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Thursday, January 30, 2014

THE TWELVE IMAMS

                                                            Shi'ah Mosque, Sultanate of Oman




Last week I concluded my two part series: THE PROPHET (SAW) DID NOT CERTIFY A SUCCESSOR BEFORE HIS DEMISE, in response to Sheikh Turi’s ‘Did The Prophet (S) Really Certify His Successor Before Demise?’ That was actually in relation to the first, out of five subtopics in Sheikh Turi’s article, in which he discussed the Ghadeer Khum hadeeth. The remaining four subtopics, after the first, which he subtitled as THE EPISODE OF GHADEER KHUM, were: 2) SUCCESSORSHIP OF THE PROPHET: NATURAL OR ARTIFICIAL? (which I shall tackle under today’s topic), 3)THE PROPHETIC DEMISE AND ITS AFTERMATH, 4) SUPERIORITY OF THE PROPHET’S PROGENY, and 5) EXTRAORDINARY VIRTUES OF IMAM ALI.

It is not possible to respond to this article with all these subtopics in a single write-up. The piece will be too long. My plan is to dedicate an article for each subtopic. I started with Ghadeer Khum where I established that, contrary to what Sheikh Turi wants us to believe, the Messenger of Allah (SAW) did not nominate a successor before he died.
Let me present a short background for better understanding of what Sheikh Turi presented in the second subtopic of the article under discussion. People generally understand ‘imam’ to be one who leads the prayers, or a leader, but the word carries special connotation in Shi’ah beliefs. To them, Allah designates the imam. Individuals have no freedom in the choice or election of an imam. Imamate, as an institution was reserved for ‘Ali (RA) and his male progeny through Fatimah (RA). Thus, when an imam dies, authority is automatically transferred to his eldest son. The imams are considered infallible and divinely protected from all sin and human weakness, because they are not ordinary human beings; they are equal in rank to the prophets in their attributes and their mission.

Keeping the above background in mind will help us make out the point that Sheikh Turi was trying put across.

Under SUCCESSORSHIP OF THE PROPHET: NATURAL OR ARTIFICIAL? Sheikh Turi said, “No doubt, succeeding the noble messengers for human guidance is an inevitable issue whose significance cannot be overemphasized. This is very clear in the noble Qur’an especially as regards prophets Ibrahim, Yaqub and Musa where they expressed wills regarding their successors from among the prophets and saints.” In other words, Sheikh Turi is saying, if another messenger succeeded every messenger sent by Allah, how can you say that the most honoured of all messengers, Muhammad (SAW) died without nominating a successor. This is baffling; how can a Sheikh be oblivious of the fact that Muhammad (SAW) was the final and the seal of all prophets and messengers of Allah (Qur’an 33:40)? Except if by “…successors from among the prophets and saints.” Sheikh Turi meant that prophethood was synonymous with sainthood, that a saint or imam can stand in place of Allah’s Messenger, receiving revelation and guiding people according to Allah’s direct instructions. No! Sunnis believe that the first of Allah’s prophets was Adam (AS), and the last of them was Muhammad (SAW). We consider those who believe in messenger-successors to the seal of the prophets (SAW) as renegades.  That was why the companions of Muhammad (SAW) fought false claimants to prophetic succession after the Messenger of Allah, like Musailamah and people of his ilk, because they were liars and apostates. Therefore, we are back to the same point that we have expounded repeatedly: The Prophet (SAW) Did Not Certify a Successor before His Demise, because he was the last and the seal of Allah’s emissaries to His creatures. Whoever shall lead the Ummah after the Messenger of Allah (SAW) will thus emerge by the consensus of the Muslims, as Khulafah, and not ‘divinely appointed infallible Imams.’

Thereafter, Sheikh Turi introduced the issue of the Twelve Imams, only that, surprisingly, he avoided using imams throughout this subtopic. He kept using the Sunni phraseology of khulafah, successors as opposed to shi’ah’s imamah. He said, “As narrated by Bukhari and Muslim among others and authenticated by Albaani, the last prophet has repeatedly emphasized that successors after him are twelve and all from Quraish, which he sometimes related to Bani-Hashim.”

Brilliant! For the first time, I concur with what Sheikh Turi said in the above paragraph. I only take exception to “…which he sometimes related to Bani-Hashim.” Bukhari, Muslim and others reported the Hadeeth, as rightly mentioned by Sheikh Turi, and authenticated by Albaani - (let me help Sheikh Turi with the reference) in Silsilatul Ahaadeethis Saheehah, Hadeeth no 1075.

