[From the book "Ghadir", Ansariyan Publication 1996]
In the Name of Allah, the Merciful the Compassionate
A Study on the Question of Al-Wilaya
By Ayatollah Muhammad Baqir al-Sadr
Praise be to Allah, the Lord of the Worlds,
and prayers and peace be upon Muhammad and his Family.
Some modern scholars view Shiaism as an accidental manifestationin Islamic society, and see the Shia as a part of the mainchorus of the Islamic community; a result of the events whichtook place with the passing of time and of specific socialdevelopments, which in turn led to the formation of a specialsectarian attitude within this larger body, and then graduallyexpanded into a sect. Having assumed this fact, these scholarsdisagree as to the actual events and developments which led tothe growth of this manifestation and to the birth of this sect.Some assume that the supposed political activities of 'Abd Allahibn Saba' formed the basis for the formation of the Shia.Others, however, attribute the appearance of Shiaism to thekhilafah of Imam Ali, prayers and peace be upon him, and tothe political and social position which was established duringthat era, according to the events which took place.
While othersassume that the appearance of the Shia was hidden in eventswhich occurred later than this in the historical process of Islamic society.What has encouraged many of these scholars to the assumption and the belief that Shiaism was an accidental manifestation inIslamic society is, in my opinion, the fact that the Shia in theearly times only constituted a small part of the whole Islamiccommunity. This fact has given them the impression that non-Shiaism was the original foundation of Islamic society, and thatShiaism was an accidental and exceptional manifestation, whosecauses must lie in the development of the parties opposed to thesituation of the day.However, it is hardly logical to define principles or exceptions,or bases and deviations, according to largeness or comparativefewness of numbers, and it is erroneous to consider non-Shiaismas the basis according to its large numbers, and to considerShiaism as a deviant, accidental manifestation because thisdisagrees with the fundamental nature of doctrinal divisions.We have often found a particular doctrinal division within thedevelopment of a single religion founded upon the basis of somedifference in the definition of the tenets of that religion withoutthere being two equal doctrinal divisions according to numbers.Yet they may be equal according to their purity of origin andequally expressive of the religion, while differing as regards to itsbasic character. Thus it is not in any way permissible for us toconstruct our conceptions of the internal doctrinal divisionswithin Islam, of the Shia and others, according to numericalstrength.Similarly, it is not permissible for us to link the birth of the Shiapresentation of Islam in the development of Islam with the birthof the word 'Shia' or 'Shiaism' (al-Tashayyu') as a technical termor special name for a clearly defined group of Muslims; for thebirth of technical terms is one matter and the growth ofconventions and presentations is quite another.Even if we did not find the word 'Shia' in the normal languageused during the lifetime of the Prophet, may Allah bless him andhis family and grant him peace, or after his death, this wouldnot mean that the Shia presentation of Islam and its attitudesdid not exist. It is in this spirit that we must deal with thequestion of Shiaism (al-Tashayyu') and the Shia, and answer thetwo following questions:
1. How did Shiaism come into existence?
2. How did the Shia appear?
1. How Shiaism came into existence
As for the first question, we can regard Shiaism as a naturalconsequence of Islam, and as a representation of the presentationof Islam which it was obliged to attain if it was to protect itshealthy growth.We can in fact infer a logical inference to this presentation ofIslam from the faith which the Prophet commanded, accordingto the nature of its formation and the conditions whichsurrounded it.
The Prophet was assuming the leadership of arevolutionary faith, and inducing radical transformations of thecustoms, structures and concepts of society. The path for such atask of transformation was obviously not a short one, but wasrather long and protracted because of the vast spiritual divisionsbetween jahiliyyah and Islam. The faith which the Prophetpracticed had to begin with the jahili man and raise him to newinstitutions, thus converting him into an Islamic man who couldcarry the new light, and uproot the trunk and roots of jahiliyyahfrom his heart and mind.
And the Great Leader made astonishing headway in the task oftransformation in a very short time, but it was necessary for thistask of transformation to continue on its way even after thedeath of the Prophet, who knew that his death was near sometime before it actually occurred and he disclosed this openly in'The Pilgrimage of Farewell' (Hujjat al-Wada); so his death wasnot unexpected.This means that he had ample time to contemplate the future ofthe faith after his demise, even if we disregard the factors ofcontact with the Unseen and the divine protection for Islamstemming from revelation. In light of this we can see that theProphet had three possible paths before him to ensure the proper consequences of the future of the faith.
The First Path
The first path would have been to adopt a passive attitudetowards the future, and to be content with the part which he hadplayed in leading and directing the da'wah during his lifetime,leaving its future to circumstance and chance.It is of course unthinkable to attribute such passivity to theProphet because it grows from two different possibilities,neitherof which can be levelled against the Prophet. The first possibilityis the belief that such passivity and disregard would have noeffect upon the future of the da'wah, and that the Ummah whichwould follow his da'wah would be capable of acting independentlyin a manner which would protect the da'wah and ensure itagainst deviation.But this belief is totally indefensible, and indeed the essentialnature of things would seem to indicate the opposite, becausethe da'wah was by its very nature a radical and transformatoryfactor, which aimed at building a new community from whichall jahili principles would be removed. It was, however, alsoprone to dangerous possibilities when deprived of its leader andof all guidance. And such perils were sure to arise if noallowances were made for the vacuum left by the Prophet'sdeath, which would leave the Ummah without any guidance,and from the subsequent needs of the Ummah to adopt anextemporaneous attitude in the shadow of the massive difficultiesposed by the death of the Prophet. Had the Prophet left theUmmah without any guidance regarding the development ofIslam, it would have had to face the problem of conducting itselfwithout its leader while facing the most dangerous issues ever toconfront Islam without possessing any prior experience thereof.Such a state of affairs would also have required that the Ummahadopt an immediate policy as to how to conduct itself in spite ofthe danger posed by the problem, because the vacuum could notbe allowed to continue.
And this speedily-arranged policy wouldhave had to be instituted just when the Ummah was suffering thestaggering shock of losing its Great Leader. This shock mustobviously have shaken the foundations of logical thought andexacerbated any disorders, and it was perhaps this shock thatforced one of the sahaba to announce that the Prophet had notdied and would not die.
These are the dangers which might have arisen from anyreligious immaturity on the part of the sahaba, who had not yetattained the standard at which the Prophet could feel satisfied,of a reasonable reaction to the khilafah after his death, withinthe religious framework of Islam, and of their ability toovercome the hidden contradictions which existed, and con-tinued to exist, in the minds of the Muslims, regarding theirdivisions into the Muhajirun and Ansar, Quraysh and the rest ofthe Arab tribes of Makkah and Medina.There are also the dangers which arose from the existence ofanonymous factions within the Ummah who acted treacherouslyfrom the time of the Prophet onwards. This is the faction whichthe Qur'an calls the munafiqun (hypocrites).
When we add tothem the large numbers who converted to Islam after theconquests, becoming Muslims for material gains and not out ofspiritual awakening, we can begin to assess the danger posed bythese groups, who would find a chance to grow and expand inthe vast vacuum which would result from the absence of theguiding leadership.Obviously the acceptance of such a perilous position after hisdeath could not be envisaged by any ideological leader, let aloneby the Seal of the Prophets.Indeed Abu Bakr was loathe to leave the arena without ensuringa positive future for the government by the appointment of onewho could fully comprehend and control its affairs...Similarly, the people rushed to Umar when he was struck downsaying: '0 Leader of the Faithful, if you would only set out acovenant," ( 1 ) fearing the vacuum of authority which the khalifahwould leave behind him, in spite of the political and socialconcentration which the da'wah had attained during the 10 yearsfollowing the death of the Prophet.
