You are on page 1of 66

A Response to

Abu Muhammad al-Afriqi
The art of fictional narration
The art of fictional narration can be traced back to the earliest civilizations, and has
assumed various different appearances over the centuries. The fact that this form of
narration is fictitious was never really used to discredit literary fiction, since the lessons
the author of Aesop’s Fables, for example, wished to impart, did not depend upon
whether his animal characters could or did really speak. Similarly, Shakespeare, in his
quasi-historical works, does not attempt to convey to the reader the notion that the words
or actions he ascribes to his characters were really said or done by them.
However, it is when the author of the fictional narrative tries to overstep the bounds of
fiction and confer upon his work the appearance of historical authenticity, that his work
loses the respectable designation “literary fiction”, and earns for itself the ignominious
epithet “literary hoax”.
The Historicity of “Peshawar Nights”
In the book “Peshawar Nights”, whose author is styled as “Sultan al-Wa‘izin Shirazi”, we
have an example of a work which purports to be the record of a Sunni-Shi‘i debate.
However, an objective analysis of the book leads us to the inevitable conclusion that in
this particular work Shirazi has done nothing more than employ the literary device of
fictional narration—a device that for centuries has found favour with Shi‘i polemicists.
Shi‘i polemicists were quite aware that to actually engage the ‘ulama of the Ahl as-
Sunnah in debate would considerably curtail their advantage, and therefore they resorted
to the more convenient ploy of creating their own opponents, since by doing so they
would be able to manipulate the “opponent’s” arguments to their own advantage. Thus,
when Sultan al-Wa‘izin Shirazi decided to choose this style of writing for his book, he
was not being original at all. He was merely imitating the precedent set by earlier Shi‘i
writers like Abul Futuh ar-Razi and Radiyy ad-Din Ibn Tawus. Below we look at three
works in this genre by these two authors.
A book by this title appeared during the latter half of the previous century, purporting to
be the record of a debate that had taken place at the court of Harun ar-Rashid between
Husniyyah, a slave girl owned by a merchant friend of Imam Ja‘far as-Sadiq, and the
Imams Abu Yusuf and ash-Shafi‘i. This slave girl had supposedly stayed with Imam
Ja‘far upto the age of twenty, and had acquired expertise in numerous branches of
knowledge from him. In the book she publicly humiliates the two Imams, defeating their
arguments and presenting them with “incontrovertible evidence” of the truth of the creed
of the Shi‘ah.
The book is full of anachronisms. For one, ash-Shafi‘i came to Baghdad only after the
death of Abu Yusuf, so it is impossible that they could ever have taken part together in
any discussion. The book also speaks of a third learned man by the name of Ibrahim
Khalid of Basrah, who was supposedly regarded by Abu Yusuf as “superior in knowledge
to them all.” When they themselves were unable to answer the arguments of Husniyyah,
they referred the matter to this Ibrahim Khalid, but he too, was incapable of responding to
her. History, however, has recorded nothing of a person by this name, and the effort to
identify him with Abu Thawr, whose name was Ibrahim ibn Khalid, is futile, since Abu
Thawr was a Baghdadi by birth and lived there all his life. Far from being regarded as
ash-Shafi‘i’s superior, he was his student, and one of the four narrators of his qadim
views. Even of Husniyyah herself, the annals of history and biography have recorded
nothing at all. It is only in this belated document that mention is made of her existence.
It is recorded by the prominent Shi‘i bibliographer, Aqa Buzurg Tihrani in his
bibliographical lexicon adh-Dhari‘ah that this booklet was originally found in the
possession of a sayyid in Syria by Mulla Ibrahim al-Astarabadi when the latter returned
to Iran from Hajj in the year 958/1551. He translated it into Persian, and it was first
published in 1287/1870. (adh-Dhari‘ah, vol. 4 p. 97 no. 452, 3rd edition, Dar al-Adwa’,
Beirut 1401/1981)
The Shi‘i biographer Mirza ‘Abdullah Effendi al-Isfahani has done us a favour by
exposing the real author of the book Husniyyah, and his purpose in writing such a book.
He writes in his book Riyad al-‘Ulama’:
Such a degree of learning and eminence is accorded to Husniyyah in this
booklet, that it creates the impression of it being the fraudulent work of
Shaykh Abul Futuh ar-Razi, written and forged by him. He ascribed it to
Husniyyah in order to bring disgrace to the beliefs of the Ahl as-Sunnah,
and to humiliate them by exposing their beliefs. (Riyad al-‘Ulama’ vol. 5 p.
407 (Maktabat Ayatullah al-Mar‘ashi, Qum 1401/1981)
This identification of Abul Futuh ar-Razi with the authorship of the booklet Husniyyah is
supported by Sayyid Muhsin al-Amin, the author of A‘yan ash-Shi‘ah, one of the most
authoritative contemporary biographical dictionaries of the Shi‘ah. He states categorically
that this book “is the work of Abul Futuh ar-Razi”.
Yuhanna the Christian
This same Shaykh Abul Futuh ar-Razi is credited with the authorship of another spurious
polemical tract called Risalat Yuhanna an-Nasrani (the tract of Yuhanna [John] the
Christian). In this tract, quoted by a number of Shi‘i writers as factual truth, a Christian
by the name of Yuhanna engages the Sunni ‘ulama of Baghdad in a debate during which
he demonstrates the “fallacies” in the creed of the Ahl as-Sunnah. Eventually he declares
his acceptance of Shi‘ism as the true religion. Mirza ‘Abdullah Effendi ascribes this work
to Abul Futuh ar-Razi. The “strength” of this polemic is supposed to derive from the fact
that even a non-Muslim is able to discern the “falsehood” of Sunni belief from the “truth”
of Shi‘ism.
‘Abd al-Mahmud the Dhimmi
Radiyy ad-Din Ali ibn Tawus belonged to a prominent Shi‘i family that lived at Hillah
near Najaf at the time of the sack of Baghdad by the Tartars under Hulagu. Shi‘ite
complicity in the fall of Baghdad is a fact of history. This explains why the Mongol
conquerors favoured the Shi‘i intellectuals. Ibn Tawus, for example, was appointed Naqib
al-Ahsraf by Hulagu, the destroyer of Baghdad. He gladly accepted this office, having
earlier persistently refused it from the late Khalifah, al-Mustansir.
With the fall of Baghdad came a new surge in Shi‘ite propagation, the like of which was
only seen in the days of the Buwayhids during the 5th century. The high positions
occupied by Shi‘i dignitaries in the Ilkhanid (Mongol) administration afforded the Shi‘ah
the influence and leverage they needed to prosper. In Iraq the town of Hillah soon
developed into the most important center of Shi‘i learning.
This age also saw the composition of a number of polemical works. As the most prolific
Shi‘i author of the time, it would be only natural for Ibn Tawus to contribute to this genre
of literature. However, he preferred to do so under an assumed identity. His book, entitled
at-Tara’if fi Madhahib at-Tawa’if, was written under the nom-de-plume ‘ Abd al-
Mahmud ibn Dawud al-Mudari.
He commences his book with the (patently false) statement that he is a man from
amongst the Ahl adh-Dhimmah (Jews or Christians living under the protection of the
Muslim state). He then proceeds on to a comparative study of different religious
persuasions, and predictably enough, ends up with Ithna ‘Ashari (Twelver) Shi‘ism as the
only true religion. Like Abul Futuh ar-Razi before him, he seeks to inject objectivity into
his work by assuming the identity of a supposedly unbiased observer. (See Riyad
al-‘Ulama’ vol. 5 p. 407)
This survey of the use of fictional narration by Shi‘i polemicists in history creates the
background against which we will now proceed to examine the historicity of “Peshawar
Nights” and its contents.
The first thing which draws the attention of the unbiased reader should be the fact that
while there were two sides who participated in the discussion, the book itself came from
the peof the Shi‘i participant exclusively. This fact might at first glance escape the notice
of the unsuspicious reader who has complete faith—to the point of gullibility—in the
goodwill of the author. However, no one possessed of a sense of discretion can help but
notice this discrepancy.
The writer of the foreword seeks to make amends for this serious indictment of the
book’s historicity by stating that “four reporters recorded the discussions in the presence
of approximately 200 people (Shia and Sunni Muslims),” and that “local newspapers
published these accounts each following morning.” Yet, both Shirazi and his publishers
fail to produce the least bit of factual evidence in the form of copies of the newspaper
reports from which it is alleged that Shirazi ultimately compiled the book. All we have to
vouch for the occurrence of this ten-night discussion is the word of Shirazi himself.
There is furthermore no external corroboration at all, least of all by the Sunni participant
or the five other dignitaries who are alleged in the translator’s preface (p. xviii) to have
publicly acknowledged their conversion to Shi‘ism. Once again, we have nothing but
Shirazi’s own claim to support the historicity of the event upon which “Peshawar Nights”
is based.
The book is published not in Peshawar, the city in which the discussion reportedly took
place, but in Tehran. It is published not in Urdu or Pushtu, the language of the North
West Frontier, but in Persian, the language of Iran.
It is highly unlikely that there was a Persian language newspaper in Peshawar, or in the
rest of India for that matter, at the time of the alleged debate. In India at that time, Persian
had diminished into an archaic language, more suited for the occasional moments of
inspiration of the romantic poet than for the practical use of the media. Shirazi himself
was merely a visitor to India, and is therefore not likely to have known either Urdu or
Pushtu. The question about how he came to transcribe his book from newspaper accounts
published in a language he did not know will remain a mystery for as long as one
believes that the book is the record of an historical debate. On the other hand, if one
accepts the much more plausible, rational, and indeed logical position that the author of
the book has employed the literary device of fictional narration, for whatever reason, the
mystery is immediately and conclusively solved.
The participants
The names of the participants are given as Hafiz Muhammad Rashid and Shaykh ‘Abd
as-Salam, and they are said to be from Kabul. None of these two persons are identified
beyond their first names. Eponymous descriptions that identify persons in terms of their
localities or family connections, and which are so common amongst the ‘ulama of India
and Afghanistan, are conspicuously absent. The same is true for the third person, Sayyid
‘Abd al-Hayy. Even the Nawab Sahib, whose conversion at the end of the 10th session is
prominently touted, is not clearly identified. Why, if the incident and the personalities
were as real as the author tries to make them seem, does he prefer to keep it secret?
Furthermore, Sunni-Shi‘i polemics was at that time a very well developed discipline.
Shi‘i proselytization in the established Sunni community had led to some Sunni ‘ulama
taking up the task of debating and refuting the Shi‘ah. Beginning with Shah Waliyyullah
and his son Shah ‘Abd al-‘Aziz, there were literally scores of Sunni ‘ulama who
specialized in Sunni-Shi‘i polemics. At the time this debate was supposedly taking place
in the remote city of Peshawar, there lived in India an intellectual giant like ‘Allamah
‘Abd ash-Shakur of Lucknow, a scholar whose devotion to Sunni-Shi‘i polemics had
earned him the title “Imam Ahl as-Sunnah”. In 1345 when this debate allegedly occurred
‘Allamah ‘Abd ash-Shakur was in his prime at the age of 52.(See Nuzhat al-Khawatir,
vol. 8 p. 271) The erudite Mawlana Anwar Shah Kashmiri was at that time 53 years of
age. (See Nuzhat al-Khawatir, vol. 8 p. 90) If Sultan al-Wa‘izin Shirazi was at all serious
about an objective discussion of Sunni-Shi‘i differences, he would have been engaging
scholars of this caliber, and not figures of obscure historicity, who probably never existed
outside his own imagination.
Shirazi’s citation of sources cannot fail to attract the reader’s attention. The translators
ascribe this to his erudition: “Although the dialogue was extemporaneous, such was the
erudition of Sultanu’l-Wa`izin Shirazi ... that the transcript serves as a detailed
bibliographical reference to hundreds of Sunni treatises well known and little known, in
which the claims of the Shi`ites are acknowledged.” (p. xviii) However, to the careful—
and knowledgeable—reader, this very same manner of citation reveals a fatal fault in the
authenticity of the book as a faithful record of a debate in 1345/1927.
There are many occurrences of this phenomenon throughout the book, but a few random
examples should suffice to clarify its nature to the reader.
One of the sources quoted by Shirazi, complete with volume and page numbers, is the
book at-Tarikh al-Kabir by Imam Bukhari. (See p. 229) This work would be
printed in Hyderabad, Deccan for the first time ever in the year 1362/1943, no less
than 16 years after the “debate” took place.
Another work cited by Shirazi is Hilyat al-Awliya by Abu Nu‘aym al-Isfahani. (See p.
139) The first edition of this work was published in Cairo, from 1351/1932 to
1357/1938. The printing of this first edition commenced 6 years after the date of
the alleged debate in Peshawar, and was completed 12 years after that date.
The book Tarikh al-Khulafa by Suyuti is quoted with page number by Shirazi. (See p.
147) Yet the first ever edition of this book would appear in print in 1371/1952, 26
years after the event.
The Tarikh of Ya‘qubi would be published for the first time by Dar Sadir in Beirut
only in 1960. Shirazi quotes from it, complete with page reference, 33 years
before its first edition would see the light. (See p. 147)
The fifth volume of Baladhuri’s Ansab al-Ashraf would be published by the
University Press in Jerusalem in 1936. Sultan al-Wa‘izin Shirazi cites from this
very same volume, to the point of supplying the page number, 9 years earlier.
(See p. 146)
Muruj adh-Dhahab by Mas‘udi was first published by Dar Sadir in Beirut in
1368/1948, 3 years before Shirazi could quote it with volume and page numbers.
(See p. 146)
al-‘Iqd al-Farid by Ibn ‘Abd Rabbih is quoted with page and volume numbers by
Shirazi. (See p. 190) Yet it was printed for the first time in Cairo in 1952, a
quarter century after the alleged debate in Peshawar.
al-Haythami’s book Majma‘ az-Zawa’id is confidently cited by Shirazi, with page
and volume numbers. (See p. 82) Yet the book would be printed for the first time
in 1352, 7 years later.
‘Umdat al-Qari by Badr ad-Din al‘Ayni was first published in 1348. Shirazi manages
to cite this work by page and volume numbers 3 years before its publication. (See
p. 239)
The book Tarikh Baghdad was first published by Maktabat al-Khanji in Cairo in
1349/1930. Again Sultan al-Wa‘izin Shirazi manages the impossible by citing
from this work with page and volume numbers 4 years before its publication. (See
p. 183)
Thus Shirazi’s habit of supplying copious lists of references, and thereupon attempting to
inject authority into them by citing page and volume numbers, had an unexpected—and a
most definitely undesired—side effect. Instead of bolstering the authority of his book, it
destroyed the entire image of the book as the authentic record of an objective debate.
Aside from the above cases where Shirazi has made reference to sources which were to
be printed several years after the date of his alleged debate in Peshawar, he also has the
tendency to list a large number of references which he could never possibly have laid
hands or eyes on. Most of his references lack volume and page numbers. This shows that
he did not have access to these works, and was merely quoting them from secondary,
unnamed sources. A substantial number of them refer to books that have been completely
missing for ce, and of which nothing is known besides their titles.
Source methodology
One point of criticism which will recur throughout the book is the author’s indiscriminate
use of sources. In matters of Shari‘ah and history, source methodology accounts for four
fifths of any textual argument. No quotation can be presented as an authoritative
argument if its authenticity has not satisfactorily been accounted for.
The key word here is authenticity. No hadith is authentic simply for the reason of it being
documented in a book. Of all people, the Shi‘ah are supposed to be the first to take note
of this fact. Whenever they are confronted with the fact that their hadith literature
contains a huge number of ahadith (2000, according to Ni‘matullah al-Jaza’iri in al-
Anwar an-Nu‘maniyyah) indicating that the present Qur’an suffered interpolation at the
hands of the Sahabah. To know just how much importance the Shi‘ah attach to
authenticity, one needs only to look at the vehemence and fervour with which Ayatullah
Muhammad Husayn Burujirdi—the supreme Shi‘i mujtahid upto his death in 1961—
rejected the Shi‘i ahadith proving interpolation in the Qur’an as being “extremely weak”.
(Lutfullah as-Safi, Ma‘ al-Kahtib fi Khututihi al-‘Aridah, p. 53)
Is authenticity a principle that only the Shi‘ah can invoke when things turn against them?
No person possessed of a sense fairness can fail to see the double standards of him who
complains when unauthentic quotations from his own legacy are used against him, but
freely quotes from the literature of his opponents without bothering to secure the
authenticity of what he quotes.
In the following pages I will survey the sources of Sunni hadith cited by Shirazi. The
sources from which he cites Sunni hadith may be classified under three headings: (1)
primary sources (2) secondary sources (3) obscure sources.
1. Primary sources
Hadith books in this category are characterized by the fact that they utilize isnads (chains
of narration) for their material. It includes books such as the Musnad of Imam Ahmad ibn
Hanbal, the six major works of al-Buhkari, Muslim, Abu Dawud, at-Tirmidhi, an-Nasa’i
and Ibn Majah, the works of al-Bayhaqi, ad-Daraqutni, and of authors as late as Abu
Nu‘aym al-Isfahani and al-Khatib al-Baghdadi.
The narrated material in any collection utilizing isnads is as a rule only as good as the
isnad. In Sahih al-Bukhari and Sahih Muslim we have a unique case, in that these two
authors have applied a rigorous set of criteria to the ahadith which they admitted into
their collections. The ahadith in the Sahihayn are therefore all authentic, not simply for
the fact that they appear in those books, but because they conform to the criteria of
authenticity stipulated by al-Bukhari and Muslim.
Books besides the Sahihayn are all subject to scrutiny of their isnads to determine to what
extent they conform to the criteria of authenticity. There never has been a claim, neither
by the authors of these works, nor by anyone else, that these works incorporate
exclusively authentic material. Muhaddithin like al-Hakim, the author of al-Mustadrak,
and Ibn Hibban, the author of at-Taqasim wal-Anwa‘ (commonly known as Sahih Ibn
Hibban), have attempted to follow the example of al-Bukhari and Muslim by
documenting only authentic ahadith, but their criteria, as well as the extent to which they
abided by those criteria left a lot to be desired, and consequently came under censure
from later muhaddithin.
Indiscriminate quoting from these works would therefore only occur if a person suffers
from one of two defects: ignorance of the science of hadith; or a Machiavellian attitude of
the end—in this case the conversion of the Ahl as-Sunnah—justifying the means. Either
of these defects is sufficient to disqualify anyone as an objective polemicist.
1. Secondary sources
Books in this category do not use isnads. Instead, they reproduce the texts of hadith from
the primary sources, and give a reference to the source from they have taken it. An
example here would be the book Majma‘ az-Zawa’id by Abul Hasan al-Haythami. In this
work the author has collected those ahadith in the Musnads of Ahmad, al-Bazzar and Abu
Ya‘la, and the three Mu‘jams of at-Tabarani—al-Kabir, al-Awsat and as-Saghir—that do
not appear in the six major collections.
Since the hadith collections in this category basically draw from the previous category,
the same is applicable to it in terms of authenticity as was stated for the primary sources.
In fact, when quoting from such secondary sources, the onus to prove authenticity is even
Shirazi seems quite oblivious to—or ignorant of—the fact that works such as Majma‘ az-
Zawa’id merely reproduce ahadith from primary sources. Therefore he thinks nothing of
adducing Majma‘ az-Zawa’id as a source after having already ascribed the hadith to al-
Mu‘jam al-Awsat of at-Tabarani. (See p. 82) This is but one example of many. One
wonders how someone who displays such an astonishing lack of proficiency in hadith
could be bold enough to present himself as an erudite scholar.
Other books in this category are ad-Durr al-Manthur and Tarikh al-Khulafa, both by as-
Suyuti, Ihya’ ‘Ulum ad-Din by al-Ghazali, Tafsir Mafatih al-Ghayb (also known as at-
Tafsir al-Kabir) by Fakhr ad-Din ar-Razi, Jami‘ al-Usul by Ibn al-Athir, and Kanz
al-‘Ummal by ‘Ali al-Muttaqi. This list is by no means exhausitive. These titles are
mentioned merely by way of example.
1. Obscure sources
Shirazi has shown an idiosyncratic predilection to quote from obscure and doubtful
sources. A number of his sources stand out prominently in this regard: Yanabi‘ al-
Mawaddah by Sulayman al-Qanduzi al-Hanafi; Kifayat at-Talib by Muhammad ibn
Yusuf al-Kanji ash-Shafi‘i; and Fara’id as-Simtayn by al-Hamawayni.
The first of the three, al-Qanduzi, is described in Mu‘jam al-Mu’allifin (vol. 4 p. 252) as a
Sufi who lived during the latter half of the 13th/19th century. Al-Kanji, although very
prominently labelled by Shirazi as a Shafi‘i, is completely unknown to biographers of the
Shafi‘i fuqaha such as Imam an-Nawawi in Tahdhib al-Asma’ wal-Lughat, Ibn as-Subki
in Tabaqat ash-Shafi‘iyyah al-Kubra, Ibn Qadi Shuhbah in his Tabaqat ash-Shafi‘iyyah,
and Jamal ad-Din al-Isnawi in his Tabaqat. Having died in 658 (as stated by Zerekly in
al-A‘lam vol. 7 p. 150) he lived at least a century before an-Nawawi (who died in 767)
and two centuries before the remaining biographers. It is therefore of great significance
that that not one of these biographers make any mention of him. Of al-Hamawayni I have
not been able to locate a single trace in any of the biographical dictionaries.
When authors such as these compile works in which they include ahadith the like of
which was never heard of before them, what status shall be accorded to such ahadith?
Shall they be regarded as “authentic ahadith” from “your own reliable Sunni scholars”? I
leave this question to the great Imam Fakhr ad-Din ar-Razi to answer. In his book al-
Mahsul fi ‘Ilm al-Usul (vol. 4 p. 299) he lists the kinds of narrations which are known
with certainty to be untrue and baseless. The fourth kind is the following:
The narration which is narrated at a time when narrations have already become
established, and when it is searched for it cannot be found in books nor in the
memories of the narrators—such a narration is known to be baseless.
The same line reasoning is to be found in Abul Husayn al-Basri’s book, al-Mu‘tamad
(vol. 2 p. 79):
A narration which, after the stabilization of hadith, is searched for but cannot be
traced in the corpus of hadith, is known for a fact to be a forgery, since we know
that the ahadith have been documented. The narration of a hadith after
documentation can therefore only be the narration of documented ahadith. So if
we do not find that (i.e. we find a hadith being narrated which was not previously
documented) then we know it to be an untrue narration.
Thus, when you see the gloating manner in which Shirazi cites hadith from latter day
“Sunni” authors such as al-Qanduzi and al-Kanji, or the unknown Ibn al-Maghazili and
al-Hamawayni, then pity his gross lack of knowledge of this fieldof hadith, of which he
has set himself up as an expert. And if Shirazi deserves pity, how much more deserving
of pity would those be whose utter gullibility would lead them to swallow the fruits of his
“erudite scholarship” hook, line and sinker?
The question one cannot help asking oneself is this: Can a book as elliptical, as blatantly
dishonest, and as seriously defective in scholarship as this one ever serve to build bridges
over the yawning chasm which separates the Ahl as-Sunnah from the Shi‘ah? This book
was never intended for that purpose. Its publication today stands as the unmistakable
recommitment by the Shi‘ah of today to the ideal of yesterday. That ideal is to convert
the Ahl as-Sunnah to the faith of the Shi‘ah. The author preferred to refer to himself in
the book as “Da‘i”. This was mistranslated by the translators—who obviously do not
know Arabic—as “well-wisher”. Da‘i does not mean well-wisher. It means missionary.
After this introduction I will proceed to analyze and criticize the arguments of the author
in detail. The destruction of the historicity of the book has only removed the veil of
objectivity and fair dialogue that was clouding they sight of the credulous reader. Now
that the book has been revealed to be the work of a Shi‘i missionary using a deceptive
literary device to win the trust and confidence of his credulous reader, the only thing that
remains is to critically analyze his arguments. Towards the fulfillment of that objective I
seek the aid of Allah.


