left leg. Then I heard him saying with a crying voice, ‘O my Master, will You punish me while there is Your love in my heart? If You will do so You will be placing me together with the people with whom, just for Your sake, I had been enemies all along.’”
As for seeking the mercy and acceptance of our Dua by asking the Prophet [saw] or members of his Ahlulbayt [asws] to make a dua for us, on our behalf, and intercede for us, this is done with the following strict conditions: [A] Whatever occurs is in the will of Allah, only he may choose which Dua to grant, and it is only done by his power, will and permission. The idolators believed that their Idols shared attributed of divinity with Allah [swt], could independently influence our destiny, and could force Allah [swt] beyond his will to allow an occurrence to take place. This is not the same as going to Muhammed [saw] and asking him to pray on our behalf, seeking our needs and the help of Allah [swt] through him. In fact, you will find this is a position upheld by a significant number of Sunni scholars. Sh.Asrar Rashid in his debate with the Salafi-Ustadh Abdul Rahman Hassan debated on this very issue here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FYRKuquV7_M The famous, Shaykh Hamzah Yusuf clarifies that istigatha and Tawassul are accepted in Sunni Islam: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TFezsaQnzhk We also highly recommend our readers to watch this video on the tradition on Uthman ibn Hunayf [radiyallahu anhu], who heard a blind man taught the supplication including the words ‘Ya Muhammed’ by the Prophet [saw]: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s-WroRPHYew You might find videos of certain individuals taking this to the extreme, wearing turbans , and making statements many Shia scholars themselves refute as going into excess and exaggeration. That is not the fault of the Shia, and so-called ‘sheikhs’ making erroneous statements occurs in all schools in Islam.
Access to the hadith of the Holy Prophet.
Claim: Shia’s barely have any traditions from the Prophet [saw]. In fact, every nine of of ten traditions of the Prophet [saw] in al-Kafi is weak. There are not enough traditions attributed to him to form any creed. Whereas for the Sunni’s they can refer to the Kutub as-Sittah , Musnad of Ahmad bin Hanbal , Musnad of ibn Rawayah, Musnad of ibn Asim, Mustadrak of al-Hakim, and a number of other sources.
Response: This is actually not true at all. If one counts traditions in al-Kafi [only one of the main Shia books] about something the Prophet [saw] said, did, or one of his virtues and habits, they number roughly 2400. If one examines the chains, 900 can arguably be accepted by having reliable chains. As for the majority of the ones that have the weakness based on a chain, they are corroborated by other traditions from either Ali ibn Abi Talib, or the other members of the Ahlulbayt. If one examines Saheeh-al-Bukhari and removes repetitions, as well as words attributed to the companions, the number of traditions without repeats numbers around 2300. In fact,in Wasa’il al-Shia, which was an attempt to collect traditions on Jurisprudential issues from the main four books, we find roughly 6700 traditions of the Prophet [saw]. Most of these traditions will be reiterated, repeated, clarified, expounded upon and confirmed by the Ahlulbayt of Muhammed [saw] particularly Imam Muhammed ibn Ali ibn Hussain in Ali ibn Abi Talib , and his son Jaffer ibn Muhammed as-Sadiq. Worthy of note, the total number of authentic traditions without repeats in all six major Sunni books without repetition , as well as a number of the other main books such as the Musnad of Ahmad , removing any weak tradition or repeated tradition is 4000 or 5000.
Furthermore, this neglects the fact that Shia Muslims believe that the true Sunnah was preserved by the Ahlulbayt of Muhammed [saw]. When Ali ibn Abi Talib claims something is Halal, or Haram, we go by his opinion, because none but he in his time had the greatest understanding, knowledge and awareness of the Sunnah. If we find Hasan and Hussain ibn Ali claiming something was halal or haram, we know they followed their father in this, and had a direct chain of authority to the Prophet [saw]. The same applies for Ali bin Hussain, the son of Hussain, and Muhammed bin Ali, and Jaffer bin Muhammed, and the other members of the Ahlulbayt of Muhammed [saw]. They knew his Sunnah best, and that knowledge has clear routes back to the Prophet [saw]. They were chosen by Allah [swt] and inherited the Sunnah of Muhammed [saw]. Muhammed [saw] clearly declared he was leaving behind two weighty things, which if we held onto, we would never go astray – the Quran and his Ahlulbayt. Thus following the chosen Imams of the Ahlulbayt is following the preserved and true Sunnah of Muhammed [saw].