And Umar designated sixpeople to calm their fears. Umar recognized the extent of thedanger posed by the circumstances of as-Saqifa, and the possiblecomplications which might have arisen from the improvisednature of the khilafah of Abu Bakr, when he said: 'Theappointment (ba'yah) of Abu Bakr would have been a fatalmistake had Allah not protected us from its evil.' ( 2 )
Abu Bakr himself regretted the speed with which he hadaccepted authority and taken over its difficult problems,although he had sensed the danger of the situation and thenecessity for a quick solution, when he said, when blamed foraccepting the authority: 'Indeed the Messenger of Allah haddied and the people had only just emerged from jahiliyyah.
So Ifeared that they would be subject to temptations, and myassociates encouraged me therein.' ( 3 ) if all this is true then it must also be evident that the Pioneer andthe Prophet of Islam felt the danger of a negative attitude moreacutely, and understood the exact nature of the situation andneeds of the task of radical transformation, which he hadinstigated in the Ummah so newly emerged from jahiliyyah,more profoundly than Abu Bakr.
The second possibility which could explain the passivity of theLeader towards the future and progress of Islam after his deathis that he did not seek to protect Islam from this peril, althoughaware of the great danger posed by such a stance, because heviewed Islam advantageously and was only interested inprotecting it during his lifetime, so that he could receive benefitsand gains from it while uninvolved in its future protection afterhis death.This explanation is unthinkable in the case of the Prophet, oreven if we do not regard him as a Prophet, closely involved withAllah, May He be Praised and Exalted, in every aspect of Islam,and simply consider him as a leader passionately committed tohis cause similar to any other.
We cannot cite any example of atotally devoted leader who sacrificed himself in the interests ofIslam as did the Prophet until the last moment of his life. In facthis whole career proves this point, and even when on hisdeathbed and suffering greatly from his illness he was deeplyconcerned with a campaign which he had planned, and the forcewhich he had dispatched under Usama, and ordered themsaying: 'Stand ready with Usama's forces! Convoke the forces ofUsama! Send out Usama's contingents!' He repeated thisalthough losing consciousness from time to time.( 4 )
For indeedthe concern of the Prophet regarding this military campaignalone was so profound that he expended all his efforts upon iteven on his deathbed, and although he knew that he would diebefore he could reap the rewards of this campaign, he did notallow this to interfere with his task even until his last breath.
Sohow can we even consider the opinion that the Prophet wasneither preoccupied with the future of Islam, nor planningagainst the expected dangers which would confront its safetyafter his death?Finally, during the lifetime of the Prophet there is one act whichis itself sufficient to negate the first assumption, while alsoproving that the Prophet was by no means passive towards thefuture of Islam, nor unaware of the dangers therein or unconcernedthereby. Furthermore, this act has been related in theauthentic works of both the Sunni and Shia Muslims.
It is thatUmar al-Khattab was amongst a group of men in the housewhen the Prophet, who was about to die, said: 'Bring meparchment and pen so that I may write something for you afterwhich you shall never go astray.'( 5)
In fact this act of the Prophet, which is generally viewed asauthentic, illustrates clearly that he was deeply concerned aboutthe dangers which had to be faced in the future, and recognizedthe need to plan ahead so as to protect the Ummah fromdeviation, and save it from inattentiveness and disintegration. Itis thus totally impossible to substantiate any claim of passivitylevelled against the Prophet.
The Second Path
The second path is that the Prophet adopted a positive policyconcerning the future of Islam after his death and plannedtowards it by advocating the appointment of a shura (counsel) which would be responsible for the affairs of Islam and leadingthe Ummah. This shura would be composed of the firstgeneration of the faithful, the Muhajirun and the Ansar, whowould represent the Ummah, while formulating the foundationsfor the future government and for the leadership of Islam as itevolved further.It is obvious, however, that the nature of things and the actualevents which took place concerning the Prophet, the da'wah andthe faithful refute this hypothesis and disprove the claim that theProphet followed this method and sought to invest the leadershipof Islam immediately after his death to the Ummah as representedin a shura composed of the initial generation of the Muhajirunand the Ansar.We shall now examine some of the points which clarify this:( 1 ) .
Had the Prophet adopted a positive attitude towards thefuture of the da'wah and intended that a shura be set upimmediately after his death and that the leadership of the da'wahbe handed over to someone elected according to this principle,he would have found it absolutely necessary to educate theUmmah and the faithful concerning the principles of shura withits rules and details, and to give it a form which reflected thedivine and holy sanction, while also preparing the Islamicsociety both mentally and spiritually to accept this system. Thiswould have been vital because the Islamic society grew from aconfederacy of clans which had not functioned according to thepolitical principles of shura before Islam, but had in factgenerally functioned according to tribal leadership, in whichpower, wealth and the principles of inheritance had a large partto play.We can easily discover that the Prophet did not seek to educatehis followers concerning the principles, legal details andtheoretical concepts of shura, because such a policy, had it beencarried out, would surely have been reflected and embodied inthe ahadith transmitted from the Prophet, or in the mentality ofthe Ummah, at least as far as the earliest generation is concerned-- the Muhajirun and the Ansar -- who would have been obligedto implement the organization of the shura. We do not,however, find any clearly defined legal evidence from theorganization of a shura in the prophetical ahadith. As for thementality of the Ummah or of the earliest generation thereof wecan find no discernible reflection of any attempt to educate themto accept this.Indeed this generation subscribed to two different trends: thefirst is led by the Ahl al-Bayt (the People of the House of theProphet), while the other is exemplified by those present atas-Saqifa and the khalifah who only arose after the death of theProphet. The first trend was composed of those who believed inthe wisaya and imama, and there is no reflection of any belief inthe concept of shura amongst them. As for those who subscribedto the second trend, all the proofs and arguments whichoccurred during their lifetime and during their careers undoubtedly indicate that they neither believed in shura norestablished their careers according to it, and the same is true ofthe rest of the groups who were alive at the time of the Prophet'sdeath.The following narrative proves this: when Abu Bakr's illnessbecame acute he appointed Umar ibn al-Khattab and orderedUthman to write down the pledge. So he wrote:'In the Name of Allah, the Merciful, the Compassionate. This isthe pledge of Abu Bakr, the khalifah of the Messenger of Allah, to the believers and Muslims. Peace be upon you, and I extolAllah to you. I hereby appoint Umar ibn al-Khattab as yourliege. So hear and obey!' Then 'Abd ar-Rahman ibn Awf cameto him and said: 'How are you this morning, 0 khalifah of theProphet of Allah?' So he replied: 'I am dying, and you haveaggravated my condition because I appointed one of you andyou have all become upset, as you all aspire to this officeyourselves!' ( 6 )
It is clear from the appointment of this khalifah and from thedisapproval of the opposition that Abu Bakr did not considerthe establishment of a shura but believed that he had the right tostipulate the next khalifah and that this situation obligedobedience on the part of the Muslims. For this reason heordered them to hear and obey, and did not simply nominateUmar, but obliged them to accept his stipulation.We should also point out that Umar himself believed that hehad the right to appoint a khalifah to rule over the Muslims, andappointed a group of six people and charged them withchoosing his successor from amongst themselves, without anyreference to the rights of the rest of the Muslims in this election.Thus the rationale of the function of a shura was not exemplifiedin Umar's appointment of a khalifah to succeed him, just as ithad not been exemplified in the method employed by the firstkhalifah. Indeed, when the people asked Umar about theappointment of the next khalifah, he said: 'If one of two menwere still alive I would charge him with the khalifah, and theyare Salim the freed slave of Abu Hudhayfa, and Abu Ubaydaal-Jarrah. For if Salim was still alive I would not havedesignated a shura.' ( 7 )
Also Abu Bakr told 'Abd ar-Rahman ibn Awf, while conversingwith him on his deathbed: 'I wish I had asked the Prophet ofAllah about the appointment of a successor so that nobodycould have contested it.' ( 8 )
