Showing posts with label Shia Islam. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Shia Islam. Show all posts

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Christoph Luxenberg, Patricia Crone, Michael Cook, Eildert Mulder: 'Shiites have older credentials than Sunnis' meaning Muhammad & `Ali never existed

la-ilaha-illaallah

inscriptie-imam-ali-moskee
Another reply to Dutch Christian newspaper Trouw and its speculative series on critical Islam researchers and their ‘spectacular’ questions on the early days of Islam. Here follows a translation of an article by Eildert Mulder claiming that Shiites, not Sunnis, possess the oldest Islam and then my reaction in online newspaper Nieuwsfeit.nl. This is what I think they really try to say: Muhammad saws and `Ali ra haven't existed, and Jesus, `Issa saws, was Islam's real prophet ;) Okay, the part on Jesus isn't said out loud in Trouw. But it feels very much, like it is what they want to say :) Trouw wrote these articles in 2006; I wrote my reply in 2007; Trouw has been wise enough to delete most of it; and me, I read all of it now with a smile. I hope it brings my reader today a smile, too.
Eildert Mulder said:
The majority decides, this also goes for the design, structure and image of Islam. Shiites are a worldwide ten percent minority of Islam. Sunnis hold with their ninety percent an overwhelming advantage. This may explain the tendency, also among Islam studies in the West, to discard of Shiism as a younger aberration of Sunni, ‘orthodox’ Islam. Critical Islam experts resist this temptation, however. Some think that precisely Shiism has reserved an older form of Islam. Under-appreciation of the Shiites may also be caused by the fact that the main European colonizers mainly found Sunni Muslims in the conquered territories. This went for the Britisch in India, the Dutch in Indonesia, the French in Northern and Western Africa, and the Russians in Central Asia. Sunni confession of faith says: ‘There is no deity than Allah and Muhammad is His Messenger’. The Shiites lengthen it: ‘And ‘Ali is His Wali’. Wali can mean ‘guardian’. The result could then be ‘the guardian appointed by Allah’. This addition to Sunni confession sounds slightly artificial. It appears stuck to it and this strengthens the idea of a later aberration of the Sunna. ‘Ali Wali was, according tradition, Muhammad’s son in law, married to his daughter Fatima. Muhammed supposedly appointed ‘Ali as his successor, not as a prophet, but as leader of the young Muslim community. Muhammad further would have decreed that future Imams (this is the name Shiites give to the leaders of the Muslim community, Sunnis speak of Khaliphas) must descend from ‘Ali and Fatima. Sunnis disagree with this. When Shiites then add ‘Ali being ‘wali’ of God to the confession, it appears overstated. But another explanation is possible, without a person named ‘Ali added. That gives the Shiite ‘addition’ another dimension. The linguistic phenomenon of an adjective changing into a first name in people’s experience may have happened with ”Ali’. German linguist Christoph Luxenberg says this happened to ‘Muhammad’. Muhammad literally means ‘(intensely) praised’. The confession’s original confession cannot have been ‘Muhammad Messenger of God’, says Luxenberg, but: ‘Praised be God’s Messenger’. Luxenberg doesn’t mention ‘Ali, but analogy is obvious. ‘Ali means ‘exalted’. Also ‘Ali may originally have been an adjective, therefor one mustn’t read ”Ali God’s Wali’, but ‘Exalted is God’s Wali’. The Shiite confession no longer answers the question who should be king of the Muslims, but which (high) status he enjoys. Assuming that ‘God’s Guardian’ indeed refers to the imam or caliph, as Shiites believe. This other interpretation cut the unfortunate tie with the apocryphal narrations on Islam’s beginnings, part of which is the history of Muhammad’s promise to ‘Ali. Whether the Shiites add another sentence to the confession, remains to be seen. Perhaps it is the Sunni who deleted the second part. The difference in opinion seems obsolete and theoretical anyway. For centuries no caliphs or imams have been in power and for over a thousand years no descendants of ‘Ali and Fatima have been spotted. The twelfth and last Imam is hiding in the Iranian mountains, according to Shiites, and will appear with Jesus at the end of times. It is no more than bawls from a distant past that have little to do with reality today. Yet this doesn’t quite add up. Remnants of the conflicting views on imams versus caliphs seem to live on in the clergy’s organisation in Islam’s two main schools of thought. In Sunnism, clergymen are, at least in theory, peers. Shiism, however, knows a hierarchy, with supreme ayatollah’s at the top. Since the Islamic revolution in 1978 initiated by ayatollah Khomeiny the ‘Wali al Faqih’, which means something like ‘spiritual guide’ is (Shiite) Iran’s supreme leader. The Wali al Faqih resembles a priest-king (without inherited leadership), who leaves daily leadership to the president, but keeps a sharp eye on the Islamic course and, in the end, holds power. This, perhaps, approaches the position of the first eleven imams. Especially ‘imam’ Khomeiny (he didn’t call himself imam, but allowed others to do so) was subject of intense worship. Yet the Wali al Faqih is not on the same level as the first twelve imams, according to Shiites these men also possessed spirtituals qualities, had received divine inspiration in their exegeses of revelations. In Sunni Islam the caliph is more modest. He is ‘the prophet’s successor’, but only politically. However, had the caliph in the very first days this limited meaning as well, or did he more resemble the Shiite imam? The Qur’an gives no definite answer. ‘Caliph’ appears eight times, twice single and six time plural. Both Adam and king David are ‘caliphs on earth’. This latter statement could imply that caliph indeed is a monarch’s title. It is not certain though. Mystical sufi poet Ibn Arabi, for instance, gives another, non-political explanation. In his eyes, caliphs are people with a soul thus pure is seems a perfectly polished mirror that shows God. Danish Islam expert Patricia Crone, now working in the USA, put the cat among the pigeons with her book God’s Califf. She discovers something in the book: old texts don’t say ‘the Prophet’s caliph (successor)’ but ‘God’s Caliph’. This means two things. The idea that ‘caliph’ means ‘Muhammad’s successor’ is of newer date. In this connection caliph can hardly mean ‘successor’, because you then may talk of ‘God’s successor’. Crone concludes that ‘God’s caliphs’ must have had a religious function too. They were Gods ‘governors’. This resembles the Shiite imam and corresponds fairly well (Crone doesn’t put it that way) with the Shiite confession of faith. It may imply that the Shiites represent ancient Islam on important issues.
