Shia consider Abu Bakr and Umar as Kafirs?

Question 214: To clear misconception by way of academic proof from the School of Ahlulbayt (as): Do the Shia not respect the four Khalifah, except Imam Ali (as)?

Answer 214: First of all, although the Shia has some criticism towards the khalifahs, they don’t see them as kafirs; the same way they don’t consider any of the other Sahabah as kafirs. In dealing with the khalifahs, the Shia follow the footsteps of the imams, especially Imam Ali (as), in how they would deal with them, not anyone else, because the Shia consider themselves the followers of their infallible imams.

Secondly, what was of dire importance to Imam Ali (as) and the other imams, to the extent that they sacrificed everything, even their lives for it, was the preservation of Islam. It was for the preservation of Islam that Imam Ali (as) would cooperate with the khalifahs and give them the best consultation he could, whenever needed. In many a time, he would send off his children to wars that were at the command of the khalifahs, the reason being that the imam didn’t want anything for himself; anything he wanted was for Islam’s flourishing and since, in any case, Abu Bakr and Umar were the heads of the Islamic state then, and opposing them, in that sensitive and pivotal time in which Islam was expanding its boundaries and there were conquests, and Islam had many adversaries, and the Roman and Persian empires were great threats, Imam Ali (as), through his deep insight, took the right stances, not making Islam any more vulnerable than it already was, and in this way, putting an end to the dreams of the enemies of Islam taking advantage of the circumstances.

Third of all, it’s not correct that Imam Ali (as) accepting the caliphate of the khalifahs. Because, on top of all the objections and oppositions he had before the martyrdom of Lady Zahra (as), in the following years, especially during his own rule, he would strongly criticize their actions and would question their caliphate itself. The third sermon of the Nahjul-Balaghah, known as the sermon of Shiqshiqiyyah, is clear evidence of this claim:

In this sermon, the imam (as) says: “…Then I began to think whether I should assault or endure calmly the blinding darkness of tribulations…”. ( … وَ طَفِقْتُ أَرْتَئِي بَيْنَ أَنْ أَصُولَ بِيَدٍ جَذَّاءَ أَوْ أَصْبِرَ عَلَى طَخْيَةٍ عَمْيَاءَ… )

Therefore, neither does the Shia consider Abu Bakr and Umar as kafirs, nor did Imam Ali (as) totally accept them and their caliphate; all he did was, when it was to Islam’s benefit, to cooperate with and give help and consultation to them.

For further information in this regards, please refer to the following answer:

Index: Who were behind the Martyrdom of Lady Fatimah al-Zahra (sa), answer 486.

Index: Imam Ali (as) Gave Bay’ah (Allegiance) to Abu Bakr?, answer 260.


Definition of Bid’ah in Islam

Question 273: Salam, My question is what is the definition of Fitna especially in modern world. Is there anything called Bidat e Hasana? What is the definition of Bid’ah in Islam?

Answer 273: Bid’ah literally means something new, as the Quran describes Allah (swt) as the originator of the heavens and the earth (بَدِيعُ السَّمَوتِ وَالاَرضِ)[1] (badi’ meaning originator and bid’ah are words of the same root) and in Islamic terms, means to relate to religion what isn’t part of religion.

There are two points regarding the description of bid’ah:

1- Bid’ah is a type of bringing about change in religion by adding or omitting something from it. Therefore, any type of change and newness that has nothing to do with religion and is considered something normal isn’t bid’ah. For instance, if a nation chooses a certain day as a day of celebration and joy, not with the intention of relating such matter to religion and saying that religion has asked for such a thing, it isn’t considered bid’ah, although it needs to be analyzed from other points of view to make sure that it isn’t haram for any other reasons (but it isn’t bid’ah).

One can conclude from this that many of the developments and innovations that take place in arts, sports, industry etc. have nothing to do with bid’ah and the only thing that needs to be determined about them is if they are halal or not, nothing more.

2- What is meant by something being new and of no previous record in Islam is for it to not have any accordance with any Islamic laws and in no way fit under any of its guidelines or not be considered an application and instance of an Islamic assertion or doctrine.[2]

In other words, if one says that a certain act is haram or wajib or mustahabb or makrooh, while nothing in religion can be found to justify and explain what relationship this act has with religion, it is bid’ah, or else it isn’t. According to this explanation, many of the doubts and questions that might come up on bid’ah for many can easily be solved and answered. For instance, a great deal of Muslims all over the world celebrate the birthday of the holy Prophet (pbuh) while some consider this act as bid’ah! But according to what we said, bid’ah doesn’t apply here because even if we assume that such an act hasn’t been encouraged (although we might be able to say it has been) by Islam, yet it fits under another category that we are sure that Islam has indeed encouraged and is one of the clear principles of our religion, which is the showing of love and affection to the Prophet (pbuh) and his household (as).

None of the different Islamic sects have ever doubted that bid’ah is extremely forbidden and haram. Naraqi, one of the great Shia scholars says: “There is a consensus by all Muslim nations that bid’ah is haram and its being haram is a clear Islamic principle.”[3] The biggest reason for bid’ah being haram are the many hadiths that can be claimed that they reach the level of tawatur (when a hadith has been narrated so much by many different narrators, in a way that one becomes sure that all of the narrators can’t be mistaken or lying and that the tradition is authentic) that both Shias and Sunnis have narrated saying: “Adding something to religion that has no previous record in religion is bid’ah and all bid’ah is misguidance and all misguidance is in the Hellfire.”[4]

Although all Islamic sects see bid’ah as haram, but since its essence isn’t completely clear, sometimes some groups and individuals have gone too far in confronting it and have accused other Muslims of being kafirs while such accusations are incorrect.

A certain group consider any form of worship that wasn’t practiced during the time of the Prophet (pbuh) or the khalifas as bid’ah and haram, and believe that one should stay away from these acts. For instance, a famous Hanbali scholar had announced theology haram and called it the root and cause of all bid’ahs and misguidance.[5] He writes that any inner knowledge that people claim they have that can’t be found in the Quran and tradition is bid’ah and no one has the right to act according to it and invite others to it. He calls upon all Muslims to return to the old religion that was in practice during the time of the first three khalifahs.[6]

These radical beliefs were strengthened in the theories of Ibn Teymiyyah and after him, by Muhammad ibn Abdil-Wahhab and ended in many Muslims being seen as innovators in religion and even mushriks (polygamists). Suleiman ibn Sahman al-Najdi, the grandson of Muhammad ibn Abdil-Wahhab, speaks of the common bid’ahs of the Muslims saying: “The four altars that are built in the mosques for each of the four Islamic sects (Hanafi, Hanbali, Shafe’i and Maleki), reciting the Quran with a high voice, sending blessings on the Prophet (pbuh) (salawat), reciting supplications and doxologies after the adhan and on the night of Friday, the nights of Ramadhan, the night of Eidul-Fitr and Eidul-Adha, gathering for birthdays and deaths of great religious individuals and singing songs on birthdays with a specific tone, mixing poems with sending blessings on the Prophet (pbuh) and Quranic recitation and reciting them after Tarawih prayers, holding dhikr beads for saying dhikr, raising one’s voice while saying the dhikr of لا اله الا الله during taking the dead for burial and while splashing water on their graves after burial, wearing long sufi like clothes, hanging swords and flags in Huseiniyyahs and other places where gatherings are held, beating on tambourines and other musical instruments that make the same sounds such as trumpets, repeating the great name of Allah and His other names etc. are all bid’ah.[7] These fanatical beliefs have caused the killing and massacre of Muslims all over the world.

In response to these extremist beliefs, we say that if we are to look at the laws of Islam like this, then we can no longer accept any change in Muslim lives. We would all have to pray using the same clothes worn during the advent of Islam, think of the same things that they would think of, and pay respect to our dead the same that they would. It is clear that this type of being religious is accepted by no Islamic scholar. All scholars, including Shia scholars have been against these overindulgences and have criticized them in their books.

Because of this, Shia scholars and some Sunni scholars, have divided bid’ah into two groups; haram and halal bid’ah. The author of Jawahir says that some scholars like Muhaqqiq and Sheikh Tusi say that bid’ah is of two types; haram and halal.[8] Shafe’I has been quoted saying that bid’ah is of two types; desirable and undesirable. Bid’ah that is in accordance with Islamic tradition is desirable, while bid’ah which against it is undesirable.[9]

The great Allamah Majlisi says: “In Islamic law, bid’ah refers to something innovated in religion after the demise of the Prophet (pbuh) (that one considers as a part of religion) and there is no general or specific law or principle that applies to it.”[10] Naraqi, also a great Shia scholar, accepts this viewpoint saying: “Bid’ah means for someone other than the Shari’ (the true legislator of Islamic law, being Allah) to falsely claim that something is part of religion without any religious proof or evidence. But if a certain act that hasn’t been specifically “legislated” by religion is done by someone not in way that shows that it is part of religion, it is no longer forbidden because of being bid’ah, although it might be haram because of another reason (but it surely isn’t bid’ah).[11] Shatebi, a Sunni faqih (fiqh expert), has the same viewpoint and says: “Bid’ah is a way in religion that has been added and has no base in Islamic law. But on the outside, it looks like it is part of Islamic law and is mistaken with it.”[12] Therefore, if a Muslim practices something new that isn’t part of religion without relating it to religion, and without doing it with the intention that it is part of religion, it is permissible.

[1] . Surah Baqarah, verse 117.

[2] . With the help of Manshure Aqa’ed of Ayatullah Subhani, pp. 219 and on.

[3] . Awa’idul-Ayyam, pp. 319, quoted by Dr. Yaqub Ali Burji in the weblog of religions and sects.

[4] . Biharul-Anwar, vol. 2, pg. 126. “کل محدثة بدعة و کل بدعة ضلالة و کل ضلالة في النار”.

[5] . Tabaqatul-Hanabilah, vol. 2, pp. 19,27, 34, 37 according to the site of The Islamic Encyclopedia.

[6] . Tabaqatul-Hanabilah, vol. 2, pg. 35, according to the quote of Dr. Yaqub Ali Burji in the weblog of religions and sects.

[7] . Majmu’atul-Tafsir of Ibn Teymiyyah, pg. 340, quoted by ibid.

[8] . Jawahirul-Kalam, vol. 11, pg. 300, quoted by ibid.

[9] . Fathul-Bari fi Sharh Sahihul-Bukhari, vol. 17, pg. 10, quoted by ibid.

[10] . Biharul-Anwar, vol. 74, pg. 202: “و البدعة في الشرع ماحدث بعد الرسول ]بماانه من الدين[ و لم يکن فيه نص علي الخصوص و لايکون داخلاً في بعض العمومات”.

[11] . Awa’idul-Ayyam,pg. 110, quoted by Dr. Yaqub Ali Burji in the weblog of religions and sects.

[12] . Al’I’tisam, Library of Maktabatul-Riyadh al-Hadithah, vol. 1, pg. 127 quoted by ibid.


Shia View of the Mutazilah and Wasil ibn Ata

Question 095: What is the Shia view of the Mutazila and Wasil ibn Ata?

Answer 095: Mutazila were an intellectual group interested in mental issues. They have been trying to collect between religion and intellect. They have stipulated some principles by which everyone who acts based on these doctrines is counted as Mutazilah. As a result, every member of this group has believed in such principles.

The basic and salient points of their school of thoughts are as follows:

– Tawhid, (absence of plurality and attributes).

– ‘adl (Justice), (God is just and that He does not oppress His creatures).

– Divine retribution (al-wa’d wa al-wa’id), (God has determined a reward for the obedient and a punishment for the disobedient).

– Manzilah bayna al-manzilatayn (a position between the two positions). This means that a fasiq (i.e. one who commits one of the “greater sins,” such as a wine imbiber, adulterer, or a liar etc.) is neither a believer (mu’min) nor an infidel (kafir); fisq is an intermediary state between both belief and infidelity.

– al-‘amr bil ma’ruf wa al-nahy ‘an al-munkar (bid to do what is right and forbid what is wrong).

The opinion of the Mu’tazilah about this Islamic duty is firstly, that the Shari’ah is not the exclusive means of identifying the ma’ruf and the munkar; human reason can, at least partially, independently identify the various kinds of ma’ruf and munkar.