Furthermore one of those present when the Ansar assembled atas-Saqifa to appoint Sa'd ibn Ubada, said: 'If the Muhajirunfrom Quraysh disagree they Will say, "We are the Muhajirun andwe are his clan and his partisans." But some of the Ansar said,"So we shall say, "We shall have a khalifah and you shall have akhalifah. For we will never be content with anything other thanthis!"'When Abu Bakr spoke to them he said: 'We are the Muslimsand the Muahjirun who were the first to adopt Islam, and forthis reason the people must follow us, because we are the clan ofthe Prophet of Allah and of pure Arab lineage.'And when the Ansar suggested that the khalifah should alternatebetween the Muhajirun and the Ansar, Abu Bakr rejected it,saying: 'When the Prophet of Allah came to the Arabs theyfound it difficult to leave the religion of their forefathers anddiffered and disagreed with him, then Allah chose the firstMuhajirun to believe in him from his people, and they becamethe first to worship Allah in this world, and were his partisansand kinsfolk, who have the most right to rule after him, whichwould only be disputed by the unjust.'But Al-Habbab ibn al-Mundhir, who encouraged the people intheir determination, said: 'Stand firmly in support of your claim,for these people are under your care and protection, and if theyrefuse we shall have a khalifah and they shall have one!'So Umar replied and said: 'Impossible! Two swords cannot besheathed in one scabbard. So only the false claimant, thedeviant, or someone willing to risk his own destruction woulddispute with us concerning the rule of Muhammad and hislegacy, for we are his partisans and his clan.' ( 9 )
If we wish to scrutinize this point we must take into considerationthe method of appointment used by the first and secondkhulafah; the fact that this method was not rejected; theprevalent atmosphere which surrounded the opposing factionsof the leading personalities of the Muhajirun and the Ansar onthe day of as-Saqifa; the obvious inclinations of the Muhajirun indeciding that the authority should rest with them and not withthe Ansar; the emphasis which they placed upon the principle ofinheritance which gave the clan of the Prophet the most right tosuccession; the willingness of many of the Ansar to accept theidea of two khulafah - one of whom would be from the Ansar;who won the khilafan on that day; and that he regretted nothaving asked the Prophet about his successor.In fact all this proves, without a shade of doubt, that this firstgeneration of the Islamic Ummah, which also included thosewho came to power after the death of the Prophet, did not giveany thought to the concept of shura as regards the appointmentof the khilafah nor did they possess a clearly defined understandingof its principles; so how can we believe that the Prophethad instituted a policy of educating his followers concerning thelegal and theoretical concepts of shura, to prepare the Muhajirunand the Ansar to submit the leadership of Islam to one electedaccording to these principles, when we cannot find any actualimplementation of this method, or clear understanding thereof,amongst this generation!Similarly, we cannot believe that the Prophet set down thismethod and its details legally and theoretically, but did notattempt to familiarize and educate the Muslims in this respect.This in fact proves the aforementioned theory that the Prophetdid not present the principle of shura to the Ummah as analternative to more traditional methods, because it is improbablethat such a principle could have been presented and thendisappeared completely from the reports of all sections of thissociety.Other obvious points which further illustrate this are as follows:a)The principle of shura was a new one for this area, which hadnot experienced any sort of highly developed government beforethe time of the Prophet, and thus required extensive educationto acquaint its inhabitants as to its exact nature.b)The shura as a concept was unclear and could not bepresented or put into action without its details, rules, andguidelines for preference in the case of dispute being clarified.Moreover, should these guidelines be based upon numbers andquantities, or upon qualities and experience, or upon otherattributes which would facilitate the clarification of the conceptand render it immediately functional upon the death of theProphet?c)In fact shura was an expression of the Ummah's implementationof authority according to consultation and the determinationof the people concerning their government. The responsibilityfor this lay with all those who were involved in shura. Ifthis shura was legally acceptable and to be put into practiceimmediately after the death of the Prophet, the majority of thepeople should have been previously instructed concerning it, sothat each could adopt a positive attitude towards shura and bearhis share of the responsibility.All these points prove that the Prophet had he wished that ashura be set up to choose a successor after his death, would havehad to disseminate the concept of shura on a wide and profoundscale to prepare his followers psychologically and to fill any gapsin their understanding, while also explaining the details whichwould make it a workable concept. The presentation of thisconcept on this level and wide scale could not have been carriedout by the Prophet and then disappear totally from the minds ofall the Muslims who were alive at the time of the Prophet'sdeath.There is of course the possibility that the Prophet did in factpresent the concept of shura to its best advantage and on thescale which circumstances required so that the Muslims understoodits nature, but that political motivations led to itssuppression so that the Muslims felt forced to hide what theProphet had already taught them about the rules and details ofshura. This theory is, however, impracticable because whatevermay be claimed about them, these motives could not haveinfluenced the ordinary Muslims from among the sahaba whodid not participate in the political events which took placeimmediately after the death of the Prophet, or play an importantrole in the gathering at as-Saqifa, but were rather on-lookers; forsuch people represent a large percentage of every societyirrespective of the political forces therein.if the concept of shura had been presented by the Prophetaccording to the requirements of the society this would not havebeen strictly for the ears of those who had political motives,because many people would have heard about it and it wouldnaturally have been reflected in the actions of the ordinarymembers of the sahaba, just as the prophetical ahadith concerningthe merits of Imam Ali and his designations were actuallyreflected in the attitude of the sahaba themselves. Also why didthese political motives not prevent the ahadith concerning themerits of Imam Ali, his designation and his rights to theleadership from being handed down to us through the sahaba ofthe Prophet, in spite of the fact that these contradicted theprevalent attitudes of the time, when we possess no reportsconcerning the concept of shura? In fact even those whorepresented these prevalent attitudes often found themselves indisagreement concerning political affairs, and would have foundit advantageous to uphold the idea of a shura in opposition tothe other faction. Yet none of these factions used this idea as aprecept which they had heard from the Prophet.An example of this can be found in the position adopted byTalha concerning Abu Bakr's appointment of Umar, and in hisdenial of and obvious anger against this appointment, because,in spite of his rejection, he did not seek to countermand thisappointment by calling for a shura, or to condemn Abu Bakr fordeparting from the teachings of the Prophet concerning shuraand the election of a successor.2. It is also clear that had the Prophet decided to entrust the firstgeneration of Muslims, which included the Muhajirun and theAnsar who were his contemporaries, with the guarding of Islamafter his death and with the responsibility for the continuationof the task of transformation, he would have been obliged toprepare this generation with an extensive ideological andintellectual project so that they could grasp the concept firmlyand practice it according to their awareness thereof, and couldfind solutions to the problems with which Islam would becontinually confronted. This is specially true when we considerthat the Prophet, who foretold the fall of Khusrow and Caesar,knew that Islam was destined to win many victories, and thatthe Islamic Ummah would, in the near future, include newnations and cover a large area and would thus face theresponsibility of proselytizing Islam to these nations andprotecting the Ummah from the negative consequences of suchexpansion, while also applying the legal rules upon the conqueredlands and their inhabitants.In spite of the fact that the first generation of Muslims was thepurest ever to embrace Islam and the most prepared to sacrificefor it, we cannot detect any indication of the specializedpreparation required to assume the guardianship of the faith,nor of wide and profound instructions concerning its exactnature. In fact the factors which illustrate this point are sonumerous that it is impossible to study them in this particularwork.We can, however, point out in relation to this that the numberof texts which are reported from the Prophet by the sahaba inthe sphere of legislation only amounts to a few hundred ahadith,while there were about 12,000 sahaba according to the historybooks. Furthermore, the Prophet lived in a town with thousandsof them and prayed with them in the same masjid morning andevening, so why can we not find some indication of specializedpreparation amongst these people?It is well-known that the sahaba refrained from asking theProphet questions to the extent that all of them would wait untila bedouin came from outside Medina to ask a question and thenlisten to the Prophet's reply, because they considered a questionunnecessary if it concerned something that had not yet takenplace.For this reason Umar once announced from the minbar: 'ByAllah, man is forbidden to ask questions concerning what hasnever existed, for indeed the Prophet clarified what is inexistence.' ( 10 )
