The political Shias who believed in the caliphate of Shaykhain versus religious-Imami Shias
It has being part and parcel of postmodern Nasibi propaganda to insist that the ‘ancestors’ of the Shi’a were a treacherous people that consistently abandoned Imam Ali, Imam Hasan, Imam Hussain and the remainder Ahlulbayt Imams (Peace be upon them) and in some cases killed them. They seek to corroborate their claims by citing unknown texts by unknown authors as a mechanism for duping ordinary unsuspecting Muslims that do not possess a strong background on Islamic history. The shameless people lack the capability to direct these foolish allegations to us, the Shia of Ahlulbayt directly because as they are fully aware that the definition of the term ‘Shia’ did not carry same meaning back then as it does today. This was an all-encompassing term that referred to everyone including those who are called Sunnis today. The reality is the term Shia was not a homogenous term, and essentially incorporated the affiliates of Ali (as) with differing political and religious views; we have therefore from this point on sought to distinguish the key groupings as follows:
The minority Shia that believed that Ali (as) had a divine mandate to rule as he had been appointed as Caliph by the Prophet (s) (hereafter referred to as Shia al-Khasa)
The majority Shia that believed that Ali (as) had the legal mandate to rule as he had been appointed as fourth Caliph by the Ummah, like the earlier Caliphs (hereafter referred to as Aama).
With this fact in mind, the real question that should be addressed is:
Which segment of what made up the generic term ‘Shia’ perpetrated these heinous actions that today’s Nawasib attribute to today’s Shia Imami (twelver) Sect?
Once this puzzle is solved all the pieces of this large complex jigsaw fit into place and one can easily gauge the treachery and the hypocrisy of the Nawasib. We will debunk the Nasibi propaganda in this article God willing.
The writers of the Ansar.org used the same hypocritical and deceiving tactics when…
There is also the tendency of claiming that those who deserted Sayyidunâ Husayn were not of the Shî‘ah. Jafri writes:…
of those who invited Husayn to Kûfa, and then those 18,000 who paid homage to his envoy Muslim b. ‘Aqîl, not all were Shî‘îs in the religious sense of the term, but were rather supporters of the house of ‘Alî for political reasons – a distinction which must be kept clearly in mind in order to understand the early history of Shî‘î Islam.4
Jafri’ s motive in excluding the deserters of Sayyidunâ Husayn from the ranks of the “religious” (as opposed to the “political”) supporters of the house of Sayyidunâ ‘Alî is quite transparent. He is clearly embarrassed by the fact that it was the Shî‘ah themselves who abandoned their Imâm and his family after inviting him to lead them in revolt. What leads us to reject this distinction between “religious” and “political” supporters is the fact that Sayyidunâ Husayn himself, on more than one occasion, referred to the Kûfans as his Shî‘ah. It is strange that while there is so much reluctance on the part of the Shî‘ah to accept the deseof Kûfah as their own, they are quite proud and eager to identify themselves with the movement of the Tawwâbûn. The speeches made at the inception of the movement of the Tawwâbûn very clearly prove that they were the same people who invited Sayyidunâ Husayn and then deserted him.5 Their very name is indicative of their guilt in this regard. The attempt by the Shî‘ah to absolve themselves from the crime of deserting Sayyidunâ Husayn is therefore at best nothing more than pathetic.
As we have mentioned previously, the Ahle Sunnah adopted this name in the later stages of Islam whilst the time frame that the Nasibi writer is referring to above is that early era wherein the term ‘Shia’ comprised of all those individuals that would be deemed the ‘Ahle Sunnah’ or ‘Sunni’ today. The author therefore has a moral responsibility to clarify which Shia group when writing about the Shia of that era. The famous anti-shia writer Muhaddith Shah Abdul Aziz Dehalvi substantiates our claim by conceding that in the early days the term Shia was a generic one that incorporated everyone:
Tauhfa Athna Ashariya (Urdu), page 16 by Shah Abdul Aziz (Karachi)
“It should be known that the first Shias (who are the Sunnis and the Tafdiliyyah) were known in the old days as Shias. When the Ghulat and the Rawafid Zaydiyyah and Ismailiyyah took the name for themselves, Sunnis and Tafdiliyyah did not like this name for them and so hence adopted the name of Ahlu’s-Sunnah wa’l Jamaah.”