Since they follow their intellectual arguments, they have had different opinions with each other. The differentiating between their beliefs caused establishing some different groups that two important divisions of them are as follows:

  1. The Basrah school of thought: Basra is a place where the Mutazilah had been established since the second Hejira century.[1] We can also call the establisher of this school as the establisher of the Mutazilah. The foremost among the Mu’tazilah, who established Mu’tazilism (al-‘i’tizal) as a school of thought is Wasil ibn ‘Ata’.
  2. The Baqdad school of thought: The school of Baqdad had been established near the end of second Hejira century. This school was established by Boshr ibn Motamed. He had been taught al-I’tizal byhis two teachers, Boshr ibn Saeed and Abu Usman Zafarani.[2]

Generally, it is said that those Mutazilah, who belong to the school of Baqdad, were mostly inclined to Shia than the Basrah School, however most of both groups were Sunni.[3]

Some Baqdadian scholars like Jafar bin Harb, Jafar bing Mobsher and Eskafi have struggled to change the belief of Mutazilah as their own belief. They have believed in such belief that Ali (a.s) was superior to the Caliphs but Talha and Zobair were not so.[4]

They have also had faith that Ali (a.s) was the most virtuous person and superior to the Caliphs after the Holy Prophet (pbuh), however Abul-Hudhayl was one of the Basrah Mutazilah who believed in equality between Ali (a.s) and Abu Bakir.[5]

The Doctrine of Divine Justice in which Shia and Mutazilah have different opinions with each other:

It is evident that none of the Islamic sects denied justice as one of the Divine Attributes. No one has ever claimed that God is not just. The difference between the Mu’tazilah and their opponents is about the interpretation of Justice. The Asha’irah interpret it in such away that it is equivalent, in the view of the Mu’tazilah, to a denial of the Attribute of Justice. Otherwise, the Asha’irah are not at all willing to be considered the opponents of justice.

The Mu’tazilah believe that some acts are essentially ‘just’ and some intrinsically ‘unjust.’ For instance, rewarding the obedient and punishing the sinners is justice; and that God is Just. E.g., He rewards the obedient and punishes the sinners, and it is impossible for Him to act otherwise. Rewarding the sinners and punishing the obedient is essentially and intrinsically unjust, and it is impossible for God to do such a thing.

Similarly, compelling His creatures to commit sin, or creating them without any power of free will, then creating the sinful acts at their hands, and then punishing them on account of those sins. This is injustice, an ugly thing for God to do. It is unjustifiable and ungodly. The Asha’irah believe that no act is intrinsically or essentially just or unjust.

Justice is essentially whatever God does. If supposedly, God were to punish the obedient and reward the sinners, it would be as just. Similarly, if God creates His creatures without any will, power or freedom of action, then if He causes them to commit sins and then punishes them for that – it is not essential injustice.

For the same reason that the Mu’tazilah emphasize justice, they deny al-tawhid al-‘af’ali (It means that all beings, or rather all acts [even human acts] exist by the Will of God, and are in some way willed by His sacred Essence). They say that al-tawhid al-‘af’ali implies that God, not the human beings, is the maker of human deeds.

Also, thereby, the Mu’tazilah believe in human freedom, free will and are its staunch defenders, contrary to the Asha’irah who deny human freedom and free will.

Shia believe that there is no contradiction between the will of human and Tawhid Afali, because, the will of the human is at the length of the will of Allah (SWT) not at the width instead. Human beings are unable to reach his own will without the will of Allah (SWT).

In the Shi’ite faith the principle of Divine Justice is considered one of the five essential doctrines.

Conclusion: Both Shia and Mutazilah Schools of thought, have agreement in many religious tenets. They have different opinions about Justice, Imamat, (some of Mutazilah scholars believe that Imam Ali (a.s) is superior to the Caliphs and appointed by Allah (SWT), the Almighty, but some of them believe Abu Bakir is equal with Him rather superior to Him!) and other opinions that some of them have already been explained.

That’s why we Shia aren’t able to accept all their beliefs, not to reject.[6]

For further information in this regards, please refer to the following answer:

Index: The differences and similarities between Shia and Sunni, answer 187.

[1] . Farmaniyan, Mahdi, Feraq Tasannun, Pg.311.

[2] . Fayoumi, Muhammad Ibrahim, al-Mutazilah Takvin al-Aqlal_Arabi, Pg. 338.

[3] . Ibid, Pg. 135.

[4] . Al-Mutazilah Takvin al-Aqlal-Arabi, Pg. 350.

[5] . Ibid, 339.

[6] . For further information: refer to the Book of Buhuth fi al-Milal wal-Nihal, by Ayatollah Sobhani.


Symbol of the crescent moon in Islam

Question 182: The crescent with the moon and the star used by Muslims, what is the genesis of this symbol and when during the time of our noble Prophet (saws) did the Holy Prophet (saws) use this symbol on mosques?

Answer 182: The crescent moon and star symbol actually pre-dates Islam by several thousand years. Information on the origins of the symbol are difficult to ascertain, but most sources agree that these ancient celestial symbols were in use by the peoples of Central Asia and Siberia in their worship of sun, moon, and sky gods. There are also reports that the crescent moon and star were used to represent the Carthaginian goddess Tanit or the Greek goddess Diana.

The city of Byzantium (later known as Constantinople and Istanbul) adopted the crescent moon as its symbol.

According to some reports, they chose it in honor of the goddess Diana. Others indicate that it dates back to a battle in which the Romans defeated the Goths on the first day of a lunar month. In any event, the crescent moon was featured on the city’s flag even before the birth of Christ.

The early Muslim community did not really have a symbol. During the time of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), Islamic armies and caravans flew simple solid-colored flags (generally black, green, or white) for identification purposes.

In later generations, the Muslim leaders continued to use a simple black, white, or green flag with no markings, writing, or symbolism on it.

It wasn’t until the Ottoman Empire that the crescent moon and star became affiliated with the Muslim world. When the Turks conquered Constantinople (Istanbul) in 1453, they adopted the city’s existing flag and symbol. Legend holds that the founder of the Ottoman Empire, Osman, had a dream in which the crescent moon stretched from one end of the earth to the other. Taking this as a good omen, he chose to keep the crescent and make it the symbol of his dynasty.

There is speculation that the five points on the star represent the five pillars of Islam, but this is pure conjecture. The five points were not standard on the Ottoman flags, and as you will see on the following page, it is still not standard on flags used in the Muslim world today.

For hundreds of years, the Ottoman Empire ruled over the Muslim world. After centuries of battle with Christian Europe, it is understandable how the symbols of this empire became linked in people’s minds with the faith of Islam as a whole.

Based on this history, many Muslims reject using the crescent moon as a symbol of Islam. The faith of Islam has historically had no symbol, and many refuse to accept what is essentially an ancient pagan icon. It is certainly not in uniform use among Muslims.

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Reasoning for believing Imamat of the Infallible Imams

Question 619: Aselam akeyikum werahmetullah. Is believing in Imamiya part of an Aqida for Shi’ism? Meaning, any Muslim who doesn’t believe in Imamiya knowngly a Kaffir, otherwise a Fasiq?

Thanks a lot!

Answer 619: Imamate plays a crucial role in Islam. From the Holy Quran’s point of view, imamate is the final stage of human evolution, to which only Messengers of God have reached. The Holy Quran says about Prophet Abraham (a): ”Remember when Abraham’s God examined him with different means, and he successfully passed all those tests, so that God told him that he was appointed as the people’s Imam and leader, and Abraham (a) asked God to appoint his descendents as Imams as well, but God replied that imamate could not be handed over to tyrants, and only those of his offspring who were pure and sinless would deserve such a grace.”.[1]

This verse shows that imamate has a very high status and rank, since Prophet Abraham (a) was appointed as an Imam while he was already a Prophet. This happened only after he passed many difficult tests and trials.

The position of Imamate is sometimes combined with Prophethood, so that an eminent Prophet such as Abraham (a) becomes an Imam. Another evident reason is the combination of Prophethood and Imamate in the Prophet of Islam (s).

It also occurs that Imamate is separated from a Prophetic mission, such as what occurred in the case of the Shia Imams (a) who were only Imams, without being subject to direct divine revelation.

Reasoning for the Imamate of the Infallible Imams

Since the Imams are appointed by God, there is a need of rational reasoning to recognize the individuals who are actually imam. For instance, human logic can distinguish between an Imam and other people by witnessing characteristics such as knowledge, justice, courage, sinlessness and so forth in the Imam, and a lack of such characteristics in others. In addition, Quranic verses and authentic traditions also prove the imamate of an individual.

The following are some verses and their interpretations which are about the issue of imamate:

  • [2]«انما انت منذر و لکل قوم هاد», which means, “Your duty is to advise people, and there is a leader for every group.”

Shia interpreters and some Sunni ones, including Imam Fakhr Razi, says, “Here the term advisor refers to the Holy Prophet (s) and the leader to Imam Ali (a), since Ibn Abbas said that the Holy Prophet (s) put his hands on his chest and said that he was the advisor, and then pointed to Ali (a) and added «و انت الهادی یا علی…» that means Ali (a) was the leader and shall continue to lead people after the Prophet (s).”[3]

In Al-Durrul-Manthur, one of the famous Sunni commentaries, several interpretations of the above verse are introduced, in which it is written that upon the revelation of this verse, the Holy Prophet (s) put his hand on his chest and said that he was the advisor, and then pointed to Ali (a) and added that Ali was the leader.[4]

Other similar traditions from other theologians can be found in various other sources such as from Hakem Neyshabouri in “Mostadrak”, Dhahabi in “Talkhis”, Fakhr Razi and Ibn Kathir in their commentaries and Ibn Sabagh Maleki in “Alfusulul-Muhimmah” and Ganji Shafei in “Kifayatul-Taleb”, and Tabari in his commentary, and Ibn Hayan Andolosi in “Al-Bahrul-Muhit” and Neyshabouri in his commentary and Hamvini in “Faraed Olsamtin” and as well as many others. To become familiar with the sources of such traditions and their evidences, see the book Ihghagh Olhagh, Vol. 3, pp 88-92.

  • «با ایها الذین آمنوا اتقوا الله و کونوا مع الصادقین[5] Which reads, “O, believers, avoid antagonism (toward God’s commands) and be with the loyal people.”

Imam Fakhr Razi interpreted the phrase ‘loyal people’ as meaning infallibles. He also added, “By infallible the verse refers to the whole nation in its entirety.”[6] This is while no Arab speaker, at the date of revelation of this verse, was using this phrase to refer to the nation; therefore, such an interpretation does not seem to be valid.

We should accept that in every era, there are loyal people who do not make any mistakes in their deeds and speeches, whom we should follow.

Moreover, many Sunni interpreters have quoted Ibn Abbas as saying that the above-mentioned verse is referring to Imam Ali (a). Allamah Tha’alabi in his book of commentary, Ganji in “Kifayatul-Taleb”, Allamah Sibt Jowzi in “Tadhkirah”, all interpret this verse as referring to Imam Ali (a) and his household. Ibn Abbas added, “Ali (a) is the most loyal man.”[7]

Many other traditions quoted from the members of the prophetic household confirm this same interpretation.[8]

  • «اطیعواالله و اطیعوا الرسول و اولی الامر منکم»,[9] Says: “Obey God and obey the Messenger of God and the Holders of Authority.”

Shia interpreters unanimously believe that by the ‘Holders of Authority’, the verse is referring to the Infallible Imams (a).

In addition, the Hanafi Sheikh Soleiman Qanduzi in his book “Yanabi’ul-Mawaddah” quoted the book “Mujahid” as saying that the verse refers to Ali (a) when the Holy Prophet (s) appointed him as his substitute in Madinah when he himself was involved in the Tabuk war.

It is also quoted from Imam Ali (a) as referring to this verse in a debate with the Mohajerin and Ansar, so that they admitted to the legitimacy of his rule.[10]

In “Shawahidul-Tanzil” of Hakem Haskani, a Sunni scholar, the interpretation of the same verse includes a quotation from Imam Ali (a) as saying that he once asked the Holy Prophet (s) about the meaning of “ruler”, to which the Holy Prophet (s) replied, “You are the first of them.”