The phrase Bani-Hashim was not mentioned by the Prophet (SAW) in any of the following versions of the hadeeth:

1-     Narrated Jabir bin Samura: I heard Muhammad saying, "There will be twelve Muslim rulers." He then said a sentence which I did not hear. My father said, "All of them (those rulers) will be from Quraish." (Sahih Bukhari 89.329)
2-    Narrated Jabir bin Samura: I heard Muhammad saying, "The (Islamic) religion will continue until the Hour (day of resurrection), having twelve Caliphs for you, all of them will be from Quraysh." (Sahih Muslim : Book 020: Number 4477, 4478, 4480, 4481, 4482, 4483)
3-    The Prophet said: "This religion remains standing until there are twelve vicegerents over you, all of them agreeable to the nation, all of them from Quraysh." (Sunan Abu Dawood : Book 36: Number 4266)
4-    The Prophet said: "There will be after me twelve Amir (Prince/Ruler), all of them from Quraysh." (Sunan al-Tirmidhi (Arabic) Chapter of Fitan,
2:45)
5-    Masrooq narates that someone asked Abdullah Ibn Masood, "O Abaa Abd al-Rahmaan, did you ask the Messenger of Allah how many caliphs will rule this nation?” Abdullah Ibn Masood replied, "Yes, we did ask the Messenger of Allah and he replied, "Twelve, like the number of chiefs (nuqabaa) of Bani Israel"" (Musnad - Ahmad, vol 1, pg 398)

From all the various versions of this hadeeth, in the secondary sources of Islamic Law, there is nowhere Bani-Hashim was mentioned by the Messenger of Allah (SAW), in relation to the twelve caliphs. Then where did Sheikh Turi get his ‘Bani-Hashim’…? Inserting Bani-Hashim into the narrative would strengthen Shi’ah propaganda of confining leadership to Ahlul Bait, though the Prophet (SAW) did not say that. This will be clear when you read Sheikh Turi’s next paragraph, “Based on this” he said, “the successors of the prophet must be twelve and invariably from his clan Bani-Hashim as a grand design by Allah the most high.”

Another word conspicuously absent was imams. Sheikh Turi played safe when he chose ‘successors’ in place of imams. At least that was more prudent than trying to interject foreign words into the sayings of the Prophet (SAW). Throughout the above narrations, the Messenger of Allah (SAW) mentioned caliphs, rulers, etc., but not imams. Doubtless, he (SAW) was not referring to Shi’ah imams when he uttered those words. This hadeeth, therefore, cannot be advanced in support of Twelve Shi’ah imams.

On the twelve ‘successors’ (?), Sheikh Turi wrote that, “Generally speaking, the Shia maintains the first as Ali and the last Muhammad al-Mahdi based on a number of authentic narrations. As Allah said they were all purified and therefore infallible ones that people do not have anything to do regarding their position being from Allah.”

Therefore, by the above assertion the three usurpers (Abubakr, Umar and Uthman, may Allah be pleased with them) are out of the list of successors in Gospel According to Shi’ah. Sheikh Turi ended the sentence with “based on a number of authentic narrations” but he did not provide any. There is no authority in Islamic sources to support that claim. Moreover, there is no place in the Glorious Qur’an where Allah purified ‘successors’ or imams in the sense of making them ‘infallible’.

We have learnt from the foregoing discussion that the Messenger of Allah (SAW) did not say that there would be twelve imams from his decedents of Bani-Hashim – if he meant that, he would have said so. He (SAW) rather spoke of twelve caliphs, rulers, etc. from Quraish.

Now, we come to the crux of the matter: who are the twelve caliphs?

Many shi’ah denominations (I say denominations with a purpose) have made lists of imams in order to fit in with the text of the twelve caliphs’ hadeeth. Examining these names closely reveals more discordance than consonance in the list of so-called infallible leaders anointed by Allah Himself to guide the Ummah after His Messenger (SAW).

The main list I shall use below is that of the Imamah Shi’ah. I will break the list at certain points to show where they parted ways with another denomination of Shi’ah. I will not number the imams on whom the Shi’ah disagreed concerning their imamate; my numbering affects only the Imamah Shi’ah’s list from 1 to 12.