Three issues are discussed by Shirazi in this session. After making reference to the fact
that he is a descendant of Rasulullah sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam, he has the Hafiz
inquire about his line of descent. Then, after having the Hafiz object to his genealogy, he
launches into a three page justification of his descent.
Thereafter, he introduces a break for the ‘Isha prayer. He uses this juncture to introduce
discussion of a phenomenon which is to the lay person one of the most conspicuous
points of divergence between the Ahl as-Sunnah and the Shi‘ah. This is the issue of
combining prayers. The Shi‘ah are known to combine the Zuhr and ‘Asr, as well as
Maghrib and ‘Isha prayers; Sunnis perform each prayer in its appointed time. The
questioner in this case is the Nawab, being the lay participant in the discussion. By citing
a hadith from Sunni books, he attempts to prove the validity of joining prayers, and at the
same time makes use of the opportunity to indulge in another favoured strategy of the
Shi‘i proselytizer: casting aspersions against Imam al-Bukhari and his book, al-Jami‘ as-
Shirazi then introduces the matter of how the grave of Sayyiduna ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib
radiyallahu ‘anhu was discovered at Najaf. He gives an apocryphal story of exactly how
the grave was discovered, and makes reference to Umayyad atrocities in history.
Shirazi’s genealogy
Before the actual discussion ensues, the Hafiz is made to stipulate it as condition that
“reference be made to ahadith and events that are based on indisputable evidence.” He
asks that they should “refrain from referring to doubtful sources.” To this Shirazi readily
and confidently agrees, but his lamentable failure to abide by this condition has already
been noted in the introduction.
In trying to assure his audience of his integrity in this regard, he makes reference to the
fact that he is a descendant of Rasulullah sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam. He presents his
personal pride is this descent as guarantee that he would abide by this condition. The fact
that he fails to abide by it demonstrates one of three things: (1) He does not possess the
knowledge and skills required to distinguish between authentic and unauthentic sources;
or (2) he does not care enough for his genealogy to fulfil the condition for which he has
made it a guarantee; or (3) the genealogy itself is doubtful. This third deduction may
appear petty and vindictive at first glance, but closer inspection of Shirazi’s genealogy as
stated in the book gives us very solid grounds for having reservations about it.
The historian Ibn Khaldun, through an inductive study of genealogies, formulated a
method of testing the authenticity of any genealogy. This method is based upon the
natural law of averages. It involves the median age to which people of this Ummah live,
the age at which they have children, and the fact that at any given time there are three
generations in co-existence. Essentially it comes down to assigning 3 persons for every
100 years spanned by the genealogy.
The line of descent given by Shirazi contains 27 persons. The name of Imam Ja‘far as-
Sadiq is missing between Imam Musa al-Kazim and Imam Muhammad al-Baqir, which I
assume to be the error of the typesetter or the translators. We may therefore consider this
genealogy to contain 28 persons. Considering that the person at the one end—Sayyiduna
‘Ali ibn Abi Talib radiyallahu ‘anhu—was born 23 years before the Hijrah, and that
Shirazi himself at the other end of the genealogy died 1390 years after the Hijrah, we
have a timespan of 1413 years. If we were to assign 3 persons for every hundred years,
we would be looking for a genealogy consisting of at least 42 persons. Shirazi’s
genealogy falls short of this figure by at least 14 persons. A difference of 3 or 4 would
have been acceptable, but it requires an extremely credulous mind to accept a genealogy
that suffers from 14 missing links as authentic.
Next we turn to the issue of the descendants of Sayyidah Fatimah radiyallahu ‘anha.
Shirazi makes the Hafiz object to him tracing his descent from the Nabi sallallahu
‘alayhi wasallam through Sayyidah Fatimah radiyallahu ‘anha, since he is of the opinion
that “descent is recognized from the male side only.” Shirazi responds firstly by quoting
an alleged dialogue between Imam Musa al-Kazim (erroneously described in the text of
Peshawar Nights as Imam Musa Ja‘far) and the Khalifah Harun ar-Rashid. This is the
first place in the book where he fails to comply with his undertaking to use only authentic
quotations, and it is significant to note that he is quoting from Shi‘i sources. He fails to
inform his opponents that the quotation is documented in the books ‘Uyun Akhbar ar-
Rida and al-Ihtijaj on the authority of a defective chain of narrators.
As-Saduq Ibn Babawayh, author of ‘Uyun Akhbar ar-Rida narrates it on the authority of
Abu Ahmad Hani ibn Muhammad al-‘Abdi, and he on the authority of a person named
simply as Abu Muhammad. Abu Mansur at-Tabarsi has in al-Ihtijaj merely reproduced
this narration from ‘Uyun Akhbar ar-Rida. (See al-Ihtijaj vol. 2 p. 389) Abu Ahmad Hani
ibn Muhammad al-‘Abdi and his source of information, Abu Muhammad, are completely
unknown figures. The only thing known about the former is that Ibn Babawayh narrates
from him, and that after mentioning his name, he writes “radiyallahu ‘anhu”. Shaykh
‘Abdullah al-Mamaqani, the Shi‘i expert on narrator biography, found himself at a total
loss for evidence of this person’s integrity, and could only rely upon Ibn Babawayh’s
invocation in his attempt to prove his integrity as a narrator. (See Tanqih al-Maqal vol. 3
p. 290) However, even the acceptance of Hani ibn Muhammad al-‘Abdi as a reliable
narrator fails to solve the problem, since we face an insurmountable problem in the
person of the second narrator, named as Abu Muhammad. Nothing at all is known about
this person. He is not mentioned by name; only by his ambiguous kunyah, Abu
The dialogue between Imam Musa al-Kazim and Harun ar-Rashid is lengthy one. It
covers four A4 pages in relatively fine print. It covers a variety of issues and is not
restricted to the deduction from the Qur‘an that the progeny of Fatimah are descendants
of the Nabi sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam. The brilliance of that deduction is marred by a
hadith which the Imam supposedly quotes to the Khalifah in the opening paragraph of the
dialogue. This hadith, which Imam Musa reportedly narrates on the authority of his
forefathers, the preceding Imams, from Rasulullah sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam, says that
when blood relations meet one another, the blood in their veins moves and becomes
agitated. The Khalifah is reported to hug the Imam in order to test the veracity of this
hadith, and—predictably enough—experiences an abnormal activity of the blood in his
veins. Any person who wants to ascertain the authenticity of this narration merely has to
hug a blood relative. He will soon come to know that this entire narration—the deduction
from the Qur’an included—was invented, either by Abu Ahmad Hani ibn Muhammad, or
by his source of information, the ambiguous Abu Muhammad.
The fact that Sayyiduna Hasan and Sayyiduna Husayn radiyallahu ‘anhuma are the sons
of Rasulullah sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam has never been an area of contention to the Ahl
as-Sunnah. For the Hafiz to contest this fact shows either his own ignorance—in which
case he is effectively disqualified as a spokesperson for the Ahl as-Sunnah—or reveals
the manipulative hand of Shirazi himself behind the characters in his drama. Had he been
courageous enough to engage recognized scholars like ‘Allamah ‘Abd ash-Shakur of
Lucknow in debate, he would not have had the puppeteer’s freedom to make his
marionette say whatever he wishes him to say. What he needed was an “opponent” with
enough flexibility that he can be made to appear helpless in the face of Shirazi’s own
“erudition”, and thereby effect a victory for Shi‘ism over Sunnism.
Since the point is really undisputed, there seems to be no sense in prolonging discussion
about it. However, since Shirazi is bent upon ridiculing the knowledge of his self-
copponent, he devotes another page to citations from a variety of “Sunni” books. The first
source he quotes is Ibn Abil Hadid, the commentator of Nahj al-Balaghah, whom he
describes as “one of your own great scholars”. ‘Abd al-Hamid ibn Hibatillah al-Mada’ini,
better known as Ibn Abil Hadid (died 655 AH) is not of the Ahl as-Sunnah, and never
even claimed to be. He was a self-professed Mu‘tazili and a Shi‘i. Shirazi himself calls
him “Ibn Abil Hadid Mu‘tazali”. The Mu‘tazilah never claimed to be of the Ahl as-
Sunnah. If anything, they regarded themselves as the opponents of the Ahl as-Sunnah. Is
Shirazi so blinded by his proselytizing zeal that he no longer sees his won glaring
contradictions? Or is he simply lacking in knowledge?
As for Ibn Abil Hadid being a Shi‘i, that is borne out by his own poetry. Some of his
most explicit declarations in this regard may be seen in Abul Fadl Ibrahim’s introduction
to his Sharh Nahj al-Balaghah. Ibn Kathir describes him as follows in al-Bidayah wan-
Nihayah (year 655, vol. 9 p. 82):
Ibn Abil Hadid al-‘Iraqi: the poet ‘Abd al-Hamid ibn Hibatillah ibn Muhammad
ibn Muhammad ibn al-Husayn, Abu Hamid, Ibn Abil Hadid, ‘Izz ad-Din al-
Mada’ini; the man of letters, the eloquent poet, the extremist Shi‘i. He is the
author of a commentary on Nahj al-Balaghah in 20 volumes. He was born at
Mada’in in the year 586. Then he went to Baghdad and became one of the poets
in the court of the Khalifah. He enjoyed the favour of the wazir Ibn al-‘Alqami,
on account of the two of them having literature and Shi‘ism in common.
In the following paragraph Shirazi cites a hadith from Jabir ibn Abdillah: “Allah created
the progeny of every Prophet from his own generation, but my progeny was created from
the generation of ‘Ali.” He ascribes this narration to Kifayat at-Talib of Muhammad ibn
Yusuf Ganji, and as-Sawa‘iq al-Muhriqah of Ibn Hajar al-Haytami, both of whom cite it
from at-Tabarani. The books as-Sawa‘iq al-Muhriqah and Kifata at-Talib are both
secondary sources; they derive their material from primary sources. In this case the
primary source is al-Mu‘jam al-Kabir of at-Tabarani, which was unavailable in print at
the time when Shirazi was writing his book. Today this book is in print, and thus
reference to the original source is possible. In al-Mu‘jam al-Kabir (vol. 3 p. 45, hadith
no. 2630) this hadith is found to be narrated with an extremely defective chain of
narrators. One narrator, namely Yahya ibn al-‘Ala ar-Razi, is a notorious forger known
for narrating falsified ahadith. (See Tahdhib al-Kamal vol. 31 pp. 484-488) Once again
Shirazi fails to fulfil his promise of making reference to authentic ahadith exclusively.
The only excuse that can possibly be made for him is ignorance.
A similar narration from Ibn ‘Abbas is quoted from the Manaqib of Khatib Khwarizmi.
This author, Abul Mu’ayyad Muhammad ibn Mahmud al-Khwarizmi lived during the
seventh century, and died in 655AH. (Mu‘jam al-Mu’allifin vol. 12 p. 3; al-A‘lam vol. 7
p. 87) This source therefore falls squarely within the bracket of late “obscure” sources
referred to in the introduction. The fact that al-Khwarizmi can come more than two
centuries after the era of documentation, and produce a hadith from Ibn ‘Abbas that no
one else before him knew of, is sufficient proof to reject it. Until and unless anyone can
produce an isnad for it, and prove the authenticity of that isnad, it will remain an
unauthentic quotation. Shirazi, having promised upon the sanctity of his descent to quote
exclusively from reliable sources, should have known better than to produce evidence
from a source of such obscurity.
Next he cites a hadith from the above mentioned al-Khwarizmi in al-Manaqib, Sayyid
‘Ali al-Hamadhani in Mawaddat al-Qurba, Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal in his Musnad, and
Sulayman al-Balkhi (al-Qanduzi) in his book Yanabi‘ al-Mawaddah. He does not
produce page and volume numbers for any of these sources. The text of the hadith is as
follows: “These my two sons are flowers of this world, and both of them are Imams,
whether they are Imams openly or silently sitting at home.”
Out of the four sources cited, only one is worthy of mention, which is the Musnad of
Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal. The other sources are all secondary sources by latter day
authors who do not document their material with chains of narration. Al-Khawrizmi, as
we have seen, died in 655AH; Sayyid ‘Ali al-Hamadhani died in 786AH (more will be
said about his book Mawaddat al-Qurba later); and al-Qanduzi died as late as
1294AH/1877. It is therefore most unscholarly for Shirazi to cite all three of these
sources together with the Musnad of Imam Ahmad, who died in 241AH. Out of the four
cited sources, it is only the Musnad that can give us an idea of the authenticity of the
When we turn to the Musnad to look for the hadith, we encounter a most unpleasant
surprise. This hadith, so confidently quoted by Shirazi, is nowhere to be found in the
Musnad. The concordance al-Mu‘jam al-Mufahras li-Alfaz al-Hadith an-Nabawi, the 11
volume Mawsu‘at Atraf al-Hadith an-Nabawi, as well as modern day computer software
have given no trace of any hadith of this kind in the Musnad. It seems therefore that
Shirazi, beyond breaking his pledge of citing only reliable ahadith, has even resorted to
blatant dishonesty. This would explain why has omitted to supply volume and page
numbers for this particular hadith.
In what remains of this passage he once again makes reference to al-Qanduzi’s Yanabi‘
al-Mawaddah, but this time he makes it clear that the author of this book uses material
from other sources. However, in one of the names he mentions in this regard, Hafiz ‘Abd
al-‘Aziz ibn Abi Shaybah, he once again reveals his ignorance of history and hadith
literature. There never was a person by this name. The Ibn Abi Shaybah family of Kufah
had three scions who made a name for themselves as muhaddithin. One was Abu Bakr,
the other ‘Uthman, and the last one Muhammad. Allah alone knows where Shirazi
unearthed the name ‘Abd al-‘Aziz ibn Abi Shaybah. His blunt insistence upon producing
a authoritative sounding list of references has produced many a ludicrous situation like
In the next passage he quotes out of the blue from the writings of a person whom he
names as Abu Salih. This incoherent citation contains a hadith from Sayyiduna ‘Umar ibn
al-Khattab radiyallahu ‘anhu, which he ascribes to Hafiz ‘Abd al-‘Aziz ibn al-Ahkdar,
Abu Nu‘aym, at-Tabari, Ibn Hajar al-Makki and the suppositious Muhammad ibn Yusuf
Ganji. However, he consistently fails to provide authentication for the ahadith which he
adduces as proof. The same is true for the rest of the references which he provides in the
passage. What Shirazi sadly fails to comprehend is that a hadith is not proven authentic
by the amount of books which contain it, but rather by the hadith itself conforming to the
criteria of authenticity.
It is worthy of note here that in this same passage Shirazi makes reference to the marriage
of Umm Kulthum, the daughter of Sayyiduna ‘Ali and Sayyidah Fatimah radiyallahu
‘anhum without denying its historical occurrence, as many Shi‘i scholars are known to
do. He does this in the course of quoting a hadith which he presents as factual evidence.
Does this mean that Shirazi accepts the historicity of this marriage?
In any event, here we have had our first sampling of Shirazi’s source methodology. In an
issue upon which there really exists no need for protracted debate he felt compelled to
brandish as many references as he could lay hands upon. In the process he unwittingly
revealed his unfamiliarity with his supposed sources. He also gave ample evidence of a
stark lack of expertise in the field of hadith. More importantly, he proved his readiness to
resolve to deception for the sake of impressing his reader with references.
Combining prayers
After having the Nawab ask him the reason for the Shi‘ah combining prayers, Shirazi
introduces this phenomenon into the discussion. The Hafiz is made to offer the
explanation that the Nabi sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam combined prayers only in
extraordinary situations, like when he was on a journey, or due to rain, and that he always
offered his prayers separately when he was at home.
In refutation of this explanation, Shirazi cites a hadith of Ibn ‘Abbas radiyallahu
‘anhuma in which it is reported that Rasulullah sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam combined the
Zuhr and ‘Asr, and Maghrib and ‘Isha prayers while in residence. Here Shirazi has used a
creative method of citation. The hadith he cites is in reality one single hadith. However,
he boldly states that “many ahadith confirm this fact”. Then, in order to show just how
many ahadith confirm this fact, he quotes the hadith of Ibn ‘Abbas several times from a
number of different sources. By mentioning the various chains of narration up to Ibn
‘Abbas radiyallahu ‘anhuma, even going to the extent that “Imam Muslim quotes a
number of ahadith on the issue”, Shirazi deceitfully tries to create the impression that
there exists a multitude of ahadith that prove the combining of prayers in residence. The
fact of the matter is that there is only one hadith,which is that of Ibn ‘Abbas radiyallahu
‘anhuma, which happens to be narrated from Ibn ‘Abbas by a number of his students.
The careful reader will not fail to notice that each “separate” hadith cited by Shirazi ends
with Ibn ‘Abbas radiyallahu ‘anhuma, and even the corroboration by Abu Hurayrah
radiyallahu ‘anhu is part of Ibn ‘Abbas’ hadith, and not technically an independent
Be that as it may, the fact that there is only one hadith on this issue is inconsequential as
far as its authenticity is concerned. Since it conforms to the criteria of authenticity, it has
been accepted as authentic. What now remains to be done is to see how this hadith fits in
with the rest of the ahadith on the times of salah. Shirazi has the Nawab express
amazement at how this hadith (which is slyly referred to as “these ahadith”) was ignored
by the Ahl as-Sunnah, and how “learned men have adopted a different path”. He brushes
off the “explanations” of the Sunni scholars as unintelligible, but turns a conspicuous
blind eye to (or is perhaps ignorant of) the proper treatment of this hadith by the ‘ulama
of the Ahl as-Sunnah.
The hadith literature of both the Ahl as-Sunnah and the Shi‘ah concur upon the fact that
that the times of salah were given to Rasulullah sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam by Jibril
during the Meccan period. They agree that the time for Zuhr and Maghrib were given as
separate and distinct from that of ‘Asr and ‘Isha. This is further corroborated by the
model example of the Nabi sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam. The Shi‘i scholar Ayatullah
Musa al-Musawi confirms this where he writes that “the habit of Rasulullah by which
Muslims should abide, was to perform every prayer within its time. Rasulullah sallallahu
‘alayhi wasallam used to lead the Muslims in prayer five times every day.” (al-
Muta’amirun ‘ala al-Muslimin ash-Shi‘ah p. 173)
The only case which represents an ostensible departure from this norm is this hadith of
Ibn ‘Abbas radiyallahu ‘anhuma. Shirazi would be well aware of the fact that in the
entire hadith literature there is only this one solitary hadith which apparently departs from
the established norm. He knows fully well that his argument in favour of combining
prayers would be crippled by mention of the fact that such combination is supported by a
single isolated hadith. He therefore attempts to make it appear as “several ahadith”.
In any event, the hadith of Ibn ‘Abbas radiyallahu ‘anhuma appears to be out of harmony
with the Prophetic norm of performing every prayer within its specified time. This norm
is established on the basis of a substantially large number of ahadith, even in the Shi‘i
hadith literature, and also the continuous practice of the Ummah. The ‘ulama of the Ahl
as-Sunnah were thus faced with two possible approaches: either to harmonise this one
irregular hadith with the rest by giving it a suitable explanation; or to regard it as a
normative hadith in its own right, which sets an independent precedent. The majority of
them opted for the former approach.
The reader might at this point get the impression that their opting for this position was
based on some sort of subjective bias. But this impression will soon disappear when he
learns that what lead them to this option was two aspects of the hadith of Ibn ‘Abbas
radiyallahu ‘anhuma which Shirazi, for obvious reasons, preferred to keep unknown to
his readers. The first of the two aspects is the fact that not in a single version of the hadith
is it stated that either of the two combined prayers was perfomed out of its prescribed
time. Hafiz Ibn Hajar al-‘Asqalani, whose encyclopaedic knowledge of hadith is a matter
of consensus, states in Fath al-Bari that “in all of the versions of this hadith there is
nothing which indicates the exact time when the combining occurred.” (Fath al-Bari vol.
2 p. 30)
The second aspect to consider here is the fact that one of the students of Ibn ‘Abbas
radiyallahu ‘anhuma who narrates this hadith from him, explained the hadith in such a
way that it is left fully in accordance with the established norm. This student, Abu ash-
Sha‘tha Jabir ibn Zayd, whose version of the hadith is documented by both al-Bukhari
and Muslim, and several of the other well-known books of hadith, states that what this
“combination” of prayers entailed was for Zuhr to be performed during the last minutes
of its prescribed time, with ‘Asr then being performed immediately upon commencement
of its time. In this way the two prayers are combined without the established norm being
violated. This explanation for the hadith of Ibn ‘Abbas radiyallahu ‘anhuma was given
by Ibn ‘Abbas’ own student, and was accepted by a large majority of scholars, including
the Hanafi jurist Abu Ja‘far at-Tahawi, the Malikis Ibn al-Majishun and Abul ‘Abbas al-
Qurtubi, and the Shafi‘is Imam al-Haramayn, Ibn Sayyid an-Nas al-Ya‘muri and Ibn
Hajar al-‘Asqalani, amongst others.
The other approach—of regarding this hadith to be normative in its own right—was
adopted by a minority of scholars of the Ahl as-Sunnah, including Imam Malik’s teacher
Rabi‘ah ibn Abi ‘Abd ar-Rahman, the tabi‘i Muhammad ibn Sirin, the Maliki jurist
Ashhab ibn ‘Abd al-‘Aziz and the Shafi‘i jurists Ibn al-Mundhir and al-Qaffal ash-
Shashi. These scholars allow the combining of prayers, but with the proviso that it be for
a need, and more importantly, that it does not become a habit.
It is this second point that is the point of divergence between them and the Shi‘ah. The
Shi‘ah have permitted the combination of prayers even without a need. This has given
rise to a situation where they habitually perform Zuhr and ‘Asr together, and Maghrib
and ‘Isha together. Although they theoretically assert the superiority of performing each
prayer within its prescribed time according to the Prophetic norm, in practice they are
very rarely seen to uphold this norm. As such the combination of prayers has become the
hallmark of the Shi‘ah.
Shirazi has ventured to pour scorn on some of the explanations given by Sunni
commentators in explaining the hadith of Ibn ‘Abbas radiyallahu ‘anhuma. If only he had
consulted his own hadith sources before doing so he would have been spared the
embarrassment of revealing his ignorance of the hadith of the Shi‘ah. One of the
explanations given by the Ahl as-Sunnah for the combining of prayers in the hadith of
Ibn ‘Abbas is that it was done due to rain. Shaykh Abu Ja‘far at-Tusi in his book al-
Istibsar, which is one of the four major books of hadith for the Shi‘ah, records from
Imam Muhammad al-Baqir that on rainy nights the Nabi sallallahi ‘alayhi wasallam used
to delay Maghrib and hasten ‘Isha (exactly as explained by Jabir ibn Zayd) and perform
the two prayers jointly; and he used to say: “Whoever does not show mercy will not be
shown mercy.” (al-Istibsar vol. 1 p. 267, no. 966)
This Shi‘i hadith alone should have been reason enough for Shirazi, and indeed the
Shi‘ah in general, to reconsider their habitual joining of prayers for no reason at all. It is
therefore very strange to see Shirazi reverently stating that “the Shia ulema, in obedience
to the Holy Imam and the progeny of the Holy Prophet, have unconditionally pethe
offering of prayers together.” What sort of obedience is this which ignores the words of
the Imam when it goes against their own desires? What sort of obedience is this which
abandons the established Prophetic habit of performing every prayer within its prescribed
time for an isolated incident which is subject to interpretation?
Shirazi makes use of the opportunity to strike a blow at the integrity of Imam al-Bukhari.
He has the Hafiz meekly object that the hadith of Ibn ‘Abbas radiyallahu ‘anhuma is not
in Sahih al-Bukhari. He has no reason for introducing al-Bukhari into the issue, since it is
already accepted that hadith is recorded by Muslim, and its authenticity has thus been
established. Even if al-Bukhari did not document it, its authenticity will not be affected.
Therefore, this objection from the Hafiz must be read to serve another purpose. That
purpose is to malign the character of al-Bukhari. This Shirazi does by asserting that al-
Bukhari did in fact document the hadith, but not under the expected chapter heading. He
has “deceitfully put them away from their proper place.” Did it ever occur to Shirazi or
his reader that al-Bukhari was under no compulsion to include the hadith into his book,
and that had he wanted to be deceitful, he would have omitted this hadith from his
collection altogether? Did it even occur to them that mentioning the hadith under the
heading “Bab Ta’khir az-Zuhr lil-‘Asr” (meaning “Chapter on the delaying of Zuhr till
‘Asr”) is in fact its proper place?
Shirazi once again sacrifices his honesty upon the altar of expediency when he asserts
that people like an-Nawawi (misspelt as Nuri), Hafiz Ibn Hajar al-‘Asqalani, al-Qastalani
and az-Zurqani (misspelt as Zarqani) have “admitted that these ahadith are proofs of the
acceptability of combining two prayers.” Yes, they have done so, and so have numerous
commentators and jurists before them. But they have never allowed the unconditional
combining of prayers like the Shi‘ah do. Without exception, they have made the
permissibility of combining prayers subject to certain conditions. However, Shirazi could
not find within himself the honesty to reflect the conditions stipulated by the men whose
names he mentioned.
Lastly, Shirazi has added the name “Zakariyya-e-Razi” to the above list of well known
hadith commentators. There has never been a commentator of Sahih al-Bukhari by the
name of “Zakariyya-e-Razi”. The only Razi whose name comes close to this is the
famous philosopher and physician Abu Bakr Muhammad ibn Zakariyya ar-Razi. The last
thing a philosopher would contemplate doing is write a commentary on hadith. Mention
of his name in this regard must therefore be seen as evidence of Shirazi’s penchant for
inflating his list of “authorities” so as to impress his gullible reader. This tendency occurs
throughout the book ad nauseam.
How Shirazi’s ancestors migrated from Hijaz to Iran
A story is briefly related here of how Shirazi’s “ancestor” Muhammad al-‘Abid was
murdered in Shiraz on the orders of the “Abbasid King”. The details of the story have
been left out by Shirazi, but we will nevertheless take a closer look at the historicity of
this alleged event.
Muhammad al-‘Abid was the son of Musa al-Kazim. Mentioned of him has been made
by Shaykh al-Mufid in his book Kitab al-Irshad (p. 459). However, al-Mufid mentions
nothing at all about his supposed murder in Shiraz. Even Majlisi in Bihar al-Anwar
mentions nothing about this event. If any author had to mention an event of this nature,
that author would have been Abul Faraj al-Isfahani, who devoted an entire book, entitled
Maqatil at-Talibiyyin, to documenting the killing of the descendants of Sayyiduna ‘Ali
ibn Abi Talib radiyallahu ‘anhu and his brothers, by the Umayyads and the Abbasids.
However, Maqatil at-Talibiyyin is conspicuously silent on the murder of Muhammad,
Ahmad and Husayn, the sons of Musa al-Kazim, in Shiraz by the order of the “Abbasid
King”. We are justified therefore to question the historicity of the event.
The story surrounding how Muhammad al-‘Abid came to be buried in Shiraz, as related
by Sayyid Ja‘far Al Bahr al-‘Ulum in his book Tuhfat al-‘Alim, is that he entered Shiraz
in Abbasid times and lived there till he died. He is reported to have made a living by
copying the Qur’an, and is said to have manumitted 1000 slaves. His grave was
“discovered” 6 centuries later during the time of the Zangid dynasty in a garden
belonging to a person named as Qutlugh. (Tuhfat al-‘Alim, published as appendix to
Bihar al-Anwar vol. 48 p. 191) This story is supported by Muhammad Madhi al-Kharsan
in his footnotes to Bihar al-Anwar (vol. 48 p. 174) He informs us that a large number of
those who trace their descent from Musa al-Kazim, including himself, claim descent
through this Muhammad al-‘Abid. Neither of these two sources mention anything about
Muhammad al-‘Abid being killed. More importantly, none of them venture any
information about the state of the alleged grave for the 6 centuries before its “discovery”.
His brother Ahmad, commonly known in Shiraz as “Shah Chiragh” is reported by Sayyid
Ja‘far Bahr al-‘Ulum to have come to Shiraz during the time of the Abbasid Khalifah al-
Ma’mun. The Abbasid governor of Shiraz, conspicuously named here as Qutlugh Khan,
stopped him on his way. A fight ensued and Ahmad’s followers deserted him. He is
reported variously to have been killed in that skirmish, or to have escaped into the city to
where he was followed and killed, and thirdly to have managed to elude his enemies in
Shiraz where he lived an anonymous life until he died a natural death. His grave too, was
discovered during Zangid times, when for the first time a structure was built over it.
As for the third brother, Husayn, known as ‘Ala ad-Din, his story brings a weird twist to
the conspicuous Qutlugh. Sayyid Ja‘far Bahr al-‘Ulum tells us that during Zangid times,
several centuries after Abbasid rule, the governor of Shiraz was a person called Qutlugh
Khan. This governor had a garden, and the gardener noticed a wonderful light emanating
from the garden at night. Upon investigation they discovered a grave, and through some
means or the other they discovered that the person buried in the grave is Husayn ibn
Musa al-Kazim. Qutlugh Khan thereupon ordered a building to be constructed over the
All three graves were discovered in Zangid times, 6 centuries after the death of persons
supposedly buried in them. All three brother came to Shiraz at the same time, but none
seem to have known of the other’s presence. All three became involved with a Qutlugh
Khan, but each one in his own unique way. It wouldn’t take an expert historian to smell a
rat here. A complete and rewarding study could be made of the proclivity of the Iranians,
especially in later centuries, to find the graves of sons of the Imams in Iran. Sites called
imamzadahs flourish in Iran. The Persian Da’irat al-Ma‘arif-e Tashayyu‘ (Encyclopaedia
of Shi‘a) lists over 350 such sites in Iran. In several cases the same person is claimed to
be buried at different locations. In the case of Ahmad ibn Musa al-Kazim, for example,
there is a rival grave for him in Kashan. (Da’irat al-Ma‘arif-e Tashayyu‘ vol. 2 p. 433)
Muhammad al-‘Abid too, has an alternate grave in Kakhak. (ibid. p. 432) The rival grave
of Husayn ibn Musa al-Kazim is in Tabas. (ibid. p. 322)
This embarrassing confusion, and these obvious pointers to the fraud of the ones who
invented the graves at Shiraz, help one to understand the reason why Shirazi refused to
devote anything more than a 7 line paragraph to the story about how his ancestors
originally came to Iran. The actual history of Shi‘ism in Iran will be dealt with later,
under the second session, where Shirazi has spoken of Iran and Shi‘ism under the
heading “Causes of Iranians’ receptivity to Shi‘ism”.
The grave of ‘Ali
Hereafter mention is made of the discovery of the grave of Sayyiduna ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib
radiyallahu ‘anhu at Najaf 150 years after his death. Shirazi explains the initial secrecy
surrounding the location of the graves in light of fear that the Umayyads would desecrate
the grave. However, what he doesnot explain is why the location of the grave was
revealed by Imam Musa al-Kazim to the Khalifah Harun ar-Rashid when the Abbasids,
according to the Shi‘ah, were no less cruel to the ‘Alawis than were the Umayyads.
Hasan al-Amin writes in his Shorter Shi’ite Encyclopaedia: “Then came Abbasid rule.
They were more severe upon the Alawides in their persecution and cruelty as well as
upon the Shi’ites as compared to the Omayyides. Their rule was more troublesome and
bitter for them, as a poet has said: ‘By God, the Omayyids did not do one-tenth in their
case, as Banu Abbas did.’ Amir Abul Faras al-Hamadani says: ‘Banu Harab (Omayyids)
did not succeed in these crimes even though though they intended to, as compared to your
success.’ (p. 36)”
Harun ar-Rashid is the Khalifah to whom Imam Musa al-Kazim is reported to have
revealed the location of the grave. This same Harun is described by Hasan al-Amin as
having “made himself notorious for his cruelty to the Alawides and their friends and took
to extremes in their persecution.” (p. 40) It is interesting that just a few lines earlier
Shirazi was recalling how his “ancestors” were slaughtered by the Abbasids, and now he
presents the Abbasids as benevolent enough for Imam Musa al-Kazim to reveal to them
the location of his grandfather’s grave.
He cites the martyrdom of Zayd ibn ‘Ali ibn al-Husayn, and that of his son Yahya ibn
Zayd as examples of Umayyad cruelty. If the cruelty that was visited upon these two
great personalities gives one reason to believe that the Umayyads were given to desecrate
graves, why is it that the alleged slaughter of Shirazi’s ancestors and others gave no one
reason to fear that the Abbasids would desecrate the grave of Sayyiduna Ali radiyallahu
Shirazi appears ignorant of the fact that the exact manner and time of the “discovery” of
the grave at Najaf is a matter of contention in the Shi‘i hadith literature. He cites the story
of Harun ar-Rashid and Musa al-Kazim as the point at which the grave became known,
but fails to take note that Mulla Baqir Majlisi has recorded in Bihar al-Anwar (vol. 97 p.
164) a report according to which the location of the grave was known to Abu Ja‘far al-
Mansur, who was Harun ar-Rashid’s grandfather. Abu Ja‘far is reported to have actually
excavated the site to see if it really contains a grave. He also mentions that Imam Ja‘far
as-Sadiq revealed its location in the time of the first Abbasid ruler Abul ‘Abbas as-
Saffah, who died in 130 AH. Shirazi is therefore clearly mistaken to claim that “the grave
remained virtually unknown until the days of Harun ar-Rashid.”
His claim that Harun built a structure over the location shown to him by Imam Musa al-
Kazim clashes headlong with a report documented by Majlisi in Bihar al-Anwar (vol. 42
p. 185) in which a person by the name of Muhammad ibn ‘Ali ibn Duhaym reports
visiting the site secretly sometime after the year 260 AH, and found no building. All they
found was a few black stones around the grave. Harun ar-Rashid died in the year 193 AH.
Furthermore, the discovery of a tablet in Syriac that bore an inscription declaring this
grave to have been prepared for ‘Ali radiyallahu ‘anhu by the Prophet Nuh ‘alayhis
salam 700 years before the Deluge presents an anomaly in itself. Although Shirazi
promised to use only authentic sources, he fails to provide a source for this fantastic
story. There is also no trace of this aspect of the story in Bihar al-Anwar, a source which
has given considerable attention to the issue of the location of the grave. What Majlisi
does record is that the grave of Sayyiduna ‘Ali radiyallahu ‘anhu is in fact the grave of
Sayyiduna Nuh ‘alayhis salam (vol. 97 p. 171) and not only that of Nuh, but also Adam,
Hud and Salih ‘alayhimus salam. (vol. 97 p. 173)
But let us turn to another matter now. Shirazi has cited as examples of Umayyad
atrocities the martyrdom of Zayd ibn ‘Ali ibn al-Husayn and his son Yahya. However,
there is an element in the tragedy of Zayd, and even in that of his grandfather Husayn
radiyallahu ‘anhuma which the Shi‘ah always carefully avoid. That element is the role of
the Shi‘ah themselves in those lamentable tragedies. The Umayyads were only half the
problem. The other half was the Shi‘ah.
When Zayd ibn ‘Ali declared revolt against the Umayyads, 40 000 of the Shi‘ah pledged
allegiance upon his hand, 15 000 of them from the city of Kufah alone. With a force this
mighty, the Umayyad army would have been easily vanquished, and justice would have
been established. What happened that at the hour of the battle Zayd was left with only
300 men? The story behind the disgraceful desertion of Zayd by the Shi‘ah is told by
virtually every historian who has given a biography of Zayd or recorded the events of the
year 122 AH.
Just before the battle could start they decided upon a whim to ask Zayd’s opinion about
Abu Bakr and ‘Umar radiyallahu ‘anhuma. His reply was, “I have never heard any of my
family dissociate himself from them, and I myself have nothing but good to say about
them.” Upset with this reply, they deserted him en masse, and decided that he could not
be the Imam, but that the true Imam was his nephew Ja‘far as-Sadiq. Out of the 40 000
who had pledged loyalty to him Zayd was left with only a few hundred. On the departure
of the defectors Zayd remarked, “I am afraid they have done unto me what they had done
unto Husayn.” It was here too that for the first time in history the Shi‘ah were given the
name “Rafidah”, meaning “the rejectors”. This name was given to them by Zayd when
they rejected him after his refusal to dissociate himself from Abu Bakr and ‘Umar
radiyallahu ‘anhuma.
If the Umayyads were guilty on that day of shedding holy blood, then just as guilty as
them were the thousands of Shi‘ah who would rather see a distinguished member of the
Ahl al-Bayt and the son of their Imam perish at the merciless hands of the Umayyads
than hear him speak favourably of Abu Bakr and ‘Umar radiyallahu ‘anhuma. It is
perhaps for this reason that Imam Ja‘far as-Sadiq is reported in the Shi‘i hadith literature
to have said that “no one bears us greater hatred than those who claim to love us.”
(Miqbas al-Hidayah vol. 2 p. 414)
However, Shi‘i rancour against Zayd did not stop at that cowardly act of desertion. To
this very day their hadith literature is filled with sayings attributed to their Imams in
which Zayd is denounced as misguided innovator, and even an unbeliever for falsely
claiming to be an Imam. (Tanqih al-Maqal vol. 1 p. 467-471) The Umayyads killed Zayd
once, and crucified his body once. The Shi‘ah, on the other hand, insult the memory of
Zayd ibn ‘Ali every time that they assert, in terms of the hadith which they ascribe to
their Imams, that “whoever raises the standard of revolt before the coming of the Mahdi
is a taghut (tyrant)”; and “whoever unrightfully claims Imamah is a kafir” and “a
mushrik”, “even if he be a descendant of ‘Ali and Fatimah” and “whoever
revolts and calls people towards himself, while there is amongst them
someone who is better than him, is a deviant innovator”. (Bihar al-Anwar
vol. 25 pp. 325-328)
It was not only Zayd who was maligned by the Shi‘ah. Even his faithful
followers, who courageously kept up the resistance against the Umayyads,
were branded as “enemies of the Ahl al-Bayt” (Rijal al-Kashshi vol. 2 p.
494) despite the fact that they too, follow Imams from the Ahl al-Bayt. It is a
strange philosophy which denounces those who refused to submit to
injustice and humiliation as “enemies of the Ahl al-Bayt” while lauding
those who deserted the Ahl al-Bayt at the hour of need, and whose
opposition to perceived injustice was limited to the ritual cursing of
Sayyiduna Abu Bakr and ‘Umar radiyallahu ‘anhuma in the safety of their
private gatherings.
Therefore, if Zayd’s martyrdom was a tragic event, then so much more
lamentable is the attitude of the Shi‘ah towards Zayd, both at the hour of his
martyrdom and all the way down history up to the present day. Therefore, it
is blatant opportunism for Shirazi to tell only half of the story, and to
conveniently omit any sort of reference to the treachery of his ancestors, the
Sh‘ah, and their disgraceful role in that tragic martyrdom.