And he added: 'It is not permissible for one to askquestions about what has never existed, for Allah has given Hisjudgement upon all things that exist.' Also a man came toUmar's son one day and asked him about something andUmar 's son told him: 'Do not ask about what has never existedfor I have heard Umar cursing one who asks regarding what hasnever happened.' ( 11 )
There was also a man who asked Ubayy ibnKa'b about a problem and he said: '0 my son, does this affairwhich you asked me about exist?' He replied: 'No.' So theformer said: 'If that is the case, leave this question until it doesexist.' ( 12 )
One day Umar was reading the Qur'an and came to the ayah:'And We caused to grow therein seeds, vines, herbs, olive trees,palms and gardens (which were) profuse, fruitful and verdant(abban).' ( 13 )
So someone said: 'We know all of this, but what isabban?' Then Umar said: 'This, in the Name of Allah, is anirrelevant question, and it is not important whether you knowthe meaning of abban or not. Follow what is clear in the Bookand practise it, and leave what you do not know to Allah.'We can thus discern that the sahaba tended to desist fromquestions other than those concerning clearly defined andexistent problems. It was in fact this tendency that led to thescarcity of legislative texts reported on the authority of theProphet and later necessitated the consultation of sources otherthan the Qur'an and the Sunnah, such as legal discretion(istihsan) and analogy (qiyas), and the other features ofindependent judgement (ijtihad) which combine to form thepersonal interpretation of the mujtahid, which can allow theman's personality, his tastes and his personal understanding toenter into the legislative act.Such a tendency is, of course, diametrically opposed to theprocess of personal and ideological preparation which wouldhave required the extensive education of this generation, whilealso requiring that they be acquainted with the legal stipulationsconcerning the problems which they would face when involvedin the leadership.Just as the sohaba refrained from asking questions to theProphet they also chose not to record his ahadith in writing, inspite of the fact that the ahadith constituted the second Islamicsource and that this was the only way to preserve it and preventdistortion. Indeed, Al-Hirawi expressed openly his disparagementof the oral tradition on the authority of Yahya ibn Sa'idfrom 'Abd Allah ibn ad-Dinar, saying that neither the sahabanor the next generation wrote down the ahadith but transmittedthem orally and learnt them by heart, except for the book aboutthe alms tax (kitab as-sadaqat). In fact, according to the Tabaqatof lbn Sa'd, the second khalifah thought regarding the bestposition to adopt concerning the Sunnah of the Prophet for awhole month, but finally announced his prohibition of thedocumentation thereof. Thus the Sunnah of the Prophet, whichwas the most important Islamic source after Al-Qur'an al-Karim,was destined to suffer arbitrarily from forgetfulness, distortionand the death of those who had learnt the traditions by heart(huffaz) for nearly 150 years.The only exceptions to this were the Ahl al-Bayt who appliedthemselves to the documented recording of ahadith from theearliest period, and we know from the numerous ahadithreported on the authority of the Imams of the Ahl al-Bayt thatthey possess a weighty book which had been dictated by theProphet of Allah and written by the hand of Ali ibn Abi Talib,and which included all the Sunnah of the Prophet of Allah.Do you, by Allah, believe that this naive group of people -- ifthey were in fact naive -- who refrained from asking questionsabout matters which had not yet occurred and forbade thedocumentation of the Sunnah of the Prophet after he hadpronounced it were capable of guiding the new religion or ofleading it through the most important and difficult stages of itslong history? Or do you, by Allah, believe that the Prophet lefthis Sunnah to posterity without ensuring its organization anddocumentation, although he had commanded his followers topractice it? Furthermore, had he really arranged for the conceptof a shua, would it not have been necessary to delineate its rulesand to organize his Sunnah, so that the shura could progressaccording to a definite programme in which personal desireswould have no part to play? Or is it that the only rationalinterpretation of this is that the Prophet had prepared Imam Alito assume the leadership after his death and entrusted him withhis complete Sunnah and taught him 1,000 types of knowledge?In fact, the events which took place after the death of theProphet proved that the Muhajirun and the Ansar had notreceived any sort of instruction concerning many of themomentous problems which the da'wah had to face after thetime of the Prophet so that neither the khalifah nor the centralgovernment who supported him had a clear idea as to how thelands won by the Islamic conquests should be dealt withaccording to the Shari'ah, whether these lands should be dividedamongst the fighting forces or should be regarded as endowments(auqaf) for the good of all Muslims. For it is surelyinconceivable that the Prophet assured the Muslims that theywould conquer the lands of Khusrow and Caesar and intendedthat the Muhajirun and the Ansar should lead the da'wah andhandle the problems arising from these victories when he didnot acquaint them with the legal premises which were necessaryto control the large proportion of the world which was to comeunder Islamic rule.Indeed we can go even further and illustrate that the generationwhich was contemporary to the Prophet did not even possess aclearly defined picture of the religious matters which theProphet had practised hundreds of times within the sight andhearing of the sahaba.A good example of this is the case of the prayers said over adead man (salat aI-mayyit), a practice which the Prophet hadcarried out publicly on hundreds of occasions, performing it asone of the funeral cortege with the funeral escort and those whooffered up prayers. Yet in spite of this, it appears that the sahabadid not consider it necessary to note the form of this ritecarefully as long as the Prophet led the prayer, while theyfollowed him step by step. Because of this they fell intodisagreement after the death of the Prophet as to the number oftakbir (to say Allahu Akbar) repeated in the salat al-mayyit.At-Tahawi reported from Isma'il saying:'When the Prophet of Allah died, the people differed as to howmany takbir should be said over the bier. One man would say, 'Iheard the Prophet of Allah say Allahu Akbar seven times.,,While another said, "I heard the Prophet of Allah say AllahuAkbar five times" and a third would say, "I heard the Prophet ofAllah say Allahu Akbar four times." So they differed openlyuntil the death of Abu Bakr and when Umar became khalifahand perceived their disagreement he became grieved and sent forone of the sahaba of the Prophet of Allah, and said, "You arethe sahaba of the Prophet of Allah! When you differ before thepeople they shall differ after you, and when you agree upon amatter the people shall agree upon it. So consider what you shallagree upon." And it was as if he had awakened them. So theyreplied, "It shall be as you wish, 0 Leader of the Faithful.' ( 14 )
Thus we can see that the sahaba depended on the Prophetduring his lifetime and did not feel that it was immediatelynecessary to study the rules and concepts closely as long as theywere under his protection.You may think that the picture which has been painted of thesahaba and of the points which illustrate their inability to rulecontradict our belief that the prophetical programme ofinstruction achieved a high level of success and produced anawesome and religious generation. In reply to this we mustpoint out that in studying the actual nature of the medialgeneration who were the Prophet's contemporaries we have notmentioned anything which would clash violently with thepositive appraisal of the prophetical instructions which heapplied during his noble life. Because, while we believe that theprophetical instructions were a unique and divine example andan outstanding religious revelation in the history of propheticalacts, we have found that the belief in this and the attainment ofa fair appraisal of the outcome of these instructions does notdepend upon the observation of results without reference to thecircumstances which surrounded these instructions, nor uponobservations of quantity separated from those of quality. Inorder to clarify this we shall cite the following example.We shall assume that there is a teacher who is teaching anumber of students the English language and literature, and thatwe want to assess his teaching potential. It is not sufficientsimply to scrutinize the students' standard of cultural knowledgeor their familiarity with the English language and its literature.We must also take into consideration the time for which theteacher has been teaching these students, their previousexperience, their proximity to or distance from the atmosphereof the English language and literature, the size of the difficultiesand exceptional problems which confront the teaching processand hinder its natural course, the targets which the teacheraspired to when teaching the literature of this language to hisstudents, and the final outcome of the teaching process whencompared to many other types of instruction.