Unfortunately you will find some individuals opening the free version of al-Kafi which only gives Volume one, reading the book on Tawhid and concluding there are very few traditions from the Prophet [saw]. The reality is, muslims began to question and diverge and become deviated in how they understood attributes of Allah [swt], and this was an issue that was especially tackled by the Ahlulbayt [asws] of Muhammed [saw]. This is why you find at the beginning of al-Kafi, particularly in the chapter of Tawhid, comparably fewer traditions from Muhammed [saw] than in the rest of al-Kafi.
Acceptance of the companions of the Prophet Muhammed [saw]
Claim: The prophetic tradition rests in the hands of the companions of the Prophet Muhammed [saw]. Shia’s make the assumption that many traditions were the result of fabrications owing to political influences by both the Ummayad and Banu Abbas at the time, as well as the untrustworthiness of some of the companions and some who came after. However, rejecting the companions is akin to rejecting the only reliable route and source of Prophetic tradition. Furthermore, most of the traditions concern neutral topics, such as worship, creed, and those topics which do not necessarily favour the Ummayads nor Abbasids.
Response: Unfortunately, although perhaps unintentional, this article has continually either been presenting inaccurate ‘facts’ about Shia Islam, or distorting the actual position by using a common fallacy in debates: Straw Man. This entails that one weakens and distorts the actual position of their interlocutor, presenting a weakened version which they then refute. Unfortunately, this will not convince anyone who sincerely seeks the truth – and if we, who write these articles and want to spread what we deem to be truth, we have to be open and fair and accept the true force, strength, and form of our opponents arguments.
It is important here to remember, Shia Muslims do not reject the companions. Rather, our position on the companions is that of the Quran. We affirm, love and respect those companions who were truthful and loyal. We acknowledge that others may have been of a lower grade, and a number of the companions may also have at times in their life, for personal gain or even speaking out of knowledge, spoke about the Prophet [saw] that which was not accurate. Unfortunately, the notion that anyone who saw the Prophet and died being a muslim [i.e outwardly] is suddenly truthful, reliable, and their words should be taken without examining their character is idealism. This is why Shia’s criticise the notion that a companion narrating it from a ‘man’ is declared immediately reliable , or a successor [Tabi’] narrating from an unknown man that the Prophet said such and such, merely because it is assumed that someone who met the Prophet and perhaps died a muslim was trustworthy.
Shia muslims examine the companions through the Lense objective realism and not a false sense of idealism. Human beings of all societies and groups have individuals within them of varying levels of character. Some may even deceive others into being outwardly religious, but indeed spread misguidance and harbour hypocrisy. We also know that the vast majority of those who might have seen or heard the Prophet [saw] did not narrate traditions from him that we possess, and had very little role in directly transmitting from him. In fact, a large bulk of the companions, even half or more, either converted during the conquest of Makkah, or after it. They had rarely heard the Prophet [saw], nor had any firm footing in his Sunnah and are known as the “Mu’alafati Quloobuhum” . The sunni scholar Al-Saghani [d.650] compiled a list of narrations and their number according to Ibn Hazm for each of the members who have narrated a tradition from the “Mu’alafati Quloobuhum.” Of the 42 narrators of hadith listed, only four of them narrated more than one tradition, some narrated one and the majority narrated none at all.
If we look at the top twelve hadith narrators in Sunni works, we find among them are Aisha, Abu Hurairah, Abdullah ibn Umar, Jabir ibn Abdullah, Abu Saed al Khudri, Anas bin Malik, Abdullah bin Masud, Ali ibn Abi Talib, Abdullah ibn Abbas. If you actually examine the top narrators, you will find around half of them are considered trustworthy by Shias. Abu Said al Khudri , Jabir ibn Abdullah, Abdullah ibn Abbas , Ali ibn Abi Talib, and in cases even Abdullah bin Masud. Our problem is that traditions at times are forged later with a chain to these individuals, and so the problem is often later down in the chain of narrators. Furthermore, some of he individuals mentioned have been reprimanded in the Quran for lying to the Prophet [saw] , or knew him for three years and were closely affiliated to those who waged war on the Ahlulbayt [asws]. Some of the traditions in certain ahadith ascribe two feet to Allah [swt], ascent and descent, fingers, appearing and disappearing, and other such things the Prophet [saw] never said himself.
We obtain our understanding of the true Sunnah of Muhammed [saw] from the two weighty things he left – The Quran, and his purified progeny placing everything against them.
Access to the real teaching of the Ahlulbayt
Claim: Shia’s rely on few narrators, the science of Hadith they have is flawed, and little they claim can be attributed to Muhammed and his Ahlulbayt.