Crone’s intentions become more obvious in another book that she wrote with another author, Michael Cook: Hagarism. With aid of documents from Christian contemporaries of the first Muslims they conclude that the word Muslim was not yet in use. Followers of the new religion are called mahgraye, an Aramaic word meaning something like migrants, call them migrants from the desert. It is related to the Arabic word hijrah, according to orthodox exegesis Muhammed’s and his followers’ ‘flight’ from Mecca to Medinah in 622. These migrants meet, when arriving in Palestine, first the Jews, from whom they adopt many things. Later they oppose themselves against the Jews. They find a new role model, the Samaritans, related to the Jews, but fiercely rallying against them. From them the migrants adopt high priesthood, according to Crone and Cook, namely ‘God’s Caliph’. ‘God’s Caliph’ goes astray when halfway the eigth century the center of the Arabian state shifts towards Irak. The new religion meets once again a rich Jewish tradition, with scholars in religious law as its leading characters. Scholars in Islamic law developed themselves in scholasticism after their example. Through time they laid the fundament for the shariah legislation to come according to Qur’an and transmitted traditions of the Prophet. The scholars of law become the professional explainers of God’s Will. Therewith the spiritual function of the caliph diminishes. He degrades into ‘Prophet’s Caliph’, who, like everyone else, lives under shariah law. From now on he is a ‘constiutional monarch’ and not a priest or half-prophet with his own, direct line to God. The attenuation continues. The caliphs later loose their worldly power to soldier-kings (sultans), usually Turks and sometimes Kurds. The symbolism, however, remains forceful, sultans fight for the honour to ‘protect’ the powerless caliph. But the revolution of scholasticism against ‘Allah’s exalted Guardian’ is irrevocable. And the ancient essential conflict over the leadership of the ummah has been congealed in a tale of Muhammad’s promise to ‘Ali. Eildert Mulder (With special thanks to Thomas Milo.)
The first part of this article is the most bizarre part. Trouw has claimed before that the name Muhammad didn’t exist yet in the known Prophet’s era and would be an adjective or honorary title, with the meaning of the praised one. According Trouw the name Muhammad might as well refer to Jesus. Now they say that the name ‘Ali didn’t exist yet in those days and would also be nothing more than an adjective meaning protector, guardian. They relate this to the speculation that the Shiite confession of faith could be older than the Sunni and not just that: The Shiite may very well be the right one. After all the word khalifa, leader, is not connected to a specific name in Qur’an al Kerim and is also used for Prophet Dawud for instance, king David. They forget, however, that Qur’an also gives the word ‘messenger’ and this happens to be reserved for the prophets, among whom Muhammad. For good reason Qur’an dedicates an entire chapter to Prophet Muhammad pbuh. Trouw just about doesn’t proclaim ‘Ali ra to be Islam’s real prophet, which is something Shiites happen to proclaim neither, for those among us who happen to not know. We may even conclude from the article that there wasn’t at all a prophet of Islam. Shortly, what is it that Trouw really wants to say?:)
This cat among the pigeons is a bit weird too, in my opinion. As if Muslims didn’t know yet that the word khalifa, caliph, figures in their Book and if they didn’t know that indeed it means ‘leader’. Shiites indeed believe that Allah wouldn’t leave man without guidance after the Prophet’s death. Leadership in the sense of approved and inspired leaders by Allah swt Himself. By the way: ahadith recorded by Sahih Buchari, which are important to Sunnis too, confirm this issue:
Narrated Abu Sa’id Al-Khudri:
The Prophet said, “Allah never sends a prophet or gives the Caliphate to a Caliph but that he (the prophet or the Caliph) has two groups of advisors: A group advising him to do good and exhorts him to do it, and the other group advising him to do evil and exhorts him to do it. But the protected person (against such evil advisors) is the one protected by Allah.’ ”
Volume 9, Book 89, Number 329:
Narrated Jabir bin Samura:
I heard the Prophet saying, “There will be twelve Muslim rulers (who will rule all the Islamic world).” He then said a sentence which I did not hear. My father said, “All of them (those rulers) will be from Quraish.”
The fact that Qur’an gives no definite answer, is not surprising either. Later leaders after the Prophets have a lower status than the Prophets. Their names aren’t mentioned. This is why the majority of Muslims, nowadays, criticize the efforts to re-instate the four schools, maddhahib, of Sunni law in their former high status. Their wisdom may very well be followed. However, since they aren't seen as infallible, following a maddhab and pledging it an oath of allegiance, can never be imposed on us. Only those leaders explicitly mentioned in Qur'an and ahadith as infallible, can be seen as integral part of Islamic teachings. Secondly, the majority of Muslims criticize the Shiite practice to proclaim the traditions transmitted from ‘Ali ra and the ten Imams into compulsory religious ahadith. The sayings and practices of these people have, to my best knowledge, been recorded and are teached by the Shiites. Large part of Sunni criticism focuses on this special status of the Imams.
Sunni main criticism, however, deals with the misunderstandings concerning ‘Ali’s caliphate. Shiites are not justified, when they suppose that  ‘Ali ra doesn't receive enough honorable credit in Sunni Islam. ‘Ali was made caliph and belongs to the four righteous caliphs. So he does receive great honor. Secondly, just before his passing away, the Prophet appointed not ‘Ali but Abu Bakr to lead to people in prayer:
Narrated Anas:
The Prophet did not come out for three days. The people stood for the prayer and Abu Bakr went ahead to lead the prayer. (In the meantime) the Prophet caught hold of the curtain and lifted it. When the face of the Prophet appeared we had never seen a scene more pleasing than the face of the Prophet as it appeared then. The Prophet beckoned to Abu Bakr to lead the people in the prayer and then let the curtain fall. We did not see him (again) till he died.
