Historical Background


(01) What does the word "Shi'a" mean?

"Shie'ah", "Shi'a": a singular Arabic noun means group, party, sect, supporter. The plural form is Shiya' and Ashyaa'. There is another word in Arabic that denotes the same meaning, i.e Hizb, its plural is Ahzaab. Both terms were used in the Holy Qur'an:

19:69 Then shall We certainly drag out from every sect (Shi'a) all those who were worst in obstinate rebellion against (Allah) Most Gracious.

28:15 And he entered the city at a time when its people were not watching: and he found there two men fighting,- one of his own religion (Shie'atihi), and the other, of his foes. Now the man of his own religion (Shie'atihi) appealed to him against his foe, and Moses struck him with his fist and made an end of him. He said: "This is a work of Evil (Satan): for he is an enemy that manifestly misleads!"

37:83 Verily among those who followed his Way (Shie'atihi) was Abraham.

15:10 We did send apostles before thee amongst the religious sects (Shiya') of old:

6:65 Say: "He hath power to send calamities on you, from above and below, or to cover you with confusion in party strife (Shiya'an), giving you a taste of mutual vengeance - each from the other." See how We explain the signs by various (symbols); that they may understand.

6:159 As for those who divide their religion and break up into sects (Shiya'an), thou hast no part in them in the least: their affair is with Allah. He will in the end tell them the truth of all that they did.

28:4 Truly Pharaoh elated himself in the land and broke up its people into sections (Shiya'an), depressing a small group among them: their sons he slew, but he kept alive their females: for he was indeed a maker of mischief.

30:32 Those who split up their Religion, and become (mere) Sects (Shiya'an),- each party (Hizben) rejoicing in that which is with itself!

During the conflict between Ali [ra] and Muawiyah [ra], both groups were referred to as "Shi'atu Ali" and "Shi'atu Muawiyah". Hence, its early usage in the conflict between the two great companions Ali & Muawiyah [ra-both] was to denote who "sided" with who in its political context.

(02) Was the dispute between Ali and Muawiyah religious in nature?

Absolutely not. The conflict started after the murder of the 3rd Caliph Othman bin 'Affan [ra], and the existence of the murderers in the camp of Ali [ra]. However; to answer this question, we'll explore Nahjul Balaghah to see what Ali [ra] himself had to say about it, contrary to what the Shi'a wish to present:

"The thing began in this way: We and the Syrians were facing each other while we had common faith in one Allah, in the same Prophet (s) and on the same principles and canons of religion. So far as faith in Allah and the Holy Prophet (s) was concerned we never wanted them (the Syrians) to believe in anything over and above or other than what they were believing in and they did not want us to change our faith. Both of us were united on these principles. The point of contention between us was the question of the murder of Uthman. It had created the split. They wanted to lay the murder at my door while I am actually innocent of it."
Nahjul Balaghah, Letter 58, p. 474

Therefore, if Ali [ra] himself does not see the conflict religious nor his political opponents as Kafirs (unbelievers) then the love which Shi'ites claim to have for him and the claim that they follow him, is an unproven claim from their own sources. For if they do indeed love Ali [ra] they will hold his views in this matter too, but they are people of no understanding. Furthermore, Ali [ra] instructed his men as follows:

"I dislike you starting to abuse them, but if you describe their deeds and recount their situations that would be a better mode of speaking and a more convincing way of arguing. Instead of abusing them you should say, "O' Allah! save our blood and their blood, produce reconciliation between us and them, and lead them out of their misguidance so that he who is ignorant of the truth may know it, and he who inclines towards rebellion and revolt may turn away from it."
Nahjul-Balaghah: Sermon 204, or online Sermon 205 (http://www.al-islam.org/nahjul/205.htm)

Are the Shi'ites in anyway, form or manner following his instructions? Most certainly not. All we hear from them is slandering and cursing to the best men honored and chosen by Allah [swt] to be the companions of His Apostle [saw]

(03) Did the word "Shi'ites" exist during the era of Muhammad [saw]?