Response: This again is patently false, or oversimplified. We hope to address this topic in more depth itself, but we will present the audience what we claim are the teachings of Muhammed and his Ahlulbayt, to what others claim are the teachings, on the most fundamental aspect of all – Tawheed.
A simple contrast between Bukhari [Sunni] and al-Kafi [Shia] on Tawheed.
“…Then the Almighty will come to them in a shape other than the one which they saw the first time, and He will say, ‘I am your Lord,’ and they will say, ‘You are not our Lord.’ And none will speak: to Him then but the Prophets, and then it will be said to them, ‘Do you know any sign by which you can recognize Him?’ They will say. ‘The Shin,’ and so Allah will then uncover His Shin whereupon every believer will prostrate before Him …”
“Hell will keep saying, ‘Are there any more (to come)?’ until the Lord of Glory, may He be blessed and exalted, places His foot on it, then it will say, ‘Enough, enough, by Your glory!’ And all its parts will be integrated together.
“Allāh will carry the heavens on one finger, and the earths on one finger, the mountains and trees on one finger, the water and soil on one finger , and the rest of creation on one finger. Then He will shake them and say: “I am the King, I am the King.”
“The Lord (Allah swt) descends every night to the lowest heaven when one-third of the night remains and says:…”
Al Kafi and Man la Yahhuru-al-Faqih:
The Imam said, “There is nothing in the universe, but that is subject to annihilation, alteration, change, decay, transition from one color to another, from one shape to another and from one quality to another. They increase, decrease and change from decrease to increase, except He, Who is the Lord of the worlds. He alone is eternal and in one state. He is the first, before every thing and the last eternally. His attributes and names do not change as they do in the case of others. A man at one time is dust, at other time flesh and blood, then turns into decaying bones and finally becomes dust. A piece of date at one time is raw, at another time ripe, mature and then it dries up. With every change, the names and attributes also change. Allah, the Majestic, the Glorious is different from all such things.”
‘May Allāh curse (la`na) those who distort the words from its place, by Allāh, the Messenger of Allāh has not said that! Verily, he [saw] said: ‘Allāh) sends down an angel to the earth’s heavens in the last third of every night..”
Uniformity in the teachings of the Ahlulbayt
Claim: Shia books are replete with contradictions in every chapter on Fiqh, and the Shaykh Tusi himself has collected four volumes of contradictions.
Response: If the user is not aware, if they look at the rulings of the Shia scholars today, they will find a much smaller difference between them, than they will between the various Sunni’s. In fact, with the greatest of respects, all Shia’s know where to place their hand in prayer, but for a simple act like this, we find some Sunni’s placing it on the sides of their body [Sadl] , some placing them folded below the stomach, some in the middle, some on the chest. The level of Fiqh differences among the four main Madhabs differs far greater than what Shia scholars differ on in Fiqh.
If the books were merely replete with contradictions here and there, and if one could not justifiably know what the main and correct opinion was , we would not find this uniformity among Shia scholars. While there is no doubt, at times, the Imams did perform Taqqiyah [which will be discussed later] to stop the abuse and persecution of themselves and their followers, at a time when their lives and the lives of their followers were in mortal danger, and Shia’s were persecuted, they made clear ways and paths to be able to reach the correct jurisprudential rulings.
Shayk Tusi’s work – al Istibsar, which is one of the major work of the Shia today, regarded as one of the four Kutub al-Arbah [for canonical books]. What Shayk-Tusi does in that book is not merely ‘collect all the contradictions’. Rather, he hi-lights which traditions he regards as weak, which traditions he regards as stronger , and when both traditions could be accepted how they possibly could reconcile and both be applicable. This is a book all scholars refer to, and one can clearly see there are clear means and method to be able to convincingly distinguish what truly emanated from the Ahlulbayt. An essential tool in this process is known as ilm al-Rijal, and is used to discern weak narrators from strong narrators.
Taqqiyah free Ahlulbayt
Claim: Shia books are replete with contradictions in every chapter on Fiqh, and the Shaykh Tusi himself has collected four volumes of contradictions.
Response: This has been addressed in the previous section. However we would like to add a few things we deem to be pertinent in this discussion. Imam Bukahri does not narrate a single tradition from the master of Fiqh and Aqeedah, a man deemed a great scholar, and a direct descendent of Muhammed [saw] and the most noble of them in his time – Jaffer ibn Muhammed as-Sadiq. He did this because he weakened the vast majority of the followers of Jaffer as-Sadiq, or those who claimed to hear from him. There are far fewer traditions from Ali bin Abi Talib in Sunni books that deal with matters of Fiqh compared to Anas, Aisha, and Abu Hurairah. To add to this, the Ahlulbayt were not ‘influenced’ by politics. Rather, they and their followers were greatly persecuted by the vicious Ummayad and Abbasid regimes. There was a time period where due to the coming of the Abbasids, where Muhammed ibn al-Baqir later in his life, and Jaffer ibn Muhammed as-Sadiq were able to preach a little more openly with less fear, and this is why we find the majority of our traditions going through them.