Islamic beliefs are like a connected chain, such that if one part is missing, then the whole chain will be useless and have no benefit.  In other words, believing in Allah has its entailments; belief in these entailments is what makes the difference and brings about Allah’s satisfaction.  If you examine the story of Satan being expelled from heaven, you will find that he asked Allah for the chance to live until the Day of Judgment to deviate man.[11]  Therefore, it is understood that Satan believed in Allah and the Day of Judgment but Allah still names him a Kāfir.[12]  So just believing in Allah is not enough for one’s belief to be accepted, but one must also stay firm in regard to the results and implications of this belief.  One of the results of one’s belief in Allah is belief in His messengers meaning the prophets, in such a way that denying them would be like denying Allah.  Also, believing in the Imams, meaning the prophets’ successors, is the inevitable result and reflection of one’s belief in the prophet, because the Imams are the prophet’s successors that were appointed by himself and denying them is like denying the prophet himself.  Therefore, one cannot believe in the prophet and not believe in the imams.  It is the same between each one of the imams, meaning that denying one of them is like denying all of them, for the reason that proves the Imamate of each one of them is the same and applies to all of them; all of them are the successors of the prophet and each Imam has been approved of by the previous one and has introduced the next Imam.  Therefore, denying one of them leads to the denial of the previous one and because all of them were appointed by the prophet, denying them is denial of the prophet.

Finally, we will mention a few ahadith in this regard: Imam Sadiq narrates from his great ancestors, meaning the previous Imams, that they narrated from the prophet that he said: “My successors are twelve individuals, the first is Ali bin Abi Talib and the last is the ‘Ghā’im’, they are my successors, vicegerents, the leaders after me and my Hujjats (reasons) over my Ummah, whoever bears witness to their imamate is a Mu’min (Believer), and whoever denies their Imamate is a kāfir (disbeliever).”[13]

It is narrated in another hadith by Imam Sadiq that: “One who does not follow our words has rejected Allah’s words, and one who rejects Allah’s words is a polytheist”.[14]

Also, it is mentioned in another hadith by Imam Kadhim that: “One who has hate for us resents the prophet of Allah and he actually has hate for Allah, and one who has hate for Allah deserves the hellfire and will not receive help from anyone.”[15]

For further information in this regards, please refer to the following answers:

Index: The Wilayah of Imam Ali (as) / Political Authority in Ghadir Khumm, answer 470.

Index: “Ashhadu anna aliyyan waliyyullah” in Adhan and Iqamah, answer 276.

Index: Shia Ithna Ashari is Jafari school of thought, answer 111.

Index: The differences and similarities between Shia and Sunni, answer 187.

Index: Shia answers: The Term Shia in Quran, answer 129.

Index: Shia Believe Ahlus Sunnah are Muslim not Kafir!

[1] Surah Baqarah, Verse 124

7 Surah Ra’ad, Verse 7

[3] Tafsir Kabir, Fakhr Razi, Volume 19, Page 14

[4] Al-Durrul-Manthur, Jalaladdin Suyuti, Volume. 4 Page 45

[5] Surah Bara’at, Verse 119

[6] Commentary of Fakhre Razi, volume 16, Page 221

[7] Ihqaqul-Haqq Volume. 3 Page 297

[8] Commentary of Noor Al Thaqalain Volume 2 Page 280,

[9] Yanabi’ul-Mawaddah, Page 114 – 115 – 116

[10] Shawahidul-Tanzil, Volume 1, Page 148

[11] “قالَ رَبِّ فَاَنظِرنِي ِالَي َيوِم يُبعَثُون …” Hijr:36; Sād:79.

[12] Baqarah:34; Sād:74.

[13] “عَنْ جَعْفَرِ بْنِ مُحَمَّدٍ عَنْ آبَائِهِ عَنِ النَّبِيِّ ص قَالَ الْأَئِمَّةُ بَعْدِي اثْنَا عَشَرَ أَوَّلُهُمْ عَلِيُّ بْنُ أَبِي طَالِبٍ وَ آخِرُهُمُ الْقَائِمُ فَهُم خُلَفَائِي و أَوصِيَائِي و أَولِيَائِي وَ حُجَجُ اللَّه عَلَي اُمّتِي بَعدِي الْمُقِرُّ بِهِمْ مُؤْمِنٌ وَ الْمُنْكِرُ لَهُمْ كَافِرٌ”، Sheikh Saduq, Man lā Yahduruhū al-Faqīh, vol. 4, book of wasiyyah (i.e., making a will), the chapter on the will of Adam (as), pg. 180,…hadith 5406, Jame’eye Mudarresin Publications, Qom, 1413 AH. Of course, the term ‘kufr here is to be taken in its literal sense, which is to hide and conceal the truth, and not in its common usage.

[14] “الرَّادُّ عَلَينَا الرَّادّ عَلَى الله وَ هُوَ عَلَى حَدِّ الشَّركِ بِاللهِ…” Kuleini, vol. 1, chapter of difference in hadith, pg. 68, Dār al-Kutub al-Islamiyyah Publication, Tehran, 1365 (solar calendar).

[15] “ألا يا عبد الرحمن من أبغضنا فقد أبغض محمدا و من أبغض محمدا فقد أبغض الله جل و علا، و من أبغض الله جل و علا كان حقا على الله أن يصليه النار و ماله من نصير” Majlisi, Muhammad Baqir, Bihār al-Anwār, vol. 97, pg. 122, Al-Wafā’ Institute, Lebanon, 1404 AH.


The difference between Mumin and Muslim

Question 506: Salaamun Alaikum. What is the difference between MOMIN and MUSLIM? Jazak’Allah Khayr.

Brief Answer 506: Muslim: According to the Quran a Muslim is one who has absolutely surrendered to Allah and his commands and believes in pure Tawhid (the oneness of God) that isn’t tainted with any Shirk and this is why the Almighty has introduced Prophet Abraham as a true Muslim in the Quran.

According to the Quran the true religion is Islam (surrender) (ان الدین عندالله الاسلام) and therefore all who have accepted religions of their time and have obeyed it’s commands are considered Muslims.

Momin: The Believers are that group of people who acknowledge the existence of God and surrender to Him, and who believe in His Prophets and follow their footsteps.

It is important to acknowledge that believing in the Wilayat of the Prophet’s family, according to the verses of the Quran and the narrations of the Holy Prophet is counted as one of the pillars of Imaan (Faith), and this quality is found in no other sect than the Shias. Also, with the emphasis regarding the deliverance of the Shias as being the rightful ones, and by comparing the thoughts and beliefs of the Shias, with the Holy Quran it becomes obvious that the verses of the Quran which talk about the “Believers” refer to none other than the Shias.

Detailed Answer 506:  In order to understand the meaning of “Muslim” in the Quran it is necessary to understand the meaning of “Islam”.

The word “Islam” is an infinitive with the root letters of “س ل م”, the root letters mean healthy and devoid of an defects and corruption, but the infinitive means surrendering and obeying one’s commands with no opposition. [1]

The Quran has used the term in its broad sense as well: “All of those who are in the heavens and the earth or all of the creatures in the heavens and the earth are Muslims and have (willingly or unwillingly) submitted to Allah’s  generative (takwini) or legislative (tashri’i) will.”[2]

In the Quran, not only those who were among the companions of prophet Mohammad are considered Muslims, but rather all people throughout history who have surrendered and submitted to Allah and rejected paganism are Muslims and this is why the Quran introduces Prophet Abraham as a Muslim even though he lived before prophet Mohammad.[3]

It can be understood from verse 85 of Surah Ale Imran (Whosoever chooses a religion other than Islam, it will not be accepted from him) and verse 3 from Surah Al Ma’edah (Today I have perfected your religion and am happy with Islam as your religion) that Muslims are only those who follow the religion of the prophet (pbuh), because by choosing Islam as their religion and believing in all previous prophets and divine religions, they have proven their submission to Allah (swt).  According to this definition, today people of other religions are not Muslims because they have not surrendered to Allah by accepting the new religion that was revealed to the seal of prophets.

The verse commands the prophet to tell them to say that they have become Muslims and not Mu’mins. Of course, although practicing does not change the fact that one is Muslim or not, but to be a true Muslim not only should one believe in Islam but he must also act according to his belief and the teachings and laws of his religion, let those laws be social ones such as haqqul-nas or personal ones such as prayer and fasting.

Mu’min, or Believer, is derived from the word “Amn”, which means to testify, to believe, and have humility and tranquility of the soul.(4)[4] Therefore, the word Mu’min is used to describe the acknowledgers.

The term “Believers” refers to those who acknowledge the existence of the Almighty, surrender to Him and are humble and obedient towards Him. They acknowledge and accept the prophethood of all of the divine prophets and their message. Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) has said: “Belief is understanding in your heart, saying with your tongue, and acting with your body.[5]

Some of the signs of a Believer that are mentioned in the Holy Quran are:

  1. Prayers and recognizing its importance.
  2. Giving Zakat, and donating to charity in the way of Allah.
  3. Relying and placing complete trust in Allah.
  4. Enjoining what is good and forbidding what is evil.
  5. Staying away from frivolous and idle acts.
  6. Maintaining chastity and virtue.
  7. Obeying Allah and the Prophet.
  8. Obedience towards them.[6]

The signs of a believer as described in the Quran are not limited to the signs that were mentioned. In fact, the true Believers are those who surrender totally to the orders and command of Allah and the Prophet.[7]

One of the pillars of Imaan(Faith) is the belief in the Authority of the Ahlul-Bait. What it is understood from the Quran, the Holy Prophet and his family is that being obedient towards the Prophet’s family plays an essential role in the concept of faith, and if a person does not lead his life according to their teachings, his Beliefs are incomplete.

As an example, here are a few traditions and verses of the Quran which we will mention:

  1. The verse of “Tableegh” says: “O Apostle! Deliver what bas been revealed to you from your Lord; and if you do it not, then you have not delivered His message, and Allah will protect you from the people.”[8]
  2. The verse of “Wilayat”: “Only Allah is your Wali and His Apostle and those who believe, those who keep up prayers and give Zakat to the poor while they bow.”[9]

Sunni books of Tafsir and Narrations state that this verse was revealed with regards to the status and position of Imam Ali (a.s).[10]

Therefore, if a person does not believe in the Wilayat of Imam Ali (a.s), he has not accepted one of the most important and essential part of Allah’s Commands; so how can he be classified as a Believer? In this verse, the Wilayat of Imam Ali has been mentioned, alongside the Wilayat of Allah and the Wilayat of His Prophet, and we know that the accepting the Wilayat of God and His Messenger are the bases of Imaan (Faith), which means the Wilayat of Imam Ali, is an essential pillar of faith as well. There are several other verses as well, but for the sake of brevity these two will suffice.

According to Imam Baqir (as), Faith is something which is existed in our heart that connect us to Allah, the Almighty. By submission to Allah (SWT) we would be able to prove our faith in action. Islam is related to our words and deeds.[11]

We can conclude that every Mumin is a Muslim, but it is not true to say that every Muslim who doesn’t believe in the Wilayat of the holy Prophet’s family can be a real Mumin. This means that everyone can be a Muslim by testifying that there is no God but Allah, the Almighty and the holy Prophet (pbuh) is the messenger of Allah (SWT), however if one, in addition to the previous conditions of being a Muslim, doesn’t believe in the holy Quran and Ahlul Bayt (pbuth) and Wilayat of Ali ibn Abi Talib (as) he is not considered as real believer.

From all of the aforesaid, it is obvious and clear that the only group of Muslims which is completely in coordination with the teachings of the Holy Quran, and the beliefs, actions and morals synchronized with it, are the Shias, who, by obeying and following the Prophet’s progeny have been able to understand the proper meanings of the verses of the Holy Quran and the teachings of the Holy Prophet, and have protected themselves from the darkness of the wrong path.

For further information in this regards, please refer to the following answer:

Index: Ask Islam: How to become a Muslim, answer 527.

Index: The differences and similarities between Shia and Sunni, answer 187.

Index: Shia answers: The Term Shia in Quran, answer 129.

Index: Shia Ithna Ashari is Jafari school of thought, answer 111.

Index: Principles of Religion: Usul al-Din in Quran, answer 230.

Index: Islam and Democracy / Khilafat is Appointed by Allah’s order, answer 592.

Index: The Wilayah of Imam Ali (as) / Political Authority in Ghadir Khumm, answer 470.