Apparently, someone other than ‘Ali was allowed to lead the faithful. Neither had the Prophet saws appointed a successor or caliph, also according ‘Ali’s own words:
Narrated ‘Abdullah bin Abbas:
Ali bin Abu Talib came out of the house of Allah’s Apostle during his fatal illness. The people asked, “O Abu Hasan (i.e. Ali)! How is the health of Allah’s Apostle this morning?” ‘Ali replied, “He has recovered with the Grace of Allah.” ‘Abbas bin ‘Abdul Muttalib held him by the hand and said to him, “In three days you, by Allah, will be ruled (by somebody else ), And by Allah, I feel that Allah’s Apostle will die from this ailment of his, for I know how the faces of the offspring of ‘Abdul Muttalib look at the time of their death. So let us go to Allah’s Apostle and ask him who will take over the Caliphate. If it is given to us we will know as to it, and if it is given to somebody else, we will inform him so that he may tell the new ruler to take care of us.” ‘Ali said, “By Allah, if we asked Allah’s Apostle for it (i.e. the Caliphate) and he denied it us, the people will never give it to us after that. And by Allah, I will not ask Allah’s Apostle for it.”
Shiites themselves, however, see this differently. They say, that the Prophet saws did introduce his son in law ‘Ali as the people’s future leader during his farewell sermon after his last pilgrimage to Mecca. Who likes to know more of it, should visit search engines and follow the name Ghadir Khumm… that should give you quite some hours of reading material.
Patricia Crone and others seem to ignore, that Sunni development took another path after ‘Ali’s death than Shiite. The Umayyad and Abbasid caliphs named themselves 'caliph', but Sunnis themselves don’t recognize them as righteous caliphs. ‘Ali was their last one, and he died less than thirty years after his father in law. ‘Ali was to Shiites, however, the first of eleven righteous, infallible caliphs, who swiftly succeeded each other. Already early in their history, the eleventh caliphate was over. The twelfth caliph, whom they await now, disappeared as a child in 941 AD and will return some day in the future. However, their caliphate era had, indeed, ended then. This is how caliphate ended.
Whoever likes to read more of Trouw’s unrealistic, unproven, and therefore unfounded views on the birth of Islam, and masters Dutch, should look under the head De Verdieping.(Indepth)
Trouw sees itself as quite the scholar now, but with what evidence--especially when we check Shiite statements, where `Ali and his sons were not seen as prophets:
Imam Hussayn
The Imam was one of Prophet Muhammad’s (saws) much beloved grandsons. As soon as he heard of his grandson’s birth, he ran to Fatima’s (ra) house and shouted immediately: ‘bring me my son!’ Asma came with Imam Hussein to the Prophet, he kissed him, covered him with a white cloth and read adhan into his right ear and iqama into the left. The Prophet was full of joy, but also full of sadness. He knew what was to happen to this Holy Imam in Karbala and could not hold his tears. Imam Hussein holds an important position in Islam that only few, the Imams, could achieve. Imam Hussein was brought into mubahala by the Prophet. Mubahala is the state where a person has a strong conviction and believe it to be true, but cannot persuade others. They then pray to Allah to curse the one who lies, or holds the wrong view. On this occasion the country’s best people are chosen to perform this Mubahala. Those who like to read more in Dutch, can find more with Ahlubait Jongeren, or in English, with Al-Islam.org.
It is fascinating and entertaining to philosophize on how Islam might alternatively had developed, however, we are still bound to existing historic records. It concerns onetime events and they can only be proved by witness. The arrival of Islam under Prophet Muhammad saws has extensively been recorded by many speaking and writing witnesses. And many of the Prophet’s, and his near companions’, personal belongings have been carefully conserved. It is hard fighting such large legacy. Christian and Jewish efforts to do so, cannot be seen as highly professional or scientific. It is allowed of course, however, they are stuck in the level of childish and hobbyist efforts leading to nothing tangible.
Sources:
University of Southern California USC-MSA Center for Muslim-Jewish Engagement (Compendium of Muslim Texts) http://www.usc.edu/org/cmje
Al-Islam.org http://www.al-islam.org
Ahlalbait Jongeren Organisatie http://www.ahlalbait.nl

Thursday, April 16, 2015

'Shiites have older credentials than Sunnis'

la-ilaha-illaallah

inscriptie-imam-ali-moskee
Dutch Christian newspaper Trouw had a speculative series on critical Islam researchers and their ‘spectacular’ questions on the early days of Islam, several years ago. Here follows a translation of an article by Eildert Mulder claiming that Shiites, not Sunnis, possess the oldest Islam and then my reaction. I wrote it in online newspaper Nieuwsfeit.nl, several years ago. (The article isn't there anymore.)
Eildert Mulder says:
The majority decides, this also goes for the design, structure and image of Islam. Shiites are a worldwide ten percent minority of Islam. Sunnis hold with their ninety percent an overwhelming advantage. This may explain the tendency, also among Islam studies in the West, to discard of Shiism as a younger aberration of Sunni, ‘orthodox’ Islam. Critical Islam experts resist this temptation, however. Some think, that precisely Shiism has reserved an older form of Islam. Under-appreciation of the Shiites may also be caused by the fact, that the main European colonizers mainly found Sunni Muslims in the conquered territories. This went for the British in India, the Dutch in Indonesia, the French in Northern and West Africa and the Russians in Central Asia. Sunni confession of faith says: ‘There is no deity than Allah and Muhammad is His Messenger’. The Shiites lengthen it: ‘And ‘Ali is His Wali’. Wali can mean ‘guardian’. The result could then be ‘the guardian appointed by Allah’. This addition to Sunni confession sounds slightly artificial. It appears stuck to it and this strengthens the idea of a later aberration of the Sunna. ‘Ali Wali was according tradition Muhammad’s son in law, married to his daughter Fatima. Muhammed supposedly appointed ‘Ali as his successor, not as a prophet, but as leader of the young Muslim community. Muhammad further would have decreed that future Imams (this is the name Shiites give to the leaders of the Muslim community, Sunnis speak of Khaliphas) must descend from ‘Ali and Fatima. Sunnis disagree with this. When Shiites then add ‘Ali being ‘wali’ of God to the confession, it appears overstated. But another explanation is possible, without a person named ‘Ali appearing. That gives the Shiite ‘addition’ another dimension. The linguistic phenomenon of an adjective changing into a first name in people’s experience may have happend with ”Ali’. German linguist Christoph Luxenberg says this happened to ‘Muhammad’. Muhammad literally means ‘(intensely) praised’. The confession’s original confession cannot have been ‘Muhammad Messenger of God’, says Luxenberg, but: ‘Praised be God’s Messenger’. Luxenberg doesn’t mention ‘Ali, but analogy is obvious. ‘Ali means ‘exalted’. Also ‘Ali may originally have been an adjective, therefor one mustn’t read ”Ali God’s Wali’, but ‘Exalted is God’s Wali’. The Shiite confession no longer answers the question who should be king of the Muslims, but which (high) status he enjoys. Assuming that ‘God’s Guardian’ indeed refers to the imam or caliph, as Shiites believe. This other interpretation cut the unfortunate tie with the apocryphal narrations