If we look at some of the Fiqh rulings of the alleged members of the Ahlulbayt, such as the mother of the believes Aisha, here is one of the rulings she herself permitted:
“…A’isha took that as a precedent for whatever men she wanted to be able to come to see her. She ordered daughters of her sisters and brothers to give milk to whichever men she wanted to be able to come in to see her.The rest of the wives of the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, refused to let anyone come in to them by such nursing. They said, ‘No! By Allah! We think that what the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, ordered Sahla bint Suhayl to do was only an indulgence concerning the nursing of Salim alone. No! By Allah! No one will come in upon us by such nursing!’
Reference: Saheeh Muslim
“It was related that Umm Salama, the wife of the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said “All the wives of the Messenger of Allah (saw) refuted the idea that someone who had been fostered in such a way should be permitted to enter their houses, and they told ‘A’isha: “By God we see that this was only a conession which the Messenger of Allah (pbu) gave to Salim, but no one will be permitted to enter our houses through such a fosterage and we do not support such a opinion”.
Reference: Musnad Ahmad bin Hanbal, page 192, hadithnumber 26208.
Hence ‘A’isha (may Allah be pleased with her) used to ask the daughters of her sisters and the daughters of her brethren to give him breast feed five times whom ‘A’ishah wanted to see and who wanted to visit her, though he might be of age: he then visited her. But Umm Salamah and still other wives of the Prophet (may peace be upon him) refused to allow anyone to visit them on the basis OF SUCH BREAST-FEEDING UNLESS ONE WAS GIVEN BREAST-FEEDING DURING INFANCY…”
Reference: Sunan Abu Dawud, Volume II, Book V, Number 2056
This is the opinion of Shaykh al-Abani: “Do you want to say if he is nursed directly from the breast or by a cup? I say we don’t have any thing that I know of telling us the way that the wife of Abu Hudhaifa breast-fed Salim; we don’t know the way. And I personally say I don’t see any objection to his being nursed directly from the nipple .”
The video where he clearly says the above [for anyone who can understand Arabic]: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dDghBsWr2l0
Access to the context of verses:
Claim: Shia’s rely on Sunni works in some cases with regards to the context of certain verses, such the sources of Sunni’s.
Response: There is no denial that in some cases there is reference to Sunni works with regards to the context behind revelation. However, Shia ahadith are full of traditions which clearly stipulate the context of a large number of the verses. At times, the context actually differs with what may be in the sources of Sunni’s. This is a weak argument, given we differ in a number of verses and their context, as well as the fact we have a plethora of traditions of our own which relay the context. If we sometimes also refer to Sunni books in this regard, there is no harm providing it is done by a scholar who knows why he is doing so – such as Shaykh Tusi. We Shia’s do not pull wool over your ears and cover our eyes to other books and other sources, not make blanket statements that other books are all incorrect.
Reliable books of Tafseer:
Claim: Some classical Shia Tafseer, such as al-Qummi have been regarded as weak by Shia’s and contain numerous traditions about the distortion of the Quran and other such things. Sunni’s on the other hand, have Tafseer works like Tafsir Tabari.
Response: It is true, that works of al-Qummi which was actually allegedly written before many of the major Sunni Tafseer works can not be reliably attributed to the author. There are major question marks about the reliability and attribution of it, and thus we do not accept it. This is not a source of weakness, but a source of strength that we can identify and weaken works like this, rather than clinging onto them because of the supposed early date. However, if one really does an honest introspection into the classic shia Tafseer, they will see that one of the most acclaimed Tafseers is the one written by Shaykh-Tusi, named Al- tibyan fi Tafsir al-Quran.