Related Link: Glossary 506.

[1]Al-Nokat wal-Uyun, (Tafsir Maverdi), vol1, p 379-380

[2] Tafsir Nemooneh, vol2, p 643

[3] Ale Imran:67.

[4] Ma’jam Muqais al Lughah, Aqrab Almawaarid, Farhange Jami’, term: “Amn”.

[5] Kanzul Amaal, pg 95.

[6] Anfaal, ayah 2-4; Taubah ayah 71; Muminoon ayah 1-11.

[7] Nisaa, ayah 65 and 150.

[8] Maidah ayah 67.

[9] Maidah ayah 55

[10] Waahidi dar Asbaabe Nuzool, pg 133; Zamkhishri dar Kishaaf, Vol 1, pg 649; Abu Bakr Jisaas in Quranic Laws, Vol 2, pg 446

[11] . Kafi, Vol. 2, Pg. 26.


Permissibility of using JJH for the Imams (pbuth)

Question102: Is it permissible to use JJH with Imam’s names whereas it has been always attached with Almighty but nowadays some groups have started this new issue?

Answer 102: Some of these names and attributes are only suitable be applied for Allah (SWT) the Almighty, according to traditions and common law. All Muslims and even our Infallibles (PBUTH) have only applied the JJh (Jalla jalālahu: meaning May His glory be glorified) for Allah (SWT), only. There is no tradition in which our Infallibles have applied it for themselves.[1]

(1) Considering the meaning of such names, there would be no problem to use this name (JJh) for our infallible Imams (PBUTH), however, we are forbidden to exaggerate about them (AS) by using some names and attributes which are specialized for Allah (SWT), only. In the Holy Quran Allah (SWT) says, “Say [O, Messenger!]: “I am only a human Being like you; it is revealed to me that Allah is the only God to be worshipped.”[2]

(2) According to a tradition, we are recommended not to put ourselves in a position of accusation. Thus, if we use such names and attributes for the Imams (PBUTH) those disbelievers would accuse us.[3]

(3) In this regards, in the Holy Quran Allah (SWT) says, “O, you who believe! Do not say: “Raena” to the Messenger, but say: “Unzurna” listen to this admonition And [know that] for the disbelievers There is a painful Torment.” ((Yââ ayyohalladhêna ââmanô lâ taqôlô râ’enâ waqôlônẓor­nâ was­ma’ô Walel­kâferêna ‘adhâbon alêm)).[4]

(4) Since, the word Raena has had a bad meaning (curse) according to Jewish people of that time, Allah (SWT) has said Do not say Raena to the Holy Prophet, Say Unzorna (Watch over us) instead.

(5) In other verse of the Holy Quran Allah, the Almighty says: “Some of Yahudis [the Jews] Deliberately displace words from their Original places] to alter the meaning [And] for example [they say] to The Messenger [:” We heard your word And we disobeyed”] or they say: [” Hear And let you hear nothing!” Or they say:” Raena” with a twist of their tongues And a taunt to Islam; and if] instead [Only they had said:” We hear and obey”, And] had said: [” Do have consideration For us to understand what you recite”, it Would have been better for them and More proper; Allah has cursed Them for their disbelief; so they will Not believe except a few of them.”[5]

(Menalladhêna hâdô yoḥarrefônal­kalema ‘ammawâḍe’ehê wa yaqôlôna same’­nâ w’aṣay­nâ was­ma’­ghay­ra mos­ma’ew­warâ’enâ layyam bel­senatehem waṭa’­nan feddên Walaw annahom qâlô same’­nâ wa aṭa’­nâ was­ma’­wanẓor­nâ lakâna khay­rallâhom wa aq­wama walakella’anahomollâho bekof­rehem falâ yo­menôna ellâ qalêla)

Conclusion: According to above mentioned verses of the Holy Qur’an and those traditions, we are not recommended to use such divine names and attributes for the Infallibles (PBUTH).

Related Link: Facebook

[1] . Al-Kafi, Vol. 2, Pg. 498, H 12.

قال الصادق (علیه السلام): قال الله عزوجلّ يابن ادم اذكرنى فى ملاء، اذكرت فى ملاء خير من ملئك”

[2] . Surah Kahf, verse 110 and Surah Fussilat, verse 6.

قُلْ إِنَّما أَنَا بَشَرٌ مِثْلُكُمْ يُوحى إِلَي

[3] . Biharul Anwar, Vol. 33, Pg. 510.

اتَّقُوا مَوَاضِعَ التُّهَمِ

[4] . Surah Baqarah, verse 104.

يا أَيُّهَا الَّذينَ آمَنُوا لا تَقُولُوا راعِنا وَ قُولُوا انْظُرْنا وَ اسْمَعُوا وَ لِلْكافِرينَ عَذابٌ أَليم.

[5] . Surah Nisa, verse 46.

مِنَ الَّذينَ هادُوا يُحَرِّفُونَ الْكَلِمَ عَنْ مَواضِعِهِ وَ يَقُولُونَ سَمِعْنا وَ عَصَيْنا وَ اسْمَعْ غَيْرَ مُسْمَعٍ وَ راعِنا لَيًّا بِأَلْسِنَتِهِمْ وَ طَعْناً فِي الدِّينِ وَ لَوْ أَنَّهُمْ قالُوا سَمِعْنا وَ أَطَعْنا وَ اسْمَعْ وَ انْظُرْنا لَكانَ خَيْراً لَهُمْ وَ أَقْوَمَ وَ لكِنْ لَعَنَهُمُ اللَّهُ بِكُفْرِهِمْ فَلا يُؤْمِنُونَ إِلاَّ قَليلا.


Shia Ithna Ashari is Jafari school of thought

Question 111: The Jafari school of Thought are all who follow the school Shi’a? And is there any who follow this school who are not Shi’a? Are Shi’ah Ithna Ash’ari, Jafari?

Answer 111: Jafri is a surname commonly associated with those who are the descendants of the 6th Imam, Ja’far al-Sadiq (as), who was a direct descendant of Imam Ali (as) and the holy Prophet Muhammad (pbuh).

The meaning of Ja’fari sect is the Twelver Shia. Imam Ali (as) is their first infallible Imam and their last Imam is Mahdi (as). There are other names for the followers of this holy sect as follows:

Imamiyyah, Ithnā‘ashariyyah and the twelver Shia. Ja’fari is also used as another name for the Twelver Shi’is. The Twelver theology, which mainly consists of five principles [as] has formed over the course of history on the basis of the teachings of the Holy Qur’an, and hadiths from the Holy Prophet Muhammad (saws) and the Twelve Imams (pbuth) especially Imam Jafar al-Sadiq (as).

So, those who follow this school of thought are called Shia.

Note: The Ithna Ashari School is not the only group that identify as Shia but it is the majority of Shia consisting of about 85% of Shia. In addition, there are a small minority of follows from the School of Ahlul Sunnah wal Jamaah (Sunni) who love the Ahlulbayt (as) but don’t follow the hadith of the 12 Imams (as) nor disassociate with their enemies.

For further information in this regard, please refer to the following answer:

Index: The differences and similarities between Shia and Sunni, answer 187.

Index: Shia answers: The Term Shia in Quran, answer 129.


Delaying Death and Called before its Time

Question 505:  Asslamoalikum. I wanted to know can death be delayed or can be called before time, in any way?

Brief Answer 505:  As far as whether one can delay his death or not, one must say that the ahadith and Quranic verses speak of two types of “ajal” (time of death); “ajal muallaq” and “ajal hatmi” which have also been referred to in the ahadith by other names.

The “ajal muallaq” of a person is the time span he is given to live in this world. However, this period may be lessened or prolonged. For example, by giving charity or visiting relatives one can delay his “ajal muallaq”. Similarly, by not visiting them or being cursed by his parents, this period will be shortened. On the other hand, “ajal hatmi” cannot be changed. Therefore, ajal muallaq has been written in the Tablet of Lawḥ and Ithbāt while the latter is written in the Umm al-Kitāb.

Since, death is one of the Unseen nobody knows when he will die, unless the Infallibles (pbuth) except for some messenger whom He approves of

Detailed Answer 505:  In the holy Quran Allah (SWT) says: “Knower of the Unseen, He does not disclose His Unseen to anyone, except (a few of the unseen) to an apostle He approves of. Then He dispatches a sentinel before and behind him.  So that He may ascertain that they have communicated the messages of their Lord, and He comprehends all that is with them, and He keeps count of all things”.[1]

As death is one of the Unseen, only Allah, the Almighty knows when our souls certainly taste of death. Nobody knows when he will die except the Infallibles (pbuth), however they knew well that whenever Allah (SWT) wished their souls would certainly taste of death.[2]

Note: The majority of Shi’a scholars argue relying on the above mentioned verse of the holy Quran that the special servants of Allah can be informed of the Gheib on occasions which this knowledge is necessary.  This meaning is also indicated in the ahadith of the imams.  Imam Sadiq says in this regard: “When an imam wills to know something, Allah will teach him.”[3]

The answer to this question that if we realize at the time of death that we are going to die or not is that We all, but the Infallibles (pbuth), don’t know the real time of death until when it overtakes one of us. At that time, those who are not the real believer say: Send us back, my Lord, send us back.[4]

Delaying Death: In Islamic literatures, each description about death explains a certain aspect of it. Before observing the material we find about death in these texts (Quranic verses and the ahadith), we will cite and explain the words of a few philosophers in regard to this issue.

Avicenna says: “Death is no more than the body leaving the tools and means that it used in this world and what is meant by the tools are the different organs that together form the body.”[5]

The great Philosopher, Mulla Sadra said: “Death means that the soul simply leaves the body when the soul reaches a stage in “Harakat Jowhariyah” (substantial motion) that it no longer needs the tools and organs of the body. The body is like a ship that the soul employs in its journey towards God amongst the dryness of objects and the sea of souls. Once it has passed this stage, it is no longer in need of the body, and this is when death comes into the picture. Therefore, contrary to what many doctors and physicians believe one does not die because his physical energy has finished or that he lacks instinct heat. Death is something natural for man, and brings about perfection for it, and anything that promotes perfection for it, is its right, thus death is man’s right.”[6] Along these lines, in deeper discussions it is said that death is: “مفارقة النفس للبدن بانقطاع تعلقها التدبيرى”[7]. At all events, this was the philosophical viewpoint in this regard. Now, we will refer directly to the ahadith and Quran to observe them as well.

1- The Quran explains death as losing life and its effects such as thinking and willing. Obviously, losing life only applies to things that can come to life. The Quran says: “و كنتم امواتاً فاحياكم ثم يميتكم” “You were lifeless and He gave you life, then He will make you die.”[8]

Or about the idols it states: “اموات غير احياء” “They are dead, not living”[9]. Such a description of death is correct in the sense that man is comprised of the body and soul and when the body dies, the physical aspect has died. Thus, one could say that man has died. However, to think that the Quran implies that man’s soul will cease is wrong, it does not imply that angels, which have no physical body will ever cease.[10]

2- Another description mentioned in the Quran is the term “tawaffi”[11]. This word is derived from the root word “وفی” which means to receive something in a complete way. “توفیت المال” means that I received all of the money with no shortage. The Quran refers to death with this term in 14 verses and this means that first: man has a metaphysical aspect and it is because of this aspect that man never ceases and is delivered completely to the angels at the moment of death. This metaphysical/spiritual aspect is referred to in many verses as “ruh” or “nafs”. It is this aspect that will continue to live, and second: the true essence of man is not his body, because the body gradually disintegrates[12] and is not delivered to the angels. Other proof for this claim is that the Quran attributes acts that a live person does, such as speaking with the angels, and yearning and asking after death, to the soul, illustrating that man’s true essence is not his lifeless body. It is the true essence of man that is received by the angels.[13] In short, death is “وفات” (complete reception) and not “فوت” (ceasing).[14] Therefore, death is an existential matter that can be created and this is why the Quran says that even death is a creation of God.[15]

In verse 42 of surah Zumar, the Quran says: “الله يتوفى الانفس حين موتها و التى لم تمت فى منامها”

“Allah takes the souls at the time of their death, and those who have not died in their sleep. Then He retains those for whom He has ordained death and releases the others until a specified time.” The pronouns in the words “موتها” and “منامها” seem to refer to “انفس”, but they actually refer to the bodies of humans; because it is the body that dies and not the soul.