Anyone who claims that the word "Shi'a" or "Shi'ites" was used by the Apostle of Allah or during his era is a liar, and no proof whatsoever exists to support this claim. To illustrate as a proof, the Shi'ites themselves never agreed on when Shi'asm actually started. In his book "Asl al-Shi'a wa Usooliha" p. 87, Grand Rabbi Aal Kaashif-al-Ghataa' wrote:

"The first (person) who planted the seed of Shi'asm in the field of Islam, is no other than the Prophet himself. In other words, the seed of Shi'asm was placed side by side with the seed of Islam coequally. Its planter (the Prophet [saw]) continued to care for it by irrigating it until it grew and prospered during his life time, then bore fruits after his death"

This is an absolute false statement, which he supported by a false Hadith (Hadith of the Bird) to which he falsely claimed exists in Sahih al-Bukhari and Muslims, or the Hadith "Verily it is Ali and his Shi'ites who are the winners" as most of Shi'ites writers do, to give the reader the impression that they are supporting their falsehood with authentic narrations from our Sihaah.

It is no wonder then, that Ibn Abil-Hadeed (586-656 h), an extremist Shi'a, admitingly writes in his Commentary on Nahjul-Balaghah:

" The origin of lies in Ahadith of virtues, started with the Shi'ites who fabricated various Ahadith in the virtues of their Imams. It was the enmity they held against their adversaries that drove them to fabricate them"
See Sharh Nahujul-Balaghah, vol.1, p.783 (Quoting from al-Shi'a wat-Tashayyu', p.19)

(04) So when did Shi'ism evolve as a political party?

Actually, neither the Shi'ites' historians nor the Shi'ites' Rabbis have a consensus on the evolution of Shi'ism. In his "Firaq al-Shi'a" (The Shi'a Groups) Abu Muhammad al-Hasan bin Musa al-Nubakhti, one of the foremost known Shi'i historian, believes that Shi'ism did not start until the demise of the Apostle [saw]:

" The Messenger [sawa] died in the month of Rabi' al-Awwal, in the year 10 of Hijra at age 63 and the duration of his prophethood was for 23 years, and his mother is Aaminah bint Wahab bin Abdi Manaaf bin Zuhra bin Kilaab bin Murra bin Ka'b bin Lu'ay bin Ghaalib. (At his death) The Ummah was divided into three groups. One group was called the Shi'ites, who were the Shi'ites of Ali bin Abi Taleb [as] and from them all Shi'i sects broke away. Another (group) claimed the right of succession, i.e., al-Ansaar, who called for the inauguration of Sa'd bin Ubadah al-Khazraji. A (Third) group tilted toward giving the Bay'ah (allegiance) to Abu Bakr bin Abi Qahaafah, with an excuse that the Messenger [sawa] did not name a particular successor rather left it for the Ummah to chose whom it wills...."
Firaq al-Shi'a: pp. 23-24

Muhammad Hussain al-Muzaffari thinks it was started by the Prophet [saw] himself, he thus wrote in his Tareekh al-Shi'a (History of the Shi'ites):

"The call for Shi'asm started with the day when Grand Savior Muhammad [sawa] shouted the word La Ilaha illallah in Makka's sections and mountains....and hence, the call to become a Shi'ite for Abu al-Hasan [as] (Ali) by the Prophet [sawa] went side by side with the call for the two testimonies"
Tareekh al-Shi'a: Muhammad Husain al-Muzaffari, pp. 8-9, Qum, Iran.

Abu Ishaaq Ibn al-Nadim, (297-385 h), a famous Shi'i writer, did not agree to neither of the above theories, he wrote in his "al-Fihrist" that Shi'ism started at the Battle of Camel, thus explained:

"When Talha and Az-Zubair disagreed with Ali and accepted noless than the revenge for the blood of Othman, and Ali mobolized his forces to fight them, those who followed him were then given the title, Shi'ites."
al-Fihrist, Ibn al-Nadim: p.249, from Ash-Shi'a wat-Tashayyu': Ehsan Elahi Zaheer, p.25

Kamil Mustafa al-Shaybi, a Shi'a, wrote in his book:

" The independence of the term indicating Shi'asm came about only after the murder of al-Husain whereby Shi'ism became an independent entity with a distinctive identity"
The Link Between Sufism & Shi'asm: Mustafa Kamil al-Shaybi, p.23, From Ash-Shi'a wat-Tashayyu', Ehsan Elahi Zaheer, p.26

It is obvious from their own disputes over the birth of Shi'ism, that the attempts to make Shi'itization (call to disunity) the original message of the Prophet [saw] is a failure and can only fool the naives who go after every drum beater.

