THE TALE OF A NATION-8

A Detailed Analysis Of Muslim History

Sects and further sub-sects: Sects In Shia Islam.

Recitation of the Holy Scripture.

And surely We will test you with something of fear, hunger, loss of wealth, lives and fruits; but give good news to the patient ones.

And We do not burden any soul except to its capacity, and with Us is a Record which speaks with truth; and they will not be wronged.

The believers are but brothers, so make peace between your brothers and fear God so that you may receive mercy.

And He is the One Who multiplied you in the earth and to Him you will be gathered.

End of Recitation of the Holy Scripture.

In part 33 I concluded the major Sunni sects. Let’s talk about Shia Muslims. Shia Muslims are the second largest denomination of Islam after Sunni almost 20% of the World Muslim population. The word Shia comes from shiatu Ali which means followers of Ali or party of Ali. As I told you in part 30 that fundamental difference between Sunni and Shia sects is on the selection of Muhammad’s successor. Shias believe it should be members of Muhammad’s family and especially descendants of Muhammad. They say that prophet did announce Ali as successor at the event of Ghadir Khum Ghadir Pond of Khum. While the Sunnis believe that it doesn’t necessarily have to be that. Now because so much of this revolves around the family of Muhammad. This division becomes stronger and stronger specially after brutal incidents happened with Muhammad’s family during Ummayyah and Abbasids rule and because of more and more bloodshed between the two parties.

Shia Muslims are also subdivided into many sub-sects based on jurisprudence and theological differences. I will give you a brief introduction of almost all of them but before that let me also give you a summary of most important Shia books other than Quran. Starting from the books that are famous for commentary on Quran i.e Tafseer books. On top of the list is Tafseer e Masoomeen, then At-Tibyan Fi Tafsir al-Quran (التبیان فی تفسیر القرآن By Shaykh Tusi born in 995. Then comes Tafsir al-Mizan full name Al-Mizan fi Tafsir al-Qur’an الميزان في تفسير القرآن, by Muhammad Husayn Tabatabai, died in1981, then comes Al-Bayan Fi Tafsir al-Quran by Ayatollah Abu Al-Qasim Al-Khoei.

Then there are books attributed to Imams either compiled by themselves or later. At the top of the list is Nahj al-Balagha which in English means The Peak of Eloquence. Believed to be the words of Ali bin Talib and is actually a collection of sermons speeches narrations letters and Tafseer compiled by tenth-century scholar Sharif Razi born in 970AD in Baghdad, over almost 300 years after Ali. It includes nearly 241 sermons, 79 letters, and 489 narrations ranging from the creation of the World, the creation of Adam, end of the Universe and the arrival of Imam al-Mahdi.

Then is another book Al-Jafr by Ali ibn Abi Talib which is not only a book but a package consisting of two parts. One is called “The White Al Jafr” that contains knowledge of Muhammad and past prophets, teachings of all Imams, Some knowledge of Ghaib i.e hidden knowledge and of future events, Original Injeel, Torah, Zaboor.  The second one The Red Al Jafr contains directives about war and weapons and sword of prophet Muhammad.

Then is another book by Ali bin Hussein Zainul Abidin 4th Shia Imam also known as As Sajjad. The name of this book is Risalah al-Huquq i.e Treatise of Rights, duties and responsibilities covering rights of your body organs to rights of all external beings. Then again another book by him Al-Sahifa al-Sajjadiyya الصحیفه السجادیه, Scripture of Imam Sajjad. This is admired as the highest form of eloquence even by European scholars. This book is actually supplications and praises which he wrote after Karbala and helped in reestablishing true Islamic teachings and importance of jihad and martyrdom and helped Muslims in uprisings against tyrant rulers. It is considered as the highest level of eloquence and purity to be found in Arabic after Quran and Nahj al-Balagha. And has several titles, such as “Sister of the Quran”, “Gospel of the Holy Household” and “Psalms of the Muhammad dynasty. Then is Al-Risalah al-Dhahabiah الرسالة الذهبیة, which in English means The Golden Treatise. It is a book on medicine and anatomy by Ali ibn Musa al-Ridha the 8th Twelver Shia Imam who wrote this book on the request of Abbasid Caliph Mamun who was so impressed with the work that asked to rewrite it with golden Ink thus it is called Golden Treatise. Then again another book by him The Sahifah of al-Ridha الصحیفة الرضا

Now some Hadith books, for non Muslim listeners hadith means sayings of Prophet Muhammad. At the top of the list is The Four Books الكتب الاربعة, Just like Sihah al-Sittah six authentic Hadith books of Sunni Muslims these are the four best-known hadith collections of Shia Muslims. These are Kitab al-Kafi which in English means The Sufficient Book. Written by Abu Jafar Muhammad ibn Yaqub known as Al-Kulayni born in Iran in 864AD. This book is divided into three parts Usul al-Kafi related to theology, Quran, history and ethics, Furu al-Kafi related to legal issues and Rawdat al-Kafi which is traditions, letters and speeches of Imams. It includes more than 16000 narrations. Then comes Al-Istibsar by Abu Jafar Muhammad Ibn Hassan Tusi. It includes more than 5000 ahadith then تهذیب الاحکام فی شرح المقنعه) Tahdhib al-Ahkam fi Sharh al-Muqni’ah again by Tusi and contains 13590 ahadith and lastly Man la Yahduruhu al-Faqih  من لا يحضره الفقيه  which in English means “Book of him who is not in the presence of a jurisprudent, by Abu Ja’far Muhammad ibn ‘Ali ibn Babawaih al-Qummi ابو جعفر محمد بن علي بن بابويه القمي born in 923 AD in Khorasan. It has more than 9000 ahadith.