on Islam’s beginnings, part of which is the history of Muhammad’s promise to ‘Ali. Whether the Shiites add another sentence to the confession, remains to be seen. Perhaps it is the Sunni who deleted the second part. The difference in opinion seems obsolete and theoretical anyway. For centuries no caliphs or imams have been in power and for over a thousand years no descendants of ‘Ali and Fatima have been spotted. The twelfth and last Imam is hiding in the Iranian mountains, according to Shiites, and will appear with Jesus at the end of times. It is no more than bawls from a distant past that have little to do with reality today. Yet this doesn’t quite add up. Remnants of the conflicting views on imams versus caliphs seem to live on in the clergy’s organisation in Islam’s two main schools of thought. In Sunnism, clergymen are, at least in theory, peers. Shiism, however, knows a hierarchy, with supreme ayatollah’s at the top. Since the Islamic revolution in 1978, initiated by ayatollah Khomeiny, the ‘Wali al Faqih’, which means something like ‘spiritual guide’ is (Shiite) Iran’s supreme leader. The Wali al Faqih resembles a priest-king (without inherited leadership), who leaves daily leadership to the president, but keeps a sharp eye on the Islamic course and, in the end, holds power. This, perhaps, approaches the position of the first eleven imams. Especially ‘imam’ Khomeiny (he didn’t call himself imam, but allowed others to do so) was subject of intense worship. Yet, the Wali al Faqih is not on the same level as the first twelve imams; according to Shiites, these men also possessed spirtituals qualities, and had received divine inspiration in their exegeses of revelations. In Sunni Islam, the caliph is more modest. He is ‘the prophet’s successor’, but only politically. However--had the caliph in the very first days this limited meaning as well, or did he more resemble the Shiite imam? The Qur’an gives no definite answer. ‘Caliph’ appears eight times, twice single and six times plural. Both Adam and king David are ‘caliphs on earth’. This latter statement could imply, that caliph indeed is a monarch’s title. It is not certain, though. Mystical sufi poet Ibn Arabi, for instance, gives another, non-political explanation. In his eyes, caliphs are people with a soul thus pure, that it seems a perfectly polished mirror that shows God. Danish Islam expert Patricia Crone, now working in the USA, put the cat among the pigeons with her book God’s Califf. She discovers something in the book: old texts don’t say ‘the Prophet’s caliph (successor)’ but ‘God’s Caliph’. This means two things. The idea, that ‘caliph’ means ‘Muhammad’s successor’, is of newer date. In this connection caliph can hardly mean ‘successor’, because you then may talk of ‘God’s successor’. Crone concludes that ‘God’s caliphs’ must have had a religious function too. They were Gods ‘governors’. This resembles the Shiite imam and corresponds fairly well (Crone doesn’t put it that way) with the Shiite confession of faith. It may imply, that the Shiites represent ancient Islam on important issues.
Crone’s intentions become more obvious in another book, that she wrote with another author, Michael Cook: Hagarism. With aid of documents from Christian contemporaries of the first Muslims they conclude, that the word Muslim was not yet in use. Followers of the new religion are called mahgraye, an Aramaic word meaning something like migrants, migrants from the desert. It is related to the Arabic word hijrah--according to orthodox exegesis Muhammed’s and his followers’ ‘flight’ from Mecca to Medinah in 622. Later, these migrants meet, when arriving in Palestine, first the Jews, from whom they adopt many things. Later they oppose themselves against the Jews. They find a new role model, the Samaritans, related to the Jews, but fiercely rallying against them. From them, the migrants adopt the concept of high priesthood, according to Crone and Cook, namely ‘God’s Caliph’. ‘God’s Caliph’ goes astray when, halfway the eigth century, the center of the Arabian state shifts towards Irak. The new religion meets, once again, a rich Jewish tradition, with scholars in religious law as its leading characters. Scholars in Islamic law developed themselves in scholasticism after their example. Through time, they laid the fundament for the shariah legislation to come, according to Qur’an and transmitted traditions of the Prophet. The scholars of law became the professional explainers of God’s Will. Therewith, the spiritual function of the caliph diminishes. He degrades into ‘Prophet’s Caliph’, who, like everyone else, lives under shariah law. From now on he is a ‘constitutional monarch’, and not a priest or half-prophet with his own, direct line to God. The attenuation continues. The caliphs, later, loose their worldly power to soldier-kings (sultans), usually Turks, and sometimes Kurds. The symbolism, however, remains forceful; sultans fight for the honour to ‘protect’ the powerless caliph. But the revolution of scholasticism against ‘Allah’s exalted Guardian’ is irrevocable. And the ancient, essential conflict over the leadership of the ummah has been congealed in a tale of Muhammad’s promise to ‘Ali. Eildert Mulder (With special thanks to Thomas Milo.)
The first part of this article is the most bizarre part. Trouw has claimed before, that the name Muhammad didn’t exist yet in the known Prophet’s era and would be an adjective or honorary title, with the meaning of the praised one. According Trouw the name Muhammad might as well refer to Jesus. Now they say, that the name ‘Ali didn’t exist yet in those days and would also be nothing more than an adjective meaning protector, guardian. They relate this to the speculation that the Shiite confession of faith could be older than the Sunni and not just that: the Shiite may very well be the right one. After all, the word khalifa, leader, is not connected to a specific name in Qur’an al Kerim and is also used for Prophet Dawud for instance, king David. They forget, however, that Qur’an also gives the word ‘messenger’ and this happens to be reserved for the prophets, among whom Muhammad. For good reasons, the Qur’an dedicates an entire chapter to Prophet Muhammad pbuh. Trouw just about doesn’t proclaim ‘Ali ra to be Islam’s real prophet, which is something Shiites happen to proclaim neither, for those among us who happen to not know. We may even conclude from the article, that there wasn’t at all a prophet of Islam. Shortly, what is it that Trouw really wants to say? :)
This cat among the pigeons is a bit weird too, in my opinion. As if Muslims didn’t know yet, that the word khalifa, caliph, figures in their Book, and if they didn’t know, that indeed it means ‘leader’. Shiites indeed believe that Allah wouldn’t leave man without guidance after the Prophet’s death. Leadership in the sense of approved and inspired leaders by Allah swt Himself. By the way: ahadith recorded by Sahih Buchari, which are important to Sunnis too, confirm this issue:
Narrated Abu Sa’id Al-Khudri:
The Prophet said, “Allah never sends a prophet or gives the Caliphate to a Caliph but that he (the prophet or the Caliph) has two groups of advisors: A group advising him to do good and exhorts him to do it, and the other group advising him to do evil and exhorts him to do it. But the protected person (against such evil advisors) is the one protected by Allah.’ ”
Volume 9, Book 89, Number 329:
Narrated Jabir bin Samura:
I heard the Prophet saying, “There will be twelve Muslim rulers (who will rule all the Islamic world).” He then said a sentence which I did not hear. My father said, “All of them (those rulers) will be from Quraish.”