Tauhfa Athna Ashari (Urdu) page 16, published in Karachi
The twelver Imami Shia were called ‘Rafidhi’ (Rejectors) back in those days. The term ‘Shia’ means, ‘a group’ or ‘helpers’ or ‘followers’. Since the people of Kufa supported Imam Ali during the Battle of Jamal and Siffeen, their political affiliation placed them in the grouping of ‘The Shias (followers) of Ali (as)’. It was again, a political term used for the helpers of Ali or group of Ali. Similarly the opposing army i.e. the army Muawiyah was called ‘the Shias of Muawiyah’ or ‘Shias of Uthman’. The word ‘Shia’ was used for these two groups for pure political reasons and the same term also referred to those that adhered to the teachings of Ahlulbayt (as) and attested to their status as the rightful Imams that succeeded the Holy Prophet (s). It was these religiously affiliated Shias that are known as Imamia or twelvers or Imami Shia today. The twelver Shia never accepted the Caliphate of Abu Bakr, Umar and Uthman unlike the political Shia mentioned above who upheld their Caliphs as rightful, it was this group that emerged into what is termed in this day and age ‘Ahle Sunnah’ or ‘Sunnis’. The term ‘Shia’ was used for:
everyone that joined Imam Ali (as)’s forces against Muawiyah at Siffeenthose that considered Imam Ali (as) to be on the right path in this dispute
These same individuals deemed the Caliphate of the Shaykhain to be legitimate whilst the Imami or twelvers were called Rafidhi by their opponents.
The denial of the existence of political Shias by present day Nawasib
The Nawasib unile the twelver Shias refuse to accept the existence of political Shias during that era. Their stubbornness is curious, especially since the existence of political Shias is an established fact. Their refusal to acknowledge the existence of political Shias during that era is because to do so would debase their false claims and propaganda wherein they have insisted that the Shias killed Imam Hussain (as). This admission would unhinge centuries of efforts, motivated by their hatred of acknowledging historical facts they deem it imperative to hide this reality.
Tauhfa Athna Ashariya (Urdu), page 27 by Shah Abdul Aziz
We will now prove that the political Shias’ existence at the embryonic stage can be dated to the era of Imam Ali (as) and continued its life during the immediate centuries that followed. Al Muhaddith Shah Abdul Aziz Dehalvi states as follows:
“The title Shi’a was first given to those Muhajireen and Ansar who gave allegiance (bay’ah) to Ali (may Allah enlighten his face). They were his steadfast faithful followers during his (Ali’s) caliphate. They remained close to him; they always fought his enemies, and kept on following Ali’s commands and prohibitions. The true Shi’a are these who came in 37 Hijri”
Tauhfa Athna Ashari (Urdu) page 27, published in Karachi
(NB 37 Hijri -the year Imam Ali (as) fought Mu’awiya at Sifin).
The Ahle Sunnah scholars have acknowledged the existence of political Shias over several centuries
Whilst today’s Nawasib continue to peddle the same lie that the Kufis were Imamis or twever Shias, the scholars of Ahle Sunnah have made it abundantly clear in their writings that the term ‘Shia’ back did not carry the same connotation that it does today. Let us quote the opinion of the renowned Sunni scholar Imam al-Dhahabi from his book Mizan al-Eitidal, Volume 3 page 552:
‘Yes, most of the Syrian populations from the days of (the battle of) Siffeen rejected the Caliphate of Amir-al-Momineen Ali and considered themselves and their ancestors righteous for doing so. The Kufans likewise deviated from Uthman and loved Ali over him because their ancestors were the Shias and helpers whilst we, the Ahle Sunnah love all four of the Caliphs. There was also a third group of Shias in Iraq who loved both Ali and Uthman but still preferred Ali over Uthman and had an extreme dislike of those that fought Ali at the same time they would supplicate, asking forgiveness of those that fought Ali. This was a softer version of Shia.
