This treatise deals with some fundamental issues of the Shi’a Islamic faith. Although not all the chapters were written at the same time, they are inter-related and connected by the theme of imamate and wilayat of the Imams of Ahlul Bayt.
Chapter 2 was written in 1998, chapter 3 in 1990, chapter 4 in 1997, while the first and last three chapters have been written this year. While revising chapter 3, I have added the section ‘The Meaning of Mawla‘ in order to complete the discussion on Ghadir Khumm.
It is hoped that the reader will gain some insight into the Shi’a Islamic point of view on the most fundamental issue that has defined its existence in the past as well as in the present. This book also reflects some issues that are being discussed among some sections of the Shi’a community in North America. Such discussions and debates, at the least, provide the opportunity to further study and clarify the essential beliefs of Shi’a Islam.
May Allah, subhanahu wa ta’ala, bestow upon us the ability to open our hearts to the Divine guidance, and may He lift the veils of academic arrogance and tribal solidarity from our hearts and minds when we see the truth. Amin.
In the polemical writings of the Sunnis, it is asserted that Sunni Islam is the “Orthodox Islam” whereas Shi’ism is a “heretical sect” that began with the purpose of subverting Islam from within. This idea is sometimes expressed by saying that Shi’ism began as a political movement and later on acquired religious emphasis.
This anti-Shi’a attitude is not limited to the writers of the past centuries, even some Sunni writers of the present century have the same views. Names like Abul Hasan ‘Ali Nadwi, Manzur Ahmad Nu’mani (both of India), Ihsan Ilahi Zahir (of Pakistan), Muhibbu ‘d-Din al-Khatib and Musa Jar Allah (both from Middle East) come to mind.
It is not restricted to the circle of those that graduated from religious seminaries and had not been in touch with the so-called academic world. Ahmad Amin (of Egypt) and Fazlur Rahman (of Pakistan) fall in this category.
Ahmad Amin, for example, writes:
“The truth is that Shi’ism is a refuge wherein which everyone who wishes to destroy Islam on account of enmity or envy takes shelter. As such, persons who wish to introduce into Islam the teachings of their Jewish, Christian or Zoroastrian ancestors achieve their nefarious ends under the shelter of this faith.”
Fazlur Rahman is an interesting case. After graduating from the Universities of Punjab and Oxford, and teaching at the Universities of Durham and McGill, he worked as the Director of the Central Institute of Islamic Research in Pakistan till 1968. He lost his position as the result of the controversy arising from his view of the Qur’an. Then he migrated to the United States and became Professor of Islamic Studies at the University of Chicago. In his famous book, Islam, used as a textbook for undergraduate levels in Western universities, Dr. Fazlur Rahman presents the following interpretation about the origin of Shi’ism:
“After ‘Ali’s assassination, the Shi’a (party) of ‘Ali in Kufa demanded that Caliphate be restored to the house of the ill-fated Caliph. This legitimist claim on behalf of the ‘Ali’s descendants is the beginning of the Shi’a political doctrine…
Title: Shi’ism: Imamate and Wilayat
Author(s): Sayyid Muhammad Rizvi
Publisher: Al-Ma’arif Books
Pub. Date: 2015