Strictly Following a Particular School of Thought Question: It is very clear that Islam is the divine religion and all

its believers are Muslims. Despite knowing this fact, people do not want to part from their fiqhs and enter the pure Islam. What is the reason behind this attitude?

Answer: I believe that if the holy Prophet (sws) would be alive and we were enjoying the blessing of learning directly from him, there would not have been a chance for a believer to attach to any particular fiqh. But after the demise of the Prophet (sws), even the scholars of had th have no choice but to consult the opinions of other scholars in various situations. A layman cannot understand the holy Qur'an and the Sunnah by himself. He has no option save to accept the opinion of the scholars. Asking him to study Qur'an and Had th independently ignoring the opinions and researches of the scholars can prove fatal for his religious self. The best option for such a man is that he should consider the Qur¶ n and Had th, the only sources of the religion, and should accept only such views of the scholars as seem compatible with the evidences given in the holy Book of Allah and Sunnah. If he find a counter opinion by any other scholar, he should not reject it but through evidences and, in this regard, he should seek guidance from his religious mentor. If he finds that the view of the differing person is nearer to the had th and the Sunnah, he should accept it and his affiliation to his school should not hinder his correction. But it should be noted that one should differ or stick to a particular group or school only for the cause of Allah and in obedience to His Prophet (sws). Taqlid is a natural weakness. It can be condemned only when it hinders the path of righteousness and when a person denies the truth despite knowing it.

Difference between the Shi'is and Sunnis Question: What is the original dogmatic fault Shi'is? What are the differences between the Shi'is and Sunnis?

Answer: Allow me not to comment here about the false and truth and simply illustrate the difference between the Shia Muslims and the mainstream Muslims. The mainstream Muslims consider the only divine source of Islam, existing after the Prophet (sws) to be the Qur¶an and Sunnah. However according to the Shia Muslims (the majority of them

who are known as Imami Shia), beside the Qur¶an there are twelve individuals from the generation of the Prophet (sws) who came one after the other as the divinely appointed Imams of the Ummah after the Prophet (sws). According to the Shia Muslims these individuals are flawless and where needed can have access to the hidden knowledge. Accordingly they believe that only the guidance given by these Imams is the true guidance and any one who follows other understandings of Islam is misguided or not fully guided. They therefore consider the Khulafa of Muslims (from Abubakr to the last one, except Ali ± ra ± who they consider to be the first of these divinely guided Imams) to be transgressors-going beyond of the right of these Imams. According to the Shia Muslims, the last Imam is the promised Mahdi who was born in the third century and then went to occultation a few years later to remain safe till people are ready for his return. They believe that he is miraculously still alive and will return before the end of the world. Slah of the Shi'is Question: I have been researching all the differences between sunnis and shiites. Can you tell me how different are there ways of praying? Why do certain people view their kalima to be wrong considering a small addition at the end? I want my concepts to be clear as the masses view shiites as non-Muslims. Is there any relevant proof in document (a fatwa) that says otherwise about the shia school of thought is right in their own regard. Answer: I would like to first clarify two points about Shia: 1. No individual and no group has any authority to declare the followers of a sect of Islam, Non-Muslims. It is only the jurisdiction of the Muslim community, in its collective capacity, that may take such a decision. Even then, as long as the person believes in the fundamentals of Islam, reads his prayers and pays Zakah, then according to the Qur'an, he should be considered a Muslim. This most definitely applies to Shia Muslims. 2. The main difference between Shia Muslims and the mainstream Muslims is in their beliefs. The differences in practices are only secondary and such differences can be found among non-Shia Muslims as well. In terms of belief, the difference between Shia Muslims and the mainstream Muslims is that Shia Muslims believe that after the Prophet (pbuh) certain individuals (Imams) from among his Ahl Al-Bayt and generation are to be followed. They consider these individuals to be divinely appointed, infallible and being divinely guided. According to

Shia the last Imam has been gone to occultation about 1000 years ago but is still alive and will reappear to bring justice to the world and he is Mahdi. Obviously as the Qur'an is our book of guidance, one needs to look at the Qur'an to see whether the Qur'an directs us to hold the above belief. In terms of the differences in prayers, these differences are mostly in details. I am not sure if this is what you are interested in but if you are interested please write back and we will list these differences for you. Hadith about Twelve Imams Question: My question is about the hadith about the twelve imams. What is your opinion about that hadith? Is it authentic? If it is than who are those imams which are addressed? Shi¶is are very much certain that the referred to imams are their imams. If we say they are wrong then who are the imams? If the Shi¶is are right then why don¶t we accept their views? Answer: As for the Hadith you mentioned, there are a number of points to consider: 1. Hadith on itself is not a source of developing our obligatory beliefs. Any obligatory belief needs to have its establishment in the Qur'an. If you know of any verses of the Qur'an that says we need to follow certain individuals after the Prophet (sws) then you need to follow that verse, otherwise people who hold a belief based on Ahadith like what you mentioned need to answer the question that why the clear book of guidance that is supposed to include everything for our guidance has not mentioned an obligatory belief. 2. The Hadith you referred to is narrated by Jabir ibn Thamura who at the time was only a kid. He says that the Prophet (sws) said those words in presence of people. The fact that this Hadith is only narrated by Jabir is quite suspicious. 3. The Hadith is not about 12 Imams. It is about 12 Amirs. Amir means someone who has the power in hand. From among the Imams of Shia only Ali (rta) and for a very brief time Hassan (ra) had power. 4. The Hadith does not direct Muslims to follow these 12 Amirs. In fact it does not even say that these 12 Amirs are rightly guided ones. It merely says that at their time Islam is in powerful position. If it was an obligation to follow these Amirs then (beside the fact that it had to come in the Qur'an as well) the Prophet (sws) would have made sure that everyone had heard it and would have made it very clear that following them were obligation.