Similarly another legendry Sunni Imam Ibn Hajar Asqalani wrote in his book Tahdeeb al-Tahdeeb, Volume 1 page 82:
“According to the early scholars, Shiat meant to have faith on Ali having preference over Uthman….although they preferred the Shaykhayn over them (Uthman and Ali)”
Thus, if we summarise the above writings of al-Dhahabi and Ibn Hajar we learn that:
the Shias of Kufa accepted the Caliphate of the Shaykhayn (Abu Bakr and Umar).there were a group of Kufan Shias that rejected the Caliphate of Uthman bin Affan in the same manner that the people of Syria rejected the Caliphate of Ali (as).another group of Kufan Shia had a soft heart towards Uthman bin Affan but still preferred Ali (as) over him. This particular group of Kufan Shias not only believed in the Caliphate of the first three Caliphs but also prayed for forgiveness of all of those who fought against Ali such as Ayesha, Talha, Zubair, Muawiyah etc.
These were therefore the beliefs of the politicized Kufan Shia and this reality completely debases the propaganda of the Nawasib. It is fascinating that today’s Sunnis and Nawasib follow those Ulema that fell under the ambit of political Shia and rely on their works, but despite their political leanings they are categorised as ‘Ahle Sunnah’. The only difference is during their lifetimes they preferred Ali (as) over Uthman. Among such scholars is the famed scholar of Tafsir Imam Sufyan Thawri (d. 161 H). Writing about him Allamah Imtiaz Ali Al-Arishi writes on page 15:
“Back in those days the term Shia was exclusively used for those who preferred Ali over Uthman and we cannot rule out the possibility that Thawri preferred Ali over Uthman.”
Even the Ghali Shia of those days attested to the Caliphate of the Shaykhayn
Up until now we only discussed the ordinary Shias political groups that were thought to have different opinions about the four Caliphs but what is interesting is that apart from ordinary Shias, al-Dhahabi also mentioned that those who were called ‘Ghulat Shia’ (extremist Shias) had beliefs that differed to the Ghulat of later times. He mentions in his book Mizan al-Eitidal, Volume 1 page 6:
“In those days (the early centuries of Islam) ‘Ghulat Shia’ were those that identified faults and abuses Uthman, Talha, Zubair, Muawiyah and all those that fought against Ali. They did not hold a good opinion about them. But nowadays ‘Ghulat’ are those that issue Takfeer against the above high ranking personalities and disassociate themselves from the Shaykhayn”.
Having cited the above facts, what evidence does Ibn al Hashimi have to describe the Aaama Shias of Kufa as the Imami or twelver or Khasa Shias and then blame them for the crimes committed by the latter? Whilst Allah (swt) has commanded us in His Glorious Book not to commit injustice due to enmity of a certain nation such commands are for Muslims and it is down to these cyber takfeeris to decide if they wish to be counted as such.
Ali bin Abi Talib (as) and his political Shias
Before we can take a detailed look at Imam Hussain (as) and the role of the political Shias in Kufa during his era, it is important that we also look at the political Kufan Shia from the era of his father (as).
