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.

Related Link: Facebook.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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).