And when assessing the prophetical instructions we must takeinto consideration the following points: ( 1 )
The short length of time in which the Prophet was actuallycarrying out this plan of instruction, which did not exceed twodecades, as far as his earliest sahaba, who accompanied him atthe beginning of his mission were concerned, and did not exceeda single decade for the vast majority of the Ansar, or three orfour years for the large number of converts to Islam from thetime of the Truce of al-Hudaybiyya until the Conquest ofMakkah. ( 2 )
The previous intellectual spiritual, religious and behaviouralenvironment in which these people lived before the Prophetstarted his mission, and the empty simplicity and aimlessnesswhich confronted them in various spheres of their lives. I do notthink it necessary to illustrate this point further because it isself-evident. Islam was not a superficial, reformatory process insociety, but was rather a radical and revolutionary processaimed at the building of a new society, which implied a totalconceptual change in attitudes between the previous and newenvironment, to which the Prophet directed all his efforts. ( 3 )
The events and political and military confrontations whichbedevilled that era on various different fronts and made therelationship between the Prophet and his sahaba distinct fromthat of a person like Prophet 'Isa (Jesus) and his disciples, forthis relationship was not one of a teacher or instructor whocould devote his time totally to his students, but was in fact thatof a Prophet who was an instructor while also the militaryleader and head of State.( 4 ) The social and religious conflict which arose from closecontact with the Ahl al-Kitab (the People of the Book), and withvarious different religious cultures, for this contact and theopposition raised by those who opposed the new faith and wereeducated according to older religious culture proved a source ofunrest and continual provocation. Indeed every one of us knowsthat this resulted in the Jewish intellectual trend which wasinfiltrated accidentally or purposely into the sphere of speculation,and a close scrutiny of Al- Qur'an al-Karim is enough toillustrate the extent of the danger posed by the counterrevolutionand the extensive involvement of revelation in observing it anddisputing its concepts. ( 5 )
The fact that the target which the Great Teacher was tryingto attain generally was, at this stage, the creation of a sound,popular framework which would make it possible for theleadership of the new message to interact with the Ummah andbe closely involved in its experiences, both during and after thelifetime of the Prophet. But the target was not, at this stage,theelevation of the Ummah to the level of leadership itself, as thisrequired complete understanding of Islam, comprehensiveknowledge of its rules and total awareness of its concepts. Thelimitation of his target at this stage to the level which we havementioned was logical, because the nature of the process ofchange dictated it. For it would have been illogical to conceivethis target other than within the bounds of possibility or withinthe limitations which we have mentioned, considering thecircumstances faced by Islam at this time, and the ideological,spiritual, intellectual and social differences between the newreligion and the prevalent corrupt reality of the era, whichwould have made it impossible for the people to raise themselvesto the leadership of this religion after only one or two decades.This point shall be examined further in the next paragraph, inwhich we shall give proofs of the continued responsibilityinvolved as regards the new revolutionary experiment, whichwas illustrated in the leadership of the Ahl al-Bayt, so that thekhilafah of Imam Ali was actually dictated by the logical processof change throughout the history of Islam. ( 6 )
The fact that a great many of the Ummah which was left bythe Prophet were Muslimat al-Fath, that is Muslims whoconverted to Islam after the Conquest of Makkah and after thenew religion had become the most powerful political andmilitary force in the Arabian Peninsula. Naturally, the Prophetwas only destined to limited contact with them in the short timeleft to him after the Conquest, and most of this contact was inhis capacity as ruler. Because of the stage through which theIslamic State was passing the concept of Mu'allifa Qulubuhumappeared, and in order to win over the hearts of people theywere given the right to receive zakat and other measures. Clearlythis section of the Ummah was not separated from the other, butwas an integral part thereof, influencing and being influenced atthe same time.Thus, in the study of these six points, we have discovered thatthe prophetical instructions were actually extremely successfuland brought about a singular transformation within the society,while also producing a virtuous generation who were capable ofrealizing the Prophet's aim as regards the creation of a sound,popular foundation who could rally around the guiding leadershipof the new experience and support it. Because of this wealso find that this generation was capable of performing its roleas the sound, popular foundation as long as mature and guidingleadership was present in the person of the Prophet. Had thisleadership been allowed to take its divine course, this foundationwould have continued to play its correct part, although this doesnot mean that it was actually ready to assume this leadershipitself, or to guide the new experience, because this would haverequired greater spiritual and believing cohesion with Islam, anda stronger and more extensive identification with its rules andconcepts and with the various aspects of its attitudes toward life,while also necessitating a more intense elimination of the ranksof the Ummah which included the munafiqun, the mundisun(infiltrators) and the Mu'allifa Qulubuhum, who were still anumerically and historically important part of this generation,whose negative influences are indicated by the number of versesin Al-Qur'an al-Karim in which especially the munafiqun, theirmachinations and their position are mentioned. There were, ofcourse, some individuals from this generation whose highreligious attainments were formed by this instruction, as theirpersonalities fused in its melting pot, like Salman Farsi, AbuDharr, Ammar and many others.But I would like to point out that the existence of theseindividuals as part of this large generation does not prove thatthis generation had, as whole, attained the level at which thecontrol of this momentous experience could be handed over tothem, according to the principle of shura. Indeed, even themajority of these individual elites did not possess the religiousqualifications which would have made them capable of leadingthe experience as regards its intellectual and cultural features,inspite of their staunch loyalty and profound devotion, becauseIslam is not an ideology made by man whose ideas could bedefined as a result of practical experience, or whose conceptscould be clarified as a result of devoted experimentation. It israther the message of Allah, whose rules and concepts had beenordained and divinely increased with every piece of legislationnecessitated by experience, so the leadership needed to fullycomprehend its statutes and details, and study assiduously itsrules and concepts, otherwise it would be forced to rely uponprevious intellectual ideas and tribal connections, which wouldlead to a break in the continuity of the experience, especiallywhen we remember that Islam was the last of the religions of theheavens and must continue and surpass all temporal, regionaland national laws. It was thus impermissible that the leadership,which would mould the foundations of this eternal religion,should practise a series of mistakes and correct actions, in whichthe mistakes would be accumulated over a period of time untilthey formed a fatal flaw which could threaten the Islamicexperience with decline and destruction.Everything that has gone before proves that the instructionsgiven by the Prophet to the Muhajirun and the Ansar did notreach the level which would have been necessitated by theconscious, intellectual and political preparation required toguide the future path of the da'wah and the process of changewhich had been instigated by the Prophet. It was, in fact,restricted to that required for a conscious, popular foundationwhich could rally to the leadership of the da'wah, both in thepresent and the future.Each assumption which points to the belief that the Prophetintended that the support of the future experience and guardianshipof the da'wah immediately after his death should be vestedin the Muhajirun and the Ansar implicitly involves an idictmentagainst the greatest and most discerning religious leader in thehistory of reformatory movements, because there was no cleardistinction between the understanding necessary for the popularfoundation of the da'wah and that necessary for the guidance ofthe da'wah or its intellectual and political leadership.3. The da'wah was, of course, a reformatory process and aframework for a new way of life, charged with the task ofbuilding a new community and with uprooting all jahiliprinciples and all their foundations.The Islamic Ummah did not, as a whole, live in the shadow ofthis reformatory process for more than a single decade at themost, which is not usually long enough, according to the logic ofideological religions and reformatory beliefs, to raise a generationto the level of awareness and objectivity and freedom from theresidue of past ideas, at which they can grasp the ideas of thenew da'wah, and be capable of assuming the guardianship of themessage, and handling the problems of this da'wah, while alsocontinuing its reformatory process without a leader. In fact thelogic of ideological religions makes it inevitable that the Ummahshould continue under ideological trusteeship for a longerperiod of time, in which it could be raised to the level ofguardianship itselfThis is not something which we have simply inferred, as it wasalso a fact substantiated by the events which took place after thedeath of the Prophet and became clear after half a century orless in the attempts of the Muhajirun and the Ansar to lead andguard the da'wah. For, after less than a quarter of a century ofthis 'guardianship,' the khilafah of this generation and thereligious experience resulting from its leadership were destroyedunder the force of the heavy attacks made upon it by the formerenemies of Islam, but this time from within rather than fromwithout the Islamic experience. These enemies were able toinfiltrate by degrees the weak points of this experience and takeadvantage of the inattentive leadership. Then they usurped thisleadership insolently and violently and forced the Ummah andits original, pioneering generation to renounce its identity andits leadership, while the leadership itself turned into a line ofhereditary kings, infatuated with prestige, who murdered theinnocent, squandered wealth, neglected the rules of Islam,caused its laws to ossify, and fraudulently used the resources ofthe people. Thus the lands conquered by the Muslims becamethe gardens of Quraysh and the khilafah a toy of Banu Umayya.So the true facts of the experience after the death of the Prophetand the results of this quarter century support the previousinference, which emphasized the support for guidance, and theintellectual and political leadership of the Muhajirun and Ansarimmediately after the death of the Prophet was a premature stepwhich was taken before its natural time. It is, however, illogicalthat the Prophet should have taken a step of this kind.