The fact that Qur’an gives no definite answer, is not surprising either. Later leaders after the Prophets have a lower status than the Prophets. Their names aren’t mentioned. This is why the majority of Muslims criticize the efforts to re-instate the four schools, maddhahib, of Sunni law in their former high status; their wisdom may very well be followed, however, it cannot be imposed upon us to follow a maddhab and pledge it an oath of allegiance. Secondly, the majority of Muslims criticize the Shiite practice to proclaim the traditions transmitted from ‘Ali ra and the ten Imams into compulsory religious ahadith. The sayings and practices of these people have, to my best knowledge, been recorded and are teached by the Shiites. Large part of Sunni criticism focuses on this overstated status of the Imams.
Main Sunni criticism, however, deals with the misunderstandings concerning ‘Ali’s caliphate. Shiites are not justified to suppose ‘Ali ra receiving not enough honorable credit in Sunni Islam. ‘Ali was made caliph and belongs to the four righteous caliphs. He does receive honor. Secondly, just before his passing away the Prophet appointed not ‘Ali but Abu Bakr to lead to people in prayer:
Narrated Anas:
The Prophet did not come out for three days. The people stood for the prayer and Abu Bakr went ahead to lead the prayer. (In the meantime) the Prophet caught hold of the curtain and lifted it. When the face of the Prophet appeared we had never seen a scene more pleasing than the face of the Prophet as it appeared then. The Prophet beckoned to Abu Bakr to lead the people in the prayer and then let the curtain fall. We did not see him (again) till he died.
Apparently, someone other than ‘Ali was allowed to lead the faithful. Neither had the Prophet saws appointed a successor or caliph, also according ‘Ali’s own words:
Narrated ‘Abdullah bin Abbas:
Ali bin Abu Talib came out of the house of Allah’s Apostle during his fatal illness. The people asked, “O Abu Hasan (i.e. Ali)! How is the health of Allah’s Apostle this morning?” ‘Ali replied, “He has recovered with the Grace of Allah.” ‘Abbas bin ‘Abdul Muttalib held him by the hand and said to him, “In three days you, by Allah, will be ruled (by somebody else ), And by Allah, I feel that Allah’s Apostle will die from this ailment of his, for I know how the faces of the offspring of ‘Abdul Muttalib look at the time of their death. So let us go to Allah’s Apostle and ask him who will take over the Caliphate. If it is given to us we will know as to it, and if it is given to somebody else, we will inform him so that he may tell the new ruler to take care of us.” ‘Ali said, “By Allah, if we asked Allah’s Apostle for it (i.e. the Caliphate) and he denied it us, the people will never give it to us after that. And by Allah, I will not ask Allah’s Apostle for it.”
Shiites themselves, however, see this differently. They state that the Prophet saws did introduce his son in law ‘Ali as the people’s future leader, during his farewell sermon, after his last pilgrimage to Mecca. Who likes to know more of it, should visit search engines and follow the name Ghadir Khumm… that should give you quite a few hours of reading material.
Patricia Crone seems to ignore that Sunni development took another path after ‘Ali’s death than Shiite development. The Umayyad and Abbasid caliphs named themselves caliph, but Sunnis themselves don’t recognize them as righteous caliphs. ‘Ali was their last one, and he died less than thirty years after his father in law. ‘Ali was to Shiites, however, the first of eleven caliphs, who swiftly succeeded each other. Already early in their history, the eleventh caliphate was finished. The twelfth caliph, whom they await now, disappeared as a child in 941 AD and will return one day. However, their caliphate era had indeed ended then. This is how caliphate ended.
Whoever likes to read more of Trouw’s unrealistic and unfounded views on the birth of Islam and masters Dutch, should look under the head De Verdieping.(Indepth)
Trouw sees itself as quite the scholar now, but with which evidence, especially when we check Shiite statements, where Ali and his sons were not seen as prophets:
Imam Hussain
The Imam was one of Prophet Muhammad’s (saws) much beloved grandsons. As soon as he heard of his grandson’s birth, he ran to Fatima’s (ra) house and shouted immediately: ‘bring me my son!’ Asma came with Imam Hussein to the Prophet, he kissed him, covered him with a white cloth and read adhan into his right ear and iqama into the left. The Prophet was full of joy, but also full of sadness. He knew what was to happen to this Holy Imam in Karbala and could not hold his tears. Imam Hussein holds an important position in Islam that only few, the Imams, could achieve. Imam Hussein was brought into mubahala by the Prophet. Mubahala is the state where a person has a strong conviction and believe it to be true, but cannot persuade others. They then pray to Allah to curse the one who lies, or holds the wrong view. On this occasion the country’s best people are chosen to perform this Mubahala. Ahlulbait Jongeren.
It is fascinating, nice, to philosophize on how Islam might alternatively had developed, however, we are still bound to existing historic records. It concerns onetime events, and they can only be proved by witness. The arrival of Islam under Prophet Muhammad saws has extensively been recorded by many oral and writing witnesses, plus, many of the Prophet’s and his near companions’ personal belongings have been carefully conserved. It is hard fighting such large legacy, and Christian and Jewish efforts to do so cannot be seen as highly professional or scientific. It is allowed of course, however, they are stuck in the level of childish and hobbyist efforts leading to nothing tangible.