Death is simply a long form of sleep and sleep is a shorter form of death. In other words, death is no different from sleep except for the fact that in sleep the soul is temporarily taken away, meaning that the soul is granted permission to return to the body.[16]

It is also understood from verses 60 and 61 of surah Waqi’ah that death is moving from one home to another and from one stage of creation to another, not ceasing.[17] Therefore, death is a second birth.

In this regard, the Prophet says: “You were not created for annihilation, but rather to remain. You will only go from one house to another (when you die).”[18]

Imam Ali describes death as follows: “Death is leaving the world of annihilation (the world of limited life) towards the world of endurance for eternality Therefore, a wise man must be prepared for the next world befittingly”.[19]

In a very elegant saying by Imam Husayn, he uses the metaphor of death being a bridge that a believer passes to be relieved of all pains and difficulties to reach the great heavens.[20]

As far as whether or not one can delay his death, one can say that Islamic texts mention two types of ajals (times of death) for each person.[21] The Quran says: “قضى اجلاً و اجلٌ مسمى عنده” “then he ordained the term [of your life] the specified term is with Him…”[22] This means that man has an indefinite ajal[23] that can be changed and a definite ajal that cannot be changed. The fact that the second ajal cannot be changed is understood from taking the word “عنده” into consideration, because the Quran also states: “و ما عند الله باق” “What is with Allah shall last…”[24] This is the ajal that the Quran makes reference to in verse 49 of surah Yunus which states: “There is a time for every nation: when their time comes, they shall not defer it by a single hour nor shall they advance it.”

If we consider this point along with verse 39 of surah Ra’d which states: “لكل اجل كتاب يمحو الله ما يشاء و يثبت و عنده ام الكتاب”[25](25) we can conclude that ajal muallaq (the conditional ajal) is that which is recorded in the “Umm al-Kitāb” and ajal musamma (the definite ajal) is in the Tablet of Maḥw and Ithbāt.

The Umm al-Kitab can be identified with stable and unchanging events in essence; meaning events from the perspective of them being related to general causes that inevitably entail their respective effects. The Tablet of Mahw and Ithbat identifies with events from the perspective of their relation with partial causes that will take effect only if no barriers get in their way. Thus, sometimes the non-musamma and musamma ajals are the same and sometimes they differ and the one that eventually takes place is the musamma ajal.[26]

At all events, ajal muallaq can be delayed and if the ahadith speak of performing certain acts and delaying death, it is referring to delaying ajal muallaq.

The hadith says: “يعيش الناس باحسانهم اكثر مما يعيشون باعمارهم و يموتون بذنوبهم اكثر مما يموتون بآجالهم” “People live more by their good deeds than they live by their lifetime (meaning that they can postpone their ajal muallaq with their good deeds) and die more due to their sins and evil deeds then they do by their times of death (meaning that before the time of their ajal hatmi comes, they die on their ajal muallaq because of their evil deeds).”[27]

For example, charity[28] or maintaining family ties have been counted as means of delaying ajal muallaq and prolonging one’s lifespan.[29]

For more information in regards to deeds that may prolong one’s lifetime, please refer to relevant books.[30]

Related Link: Glossary 505.

[1] . Surah Jinn, verses 26-28

[2] . Tafsir al-Mizan, Vol 20, Pg. 83.

[3] Kuleini, Usul Kāfī, vol. 1, chapter on when the imams wish to know something, they know it, hadith 3.

[4] . Surah al-Momenoon, verse 99.

[5] Avicenna, Risalat al-Shifa’ min Khawf al-Mawt, pp. 240-245.

[6] Mulla Sadra, vol. 9, p. 238.

[7] If the connection between the soul and body is lost, such that it loses all control of the body, this is called death.

[8] Baqarah:28.

[9] Nahl:21.

[10] See: Al-Mizan, vol. 14, p. 286.

[11] Nahl:32; Anfal:50; An’am:60; Zumar:42.

[12] Verse 60 of surah An’am reads: “هو الذى يتوفاكم” meaning it is He who receives you. Here, the pronoun کم denotes ‘me’ and ‘the self’ which is always the same and doesn’t change.

[13] See: Shahid Mutahhari, Majmu’eye Asar, vol. 2, pp. 503-511.

[14] See: Jawadi Amoli, Abdullah, Tafsire Mozu’iye Quran, vol. 3, pp. 388-397 and vol. 2, pp. 497-509.

[15] “الذى خلق الموت و الحيوة…” Mulk:1 and 2 (He who created death and life…) (please refer to Payame Quran, vol. 5, pp. 430 and on).

[16] See: Payame Quran, vol. 5, p. 433).

[17] See: Al-Mizan, vol. 19, p. 133 and vol. 20, p. 356.

[18] Majlisi, Bihar, vol. 6, p. 249.

[19] “الموت مفارقة دار الفناء و ارتحال الى دار البقاء” He also says: “خذوا من ممركم لمقركم” meaning take provisions from this temporal world for your eternal world (Nahjul Balaghah Subhi Saleh, p. 493) The world is a place of passing through and the Hereafter is a place of residence and when you are dying, you will be taken there: “الى ربك يومئذ المساق” (Qiyamat:26-30).

[20] Majlisi, Bihar, vol. 6, p. 154; Ma’ani al-Akhbar, p. 274; Mizan al-Hikmah, vol. 9, p. 234 “…فماالموت الاقنطرةٌ تعبربكم عن البؤس و الضرّاء الى الجنان الواسعة…”.

[21] See: Majlisi, Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 5, p. 139.

[22] An’am:2.

[23] The nakirah (indefinite) word here (being اجلاً) implies ambiguity.

[24] Nahl:96: “That which is with Allah is stable and enduring”.

[25] “There is a written [schedule] for every term. Allah effaces or confirms whatever He wishes and with Him is the Mother Book”

[26] See: Tabatabai, Al-Mizan, vol. 7, p. 8-10.

[27] Majlisi, Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 5, p. 140; Mizan al-Hikmah, vol. 1, p. 30.

[28] Muhammadi, ReyShahri, Mizan al-Hikmah, vol. 1, p. 30.

[29] Muhammadi, ReyShahri, Mizan al-Hikmah, chapters 1464 and 1467.

[30] Muhammadi, ReyShahri, Mizan al-Hikmah, vol. 6, p. 549, chapter 2932.


Shia Believe Ahlus Sunnah are Muslim not Kafir!

Question 203: Assalamu Alaikum. Do Shia believe Sunni followers (Ahlus Sunnah) are kafir or nonbeliever?

Answer 203: The first degree and step in Islam, which is the necessary condition to being Muslim, is to admit to the two principles of tawhid (the oneness of Allah (swt)) and nubuwwah (prophethood). The concept of لا اله الا الله (there is no God but Allah (swt)), is the true essence of Islam and its most important doctrine, containing all of the different dimensions of tawhid in it, and admitting to the prophethood of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), is the acknowledgement that he is the seal of the prophets and that his religion is the final one to come, nullifying all other religions before it (meaning that these religions can no longer be followed, although they might have been the religions to be followed before the advent of Islam). The rest of the degrees of higher faith start from here, which is to follow the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) in all of his teachings and decrees without any questioning.

One who bears witness to the two principles mentioned above, has embraced Islam and parted from all other religions. When such takes place, all rulings pertaining to Muslims (such as the permissibility of marrying other Muslims, having transactions with them, the taharah (being pure and not najis) of their bodies and their children’s bodies, will all pertain to him/her as well[1] and his/her life and possessions will be respected and defending him/her will become a responsibility of the Islamic governor and the Muslim society. As was said, this is the least that every Muslim must bear and others can no longer call such Muslims Mushriks or Kafirs anymore, even though their faith is the lowest one can have, but then again, it is faith.

In addition to what was said above, according to the ithna’ashari sect, considering the different verses and hadiths that imply this matter, accepting all twelve individuals as imams, leaders and successors to the holy Prophet (pbuh) after him is one the most important conditions of faith and the acceptance of our actions and worship from Allah (swt), because accepting the holy Prophet (pbuh) and the Quran as the final revelation to the prophet (pbuh) which hasn’t been changed and falsified till today, necessitates the precise and complete practice of the teachings of the Quran and the prophet (pbuh). One of these teachings and guidelines which is of extreme importance, is for us to obey the imams. Therefore, in reality, disobeying them is equal to disobeying the Prophet (pbuh) and Allah (swt) because they are the ones who have ordered us to follow them.

Imam Sadiq (as) recommended his followers to be good and behave nicely toward ahdlul Sunnah, offer their prayers at Ahlul Sunna Mosques, visit their (ahlul sunnah) patients, go to their funeral, and if possible be their Mukabbir (one who pronounces takbir and other Dhikrs in congregational prayers). The Imam (as) says: If you did so they would say, you are the followers of Ja’afari sect. May Allah, the Almighty Ja’afar’s soul rest in peace. How good the Imam educated his followers.[2]

Thus, the Sunni followers are not considered as Kafir. They have only the lowest level of faith! They are not the true believer.

For further information in this regards, please read the following answer:

Index: The differences and similarities between Shia and Sunni, answer 187.

Index: Ask Islam: How to become a Muslim, answer 527.

Index: Shia answers: The Term Shia in Quran, answer 129.

[1] . Of course, there is a difference of opinion regarding the purity of the bodies of the people of the book, which you can learn about by referring to the different risalahs of various marjas; Sayyid Sistani (ha) says: The Ahlul Kitab (that is, the Jews, the Christians and the Zoroastrians) are ritually pure (tahir) as long as you do not know that they have become ritually impure (najis) by coming into contact with an impure object. You can follow this ruling when dealing with them.

[2] . Man La Yahduruhul Faqih, al-Sadoup, Vol. 1, Pg. 267, H. 1128.


Quran says: Every Soul Shall Taste Death

Question 461: Salamualekum. Please, what is the Ahlul bayt view on the fact that every soul shall taste death?

Answer 461: In the Holy Quran Allah (SWT) says: “Every soul shall taste death. Then you shall be brought back to Us”.[1] According to the Holy Quran and traditions, before the judgment day, all of creatures will die. The holy Quran says: “And the trumpet shall be blown, so all those who are in the heavens and those who are in the earth shall swoon, except those who Allah pleases.”[2]

At first, this verse says that all those who are in skies and earth will die including all of the angels, and then there are some exceptions. So, we realize by this verse that some creatures will not die at sound of the trumpet. Who are they? There is a talk among commentators; some groups believe that there is a group of great angles such as: Gabriel, Michael, Israfil and Israel.

In another narration when the Holy Prophet Mohammad (s) recites this verse, people asked him who the exceptions are. He answered: Gabriel, Israfil and the angel of death and when all spirits was taken, they will die by order of Allah.[3] Another narration adds the carriers of Allah’s throne besides these angels[4].

In any case, by these narrations[5] and others that said: When the time of first horn comes, Israfil will blow on the trumpet and all creatures that have a soul will die except Israfil who will die later by Allah`s order.[6] And also by some verses like: “All things will die except His face,”[7] It is generally said that all things will die except Allah’s face. We can use this verse to show that this rest group will eventually die as there is not any creatures that will remain alive in any part of the world, except Almighty Allah.

How do angels die? It must be said that what we call death (the spirit leaving the body and the material world) does not have any meaning for angels because they do not have bodies for their soul to leave. For this, there are some possibilities about what the essence of their death is:

The first possibility means death by breaking the relationship between their soul and their mithali existence .[8] The second possibility means, ending their continuous activities and losing their perceptual ability.

Therefore, every soul shall taste death, and you will indeed be paid your full rewards on the Day of Resurrection. Whoever is delivered from the Fire and admitted to paradise has certainly succeeded. The life of this world is nothing but the wares of delusion.[9] Everyone on it must pass away, and yet lasting is the Face of your Lord, majestic and munificent.[10]

For further information in this regards, please refer to the following answers:

Index: Satan Taste Death / Every Soul Must Taste of Death, answer 217.


Index: Delaying Death and Called before its Time, answer 505.


[1] . Surah al—Ankaboot, verse 57.