After the murder of Umar, the people of Medina presented the caliphate to Imam Ali on the caveat that he rules according to the Quran, the Sunnah of the Prophet (p) and the path of the Shaykhain (Abu Bakr and Umar) [Sharh Fiqh Akbar, Page 66].Ali bin AbiTalib refused to accept the requirement that he adhere to the path of the Shaykhain and hence the caliphate, Uthman bin Affan agreed to it, and he was appointed the Caliph. When Uthman bin Affan started to appoint wicked, opportunistic secular Umawi governors over Iraq the Iraqis rebelled and from the same city of Kufa, an army of men gathered to murder Uthman bin Affan because he was not following the Sunnah of Shaykhain (Abu Bakr and Umar). That evidences that the Kufans in these ranks attested to the caliphate of the Shaykhain that justified their rising against him. Like the Kufans large opposition also came from Egypt and Basra to murder Uthman for the very same reason.Those Sahaba and Tabi’een that took the oath of allegiance for Ali bin Abi Talib’s Caliphate, also believed in the Caliphate of the Shaykhain. These were the same Sahaba and Tabi’een from Medina that fought under the banner of Ali (as) in the battle of Jamal and subsequently moved to Kufa so that they could fight against Muawiyah. These Sahaba and Tab’een were called the Shias of Ali throughout that era.The battle of Siffeen occurred following the oath of allegiance to Ali (as). The army of Ali (as) was also defined within the political terminology of ‘Shias of Ali’. When this was an era of intense Fitnah, war and upheaval how could Imam Ali (as) successfully convert all these political Shias into twelver Imami Shias?It were these same political Shias (believers in Shaykhain) that turned against Imam Ali (as) when he was about to achieve victory over Muawiyah and forced him to call back Malik Ashtar ( A staunch believer in Ali’s cause) from the battle or else they would murder Ali bin Abi Talib themselves.Another group from amongst the same political Shias (believers in the Shaykhain) – turned totally against Imam Ali at Tahkeem and displayed a willingness to fight him.Recounting the betrayal of same political Shias, Imam Ali (as) mentions in one of his sermons in Nahajul Balagha
“Till yesterday I was giving orders but today I am being given orders, and till yesterday I was dissuading people (from wrong acts) but today I am being dissuaded.” (Sermon 208).Addressing the same Kufans Imam Ali bin Abi Talib says
“O’ group of people who do not obey when I order and do not respond when I call you.” (Sermon 180).At another instance Imam Ali Bin Abi Talib tells the Kufans:
“I was sitting when sleep overtook me. I saw the Prophet of Allah appear before me, and I said: “O’ Prophet of Allah ! what crookedness and enmity I had to face from the people. ” The prophet of Allah said: “Invoke (Allah) evil upon them,” but I said, “Allah may change them for me with better ones and change me for them with a worse one.” (Sermon 70).Ali (as) mentions in another sermon:
” By Allah, I did not come to you of my own accord. I came to you by force of circumstances. I have come to know that you say `Ali speaks lie. May Allah fight you! Against whom do I speak lie?” (Sermon 71).
So this was a short history of the political Shias of Kufa who previously believed in the Caliphates of the Shaykhain during the reign of Imam Ali (as). The real problem is that today’s deceitful Nawasib want to distort the real history of Islam and present those political Shias as being the ancestors of the twelver Imami Shias and wish to apportion blame to them for the actions of these political Shias. The truth is during that era of upheaval a group of Shias were loyal to Imam Ali (as) unconditionally. They included personalities such as Ammar Yasir and Malik Ashtar etc. This group believed that the Caliphate of Ali (as) was a divine designation.
We for example see that after swearing allegiance to Imam Ali (as) Khuzaymah ibn Thabit is reported to have said:
“We have elected someone who was chosen for us by the Messenger of Allah (swt).”
Al-Mi’yar wa al-Muwazanah by Abu Jaffar al-Iskafi (d. 240 H), page 51
This view was also pointed out by Ibn Abbas to Umar who refuted his argument that the Quraysh deciding Caliphate after Abu Bakr was legally sound with these words:
‘if Quraysh had made the same choice for themselves as God did for them, then right would be theirs, unrejected and unenvied’
The History of Tabari, Volume 14, English translation, by G. Rex Smith, p137-138)
Darimiyyah Hujuniyyah, while describing for Mu’awiyah the reasons for favouring Maula Ali stated:
“I favour Ali for his love of the poor, his generosity towards strangers, his religious learning, his sacrificing character and for his having been designated for wilayah by the Messenger of Allah.”
At- Wafidat min al-nisa ‘ala Muawiyah by Abbas bin Bakaar, page 41
We read in the History of Tabari Volume 17 pagr 117, the following incident following the Battle of Siffin:
“When the Khawarij had left al-Kufah, the companions and supporters (shiah) of Ali came to him and gave him the oath of allegiance. They said ‘We are the friends of those whom you befriend and the enemies of those to whom you show enmity”
“The common people swore allegiance to Ali (as) on the basis of the Book and the Sunnah and the Shi’a of Ali on the basis of friendship of his friends and enmity of his enemies.”
Al-Mi’yar wa al-Muwazanah, p. 194.
The stress on such an allegiance as a second allegiance in addition to the first one as well as its content points to the beliefs of the Shia al-Khasa who deemed the duty to follow Ali (as) a religious obligation as he had the divine mandate to be followed.