5. History informs us of existence of only 11 of the Shia Imams. There is no reliable historical evidence about the existence of the 12th Imam of Shia. The existence of the 12th Imam of Shia is mostly argued based on theological and philosophical reasoning rather than any hard historical facts. Nahj al-Balaghah Question: Kindly comment on Nahj al-Balaghah. Is this truly by Hazrat Ali (ra)? I read "Sermon 3: Sermon of ash-Shiqshiqiyyah." Please comment. Answer:

The book Nahj al-Balagha is a collection of sermons, letters and sayings attributed to Ali (ra) that was collected by Sayyid Radhi in 4th century (died in 404). Nahj al-Balagha itself does not have any Isnad (chains of narrators), but it is possible to find the Isnad of much of its contents in other sources. It is not possible to rule an overall judgment about the whole book, in terms of reliability. Rather every sermon, letter or saying should be looked at from other sources separately. An interesting point about Nahj al-Balagha is that while there are a number of places in this book where it is narrated that Ali (ra) was arguing about his right to Khilafa, in no place in this book is there any reference to him being selected by Allah to be Khalifa or Imam after the prophet (sws) and there is no reference to him being announced as the prophet's successor. In fact, in all places where these arguments (in favor of Ali having right to Khilafa) are narrated, they are based on kinship and knowledge rather than being appointed. The Khutba of Sheqsheqya is one example, where you see that despite apparently very open criticism of other companions, there is no mention of Ali (ra) being appointed by the prophet as his successor. This sermon has a few chains of narrators and none of them are flawless, even according to the books of Rijal of Shia. Did Hazrat Ali (rta) and other Imams call them Shi'i? Question:

If Shiµis are wrong in their beliefs according to sunnis then why did their imams who were close relatives of Hazrat Ali (rta) lead them (shiµis)? Or in other words what did Shiµa imams call themselves, sunni or shiµi?

Answer:

First, we need to understand our religion from the Qur'an. If we can find the belief of Shia Muslims in the Qur'an then it is correct and if not, then it cannot be correct. This is as simple as that. Second, if we want to use this argument then nearly every belief or every sect in Islam can be argued to be on the basis of correct premises. Shia itself has been divided into tens of branches, some of which are currently existing. The same question can be asked about all these sects of Shia. The correct method of thinking however is to evaluate people by their arguments rather than to evaluate arguments by looking at people who have said them (this itself is an advice that is narrated from Ali). Third, if you look at the more reliable narrations from Ali, Hassan, Hussain, Ali b. alHussain you do not find any explicit references to the core Shia belief (as we know it today). If you look at the narrations from Muhammad b. Ali and Jafar b. Muhammad you will find two types of narrations from them. Those in which they deny any divine status/position and those in which (quite contrary), they consider divine status/position for each other. Technically speaking many of the latter type of narrators can be proved to be unreliable and weak according to the Shia books of Rijal. My belief is that Shia Imams used to call themselves with the same title that the Prophet (sws) used to call himself, that is, Muslim. Verse 22:78 considers this title to be fully satisfactory for us and my belief is that the Shia Imams did not ignore this verse Sons of Hussayn b. Ali (rta) Question: I have read in one of your articles that two sons of Hazrat Ali's (rta) were called Usman and Abu Bakr. They were killed in Karbala. Kindly clear this issue giving the reference of some Shiµi books. Answer:

This is from among the known facts among the Shia scholars. For instance the very famous Shia Alim, Sheikh al-Mufid writes in Al-Irshad, the section on Tarikh Amir AlMumenin, Bab 4 under

... "and Umar and Ruqayya ... and Abbas and Jafar and Uthman and Abdullah, who (i.e. these four sons) became martyred with their brother Hussain in Karbala ... and Muhammad al-Asghar whose title was Abubakr and Ubayd Allah who became martyrs with their brother Hussain in Karabala ..."

You can find the same details in Muntahi al-Aamal of Sheikh Abbas al-Qumi, Bab 3, Fasl 6.

As a quick reference, look at the following website that is one of the well known Shia sources in Internet where the martyrs of Karbala are listed. Number 7 is Uthman, number 8 is the same Muahammad ibn Ali as above although it does not add that his title was Abubakr, also look at number 9 in the website, Abubkar ibn Hassan ibn Ali, the son of Hassan (ra) http://www.al-islam.org/short/sorrows/names.htm Matamdari and Azadari Question:

What is origin of matam and azadari. What is origin of majlis? Do matam and majlis enjoy any religious basis or these are only cultural activities? Is it fair enough to term both matam and majlis into haram and halal category or one should not bother about this issue. In a relationship like marriage between sunni and shia one should make these things banned to other spouse or to stop him or her for doing this? Please guide. Answer:

Even the learned Shia scholars agree that azadari and majlis in the way that is practiced in our era does not have a very long history and has never been part of the religion. This is nothing but obvious as we do not have any records of such type of azadari during the time of the Prophet (sws), companions or their followers. These practices have cultural and sometimes political roots and this is why in every time and every society it is done in a different way.

As for calling them haram, if they are practicing as part of the corpus of religion then they fall in the category of innovation and become haram. As for stopping the spouse to participate in these events, this is a matter that needs to be considered on the basis of the case in hand. The relationship between the husband and the wife, the background, education, influence of relatives and many other factors make every case different. However in general it seems like advising in these cases (without expecting it to be immediately effective) usually works much better than aggressive enforcement of the view.

Significance of Incident of Ghadeer Question: What is the status of had th-e ghadir? Is it true or not as many authentic had th books consider it to be true. Secondly in that had th one point is confusing that prophet (sws) took Ali's hand in air and said: ³All my friends and allies are friends of Ali´. According to the sunni version: ³Everyone whose master is Muhammad, Ali is his master´. My question is that we must consider the fact that all the pilgrims were returning from Makkah and Ghadir is the place from where all were going to depart. At this place and at this moment when most of the pilgrims were there from all the tribes the Prophet must have had something important to tell about Ali and his status. Merely taking it to mean that he wanted to tell that Ali was his friend does not apparently seem to be the purpose. Does it sound proper from the Prophet to stop the people and tell them with great care that Ali was his friend? I think it must have a more important significance. Answer:

Hadith of Ghadeer is a reliable Hadith since it has reached us through a number of sources and narrators. Of course there are versions of it that are not reliable however the narration of the main story is a reliable one. Your question is based on a number of assumptions that to me are not true: 1. The place that the Prophet (pbuh) gave the Khutba was in fact far from Mecca. Most of people who were in Hajj where not there simply because many remained in Mecca and many went to other directions. Ghadeer Khum was in fact a place where people of Madina and surrounding areas were separated. It seems like the Prophet (pbuh) left this message about Ali (ra) to this point simply because it was related to the issue that had raised in the army that was led by Ali (ra). The army consisted of people from Madina and surrounding. If we assume that what the Prophet (pbuh) said had a very important

implication for all Muslims, then it would only make sense that the Prophet (pbuh) say it in Mecca and during the Hajj, where he had the most population of Muslims around him. 2. The Khutba that the Prophet gave was not just about Ali (ra). It was a longer Khutba and near the end the Prophet (pbuh) also said that wonderful sentence about Ali (ra). 3. The degree of importance of a message that comes from the Prophet (pbuh) for his followers can only be assessed by looking at whether this message has been also given in the Qur'an or not. It is only obvious that if a message of the Prophet (pbuh) carried so much fundamental importance and added a significant substance to the corpus of religion then it had to be included in the Qur'an, that is Furqan and Mizan. This of course is not to say that what the Prophet (pbuh) said was not important! However the issue is, whether it had implications as important as some Muslims believe it had. 4. The implication of the Hadith of Ghadeer is not depending on the meaning of the work Maula. Maula can be interpreted as friend or master, but what makes us understand the implication of the Hadith is first, whether the issue is also addressed in the Qur'an (see point 3 above) and second what the background of this Hadith was (see point 1 above). 5. One of the best ways of understanding the implications of this saying of the Prophet (pbuh) is to see (through reliable narrations) whether Ali (ra) himself interpreted the Hadith of Ghadeer the way that some Muslims interpret it. As far as I have seen, there is no such reliable narration from Ali (ra) about this, which makes me conclude that even Ali (ra) had not seen Ghadeer the way that some Muslims see it today. Eid-e Mubahila Question: What is Eid-e-Mubahala and why only Shi¶i celebrate it? Answer:

There is no such a thing as Eid-e Mubahala promoted by the Prophet (sws) as the part of the religion. There are only two Eids in Islam: Eid al-Fitir and Eid al-Adh'ha, as it is evident from the Sunnah of the Prophet (sws). Shi¶i Muslims believe that the incident of Mubahala proves an extra ordinary religious position for Ali, Fatima, Hassan and Hussain (rta). This is the incident in which the Prophet (sws) is ordered in verse 3:61 to invite the Christians of Najran to a challenge and a test in which each of the two sides would curse the liars to see who will be saved and who will be harmed as the result. Those Shi¶i Muslims who celebrate this incident

are in fact appreciating and celebrating what (in their view) this verse implies about the above great personalities. Counter Question: Would you please send me the details of Mubahala and how the Christians of Najran accepted challenge and what was the outcome of this Mubahala. I will appreciate your early reply. Response: You can read the story of Mubahila from Tafseer of Ibn Kathir on the verse of Mubahila. A translation of this in English can be foudn here: http://www.tafsir.com/default.asp?sid=3&tid=8404 Note that ibn Katheer has reported the story from Ibn Is'haq. Ibn Is'haq has not included in his report that Ali, Fatima and Hasanain (ra-hum) had been called by the Prophet (sws) after revelation of this verse. That part of the story can be found in the hadith collection of Muslim, see the last part of the Hadith: Book 031, Number 5915: This hadith has been narrated. on the authority of Shu'ba with the same chain of transmitters. Amir b. Sa'd b. Abi Waqqas reported on the authority of his father that Muawiya b. Abi Sufyin appointed Sa'd as the Governor and said: What prevents you from abusing Abu Turab (Hadrat 'Ali), whereupon be said: It is because of three things which I remember Allah's Messenger (sws) having said about him that I would not abuse him and even if I find one of those three things for me, it would be more dear to me than the red camelg. I heard Allah's Messenger (sws) say about 'Ali as he left behind hrin in one of his campaigns (that was Tabuk). 'All said to him: Allah's Messenger, you leave me behind along with women and children. Thereupon Allah's Messenger (sws) said to him: Aren't you satisfied with being unto me what Aaron was unto Moses but with this exception that there is no prophethood after me. And I (also) heard him say on the Day of Khaibar: I would certainly give this standard to a person who loves Allah and his Messenger and Allah and his Messenger love him too. He (the narrator) said: We have been anxiously waiting for it, when he (the Holy Prophet) said: Call 'Ali. He was called and his eyes were inflamed. He applied saliva to his eyes and handed over the standard to him, and Allah gave him victory. (The third occasion is this) when the (following) verse was revealed:" Let us summon our children and your children." Allah's Messenger (sws) called 'Ali, Fitima, Hasan and Husain and said: O Allah, they are my family.

Was Hazrat Fatima Murdered? Question:

According to the Shia school of thought, Hazrat Umar (rta) is responsible of the death of Hazrat Fatima (rta), the daughter of the Messenger of Allah. They explain it further by claiming that when Hazrat Ali (rta) refused to do bay¶at (pledge allegiance to) at the hands of Hazrat Abu Bakr (rta), Hazrat Umar (rta) stormed the house of Hazrat Ali (rta) with several soldiers and during the struggle to enter the house Fatima (rta) got injured and lost her unborn child and later after few months she passed away. I want to know how true this is and what is the background of the story? If Hzarat µUmar (rta) has anything to do with the death or injury of Fatima (rta) then what is the status of Hazrat µUmar (rta) in Islam in regards to this. Your prompt reply shall be highly appreciated. Please note that one quick response would be that the narratives are not reliable. But I am looking for a detained response on the issue. Whey the narratives then are acceptable to shia and unacceptable to the sunnis? Answer: To be able to blame a Companion of the Prophet (sws) and in deed any person of a crime as serious as murder (let alone murdering the beloved daughter of the Prophet) one needs to have relevant and reliable evidences. We try to examine the available evidences here: I. Evidence in Mainstream Sources "The accusation here is: The suspect (Umar) burned the door to the house of the victim (Fatima) and pushed it on the victim, which resulted in the miscarriage of her expected child." Now let us look at one of the popular sources of evidence of this sort, one that is brought forward occasionally by Shia brothers: Tarikh Al-Tabari: It is recorded that Umar threatened to set the house of Fatima on fire. There is no mention that he actually did that. Further more, the hadith is not reliable. It is narrated via Muhammad Ibn Hamid Ibn Hayyan. This is a very unreliable narrator. In the book of Tahzib Al-Tahzib we read that Bukhari says: There are concerns about his narrations. An-Nasayee says: Not reliable, has been reported that he was a liar. Al-Joozajani says: Not reliable. Al-Razi says: I have 5000 ahadith from him and will not narrate even one of them. Saleh Ibn Muhammad Al-Asadi says: I Haven't seen any one bolder to Allah Ta'Ala than him. He used to collect ahadith and forge them together. I haven't seen any one cleverer than him and Sulayman Al-Shazekuni in lying. Baihaqi says: The Imam of Hadith, Ibne Khuzayma does not narrate from him.