The Third Path
The third path is the only remaining possibility which isconsistent with the nature of the facts and logical in light of thecircumstances surrounding the da'wah and the faithful, and theattitude of the Prophet, namely that the Prophet adopted apositive stance towards the future of Islam after his death and atthe orders of Allah, May He be Praised and Exalted, chosesomeone whose deep involvement in the formation of theda'wah made him an obvious nominee, and specifically preparedhim religiously and in the art of leadership so that he couldexemplify the intellectual authority and political leadership ofthe experience, and maintain the leadership of the Ummah andits ideological structure after the Prophet's death, with thesupport of the conscious, popular foundation of the Muhajirunand the Ansar, and strengthen it towards the level at which itcould handle the problems of leadership.
This, we find, is the only way in which the Prophet could ensurethe future security of the da'wah and protect the experience fromdeviation in the course of its development.
And thus it was.There are not any signs in the texts which have been transmittedon the authority of the Prophet to prove that he privatelyprepared any of the other Muslims religiously, culturally orideologically so as to qualify them to assume either intellectualor political authority.
Nor is there any proof therein that heentrusted any of the other Muslims with the future of the da'wahand with the intellectual and political leadership of the Ummahafter his death. But these facts only serve to explicate theProphet's attitude towards the third possiblity facing him, andto prove that the nature of the affair was in fact as we havesurmised.The person designated to receive this training in the religion andleadership and chosen as the one to whom the future of theda'wah and its intellectual and political leadership would besurrendered was none other than Ali ibn Abi Talib, peace beupon him, whose deep involvement in the formation of theda'wah made him an obvious nominee. He was the first Muslimand the first to fight in the path of Islam (mujahid) during itsbitter battle against all its enemies, and was deeply involved inthe life of the Prophet, and was his foster-son whose eyesopened on the Prophet's lap and who grew up under hisprotection, and who had more opportunity to collaborate withhim and take part in his plans than any other man alive.In fact the evidence from the lives of the Prophet and the Imamwhich indicate that the Prophet prepared the Imam specially inreligious matters is indeed substantial.
For the Prophet chose toexplain the concept of da'wah and its truths to him, and gavehim intellectual answers and sought to cultivate the Imam'sawareness when he asked numerous questions while alsospending long hours with him during both the night and theday, opening his eyes to the concepts of Islam and to theproblems to be faced during its progress, and to the managementof the task until the last day of his noble life.AI-Hakim reports in AI-Mustadrak on the authority of lbnIshaq: 'I asked AI-Qasim ibn al-Abbas, "How did Ali becomethe heir of the Messenger of Allah?" He replied, "Because hewas the first among us to embrace Islam and the most faithful inhis adherence thereto".'And in the Hulyat al-A wliya it is reported from Ibn Abbas thathe said: 'We used to say that the Prophet entrusted Ali with 70 pledges which he did not entrust to anyone else.'Also An-Nisa'i reported on the authority of Ibn Abbas that Aliused to say: 'I had a privileged relationship with the Messengerof Allah which was not granted to any other mortal, as I used tovisit the Prophet of Allah every night.
If he was praying I wouldwait until he said the tasbih and then enter, and if he wasn'tpraying he would permit me and I would enter.'It is also related from the Imam that he said: 'I had twomeetings with the Prophet - the night meeting and the daymeeting.'While An-Nisa'i also relates that the Imam used to say:'Whenever I asked the Messenger of Allah a question he repliedand when I was silent he would speak to me.' AI-Hakim alsorelates this in AI-Mustadrak and says that it is sound accordingto the two shaikhs (Al-Bukhari and Muslim).An-Nisa'i relates from Umm Salama that she used to say: 'Bythe One by Whom Umm Salama swears, the closest person tothe Messenger of Allah at his death was Ali. On the morningthat the Messenger of Allah died the Messenger of Allah sent forAli, and I thought that he had been sent on an errand becausethe Prophet said, "Has Ali come?" three times. He came beforesunrise, and when he came we recognized that the Prophetwished to talk with him. So we left the house (we were at thattime with the Messenger of Allah in 'Aisha's house), and as Iwas the last to leave the house, I sat just outside the door andwas closest to it.
And Ali leant over him and was the last personto converse with him as the Prophet whispered and talked withhim.'Amir al-Mu'minin (leader of the Faithful) Imam Ali in hisfamous rigorous speech, in which he described his uniquerelationship with the Messenger and the Prophet's care regardinghis training and education, said:'You know of my connection with the Messenger of Allah, myclose kinship to him and my intimate position.
He put me on hislap when I was a child, hugged me to his breast, embraced me inhis bed, so that his body touched mine and so I smelled hisscent, and would also chew things and then give them to me toeat.
But he did not find me lying in my speech or pompous inmy act. I used to follow him as the small camel follows itsmother and every day he showed me part of his moral acts andordered me to do likewise. Every year he used to take me toHira and only I could see him, for at that period of time of Islamthere was only the Messenger of Allah, Khadijah and myself asthe third, as nobody else lived in the house. So I saw the light ofrevelation and the message and smelled the fragrance ofprophecy.'These testimonies and plenty of other evidence gives us a pictureof the training which the Prophet gave to Imam Ali in order toraise him to the level at which he coud lead the da'wahsuccessfully.
Similarly, there are a great many indications fromthe lifetime of Imam Ali after the death of the Prophet whichreveal the Prophet's private ideological training of Imam Aliand reflect the effects and results of this private instruction.TheImam was the man to whom the ruling leadership resorted forconsultation and authority when they wished to solve somedifficult problem which they could not solve themselves. But wecannot find a single instance in the history of the Islamicexperience during the time of the four khulafah in which theImam turned to someone else for an opinion as to the way inwhich a problem should be dealt with according to Islam,whereas there were tens of instances in which the ruling Islamicleadership felt it necessary to consult the Imam, in spite of theirreservations in this matter.