The Verse of
“Your Wali is only
Allah, His
Messenger, and the
believers who
establish prayer
and give charity,
and they bow
down.” (al-
Meaning and context
This verse is called the “Verse of Wilayah” due to the appearance of the
word wali in it. Linguistically the word wilayah may have one of two
Wilayah as Authority
The one meaning is authority. The wali would then be the possessor of
authority. The Shi‘ah have arbitrarily latched on to this meaning, seeking
thereby to prove the Imamah of ‘Ali radiyallahu ‘anhu. By coupling this
meaning of the term to the narrations which will come under discussion in
due course—the gist of which is that Sayyiduna ‘Ali radiyallahu ‘anhu once
gave his ring to a beggar whilst in the state of ruku‘, and that the verse was
revealed on that occasion—they draw the conclusion that the only legitimate
authority in the Muslim community is that of Allah, His Messenger and the
Imam. Any other kind of authority, like that of Abu Bakr, ‘Umar and
‘Uthman radiyallahu ‘anhum, for example, is then illegitimate and
contradicts the Qur’an.
Wilayah as Friendship
The other meaning of wilayah, which in this sense might also appear as
walayah, is a relationship of affection, attachment and solidarity in which
each individual becomes the friend and protector of the other. In this sense
the wali is then that person or entity whom you regard as your friend, your
ally, the one with whom you associate, who can be counted upon to protect
you and defend your rights. In this sense it stands opposed to terms such as
“enemy”, “foe” and “adversary”.
In order to see which of these two meanings apply to the verse, one needs to
look at the context in which it stands. The Verse of Wilayah is the 55th verse
of Surah al-Ma’idah. In order for us to get the complete picture of the
context in which it stands, we need to go back a few verses. In verse 51
Allah Ta‘ala says:
O you who believe, do not take the Jews and the Christians as
your awliya (plural of wali). They are the awliya of one another.
Whoever amongst you takes them as his awliya is one of them.
Verily Allah does not guide the unjust people.
It can be seen from this verse that Allah Ta‘ala is definitely not speaking of
wilayah in the sense of authority. What is being spoken of here is taking
non-Muslims as allies, friends and protectors.
When Allah then says in verse 55 that “your true wali is only Allah, His
Messenger and the Believers” it is clear that it is wilayah in the sense of
mutual solidarity and friendship, and not wilayah in the sense of authority,
that is meant.
This meaning of wilayah is repeated again in verse 57:
O you who believe, do not take as your awliya those who take your
religion for a mockery and fun from amongst those who received
the Scripture before you, and from amongst the disbelievers.
In light of the fact that in the preceding as well as successive verses wilayah
is used in the sense of the relationship we have described earlier, it is
unacceptable, and indeed most incoherent, to claim that in this verse in the
middle it has been used in the sense of authority. The meaning of the verse
of Wilayah is therefore that a Muslim’s allegiance should be only to Allah,
His Messenger sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam, and the Believers. Of the
exclusive and pre-emptive right to authority which the Shi‘ah seek to read
into it, the verse does not speak at all.
This is further corroborated by an authentic narration documented by Ibn
Jarir at-Tabari and others, which states that verse 51 was revealed in
connection with ‘Ubadah ibn Samit radiyallahu ‘anhu and ‘Abdullah ibn
Ubayy, both of whom had wilayah relationships with the Jews of Madinah.
‘Ubadah radiyallahu ‘anhu came to Rasulullah and announced that he was
severing all ties of wilayah with them, while ‘Abdullah ibn Ubayy insisted
on keeping ties with them, saying that he feared a turnabout of
circumstances. It was then that the 55th verse of al-Ma’idah was revealed.
(Tafsir Ibn Kathir vol. 2 p. 68)