1-    Ali ibn Abu Talib (Amir al-Mu'minin)
2-    Hasan ibn Ali (al-Mujtabaa)
3-    Husayn ibn Ali (Sayyid ash-Shuhadaa)

These three are the only Imams that Shi’ah Zaydiyyah accepted as infallible because they are part of Ahlul Kisaa (People of the Mantle) – where the Prophet (SAW) gathered ‘Ali, Fatimah, al-Hasan and al-Husayn under his mantle and prayed to Allah to purify them as members of his Ahlul Bait – (we shall come to that).
Shi’ah Zaydiyyah have the following coming after Husayn ibn Ali:

* Zayd ibn Ali
* Yahya ibn Zayd

This is parting of the ways with Shi’ah Imamiyyah (Twelvers), as we shall see when the numbering is resumed; the two names will be absent in the list. In addition, Shi’ah Zaydiyyah considered the fourth, fifth and sixth Twelver-Imams as lesser imams because they failed to ‘revolt against the oppressors of their time.’ These are:
4
-    Ali ibn Husayn (al-Sajjaad, Zayn al-'Aabidin)
5-    Muhammad ibn Ali (Baaqir al-Ulum)
6-    Ja'far ibn Muhammad (as-Saadiq)

On the issue of Mahdi, Zaydiyyah believed in Muhammad ibn Abdallah An-Nafs Az-Zakiyya as the Awaited Mahdi, and not Sheikh Turi’s Mahdi.

Another denomination that split with Twelvers on imamate was Shi’ah Ismaa’iliyyah. The problem arose over the succession to the sixth imam, as above, Ja’far ibn Muhammad. Ismaa’iliyyah considered his eldest son Ismaa’il as his heir. The Twelvers insisted on Ismaa’il’s brother Musa ibn Ja'far (al-Kaazim) as the next imam. Ismaa’iliyyah preferred the succession of his son Muhammad ibn Ismaa’il.  Thus, they had as their sixth and seventh imams:

* Ismaa’il ibn Ja’far
* Muhammad ibn Ismaa’il

Not only this, the Ismaa’ilis disagreed with the Twelvers on the identity of the last imam. As opposed to Sheikh Turi’s ‘Muhammad al-Mahdi,’ Shi’ah Ismaa’iliyyah believed Muhammad ibn Ismaa’il to be the Mahdi, ‘who had withdrawn into occultation and would return again.

Shi’ah Fatimiyyah was a denomination the members of which claimed to be the descendants of Fatimah, daughter of Prophet Muhammad (SAW). They had the following as imams:

* ʿAbd Allaah ibn Muḥammad ibn Ismaa’il (al-Wafee)
* Aḥmad ibn ʿAbd Allaah ibn Muḥammad (at-Taqi)
* al-Ḥusayn ibn Aḥmad ibn ʿAbd Allaah (ar-Raḍi)
* Ubayd Allah al-Mahdi Billah, son of al-Ḥusayn ibn Aḥmad
* Muhammad al-Qaa’im Bi-Amrillah
* Ismail al-Mansur
* Maʿaad al-Muʿizz li-Deenillaah
* Abu Manṣur Nizaar al-ʿAzeez billaah
* Al-Ḥakeem bi-Amrillaah
* ʿAli az-Zaahir li-Iʿzaaz Deenillaah
* Abu Tameem Ma'add al-Mustanṣir bi-llaah

Let us resume our listing of the Twelver-Imams:

7-    Musa ibn Ja'far (al-Kaazim)
8-    Ali ibn Musa (ar-Rida)
9-    Muhammad ibn Ali (at-Taqi, al-Jawaad)
10- Ali ibn Muhammad (al-Hadi, an-Naqi)
      11- Hasan ibn Ali (al-Askari)

Shi’ah Muhammadiyyah was a denomination that did not believe in the legitimacy of the eleventh imam (Hasan ibn Ali al-Askari), because according to them, a real imam should not lack a son, an issue, who could succeed him. Thus, they accepted the imamate of his brother:

* Muhammad ibn Ali al-Hadi

Even after the death of this imam, Shi’ah Muhammadiyyah said he did not die in reality; he went to concealment state in order to appear later as the Awaited Mahdi.