Based on the above we can safely conclude that the above evidence (in Tabari) is both insufficient and unreliable. Moreover when we look further in the book of Tabari we find ahadith that conflict with the above story. Only few pages after the above record we read the following two: · · Abu Sufian asked Ali to give him his hand for Bay'at and Ali shouted at him and said we had agreed on Abu Bakr. When hearing about the Bay'at in Saqifa, Ali came out of his house while he was not dressed properly only to rush in doing bayat with Abu Bakr. Please note that here I am not arguing that the above two records are reliable. All I am saying is that an unbiased mind should take all these into consideration and test all of them before any attempts for ruling a judgment. It is not a rational approach to ignore the rest of the records in books like Tabari and only rely on those parts that suit our belief and even then without any attempts to test the reliability of what they are quoting. I have examined a number of other sources that are usually referred to by Shia brothers (e.g. Al-Imama wa Al-Syasah, Al Iqd Al-Farid, Qurra Al-Ayn Fi Tafzil Al-Shaykhayn). In none of them have I found a record that fulfils the following conditions: · · · Clearly suggesting that Umar actually burned the door or pushed the door on Fatima (RA). Having reliable chains of narrators (in fact the majority of these sources do not even have a chain of narrator) Not accompanying with conflicting records. Based on the above I can say that there is no evidence in the mainstream sources that can support the accusation. I am more than happy to examine any other sources that might be put forward. II. Evidence in Shia Sources It is one of the basic rules of judgement that evidences for an accusation should not be taken from the sources of those who have accused. Having said that, and while appreciating that there are records in support of the accusation in some of the Shia sources, I would like to point out that it is very strange that in some of the more popular and old Shia sources there are no mention of the incident. For instance the book Al-Irshad by Mufid:

According to the Shia brothers the book is one of the very reliable sources of history not only because of its author (who is one of the gurus of Shia) but also because of the closeness of the time of writing the book to the time of the presence of Shia Imams. In his book, when it came to naming the children of Ali, (RA) initially we find no mention of the name of the miscarried infant (Muhsin). Mufid then says: "and in Shia there are some who say Fatima miscarried a male infant after the Prophet, who had been given a name by the Prophet, and that is Muhsin. So based on the saying of these people the children of Amir Almo'menin (Ali) will be 18 and Allah knows best" (Irshad p. 336 by Mufid) It is interesting that Mufid is not approving the miscarriage and attributes the story to some of Shia. It is also interesting that even here there is no mention of the alleged attack on Fatima (RA). This is while the book of Irshad is dedicated to narrate the important incidents of the life of Shia Imams, including Ali (RA). In Kafi, one of the four main books of Shi'ism there is again no mention of the incident in the chapter on life of Fatima. It only says that Fatima was angry with Umar without any references to any attacks taken place. In Kashf Al-Qumah another classical book of Shi'ism again we read that there are differences of opinion about Muhsin and that some of Shia consider him to be the son of Ali from Fatima who died because of miscarriage. Again no mention of the incident itself. Among the Shia scholars, we have Allamah Fadhlullah who is famous for putting a question mark on the incident and calling it unlikely because of the conflicting records and also based on rationality. He was condemned severely by other Shia scholars for his opinion. Based on the above I think no judge can conclude that the Shia sources can provide us with satisfactory evidence. III. Rationality Being disappointed in finding hard evidence to rule against the suspect, let us now turn to rationality: Ali according to Shia was the bravest of Arabs. In the Shia book Nahj Al-Balaqah we read that he has said something to the effect that he was not afraid of anything when it comes to protecting the right. I find it very strange that such an incident could take place without Ali trying to protect his wife (the daughter of the Prophet). We fail to find anything about such natural reaction by Ali.

Later we find no attempts by Ali or any of the other companions or people closed to Ali's family to bring Umar to justice. Not only this, we even find Ali give the name of "Umar" to one of his children. I do not want to claim that Ali named his son after Umar the second Khalifa. I am well aware of the answer given by our Shia brothers implying that the naming was not after Umar the second Khalifa. However I find it very strange that someone like Ali could give the name of the murderer of his wife (the daughter of the Prophet) to his son. Ali was from the same family as the Prophet. It is narrated that the Prophet never wanted to see the face of Wahshi the killer of his uncle Hamzah even when Wahshi embraced Islam. This is a very serious issue. Today you find no Shia with the name Umar. The other two sons of Ali, Uthman and Abu Bakr were present in Karbala with Husayn and were brutally martyred in protecting their brother. Yet when you go to the mourning ceremonies of Shia brothers you will hear the story of all the Ahl Albayt of Husayn except Uthman and Abu Bakr only because of their name. This attitude of Shia about names is very understandable and acceptable if one holds the same view that Shia hold for these companions. One wonders why Ali's attitude was not as would have been expected from any human being. How many people do we know who are happy to give the name of the murderer of their wife to their son? Any one who is slightly familiar with the culture of Arab will appreciate that this is even stranger for an Arab. To see the further complication, we will be amazed to find that according to records in Shia books Ali gave her daughter Umme Kulthom to Umar as his wife (although some Shia brothers make some arguments to deny this). So here we have the husband of the victim not only calling his son with the name of the murderer of his wife but also giving his daughter to the murderer of his wife! It is also very strange to think that such a huge crime has been taken place, and (not only Ali, but) none of the companions of the Prophet (sws) ever bothers to complain about it and to bring the sinner to the justice. I think it is safe to conclude that even rationality does not support the accusation. Now all I discussed above was in a generic form, trying to forget the personality of Umar. I think a Muslim who wants to be closer to Allah Ta'ala and have better Taqwa should even have more cautious and fear in accusing a close companion of the Prophet (sws) of such incident. Let us not forget that we are advised in the Qur'an to pray that Allah cleanse our hearts from any bad feelings about the early immigrants (i.e. Muhajerin) and Helpers (i.e. Ansar). This of course does not mean that we cannot academically challenge views or actions of any of them but at least we should be fair enough by basing our criticism on sound evidence. I can guarantee we would not criticise an ordinary man in our time of a crime as simple as theft with evidences as irrelevant and as unreliable as the ones mentioned above.