The main grounds for forcing the verse out of its context are the narrations
which exist, according to which the verse was revealed when Sayyiduna ‘Ali
radiyallahu ‘anhu gave his ring to a beggar whilst in the position of ruku‘.
In what follows we will investigate the authenticity of those narrations.
It must be remembered, as a matter of principle, that untruthfulness in
narrating hadith was a very real phenomenon in the early centuries of Islam,
the result of which has been that a lot of spurious, unauthentic material was
brought into circulation. Much of this material was later included into hadith
collections by compilers who were motivated more by a desire to document
a largely oral tradition, than to separate authentic from unauthentic material.
Whoever thereafter wishes to utilize the material thus compiled will first
have to ascertain the authenticity of the material he wishes to quote. By
failing to first prove the authenticity of one’s quoted material, the entire
argument which is based upon that material is rendered useless.
After this very important introductory remark, we now launch into a study of
the available narrated material. We will first look at what has been narrated
from some of the Sahabah, and thereafter at what has been narrated with
chains of narration that go back only as far as the Tabi‘in.

1. Narrations from Sahabah

The sources at our disposal contain narrations of the supposed incident
whose sanads (chains of narration) go back to four different Sahabah. They
1. Sayyiduna ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Abbas radiyallahu ‘anhuma
2. Sayyiduna ‘Ammar ibn Yasir radiyallahu ‘anhu
3. Sayyiduna ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib radiyallahu ‘anhu himself.
4. Sayyiduna Abu Rafi‘radiyallahu ‘anhu
1.1 ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Abbas t
There are at least three separate isnads from Ibn ‘Abbas in which this story
is recounted.
1.1.1 The first isnad from Ibn ‘Abbas
The first is recorded by Abu Bakr ibn Mardawayh in his Tafsir and al-
Wahidi in his book Asbab an-Nuzul. Ibn Mardawayh’s Tafsir has not
survived, but al-Wahidi’s book has been published a number of times, and it
is known from as-Suyuti’s ad-Durr al-Manthur (vol. 2 p. 293) that these two
sources have at least the last portion of their isnads in common. This last
portion is as follows:
Muhammad ibn Marwan — Muhammad ibn as-Sa’ib — Abu Salih —
Ibn‘Abbas (See al-Wahidi, Asbab an-Nuzul no. 397)

This isnad is one of the most famous chains of forgery. Each one of the three
narrators before Ibn ‘Abbas was a notorious liar. Abu Salih, whose name
was Badham or Badhan, was described as a liar by his own student Isma‘il
ibn Abi Khalid. (See Abu Ja‘far al-‘Uqayli, ad-Du‘afa’ al-Kabir vol. 1 p.
The next narrator, Muhammad ibn as-Sa’ib al-Kalbi, was one of the most
notorious liars of Kufah. His biography in al-Mizzi’s Tahdhib al-Kamal is
filled with statements of the ‘ulama of his time who denounced him as an
extremely unreliable reporter, and even a blatant liar. (See al-Mizzi, Tahdhib
al-Kamal vol. 25 pp. 246-253)
Two of the statements in his biography are of particular interest here. The
one is a statement by his kinsman Abu Janab al-Kalbi who records Abu
Salih as saying that he never narrated any tafsir to Muhammad ibn as-Sa’ib.
The second is an admission of guilt by Abu Salih. Imam Sufyan ath-Thawri
narrates that al-Kalbi said, “Whatever tafsir I narrated from Abu Salih is
untrue. Do not narrate it from me.”
The third person in this isnad is Muhammad ibn Marwan, who is also known
as as-Suddi as-Saghir (the younger Suddi). In him we have another notorious
forger whose mendacity was exposed by both his contemporaries and the
‘ulama who came after him. (See Tahdhib al-Kamal vol. 26 pp. 392-394)
This particular chain of narration (as-Suddi as-Saghir, from al-Kalbi, from
Abu Salih) became so infamous amongst the ‘ulama that it was given the
epithet Silsilat al-Kadhib, meaning the Chain of Mendacity. (See as-Suyuti,
Tadrib ar-Rawi vol. 1 p. 181)
1.1.2 The second isnad from Ibn ‘Abbas
The second isnad from Ibn ‘Abbas t is also documented in the Tafsir of Ibn
Mardawayh. It runs through ad-Dahhak ibMuzahim from Ibn ‘Abbas. The
weak point in this isnad lies in the fact that ad-Dahhak never met Ibn
‘Abbas, leave alone narrate from him. (See Tafsir Ibn Kathir vol. 2 p. 71)
In the book al-Jarh wat-Ta‘dil by Ibn Abi Hatim ar-Razi there is a narration
which throws some light upon the link “ad-Dahhak—Ibn ‘Abbas”. Ibn Abi
Hatim narrates with an authentic isnad from ‘Abd al-Malik ibn Abi
Maysarah that he asked ad-Dahhak: “Did you personally hear anything from
Ibn ‘Abbas?” Ad-Dahhak replied in the negative. ‘Abd al-Malik then asked
him: “So this which you narrate (from him), from whom did you take it?”
Ad-Dahhak replied: “From this one and that one.” (Ibn Abi Hatim, al-Jarh
wat-Ta‘dil vol. 4 tarjamah no. 2024)
This shows that ad-Dahhak did not exercise great care about the persons
from whom he received the material he later transmitted from Ibn ‘Abbas.
Having been a contemporary of Muhammad ibn as-Sa’ib al-Kalbi, it is not at
all improbable that he might have heard the story of the beggar from him.
1.1.3 The third isnad from Ibn ‘Abbas
The third isnad from Ibn ‘Abbas t runs through the famous mufassir
Mujahid ibn Jabr, from Ibn ‘Abbas. It is narrated by ‘Abd ar-Razzaq as-
San‘ani in his Tafsir. He narrates it from ‘Abd al-Wahhab ibn Mujahid, who
narrates it from his father Mujahid. ‘Abd al-Wahhab ibn Mujahid is
described by the rijal critics as matruk, which implies that his unreliability is
a matter of consensus amongst them. (Ibn Hajar, Taqrib at-Tahdhib no.
4263) Imam Sufyan ath-Thawri described him as a liar. (Tahdhib al-Kamal
vol. 18 p. 517) There is reasonable doubt about whether he ever heard hadith
from his father. (Tahdhib al-Kamal vol. 18 p. 517)
An alternative narration from Ibn ‘Abbas t
From the above it can be seen that not one of the various narrations from Ibn
‘Abbas is authentic. What adds to the baselessness of that report is the fact
that they contradict another more reliable report from Ibn ‘Abbas on the
tafsir of this verse. This report is documented in the Tafsir of Ibn Jarir, who
narrates it with his isnad from the Tafsir of ‘Ali ibn Abi Talhah. According
to this report Ibn ‘Abbas was of the opinion that the words “and those who
believe, who establish prayer and give charity, and they bow down” in the
verse refer to all Muslims in general. (Ibn Jarir at-Tabari, Jami‘ al-Bayan
vol. 6 p. 186)
This interpretation by Ibn ‘Abbas is not only in harmony with the meaning
of wilayah as outlined above, it also agrees with the use of the plural form
(“those who believe”) in the verse.
1.2 ‘Ammar ibn Yasir radiyallahu ‘anhu
The hadith featuring Sayyiduna ‘Ammar ibn Yasir radiyallahu ‘anhu as its
narrator is recorded in al-Mu‘jam al-Awsat (vol. 6 p. 294, no. 6232) of at-
Tabrani. Its isnad runs as follows:
Muhammad ibn ‘Ali as-Sa’igh—Khalid ibn Yazid al-‘Umari—Ishaq ibn
‘Abdilllah ibn Muhammad ibn ‘Ali ibn Husayn—Hasan ibn Zayd—his
father Zayd ibn Hasan—his grandfather—‘Ammar

This isnad suffers from a serious defect. Khalid ibn Yazid al-‘Umari is an
extremely untrustworthy narrator who has been denounced as a liar by
Yahya in Ma‘in and Abu Hatim ar-Razi. Ibn Hibban says that he transmits
forgeries on the authority of trustworthy narrators. Al-‘Uqayli says that he
transmits baseless narrations. (See Lisan al-Mizan vol. 2 pp. 740-743)
In this particular case he presents his forgery in the name of a completely
unknown narrator, Ishaq ibn ‘Abdillah ibn Muhammad ibn ‘Ali ibn Husayn.
This name is nowhere traceable in the biographical dictionaries of hadith
transmitters. Hasan ibn Zayd, his father Zayd ibn Hasan, and his grandfather
Sayyiduna Hasan ibn ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib radiyallahu ‘anhum were historical
figures, but it is evident that their association with this hadith is completely
fictional, being fabricated as it is by a known forger, Khalid ibn Yazid
1.3 ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib radiyallahu ‘anhu
The hadith with Sayyiduna ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib t as its narrator was contained
in the Tafsir of Ibn Mardawayh, a source which is no longer extant.
However, Hafiz Ibn Kathir in his Tafsir has stated that this narration, like
that of ‘Ammar and Abu Rafi‘, is unreliable “due to the weakness of their
isnads and the fact that their narrators are unknown”. (Tafsir Ibn Kathir vol.
2 p. 71)
The fact that amongst all hadith sources it is only in the relatively late Tafsir
of Ibn Mardawayh (who died in the year 410 AH) that this narration appears,
is a further indication of its spuriousness.
1.4 Abu Rafi‘ radiyallahu ‘anhu
This narration too, is recorded by Ibn Mardawayh. Fortunately it is also
recorded by at-Tabrani in his work al-Mu‘jam al-Kabir (vol. 1 pp. 320-321),
so unlike the previous case, we are in a position to conduct a first-hand
investigation into its isnad.
Before going into that it must first be noted that this narration differs from
all of the above versions in that it does not recount the story of the beggar. It
only speaks of Rasulullah r waking up from his sleep and reciting this verse.
Thereafter he tells Abu Rafi‘ that there will come a people who will fight
‘Ali t , and that it will be incumbent upon people to fight them.
In ad-Durr al-Manthur (vol. 2 p. 294), where it is stated as being recorded
by Ibn Mardawayh, at-Tabrani as well as Abu Nu‘aym, there is an addition
which goes that after reciting the verse Rasulullah r said: “Praise be to Allah
who completed His favour for ‘Ali.” This addition must be from the book of
either Ibn Mardawayh or Abu Nu‘aym, since it does not appear in al-
Mu‘jam al-Kabir. It is neither in Hilyat al-Awliya of Abu Nu‘aym, so it must
be from another of his works which is not available to us.
The isnad in al-Mu‘jam al-Kabir is not free from serious defects. The
second narrator in the chain, namely Yahya ibn al-Hasan ibn Furat, is totally
unknown (Majma‘ az-Zawa’id vol. 9 p. 134), while its fourth narrator,
Muhammad ibn ‘Ubaydillah, is regarded as unreliable by the vast majority
of critics. For example, Abu Hatim describes him as “da‘if al-hadith,
munkar al-hadith jiddan” (weak in hadith, narrates extremely unique and
uncorroborated material), and Ibn Ma‘in says about him “laysa bi-shay’ (as
a hadith transmitter he amounts to nothing)”. (Tahdhib al-Kamal vol. 26 p.
37) Ibn ‘Adi concurs with Abu Hatim that he narrates completely
uncorroborated material. (al-Kamil vol. 6 p. 114)

Summary of
Narrations from Sahabah
From the above it can be seen that not a single one of the various narrations
from Sahabah that may be adduced as evidence that the Verse of Wilayah
refers to Sayyiduna ‘Ali radiyallahu ‘anhu, is authentic.
Shi‘i writers often quote material of this kind from Sunni sources, seeking to
mislead their uninformed Sunni readership by the amount of sources they are
able to produce. A general principle that must be kept in mind with regard to
such attempts at deception is that any narration is only as good as its chain
of narration. Any material quoted must therefore first be authenticated
before it can be used to substantiate any argument.
Hereafter we proceed to look at narrations of the beggar-incident whose
chains of narration go back only as far as the Tabi‘in.

2. Narrations from Tabi‘in

Besides the previously discussed narrations from Sahabah, the sources
provide us with reports from four of the Tabi‘in in which mention is made of
the incident of the beggar. Below we discuss these four reports.
Before actually looking at them we need to take cognisance of the following
principle: Narrations such as these, which terminate at the Tabi‘in, but speak
of incidents which allegedly happened during the time of Rasulullah
sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam must be treated with care. The reason for that is
that the Tabi‘i who narrates something which he claims happened during the
time of Rasulullah sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam did not actually witness the
incident. The only way he could have knowledge of it is by someone
informing him.
The crucial question is: Who is his informant? To some people the logical
answer to this question is that the Tabi‘in were informed by the Sahabah, for
the simple reason that the Tabi‘in were the students of the Sahabah.
However, this an oversimplification. It is a fact that the Tabi‘in were
informed of incidents from the time of Rasulullah sallallahu ‘alayhi
wasallam by their teachers the Sahabah. But it is equally true that the
phenomenon of hadith forgery made its appearance during that same early
stage, when the adherents of the various unorthodox sectarian groupings,
like the Khawarij and the extremist Shi‘ah were seeking to legitimate their
doctrines by bringing into circulation hadith material which they projected
back to the time of Rasulullah sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam. Traditions of this
kind are then later taken up by unsuspecting orthodox narrators who transmit
it, often without naming of their sources. In this way spurious material finds
its way into orthodox literature. Hafiz Ibn Hajar, in his introduction to Lisan
al-Mizan, makes mention of the statement of a member of one of the early
heterodox sects that they used to invent hadith in support of their doctrines.
He then remarks upon it that
this, by Allah, is the most decisive argument against those who regard the
mursal hadith (the kind of hadith in which a Tabi‘i narrates directly from the
Prophet sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam, without any mention of his immediate
source), since the innovation of the Khawarij took place early in the history
of Islam when there still many Sahabah alive; and thereafter in the time of
the Tabi‘in after them. These people, when they took a fancy to something,
used to make it into a hadith and publicise it. It might then well happen that
a Sunni hears it and then, thinking well of [the person from whom he hears
it,] he goes on to narrate it. This narration will then be narrated from him by
another person. Eventually those will come along who regard hadith with
interrupted chains of narration as authoritative. They will then accept such
hadith as proof, while the origin of it is what I have mentioned. (Lisan al-
Mizan vol. 1 p. 18)

We will now proceed with an investigation into the authenticity of the four
reports narrated from Tabi‘in. The four Tabi‘in from whom the incident of
the beggar is narrated are:
1. ‘Utbah ibn Abi Hakim
2. Salamah ibn Kuhayl
3. Isma‘il ibn ‘Abd ar-Rahman as-Suddi
4. Mujahid ibn Jabr
1. ‘Utbah ibn Abi Hakim
The first narration is that of ‘Utbah ibn Abi Hakim which is documented in
the Tafsir of Ibn Kathir from its original source, the Tafsir of Ibn Abi Hatim.
(Ibn Kathir vol. 2 p. 71) ‘Utbah says:
They (those who believe, who establish salah and give zakah, and they bow
down) are the Believers and ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib.