Shayk-Tusi is one of the most respected of the classical scholars of the Shia, and some call him the ‘leader of the sect’. He is the author of two of the for major classical Shia books [Kutub al-Arba]. Tabari died around 310AH, whereas Shaykh Tusi died 460AH, which placed them both within the reasonable range of ‘Classical’ scholars. Shaykh Tusi was born just 78 years after the death of Tabari. Three of the greatest classical scholars, Shaykh Saduq , Shaykh Mufid, and Shaykh Tusi affirmed that the Quran we have today is as it was revealed, with no additions and no subtractions. If you actually look at two of the most popular Sunni Tafsirs today, they would be Tafsir Tabari [as the others do not come close in the reliability given to Tafsir Tabari, even if they are ‘early’] and Tafsir ibn Kathir, which was written by Ibn Kathir who died almost five hundred years after Tabari and several hundred years after Shayk Tusi. We find many later Shia tafseer relying on the works of Shaykh Tusi.
Al-Shaykh al-Tabarsi writes, “al-Tibyan is a book from which the light of the truth glitters and the fragrance of veracity can be smelled from it; and it contains unique secrets and extensive literary points.”
Agha Buzurg Tihrani asserts, “This commentary is a precious and valuable one. It is the first commentary in which all types of Quranic sciences have been incorporated.”
Sayyid Muhammad Mahdi Bahr al-‘Ulum states, “This commentary covers all [Quranic] sciences and is a unique book among commentaries.”
Access to the biography of the Prophet ﷺ:
Claim: Most biographies of the Prophet ﷺ began in the middle second century. Shias are not aware they do not have any classical books of the Biography of the Prophet ﷺ such as Ibn Ishaq, preserved by ibn Hisham, Tarikh Tabari among others.
Response: This isn’t entirely relevant, considering a large amount of what is in the books of history are weak chained, poetry, or apocryphal. In fact, some of these books have been used to attack and slander the Prophet ﷺ himself. Much of the Seerah can be pieced together from reliable traditions, and a lot of what is in the books of Seerah contain Shia narrators. Many of the authors of these biographies were described as being careless, and while we acknowledge there is praise for some of them , we just want to show the other side and demonstrate how these ‘great’ historians were viewed. In essence, most of what we find in books of history will not be palatable to the Sunni audience, and you often see constant weakening of narrations. All Ibn Ishaq did was take reports of everything from everywhere, without any consideration of thought into what is reliable. He took from Jews, from Christians, from the Shia, from the hypocrite and many others. Some of what he quoted does not contain a proper chain of narrators. We are also aware that being considered unreliable hadith is not the same as being considered unreliable as a historian. However, the science of Rijal often has to be applied to these traditions, and a lot of what is contained will be thrown out as a result.
Many of these early Tafseers have been greatly criticised by Sunni scholars. Let us look at what has been said about one of the earliest known biographies – that of Ibn Ishaq.
“…Imam Malik was not the only contemporary of Ibn Ishaq’s to have problems with him. Despite writing the earliest biography of Prophet Muhammad, Scholars such as al-Nisa’I and Yahya b. Kattan did not view Ibn Ishaq as a reliable or authoritative source of Hadith.” (Jones, J.M.B. Ibn Ishak. Vol. IV, in Encyclopaedia of Islam, edited by Ch. Pellat, and J. SchachtV.L.M.B. Lewis. London: Luzac & Co., 1971: pages 810-811)
“Imam Ahmad Ibn Hanbal was asked about the solitary reports of Ibn Ishaq if they are considered reliable. He said “No!”. See Tahdhib al-Tahdhib, Da’ira Ma’arif Nizamia, Hyderabad, 1326 A.H. vol.9 p.43
Ibn Isahq was even accused of being a Shia, having sympathies towards Ali ibn Abi Talib by a number of people:
“He was accused of being a Qadari, and a Shia..” GUILLAUME.A,TheLifeofMuhammad:ATranslationofIshaq’sSiratRasulAllah,OxfordUniversityPress Page xiii]
“ibn Ishaq had certainly voiced ‘Alid sympathies in his biography of the Prophet, naming him as the first male convert to Islam (89) and claiming that it was ‘Ali whom Muhammad had chosen to be his ‘brotherly-partner’ soon after their immigration to Medina” – FAIZER.R.S,Ibn Ishaq and al-Waqidi Revisted,A Case Study of Muhammad and the Jews in Biographical Literature, Ph.D thesis submitted to the Faculty of Graduate Studies and Research, National Library of Canada [online], Chapter 2, Page 64, Available at Digital Archive at McGill eScholarship Library and Collections
Along with Ibn Ishaq, another early historian greatly relied on by Tabari and some later historians is al-Waqidi. Al-Waqidi’s chronicles are some of the earliest ones on Islam. They cover a period in history before Shari’a became rigid; a time when the Quran and the example of Muhammad were the only source of law before the Sunni and Shia schools of fiqh developed. They cover a period in history that saw the greatest expansion of the Islamic state.