Following Shi'i Fiqh Question: I wanted to learn the meaning of the expression µul al-µamr (those vested with authority) in Q 4:59. The verse says: O you who believe! Obey Allah, and obey the Messenger and µul al-µamr minkum. TheShi¶is take it as a basis for their concept of imamat? Secondly would you kindly tell me if I can follow fiqh-e Jaµfriyah if it appeals me? What about the small differences for example in method of wudu and placement of hands in the Prayer? Answer:

Thank you for writing to us. We believe that the words µul al-µamr minkum refer to the rulers. They do not refer to the religious scholars. As for the question of following fiqh-e ja'friyah it is upon you to decide. Though the questions dealt with in a fiqh are mainly of practical nature and we may adopt any of the existing ones or found a new one yet we must appreciate the fact that fiqh-e ja¶friyah is based on belief in imamat which fundamentally differs from the sunni Islam. We do not find the belief in conformity with the basic Islamic beliefs. For example we do not find it possible to hold someone ma'soom (infallible) source of religious knowledge. But the shi¶i hold their imams as infallible. In their fiqh the ruling of the imam would be final. This is why we cannot suggest or recommend following this fiqh.

On Appointment of the First Caliph Question: Several ahadith approve Ali's (rta) khilafat. Abu Bakar's (rta) khilafat was either an accident or deliberation. And in the light of the above; was he a true khalifah al-Rasool? Was Muawiya's decision to appoint Yazid as his successor, legitimate especially in the presence of Hussayn? Answer:

Khilafah of Abu Bakr Siddique (rta) was acknowledged by the entire community of the Companions of the Prophet (sws). The Companions as a community, could not have joined hands on differing from the authority of the Prophet (sws). The Holy Qur'an affirms their truthfulness and puts on them the huge responsibility of communicating the religion of Allah to the world. Since their trueness is confirmed by the Book of Allah we

cannot claim they disregarded the command of the Prophet (sws) regarding imamat of Ali (rta). Who would have known more than them that the Prophet (sws) intended them to take Ali (rta) as a caliph if that was the case? The whole dispute of khilafat, it needs to be appreciated, originates in the fact the Prophet (sws) did not appoint anybody. I am sorry I cannot comment on the decision of the Caliph Mu'awiyah. This is because I do not and cannot know the ground realities in that time. We believe that Islam does not give any special privilege on religious basis to the members of the family of the Prophet (sws).

Invoking a Qur'anic Verse to Prove Imamat of 'Ali (rta) Question:

³(We sent) messengers as the givers of good news and as warners, so that people should not have a plea against Allah after the (coming of) messengers; and Allah is Mighty, Wise." (Q 4:165) The good news could have been the designation of Hazrat Al as im m after him and the coming of the im ms after Al . This verse also shows that the Prophet (sws) was only a warner and there will be guides after him. Answer: My dear brother, understanding Islam cannot be based on works of guess and estimation. The meaning of the verse is crystal clear and all the significant experts of the Qur¶ n, the Sh µ and Sunni, in principle have the same understanding of the "givers of good news" in the verse that is a translation for the word "Mubashshir n". According to their understanding, which is also in line with other verses of the Qur¶ n, the good news is the fact that those who accept the message of a Messenger will reach salvation and paradise in the hereafter. If unlike all the Sh µ and Sunni experts of the Qur¶ n, you believe that "good news" here means the designation of Al (ra) as the Im m then the responsibility is on you to prove this. We are supposed to learn our religion from the Qur¶ n, not to interpret the verses of the Qur¶ n based on our own understanding of religion. What you are doing here is exactly what Al (ra) has advised us not to do in Nahj al-Bal ghah, that is, leading the Qur¶ n to our personal beliefs rather than letting the Qur¶ n leading us to the correct belief. The verse has no indication that the Prophet (sws) was not a guide and that there will be guides coming after him. In fact, this goes directly opposite to what the verse is

saying. The verse is saying that after the Messengers there remain no excuses for people. A genuine excuse emerges when there is a genuine unfulfilled need. The verse is in fact saying that this "need" is fulfilled with the coming of the Messengers. I would also like to remind you that according to Sh µ , the Prophet (sws) himself was an Imam. Therefore according to Sh µ , the Prophet (sws) was also a guide.

Are the Shi'i Muslims? Question: First of all I am really thankful for all your help by answering my questions. Please help me out in this one. Ahmedis/Q diy n s are considered non-Muslims according to all Muslim sects. Recently I was watching a video on youtube in which an Ahmedi guy was saying that if Ahmedis are considered non-Muslims then why Sh µah are not considered non-Muslim as well. I thought very hard and am still confused. My point of view is that there should not be any Prophets/Im ms after our last Prophet (P.B.U.H) but Sh µah also have some weird faiths like: revelation was intended to be conferred on Hazrat µAli but was mistakenly bestowed upon the Prophet Mohammad (sws). There are some other beliefs openly discussed as well. Why only the Q diy n 's were declared non-Muslim? Is there any political scenario involved in it? Or is it a matter of religious beliefs. I know my question is a little sectarian but believe me it is just to clear my own mind. Please let me know about Javed Ghamidi¶s views on Q diy nis and Sh µah. Answer: Please let me comment on two things you mentioned: You said: "Ahmedi/Q diy n s are considered non Muslims according to all Muslim sects." Please note that it is not the responsibility of any Muslim sect to declare associates of a belief as Non-Muslims and their verdict on this matter carries no authority. It is solely the responsibility of a Muslim state to declare associates of a belief (among its citizens) as non-Muslims and this has to be done after consultation with qualified scholars of Islam. You said: "Sh µah also have some weird faiths like: revelation was intended to be conferred on Hazrat Ali but was mistakenly bestowed upon the Prophet Mohammad (P.B.U.H)´. I can assure you that no learned Sh µah holds this belief." You asked: "Why only qadyani's are declared non-Muslim? Is there any political scenario involved in it? Or is this a matter of religious beliefs."