‘Utbah gives a double meaning to the phrase in italics. He understands it to

refer to the Believers in general, in harmony with the context. At the same
time he also understands it to refer specifically to Sayyiduna ‘Ali
radiyallahu ‘anhu.
The only reason for him reading that specific meaning into the verse must be
the fact that he had heard of the incident of the beggar. Otherwise the text by
itself does not support that deduction. So now the question is: From whom
did he hear it? From a Sahabi, or from someone else? He himself doesn’t
state the identity of his source.
‘Utbah’s source could not have been a Sahabi, since he himself is not a
Tabi‘i in the strict sense of the word. He lived during the time of the younger
generation of Tabi‘in, like Sulayman al-A‘mash, but did not get to meet any
of the Sahabah. (See Taqrib at-Tahdhib no. 4427) All the sources from
whom he transmitted hadith were of the Tabi‘in, and some of them were his
own contemporaries. (Tahdhib al-Kamal vol. 19 p. 300) One of his
contemporaries was the notorious forger Muhammad ibn as-Sa’ib al-Kalbi
whose role in the forgery of the hadith narrated from Ibn ‘Abbas has already
been discussed. It is therefore not wholly inconceivable that ‘Utbah ibn Abi
Hakim received his information about the incident of the beggar also from
al-Kalbi, and if not from him then from some other equally untrustworthy
2. Salamah ibn Kuhayl
Salamah ibn Kuhayl was a Tabi‘i from Kufah who had met none of the
Sahabah except Jundub ibn ‘Abdillah and Abu Juhayfah. (‘Ali ibn al-
Madini, Kitab al-‘Ilal, cited by Dr. Bashshar ‘Awwad Ma‘ruf in a footnote
to Tahdhib al-Kamal vol. 11 p. 317) The vast majority of his teachers were
of the elder and middle generation of the Tabi‘in. His saying was also
recorded in the Tafsir of Ibn Abi Hatim from where it was reproduced and
preserved by Ibn Kathir. (vol. 2 p. 71) He mentions the incident of the
beggar as the cause of revelation for this verse.
Since this is once again a report by a person who did not actually witness the
incident, a similar line of reasoning is applicable to it as to the previous case.
However, aside from asking questions about who Salamah’s source for this
information could have been, it is of particular interest to us to note that
according to the Shi‘i rijal critics, Salamah ibn Kuhayl was persona non
grata. Abu ‘Amr al-Kashshi, the prime rijal critic of the Shi‘ah, narrates
from the 5th Imam Muhammad al-Baqir that Salamah ibn Kuhayl, amongst
others, was responsible for misleading alot of people, and that he is of those
about whom Allah has said in the Qur’an: There are some people who say:
“We believe in Allah and the Last Day,” but (in reality) they do not believe.
(Rijal al-Kashshi, cited in al-Ardabili, Jami‘ ar-Ruwat vol. 1 p. 373)
With their Imam himself having condemned Salamah ibn Kuhayl as a
hypocrite who is guilty of leading people away from the truth, we fail to
understand how the Shi‘ah can venture to make an argument out of his
3. Isma‘il ibn ‘Abd ar-Rahman as-Suddi
The third report which recalls the incident of the beggar comes from Isma‘il
ibn ‘Abd ar-Rahman as-Suddi, a contemporary of Salamah ibn Kuhayl who
also lived in Kufah. His statement is recorded in the Tafsir of Ibn Jarir at-
Tabari (vol. 6 p. 186). He says:
Thereafter [i.e. after the preceding ayat] Allah informs them [the Believers]
with whom they should have wilayah, saying: “Your wali is only Allah, His
Messenger and the Believers who establish salah and give zakah, and they bow
down.” This refers to all Believers, but a beggar passed by ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib
radiyallahu ‘anhu while he was in ruku‘ in the masjid, so he gave him his

This shows that as-Suddi is of the opinion that the verse is not specific, and
that it applies to all Believers in general. However, he does mention the
incident of the beggar, and states it here almost as an afterthought. It is
obvious that he is influenced by two things.
Firstly he is influenced by the context in which the ayah appears. The
context definitely provides no grounds for restricting the meaning of the
verse to any particular incident or person, and that is what causes him to say
that the scope of the verse is general so as to include all Believers.
On the other hand he is also influenced by a report which reached him about
the incident of the beggar. Our quest is to investigate with what degree of
authenticity that report was handed down to him.
We know that at the time when as-Suddi lived many reliable hadith narrators
from amongst the elder and middle generations of the Tabi‘in were alive.
But we also know that there were also numerous notorious forgers and liars,
who for the sake of propagating their heresies, resorted to forgery and
invented history. For the critic it is thus not simply as easy as to accept
whatever is narrated, but to investigate.
As-Suddi did not personally witness the incident, nor was he ever in contact
with anyone who could have witnessed it. His informant therefore had to be
another person. He himself does not state the name of his informant, nor of
the eye witness from who the informant received the report.
The general failure of all of these persons— ‘Utbah ibn Abi Hakim, Salamah
ibn Kuhayl and as-Suddi— to mention the names of their sources points
strongly to the fact that the whole incident was nothing more than hearsay,
more of a rumour than an authenticated report. It was brought into
circulation by an unscrupulous person whose identity has remained a
mystery. Thereafter it was circulated by word of mouth, with some
commentatormentioning the incident but refraining from naming their
sources, and other less scrupulous persons projecting it right back to the
Sahabah. Not a single one of the various chains of narrations fulifil the
requirements of authenticity.
4. Mujahid ibn Jabr
We earlier discussed the narration transmitted from Mujahid by his son ‘Abd
al-Wahhab. That narration was on the authority of Ibn ‘Abbas.
In the Tafsir of Ibn Jarir at-Tabari there is another narration from Mujahid in
which mention of the story of the beggar is made (vol. 6 p. 186). The
statement appears there as Mujahid’s own, and not as his narration from Ibn
However, the person who narrates from him, namely Ghalib ibn
‘Ubaydillah, is regarded as extremely unreliable by the rijal critics. His
unreliability, like that of ‘Abd al-Wahhab ibn Mujahid, is a matter of
consensus amongst the ‘ulama. Abu Hatim describes him as “matruk al-
hadith, munkar al-hadith”(one upon whose extreme unreliability there is
consensus, an unreliable narrator of uncorroborated reports); ad-Daraqutni
says simply “matruk”(technically meaning that he is extremely unreliable
by consensus); and Ibn Ma‘in says “laysa bi-thiqah” (he is not reliable).
(Lisan al-Mizan vol. 5 p. 404)
At this some point some readers might get the impression that the rijal
critics condemned these narrators as unreliable only because they narrate
material which is unpalatable to them. To this we might reply by saying that
this kind of response might be expected from someone who has no
knowledge of the methodology of the Muhaddithin in criticising narrators.
Having here seen quotations from the rijal critics on a few narrators who all
happen to narrate the same hadith, the mind of the non-adept could be
expected to jump to the generalisation that “it is only because these narrators
narrate material favourable to Shi‘ism that they have been censured.” The
tendency to generalise in this way would be even stronger if considered that
in this critical examination the person might be seeing the destruction of
something which he had once thought to be an incontrovertible argument.
Such persons would be well-advised to read up on the methodology of
hadith criticism.
That is only the first part of our reply. The second part is that this particular
person, Ghalib ibn ‘Ubaydillah, does not only narrate this one saying from
Mujahid. He is known to have transmitted other material as well. In Ibn
Hajar’s work Lisan al-Mizan there is a hadith which he narrates, the text of
which is that Rasulullah sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam gave Mu‘awiyah an
arrow and told him: “Keep this until you meet me in Jannah.” The hadith is
squarely denounced as a forgery by this very same Ghalib ibn ‘Ubaydillah.
This condemnation of his hadith is definitely not result of prejudice based on
the type of hadith which he transmits. That much even the Shi‘ah will agree
to. It was simply on account of the person’s unreliability and
untrustworthiness, which is, as we have already said, a matter of consensus
amongst the Muhaddithin.
If anyone feels that Ghalib ibn ‘Ubaydillah has been unfairly dealt with by
the rijal critics merely because he narrated something in support of
Sayyiduna ‘Ali’s pre-emptive right to the Khilafah, let him ask himself if he
would would feel the same about the fact that that same Ghalib narrates this
hadith about Rasulullah sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam telling Mu‘awiyah to
keep the arrow until he meets him again in Jannah. An honest response to
this question is sure to reveal exactly where the real prejudice lies.

Alternative narrations from the Tabi‘in

The above four narrations are not the only ones that have come down to us
from the Tabi‘in. They are contradicted by another, much better known
narration that has reached us from a person no less in status that Imam
Muhammad al-Baqir, who is regarded by the Shi‘ah as their 5th Imam. This
narration is documented in at-Tabari’s Tafsir (vol. 6 p. 186). It runs as
Hannad [ibn Sari]— ‘Abdah [ibn Sulayman]— ‘Abd al-Malik [ibn Abi
Sulayman]— Abu Ja‘far [i.e. Imam Muhammad al-Baqir]:
‘Abd al-Malik says: I asked Abu Ja‘far about the verse, “Your wali is only
Allah, His Messenger and those who believe, who establish salah and give
zakah, and they bow down.” We asked: “Who is meant by those who
believe?” He said: “Those who believe.” We said: “A report reached us that
that this verse was revealed in connection with ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib.” He said:
“Ali is one of those who believe.”

This narration shows that the incident of the beggar had become quite
popular, despite the fact that none of its narrators is able to produce a chain
of narrators that is free from serious defects. It had become so popular, in
fact, that ‘Abd al-Malik ibn Abi Sulayman— who is recognised by the
Shi‘ah as a Tabi‘i who narrates from Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (see al-
Ardabili, Jami‘ ar-Ruwat, vol. 1 p. 519 no. 4187)— thought to refer the
matter to the Imam himself. The Imam made it clear to him that the verse
refers to all Believers in general. When told about the claim that it refers
specifically to Sayyiduna ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib radiyallahu ‘anhu, the Imam
makes is clear that Sayyiduna ‘Ali radiyallahu ‘anhu is neither the specific
subject of the verse, nor is he excluded from it, since he too, is a believer
amongst the Believers. He mentions nothing at all in confirmation of the
incident of the beggar.
To the Shi‘i mind, so used to thinking of the illustrious members of the Ahl
al-Bayt in the despicable terms of taqiyyah, the Imam might well have been
“covering up the truth”. But to any person who truly loves and respects the
Family of Rasulullah sallallahu ‘alayhi wa-alihi wasallam this is an honest
and straightforward answer. Only an anxious and prejudiced mind would
care to read meaning into it that is not there.

From this discussion the following conclusions may be drawn:

the context of the verse is general, and gives no cause for believing it to
refer to any specific person.
the incident of the beggar is recorded in reports narrated from four
different Sahabah. Not a single one of those four reports is free from
serious defects in the chains of narration. They are further contradicted
by other narrations which are more reliable.

narrations from the Tabi‘in suffer from a common defect, in that the
names of the sources who relate the incident are not disclosed. Some of
them suffer from the further defect of untrustworthy narrators. They are
contradicted by a report in which Imam Muhammad al-Baqir himself
attests to the fact that the verse is general and unrestricted in meaning.

With this being the state of the historicity of the incident

of the beggar, there is no way in which it could ever be
claimed, with confidence and in full honesty, that the
55th verse of Surah al-Ma’idah was revealed in respect
of Sayyiduna ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib radiyallahu ‘anhu.
The editions of the sources quoted in this article are stated below.
al-Mu‘jam al-Kabir
Wizarat al-Awqaf, Iraq, 2nd edition, edited by Hamdi ‘Abd al-Majid as-Salafi
al-Mu‘jam al-Awsat
Dar al-Hadith, Cairo, 1417/1996, edited by Ayman Salih Sha‘ban & Sayyid
Ahmad Isma‘il
Lisan al-Mizan
Dar Ihya’ at-Turath al-‘Arabi, Beirut, 1416/1995, edited by Muhammad ‘Abd ar-
Rahman al-Mar‘ashli
Majma‘ az-Zawa’id
Dar al-Kutub al-‘Ilmiyyah, Beirut, no date
Tahdhib al-Kamal
Mu’assasat ar-Risalah, Beirut 1413/1992, edited by Dr. Bashshar ‘Awwad Ma‘ruf
Taqrib at-Tahdhib
Dar ar-Rashid, Halab 1412/1992, edited by Muhammad ‘Awwamah,
Tafsir Ibn Kathir
Maktabah Dar at-Turath, Cairo, no date
Tafsir at-Tabari = Jami‘ al-Bayan
Dar al-Ma‘rifah, Beirut 1400/1980
Asbab an-Nuzul
Dar al-Kutub al-‘Ilmiyyah, Beirut 1411/1991, edited by Kamal Basyuni Zaghlul,
al-Kamil fi Du‘afa ar-Rijal
Dar al-Fikr, Beirut, 3rd edition, 1405/1985, edited by Yahya Muhammad ‘Azzawi
ad-Durr al-Manthur
Maktabah Ayatullah al-Mar‘ashi an-Najafi, Qum, 1404
al-Jarh wat-Ta‘dil
Da’irat al-Ma‘arif al-‘Uthmaniyyah, Hyderabad, Deccan 1371/1952
Tadrib ar-Rawi
al-Maktabah al-‘Ilmiyyah, Madinah 2nd edition, 1392/1972, edited by ‘Abd al-
Wahhab ‘Abd al-Latif,
ad-Du‘afa al-Kabir
Dar al-Kutub al-‘Ilmiyyah, Beirut, 1404/1984 edited by Dr. ‘Abd al-Mu‘ti Qal‘aji
Jami‘ ar-Ruwat
Dar al-Adwa’, Beirut, 1403/1983

The Verse of
O Messenger! Convey that which
was revealed to you from your
Lord. If you will not do so, you
would not have conveyed His
message. And Allah protects you
from the people. Verily Allah does
not guide the people who
transgress. (al-Ma’idah:67)
This verse is called Ayat at-Tabligh (the Verse of Conveyance) on
account of the word balligh (the imperative form of the verb ballagha
i.e. to convey) in it.

The ahadith which have come down to us, which state the
circumstances of its revelation, may be divided into four categories:

(1) ahadith which state that the verse was revealed during a
military expedition, when a bedouin Arab crept up on Rasulullah
sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam and tried to kill him with his own

(2) ahadith which speak of Rasulullah sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam

dispensing with the services of guards after the revelation of the
(3) a hadith which states that his uncle ‘Abbas used to be
amongst those who guarded him until the revelation of the verse

(4) ahadith which state that his uncle Abu Talib used to send
someone with him to guard him wherever he went, until the
revelation of the verse

(Tafsir Ibn Kathir vol. 2 pp. 77-79)

The first three categories do not contradict one another. They may all
be speaking of the same thing, the only difference between them
being that each of the three of them deals with a specific aspect of the
revelation of the verse. The ahadith of the first category speak of the
place and the incident of the bedouin; those of the second category
inform us what steps Rasulullah sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam took after
the revelation of the verse; while the solitary narration in the third
category informs us that his uncle ‘Abbas used to be amongst those
who used to guard him.

It is only with the fourth category that a problem is encountered. The

ahadith of first three categories all concur on the fact that the verse
was revealed after the Hijrah. However, the introduction of the name of
Abu Talib into the circumstances of revelation places it well before the
Hijrah. So here we have a contradiction.

Closer inspection of the isnads of the two narrations in question

reveals problems with the reliability of some of their narrators. We may
thus conclude that this version is unacceptable, firstly on account of
the fact that it contradicts more authentic material, and secondly
because it has been handed down to us through unreliable chains of


The above is a very brief synopsis of the narrated material surrounding

the 67th verse of Surah al-Ma’idah which is to be found in the well-
known works on tafsir. Our intention in presenting this synopsis is to
give the reader a general overview of the narrations contained in the
major sources of tafsir, and especially narrated tafsir (at-tafsir bil-
ma’thur). This has the advantage of demonstrating to the objective
observer the incongruity of narrations Shi‘i propagandists have been
known to latch on to in their mission to convince the Ahl as-Sunnah
that the Qur’an does in fact speak of the Imamah of Sayyiduna ‘Ali ibn
Talib, and that this claim is borne out by the mufassirin of the Ahl as-
Sunnah themselves.

In Shi‘i propagandist works we encounter another category of narrated

material, other than the four we have mentioned here. In this fifth
category of narrated material we find the revelation of the verse being
linked to the stopover at Ghadir Khumm on the return journey to
Madinah after the Farewell Hajj. The claim they make in this regard is
quite simple and straightforward: They claim that this verse was
revealed on the day of Ghadir Khumm in connection with ‘Ali ibn Abi

The Shi‘i propagandist is ingenious. Being an expert in the art of

misrepresentation, he presents this narration to the unsuspecting
Sunni public as if it is the only material which exists on the revelation
of the verse. He knows that most— if not all— of his listeners or
readers are laymen who first of all do not know any Arabic; and even if
they do, they do not have access to the books on tafsir.

Being thus assured that they will never discover his dishonesty in
concealing the existence of alternative material on the issue, he goes
ahead to convince his listener or reader that the quotation which he
has supplied him with is the unadulterated truth. He emphasises the
fact that he has taken this quotation not from a Shi‘i source, but from a
Sunni one. The Sunni reader/listener is thus left with the impression
that what he is getting is the truth, since it comes, in a manner of
speaking, from the horse’s mouth.

The source given for the above claim is the book Asbab an-Nuzul by
Abul Hasan al-Wahidi. (Asbab Nuzul al-Qur’an, p. 204) Al-Wahidi
narrates most of the material in his book with their complete isnads.
Therefore, quoting material from al-Wahidi without stating the nature
of the isnad on the authority of which he has quoted is basically an act
of deception. It is relatively easy to deceive the public with such
quotations, since they lack a proper understanding of the nature of
quotation by isnad. The lay person looks only to the author of the book,
and not to the chain of narrators on whose authority the author
narrates. To deceive him is therefore quite simple.

To understand exactly how illogical this approach is we need to

compare it with a parallel case. Let us assume we have a book on
science. This book quotes the theory of an earlier scientist about the
invalidity of whose theories there exists consensus amongst the
experts in the field. Note that the author of the book merely quotes
that theory; he does not lend his own weight to it by defending or
supporting it. The question now is: can we take this particular theory
and ascribe it to the author of the book, and omit any reference to the
fact that he is merely quoting, and not supporting it? We very
obviously cannot do so, and if we do so we will be dishonest.

Similarly, quoting from al-Wahidi without mentioning that he narrates it

on the authority of a chain of narrators, and without proving the
authenticity of the chain of narrators is also dishonest. When we
encounter a quotation from al-Wahidi the first question we need to ask
ourselves is: Is it narrated with an authentic chain of narration? This
question can only be answered by referring back to the original book.

In the book Asbab Nuzul al-Qur’an we find that this statement, which
ascribed to Abu Sa‘id al-Khudri radiyallahu ‘anhu, is narrated via a
chain of narration which runs as follows:
al-Wahidi— Muhammad ibn ‘Ali as-Saffar— Hasan ibn Ahmad al-
Makhladi— Muhammad ibn Hamdun ibn Khalid— Muhammad ibn
Ibrahim al-Hulwani— Hasan ibn Hammad, Sajjadah— ‘Ali ibn ‘Abis—
al-A‘mash and Abu’l-Jahhaf— ‘Atiyyah (ibn Sa‘d al‘Awfi)— Abu Sa‘id

Thus, the statement “al-Wahidi narrates from Abu Sa‘id al-Khudri” is

extremely elliptical, since it completely omits any reference to the fact
that what al-Wahidi narrates is narrated on the authority of the nine
persons who stand between himself and Abu Sa‘id. Only when the
reliability of these nine persons is proven may we with confidence say
that “al-Wahidi narrates from Abu Sa‘id al-Khudri”.

