SHAFAQNA- The concept of Sharia was first propagated by Hadhrath Nuh (as). The followers of Hadhrath Nuh (as) path were referred to as Shi’a. This is clear from the fact that we read when referring to Hadhrath Ibrahim (as) Allah (swt) says that he was following the religion of Hadhrath Nuh (as).
We read in Surah As-Saffat (Ch:37) Verse 83:
“Verily Ibrahim was a Shi’a of Nuh”.
The Prophet (s) was likewise from the people of Ibrahim that is because Allah (swt) says in Surah al Baqarah verse 134:
“They say: “Become Jews or Christians and you would be guided (To salvation).” Say No (I would rather) follow the Religion of Abraham”
This therefore means that Hadhrath Muhammad (s) was a Shi’a of Hadhrath Ibrahim (as) – who was a Shi’a of Hadhrath Nuh (as). The term Shi’a, should therefore not be viewed with hostility rather previous Prophets and their adherents were Shi’a.
“And he entered the City at a time when its people were not watching: and he found there two men fighting,- one of his Shi’a, and the other, of his enemies”. (Qur’an 28:15).
In this verse, Hadhrath Musa (as)’s party are referred to as Shi’a because Hadhrath Musa (as) was Shi’a. His followers were Shi’a as declared by the Holy Qur’an. This fact is acknowledged by the scholars of Ahl’ul Sunnah.
In Tafsir Bidhawi Volume 4 page 125 (Egypt edition)
“One was his Shi’a in others one that followed his path”.
Allamah Farah Baghawi in his “Mu’allim ul Tanzil” Volume 3 page 175 (India, Bombay edition) writes:
“The fighter was a Shi’a – a momin, his enemy was a Kaffir”.
Shi’a in light of hadith of the Prophet(s)
Hadhrath Ali (as) and his Shi’a are the best of creations
It is in praise of the Shi’a of Ali that Allah (swt) sent down the following revelation:
“Those who believe and do righteous deeds are the best of the creatures. Their reward from their Lord shall be everlasting gardens, below which flow rivers, they will abide there forever. Well pleased is God with them and they are well pleased with Him” (Qur’an 98:7)”.
Muhammad bin Ali narrates in Tafsir ibne Jarir, Volume 33 page 146 (Cairo edition) that the Prophet (s) said “The best of creations are you Ali and your Shi’as.
Jalaladin Suyuti, (849 – 911 AH) is one of the highest ranked Sunni scholars of all time. In his commentary of this verse, he records through 3 asnad (chains) of narrators, that the Prophet (s) told his companions that the verse referred to Ali and his Shi’a:
“I swear by the one who controls my life that this man (Ali) and his Shi’a shall secure deliverance on the day of ressurection”.
TDM Volume 6 page 379 (Cairo edition)
The 3 Sahaba who narrated this hadith are (1) Ali (as) himself (2) Jabir bin Abdullah Ansari (ra) (3) Abdullah ibne Abbas (ra). They are acknowledged by the majority school as truthful narrators of hadith. Had this been in a Shi’a book, our opponents would have deemed it a forgery, but it’s presence in their own books has perplexed the minds of many of their scholars.
There are no hadith in which the Prophet (s) guaranteed paradise for a specific Sahaba and his followers, with the sole exception of Ali (as) and his Shi’a. Other Sunni scholars have also recorded this hadith from Jabir bin Abdullah Ansari in their commentaries of the above verse.
Tafsir Fatha ul bayan Volume 10 page 333 (Egypt edition) &
Tafsir Fatha ul Qadir, Volume 5 page 477
Hadhrath Abdullah ibne Abbas narrates “that when this verse descended the Prophet (s) Ali you and your Shi’a will be joyful on the Day of Judgement” (ibid Suyuti).
Ahmad ibn Hajr al Makki quotes from Imam Dar Qatany in his al Sawaiqh al Muhriqa page 159 (Cairo edition) “O Abul Hasan you and you Shi’a will attain paradise”.