For a citizen of an Islamic state, the mere fact that the state has declared associates of a faith as Non-Muslims should be enough, unless one believes that the state has done this without enough consultation with qualified scholars and for dishonest and wrong reasons. Otherwise it is entirely up to the state to decide (where needed and after due consultation with qualified scholars) if a group of believers was Muslim or non-Muslim. As for comparison between Sh µah and Ahmadis/Q diy nis, I think you need to appreciate that there is a significant difference between the two. Sh µahs do believe in divine Imams but consider these Imams as guides who apply and explain the Shar µah rules and Islamic beliefs, while Ahmadis believe in their Khulaf ¶ as divine reformers of Islam. A reformer of a system has much more potential of introducing significant changes to the system as compared to a guide of a system. This is apart from the fact that the majority sect among Ahmadis considers Mirz Ghul m Ahmad Q diy n to be a Prophet capable of receiving Allah's revelation, a claim that goes against the Qur'an and against some of the reliable Ah d th narrated from the Prophet (sws). As far as I know, what I wrote above is inline with the views of Mr. Ghamidi.

Difference between Shi'ism, Sufism and Sunnism and the Rightly Guided Sect of the Muslims Question: 1- Are the human beings kind or evil by nature? Common questions kids ask these days as taught in school? 2- What is difference between suf , Sh µ and Sunn , which is right path? Answer:

My answers to your questions follow: 1- Are the human beings kind or evil by nature? Common questions kids ask these days as taught in school. According to the Qur¶ n human being by nature is a humble entity that likes to be a servant of his Lord. (Q 30:30) 2- What is the difference between sufism, Sh µ ism and Sunn ism? Which is the right path? Sufis are group of people (some considering themselves as Muslims and some coming from other faiths) who believe in certain mentors (Sheikh) as the medium between Allah and his servants and are often engaged in doing certain practices (like uttering certain names of Allah at certain times in specified numbers or using music or chanting in an attempt to find spiritual aspiration). One of the main characteristics of a

typical Sufi is that they do not observe rules of the religion they are originally ascribed to (e.g. Islam). They consider these rules to be only for normal (not Sufi) followers of those religions. Sunn s are the majority of Muslims who follow the Qur¶ n, Had th and the works of traditional scholars of Islam. Their beliefs and practices are very much influenced by their perception of the opinions of traditional scholars. Apart from the Qur¶ n, a major source of understanding Islam for this group is Had th, specifically the six main books of Had th known as Sih h (the sound ones). Sunn s often use Ah d th to interpret the Qur¶ n. Sh µ are those Muslims who believe that after the death of the Prophet (sws) there were divinely appointed infallible individuals from the generation of the Prophet (sws), called im ms, who were and are supposed to be followed. Any understanding of the Qur¶ n and Islam according to this group should be through these individuals. Consequently books and narrations attributed to these im ms are considered as the most important sources of understanding Islam after the Qur¶ n. These sources are also used by Sh µ to interpret the Qur¶ n. The right path in Islam is the one that is relying on fully reliable divine sources, where unreliable sources are not used to interpret these reliable sources. The only fully reliable divine sources in Islam are the Qur¶ n (as an independent source) and the religious practices that were established by the Prophet (sws) among his companions, the knowledge of which was transferred, generation after generation, to our time and on which there is general agreement (Sunnah).

A few Questions about Shi'i Beliefs Question: I have a few questions and shall appreciate your reply by e-mail. 1. I need reference of any book/document in which names of the ten blessed Companions are mentioned. 2. What are the fundamental differences between the Sunn s and Sh µ s? 3. Is Tabbarrah (cursing the Companions) an essential part of Sh µ beliefs? 4. Was temporary marriage (mutµa) permitted by the Prophet (sws)? If it was then why are the sunn s against it? 5. Is a sunn boy allowed to marry a Sh µ girl or vice versa? My son wants to marry a Sh µ girl. My family and I are not in favour of it. I need to convince him and seek your help. Answer:

Thank you for writing to us. My answers to your questions follow. 1. Please refer to Sah h Ibn Hib n No: 6993, Sunan Timiz No: 3747, Sunan Ibn M jah No: 133, Sunan Ab D ' d No: 4649, Musnad Ahmad No: 1631, Al-Mustadrak

µal al-Sah hayn No: 5858, Al-Sunan Al-Kubr No: 8195 and Musnad Ab Ya'l No: 971. 2. The Sh µ s believe that the divine guidance continues after the Prophet Muhammad (sws). Accordingly they believe in Im ms who according to them are infallible and appointed by Allah to guide people. The first Im m is Ali (ra), then Hassan (ra) then Hussain (ra) and then 9 other Im ms from the progeny of Hussain (ra). The last Im m (Muhammad Ibn Hassan - Mahd ), according to them, went to occultation in 329 AH and is still alive and will appear near the end of the world to bring justice to the world. Accordingly, just as the rest of Muslims have the books of Ah d th narrated from the Prophet (sws), Sh µ has books of Ah d th narrated from their Im ms. Also since Sh µ believe that their Im ms were appointed by Allah, they do not consider any other rule at the time of Im ms to be legitimate, unless it is ruled by the Im m himself or the ruler can be seen as the representative of the Im m. 3. Yes, Tabarr is one of the ten essential branches of belief (Furog-i Deen) that the Sh µ s hold. These are Prayer, Zakah, the Fast, Hajj, Khums, Jihad, Amr bi al-Maµr f (advise to good), Nahy µan Al-Munkar (advise against evil), Tawall (friendship with friends of Allah), Tabarr (dissociation from the enemies of Allah). 4. Temporary marriage was practiced by Muslims for some time during the life of the Prophet (sws) and many believe this was a practice that was already in vogue among the Arabs even before Islam. According to Ah d th the Prophet (sws) later forbade people from it. According to the Qur¶ n 70:29-31, the only ways by which a man can have relationship with a woman is either by proper (permanent contract) marriage or by owner slave relationship (which is not applicable at our time). According to the Sh µ s, however, the verse 5:24 refers to temporary marriage. Non-Sh µ scholars disagree. 5. Purely from Islamic point of view, yes. They are both Muslims.