“Possibly as a follower of Ali he preferred to ignore the son of the man the Alids regarded as a usurper” GUILLAUME.A,TheLifeofMuhammad:ATranslationofIshaq’sSiratRasulAllah,OxfordUniversityPress
Tabari greatly relies on him as a source of authority for the events of Kerbala. We find that Abu Mikhnaf composed the earliest chronicle of this tragedy and was able to meet with direct eye witnesses to the event, or those who had known someone who was a direct eye witness. This is the earliest work on Kerbala, long before polemics crystallised. It might not be perfect, but as a historical source presents for us the earliest understanding of Kerbala. However, a lot of what is contained in it does not suit the Sunni narrative, and hence a reliance is given to authors who came around seven hundred years after the event – like Ibn Kathir, to people who met with eye witnesses.
One of the most famous historians was Balahudri, who wrote his works before Tabari. A lot of people often refer to his works, and once again, this early historian has a lot in his books that might not be acceptable to Sunnis in how it paints what actually took place in early Islam. Some of the chain are also ones people can not really question – and so they attack Baladhuri himself. While historians have naturally collected all sorts of reports and compiled it in their works rather than done so on the basis of reliability, even the reliable traditions in Balahudri’s works are not accepted in some Sunni circles because he was apparently ‘unknown’. Once again, even he has been accused of having shite sympathies!
It is quite evident that some of the earliest historians were accused of having Shia leanings, and Tabari relies an enormously on some of the above historians. To claim Sunnis have any monopoly in early Seerah is absolutely contrary to fact, given they oppose the majority of the earliest written historical works, favouring sectarian works written six, seven or eight hundred years after the event. It should really speak volumes if most of early historical works seems to be concordant with the Shia interpretation of events in many cases.
Trust in the Hadith compilers
Claim: Very little is known about the hadith compilers in the main Shia works. Furthermore, many traditions in al-Kafi are not contained in other books of the Shia. However, whatever is narrated in Bukhari and Muslim can also be found in the Kutub as-Sittah and other Sunni works.
Response: The reality is, if we consider that the three main compilers of Shia books are : Thiqat al-Islam al-Kulayni, Shaykh as-Saduq, and Shaykh Tusi – who based his work on the work of Shaykh Mufid, this claim falls flat on its face.
Thiqat al-Islam Muhammed bin Yaqub al Kulayni
The traditionalist al-Kulayni is regarded as one of the most truthful , and here is what has been said about him by a plethora of scholars who have studied his life and obtained reports about him. He was the first scholar to be given the title ‘Thiqat al-Islam’, and the detail of his father, uncle and family are known – as they were major scholars. His birth, where he lived, where he stayed, what people said regarded him are well recorded and well documented and some of which can be seen here: http://en.wikishia.net/view/Muhammad_b._Ya%27qub_al-Kulayni In fact, one of the weakest points to use against the Shia is in the claim al-Kulayni may not have been trustworthy, given this is something he was famously known for.
As for Shaykh-Saduq, the second of the major traditionalists, born 303AH, is widely known, and many of his works surviving till today, in including one of the major four books – Man La Yadhuru al-Faqih. An incredible amount is known about him and he is and was famous among both the Sunni and the Shia: http://en.wikishia.net/view/Al-Shaykh_al-Saduq
Shaykh Mufid is regarded by some as either the greatest classical scholar, or in the very elite bracket of classical scholars. He was famous among the Sunni and the Shia. He was the student of Shaykh-Saduq, and the teacher of Shaykh Tusi. Here is what Dhahabi has written about him:
“The scholar of Rafidha, author of many books, Al-Sheikh Al-Mufid, known as ibn Al-Mu’allim. He was skillful in many fields and in debate and theology and in E’tizaal and in literature. Ibn Abi Tay has mentioned in Tarikh Al-Imamiyyah, after writing alot about him and amplifying him, he says: He was unique in every field of knowledge: In Qur’aan and Sunnah, in jurisprudence, in narrations, in Rijal, in Tafseer, in Arabic grammar and in poetry. He used to debate with every creed with honor during the reign of the Buwaihiyya and he was the owner of a high position among the Caliphs, and he was self-confident, very affectionate, very humble, used to do prayers and fasting alot, used to wear old cloths, used to study alot and learn, and was the best in memorization. It is said that he did not leave any book of the opponents, unless he memorized it, thus he was able to answer the objections of all people and he was the most struggling person in teaching. He has more than two hundred books. It is said that he has authored more than two hundred books, but I have not looked into any one of them, thanks to God, he was nicknamed Aba Abdullah.”