Sources:
University of Southern California USC-MSA Center for Muslim-Jewish Engagement (Compendium of Muslim Texts) http://www.usc.edu/org/cmje                                                              
http://www.trouw.nl/

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Shi'a Ahadith

‘Ali ra was, in Sunni tradition, to be the fourth and last of the righteous Caliphs. Shi’ite Islam, however, acknowledges twelve Imams and they are considered perhaps not yet infallible, but their words and traditions are considered part of compulsory religious law:
1. ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib (600–661), also known as ‘Ali, Amir al-Mu’minin
2. Hasan ibn ‘Ali (625–669), also known as Hasan al-Mujtaba
3. Husayn ibn ‘Ali (626–680), also known as Husayn al-Shahid, also known as Sah Hüseyin
4. ‘Ali ibn Husayn (658–713), also known as ‘Ali Zayn al-Abidin
5. Muhammad ibn ‘Ali (676–743), also known as Muhammad al-Baqir
6. Jafar ibn Muhammad (703–765), also known as Jafar al-Sadiq
7. Musa ibn Jafar (745–799), also known as Musa al-Kazim
8. ‘Ali ibn Musa (765–818), also known as ‘Ali al-Raza
9. Muhammad ibn ‘Ali (810–835), also known as Muhammad al-Jawad (Muhammad at-Taqi), also known as Taki
10. ‘Ali ibn Muhamad (827–868), also known as ‘Ali al-Hadi, also known as Naki
11. Hasan ibn Ali (846–874), also known as Hasan al-Askari
12. Muhammad ibn Hasan (868- ), also known as al-Hujjat ibn al-Hasan, also known as Mahdi; believed to be hidden by Allah (Occultation).
Fatimah ra also Fatimah al-Zahraa daughter of Muhammed (615–632), is seen as infallible in Shiism, and as the leader of all women in Paradise.
‘Ali ra has been respectfully recorded by Sunni sources, but  Shi’ites preserved a lot more words and actions, as another source of ahadith on ‘Ali. Not all of those are accepted by Sunni community. The best known Shi’ite hadith collections are the four books and Nahj al Balagha.
The four books are:
1 Kitab al Kafi by Mohammad Ya’cub Kulayni (death 950 AD), again divided into Usul al Kafi, Furu al Kafi and Rawdat al Kafi.
2 Man la yahduruhu al Faqih by Sheikh Saduq
3 Tahdhib al Ahkam by Abu Ja’far al Tusi
4 Al Istibsar by Abu Ja’far al Tusi
Furu al Kafi is considered the most authoritative Shia hadith collection and concerns details of religious law. Usul al Kafi, by many scholars considered as weak or fabricated, concerns the principles of religion and Rawdat al Kafi concerns various religious aspects including some writings of the Imams. Sheikh Al Kulayni was born in the village of Kulayn near Tehran, but later moved to and worked in Baghdad as chief of the Shia scholars in jurisprudence during the ‘Abbasid Caliph Al Muqtadir. Sheikh Al Kulayni was a contemporary of the four successive special representatives and ambassadors of the legendary hidden twelfth Imam Muhammad ibn Hasan. His year of death is debated to be 940 or 941 AD. Sunni scholar Ibn Hajar has written appreciative words on this prominent Shi’ite scholar and he is considered one of the main and most trusted experts on ahadith in the Shi’ite community.
Man la yahduruhu al Faqih is a hadith collection compiled by the famous Iranian Shia hadith scholar Abu Ja’far Muhammad ibn ‘Ali ibn Babawaih al Qummi, better known as Ibn Babawaih or Al Sheikh al Saduq. Abu Ja’far, Al Sheikh al Saduq, lived in what was considered the golden age of Shia Islam, 703-765 AD, and worked mainly in his own country Iran, where he was considered one of the main and most trusted scholars, by Sunni as well as Shia Muslims, in the city of Qom, Iran’s main centre for Islamic studies. Abu Ja’far is believed to be the sixth infallible Imam of Shi’ite Islam. His succession led to a schism in Shia Islam: Abu Ja’far is the last Imam to be both recognized by Twelver and Ismaili Shi’tes. Abu Ja’far was more than a theologian; he was a polymath with vast knowledge on astronomy, physics, medical and other natural sciences. Abu Ja’far has been recorded as a teacher of Sunnite Hanafy Maddhab’s founder Abu Hanifa.
Tahdhib al Ahkam (‘The Refinement of the Laws in Terms of the Explanation of the Sufficiency’) is written by the founder of the religious seminary in Najaf, Abu Ja’far al Tusi (d. 1067 AD), the city where caliph ‘Ali was killed, city that had become a pilgrim centre for Shi’ite Islam and grew to be the leading centre, even today, of Shi’ite scholarship since Abu Ja’far al Tusi’s arrival. Abu Ja’far al Tusi had to leave Baghdad for Najaf after religious turmoil and violence, which was also focused against his person and possessions. Many Sunni and Shia ‘ulema’ were killed or had to leave Baghdad in a climate increasingly hostile towards Shi’ites. Al Tusi’s work concerns practical regulations for carrying out the shariah considering the great differences that had arisen in Shia traditions. It deals with topics as ritual cleansing for salat; hunting and ritual slaughter; marriage and divorce; manumission of slaves. Sheikh Al Tusi died in Najaf and his grave is, also today, a much frequented place of visit.
The fourth main book of Shia ahadith is Al-Istibsar, also written by Sheikh Al Tusi, and is a more popular summary of the main issues of jurisprudence for beginners, and a reminder.
Nahj al Balagha
The perhaps most famous collection of Shia traditions is Nahj al Balagha (Peak of Eloquence): The words, sermons and letters by the first Shi’ite Imam, ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib, the Prophet’s son in law and nephew. The collection was recorded by Al Sharif al Radi in the 10th century. Sheikh Al Radi is a said to be a direct descendant of the main Shi’ite Imams, and thus of the Prophet. The Shia don’t include this work in their Hadith books. Most Sunni scholars do not regard the book as an authentic work; prominent scholars as Ibn Taymiyyah and Yusuf an Nabhani warned Sunnis against this work, because of its hostile tone towards the companions of the Prophet saws.