Critical scrutiny of the isnad reveals the following flaws:

1. ‘Ali ibn ‘Abis: This narrator lived in Kufah during the latter
half of the second century AH. There is consensus amongst the
rijal critics that he was an unreliable transmitter. (Tahdhib al-
Kamal vol. 20 p. 502-504) His unreliability stems from the fact
that the material transmitted by him was for the greater part
uncorroborated or contradictory to more reliable versions. In the
case of this particular narration he has transmitted a hadith of
which no trace can be found anywhere else. Since his own
reliability is already seriously questionable, we cannot by any
objective standards place confidence in the lone narration of one
such as he. Ibn Hibban sums up the reason for dismissing him as
a hadith transmitter in the following words: “Mistakes of his in
transmitting hadith were so serious that he deserved to be
abandoned (as a narrator).” Abu Zur‘ah ar-Razi states: “He is
munkar al-hadith (meaning that he uncorroborated material, or
material which contradicts more reliable versions); he transmits
uncorroborated ahadith on the authority of reliable narrators.”
(Kitab al-Majruhin vol. 2 p. 176)

2. ‘Atiyyah al-‘Awfi: ‘Atiyyah al-‘Awfi appears in the isnad as

the person who narrates from Abu Sa‘id al-Khudri radiyallahu
‘anhu. He lived and was active as a hadith transmitter in Kufah,
where he died in 111AH or 127 AH. He transmitted hadith from
figures amongst the Sahabah such as Ibn ‘Umar, Ibn ‘Abbas,
Zayd ibn Arqam and Abu Sa‘id al-Khudri radiyallahu ‘anhum. The
muhaddithin have called his reliability as a narrator into
question, especially when he narrates from Abu Sa‘id. This is on
account of the habit termed tadlis ash-shuyukh by the
muhaddithin. His practise of this habit is explained by Ibn Hibban
in his Kitab al-Majruhin in the following words:

He heard some ahadith from Abu Sa‘id al-Khudri.

When Abu Sa‘id died he sat with (the Shi‘i mufassir)
al-Kalbi and listened to his stories. Thus when al-
Kalbi used to say “Rasulullah sallallahu ‘alayhi
wasallam said...” he used to memorise it. He now
gave al-Kalbi the kunyah “Abu Sa‘id” and started
narrating from him. When it was asked “Who
narrated this to you?” he used to say, “Abu Sa‘id”.
The people would think that he meant Abu Sa‘id al-
Khudri, when in reality it was al-Kalbi. It is therefore
not allowed to use him as an authority or to write
his ahadith, except if it is in the sense of
amazement. (Kitab al-Majruhin vol. 2 p. 176)

This is then the state of the narration which Shi‘i propagandists so

brazenly thrust in the faces of their Sunni readers or listeners.

There is another narration which holds connection with this one. It was
originally documented in the tafsir of Abu Bakr Ibn Mardawayh (died
410 AH), but his tafsir is no longer extant. It has been preserved, albeit
without isnad, by as-Suyuti in his book ad-Durr al-Manthur. (vol. 2 p.
298) The text of this narration runs as follows:
Ibn Mardawayh recorded from Ibn Mas‘ud that he said: In the time of
Rasulullah sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam we used to read: “O
messenger, convey what has been revealed to you from your Lord
that ‘Ali is the Master of the Believers; If you do not do so, you would
not have conveyed His message. And Allah protects you from the

This narration, as can be clearly seen, has come down to us stripped of

its chain of narration. The chain of narration is usually regarded as the
chief indicator of authenticity.

However, it is not the only indicator. In the absence of the isnad, which
would have pinpointed the exact person responsible for this blatant
forgery, we still have the significant fact that this narration assails the
sanctity of the Qur’an.

This narration contains an addition to the wording of the verse which is

not to be found amongst any of the qira’at (variant readings) of the
Qur’an, neither the mutawatir readings nor the shadhdh ones. In fact,
it can be found nowhere except in a single, lone narration preserved
without isnad in a work of the fifth century. The work of Ibn Mardawayh
is in no way free from narrations by the extremists of the Shi‘ah. We
have earlier seen, in the case of ‘Atiyyah al-‘Awfi, how Shi‘i narrations
crept into Sunni compilations as early as in the days of the Tabi‘in.

Classical Shi‘i works like the tafsirs of ‘Ali ibn Ibrahim al-Qummi and
Furat ibn Ibrahim al-Kufi, the Kitab al-Qira’at of Ahmad ibn Muhammad
as-Sayyari, al-Ihtijaj by Ahmad ibn ‘Ali at-Tabarsi, the book al-Manaqib
by Ibn Shahrashub and the book Kashf al-Yaqin by Ibn Tawus all
contain narrations which state that the name of ‘Ali radiyallahu ‘anhu
was mentioned in this verse, but “they” (meaning the Sahabah
radiyallahu ‘anhum) removed it from there. (Mulla Husayn Nuri Tabarsi,
Fasl al-Khitab fi Ithbat Tahrif Kitab Rabb al-Arbab, cited by Ihsan Ilahi
Zahir, ash-Shi‘ah wal-Qur’an pp. 215-217)
It is therefore not at all inconceivable that this narration found its way
into the tafsir of Ibn Mardawayh through an isnad going back to its Shi‘i


But let us now look at the issue from a different angle. Let us for a
moment assume that the name of Sayyiduna ‘Ali radiyallahu ‘anhu was
in fact mentioned in this verse, and the matter which Allah ordered
Rasulullah sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam to convey to the Ummah was
Sayyiduna ‘Ali’s imamah, an issue so important that failure to convey it
would be tantamount to complete failure. This scenario fits snugly into
the Shi‘i picture of the Sirah of Rasulullah sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam.
There is a stark difference between the Shi‘ah and the Ahl as-Sunnah
in the way either of them conceives of the Sirah, or life history, of
Rasulullah sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam. It is the contrast between failure
and sucess.

To the Ahl as-Sunnah, the mission of Muhammad sallallahu ‘alayhi

wasallam was a successful one, the most successful mission of any
messenger of Allah. And nowhere is his success reflected more clearly
than in his followers. He succeeded in establishing Islam upon earth,
and Iman in the hearts of his followers. His followers were of such a
caliber that they earned praise from Allah Himself, in the Qur’an, the
Tawrat as well as the Injil. Therefore, when Allah says to His
Messenger, “Convey, and I will protect you against the people,” it is
impossible that those “people” could be the same people who stand so
highly praised in the Holy Scriptures. The people against whom Allah
promised to protect him could therefore have been none but the

To the Shi‘ah, on the other hand, the Sirah of Rasulullah sallallahu

‘alayhi wasallam is incessantly clouded by fear, doubt and suspicion.
Rasulullah sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam is constantly having to cajole
and blandish his followers in fear that they might openly turn against
him. With the exception of a minute group of persons consisting of his
daughter, her husband, their two infant sons and three or four others,
he cannot trust anyone. His wives, their fathers, the husbands of his
other daughters, his closest friends, his scribes, his military
commanders— all of them are tainted with hypocrisy, and eagerly
await the moment of his death to usurp power. In short, two decades
of tireless effort has brought him nothing but a handful of sincere
followers; the rest are all hypocrites. He is under continuous pressure
from this sea of hypocrisy which surrounds him, and he is forced to
take recourse to taqiyyah (meaning to act or speak falsely for the sake
of convenience).

In the case of this verse he is hesitant to announce that Allah has

decreed ‘Ali to be his successor; so hesitant that he has to be sounded
a severe warning about it and given the assurance that he will be
protected from harm. A contemporary Shi‘i scholar, Muhammad Rida
al-Mamaqani, writes:

He, may my soul be his ransom, [meaning Rasulullah

sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam] practiced the greatest taqiyyah.
This is clear to anyone who studies his life. Sufficient
proof thereof is the Verse of Tabligh and the Verse of
Wilayah. On the whole, regarding the status of taqiyyah
there is no difference whatsoever between the Rasul
sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam, the Infallible Imam and the
common people. (footnotes to ‘Abdullah al-Mamaqani, Miqbas
al-Hidayah fi ‘Ilm ad-Dirayah vol. 1 p. 78 footnote no. 5)

To the Shi‘ah, therefore, the “people” against whom Allah would

protect him were none other than his own companions. The people
with whom he lived and who stood by his side, who shared his
happiness and grief, who assisted him in times of hardship, who were
ever ready to sacrifice their lives and their posessions for him and for
his cause — these same people were in reality his enemies whom he
was afraid to offend. In the Shi‘i view of Sirah, and in their opinion
about the circumstances under which the verse was revealed, these
were the people against whom Allah had to protect His Messenger.

But ultimately, even though his person was protected against them, his
mission was thwarted by those very same “enemies”, and a struggle of
twenty three years ended in disgraceful failure (na‘udhu billah) when
this entire commwhich he had given twenty three years of his life to
build, reverts back into kufr, with the exception of a mere handful.

It is for this reason that we will conclude here by saying that

acceptance of this kind of narrations is tantamount to subscribing to a
view of Sirah wherein Muhammad sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam is
reduced to one of the most unsuccessful leaders who ever lived. That
view of Sirah, as much as it might be camouflaged and paraphrased,
lies at the very heart of Shi‘ism.


Ibn Kathir, Tafsir Ibn Kathir

Maktabah Dar at-Turath, Cairo, nodate

al-Wahidi, Asbab Nuzul al-Qur’an

ed. Kamal Basyuni Zaghlul, Dar al-Kutub al‘Ilmiyyah, Beirut, 1411/1991

al-Mizzi, Tahdhib al-Kamal

ed. Dr. B.A. Ma‘ruf, Mu’ssasat ar-Risalah, Beirut, 1413/1992

Ibn Hibban, Kitab al-Majruhin

ed. Mahmud Ibrahim Zayid, Dar al-Wa‘y, Halab (Aleppo), 2nd edition, 1402

as-Suyuti, ad-Durr al-Manthur

repr. Maktabah Ayatullah al-Mar‘ashi, Qum, 1404 AH

Ihsan Ilahi Zahir, ash-Shi‘ah wal-Qur’an

Idarah Tarjuman as-Sunnah, Lahore, no date

al-Mamaqani, Miqbas al-Hidayah fi ‘Ilm ad-Dirayah

ed. Muhammad Rida al-Mamaqani, Mu’assasat Al al-Bayt, Beirut 1411/1991

The Tat'heer ( purification )

Hadeeth of Kisa'a
A Scientific Dialogue
By Muhammad Al-khider

Allah Almighty says in the Holy Qur’an :

“And stay quietly in your houses, and make not a dazzling display, like that of the
former times of ignorance: and establish regular prayer, and give regular charity,
and obey Allah and His Messenger. And Allah only wishes to remove all abomination
from you, ye members of the family, and to make you pure and spotless.” Quran 33 :
It was narrated by ‘Aisha ( May Allah be pleased with her) that the Messenger of Allah
sala allahu alaihi wa aalihi wasallam once went out in the morning suspending a cloth
over his hair; When he saw Al-Hasan ibn ‘Ali appearing, he hid it ,then came Hussein
and entered with him.When ‘Ali and his spouse Fatima came, he hid it and said:
“ And Allah only wishes to remove all abomination from you, ye members of the family,
and to make you pure and spotless.” Quran 33 : 33
The Shi’ite adherents claim that all members of the household of the Prophet and their
posterity are infallible. And thus, it is a must to obey them.; For they deserve to be
Imams. They do support their claim categorically with the above mentioned Qur’anic
verse and the Prophetic Tradition. How true is their claim?
Indeed the purification verse was revealed in favor of the Prophet’s wives, as God
Almighty stated in the Holy Qur’an:
“ O consorts of the Prophet! You are not like any of the (other) women. If you do
fear (Allah), be not too complaisant of speech, lest one in whose heart is a
disease should be moved with desire: but speak ye a speech (that is) just.”
“ And stay quietly in your houses, and make not a dazzling display, like that of the
former times of ignorance: and establish regular prayer, and give regular
charity,and obey Allah and His Messenger. Ang Allah only wishes to remove all
abomination from you, ye members of the family and to make you pure and
“ And recite what is rehearsed to you in your homes of the signs of Allah and His
wisdom: For allah understands the finest mysteries and is well-acquainted (with
them) “ Quran 33:32-34
So, whoever ponders these verses with a clear and objective mind, without prejudice will
come to a conclusion that they were revealed exclusively in favor of the Prophet’s
Consorts. Moreover, if one fathoms the verse: “ Stay quietly in your house…… will
find out that, it is only one verse and the Messenger’s wives are the only ones addressed
This might lead us to quesion ourselves: If the verse addressed only the wives of the
Prophet sala allahu alaihi wa aalihi wasallam, why didn’t it contain a feminine pronoun
of (Meem) instead of using an article implying plural of men? It should be clear that the
Messenger of Allah sala allahu alaihi wa aalihi wasallam was the head of his household.
So, in order to include him, it was incumbent to use the article “ Meem” that denotes
talking about a group of men. For he was a man and a leader of his household. For more
explanation of this, we should refer to the verse wherein Allah talks about Prophet
Ibraahim (Pbuh).
“ They said: Do you wonder of Allah ’s decree? The grace of Allah and His
blessings on you, oh ye people of the house ! For He is indeed worthy of all
praise, full of glory.” Quran 11 : 73
Since Abraham was also included in his family, the Holy Qur’an addressed his wife using
musculine plural of men with the article ”Meem” as it is customary in the Arabic
grammar. For the plural of men is applied even though there is only one man in the group
of females according to the classical Arabic. Moreover, in Arabic, a wife is addressed as
”Ahl”, which also means ” People” as revealed in the verse wherein Allah almighty was
talking about Prophet Moses salahu alihi wasallam.
Allah Almighty says : ” Now when Moses had fulfilled the term, and was
travelling with his family…” Quran 28 : 29
So, what do you find strange if this verse was addressed solely to the wives of the
Prophet (Pbuh), though the article of musculine plural was applied ?!
2. What proves that this verse was revealed solely for the wives of the Prophet sala
allahu alaihi wa aalihi wasallam ,is the Prophetic Tradition itself. In this regard, Prophet
Muhammad sala allahu alaihi wa aalihi wasallam prayed for his close relatives,
including his in-laws and said: ( O Allah! Those are also members of my family, O Allah
purify them. )
Suppose the verse was addressed to them, confirming that Allah had purified them, why
could the Prophet sala allahu alaihi wa aalihi wasallam need to invoke Allah Almighty
to include this kith and kin in the purification promise ?!!
3. The household of the Messenger of Allah salahu alihi wa aalihi wasallam includes his
wives, Imam Ali, Lady Fatima, the two Imams Al-Hasan and Al-Hussein, and Zaid ibn
Al-Arqam who was asked about the household of the Prophet and said in the Hadith: (
His spouses are a fibre of his household ). He went further to explain that his household
includes also the people who were not allowed to receive any charity namely: the
relatives of Ali, the kindred of Ja’afar, the family of Aqeel, and the kinsfolk of Al-Abbas.
Therefore, the concept of the Prophet’s household encompasses also Al-Abbas- the son
Abdul Muttalib, the kith and kin of ‘ Aqeel bin abi Talib, and the family of Ja’afar bin
Abi Talib, as stated in the Tradition (Hadith) of Zaid bin Al-Arqaam. It also includes the
family of Al-Harith bin Abdul Muttalib, due to what the Messenger salahu alihi wa
aalihi wasallam told Rabbea bin Al-Harith and Al-Abbas bin Abdil Muttalib: ( Verily ,
the family of Muhammad does not deserve any charity , for it is people ’s filth ) Sahih
Even though, we accept the infallibility of the Shi’ite Imams, we will come to a
conclusion that it is not logical or Substantial for a non-prophet to be infallible
whatsoever he may be.
4. Referring to the above mentioned verse, and deducting therefrom that Allah’s
purification from abomination was meant also for the in-laws and the entire kith and kin
of the Messenger of Allah sala allahu alaihi wa aalihi wasallam ,prompts a person to
wonder and get surprised. The reason for that is self-evident and palpable for everybody.
The aforementioned Hadeeth mentions Fatima ( the daughter of the prophet May Allah
be pleased with her ) as part and percel of the people who were meant for purification
among the family members of the Prophet sala allahu alaihi wa aalihi wasallam.
The Imamite Shi’ah claim that Allah Almighty granted the Shi’ite Imams infalliblity
because the task they were to be assigned to undertake required of them to be so. The task
they were to undertake was to lead people and to apply the Divine Laws of Allah
Almighty in Judging among mankind. Now the question casts itself, suppose what they
claim is correct, is Lady Fatima ( May Allah be pleased with her ) a prophet or an Imam
to be infallible?! Why she should be infallible if she is not a prophet or an Imam ( like
how shia believe ) ?!!
Allah Almighty bestowed the attribute of infallibility on the Prophets and Messengers
because they had a task ahead of them that was to convey the message revealed to them
to their respective peoples and to safeguard the supernatural message they were entrusted
with by Allah Almighty.
5. Since the purification verse was revealed in regard to the wives of the Allah’s
Messenger and Allah Almighty affirmed to make them pure and spotless, the Messenger
of Allah sala allahu alaihi wa aalihi wasallam gathered his closest kith and kin and
invoked Allah Almighty to purify them as promised his wives (Prophet’s).
He thus said in his supplication: ( O Allah ! those are my kith and kin, remove all
abomination from them and make them pure and spotless ). So after Umm Salama saw
that the Messenger of Allah sala allahu alaihi wa aalihi wasallam had included Ali,
Fatima, Al-Hasan and Al-Hussein in the members of his household, she requested him
earnestly to include her among the people he supplicated for. The Messenger of Allah
informed her undoubtedly that there was no need for himto include her among his kith
and kin since she was one of his wives, and the verse was revin their regard. This is a
sound evidence that states categorically the fact that the verse was not revealed in regard
of the Prophet’s kith and kin but rather it was addressing his wives.Had it been addressing
also his kith and kin there would be no need for him to gather his daughter, son -in-law
and his grandsons to invoke Allah to include them among his spouses who were promised
to be purified.
6. In the verse: ” And Allah wishes only to remove all abomination from you, ye members
of the family, and to make you pure and spotless.” Allah’s statement was not to assure
them that they had already been purified, but rather to stipulate a condition that if they
obeyed Him, He would remove all abomination from them and thus purify them. He only
wished to purify them if they met this Condition.
If you analyze the context, you will find that Allah Almighty was giving the prophet’s
wives some divine directions to do all what He commanded them and to abstain from
what He forbade. He thus informed them that if they Conformed to his commands and
abstained from what he forbade, He would reward them by removing all abomination
from them and make them pure and stainless.
It should be noted that God Almighty has used this pattern of speech to address our
predecessors. Consider the following verse:
“ Allah does not wish to place you in a difficulty, but to make you clean, and to
complete his favor upon you , that ye may be grateful.” Quran 5 : 6
In another verse, He thus says: “Allah does wish to make clear to you and to show
you the ordinances of those before you.” Quran 4 : 26
He also says: “ Allah does wish to lighten your (difficulties): For man was created
weak (in flesh ). “ Quran 4 : 28
The wish of Allah expressed in the above mentioned verses comes as a condition of being
loyal to His commands, to love Him and make Him pleased with you. Otherwise, without
fulfilling this condition, His wish cannot come into reality, i.e the purification cannot
7. The main aim of the Prophet sala allahu alaihi wa aalihi wasallam in his
aforementioned Hadeeth was to pray for his kith and kin to get all their abomination
removed from them by Allah, and to be purified as well. This implies that he prayed for
them to be among the pious believers who were purified by Allah Almighty. Hence,
avoiding abomination is a must for all the believers. For Allah Almighty wishes to purify
all the believers who subscribe only to Him in their acts of devotion and not only the
family of the Prophet sala allahu alaihi wa aalihi wasallam. Although the Prophet’s kith
and kin are more entitled to get the purification of Allah Almighty, the verse does not
restrict Allah’s purification to them only, to be regarded as impeccable. Allah Almighty
“ Allah does not wish to place you in a difficulty, but to make you clean and to
complete His favour to you, that ye may be grateful.” Quran 5 : 6
In another verse, God Almighty says: “ For Allah loves those who turn to Him
constantly in repentance and loves also those who keep themselves pure and clean.”
Quran 2 : 222
So, as Allah Almighty told us of His wish to purify members of the prophet’s family, He
so informed us of His wish to purify the believers as well. Therefore, if we suppose that
the wish of Allah to purify the believers was meant to make them impeccable, then all
sincere pious believers are infallible.
8. The purification mentioned in the aforementioned verse was not meant to make the
kith and kin of the Messenger of Allah infallible, but rather to remove all abomination
and mischief from them. This style is widely used in the Holy Qur’an. We read in the
Holy Qur’an:
“ Of their goods take alms, so that ye might purify them and sanctify them………”
Quran 9 : 103
You will never find anybody say that the purification mentioned in the afore-mentioned
verses was meant to make the Prophet’s family members infallible. We also read in the
Holy Qur’an:
“ And thy garments keep thee from stain…… “ Quran 74 : 4
This is mentioned in many verses of the holy Qur’an. The stain here implies filth and dirt.
By this Allah Almighty alludes to polytheism (Shirk). To substantiate this explanation
and interpretation, Allah Almighty says in the Holy Qur’an:
“……. But shun the abomination of idols …” Quran 22:30
Also the word stain may mean , the forbidden foods and drinks as Allah has plainly
“ Say: I find not in the message received by me by inspiration any (meal) forbidden to
be eaten by one who wishes to eat it unless it be dead meat, or blood poured forth, or
the flesh of swine, for it is an abomination or what is impious, (meat) “ Quran 6 :
Another example is the following verse;
“ O ye who believe! Most certainly, intoxicants and gambling, (dedication) of stones
and (divination by ) arrows, are an abomination of Satans handiwork, eschew such
(abomination), that ye may prosper.” Quran 5 : 90
There is no verse however, in the Holy Qur’an that refers to “stain” as to mean sins. For
if it means sins, then the verse of purification came to confirm that those of the prophetic
family were infallible from committing sins.
9. The verse does not whatsoever mean that purification has already taken place, but it
rather asserts explicitly the will of Allah Almighty to purify the Staunch and sincere
wives of the prophet sala allahu alaihi wa aalihi wasallam. From the previous argument,
we also deduct that the Messenger of Allah sala allahu alaihi wa aalihi wasallam was
eager to pray for his immediate and other relatives to be included in the verse of
purification, in order to achieve the same as his spouses were promised.
Worthy of mention, is that whenever the Messenger Of Allah went to perform the daily
obligatory prayer, he used to pass by the house of his cousin and son-in-law, Ali and his
spouse Fatima, reminding them of the obligation of prayer by saying:
( Stick to the mandatory prayers, O members of the family! )
After this exhortation, he used to recite to them the following verse:
“ Allah so wills to remove all abomination from you O members of the family,
and to make you pure and stainless.”
As stated before in the same verse. By this, he was reminding them, especially Ali, of
performing Obligatory prayers in congregation in the mosque. For if one observes all
obligatory acts of worship and obey Allah fully, then his reward will be to purify him
from all abomination and stains.
10. If we presume that the purification verse was revealed only to address the relatives of
the Prophet sala allahu alaihi wa aalihi wasallam and not his spouses, so the purification
stated in the verse does not suit them, due to following Qur’anic text in which Allah
Almighty says: “ But He so will to purify you and complete His favors on you.” He so
addresses His servants in so many other Qur’anic verses. So, if the aim of Allah
Almighty in purifying the spouses of the Prophet sala allahu alaihi wa aalihi wasallam
was to make them infallible, it would necessitate us to say that all the believers are
infallible, following the Qur’anic verse which states that Allah Almighty so Wills to
purify them. I am pretty sure that neither the Sunnis nor the Shi’as can allege that
analogy. So how can the purification theory be executed in respect of some sects of
people and leave others out of bound? Can’t you see that in this preposition, there is some
whimsical and temperamental inclination? There is no any scientific methodology in it.