(05) If Muhammad [saw] did not start Shi'ism as some of them claim, who then started it?

Simply, when the Jews were convinced they are unable to halt the fast growing and spreading of Christianity by means of force, they planed to destroy it from within. This mission was successfully carried out by Rabbi Paul. When Islam came, likewise, the Jews again attempted to abort this new religion. Their endeavors took many forms and shapes, from attempts to assassinate the Apostle of Allah [saw] to waging wars that ended in deporting most of them from al-Madinah or executing those who betrayed the truce. Similarly, they were convinced that the best way to destroy Islam and the Muslims' unity was to resort to the plot they used with Christianity. A Yemenite Jew by the name of Abdullah bin Saba' , as Paul did, pretended to have embraced Islam to plant secretly the seeds of this new cult which he successfully performed. He arrived from Yemen to al-Madinah during the era of Zunnurain Caliph Othman bin 'Affaan [ra] and started to plan and cook the plot, waiting for the proper opportunity which he found in Ali [ra].

(06) Recently, some Shi'ites began to claim that "Abdullah bin Saba'" is a myth and an imaginative personality who never existed in history, how true?

It is natural for them to be ashamed of this fact, but our question to them is, why they kept silent for 14 centuries and not a single scholar of them disputed this fact throughout this period? Furthermore, what do they say about the giant scholars of theirs who confirmed the existance of this Jew, and what do they say about their "Infallible" Imams who likewise confirmed his existence? Certainly, if Ibn Saba' was a myth, then this is a blow to their credibility and "Infallibity" and the entire footings of Shi'ism has thereby collapsed.
Nevertheless, we'll prove our point, not by using Sunni or Orientalists sources, but will call to the witness stand their very own historians and whom they call deputies of Allah on earth, the "Infallible" Imams:

First: Abu Muhammad al-Hasan bin Musa al-Nubakhti:
The well known Shi'ite "Who's Who" critic, al-Najashi in his al-Fihrist, wrote:

"al-Hasan bin Musa: Abu Muhammad al-Nubakhti, the well versed in dialectism, who surpassed the peers of his time prior and after the 300 (hijra)"
al-Fihrist: al-Najashi, p.47; From Ash-Shi'a was-Sunnah, p.22

Another "Who's Who" critic, At-Tusi, in his al-Fihrist wrote:

"Abu Muhammad, dialectist and philosopher, was an Imami (shi'ite), an upright in faith, trustworthy (thiqah)....and he is one of the scholars' landmarks"
al-Fihrist: At-Tusi, p.98; From Ash-Shi'a Was-Sunnah, p.22

Nurallah at-Tasturi, in his "Majaalis al-Mu'mineen" wrote:

"al-Hasan bin Musa, one of the celebrity of this sect and its scholars. He was a dialectist, a philosopher, an Imami in faith"
Majaalis al-Mu'mineen: Nurallah At-Tasturi, p.177; from Ash-Shi'a was-Sunnah, p.22

Having established the authority of this historian from the Shi'ites own sources, let's read what Mr. al-Nubakhti had to say about Ibn Saba':

"Abdullah bin Saba', was one of those who slandered Abu Bakr, Omar, Othman and the Companions and disowned them. He claimed that it was Ali [as] who enjoined this on him. Ali arrested him, and upon interrogation, admitted to the charge, and (Ali) ordered him to be executed. The People cried 'O Chief of Believers ! Do you execute a man calling to your love, Ahlul-Bayt, to your allegiance, and disowning your enemies?' He (Ali) then exiled him to al-Mada'in (Capital of Iran back then). Some of the knowledgeable companions of Ali [as] narrated that Abdullah bin Saba' was a Jew who embraced Islam and sided with Ali [as]. That he was of the opinion, at the time when he was a Jew, claiming that Yousha' bin Noon is after Moses. After his submission to Islam, after the demise of the Prophet [pbuh], he claimed the same for Ali [as]. He was the first to publicly mandate the Imamah of Ali [as], disowning his enemies, and debated his opposers. From thence, those who oppose Shi'ism say: The origin of Shi'ism is rooted in Judaism. When Abdullah bin Saba' heard of the demise of Ali while in (his exile at) al-Mada'in, he said to the announcer of the news: 'You are a liar, if you are to bring his head in seventy bags, and brought seventy witnesses testifying to his death, we'll insist that he did not die nor murdered, and (he) shall not die till he rules the globe' ".
Firaq al-Shi'a: Nubakhti, pp. 43,44