[2] . Zumar (the companies) verse 68

[3] . Bihar al Anvar, volume 79, page 184

[4] . Ibid, volume 6, page 329

[5]. Ibid, volume 6, page329

[6]. Ibid, volume 6, page 324

[7]. Qasas, verse 88

[8]. Refer to Tafsir Namoneh volume 19 page 541

[9] . Surah Aal Emran, verse 185.

[10] . Surah al-Rahman, verses 26-27.


Usul al-Din and Furu al-Din in Islam

Question 223: Dear Shaykh, would you know when in time the five usul al-din were formalized? When I read the ahadith of the Imams on beliefs or read the reports where the disciples of the Imams discuss or ask the Imams for the constituents of sound belief or present their beliefs to the Imams, I have yet to see a neat five-fold categorization!

Then, I wonder when and how the furu’ al-din became ten in number?! The furu’ al-din refers to the acts – fiqh which are so many in number!

I wonder what happened! I’ll be very grateful for any suggestions. Thank you!

Answer 223: Usul al-Din (Principles of Religion) is a theological term and the set of beliefs that formalize the basis of Islamic religion, and by believing in them we are considered as Muslim, according to scholars.

The reason why scholars named these terms as Usul al-Din is that some of the Islamic sciences like Hadith, Fiqh and Tafsir are based on it. In other words, Islamic sciences are based on accepting the Holy Prophet (pbuh), and accepting Him is based on knowing these Usul al-Din.

There hasn’t been mentioned the name of Usul al-Din and Furu al-Din in the Holy Quran and Traditions. It has came into existence by theologians.[1]

Usul al-Din in Ahadith: It has been mentioned in some ahadith that Islam has some basic Principles, as follows:

The Holy Prophet (pbuh) has said: Islam has been built on five [pillars]: 1) Testifying that there is no god but Allah and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah. 2) Performing the prayers. 3) Paying the Zakah. 4) Making the pilgrimage to the House (kaaba). 5) Fasting in Ramadan.[2]

Imam Sadiq (as) has been asked what are the Basic Principles of Islam and what kind of affairs we as Muslim must get knowledge of them, and if a person is shortcoming in perceiving them, his religion and beliefs would be worthless, so that Allah (SWT) would not accept his deeds? The Imam (as) has replied: These are as follows: 1&2) Testifying that there is no god but Allah and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah. 3) Admitting what has been sent down from Allah (swt). 4) Paying the Zakah. 5) Wilaya of Aale Muhammad (pbuth) that this one has a special place among them.[3]

Imam Baqer (as) has said: Islam has been built on five pillars: 1) Prayer. 2) Zakah. 3) Fasting. 4) Hajj 5) Wilaya. The Wilaya is more important than the others.[4]

Considering that the above mentioned ahadith are Sahih in Sanad, we can at least conclude that the term Usul al-Din has come into existence during the second century of the Hegira.

When exactly the Term of Usul al-Din came into existence:  When the term Usul al-Khamsa (The Explication of the Five Principles) apparently being applied by Abul Huzail Alaf, the Mu’tazila theologian for the first time, the term of Usul al-Din has probably came into existence. It is said that this term had become more familiar as such term during the earlier third century of Hegira. Because, Ibn Nadeem had attributed a dissertation with the name of Usul al-Din to Abu Musa Mordar.[5]

The Fundamentals and Principles of Islam:  Like all other divine religions, Islam consists of three main domains e.g. beliefs, codes of practice and moral rules. The difference between Islam and other religion is that Islam incorporates all these domains in the most comprehensive and most exhaustive manner as compared to the religions before it. That is because Islam is the only religion that has been sent by God on all the prophets from Adam to the Last Prophet – peace be upon them. All what have been presented in Abraham’s scripture, Dawood’s Psalms, Moses’ Torah and Jesus’ Gospel have been presented in the most comprehensive way in Prophet Muhammad’s Holy Quran.[6] Unlike the previous scriptures which have been tampered with, the religion of Islam is immune to any kind of distortions and alterations.

The Islamic beliefs are the fundamentals of Islam and the roots of Islamic faith. They are Divine Unity (oneness of God), justice (God as the Just Creator), prophethood (guidance of humanity through a prophet), imamate and resurrection.

When it comes to the beliefs, a Muslim must in addition to admitting wholeheartedly the oneness of God, should also testify to the prophethood and messengership of Prophet Muhammad (s); otherwise he will not be a Muslim. There is no doubt that testifying to the oneness of God and prophethood of Muhammad (s) also requires, by extension, believing in the prophethood of other prophets, believing in the Day of Resurrection (Day of Judgment), finality of the religion of Islam, believing in the angels, the unseen and in the truthfulness of the claims of the Prophet of Islam. In addition, it is necessary that one should believe in the conspicuous and self-evident doctrines of Islam. If one does not believe in any of the above, he will go out of the pale of Islam. Since Islam is the religion of fitra (God-gifted nature) and reason, it does not accept imitation in the fundamentals of faith. Therefore, everyone is required in Islam to believe in the fundamentals of the religion with his own insight and understanding.[7]

When it comes to the practical laws of Islam or what is known as “ahkaam” in Arabic terminology, we must say that every act that a duty-bound (mukallaf) does is either wajib (obligatory), or haram (prohibited), or mustahab (recommended) or makrooh (abominable) or mubah (allowable). This part of the religion is also termed or described as the branches or rites of the religion which include the prayers, fasting, Hajj, Zakat, Khums, Jihad, bidding the good and forbidding the evil, Tawalla (loving the Ahlul-Bayt) and Tabarra (detaching oneself from the enemies of the Ahlul-Bayt). Acting upon these and adhering to them guarantee man’s eternal felicity.

The reason judges that either the person himself should be an expert to act according to his own insight and understanding or he should turn to an expert e.g. a qualified Mujtahid to seek his advice and act according to his verdicts.

When it comes to ethical and moral rules also, Islam – as was stated above – has some of the most humane moral instructions. Morality in Islam is so important that the Prophet of Islam (s) announced that the object of his prophetic mission was to perfect the moral virtues.

Furu al-Din:  It is a term versus Usul al-Din that consist Islamic Practical Laws. As Usul al-Din is related to knowledge along with certainty the Furu al-Din is preceded by it. This means, when there is no belief and knowledge (i.e. Usul al-Din), practice (Furu al-Din) doesn’t make sense. That’s why these Islamic Laws have been named Furu al-Din. According to Feyz Kashani, Usul al-Din is like a tree and Furu al-Din is its fruits.[8]

What the reason the Furu al-Din became eight or ten in number is due to the importance of these Islamic Laws in Ibadat (acts of worship), however, there are many rules related to transactions and etc. which are completely related to Islamic Laws, but the following are the most famous ten branches of religion (Furu al-Din). 1) Prayer. 2) Fasting. 3) Khums. 4) Zakah. 5) Hajj. 6) Jihad. 7) Amr bil Maroof (bidding what is right). 8) Nahi Anil Munkar (forbidding what is wrong). 9) Tawalla. 10) Tabarra.[9]

For further information in this regards, please refer to the following answer:

Index: Principles of Religion: Usul al-Din in Quran, answer 230.

Index: Ask Islam: How to become a Muslim, answer 527.

[1] . Allamah Helli, Hasan, Sharh e Bab Hadi Ashar, Vol. 1, Pgs. 4-6, Tehran 1991.

[2] . Bukhari, Muhammad, Sahih, Vol. 1, Pg. 8, Istanbul, 1981.

[3] . Kuleini, Muhammad, al-Usul min al-Kafi, Vol. 2, Pgs. 19-20, with effort Ali Akbar Ghifari, Tehran, 1388 A.H.

[4] . Ibid, Pg. 18.

[5] . Ta’ligh Sharh al-Usul al-Khamsa, Pgs. 122-123, with effort Abdul Karim Uthman, Najaf, 1383 A.H; Ibn Nadim, al-Fehrest (contents), Vol. 1, Pg. 207.

[6] – The difference among divine religions in the methods and shari’ah which the Holy Quran describes them as one: “Surely, the religion with Allah is Islam.”; Aal-e Imran, 19, See: Javadi, Amuli, Abdullah, Man’s Expectations from the Religion, pg. 178.

[7] – Tawzih al-Masail of Maraaje’, issue No.1.

[8] . Fayz Kashani, Mulla Musen, Ilmul Yaqin fee Usul al-Din, Vol. 1, Pgs. 4-5, Bidar Publication.

[9] . Majmoe Asar Shahid Motahari, Vol. 17, Pg. 220;  Maaref and Maareef, Vol. 4, Pg. 1715.


Principles of Religion: Usul al-Din in Quran

Question 230: Should pillars of Islam be evidently apparent in the scripture or hidden? If apparent, then why is the Imamah pillar explained in form of ‘batin’ zone? Can you prove this from Prophetic sayings and create a base that is sensible? I have not yet received a proper answer for this.

Answer 230: Although, there hasn’t been clearly mentioned the names of Usul al-Din and Furu al-Din in the Holy Quran and Traditions, but there are many verses of the Holy Quran and traditions in which we can find out the pillars of Islam as follows:

Surah al-Hamd: This Surah includes the three pillars of Islam:

1) Tawhid (Testifying that there is no god but Allah):  Verse 1: “All praise is due to Allah, the Lord of the worlds”. This verse of Surah al-Hamd indicates the Dhati (Essence), Sifati (Attributes) and Af’ali (Action) Tawhid.  Verse 5: “Thee do we serve and Thee do we beseech for help”. This verse indicates the Tawhid in Ebadat (monotheism in worship) and Af’ali.

2) Nubuwwat: Verses 6 and 7: “Keep us on the right path. The path of those upon whom Thou hast bestowed favors”. According to the holy Quran itself, the real meaning of the word (an­’am­ta  ‘alay­him) is the prophets and the truthful and the martyrs and the good.[1]

3) Resurrection:  Verse 4: “Master of the Day of Judgment”. This verse indicates the third pillar of Islam called Ma’ad (Resurrection).

Note: There are other verses in which the three pillars of Islam are mentioned as the criterion of faith as follows:

Baqarah, verse 4:  “And who believe in that which has been revealed to you and that which was revealed before you and they are sure of the hereafter”.

Yousef, verse 37: “He said: there shall not come to you the food with which you are fed, but I will inform you both of its interpretation before it comes to you This is of what my Lord has taught me Surely I have forsaken the religion of a people who do not believe in Allah, and they are deniers of the hereafter”

Nahl, verse 22:  “Your God is One God So) as for (those who do not believe in the hereafter, their hearts are ignorant and they are proud”.

Nisa, verses 150 and 151: “Surely those who disbelieve in Allah and His messengers and (those who) desire to make a distinction between Allah and His messengers and say: We believe in some and disbelieve in others; and desire to take a course between (this and) that. These it is that are truly unbelievers And We have prepared for the unbelievers a disgraceful chastisement. And those who believe in Allah and His messengers and do not make a distinction between any of them Allah will grant them their rewards And Allah is Forgiving, Merciful”

The Quran mainly addresses issues, especially ahkam, from a general perspective, leaving the specifics to the Prophet (sa) and his successors, the true interpreters (as); such as prayer, fasting, zakat, hajj etc…Imamate is also one of these issues which have been generally reflected.

The sha’n nuzul (the circumstances of revelation) of numerous verses in the Quran, such as Ayah of Tabligh[2], Ayah of Wilayah[3], Ayah of Ulul Amr[4], Ayah of Sadeqeen[5] revolve around the issue of Imamate.

It is necessary to mention that Allameh Hilli (ra) has written a book titled Alfain[6], that consists of a thousand reasons in favor of the Imamate of Imam Ali (as) and a thousand answers to the objections made against his Imamate, among which a great number of these reasons are from the Quran and can be referred to if needed.

Also, the eighth section of the seventh volume of Bihar al- Anwar of Imamate has listed the ayahs revealed regarding Imamate under the title “Ayahs regarding revealed about the Imams (as)”.[7]

How to understand the meaning of the verses of the holy Quran:  The majority of the verses of the Quran were revealed for the understanding of the general masses.  From this perspective, the understanding that the masses have from the literal and apparent meaning of the Quranic verses are a proof and it is for this same reason that the ‘Usulis’ believe in the external meaning of the verses.