Now coming back to Shia Muslim sect origin and structure. Shia belief split many times in history over the issue of the Imamate. So all differences in Shias are because of differences in the line of Imamate. The largest branch is the Twelvers, then comes Ismailis and Fivers. Seveners like Qarmatians who are now extinct, Fatimids, and Druse all emerged from the Ismailis, and Zaidis are the fivers. There was a fourth branch of Shias known as Kaysanites which are now extinct and believed in Muhammad ibn Hanafiyyah. Ali’s son but not from Fatima. After Karbala when Hussein and almost all family died and Ali bin Hussein Zainul Abidin adopted a life of worship and prayer Muhammad ibn al-Hanafiyyah became the visible head of the house of Ali. After Muhammad ibn Hanafiyya Imamate passed to his son and from him suspiciously to the father of the First Ruler of Banu Abbassid Caliphate.

Twelver in Arabic Ithnaashariyyah is the largest branch of Shia Islam approx 85% of Shias are Twelvers. They also known as Imami or Jafari, originated from the name of the 6th Imam. They believe in 12 Imams who are spiritual and political successors to Muhammad. They believe in Isma عِصْمَة  infallibility of Imams and that they are divinely ordained Imams and chosen by Nass نصّ. That is chosen by a previous Imam on the direct divine order. Each Imam was the son of the previous Imam, with the exception of Hussein who was the brother of Hasan. The Last and 12th Imam is Muhammad al Mahdi s/o Hassan Askri who is now 1158 years old and is hidden in occultation since 874AD and will return as promised Mahdi just before the return of Jesus. There 12 Imams are Ali, Hasan, Husayn, Ali Zayn Al-Abidin, Muhammad Al-Baqir, Ja’far Al-Sadiq, Musa Al-Kazim, Ali Al-Ridha/Reza, Muhammad Al-Jawad also known as al-Taqi), Ali Al-Hadi also known as Al-Naqi, Hasan Al-Askari and Muhammad Al-Mahdi.

Twelver also called Imami Shia further divided into three groups Ghulat, Alevis and Jaffari. Ghullat mean exaggerators. Mostly they are extinct sects except for Alawites or Alawis. They are not even considered as Shias by Orthodox Shia groups. Mostly living in Syria 11%, Turkey and Lebanon. Founded by Ibn Nusayr during the 9th century, sometimes called Nusayris or Ansaris. After Ghullat lets discuss Alevis and Jaffaris. Second group Alevis also called Qizilbash, or Shiah Imami-Tasawwufi Tariqah, founded by a saint Haji Bektash Veli in the 13th century and found primarily in Turkey. Almost 20% of Population second to Sunnis in Turkey. They do not follow Taqleed towards a Marja. Marja literal meaning is the source to follow or religious reference. Marja in Shias is the highest religious position after Prophets and Imams. He has the authority to make religious decisions. Mostly it is Grand Ayatollah. Alevis are a mystical Sufi form of Shiaism and do not strictly follow Sharia Islamic Law and rituals. The third group is Jaffari which is further divided into Usuli, Akhbari, and Shaykhi based on differences in Jurisprudence. Usuli are the majority Twelver Shia Muslim group mostly in Iran, Pakistan, Azerbaijan, India, Iraq, and Lebanon. They believe in Ijtihad and Marja-i Taqlid. Maraji like Grand Ayatollah is the highest authority on religious laws in Usuli Shias. On the other hand, Akhbari rejects ijtihad in favor of hadith and say that the Door of Ijtihad was opened by Umar ibn al-Khattab after the death of Prophet and the Fourteen Infallibles Shia Imams never permitted Ijtihad. They also do not follow Marja and do Taqleed or Following of only Mahdi the 12th Imam who is in occultation. They are mostly residing in Bahrain, some parts of Iraq India and Pakistan. Shaykhi or Shaykhism 3rd movement in Jaffari Fiqh originated in 19th century Qajar dynasty in Iran by Shaykh Ahmed. It is a mix of Sufi and Shia Akhbari doctrines and are in much minority. Followers reside in Iran and Iraq. Many followers later converted to Babi and Bahai religions and broke from Islam.

Zaydis are the Fivers as they split from main Shia group on the death of Ali bin Hussein Zainul Abidin as instead of considering Muhammad Baqir as Imam they consider Zayd s/o Zainul Abidin as the 5th Imam. They believe that a true Imam should be from the progeny of Fatima thru Hassan and Hussein and must fight against corrupt rulers. And because Muhammad Baqir kept himself away from politics and Zayd bin Ali rebelled against Ummayad they consider him Imam. Other famous Imams were Yahya ibn Zayd, Muhammad al-Nafs al-Zakiyya (great grandson of Hassan). Zaydis do not believe in the religious taqiyya concealment and infallibility of Imams and are closest to Sunnis specially Hanafis in their doctrine.  They form the second largest Shia group after Twelvers and mostly live in Yemen making up almost 40% of Yemen Muslim population and nearly one million in Saudi Arabia. The famous book by Zayd bin Ali is Majmu’ al-Fiqh. Previous dynasties of Zaydis influence were لأدارسة Idrisid in Morroco and Rassids in Yemen. Currently, the most prominent Zaidi movement is Houthis movement in Yemen, also known as Ansar Allah and Shabab Al Mumineen.

If my Lord Wills, I will continue this in next program.

Recitation of the Holy Scripture.

And if God willed, He could have made them one community, but He admits whom He wills into His Mercy. And the wrongdoers have no protector or helper.

Say, “He is All-Capable to send upon you punishment from above you or from beneath your feet or to confuse you into sects and make you taste the violence of one another.” See how We explain the Signs so that you may understand.

But your people have denied it, while it is the truth. Say, “I am not a manager over you.”

For every news is a fixed time, and soon you will know.

Will come soon!

Will come soon!

Will come soon!