Second: Abu Amr bin Abdul Aziz al-Kash-shi: Another well known "Who's Who" critic who also mentioned Ibn Saba', and one of the earliest Shi'ite biographist. In the "Introduction" to his book, known as "Rijaal al-Kash-shi", we read:

"He is trustworthy (thiqah), an adept, an expert in traditions and men, very knowledgeable, well founded in faith, on the upright path......The most important books on biographies of men are four, which are heavily depended on and (considered) the four basic pillars in this field, the most important and earliest of all is: Ma'rifat al-Naqileen anil-A'immah As-Sadiqeen (Knowing the Transmittors on The Authority of The Truthful Imams) known as Rijaal al-Kash-shi".
Rijaal al-Kash-shi: al-Najaashi, Introduction.

Having established the authority of this scholar, let's examine what he has to say about the Jew Ibn Saba':

"Some people of knowledge mentioned that Abdullah bin Saba' was a Jew, who embraced Islam and supported Ali. While he was still a Jew, he used to go to extremism in calling Yousha' bin Noon as the appointee (successor) of Moses, thus after embracing Islam - after the demise of the Messenger of Allah [pbuh] - he said the like about Ali. It was him who first publicly announced the mandatory Iamamah for Ali, rejected and disowned his enemies, debated his opponents and called them Kafirs. Hence, those who oppose the Shi'ites often say: The Shi'ites and Rejectors (Rafidah) have their roots in Judaism"
Rijaal al-Kash-shi: Abu 'Amr bin Abdul Aziz al-Kash-shi, p.101 al-Mamaqaani, author of "Tanqeeh al-Maqaal", who is an authoritative Shi'i biogrophist quoted the like in his said book, p.184

Now, if these Shi'ites authorities lied about the identity of Ibn Saba', then the possibility of them lying about other matters, like the events of Siffien, the murder of al-Hussain [ra] and other Shi'i dogmas, stands greater. Consequently, if this is the case, doubt will overshadow any and all events and narrations recorded by them.

But assuming that the foresaid men are liars, and error infiltrated to their books, and therefore their testimony is not a proof (hujjah) nor binding, then we invite you to examine the testimony of those who are "Infallible" and looked at as "Deputies of Allah" whose sayings are equal to Allah's as the Shi'ites claim:

1. "Narrated to me Muhammad bin Qolawaih: Narrated to me Sa'd bin Abdullah, said: Narrated to us Yaqoub bin Yazeed and Muhammad bin Issa from Ali bin Mahziyar, from Fadalah bin Ayoub al-Azdi, from Abban bin Othman said: I heard Abu Abdullah [as] saying:
'May Allah curse Abdallah bin Saba', he claimed a divineship for Amirul-Mu'mineen (Ali) [as]. By Allah, Amierul-Mu'mineen [as] was volunterily the slave of Allah. Woe to him who lie about us, for there are people who say about us what we don't say about ourselves,we clear ourselves to Allah from them, we clear ourselves to Allah from them'."

2. "Narrated Yaqoub bin Yazeed from Ibn Abi Omair and Ahmad bin Muhammad bin Issa, from his father and al-Husain bin Sa'eed, from Hisham bin Salim, from Abu Hamza al-Thumali said: Ali bin al-Husain [as] said:
'May the curse of Allah be upon those who tell lies about us. I mentioned Abdullah Ibn Saba and each hair in my body stood up, Allah cursed him. Ali (AS) was, by Allah, a proper servant of Allah, the brother of the Messenger of Allah (PBUH). He did not earn the graciousness/honor from Allah except with the obedience to Allah and His Messenger. And (similarly) the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) did not earn the honor from Allah except with his obedience to Allah'."

3. Narrated Muhammad bin Khalid At-Tayalisi, from Ibn Abi Najran, from Abdullah bin Sinaan said: Abu Abdullah [as] said:
"We are a family of truthfulness. But we are not safe from a liar telling lies about us to undermine our truth with his lies in front of people. The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) was the most truthful among people in what he said (Lahjatan) and the most truthful among all humanity; and Musaylima used to lie on him. The Commander of Believers (AS) was the most truthful one among the creation of Allah after the Messenger of Allah; and the one who used to lie on him, and tried to undermine his truthfulness and claimed lies about Allah, was Abdullah Ibn Saba." .