The Shi’a will enter Heaven with the Prophet (s), Hadhrath Ali (as) and the pure Imams
Ibn Hajr records this tradition from Imam Tabarani:
“O Ali four people will enter heaven first of all. You Hasan Hussain your descendents and me will follow us and our wives will follow our descendents and our Shi’a will be to the left and right of us”.
The Prophet (s) promised to meet Ali (as) and his Shi’a at the fountain of Kawthur
Hadhrath Ali narrates in Tafsir Durre Mansur, Volume 6 page 379 (Cairo edition)
“Have you not heard this verse “Their reward from their Lord shall be everlasting gardens, below which flow rivers, they will abide there forever”? This verse refers to you and you Shi’a, I promise you that I will be meet you at the Fountain of Kawthur”.
Seventy thousand Shi’as will enter Heaven without any questioning
Whilst salvation will be for the Shi’a of course deeds will differ amongst the followers. It is indeed part of the articles of faith of the Ahl’ul Sunnah that:
“Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) had once observed that as many as seventy thousand of his followers will be allowed entry in to paradise without any questioning”.
Islam: The Basic Articles of Faith – According to the Beliefs of the Ahl al Sunna wa al Jama’a – a Modern English translation of Bahar-e-Shariat Part One (Unamed author) page 67 (First edition, Crescent Publishing, Rochdale 1998)
The question that one should ask is ‘Did the Prophet (s) expand any further on who this blessed group would be?’ The answer is recorded by the Shafii scholar al Maghazli who records a tradition from Anas bin Malik, that he heard the Prophet (s) say:
“Seventy thousand people will go to heaven without questions, the Prophet then turned to Ali and said ‘they will be from among your Shi’a and you will be their Imam”
Manaqib Ali al Murtaza, page 184 by al Maghazli al Shafii
What should also be noted is the fact that whilst some verses in the Qur’an are concerned with a specific episode / incident there are some that have a general applicability for all times. Clearly this verse, helps Man to identify the fact that that group “who believe and do righteous deeds are the best of the creatures”.
The verse is a guarantee that at all times, in every era these type of individuals shall exist. If the Prophet (s)’s commentary of that verse is that it is Hadhrath Ali (as) and his Shi’a that are being referred here, then that means that the Shi’a compliment this verse.
This means that that in the same way that this verse will exist until the end of the world, Ali (as)’s Shi’a will likewise exist to provide a practical commentary to it. The fact that the Prophet (s) had made reference to Ali and his Shi’a during his lifetime proves that the Shi’a existed then.
Furthermore, the very fact that this verse has never been abrogated means that from then until the Day of Judgment, if one is seeking to identify the best of creations s/he will need to turn to Ali (as) and his Shi’a. There exist no traditions in which the Prophet (s) guaranteed paradise for a specific companion and his followers, with the sole exception of Ali (as) and his Shi’a.
If the term Ahl’ al Sunna wa’al Jammah existed in a definitive form from the moment of the death of the Holy Prophet, undoubtedly some Hadith fabricators would have put this name in and substituted it for the name Shi’a. But since this term did not exist till the reign of Al Mansur, a whole century after the death of the Holy Prophet, no such Hadith exists. So what was the title given to the early companions?….
The companions, the Muhajireen and Ansar were Shi’a
The highly respected Sunni scholar Al Muhaddith Shah Abdul Aziz Dehlavi in his discussion of hadith relating to Ali and his Shi’a writes:
“The title Shi’a was first given to those Muhajireen and Ansar who gave Bayah to Ali (may Allah enlighten his face), they were his steadfast faithful followers during his (Ali’s) khilafat, they remained close to him, and they always fought his enemies, and kept on following Ali’s commands and prohibitions the true Shi’a are these who came in 37 Hijri”
Taufa Ithna Ashari, (Gift to the Twelvers) (Farsi edition p 18, publishers Sohail Academy, Lahore, Pakistan).
(NB: 37 Hijri -the year Hadhrath Ali (as) fought Mu’awiyah at Siffeen).