The Roots of
Differences in Fiqh
Abu Muhammad al-Afriqi
It is often alleged by the protagonists of Sunni-Shi‘i unity that differences
between the two schools are not more grave or serious than the differences
that exist within the four Sunni schools of jurisprudence. Sunni-Shi‘i
differences should therefore be treated with the same tolerance and
acceptance as Hanafi-Shafi‘i differences, and it is in the spirit of this
proposed "mutual tolerance" that the advocates of unity speak of the Shi‘i
Ja‘fari school of jurisprudence as nothing more than a "fifth madhhab".
It is therefore only normal for the average Sunni lay person who has come
into contact with advocates of Sunni-Shi‘i unity to wonder about, or even be
taken in, by such a claim. How serious are the differences between the Ahl
as-Sunnah and the Shi‘ah really? Could they ever be reconciled? If not,
could there at least be an amicable agreement to disagree, just like the
Hanafis disagree with the Shafi‘is, or the Malikis with the Hanbalis? It is
these questions that this article sets out to answer.
Full reconciliation between the Ahl as-Sunnah and the Ithna ‘Ashari Ja‘fari
Shi‘ah is not merely elusive, it is simply an impossibility. Anyone who
knows the reality of the issues that separate the Shi`ah from the Ahl as-
Sunnah is bound to agree. Nothing sums up the truth of the situation better
than the words of Hamid Algar—an ardent admirer of Khomeini and the
revolution—, who describes Sunnism and Shi‘ism as "two parallel lines that
cannot meet".1 The endeavour to bring about reconciliation between the Ahl
as-Sunnah and the Shi‘ah is therefore a wasted effort. The next best option is
thus mutual tolerance and acceptance.
In order to test the viability of tolerance and acceptance between the Ahl as-
Sunnah and the Shi‘ah we will have to look more closely at the issues that
separate the one from the other. These issues can be categorised into two
1. fundamental differences,
which include articles of faith, and all such issues that could be
termed "differences in principle", that by their nature give rise
to differences in secondary matters;
2. secondary differences,
i.e. difference in matters of jurisprudence, like the way salah is
performed, or that marriage and divorce take place, etc..
Each of the fundamental issues of difference would require a separate study
to see how they affect compatibility between the Ahl as-Sunnah and the
Shi‘ah. In this article it is our intention to look more closely at the type of
difference that is usually dismissed as "secondary", and thus "unimportant".
Are differences in fiqh between the Ahl as-Sunnah and the Shi‘ah really so
insignificant that we can jusitifiably turn a blind eye when we encounter
There can be no doubt that this question is anathema to the propagators of
Shi‘ism amongst the Ahl as-Sunnah, as well as to those who have fallen prey
to their propaganda. Yet, if it is truth we seek, we cannot allow the
preferences of such obviously biased persons to deter us. The "unity" such
people strive to achieve, and which they accuse others of trying to destroy, is
a unity forged in ignorance. How much do we really know about the Shi‘ah?
We have taken them on face value, and on grounds of what we have thus
learnt about them we proceed to create unity. The naivety of such a position
in a matter of far reaching religious implications is far too obvious. A unity
founded upon ignorance is a very precarious unity indeed. Like a mirage, it
seems very real when seen from afar, but as soon as you approach it, it slips
out of existence.
There are two levels at which one can look at the differences in
jurisprudence between the Ahl as-Sunnah and the Shi‘ah. The first is the
level of external appearance. When the differences in fiqh are inspected at
this level they do not seem any more alien than the differences that exist
between the various schools of Sunni jurisprudence. In fact, in many, or
even most cases one will find the Shi‘i position to be conformity with at
least one of the four Sunni madhahib. This is illustrated in the following
three examples:
1. In the salah, the jalsat al-istirahah is held to be sunnah by the
Shi‘ah. In this they concur with the view of the Shafi‘i madhhab.2
2. In marriage the majority of Shi‘i jurists hold the view that
khalwah, i.e. valid seclusion, has no effect on the mahr (dowry)
nor upon any other aspect of the marital contract. In this they are
once again agreement with the Shafi‘is, but differ from the other
three schools.3
3. If the husband is unable to pay the mahr the wife is not entitled
to divorce according to the Shi‘i and the Hanafi schools. The
Malikis, the Shafi‘is and the Hanbalis all have different views.4

It is on this level that most people view the differences that exist between the
Ahl as-Sunnah and the Shi‘ah. Even certain `ulama of the Ahl as-Sunnah,
looking at the matter on this level, have been known to express the view that
"differences between the Ahl as-Sunnah and the Shi‘ah are no more serious
than the differences that exist between the various schools of Sunni
However, when we confine ourselves to viewing the problem of Sunni-Shi‘i
differences on this level we are in effect closing our eyes to the most
important aspect of those differences: THE ROOT. The true nature of
Sunni-Shi‘i differences can never be appreciated or understood in full
without comprehending the reasons for their existence. It is only when the
problem has been viewed and grasped on the level of the reasons for
difference, and not merely the external appearance of difference, that one
is justified to take further steps.
When the Shi‘ah differ from the Ahl as-Sunnah, it is not the same as when
one Sunni school differs from the other. This is because the various Sunni
schools all trace their roots back to the same legacy. They share a common
heritage in the Sunnah of the Prophet sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam. When
differences do occur, they occur not because one madhhab bases itself on a
legacy other than the legacy of the other. Both believe in and hold on to the
same legacy. Their differences are caused by secondary factors, like whether
certain categories of hadith possess binding authority or not, or the
divergence in the methods they regard as valid to interpret the legacy and
extrapolate from it. The following two examples illustrate how such
differences occur:
1. The mursal hadith (a hadith with an interruption in its
chain of narrators between the Prophet sallallahu ‘alayhi
wasallam and the Tabi‘i), for example, is deemed to
possess binding authority by the Hanafis, while the Shafi‘is
do not accept it except if it is supported by any one of a
number of external factors. If we imagine a mursal hadith
that is not supported by any of the factors the Shafi‘is
stipulate, it is only logical to expect that the Shafi‘i ruling
on the issue the hadith pertains to will differ from the
Hanafi ruling.
2. Spoken words are sometimes accompanied by implied
meanings. For example, when it is said, "Stay awake," this
also means "Don't sleep". This unspoken opposite meaning
is termed mafhum al-mukhalafah. The Shafi‘is accept it as
a valid means of extracting meaning from a text, while the
Hanafis do not. If the former extract such meaning from a
text and base a ruling upon the meaning inferred by this
method, and the latter base their ruling upon some other
grounds, there is bound to be a measure of difference in the
outcome of their respective views.

Sunni-Shi‘i differences, on the other hand, are fundamentally distinct from

inter-Sunni differences. While it may rightly be claimed that the Shi‘ah, too,
have their particular principles of extrapolation, it would be incorrect to
describe those principles as the root cause of difference between them and
the Ahl as-Sunnah, the reason for that being that while the Sunni schools
each have methods of extrapolation particular to themselves, they all apply
their respective methods to the same legacy. The Shi‘ah, on the other
hand, have not only their own set of principles, but also a legacy distinct
from the legacy of the Ahl as-Sunnah. When there are differences between
the Ahl as-Sunnah and the Shi‘ah, they arise not on account of differences in
interpretation or methods of extrapolation, but because the source from
which the Shi‘ah draw their law is a source other than the source of the
Ahl as-Sunnah.
What is this "legacy", the reader may well ask. It is embodied in the Sunnah
of the Prophet sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam. As far as the Qur’an is
concerned, although history is witness to alot of Shi‘ite calumny against the
inviolability of the Qur’ain, most contemporary Shi‘i scholars, and even
many of their classical ‘ulama who staunchly believe in its interpolation,
will admit the Qur’an's status as the prime source of legislation. (A Shi‘i
scholar of the present century, Muhammad ‘Ali Tabataba’i, reconciles belief
in the interpolation of the Qur’an with acceptance of the Qur’an as a source
of legislation by saying that "interpolation occured specifically in those
verses relating to Imamah."5 Verses with a legal purport are thus left
uncorrupted.) Since the Qur’an is thus "agreed upon" between the Ahl as-
Sunnah and the Shi‘ah, there remains only the other part of the legacy we
inherited from the Messenger of Allah sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam: the
Essentially, the difference lies in the concepts each have of what constitutes
the Sunnah. According to the Ahl as-Sunnah the Sunnah is everything
narrated from the Prophet sallallahu `alayhi wasallam, as long as the
transmitters are trustworthy. The Shi‘ah, on the other hand, will only accept
as the Sunnah that which is transmitted by ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib radiyallahu
‘anhu and the rest of the twelve Imams, and that which is narrated from
these Imams by their Shi‘ah followers. Forget what the rest of the Sahabah
narrate, not even the narrations of other members of the household of the
Prophet sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam, his daughters besides Fatimah
radiyallahu ‘anha, his wives, his cousins or uncles, are considered part of
the Sunnah by the Shi‘ah. That is the first observation.
The second is the way the Shi‘ah regard the legacy upon which the
foundations of Sunni fiqh rests. Since the days of the Sahabah radiyallahu
‘anhum the Sunnah of the Prophet was handed down from generation to
generation. The Sahabah narrated it to the Tabi‘in, they to the generation
after them, and so on, until it came to be compiled in what we know today as
the hadith literature. To the Shi‘ah, when this legacy is found to be in
contradiction to what is supposedly narrated from their Imams, the reason
behind it is that the Sahabah radiyallahu ‘anhum were guilty of wilfully
distorting and corrupting the Din of Muhammad sallallahu ‘alayhi
wasallam. Thus, where inter-Sunni differences amount to nothing more than
technicalities, Sunni-Shi‘i differences are differences in historical
To use an example: In salah, the Malikis let their hands hang by their sides,
while the Hanafis, Shafi‘is and Hanbalis fold their hands. The Shi‘ah too, let
their hands hang by their sides. In this single issue of fiqh we thus have an
inter-Sunni difference as well as a Sunni-Shi‘i difference. Between the
Malikis and the other three madhahib the difference is a mere technicality.
The Malikis accept the validity of folding the hands in salah (after all, Imam
Malik himself in the Muwatta’ narrates a hadith that supports the folding of
the hands), but prefer letting the hands hang for the reason that in Imam
Malik's day this was the practice of the community in Madinah. The other
madhahib take into consideration that the Companions of the Nabi
sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam who narrate his Sunnah were not exclusively
settled in Madinah. Many of them resided in the Makkah, ‘Iraq, Syria and
Egypt. Ahadith to the effect that it is sunnah to fold the hands have been
authentically narrated from a number of Sahabah (amongst whom ‘Ali ibn
Abi Talib radiyallahu ‘anhu), and therefore this, and not the practice of the
people of one particular city, takes precedence. Between the Sunni schools
this difference is a technical one, one that amounts to giving preference to
one view over another. But between the Shi‘ah and the Ahl as-Sunnah the
issue assumes much more serious proportions. From a question of mere
technical preference it turns into an acrimonious indictment of the Sahabah
radiyallahu ‘anhum. Traditions in the book Tahdhib al-Ahkam, one of the
four major collections of Shi‘i hadith, describe the folding of the hands in
salah as "an act of kufr" and "something that is only done by the fire-
worshippers". Here one would have to ask: How could an alien practice like
this creep into Islam? The answer is given by Àyatullah Khomeini himself,
in his treatise at-Ta‘adul wat-Tarjih, wherein he quotes the following
tradition from the book ‘Ilal ash-Shara’i‘ by Ibn Babawayh al-Qummi:
Abu Ishaq al-Arjani says: Abu ‘Abdillah (Imam Ja‘far as-Sadiq) asked:
Do you know why you are commanded to act contrary to the `Àmmah (the
Ahl as-Sunnah)?
I replied: I do not know.
He said: Verily, the Ummah contradicted ‘Ali in each and every aspect of
his religion, intending thereby to destroy his cause. They used to ask him
about things they did not know, and when he gave a ruling they would
invent an opposite verdict from their own side to mislead the people.6

In the Shi‘i perspective of Islamic legislative history the fact that the
Sahabah deliberately corrupted and distorted the teachings of the Nabi
sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam is such a fundamental truth, that is came to be
looked upon as a criterion of truth in itself. This position is reflected in the
way they deal with the phenomenon of Shi`i narrations that contradict one
another. Abu Ja‘far al-Kulayni, in the introduction to al-Kafi, the most
important of their four canonical hadith collections, expresses it in the
following terms:
Know... that no one can distinguish narrations of the Possessors of
Knowledge (the Imams) by his opinion; except according to the words of
the Possessor of Knowledge: 'Compare them to the Qur’an. Accept that
which is in accordance with it, and reject that which contradicts it,' and his
words: 'Abandon that which is in accordance with the people (the Ahl as-
Sunnah), for truly, guidance lies in being different to them'.7

This particular perspective has persisted in the Shi‘i psyche over the
centuries since Kulayni and his teacher Qummi, until it became, in the
opinion of Khomeini and all other Shi‘i jurists, one of the two principal
methods of juridical preference in cases of conflicting narrations. In light of
the alarming frequency with which contradictions occur in the ahadith of the
Shi‘ah (one of their four major hadith sources, al-Istibsar, is devoted to the
phenomenon of contradiction) the importance of a principle of this nature is
evident. We reproduce here from Khomeini's works various Shi‘i narrations
in which he and other Shi‘i mujtahids find justification for their view:
1. Hasan ibn Abil Jahm asked: If something is narrated from Abu
‘Abdillah (Imam Ja‘far), and something contrary to it is also narrated from
him, which should we accept?
The Imam answered: Accept that which is in contradiction to the people,
and avoid that which is accordance with them.8
2. Abu ‘Abdillah said: Our Shi‘ah are those who submit to our command,
who accept our words, and who act contrary to our enemies. Whoever is
not like that is not of us.9
3. ‘Ali ibn Asbat narrates that he asked Imam Rida: (What should I do in
case) an incident occurs for which I am need of a juridical opinion, but
nowhere in the city do I find anyone of your partisans (the Shi‘ah) whom I
can ask?
He replied: Go to the (Sunni) faqih of the city and refer your case to him.
Then take the opposite of whatever answer he gives you, for verily, therein
lies the truth.10

It is on account of these and other similar narrations which the Shi‘ah claim
to emanate from their infallible Imams that the mujtahids of the Ja‘fari
madhhab were led to formulate the principle Khomeini expresses in these
In cases of conflicting reports, contradiction of the Ahl as-Sunnah is a
factor of preference ... In fact, it is the most common and widespread
factor of preference in all chapters of fiqh and upon the tongues of the
There is no ambiguity with regard to the issue of contradicting the Ahl as-
Sunnah being a factor of preference in the case of conflicting narrations.11
The factors of tarjih (preference) are limited to two: conforming to the
Qur’an and the Sunnah, and contradicting the Ahl as-Sunnah.12

All of these quotations show a definite obsession with being different from
the Ahl as-Sunnah. We therefore ask: If so much importance is attached to
being different, to the point of it being regarded as the criterion of truth, why
should there be such a noise and clamour for unity? Why should the Shi‘ah
seek unity with people whose version of Islam they regard as the corruption
of the Din of Muhammad sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam wrought by the hands
of his Companions? And even if the Shi‘ah do manage to create a semblance
of such unity, how much goodwill and sincerity can be expected of them if
one considers their particular perspective of the legacy which forms the basis
of our faith and practice?
We have chosen Khomeini's views as representative of Shi‘i opinion for a
very special reason, and that is the fact that in the contemporary world it is
he and his successors who are the most vociferous proponents of Sunni-Shi‘i
unity, and who dismiss Sunni-Shi‘i differences as negligible. In more than
one of his public addresses he takes to task those who attempt to create
mischief amongst the Muslims by "misleading" them into believing that
there are substantial differences between the Ahl as-Sunnah and the Shi‘ah.
However, closer scrutiny of his jurisprudential works reveal that such
condemnations are nothing but political rhetoric. When we remove the
image he projects as Leader of the Revolution, we are left with merely
another Shi‘i scholar imprisoned by the fundamentals of his faith. In his
eyes, and likewise in the eyes of generations of Shi‘i scholars before him,
the legacy of the Sunnah upon which their Sunni "brothers" base their
practice of Islam is the product of the envious mischief and the disbelief of
the Sahabah, who in the hope of destroying the cause of the Ahl al-Bayt
distorted every teaching of the Nabi sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam they could
lay their hands upon. If this is how they regard the very basis upon which the
foundations of our Din rests, what remains to be said for unity?
1. Shi‘ism p. ed. by Seyyed Hossein Nasr et al.
2. Yahya ibn Sa‘id al-Hilli: al-Jami‘ lish-Sharai’ p.75 (Mu’assasat Sayyid ash-
Shuhada’, Qum 1405)
3. Muhammad Jawad Maghniyyah: The Five Schools of Islamic Law p. 319
(Ansariyan Publications, Qum 1995)
4. ibid. p. 317
5. Tafsir al-Qummi, editor's foreword
6. at-Ta‘adul wat-Tarjih by Àyatullah Khomeini, p. 82, cited in Dr. Zayd al-‘Is:
al-Khomeini wal-Wajh al-Àkhar p. 131
7. al-Kafi vol. 1 pp. 55-56 (Dar al-Adwa’, Beirut 1992)
8. at-Ta‘adul wat-Tarjih p.80
9. Tahrir al-Wasilah p. 83, from al-Fusul al-Muhimmah by al-Hurr al-‘Àmili p.
10. at-Ta‘adul wat-Tarjih p.82, from ‘Uyun Akhbar ar-Rida by Ibn Babawayh al-
Qummi, vol. 1 p. 275
11. at-Ta‘adul wat-Tarjih p. 83
12. at-Ta‘adul wat-Tarjih p. 84

The Dismal Reality of Ahlus Sunnah

in Iran

Brief introduction of the Sheikh

Sheikh Abdul Rahman al-Baluchy completed his secondary education in Iran, after
which he was admitted to the Islamic University of al-Madinah al-Munawarah in 1979
where he studied Arabic before joining the Usuluddin (Principles of Faith) and Da'wah
college. He reached his second year of studies before the policy to expel Iranian
students was implemented. He went to Syria to complete his Shari'ah studies at
Damascus universi, where he graduated in 1984. He also studied under the scholars of
Damascus, such as Sheikh Abdul Qadir al-Arna`out and others. Upon graduation, he
enrolled for his Masters degree at al-Awza'y college in Beirut where he graduated in
1989. His thesis was on the Baluchi people and Baluchistan. He enrolled for his Ph.D.
at the same college and graduated in 1995. His Ph.D. thesis was on "The
Transformation of Islamic Thought in Iran from Sunni to Shi'ah during the Safawi Rule".
This same topic was not accepted for his Masters Degree owing to certain political
He currently directs the Ahlus Sunnah Association in Iran, London Office.