Of course there are also select verses in the Quran whose understanding and the helping of others to understand was the responsibility of the Prophet (s) and the ‘Rasikhoon Fil Ilm’ (those deeply endowed with knowledge). Without this group’s assistance and help, the understanding of these verses would have been impossible to attain.

In the Quran there are verses with meanings of general and specific, absolute and particular, abrogated and abrogating; in order to understand the Quran it is necessary to have a comprehensive knowledge of all Quranic verses to prevent mistakenly ruling according to the absolute without considering the other verses that might narrow its scope.

There are some sciences, which although they don’t have a direct connection with interpretation of the Holy Quran, have a prerequisitational relationship. Without understanding these sciences it is not possible to interpret and analyze the verses of the Quran. Examples of these sciences are ‘Sarf and Nahw’, Ma’aani and Bayan’, and ‘Luqat’. The commentator must have mastery over all of the sciences which relate to the understanding of the Holy Quran.

Considering the above mentioned reasons, we can figure it out why the five pillars of Islam have not clearly mentioned in the holy Quran, but many verses of it prove them, completely.

For further information in this regards, please refer to the following answers:

Index: Usul al-Din and Furu al-Din, answer 223.


Index: Shia View of the Mutazilah and Wasil ibn Ata, answer 095.


[1] . Surah al-Nisa, verse 69.

[2] . Surah Maeda, verse 67.

[3] . Surah Maeda, verse 55.

[4] . Surah Nisa, verse 59.

[5] . Surah Tobeh, 119.

[6] . Hilli, Hasan bin Yusuf, Al-Alfain, Dar al-Hijrah, Qom, 1409 (AH).

[7] . Allamah Majlisi, Bihar al-Anwar, (the section on imamate, Farsi translation of the seventh volume), Khosravi, Musa, publisher: Islamiyyah.


Ask Islam: How to become a Muslim

Question 527: Do I have to cut my hair to become Muslim? What are the conditions for one to become a Muslim?

Brief Answer 527:  The first degree, which is referred to as “Islam”, can be reached when one says the shahadatain (the two statements of “There is no God but Allah” and “Muhammad is the messenger of Allah), admitting to its meaning, resulting in that person officially becoming Muslim.  His/her body will be pure (no longer najis) and so will the bodies of his children, marriage with other Muslims will become permissible for him and he/she can have transactions with other Muslims, his/her wealth, life and honor will all be respected etc.  Of course, saying the shahadatain and admitting to its meaning necessitates acting and practicing Islam (e.g. performing the wajib acts such as prayer, fasting, Hajj, Khums and Zakat, and believing in the angels, the hereafter, paradise and Hell and accepting all of the divine prophets as messengers of Allah (swt)), which is the next level of faith which is higher than just plain “Islam” and being Muslim.

Therefore, there is no need to cut your hair in order to become a Muslim.

Answer 527: “Islam” literally means submission and obedience.  This term refers to the religion brought by the Holy Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) from Allah (swt) as the final divine religion to come, which is a universal and eternal one (meaning that no other religion will come after it that abrogates it until the day of judgment).

The most important thing that sets a difference between this religion and other ones, is the belief of the oneness of the great Lord, the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) being the seal of all prophets, and its teachings on true tawhid.  Believing in Islam and having faith in it, has different degrees which are as follows:

The first degree and step in Islam, which is the necessary condition to being Muslim, is to admit to the two principles of tawhid (the oneness of Allah (swt)) and nubuwwah (prophethood).  The concept of لا اله الا الله (there is no God but Allah (swt)), is the true essence of Islam and its most important doctrine, containing all of the different dimensions of tawhid in it, and admitting to the prophethood of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), is the acknowledgement that he is the seal of the prophets and that his religion is the final one to come, nullifying all other religions before it (meaning that these religions can no longer be followed, although they might have been the religions to be followed before the advent of Islam).  The rest of the degrees of higher faith start from here, which is to follow the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) in all of his teachings and decrees without any questioning.

One who bears witness to the two principles mentioned above, has embraced Islam and parted from all other religions.  When such takes place, all rulings pertaining to Muslims (such as the permissibility of marrying other Muslims, having transactions with them, the taharah (being pure and not najis) of their bodies and their children’s bodies, will all pertain to him/her as well[1] and his/her life and possessions will be respected and defending him/her will become a responsibility of the Islamic governor and the Muslim society.  As was said, this is the least that every Muslim must bear and others can no longer call such Muslims Mushriks or Kafirs anymore, even though their faith is the lowest one can have, but then again, it is faith.

Therefore, what some sects such as the khawarij have done by considering Muslims who don’t completely practice their faith and commit great sins as Kafirs, not respecting their lives and blood and allowing their killing, or what the Mu’tazilah have done by not considering the abovementioned neither kafir nor Muslim, or what the Wahhabis have done by announcing those who prostrate on the turbah during prayer or kiss the holy shrines of the imams or prophet (pbuh) mushriks (polytheists), or those who call anyone who differs with them in their beliefs mushriks, are all wrong and in misguidance!

In addition to what was said above, according to the ithna’ashari sect, considering the different verses and hadiths that imply this matter, accepting all twelve individuals as imams, leaders and successors to the holy Prophet (pbuh) after him is one the most important conditions of faith and the acceptance of our actions and worship from Allah (swt), because accepting the holy Prophet (pbuh) and the Quran as the final revelation to the prophet (pbuh) which hasn’t been changed and falsified till today, necessitates the precise and complete practice of the teachings of the Quran and the prophet (pbuh).  One of these teachings and guidelines which is of extreme importance, is for us to obey the imams.  Therefore, in reality, disobeying them is equal to disobeying the Prophet (pbuh) and Allah (swt) because they are the ones who have ordered us to follow them.  In Quranic terms, the degree of iman comes after the degree of Islam.  Thus, the first degree of iman is higher than the degree of Islam.  Iman also has different degrees and all degrees of iman aren’t the same.  The holy Quran says that the least that is needed to obtain the degree of iman is for one to have faith and belief in five things; 1- Allah (swt) 2- the day of judgement 3- the angels 4- the book (the Quran) 5- the prophets.[2]  The Quran also counts hypocracy and shirk (polytheism) as turning away from Islam and the causes of eternal chastisement in the Hellfire[3].  Therefore, one is Muslim who:

1- Has accepted tawhid in all of its dimensions.

2- Believes in the prophethood of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and him being the seal of the prophets.

3- Accepts all of his commands, including the command to follow the imams and accept their authority.

4- Believes in the hereafter and its details as the Quran, the prophet (pbuh) and the imams have explained (of course, those details that we are sure the Prophet (pbuh) and the imams have described).

Nevertheless, although admitting to all of these things cause one to be considered Muslim, as long as Islam isn’t truly practiced through abiding and acting according to its rulings and teachings, such an Islam won’t do any good to its possessor and will not bring him/her any guidance or prosperity in the hereafter.  That is why the Quran says that reaching the prosperous life in the hereafter depends on faith and good acts together.[4]

One who only has one of the two resembles a bird that possesses one wing while lacking the other.  Clearly, such a bird isn’t capable of flying to high altitudes, and the same goes with such a person; he/she will never be able to reach the high peaks of eternal prosperity through good deeds only or faith only.  The only solution for such an individual is to change his/her course of action and to combine his/her faith and acceptance of Islamic teachings with good actions in order to get nearer to Allah (swt) and abide in His heaven.  As the believer’s knowledge of Islam, faith, and the teachings of Allah (swt) and His prophet increases, and as his/her practice in relation to what Islam has asked him also increases and gets purer, his degree of faith will also rise, taking him to higher levels of faith.

For further information in this regards, please refer to the following answers:

Index: Usul al-Din in the Holy Quran, answer 230.


Index: Usul al-Din and Furu al-Din, answer 223.


Index: Cut or take care of the hair, answer 213.


Index: Evidences of the superiority of Shia Islam, answer 383:


Index:  The differences and similarities between Shia and Sunni, answer 187:


Index: Abu Bakr and Umar according to Shia, answer 265:


Index: Shia consider Abu Bakr, Umar and Uthman as Hypocrit, answer 248:


Index: Shia commit shirk by worshiping Ali (as), answer 215:


Index: Khalifahs according to Shia, answer 214:


Index: Sahih Bukhari and Muslim according to Shia, answer 068:


Index: Shia view of Mutazila and Wasil bin Ata, answer 095:


Index:  Shia Beliefs about Aisha, answer 180:


Index:  Meaning of the Word Shia in the Holy Quran, answer 108:


Index:  Abu Hanifah according to Shia, answer 098:


Index: The term Shia in Quran, answer 129:


[1] Of course, there is a difference of opinion regarding the purity of the bodies of the people of the book, which you can learn about by referring to the different risalahs of various marjas.

[2] Baqarah:177 and 285; Nisa:136.

[3] Nisa:140 and 145.

[4] Nahl:97; Baqarah:103; Nisa:57 and 122.


The difference between Trial and Punishment

Question 517: The Difference between Trial and Punishment. As-Salamu `Alaykum. I have asked this question of many scholars but no one has been able to give me a satisfactory answer. I hope you can clarify it for me. I know that man has to go through a lot of problems and afflictions throughout his life. Now these sufferings could be a punishment from God or it could be that God wants to test his faith and raise his ranks in the Hereafter. But how can we tell the difference between punishment from God or tests and trials by God?

Brief answer 517: Imam Ali (a) says, “Calamities are designed to punish the unbeliever, to test the believer, and for prophets, it is to raise them up in rank and degree.

Detailed answer 517: To see whether unpleasant natural happenings are God’s punishment or not, we should consider the following points:

  1. Living in indulgence and laziness are not the end goals in the creation of human beings. The end goal of human beings is to achieve true happiness, which cannot be gained except through praying and gaining proximity to God.
  2. Natural disasters also have some intrinsic benefits in the sense that they help human beings reach their end goal. It can be said that the harm that these incidents deliver can be considered relative. This means that we consider these things as disasters only when we look through the eyes of those who have been affected. For example a snake’s poison is harmful for a person or an animal that is bitten, but in reality it is good for the snake itself as it protects it from danger and harm.

These catastrophic incidents which occur have invaluable effects when gauged in proportion to the whole universe and the life of the creatures therein.

Some of these effects are as follows:

1- Flourishing talents:  Due to the nature of human beings and the general conditions of the world, whenever human beings are facing hardships and are struggling to overcome these hardships, their internal talents, whether material or mental, are forced to manifest themselves. For instance, many scientific discoveries and innovations have taken place due to the needs of human beings. The Holy Quran has underlined this fact that whenever there is difficulty and suffering it is followed soon after by comfort and ease.[1]

From the Holy Quran’s point of view, one of God’s methods is to test human beings by putting them through difficulties[2] at various stages in their lives in order to draw out and manifest their hidden talents. Imam Ali (a) describes the effects of difficulties on drawing out people’s intrinsic talents in the form of a very beautiful simile:

“Know that the desert trees have stronger branches, while trees planted near water have thinner (and weaker) barks.”[3]

2- Enlightenment:  One of the most important consequences of calamities is that they awaken human beings from the ignorance caused by the material blessings of this world. These calamities remind humans of their important responsibilities before God and replace arrogance with humbleness. Regarding this issue, the Holy Quran says that various Prophets have had their people tested with different types of hardships in order to dissolve any feeling of resistance in them and to help them to submit to the truth.

“And We sent no prophet to any town, unless We seized its people with suffering and harshness.”[4]

3- Appreciation for God’s bounties:  Another benefit that natural disasters bring is recognition of the importance of God’s bounties by human beings. “One who knows the value of being healthy is the one who has suffered formerly.”