Do Shi'i condemn the Major Companions? Question:

Thank you very much for your reply to my questions. I still need some clarifications: Do Sh µ consider the 1st three caliphs (Khulaf -i R shid n), Hadrat ' 'ishah (rta) and Hadrat Hafsah (rta) amongst enemies of Allah. And do they consider curse them a virtue?

Answer:

The Sh µ do not consider the first three caliphs Khulaf legitimate and consider them usurpers to the right of Ali (ra) who only believe to be the only legitimate and divinely appointed caliph. Because of this they consider the three Khulaf as those who did not follow the order of the Prophet about Ali (ra). As for ' 'ishah (rta), because of her involvement in the battle of Jamal and because of some other historical Ah d th, generally Sh µ consider her as one who had enmity with Ali (ra) and his family (Rahom). However, there is less sensitivity about Hafsah (rta). As for whether the Sh µ consider it a rewarding virtue to curse the above personalities, I would say that, cursing the first three caliphs Khulaf and in particular the first two is not unusual. This, however, varies among the Sh µ . There are Sh µ minorities who are more moderate in this regard and do not curse; there are another bigger minority who are on the other extreme and curse these personalities on a regular basis to earn reward. The majority do not mind cursing them but also do not do it on a regular basis. One of the popular supplications that the Sh µ read is called Ziarah Ashura. This is a Ziarah in which the Sh µ say sal m to Hussain (rta). The Ziarah is generally considered as very reliable and a regular reading of it is recommended. At the end of this Ziarah there is a sentence that says: O Allah let the first oppressor to be specifically cursed by me and start (this cursing) with him as the first one. Then (curse) the second and the third and the forth. Oh Allah curse Yazid as the fifth one and ..." It is generally believed that the first to fourth in the above refer to the first three Khulaf and Mu' wiyah (rta).

Imam as the Teacher of the Qur'an Question: Did the Prophet Mohammad put the Qur¶ n in the present form before his death? What I understand from the Qur¶ n is that: 1. Allah revealed the Qur¶ n in stages and according to changing circumstances. Have the circumstances not changed after the demise of the Beloved Prophet? 2. Allah said that He will change the verses and replace it with other better ones. If the need for change was felt even then, then why not now? 3. Allah said that people will forget some verses if Allah pleases. How can we claim that certain verses were not forgotten during the compilation? 4. Allah said that our Prophet (sws) would deliver, preach, teach.... Is there no need of a teacher after the demise of the Prophet (sws) to interpret and teach the Word of Allah?

According to me the Qur'an is a living book and it will be open to interpretation according to the need of the time and the meaning can change, and there is a need of a person who has been chosen by Allah to do so according to the time and age. The Prophet (sws) had said that he will leave behind the Holy Book and his Itrat (ahl-e-bayt) and if we follow both we will not go astray. The book cannot exist without a teacher and the teacher needs to be present at all times to open the message of Allah according to the need of the time. This- the Book and the Itrat will not be separated from each other till they meet the Prophet (sws) at the kawthar. If I do not agree with you then will you tell that I am not a Muslim? Or will you try to force your opinion on me? Or will you take out a fatwa against me or will you call me a kafir? Please answer, because I want to follow the Qur¶ n as I understand it and I might disagree with you in quiet a number of things. Is it not enough that I have faith in Allah, in the Prophet (sws) and in the Qur¶ n? Or is it a must for me to follow what others say and which others say is the true Islam. Do I have a right to differ? Answer: You have listed a number of assumptions and have then come up with some conclusions based on these assumptions. There is no point if I start arguing about those conclusions if I do not agree with the assumptions at the first place. So let me go through these assumptions one by one in order to let you know what I think about them: ³Allah revealed the Qur¶ n in stages and according to changing circumstances?´ To be more accurate, Allah revealed the Qur¶ n according to different phases of the mission of the Prophet (sws) and with addressing specific issues that were happening in those phases. ³have the circumstances not changed after the demise of the Beloved Prophet?´ As I said above, it¶s not about changes of circumstances, rather it is about different phases of the mission of the Prophet (sws). ³Allah said that he will change the verses and replace it with other better ones. if the need for change was felt even then, then why not now?´ If we believe that because of different circumstances the Qur¶ n needs to be changed (which appears to be what you are suggesting) then we are practically making the Qur¶ n redundant. I don¶t think any scholar of Islam will support what you are suggesting. Whatever needed to be changed and replaced in the Qur¶ n, have been changed and replaced within the time of revelation of the Qur¶ n and the Qur¶ n we have now, contains what relates to us, no matter at what time and what circumstances we are living. ³Allah said that people will forget some verses- if Allah pleases, then how can we claim that certain verses were not forgotten during the compilation.´