For a better understanding of Islamic early history, and therefore its legitimacy, it is impossible to ignore the schools of thought that rose in an early stage. Moreover, at the highest academic level, scholars of the different schools of thought did communicate and even followed each other’s classes. A third group I'd like to mention now, is the Ibadi movement, one of the earliest schools, descending from the group of Kharijites or Khawarij, which is seen as notorious among the Islamic mainstream.
Sources:
al-islam.org
al-shia.com
wikipedia.org

najaf-imam-ali-moskee

The Hadith of Ghadir Khumm

In the year 632, Mekka had been conquered by the Muslims. The Prophet saws then made his last religious pilgrimage to Mekka, a few months only before his death. This pilgrimage came to be known as the Farewell Pilgrimage. During the pilgrimage atop Mount Arafat, the Prophet addressed the Muslim masses, some 100,000 people, in what came to be known as the Farewell Sermon, an important sermon in Islamic tradition. After completion of the Hajj, the Prophet returned to his home in Medina. At 10 March, 632, he made a stop near the pond of Khumm, Ghadir Khumm, a desert oasis just outside the city of Al-Juhfah, halfway Mecca and Medina. This incident led to the main controversy and schism within Islam: The Sunni and Shia schools of thought. When the group had reached the oasis, according to Shia sources, Qor’anic verse 5:67 was revealed:
“O Messenger (Prophet), deliver to the people what has been revealed to you from your Lord and if you do not do so, then you will not have delivered His message and Allah will protect you from the people. For God does not guide those who reject Faith.”
According to mainly Shia sources, the Prophet addressed his fellow travelers and praised his son in law and nephew Ali ibn Abi Talib (raa); these words have not been generally accepted by Sunni and Shia Muslims:
‘It seems the time approached when I shall be called away (by Allah) and I shall answer that call. I am leaving for you two precious things and if you adhere to them both,  you will never go astray after me. They are the Book of Allah and my Progeny, that is my Ahlul Bayt. The two shall never separate from each other until they come to me by the Pool (of Paradise). Then the Messenger of Allah continued:
“Do I not have more right over the believers than what they have over themselves?”
People cried and answered:
“Yes, O’ Messenger of God.”
Then followed the key sentence denoting the clear designation of ‘Ali as the leader of the Muslim ummah.  The Prophet [s] held up the hand of ‘Ali and said:
Whomsoever’s mawla I am, this Ali is also his mawla. O Allah, befriend whosoever befriends him and be the enemy of whosoever is hostile to him.’
Immediately after the Prophet [s] finished his speech, the following verse of the Qur’an was revealed:
“Today I have perfected your religion and completed my favour upon you, and I was satisfied that Islam be your religion.” (Qur’an 5:3)
Firstly, the hadith of Ali being mawla after the Prophet saws, cannot be found in the most authoritative Sunni hadith collections: those of imams Al Bukari. One can be found in Sahih Muslim ahadith, but it may be a bit far fetched, still, to proclaim that the Prophet indeed appointed his son in law to be his successor. It rather appears, that the ummah was given a protective role towards the Prophet’s family, than an obedient one. Further, some other Sunni sources regard it possible, that the Prophet spoke these words about ‘Ali ra, but that they have been wrongly interpreted by Shiite Muslims. These are the ahadith in question in Muslim’s collection:
Yazid b. Hayyan reported, I went along with Husain b. Sabra and ‘Umar b. Muslim to Zaid b. Arqam and, as we sat by his side, Husain said to him: Zaid. you have been able to acquire a great virtue that you saw Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) listened to his talk, fought by his side in (different) battles, offered prayer behind me. Zaid, you have in fact earned a great virtue. Zaid, narrate to us what you heard from Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him). He said: I have grown old and have almost spent my age and I have forgotten some of the things which I remembered in connection with Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him), so accept whatever I narrate to you, and which I do not narrate do not compel me to do that. He then said: One day Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) stood up to deliver sermon at a watering place known as Khumm situated between Mecca and Medina. He praised Allah, extolled Him and delivered the sermon and. exhorted (us) and said: Now to our purpose. O people, I am a human being. I am about to receive a messenger (the angel of death) from my Lord and I, in response to Allah’s call, (would bid good-bye to you), but I am leaving among you two weighty things: the one being the Book of Allah in which there is right guidance and light, so hold fast to the Book of Allah and adhere to it. He exhorted (us) (to hold fast) to the Book of Allah and then said: The second are the members of my household I remind you (of your duties) to the members of my family. He (Husain) said to Zaid: Who are the members of his household? Aren’t his wives the members of his family? Thereupon he said: His wives are the members of his family (but here) the members of his family are those for whom acceptance of Zakat is forbidden. And he said: Who are they? Thereupon he said: ‘Ali and the offspring of ‘Ali, ‘Aqil and the offspring of ‘Aqil and the offspring of Ja’far and the offspring of ‘Abbas. Husain said: These are those for whom the acceptance of Zakat is forbidden. Zaid said: Yes.
Book 031, Number 5923:
Yazid b. Hayyan reported: We went to him (Zaid b. Arqam) and said to him. You have found goodness (for you had the honour) to live in the company of Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) and offered prayer behind him, and the rest of the hadith is the same but with this variation of wording that lie said: Behold, for I am leaving amongst you two weighty things, one of which is the Book of Allah, the Exalted and Glorious, and that is the rope of Allah. He who holds it fast would be on right guidance and he who abandons it would be in error, and in this (hadith) these words are also found: We said: Who are amongst the members of the household? Aren’t the wives (of the Holy Prophet) included amongst the members of his house hold? Thereupon he said: No, by Allah, a woman lives with a man (as his wife) for a certain period; he then divorces her and she goes back to her parents and to her people; the members of his household include his ownself and his kith and kin (who are related to him by blood) and for him the acceptance of Zakat is prohibited.
Sahih Bukhari gives a different account of the events at Ghadir Khumm:
Narrated Buraida:
The Prophet sent ‘Ali to Khalid to bring the Khumus (of the booty) and I hated Ali, and ‘Ali had taken a bath (after a sexual act with a slave-girl from the Khumus). I said to Khalid, “Don’t you see this (i.e. Ali)?” When we reached the Prophet I mentioned that to him. He said, “O Buraida! Do you hate Ali?” I said, “Yes.” He said, “Do you hate him, for he deserves more than that from the Khumus.”
A conflict had arisen between ‘Ali and his soldiers during an expedition to Yemen concerning the distribution of war booty (among which cloths, gold and female slaves) and the Prophet settled the dispute, apparently at Lake Khumm, after completing the Farewell Pilgrimage.