Is there a single capital city in the There is no Sunni director in any of the
world without a Sunni mosque, with government authorities, ministries,
the exception to Tehran -the capital of embassies, or local and provincial
the Shi'ah-, which has forty Christian governments, hospitals or
churches and a cemetery for the principalities; not even in the lowest
Baha'is government posts anywhere in Iran.
Whilst we are living in the twentieth
century, we find a third of the The double-faced regime was able,
population of a nation deprived of through raising the banner of Islamic
their most basic rights. Is there any unity, to fool many Muslims outside
other country on the face of the earth Iran as they ask them to attend their
which prevents its people from conferences, and transform their way of
choosing names like Umar, A'ishah, thinking within a short period of time.
Hafsah, Abu Bakr, Zubair...

Would you kindly give us a glimpse of the history of Ahlus Sunnah in Iran, the main
areas where they are concentrated and their numbers?
It is an established fact that Iran was a Sunni nation until the Tenth Century of the Hijri calendar.
During this period, Iran produced thousands of scholars in every discipline; the most salient of these
facts is that the six most authentic Hadith books (ie. Bukhari, Muslim, Abu Dawood, etc.) were
written by scholars from Iran, or scholars who received their education in Iran. However, when the
Safawid Shi'ites took control, they established their government on the skulls of the Sunni scholars
and jurists. This was one of the reasons for the evacuation of the largest cities that were at the
foremost centers of religious sciences, such as Tibriz, Isfahan, Ray, and Tus. There were many
Sunni Muslims who were killed, forced into Shi'ism, or compelled to flee to the mountains, leaving
Iran as a center for conspiracies against Islam and the Muslims. Fredinand, the ambassador to the
Austrian King, remarked: "Had it not been for the Safawids in Iran, we would have been reading the
Qur'an this day like the Algerians," meaning that his nation would have been conquered by the
Ottoman Muslims. However, the Safawids conspired with the crusaders and the imperialists to halt
the Islamic expansion into France and Vienna.

The Sunni Muslims in Iran number about 15 to 20 million, living mainly in the mountainous and
border regions. They are mainly Kurds, Turks, Baluchis, and Arabs. There is also a good number
living in the cities.
How was the condition of Ahlus Sunnah before the revolution, did they participate
in it, and how and what was their reward from this participation?
Ahlus Sunnah hail from non-Persian people. They were regarded as second class citizens under the
Shah regime, since they mostly resided in rural areas, as well as the fact that their creed differed
from that of the Shi'ah. As the Arabs, Kurds, Baluchis and others of Ahlus Sunnah did not have any
role in the idolatrous Persian nationalism, they did not have equal rights socially nor economically
with Persians, "The Chosen People"! The Shah regime was secular, non-religious, so it dealt with
religions and sects in a similar way. Some of the Ahlus Sunnah scholars have opposed the Shah
and his secular regime, and some of these scholars initially sympathised with the Khomeini
revolution such as Sheikh Ahmad Mufti Zadah as well as a few others, may Allah forgive them.
Sheikh Ahmad Mufti Zadah opposed Khomeini shortly after the revolution. He was arrested and
imprisoned for 10 years, even though his sentence was only for five years. He was only released
when the authorities felt that he was on the brink of death. I was a witness to the words of Ahmad
Mufti Zadah to Khomeini in the latter's house where he said: "Khomeini, you promised me an Islamic
republic, however you established a Safawi-Shi'ite republic. Although I believe that I am not
permitted to raise arms against you [such was his belief, unfortunately], however, I will fight you

This occurred during the same meeting where my brother Mawlawi Abdul Aziz, may Allah have
mercy on him, the representative for Baluchistan in the Authoritative Council, opposed clause 13 of
the Iranian constitution, and then resigned from the Council. He later formed, along with Sheikh
Zadah, the centralised Consultative Council of Ahlus Sunnah, and held two annual meetings, one in
Tehran and one in Baluchistan. Mawlawi Abdul Aziz was also able to obtain a promised allocation of
10,000 square meters of land in Tehran to build a mosque and a centre for Ahlus Sunnah. This
promise was given due to internal and external pressures, when the regime was still weak and

This promise, however, was blatantly dishonoured as soon as the regime became stronger. The
land allocated for constructing the mosque was confiscated, as well as the offices and bank
accounts of the Consultative Council, whose scholars, members and supporters -both men and
women- were detained.

The regime continued in its efforts to destroy the infrastructure of Ahlus Sunnah, spreading between
their ranks deviations, innovations and acts of Shirk. They unashamedly told the imprisoned
students of Sheikh Zadah: "We hoped that you would have taken up arms against us, so we could
have had an excuse to uproot you, as we did with the other parties."

The regime then persecuted any person who dared to call for their rights, and punished them with
imprisonment or execut, or degrading their character, as was the case with the martyr Bahman
Shakoury. Many Sheikhs were imprisoned, exiled, tortured and humiliated, such as the Baluchistan
parliamentarian member Mawlawi Nathar Mohammad who was subjected to sever torture and made
false confessions under duress, until he escaped and was able to flee to Pakistan. He was not able
to get a visa to enter any of the Gulf countries, not even as a labourer. Sheikh Mawlawi Muhyiddin
and Sheikh Dost Mohammed Sirawani were also imprisoned, then exiled to the city of Najaf Abad,
as well as many other Sheikhs. There is also Sheikh Ibrahim Dammini who continues to be
imprisoned and put to torture for more than five years.

Ahlus Sunnah were rewarded under the current sectarian government with a life of dishonor and
subjugation, and their situation is far worse -as I have experienced myself- than that of the Muslims
in occupied Palestine. Is there a single capital city in the world without a Sunni mosque, with the
exception to Tehran -the capital of the Shi'ah-, which has forty Christian churches and a cemetery
for the Baha'is. In all, even the infidel minorities have their temples and places of worship and their
freedom of worship, yet Ahlus Sunnah are not allowed to build any mosque or cemetery. Khameni
stated after the revolution: "all the Persians in the world can look at Iran as their nation", they are,
therefore, first class citizens of Iran, even if they were Magians from India. As for us, we must be
exiled from our land because neither us nor our parents accepted Shi'ism or Magianism!

The regime planted the seeds of conflict amongst the scholars of Ahlus Sunnah, and strove to
deride the character of the notable scholars, replacing them with government servants.

It then instigated internal conflicts between the scholars, the leaders of the community, and the
intellectuals to create an environment filled with distrust and insecurity. They also used some of the
ignorant people who adhere to supposedly Sunni Tariqats (orders), to attack the scholars of Ahlus
Sunnah, especially Sheikh Ahmad Mufti Zadah, labeling him as a Wahhabi, although the Sheikh did
not adhere to the Salafi creed.

The regime then aimed at Ahlus Sunnah schools, and tried to influence their curriculums to
incorporate Shi'ateachings, labeling anyone who refuses to do so as a Wahhabi, a "crime"
punishable by death in Iran! Add to this that many school principles were initially anti-Salafi, which
resulted with many pupils being suspended, expelled, and beaten for merely raising their hands in
their prayer, or for defending Sheikhul-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah, or Abul 'Ala al-Maududi.

However, the double-faced regime was able, through raising the banner of Islamic unity, to fool
many Muslims outside Iran as they ask them to attend their conferences, and transform their way of
thinking within a short period of time. They became false witnesses within their own people,
beguiling them with what they have been taught about the greatness of Islamic unity, without
knowing anything about the plight of Ahlus Sunnah inside Iran. They repeat in all simplicity: "we are
brothers, there is no difference between us." Despite the imprisonment of the scholars and the
demolished Islamic schools, they go to the grave of Khomeini, which has become a worshipped idol,
offering their worship, and placing flowers at this grave. Their stance has misled many young minds
and opened the way for them to accept or tolerate Shi'ism. A person is further baffled when he
realises the superficiality of these people, their oblivion to the reality and their inability to
comprehend the situation. They keep on defending the Rawafidh Shi'ah who are weaving
conspiracy after conspiracy against Ahlus Sunnah.

Can you elaborate on the current condition of Ahlus Sunnah in Iran?

Currently, after two decades of the Shiite revolution and the fortification of their rule, they have not
secured the rights of the Sunni minority, nor their covenants with them. They began by imprisoning
the scholars and the Muslim activists, exiling some, and executing others. They also started to expel
Sunni Muslims from government, commerce, and manufacturing posts, and to destroy their
infrastructure. I still recall what the Iranian secret service said vengefully to some of the imprisoned
Muslim activists: "You are like the large room with large spotlights (the more eminent scholars) and
smaller lights (the general scholars), and candles (the general activists); we will first extinguish the
large spotlights." This stage has been accomplished as they have killed most of the prominent
scholars. "Then we will extinguish the smaller lights"; in this respect many activists have been killed
and many others exiled. "Then we will turn the fan to put out the candles." This is an indication of
the final stage of forcing people into Shi'ism against their will.

As you can see, the tragedy of Ahlus Sunnah in Iran is unlike any tragedy in the world, considering
the nature of the race problem, the falsification of news by the Iranian official press, Government
cronies, and the positions of many Muslim movements and activists on the outside who are siding
with Iran. Although Muslim minorities everywhere are facing calamities and catastrophes on a large
scale, the situation in Iran is further exacerbated under the government of Taqiyya (deceit), lies and
hypocrisy, in the name "'unifying' the different sects". Yet it simultaneously slaughters the Sunni
scholars and casts their dissected and mutilated corpses into the streets and the garbage dumps.
Whereas the plight of Muslims is broadcasted internationally, no TV station or newspaper dares to
highlight the case of Sunnis in Iran. Ahlus Sunnah are deprived of their basic civil, social, and
human rights, not to mention the right of political participation and equality with the Shi'ah. The
erection of a Sunni school or mosque in Iran is regarded as an unpardonable crime. Many Sunni
Muslims, who supported such projects (even if it were in the past), were imprisoned, killed, or had
their beard shaved for merely contributing to the building of a mosque or to any simple activity
relating to Ahlus Sunnah. There are also hundreds of periodical prisoners and many killed purely on
suspicion. The following are only some of the names of the prominent scholars who have been
kidnapped, poisoned, or killed:

Bahman Shakoury was amongst the prominent scholars of his area, Tonalis, and was active in
Da'wah within intellectuals. He was arrested and convicted with Wahhabism and executed
in 1986.

Sheikh Mawlawi Abdul Aziz was one of the elite leaders of Ahlus Sunnah who played a
prominent role in opposing the Constitution in matters relating to Ahlus Sunnah rights. He
was the director of the religious school of Zahdan and the chief of Baluchi armed tribes. He
was poisoned in 1987.

Sheikh Abdul Wahhab Khafi played a notable role in exposing the calamities of Ahlus Sunnah
outside Iran, especially in Pakistan. He was killed in 1990 under torture after being accused
with Wahhabism.

Sheikh Nasser Sabhani was one of the leaders of Sunnah in Kurdistan who conducted many
educational courses. He was arrested after refuting the false accusations of kufr directed at
Umar (r.a.a) by Khomeini in his famous book 'al-Hukumah al-Islamiah' (The Islamic
Government). He was killed in 1992 in prison and his relatives were denied from witnessing
his funeral and the prayer.

Dr. Ali Muzhaffaryan was amongst the eminent intellectual Shi'ites who was a cardiac surgeon
and the head of Shiraaz Committee of Physicians. He embraced the school of Ahlus
Sunnah wa al-Jamma'ah and then converted his house to a mosque because the
government of Shiraaz did not permit the establishment of mosques. He was arrested and
convicted with Wahhabism and American treachery and tortured severely when many
Shi'ite youth followed him into Sunnism. He was later released only to be assassinated in

Moreover, the following are some of Ahlus Sunnah's mosques and Islamic schools that
were destroyed:

Al-Sunnah mosque in Ahwaz. The first Sunni mosque to be confiscated before twar with Iraq. It
was transformed to a security police centre.

South of Tehran. The second Sunni mosque to be confiscated was in 1982.

Tareeth Ham mosque. This mosque is in the state of Kharasan. It was transformed to a centre
for the revolutionary guard.

School and mosque of Lakour. It is situated near the city of Jabahar in Baluchistan state. The
government demolished the mosque and the school in 1987 under the accusation that it
was a center for Wahhabis.
Al-Sunnah mosque in Shiraz. Confiscated after the murder of Dr. Muzaffar Ban who founded it,
and transformed to a centre for selling video and audio tapes produced by the revolutionary

Sheikh Faydh mosque. This is an ancient Sunnah mosque in Mashhad, one of the main Shi'ah
centres of the world. The government could not tolerate the continued existence of this
mosque in the city, so it demolished it in 1993, under the supervision of the revolutionary
guard, who also demolished adjoining centres which were used as guest houses and
Qur'an memorisation centres. The demolition orders came from Khameni personally, the
present spiritual leader of Iran. What is amazing is the fact that the demolition of this
mosque occurred immediately after the government- sponsored demonstrations against the
demolition of the Babary Mosque in India by the Hindus.

Ahlus Sunnah School, Talish. The government confiscated the Ahlus Sunnah school at Talish
-North-West of Iran. Sheikh Quraishy, the principal of the school was also arrested and
alleged confessions were obtained from him under torture.

Aaban mosque Mashhad city. They confiscated the land, demolished the walls, and expelled
the trustee.

Repair of roads. They also repair the roads from time to time, eg. in the city of Zahdan, in order
to demolish Sunnah houses, mosques and schools in the name of alleged reconstruction.

What in reality is the representation of Ahlus Sunnah in the various government

posts in Iran such as parliament, ministries, etc?
This is an important question. Ahlus Sunnah, who compose approximately one third of the Iranian
population, have in all honesty no representation at all. In fact, the situation has reached a stage of
oppression and deprivation where Ahlus Sunnah no longer contest these posts and are satisfied
with looking to satiate their food needs withoubeing prosecuted. There is no Sunni director in any of
the government authorities, ministries, embassies, or local and provincial governments, hospitals or
principalities; not even in the lowest government posts anywhere in Iran. There are some Sunni
parliamentarians just like in most Middle Eastern countries, however, these are token positions so
that the common people can be fooled. Before a person's political nomination is accepted in Iran, he
must be approved, by law, by the security agencies which naturally reject any Sunni activist, even if
this person was to somehow attempt to appease them. These agencies employ the lowest form of
people, and the most vile. This means that even if someone was elected by the people, the council
has the right to ostracise him from Government. So of what use is such a parliament, especially with
respect to the Sunni parliamentarian who does not have a party to protect him? Even if he obtained
such a post, what could he possibly offer his people? The whole council therefore has no practical
value. This is supported by Khomeini's address to Mawlawi Abdul Aziz after the Iranian revolution:
"We do not have a shura process, the principle with us is that the Imam rules, and imitators follow
suit. We took the idea of a council from your creed, for this reason, you will not find any value placed
on a council." This is a great shame. Whilst we are living in the twentieth century, we find a third of
the population of a nation deprived of their most basic rights. Is there any other country on the face
of the earth which prevents its people from choosing names like Umar, A'ishah, Hafsah, Abu Bakr,
Zubair, or most of the names of the companions amongst the ten foretold of Paradise?

Do Ahlus Sunnah have an organised movement? What is the extent of its

popularity? And how are Ahlus Sunnah facing the present situation?
Ahlus Sunnah had organised movements at the outset of the revolution, when parties were still
present. However, when the government became stronger, they prohibited all the Salafi groups. The
danger of the Sunni groups was obvious, amongst these was the central shura council for Ahlus
Sunnah, the Kurdistan movement for equal rights, the Union of Muslims in Baluchistan, the Majdia.
movement in Zahran, and others. The funds of these groups were confiscated and presently, there
are no openly organised Sunni groups. In fact, the Sunnis in Iran are deprived of rights which are
freely given even to the disbelievers, such as charities to care for the orphans and the widows and

As for dealing with the present situation, we are currently only able to offer patience and to take one
blow after another. They are like the orphans - they do not have a government to defend them or to
dare to mention their plight except on special occasions. They do not have a Sunni group outside of
Iran to sponsor them apart from what we initiated a few years ago here (in London).

Do you expect any change in the policies of the present government towards Ahlus
Sunnah after the election of Khatemy?
There is a minor change in the policy of the government towards us. Khatemy is not blood thirsty
and does not like the shedding of blood nor the stealing of our money as did Khameni and
Rafsanjany. Khatemy has changed many of the blood thirsty officials in the Sunni areas with other
Shi'ah who are not as blood thirsty. However, he was not brave enough to appoint one Sunni
official. Had Khatemy taken this opportunity, the tyranny and oppression would be reduced
dramatically, however, I do not think that he intends or is able to bring equality between Sunni and
the others. I have sent an open letter to him in this respect.

What is the policy of Ahlus Sunnah for their future dealings with this situation?
Does the declaration of the Afghan Islamic Emirate have any effect on the internal
Our policy with this bitter reality is to be patient and abstain from armed conflict. We do not wish to
repeat the experiment in Hama, Halab, Tripoli and others which were very bitter experiments.
Particularly as we know that there is no government, or even an organisation which dares to or
intends to support or sponsor us.

Yes, the existence of a Sunni Muslim government in Afghanistan will have a definite effect on us.
This is why we are witnessing every effort from Iran to halt the establishment of an Islamic
government in Afghanistan. The minister for Iranian foreign affairs declared a number of years
before: "We will never permit the establishment of a Wahhabi government in Afghanistan". In the
view of these devils, any Sunni government is a Wahhabi government. In summary, the existence of
any Sunni government is in our interest. It is notable to bear in mind that the Shi'ah/Safawi State
which existed during the Ottoman rule fell at the hands of the Afghan Sunnis.

Is there a message to other Sunni Muslims throughout the world from their brothers
in Iran?
We see ourselves as creedal and intellectual extensions of our brothers. What we are facing today
is a direct result of our affiliation to the Ahlus Sunnah creed and for no other reason. It is the
responsibility of the Muslims in every organisation as groups and as individuals to be concerned
over their religion and their faith. We know the reason for the backdown of the authorities and the
governments, however, what excuse could there be for the charities, wealthy Muslims, Islamic
organisations, and groups? They do not have an excuse before Allah.

I have hope that our Muslim brothers will not just look at us through the policies of their groups and
parties, but to look at us through Islam as the martyr Sheikh Abdullah Azzam looked at the Afghani

I also have a parting word for those who share our creed who visit Iran regularly. We hardly fin any
of them any concern towards their religion and the people of their creed. I advise these people to be
conscious of Allah and have some concern for their creed and those who subscribe to the same
creed. Their visits are proof against us and cause us harm and lead to the murder of many of our
members. They are like puppets in the hands of the political regime, they say to us: "Here are your
Imams, your scholars and Sheikhs, they are praying behind us, visiting the grave of the Imam, and
do not ask for a separate mosque for themselves in Tehran, they say we pray all together in one
mosque, so why do you differ with your scholars? You must be Wahhabi!"

Finally we thank Nida'ul Islam magazine for their attention and concern with our plight, we pray for
their success