Ibid, pp. 100,101

Need further Shi'ites sources? We'll call to testimony al-Hasan bin Ali al-Hilly, another famous Shi'i biographist, and examine what he had to say about the Jew Ibn Saba':

"Abdullah bin Saba' returned to disbelief and showed extremism. He claimed prophethood, and that Ali [as] was Allah (in the flesh). Ali [as], for three (consecutive) days asked him to repent but he failed, thereupon, he [as] burned him (alive) with seventy other men who attributed divinship to him"
Kitaab al-Rijaal: al-Hilly, p.469, printed in Tehran, Iran 1383 h. From Ash-Shi'a wat-Tashayyu', p.56

We'll further call another witness for the stand, the Shi'i biogrophist, al-Astra Abadi, and examine his tesitmony:

"Abdullah bin Saba' claimed prophethood and that Ali [as] is himself Allah the Most Exalted. Upon hearing this charge, Amirul-Mu'mineen called and inquired it from him. When he admitted, he said to him: back off from this say and repent, may your mother lose you. However;(Ibn Saba') refused, and (Ali) held him for three days, and, still refusing to repent, he therefore burned him(alive)"
Manhaj al-Maqaal: al-Astar Abadi, p.203, from: Ash-Ashia wat-Tashayyu', p.56

We have another witness, which we like to take his statement, a Persian historian, in his "Tareekh Shi'i" confirmed and wrote:

"When Abdullah bin Saba' learned that the opposition to Othman in Egypt was greater, he went there and pretended the knowledge and righteouseness until the people trusted him. After he established himself there, he started to propagate his ideas and theory, that for each Prophet was an appointed successor, and the appointee (wasi) of the Apostle of Allah and his successor is no other than Ali, who is blessed with knowledge and Fatwa, ornamented with generousity and courage, and known for his honesty and righteouseness. He further said: The Ummah has wronged Ali, usurped his right, the right of Khilafah (succession) and Walayah (allegiance). It is encumbant upon you all to aid and support him. He (immediately) revoked his obedience and allegiance to Othman, and touched many Egyptians with his sayings and deeds, and they revolted against Othman"
Tareekh Shi'i: Rawdat As-Safa, vol.2, p.292, Tehran Ed., From: Ashi'a wat-Tashayyu' , p.56

And there are hundreds of other books who affirmed and confirmed, that Shi'ism started with this Jewish Yemenite who pretended "Love of Ahlul-Bayt" and sought justice for them, as a plot to crack the unity of the Muslim Ummah who crushed the Jewish tribes in the Arabic Penensula. It is not amazing therefore, that the alliance between the Jews and the Persian Majoos (Zoroastrians) prosper to revenge from those who destroyed their dreams and humiliated a civilization not long ago, was one of two super powers in the world. This is briefly why Shi'ism prospered mainly in the land of the Fire worshippers, Persia.

[ Shi'ites Imams ]

(07) Who are the 12 Imams that the Shi'a believe in?

No. Kunyah, Name, Laqab, Years
01- Abu al-Hasan Ali bin Abi Taleb al-Murtada 10 bh- 40 ah

02- Abu Muhammad al-Hassan bin Ali AzZaky 03-050 h

03- Abu Abdallah al-Hussain bin Ali Sayyid al-Shuhada 04-061 h

04- Abu Muhammad Ali bin al-Hussain Zainul-'Abideen 38-095 h

05- Abu Ja'far Muhammad bin Ali al-Baqir 57-114 h

06- Abu Abdallah Ja'far bin Muhammad al-Sadiq 83-148 h

07- Abu Ibrahim Musa bin Ja'far al-Kadhim 128-183 h

08- Abu al-Hasan Ali bin Musa al-Rida 148-202/3 h

09- Abu Ja'far Muhammad bin Ali al-Jawaad 195-220 h

10- Abu al-Hasan Ali bin Muhammad al-Hadi 212-254 h

11- Abu Muhammad al-Hasan bin Ali al-Askari 232-260 h

12- Abu al-Qasim Muhammad bin al-Hasan al-Mahdi 256-to-end of time !!!

to be continued


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