So far we have seen three mahdis different from that of Sheikh Turi - Muhammad ibn Abdallah An-Nafs Az-Zakiyya of Zaydiyyah, Muhammad ibn Ismaa’il of Shi’ah Ismaa’iliyyah, and Muhammad ibn Ali al-Hadi of Shi’ah Muhammadiyyah. Sheikh Turi’s Mahdi is:

12- Muhammad ibn al-Hasan (al-Mahdi, Hidden Imam, al-Hujjah)

Other candidates for al-Mahdi’s position included, but not limited to, the following:
·     
   Muhammad ibn Abdullah al-Aftah of Shi’ah Aftahiyyah
·        Ja'far al-Sadiq (in the opinion of Shi’ah Tawussiyyah)
·        Musa al-Kadhim (in the opinion of Shi’ah Waqifiyyah),
·        Muhammad ibn Qasim (al-Alawi) of Shi’ah Alawiyyah,

We have ended up with 7 Mahdis and a whopping 27 Shi’ah imams34 in all, and counting – based on a colossal utopian conviction of various Shi’ah denominations that these are chosen by Allah and thus they are infallible. This is aside civil strife, divisions and assassinations by poisoning an imam in order to pave way for another. What was the purpose of evil plots and scheming by Shi’ah adherents, one against another, in the issue of divinely appointed infallible Imams? If it was Allah indeed that had the prerogative of appointing the imams, why did they exceed that limit by choosing some imams over others, and by believing in some and rejecting others?

Again, how did we reach this point? What! Allah Almighty chose more than 34 imams in a position meant for only 12. Was Allah the author of this confusion that occasioned these disputations among the various Shi’ah denominations concerning the identities of the imams? No! This was the outcome of guesswork because the Hadeeth of the twelve caliphs was equivocal. The Messenger of Allah (SAW) did not name the leaders of the Ummah coming after him.

Example of this hadeeth is another authentic tradition where the Messenger of Allah said, “Verily Allah will send at the beginning of every century such (mujaddid), a person for this Ummah who will rejuvenate and restore their religion (Deen).” Every Muslim group around the world would have somebody to present as its Mujaddid due to what that person might have done to rejuvenate this Ummah’s Deen. I can also mention my Sheikh Abubakar Gumi, for instance, given what he had done to reawaken the Muslims to the precepts of Islam, praying that Allah accept him as one of the Mujaddideen. In addition, before Gumi, we can put Sheikh Usman ibn Fodio in that line. Nevertheless, to claim that a particular personage was definitely the mujaddid that the Messenger (SAW) meant when he uttered the words would be a heresy.

The same applies to the case of Ya’juj wa Ma’juj, Gog and Magog. Who were they? Were they the Turks? Were they the Mongols? When are they coming? Are they already with us or they have come and gone? – guessing at random! Yes, they are mentioned in the Qur’an and Hadeeth. Yes, we have to believe in their existence, the fact that they shall come and whatever the texts have said concerning them, but going outside that is engaging in conjecture, which is not allowed (Quran, 45:25)!

The Sunnis did not fall into this pit of conjecture. Their consensus was on the Rightly Guided Caliphs with the First being Abu Bakr as-Siddeeq, and the sixth, Umar ibn Abdul Azeez. Thus, we consider the following as the Khulafaa ar-Raashiduun:

1. Abu Bakr As-Siddeeq
2. Umar ibn al-Khattab
3. Uthman bin Affan
4. Ali ibn abi Talib
5. Hasan ibn Ali
6. Umar ibn Abdul Azeez

These are the ones agreed upon by the scholars; the reins of the remaining six shall also come to pass before the Judgement Day. Even though, interpreting the Hadeeth under discussion and refuting Shi’ah’s claim to it, Sheikh Ibn Hajar al-Asqalaany has mentioned many caliphs of old in his attempt to present a better list of those who led the Ummah; Sunni consensus was on the six above. (Fathul Baari, vol 13, pgs 301 - 306).

Sheikh Turi quoted this verse: ‘“O you who have faith! Obey Allah and obey the apostle, and those charged with authority among you…” Nisa:59then he said, ‘The Shia believe that they are the ones referred to in this verse, just as Imam al Tabary, considered the chief interpreter of the noble Qur’an, said under the verse that looking at the exalted position of ‘those charged with authority’ they must be infallible!’

Firstly, Imam at-Tabari was a respected exegetist without doubt, but we need citation on the epithet that Sheikh Turi gave him of being ‘the chief interpreter of the noble Qur’an’.

Secondly, ‘….looking at the exalted position of ‘those charged with authority’ they must be infallible!’ was not mentioned by at-Tabari under Nisa:59 or in any place in the entire 30 volumes of his Tafseerut-Tabari. This is a blatant untruth! Why must we lie even in the interpretation of the Glorious Qur’an to prove a baseless point?  







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