If the evidence for the claim that the Prophet prepared theImam privately to assume the leadership of the da'wah after hisdeath are numerous, those which prove that the Prophetrevealed this plan and officially entrusted the intellectual andpolitical leadership of the da'wah to Imam Ali are hardly lessnumerous; a fact which we can discern from the Hadith al-Dar;Hadith ath-Thaqalayn, Hadith al-Manzila. Hadith aI-Ghadir andfrom many other prophetical texts.So Shiaism was established within the Islamic da'wah and wasexemplified in the prophetical presentation thereof, which wasimplemented by the Prophet at the orders of Allah so that thefuture safety of the da'wah could be ensured.This Shiaism did not appear as a superficial phenomenon in thetheatre of events, but was rather a necessary result of the needsand original circumstances of the da'wah, which made itnecessary for Islam to produce Shiaism. In other words, it wasincumbent upon the first leader of the experience to instruct asecond leader under whose leadership, and under that of hissuccessors, the experience could continue its revolutionarydevelopment, and attain the total success of its radical reformatoryaims by eliminating all the remains of the fundamentalideas of jahiliyyah and establishing an Ummah which hadreached the level necessary to handle the tasks and problemsfaced by the da'wah.
2: How the Shia appear
We now know how Shiaism came into existence, but how did theShia emerge and how did the schism of the Ummah developfrom this? This is a question which we shall now answer.When we follow the first stage of the life of the Muslim Ummahduring the lifetime of the Prophet we find that there were twodifferent principal trends accompanying the development of theUmmah and the beginning of the Islamic experience from theearliest years, which co-existed within the embryonic Ummahestablished by the guiding Prophet. This difference between thetwo trends led to an ideological schism immediately after thedeath of the Prophet which divided the Ummah into twosections, one of which was destined to rule and extend itsinfluence so as to include the majority of the Muslims, while theother section was forced further from power and was destined toexist as an opposing minority within the framework of thegreater Muslim Ummah. This minority was in fact the Shia.The two principal trends which accompanied the developmentof the Ummah during the lifetime of the Prophet from thebeginning were:i) The trend which believed in devotion to Islam and itsarbitration, and in total submission to the religious texts in everysphere of life.ii) The trend which believed that belief in Islam did notnecessitate devotion except in the special scope of religiousobservances and metaphysics, and believed in the possibility ofijtihad (independent judgement), and the permissibility of makingjudgements on this basis with changes and modifications in thereligious texts according to their interests in matters other thanthe above in the sphere of life.Although the sahaba, as the believing and enlightened vanguardof Islam, were the most perfect and most important seeds for itsreligious development to the extent that there has never in thecourse of history been an ideological generation moremagnificent, purer or more nobler than that established by theProphet, we find that it is necessary to accept the existence of alarge trend, from the very lifetime of the Prophet who inclinedtowards proposing the use of ijtihad and circumstantial considerationsin determining their interests, above strict adherence tothe religious texts. Similarly, there was another trend whichbelieved in religious arbitration and in submission and devotionthereto concerning all religious texts and all areas of life.One of the factors contributing to the spread of the second trend(al-ijtihad) amongst the Muslim ranks was its coherence withman's natural tendency towards making judgements and accordingto its interests, as he understands them, rather than accordingto a decision whose significance he does not understand.This trend was represented by a daring group of importantsahaba like, Umar ibn al-Khattab, who disputed with theMessenger and made judgements contradicting the texts inmany subjects, believing that they had the right to do so. In thisrespect we can cite Umar's attitude towards the Treaty of al-Hudaybiyyaand his objection thereto, his attitude towards theadhan: (call to prayer) and his decision to exclude, 'Hayy 'alakhayr al-'amal,' his attitude towards the Prophet regarding theMutia'a 'l-Hajj, and other examples of his attitude towards theuse of ijtihad.Both these trends were reflected in the presence of the Messengerduring the last days of his life. In his Sahih, Al-Bukhari quoteson the authority of Ibn Abbas:'When the Messenger of Allah was about to die there were mengathered in the house, amongst whom was Umar ibn al-Khattab. The Prophet said, "Come I shall give you a documentafter which none shall go astray." But Umar said, "The Prophethas been overcome by pain and he has already given us theQur'an, and the Book of Allah is sufficient for us." Whereuponthe people gathered together in the house disagreed, and one ofthem argued, saying, "Come near! The Prophet is going to giveus a document after which none shall go astray." While anothersaid the same as Umar. And when the nonsensical speech anddisagreement became too much for the Prophet he told them,"Depart!"'This incident alone serves to prove the deep-seated attitudes ofthe two trends, and the extent of the disagreement and strugglebetween them.In order to illustrate the deep-seated attitudes of the trend whobelieved in such judgement, we can add an account of thecontroversy and disagreement between the sahaba whichsurrounded the appointment of Usama ibn Zayd over the army,in spite of the fact that there was a clear prophetical designationto that effect.
This controversy continued until the Messenger ofAllah, who was ill, came out to the people and spoke to themsaying: '0 people, what is this that I have heard concerning theattitude of some of you to the appointment of Usama? If youoppose the appointment of Usama you should have opposed theappointment of his father before him. I swear by Allah that hewas worthy of the appointment and that his son is worthy of itafter him!'The struggle between these two trends, which was visible duringthe lifetime of the Prophet, was also reflected in the attitude ofthe Muslims to Imam Ali's designation as leader of the da'wahafter the death of the Prophet. Those who represented thedevotional trend (AI-Ittijad at-Ta'abbudi) found it necessary toaccept this designation without hesitation or modification,whereas the second trend thought that they could reject thisdesignation of the Prophet when their independent judgementled them to one which was more in keeping with their understandingof the circumstances.Thus we can see that the Shia appeared immediately after thedeath of the Prophet and was represented by those Muslimswho actually accepted his designation of Imam Ali as the leader,whose leadership had been stipulated by the Prophet whichshould have been realized immediately upon the Prophet'sdeath.
So the Shia trend took form in the first instance because of theprevention of Imam Ali's assumption of the leadership at as-Saqifaand the entrusting of the authority to someone else.
In Al-ihtijaj At-Tabarsi says, on the authority of Iban ibnTaghlib:
'I told Ja'far ibn Muhammad as-Sadiq, peace be upon him,"May I be your ransom. Did any of the sahaba of the Messengerof Allah deny the appointment of Abu Bakr?" He said, "Yes.Twelve of the Muhajirun denied it: Khalid ibn Sa'id ibn Abi'I-As, Salman al-Farsi, Abu Dharr al-Ghifari, AI-Miqdad ibnal-Aswad, Ammar ibn Yasir, and Barida 'l-Aslami; as did thefollowing Ansar: Abu 'l-Haytham ibn at-Tayhan, Uthman ibnHunayf, Khuzayma ibn Thabit Dhu sh'Shihadatayn, Ubayy ibnKa'b and Abu Ayyub al-Ansari".'You may say that if the Shia trend represented close adherenceto the text while the other trend represented independentjudgement this implies that the Shia refuted the concept ofijtihad and did not permit themselves to apply it, whereas weknow that the Shia have always practised the use of ijtihad inmatters concerning Islamic law (ash-Shari'ah).The answer to this is that the ijtihad employed by the Shia is thederivation of a ruling from the legal texts, which they believe notonly to be permissible, but obligatory for a section of theUmmah, not the ijtihad which is to reject the legal texts or tosubject the legal text to the personal view of the mujtahid, or tosome resultant benefit, for this is impermissible and the Shiatrend refutes any such use of ijtihad.When we talk of the development of these two trends from theorigins of Islam onwards, one of which followed the texts closelywhile the other employed ijtihad, we mean by ijtihad the makingof judgements in contradiction to the text or the acceptance ofsuch a judgement. The appearance of these two trends wouldhave been natural in the case of any radical and reformatoryreligion which attempted to change a corrupt reality from itsvery roots upwards, although the extent of their influence wouldhave differed according to the strength of the residue of previousideas, the extent of the individual's identification with theprinciples of the new religion, and of his devotion thereto. We ofcourse know that the trend which represented the closeadherence to the texts identified with Islam and devotedthemselves totally to it; and did not reject the use of ijtihadwithin the framework of the religious texts and in extractinglegal rulings from these texts. It is also important that we shouldpoint out that this adherence to the texts does not implyossification and rigidity, which would be incompatible with theproblems imposed by progress and by the many differentmodernizing factors which are part of man's life.