Source: Siyar A’lam Al-Nubala. Vol. 17, Pg. # 344 – 345, Person # 213
You can read more about him here: http://en.wikishia.net/view/Al-Shaykh_al-Mufid
Shaykh Tusi need no introduction. He is regarded as the ‘leader of the sect’ , the student of Shaykh Mufid, author of two of the most important four canonical books in Shia Islam. A great number of his works survive till today, from his works on Rijal, his book on tradition, his works on Fiqh, as well as his famous Tafsir of the Quran which has been acclaimed as a masterpiece and was heavily relied on by later scholars of tarsier. You can read more about him here: http://en.wikishia.net/view/Al-Shaykh_al-Tusi.
Our major compilers of hadith were very well known, unanimously respected, and famous. However the question remains about certain traditions contained in al-Kafi which are not contained in any of the other books. This is true, but it is only a fraction of al-Kafi. If one looks into al-Kafi, they will find it contains more ahadith when repetitions are accounted for than all of the six major books in Sunni Islam , even if you add the Musnad of Imam Ahmad. The number of traditions, which are authentic and without repetition in the aforementioned Sunni books amounts to four , or five thousand. The number of authentic traditions in al-Kafi which are regarded to be authentic by chain amounts to five or six thousand. You can see the way the number was worked out for the Sunni works here: https://islamicsciences.wordpress.com/2006/08/10/the-total-number-of-authentic-hadiths/ Therefore it would be unfair to compare Bukhari and Muslim to al-Kafi. What you would need to do is compare all six major books, and the Musnad of Imam Ahmad to al-Kafi. If you do that, you will find that even Sunni major works contain traditions that are not narrated by other compilers, but still regarded to be authentic because they contain more than one chain and those chains are strong in nature.
A number of traditions in al-Kafi not contained in other books are weak-chained and not regarded to be authentic. Most of the traditions however can be corroborated and found in other sources. All of the major branches of faith and traditions essential to Aqeedah can be found with other chains in other sources. Eitherway, the most important thing here is to have multiple chains which are strong and sound in content.
A Karbala narrative that makes sense
Claim: The shia interpretation of Kerbala is replete with fanciful stories of extraordinary and subhuman feats. Furthermore, why would Hussain ibn Ali willingly take his family members when he knew they would be killed – does it make sense? He was not aware what would happen to him, and the Sunni narrative makes the most sense.
Response: There is no doubt, some so-called shia Shuyukh and speakers have narrated very weak or fabricated tales and traditions with regards to what occurred in Kerbala. Ayatullah Murtada Mutahari, who is one of the most influential shia scholars of modern times, and greatly respected as the intellectual power behind Irans revolution, had given several speeches admonishing and rebuking a minority of those who have decided to, for monetary gain or to gain response from the audience, included spurious material in their sermons. Here is an excellent book by Ayatullah Murtada Mutahari: https://www.al-islam.org/al-tawhid/vol13-no3/ashura-misrepresentations-distortions-part-1-mutahhari The work based on a number of his speeches was published in the ‘al-Tawhid’ journals, which at the time was one of the most popular local and global Shia journals. The reality however is, the Shia have the most accurate narrative about the event of Kerbala. For one, the Shia rely on Abu Mikhnaf [ not totally mind, as it is not perfect].
Abu Mikhnaf is greatly relied on by Tabari. What is special about Abu Mikhnaf is that he is the earliest known source to properly chronicle what took place prior, during, and after the tragedy of Kerbala. He was actually able to interview direct eye witnesses to the event, or met with individuals who had met with a direct eye witness. This work greatly bolsters and supports the Shia interpretation and understanding of the event. A Sunni historian, responding to Yasir Qadhi’s ‘historical analysis of Kerbala’ questioned why Yasir Qadhi relied on polemical works of Ibn Taymiyyah and Ibn Kathir who came seven hundred years after the event, and had great polemical biases, than earlier works before polemics had crystallised? It is the Shia, who have emphasised on the work of Abu Mikhnaf, and have translated and compiled it from the work of Imam Tabari which you can red the works of Abu Mikhnaf here: “Kitab Maqtal Hussain”
Furthermore, a widely acclaimed rebuttal written by a Sunni historian greatly supports what the earliest historians have documented regarding the tragedy of Karbala: https://rasoolurrahmah.wordpress.com/2014/11/05/misrepresenting-karbala-a-response-to-dr-yasir-qadhi/ This work has been widely acclaimed by non-Salafi Sunni muslims. We believe it is one of the most objective and fair assessments on the tragedy.