Nowhere Allah says that people will forget some verses. What it says is that the Prophet (sws) will not forget a verse and even if he forgets a verse that is because Allah wants it, which means there is a good reason for which he might forget a verse (87:6,7). The Qur¶ n also says that Allah Himself is the one who collects and protects the Qur¶ n in its ultimate shape (75:16-19, 15:9). So as you see, we do not claim anything, it is the Qur¶ n itself that assures us that it has remained intact. You write: ³according to me the Qur¶ n is a living book and it will be open to interpretation according to the need of the time and the meaning can change, and there is a need of a person who has been chosen by Allah to do so according to the time and age.´ If you know any verses of the Qur¶ n that tells us that after the demise of the Prophet (sws) there are certain divinely appointed teachers from whom we should learn the Qur¶ n then please bring them to my attention. Otherwise what is in accordance to your thinking does not seem to be in accordance to what the Qur¶ n teaches us. On the other hand, I have a question about one of the verses of the Qur¶ n. There is a difference of opinion about the meaning of this verse within Sh ¶ scholars (as well as Sunni scholars), could you let me know: 1. Where is this Allah appointed teacher from whom I may ask my question? 2. Why (with such teacher) there is still significant difference of opinion among his followers when it comes to interpretation of the Qur¶ n? You said: ³The Prophet had said that he will leave behind the Holy Book and his Itrat (ahl-e-bayt) and if we follow both we will not go astray.´ I humbly suggest that you never say ³the Prophet (sws) said this or that´. After all, we weren¶t there at the time. We should remain cautious and always say ³it is narrated from the Prophet (sws) that «´. Second, the had th you are referring to has been narrated in many different ways: 1. The Prophet (sws) says he leaves behind the Qur¶ n. 2. he says he leaves behind the Qur¶ n and the Sunnah 3. he says he leaves behind the Qur¶ n and that is what we should adhere to and then he reminds us about Ahl Al-bayt. 4. he says he leaves behind the Qur¶ n and Ahl Al-bayt and that we need to adhere to both of them and that they do not separate from each other. From the above four versions, the first two are inline with the Qur¶ n and the third one is inline with the Qur¶ n and the Sira of the Prophet (sws) from which we understand his in-depth love for his family. The fourth version is neither inline with the Qur¶ n or the Sira of the Prophet (sws), nor it has reached us through reliable narrators. At the end of your writing you start asking some questions that really baffles me. You ask: If I do not agree with you then will you tell that I am not a Muslim? [«.] And you continue in this line to the length of a paragraph, ending with ³do I have right to differ?.´

My dear brother, perhaps I need to remind you that I never contacted you. It was you who contacted us and started asking us questions and follow up questions and sending us articles, etc. We are not in the business of calling other people Non-Muslim etc. We are only trying to share our understanding with those who express interest by sending us questions. Need for an Imam Question: Why do we need an Imam? Answer: If by Imam you mean a leader, I think every human being and every civilised society agrees that every group of people with a common goal need a leader to coordinate all the tasks and to guide people towards their goals with the best of his/her abilities. However if by Imam you mean a divinely appointed person who is supposed to be there for us after the death of the Prophet (sws), then I should say there is no need for such a person and in fact there has not been such a person after the death of the Prophet (sws). The Qur¶ n has made it clear for us that after the Messengers, we do not need any other live and divinely appointed guidance and that the delivering of the message of Islam has been completed at the time of the Prophet (sws): (We sent) messengers as the givers of good news and as warners, so that people should not have a plea against Allah after the (coming of) messengers; and Allah is Mighty, Wise. (Al-Nis 4:165) This day have I perfected for you your religion and completed My favour on you and chosen for you Islam as a religion. (Al-M ¶idah 5:3)

Concept of im m in the Holy Qur' n Question: Is their a concept of im m in the Holy Qur¶ n?

Answer: I believe the answer to this question depends on what you mean by im m. If you mean some one who guides others, then yes it definitely exists in the Holy Qur¶ n. However if you mean a divinely appointed guide other than a Prophet that is supposed to be followed by people and one that only through his guidance followers of Islam can reach salvation, then the answer is no, there is no such a concept in the Qur¶an. Concept of Imam Question:

Where is this Allah appointed teacher from whom I may ask my question? Are you living in this world? There is a man, on this earth, alive and who claims to be a direct descendant of our beloved Prophet, the Imam (leader) of the time and age and the holder of Authority, the Noor ( ) or reflection and glow of Ali. Please do some research and I am sure you will be able find an answer. I have Iman in him, I am his follower, and he is my guide for straight path (sirat-al mustaqeem). Answer: Let's keep the level of this dialogue in an academic level rather than informal chitchat. Yes I am living in this world, otherwise I was not able to communicate with you. I hope you do not believe that all Muslims who do not know your Im m (perhaps about 98% of Muslims) are not living in this world! The problem my brother is that once a group of Muslims starts to associate themselves with beliefs that are not established in the Qur'an, they will then easily spread out into many sects and branches, since there won't remain any tangible source to stop them from doing so. Given that these groups of Muslims decide to believe in things that are not established in the Qur' n and given the numerous number of these sects who have separated themselves from the mainstream Muslims, it will be very time consuming to get familiarized with all these beliefs and their details. When I search books and internet in order to guess who your Im m might be, I come up with many results. It depends which sect (from among those who have beliefs not established in the Qur' n) you belong to: - If you are an Im mi Sh µ your Imam's name is Muhammad b. Hasan and he is in occultation. - If you are a Nizari Esmayeelee Sh µ then your Imam's name/title is Karim Agha Khan IV. - If you are a Mustali (Dawoodi Buhra) Esmayeelee Shia then your Imam's name is Muhammad Burhaneddin. - If you are a Mustali (Sulaimani Buhra) Esmayeelee Shia then your Imams are Abdullah ibn Hibatullah and/or Mohammed Ibrahim Ziaee. And to remain brief I do not add more than other dozen Islamic sects who believe in divine authorities after the Prophet (sws) including some of the Sufi sects. I can spend the rest of my life trying to figure out who among all these people who somehow claim divine authority is the real Imam. However I do not need to do this. The Qur'an has assured me that all disputes in regard to religious guidance have to be decided on the basis of this Book (2:213; 25:1). I am confident that there is no divine authority after the Prophet because the Qur'an has not informed me about it.

All the above sects have one thing in common, that is, they believe in something that is not found in the Qur'an as core of their religion. All the above sects also have another similarity. They all claim that they follow Ali (ra). I would like to conclude this discussion with some relevant statements narrated from Ali (ra) in Nahj Al-Balagha:

Make it (the Qur'an) your guide towards Allah. Seek its advice for yourselves and accuse your views (of being false) based on the Qur'an and regard your desires in the matter of the Qur'an as deceitful. (Nahj-Al-Balagha 176)

Allah has made it (the Qur'an) a quencher of the thirst of the learned « an evidence for him who adopts it, an argument for him who argues with it, a witness for him who quarrels with it, a success for him who argues with it, a carrier of burden for him who seeks the way, a shield for him who arms himself (against misguidance), «. (Nahj-AlBalagha 198)

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