As weunderstand it, adherence to the text is adherence to Islam andthe total acceptance thereof, for Islam carries within itself all theflexibility and capacity necessary to adapt to the needs of anyparticular time and all the elements of modernization andprogress included therein.
Thus, adherence to Islam and its textsis also adherence to all these elements, and to their capacity fororiginal creation and modernization.This is a general sketch to explain Shiaism as a naturalphenomenon within the framework of Islam and the appearanceof the Shia as an answer to this natural phenomenon.Before ending, I would like to mention a point which I believe tobe very important.
Some scholars have tried to distinguishbetween two different aspects of Shiaism: the first is spiritualShiaism and the second is political Shiaism. Moreover, theybelieved that spiritual Shiaism is older than its political counterpart,and that the Imami Imams from the lineage of ImamHusayn, peace be upon him, retired from the political sceneafter the massacre at Karbala, moved their attention to spiritualguidance and ritual acts, and withdrew from the world.However, the truth is that Shiaism has never been solely a purelyspiritual trend from its earliest beginnings, and indeed originatedat the very heart of Islam as a movement dedicated to assistingImam Ali to achieve his rightful position as the sole ideologicalleader of Islam after the death of the Prophet as we previouslyexplained in our examination of the circumstances which led tothe birth of Shiaism.It is not in fact possible, in view of the circumstances which wehave examined, to divorce the spiritual side from the social inany representation of Shiaism, just as it is impossible to divorceone from the other in Islam itself. Thus Shiaism can only bedivided when it loses its significance as an attempt to safeguardthe future of the da'wah after the death of the Prophet, a futurewhich required a combination of both ideological authority andsocial leadership.There was a great deal of support for Imam Ali among theMuslim ranks who believed that he was the person capable ofmaintaining the type of leadership initiated by the three khulafah,and it was this which brought him to power after the murder ofUthman. But this mere support is not Shiaism, neither spiritualnor political, because the Shia believe Imam Ali should haveruled instead of these three khulafah, and should have assumedthe khilafah immediately after the Prophet. Thus the widesupport for Imam Ali amongst the Muslim ranks extendedbeyond the scope of true Shiaism, so that the supposed spiritualand political wings of Shiaism were actually an element withinthis greater support, and we can hardly claim this case as anexample of divided Shiaism.Similarly, the spiritual and ideological support which the Imamenjoyed from some of the important sahaba during the reigns ofAbu Bakr and Umar (such as Salman, Abu Dharr, Ammar andothers) does not indicate a spiritual Shiaism divorced from itspolitical side. On the contrary, it expresses the fact that thesesahaba believed ideologically and politically in the rights ofImam Ali to the leadership of the da'wah after the death of theProphet and that their ideological belief in his leadership wasreflected in their previous spiritual support, while their politicalbelief in his leadership was reflected in their opposition to thekhilafah of Abu Bakr and to the trend which turned theauthority from the Imam in favour of another.In fact, there was never any such division between spiritualShiaism and social Shiaism, and such an idea only presented itselfto the Shia believer after he succumbed to the reality of thesituation, and after the fire of Shiaism in its limited meaning as amovement towards truly Islamic leadership within the Urnmahand the accomplishment of the radical, reformatory task undertakenby the Great Messenger had been extinguished in hisheart, and had turned into a purely religious belief which theindividual bore within his heart, or from which he derived hisconduct and aspirations.
We now come to the claim that the Imams of the Ahl al-Baytfrom the progeny of Imam Husayn withdrew from politics andcut themselves off from the world. In fact it is worth noting thatShiaism, as we understand it, was a means towards the continuationof truly Islamic leadership. Islamic leaderhip, however,simply means the continuation of the type of leadership initiatedby the Noble Messenger towards the total establishment of anUmmah on the basis of Islam, and it is thus impossible toimagine a way in which the Imams could have withdrawn fromsocial affairs without withdrawing also from Shiaism. However,the Imams' decision not to take up arms against the contemporarygovernments helped to spread the belief that theyhad in fact abdicated their social interest in the leadership. Yetwe possess many texts transmitted on the authority of theImams which show that each Imam was always ready toundertake military action if he was sure that he had thenecessary followers and strength to achieve the Islamic aims.If we follow the path of the Shia movement we find that theShia leadership, which was represented by the Imams of the Ahlal-Bayt, believed that the achievement of authority was not initself sufficient for the fulfillment of the Islamic reformatoryprocess, unless this authority was supported by ideological,popular bases which were aware of the aims of this government,strove to guard it and explain its attitudes to the populace, andstood firm in times of hardship.In the middle of the first century after the death of the Prophetthe Shia leadership was still continually trying to regain controlof the Ummah by means which they believed in, in spite of thedistance between them and the government, because theybelieved that they had strong, popular support from theMuhajirun, Ansar, and Tabi'un: (next generation) who wereaware, or semi-aware, of their rights to authority. However, halfa century later, after all noticeable signs of this popular supporthad vanished and new generations had grown up under insidiousinfluences, it became clear that any achievement of this controlby the Shia movement would not lead to its lofty goal, becausethe popular support, which would have assisted them andsacrificed themselves for them because of their awareness oftheir rights to power, no longer existed.In view of this there were only two possible courses of action:firstly, an attempt to reestablish these conscious popular bases,which could prepare the ground for the eventual achievement ofpower; and secondly, to shake the consciousness of the MuslimUmmah, so as to maintain the life and vigour of the Islamicconsciousness and the Ummah, and protect the Ummah againstthe total abdication of its identity and nobility to deviant rulers.The first course of action was actually adopted by the Imamsthemselves, while the second was adopted by the 'Alidrevolutionaries who tried to protect the conscience and free willof the Muslim Ummah by their courageous self-sacrifice.
Thoseof the revolutionaries who were sincere enjoyed the support ofthe Imams.Imam Ali ibn Musa ar-Ridha, peace be upon him, told Al-Ma'mun,when he discussed the martyred Zayd ibn Ali:'He was one of the scholars (ulama) of the Ahl al-Bayt whobecame angry on Allah's behalf and fought His enemies until hewas killed fighting in His path. My father, Musa ibn Ja'far,peace be upon him, told me that he used to hear his father,Ja'far, say, "May Allah have mercy on my Uncle Zayd, whoencouraged the people to support the most suitable leader fromthe Al-Muhammad. For had he been victorious, he would havefulfilled his promise to Allah, because he used to say, 'I amcalling you to support the most suitable leader from the familyof Muhammad'."'Thus the fact that the Imams abandoned the idea of directmilitary action against deviant rulers does not mean that theyset aside the political aspect of their leadership and turned alltheir attention to prayers only. On the contrary, it demonstrateshow their different forms of political policy were shaped bycontemporary circumstances and by their profound awarenessof the exact nature of their radical policy and of the best meansto its fulfillment.
And Praise be to Allah, the Lord of the Worlds.
1- Tarikh al-Tabari, 5/26.
2- Sharh al-Nahj of Ibn Hadid, 6/46.
3- Tarikh al-Tabari, 3/20.
4- Tarikh al-Kamil of Ibn Athir and others.
5- Musnad Ahmad, 1/300; Muslim, v.2; Bokhari, v.1.
6- Tarikh al-Yaqubi, 2/126-127.
7- Tabaqat ibn Sa'd, 3/248.
8- Tarikh al-Tabari, 4/52.
9- See the texts concerning as-saqifa an-Nahj, 6/6-9.
10- Sunan ad-Darimi, 1/50.
13- Surat al-'Abasa, 28-32.
14- 'Umdatul Qari'.
[Source: maaref-foundation.com ]