Disbelief in a Twelfth Imam who has been hidden for centuries
Claim: The claim made here is that after the occultation of the twelfth Imam, Shaykh as-Saduq notes that it was a period of confusion. Thus, if this was the case only barely a century after occultation, what should Shia Muslims feel like today ?
Response: This is does not prove anything whatsoever. The most important thing is to examine the evidence for the twelfth Imam [ajfs] and for Shia Islam. If they are proven true and most right to be followed, then it does not matter if the Imam is in occultation for one, or even for ten thousand years. We know that Allah [swt] tested the faith of the children of Israel by extending the stay of Musa [as] on the mountain. Furthermore, we know of other Prophets of God , or non-prophets mentioned in the Quran who were also in occultation for lengthy periods. For instance, Isa [as] will return at the end of times, and will help to kill the anti-christ according to some sources, and will even offer prayer behind al-Mahdi [ajfs]. We know of the companions of the cave, a group of monotheistic Christian youth, who were placed in occultation and kept alive for hundreds of years. The idea of Allah [swt] keeping someone alive, or preserving them and returning them after a lengthy period of time is not foreign to Islam but is something clear and apparent.
There following tradition is unanimously accepted by Sunni’s and shia’s:
– Prophet Muhammed [saw] in Bukhari, Muslim and many other sources.
Narrated to us ibn Numayr from Majalid from Amir from Jabir ibn Samura Al-Suwahi who said: I heard the Messenger of Allah (saw) in the Farewell Hajj: “This religion will not stop being dear and invulnerable and it shall overcome all its enemies; the opposition and heretics cannot harm it, until there come twelve leaders from my Ummah, all of them.” Then I could not hear what the Messenger of Allah (saw) said, my father was closer to the position of the Messenger of Allah (saw), so I asked: “O father, what did the Messenger of Allah (saw) say?” He said: “He (saw) said: ‘All of them will be from Quraysh.'” He said: “So I testify about it what my father understood from it that, all of them will be from Quraysh.”Footnote: The narration is Saheeh (Authentic).
Reference: Musnad Ahmad ibn Hanbal. Vol. 34, Pg. # 429, H. # 20841.
If you look into the works of Sunni Scholars, from Ibn Taymiyyah to others in trying to understand the above tradition, they all have widely different interpretations. Many begin to write their frustrations about not understanding this tradition and not finding any scholar who could help them understand this tradition. You can read the words of a number of major Sunni scholars and view themselves disagreeing, contradicting and many claiming not to understand the meaning of the tradition at all: http://www.revisitingthesalaf.com/2014/10/imam-al-mahdi-ajf-part-iii_25.html
It is also accepted in many circles that the last of these twelve leaders will be al-Madhi [ajfs], who will be the just leader who will come at the end of time, and Jesus, son of Mary, will offer Salah behind him:
Jabir b. Abdullah reported: I heard the Messenger of Allah (saw) say: A section of my people will not cease fighting for the Truth and will prevail till the Day of Resurrection. He said: Jesus (a.s) son of Mary (s.a) would then descend and their (Muslims) commander [Al Mahdi] would invite him to come and lead them in prayer, but he would say: “No, some amongst you are commanders over some (amongst you).” This is the honour from Allah (swt) for this Ummah.
Reference: Saheeh Muslim. H. # 156 / 247, Pg. # 81 – 82.
We also know he will be from the Ahlulbayt of Muhammed [saw] who will come at the end of times:
The Prophet (S) said: The Mahdi will be of my family, of the descendants of Fatimah (the Prophet’s daughter).
Reference: Sunan Abu Dawud, English version, Ch. 36, Tradition #4271, Sunan Ibn Majah, v2, Tradition #4086,
Shia Islam is the only creed on earth which can name each of the twelve leaders and amirs after the Prophet [saw] and the twelfth of them being al-Madhi. If Isa [as] can return after a now two thousand year absence to kill Djall, then Allah [swt] can make a man from the Ahlulbayt of Muhammed [saw] enter occultation and appear at the end of times when he wishes. Not only do we hold onto the two weighty things left behind by the Prophet [saw], we also know that al-Madhi , who is from the Ahlulbayt of Muhammed [saw] the second of the two weighty things, the twelfth of the twelve leaders/amirs after the Prophet [saw]. No other creed in Islam can make sense of the clear and widely reported prophetic traditions.
You can read their article are: http://www.twelvershia.net/2016/11/10/12-reasons-leave-shiasm/
However, this website has been known to distort the position of the Shia on numerous occasions and can not be taken seriously.