In a Hadith, Imam Sadiq (a) says, “Calamities are for both good people and bad people; God uses them to improve both groups. When calamities occur for good people it reminds them of the bounties they used to have and teaches them how to be patient and grateful.”[5]

c- The proportion of what human beings know to what they don’t is similar to the proportion of a drop of water to an ocean. There are many unknown secrets, not only in the outside world, but also contained inside of human beings. Since the knowledge of human beings is limited, we cannot claim to know every secret about the incident which we call ‘evil’. It is likely that there are many benefits in these incidents which we are unaware of and unable to fathom. It’s evident that we cannot say something does not exist simply because we cannot recognize it ourselves. Therefore, careful judgment is a key requirement of wisdom. It is very easy to think of something as evil while its reality may be the complete opposite. The Holy Quran beautifully uncovers this through the verse which says, “It may be that you dislike a thing while it is good for you…”[6]

  1. Another important point is the effect of people’s acts on the occurrence of disasters. The human being is a creature with free will. However, based on the law of causation, the wrong decisions that people make might lead to calamites and sufferings.[7]

The Holy Quran says, “And if people of the towns had believed and had had piety, then certainly, We should have opened for them the blessings of the heaven and the earth, but they disbelieved. So We took them (with punishment) for what they used to earn. “[8]

Imam Ali (a) has said in this regard, “God punishes his servants for their evil behaviors by decreasing the fruits of trees, and bringing a lack of rain, etc …, until they repent and stop committing sins, and take heed. “[9]

The way that people’s ethical behavior can create the causation of natural disasters and the kind of relationship that exists between them is a detailed issue itself, which will be discussed later.

With the help of science, some of the destructive effects of natural disasters are prevented in developed countries. With this in mind it should be realized that it’s not possible to completely evade the sufferings that are caused by people’s evil actions. This is an issue that cannot be decided easily; for instance, we can see that the same developed countries passed through a period of suffering and pain in the second World War that was much greater than any natural disasters that have occurred throughout history. The source of such wars and calamities is directly linked to evil actions and the misconducts of the authorities in those countries. In addition, they are now suffering from other calamities such as social corruption, various diseases and a lack of moral and mental security, and various other issues which will be discussed later.

The most important thing is that in these natural disasters, God has set different goals for different people. These happenings are a blessing for believers, because they are either expiations for sins, for which the individual concerned would have been punished in the next world., In some traditions they have even been considered as valuable as martyrdom in the way of God[10], This is because it is something which can awaken people from ignorance and remind them of God’s blessings, whereas the unbeliever is not welcomed by these blessings. He may spend his life in pleasure and welfare, but in the other world, he will be seized by painful sufferings much greater than the ones in this world.

Imam Ali (a) says, “Calamities are designed to punish the unbeliever, to test the believer, and for prophets, it is to raise them up in rank and degree.”[11]

  1. It should be pointed out that calamities are blessings when a human being can benefit from them and makes his soul perfect through patience. However, if he chooses to evade and escape from difficulties, the difficulties he faces will become very harsh for him (Not that one shouldn’t try to avoid difficulty, but one shouldn’t think that they should never take place for him, and if they do, he can complain and question everything). The fact is that like calamities, blessings can also lead to either happiness or misery. Therefore, whether an occurance is a blessing or not depends on the reaction shown by human beings, i.e. whether they are grateful or ungrateful towards God. In addition, it depends on their level of patience.
  2. A calamity is something that is God’s punishment, which is a consequence of the evil behavior of human beings. These are the true calamities by definition because firstly, they are under the control of human beings and secondly, they don’t lead to goodness and perfection. For example, cruelty is a calamity for human beings as is narrated in traditions.

“Cruelty is God’s harshest punishment.”[12] This is because the punishment of cruelty cannot be felt and it does not awaken the human being so as to bring God’s grace upon him.[13]

  1. Finally, natural occurrences are the results of various causes. Some causes stand in one line and some side by side. This means that the causes themselves are consequences of other causes. Anyway, there are material and non-material causes (in some cases the acts of human beings) that form an adequate cause for natural disasters, which are all subject to the general order of the universe which is materialized by God’s will. Therefore, natural disasters happen by divine will, and are prevented by God as well. God can punish any group of people whenever He wishes. In most cases, He does this via natural causes. Natural occurrences and their prevention are both based on divine will, and are not necessarily in contradiction with the fact that they are used to punish.

For further information in this regards, please refer to the following answer:

Index: Reasons why Allah immerses us in the sea of hardships, answer 474.

[1] Shahid Mutahhari, Adle Elahi, pp. 130-134.

[2] “فان مع العسر یسراً ان مع العسر یسراً” Inshirah:5-6.

[3] Anbiya:25; Baqarah:155.

[4] Nahjul-Balaghah, Letter 45.

[5] A’raf:94

[6] Biharul-Anwar, vol. 3, pg. 139

[7] “و عسی ان تکرهوا شیئاً و هو خیر لکم” Baqarah:216.

[8] Ma’arefe Eslami, vol. 1, pp. 81-85.

[9]  “وَ لَوْ أَنَّ أَهْلَ الْقُرَى ءَامَنُوا وَ اتَّقَوْا لَفَتَحْنَا عَلَيهِم بَرَكَتٍ مِّنَ السمَاءِ وَ الأَرْضِ وَ لَكِن كَذَّبُوا فَأَخَذْنَهُم بِمَا كانُوا يَكْسِبُونَ” A’raf:96. For further explanation see:Tafsir Nemouneh, vol. 6, pp. 265-274 and vol.1, pg.53, under verse 7 of surah Baqarah.

[10] Nahjul-Balaghah, Sermon 143.

[11] Kafi, vol. 1, pg. 353.

[12] Mustadrakul-Wasa’el, vol. 2, pg. 438.

[13] “ما ضرب الله عبراً بعقوبة اشد من قسوة القلب” Mustadrakul-Wasa’el, vol. 13, pg. 93.


Islam and Democracy / Khilafat is Appointed by Allah’s order

Question 592: Islam and Democracy: 1. Is democracy in consonance or against Islam? And if it is, can Shariah be adjusted in democracy?

2. Is Khialafat (which is demand of a lot of muslims esp in Pakistan we here conventions regarding that) Is it possible in the present world? Seeing that Jamal ud din Afghani and Iqbal talked about one political center for Islam. Is it viable?

Answer 592: First of all, Caliphate or successorship is divinely appointed by Allah’s (SWT) order and the Infallibles (pbuth). So, if you meant having such Caliphate that was appointed at the advent of Islam and the times of the Fourteen Infallibles (pbuth) it would be impossible to have it in the present world. Because, the Twelve Infallibles (pbuth) have already appointed as Caliphate and the last Imam (as) is in occultation now. But, if you meant having an Islamic government in occultation era it would be possible to be functioned with the selection and advocating of the people.

In regards to democracy, we can say that people can determine their own destiny and enjoy their individual and social rights under the Islamic system, according to Islam.

Islam does not accept some features of western democracy where the majority vote contradicts human dignity; however, there are more complete and beautiful facets of democracy present in the Islamic version. In reality, there are no contradictions between religion and democracy and Islam has the most developed form of democracy that exists.

Islam and Democracy: Democracy is a method of organizing society and respecting the majority vote while maintaining individual and civil rights.

Although the majority is not necessarily always right[1], the majority can be determining[2] and can accomplish its goals by accepting or not accepting them. From Islam’s point of view a system cannot exist unless the people and the majority accept it.

Islam believes that people have the right to determine their future and enjoy their individual and social rights in an Islamic system.[3]

Of course Islam does not accept democracy in the way the western world does. In Islam if the vote of the majority contradicts basic human dignity[4], it is considered illegitimate. However Islam accepts democracy in a much more complete and beautiful sense of the word. In Islam, religion and democracy are neither fully contradictory nor fully in agreement. The system which Islam accepts as legitimate is a type of religious democracy.[5]

The system of the Islamic Republic of Iran is a clear example of such a system which coordinates between religion and democracy. Imam Khomeini, as a qualified religious authority and jurisprudent, founded the Islamic Republic of Iran and proved that not only aren’t Islam and democracy not contradictory, but that they are in fact able to work in tandem. Based on the peoples’ vote, Islam has the most democratic way of organizing the society.

We have some verses in the Holy Quran which show that the Prophet (s) consulted with people, allowed them to take part in political and social matters, used their suggestions[6], and gave them freedom of thought and speech. [7]

Furthermore in traditions, the history and the life of Infallible Imams (a) all clearly shows this[8].[9]

Caliphate: According to Shia: Caliphate or successorship to the Holy Prophet (s) is divinely appointed and that at God’s order the Prophet, many a time, introduced Ali (a.s.) as his successor.

The successors of the Prophet (s) are twelve immaculate Imams or “twelve caliphs” as reported in Shiite and Sunni sources. The first of them is Ali bin Abi Talib and the last of them is Hazrat Hujjat bin Al-Hasan Al-Askari (Imam Mahdi) – may Allah hasten his reappearance.

Following the demise of the Holy Prophet (s), a situation came into being as a result of which the Commander of Faithful, Ali (a.s.) who had been appointed by the Prophet (s) as his successor was deprived of his right to the caliphate. Thus, he was made to keep aloof in his house. Indeed, for the good of Islam and Muslims, Ali (a.s.), despite being dissatisfied with the performance of the caliphate, never refrained from giving his advice to the caliphs.[10]

The relationship between government and people in Islam: According to Islam and Quranic verses, people are one of the central factors of a government.  The Holy Quran says: “لقد ارسلنا رسلنا بالبینات و انزلنا معهم الکتاب و المیزان لیقوم الناس بالقسط…” meaning that: “Certainly We sent Our apostles with manifest proofs, and We sent down with them the Book and the Balance, so that mankind may maintain justice;”[11]  According to this verse, Islam, that has guidelines and instructions for the maintaining of justice in society, values such a thing when it is carried out by normal people, not officials and authorities.

We can summarize the relationship between people and the government within the following fields:

1- Choosing the Islamic government by the people:

In the Islamic government, people have chosen an Islamic political structure out of their knowledge, love and free will and long the execution of divine law, and obviously, an Islamic government will not be able to function without the selection and advocating of the people.  It is on this basis that even though Imam Ali was granted Wilayah (Authority) by Allah and was divinely selected to lead the people, he did not carry out this responsibility until they came to him and swore allegiance, because the grounds were not yet ready for him to practice his authority and Wilayah.

But when the grounds existed he did not neglect his responsibility, as the Imam himself says : “لولا حضور الحاضر و قیام الحجة بوجود الناصر و ما اخذ الله علی العلماء ان لایقاروا علی کظة ظالم و لا سغب مظلوم لألقیت حبلها علی غاربها و لسقیت اخرها بکأس اوّلها و لألفیتم دنیاکم هذه ازهد عندی من عفطة عنز…”[12] which means: “If people had not come to me, and supporters had not exhausted the argument, and if there had been no pledge of Allah with the learned to the effect that they should not acquiesce in the gluttony of the oppressor and the hunger of the oppressed, I would have cast the rope of Caliphate on its own shoulders, and would have given the last one the same treatment as to the first one.  Then you would have seen that in my view this world of yours is no better than the sneezing of a goat!”[13]

These statements of the Imam show that even though establishing a government for the execution of justice and getting back the rights of the oppressed from oppressors is a duty that Allah has assigned to the imam, but because carrying out this duty is not possible without the support, allegiance and advocating of the people, until people do not take the required steps in regard to establishing a government, the infallible imam is not responsible to force people to obey him, instead he must guide people and advise them so that they do what is necessary out of free will.[14]

[1]. In another word legitimacy is not determined by the majority vote whereby acceptance is.

[2]. As an explanation we draw your attention to the following example: imagine several jurisprudents are qualified to take over the Islamic government but by the majority vote and public opinion only one jurisprudent is selected for this mission.

[3] Refer to:

A – Hadavi Tehrani, Mehdi, Leadership and Religion, P.117 – 138.

B – Subject: The relationship of people and government in Islam, question: 269

[4]. Refer to subject: Human being and dignity, question 48

[5]. I.e. democracy in a society in which there is a Muslim majority is discussed within the religious and legal principles. They have accepted Islam freely and voluntarily and they have agreed that Islam’s laws and legislative system and moral and religious values should be enforced in society.

[6]. Ale-Imran:159, “So under God’s blessings you have become merciful and kind to them. If you were harsh on them they would keep a distance from you. So forgive them and consult with them in your affairs…”

[7]. Ghashieh:21 and22; Zumar:17 and 18.

[8] Nahj Al Balagheh, p. 207

[9] . Adopted from answer 292 (Index: Islam and Democracy).

[10] . Adopted from answer 1289 (Index: Shia and Successorship to the Prophet (s)).

[11] Hadid: 25

[12] Nahjul-Balagha, sermon 3, Translation, Muhammad Dashti.

[13]. Ibid.

[14] . Adopted from answer 269 (Index: The relationship between government and people in Islam).