Secondly, Verse 5:3 was revealed on Mount Arafat at the end of the Farewell Sermon, according Sunni tradition, which is also stated in Al Bhukhari’s ahadith in Volume 5 Book 59 Number 689. http://cmje.usc.edu/religious-texts/hadith/bukhari/059-sbt.php These, apparently, misunderstood words, led to the most important and perhaps only schism in Islam: the controversy that led to the rise of the Sunni and Shi’a schools of fiqh. The controversy mainly concerns the explanation of the word mawla. This word has several meanings: master, lord, owner, benefactor, helper, beloved one, ally, cousin, friend, brother in law, but also slave or servant. Shia scholars emphasize the meaning lord, master or helper and claim that the Prophet announced his succession on this occasion; Sunni Islam denies this emphasis. Sunni Islam says, it is a premature and hasty conclusion that the Prophet indeed appointed his son in law to be his successor. Bukhari’s following ahadith deny that the Prophet saws appointed his son in law to be his immediate successor:
Volume 1, Book 11, Number 649:
Narrated Anas:
The Prophet did not come out for three days. The people stood for the prayer and Abu Bakr went ahead to lead the prayer. (In the meantime) the Prophet caught hold of the curtain and lifted it. When the face of the Prophet appeared we had never seen a scene more pleasing than the face of the Prophet as it appeared then. The Prophet beckoned to Abu Bakr to lead the people in the prayer and then let the curtain fall. We did not see him (again) till he died.
Apparently another person than ‘Ali was allowed to lead the religious community. Nor had the Prophet indeed appointed a successor or caliph, not even according to his son in law’s own words:
Volume 5, Book 59, Number 728:
Narrated ‘Abdullah bin Abbas:
‘Ali bin Abu Talib came out of the house of Allah’s Apostle during his fatal illness. The people asked, “O Abu Hasan (i.e. Ali)! How is the health of Allah’s Apostle this morning?” ‘Ali replied, “He has recovered with the Grace of Allah.” ‘Abbas bin ‘Abdul Muttalib held him by the hand and said to him, “In three days you, by Allah, will be ruled (by somebody else ), And by Allah, I feel that Allah’s Apostle will die from this ailment of his, for I know how the faces of the offspring of ‘Abdul Muttalib look at the time of their death. So let us go to Allah’s Apostle and ask him who will take over the Caliphate. If it is given to us we will know as to it, and if it is given to somebody else, we will inform him so that he may tell the new ruler to take care of us.” ‘Ali said, “By Allah, if we asked Allah’s Apostle for it (i.e. the Caliphate) and he denied it us, the people will never give it to us after that. And by Allah, I will not ask Allah’s Apostle for it.”
A third objection against the Shia version of this Hadith of Ghadir Khumm may be, it seems very unlikely, even according Shia narration that the Prophet would postpone an announcement as important as his succession, until after Hajj on his way home, when the pilgrims had already left the Haramayn and split up on their seperate ways home and only a small group was left.
Fourthly, the word ‘mawla’ can be found in numerous Qur’anic verses, but never directly stating ‘Ali ra successor of the Prophet saws. It narrates about different people and situations. Never do we find any direct reference to ‘Ali raa being the Prophet’s successor. The Qur’an simply doesn’t say, that ‘Ali is Prophet Muhammad’s successor. Some verses that Shi’ite Muslims like to quote as guidance are for example these:
You will find friends only in God and His Apostle and in the believers (5: 55)
And say those who disbelieve: “why hath not a sign been sent down unto him (Muhammad)”; Verily thou art a warner and for every people there is a guide” Quran (13:7)
Shia sources acknowledge, that verse 5:55 does not clearly state ‘Ali to be the Prophet’s successor and say, that this uncertainty led to the event at Ghadir Khumm. Verse 13:7 is one of the verses that are mentioned in connection with the doctrine that Allah swt had appointed the Prophet’s progeny with a leading position. However, the Verse discusses leader figures asssigned by Allah swt in general and for every people, without giving names. The Shi’ite claim is, therefore, not worthless, but it isn't proved either.
The misunderstanding concerning Ali’s position led to controversy and also conflict between ‘Ali and his supporters on the one hand, and, on the other hand, Abu Bakr and ‘Umar ibn al Khattab -- both the Prophet’s fathers in law and first two caliphs after his death. ‘Ali later accepted their caliphate. ‘Ali had not much support from the umma for any rivalry claim to the first caliphate. The conflict didn’t concern only leadership succession, but mostly the Prophet’s inheritance, too. ‘Ali’s position in the ummah, remained somewhat isolated, but this may also be due to his withdrawn lifestyle.
‘Ali ra’s position is the first main issue of controversy within the Islamic community. The second controversy, is about the caliphate in general. Sunni Islam believes in twelve caliphs after the Prophet’s death, who will all be members of the Arabian tribe of Quraish. This is mentioned in Bukhari’s ahadith: Volume 9 Book 89 Number 306 and 329.
Shia Islam has at least three different views: the Shia mainstream believes in twelve Imams, the two other schools believe in respectively seven and three Imams. However, Shi’ites believe unanimously, that the Prophet’s progeny through his daughter and son in law Fatima and ‘Ali bring forth the Imams.
In conclusion, I personally would say, that Shi’ite teachings cannot sufficiently prove the claim that the Prophet’s progeny has a role as leadership successors, added to this that Qur’anic Verse 33:40 clearly states that Prophetic revelation ends with Muhammad saws:
‘Not is Muhammad the father of any of your men but he is Allah’s Messenger and the seal of the Prophets. Allah is All-Knowing on all things’.
Shi’ite Islam had a separate development after the Prophet’s death. It convinced enough people to confirm existence of a new religious school within Islam, with the revelations received by Muhammad. There are more schools of thinking in Islam that recorded his life and works in a way that shows some characteristic differences, yet they largely confirm one and other: A man named Muhammad brought new religious teachings to Arabia and the rest of the world, in the years 620 -632 AD.
Sources: 
Wikipedia.org
Ahl Al-Bayt.org (Main portal: http://www.ahl-ul-bait.org/en.php)
al-islam.org
University of Southern California, Center for Muslim-Jewish Engagement.

ghadir-khumm