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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

(https://www.facebook.com/groups/AskShia/permalink/611602922324352/)

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

(https://www.facebook.com/groups/AskShia/permalink/608324169318894/)

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

(https://www.facebook.com/groups/AskShia/permalink/603012016516776/)

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

(https://www.facebook.com/groups/AskShia/permalink/673875309430446/)

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

(https://www.facebook.com/groups/510247479126564/permalink/589379637880014/)

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

(https://www.facebook.com/groups/AskShia/permalink/615018671982777/)

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

(https://www.facebook.com/groups/AskShia/permalink/615018671982777/?comment_id=616038685214109&comment_tracking=%7B%22tn%22%3A%22R0%22%7D)

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

(https://www.facebook.com/groups/AskShia/permalink/598504176967560/)

Index: Khalifahs according to Shia, answer 214:

(https://www.facebook.com/groups/AskShia/permalink/598504516967526/)

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

(https://www.facebook.com/groups/AskShia/permalink/780675182083791/)

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

(https://www.facebook.com/groups/510247479126564/permalink/550397965111515/)

Index:  Shia Beliefs about Aisha, answer 180:

(https://www.facebook.com/groups/510247479126564/permalink/586056318212346/)

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

(https://www.facebook.com/groups/510247479126564/permalink/534626313355347/)

Index:  Abu Hanifah according to Shia, answer 098:

(https://www.facebook.com/groups/510247479126564/permalink/515101085307870/)

Index: The term Shia in Quran, answer 129:

(https://www.facebook.com/groups/AskShia/permalink/780833482067961/)

[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.

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A Muslim Woman Cannot Marry a Non-Muslim Man

Question 576: Can a Muslim woman marry a Non-Muslim (christian or Jewish) man (interfaith marriage)?

It’s mentioned in Surah Al-Mumtahanah verse 10 “O you who have believed, when the believing women come to you as emigrants, examine them. Allah is most knowing as to their faith. And if you know them to be believers, then do not return them to the disbelievers; they are not lawful [wives] for them, nor are they lawful [husbands] for them. But give the disbelievers what they have spent. And there is no blame upon you if you marry them when you have given them their due compensation. And hold not to marriage bonds with disbelieving women, but ask for what you have spent and let them ask for what they have spent. That is the judgement of Allah; He judges between you. And Allah is Knowing and Wise.”

In this verse, it shows the marriage of muslim women to the disbelievers (Kuffar) is suspended, in which disbelievers doesn’t include the people of the book (Ahel Al Ketab, Christians and Jewish), because many verses in Quran called Christian and Jewish as Ahel Al ketab but not Kuffar (disbelievers).

Note: The maraja showing different opinions in case if a Muslim man marrying a woman from the People of the Book, are these opinions applied on Muslim women who want to marry a man from the People of the Book?

Answer 576: According to the following verses of the Holy Quran, traditions and fatwas of our maraja, a Muslim woman cannot marry a non-Muslim man.

Verses of the Holy Quran:

  1. As for the unbelievers the holy Quran reject any ways for them to triumph over the believers. “… and Allah will never provide the faithless any way [to prevail] over the faithful.” [1] When it comes to the submission, a woman is supposed to submit unto her husband. If a Muslim woman marry a man from Ahli Kitab the man can influence the wife in the long run. In this regards Imam Sadiq (as) says: A woman is under the influence of her husband. [2] This might be a reason to change her religion.
  2. In other verse of the Holy Quran Allah (SWT) says: “O you who believe! when believing women come to you flying, then examine them Allah knows best their faith Then if you find them to be believing women, do not send them back to the unbelievers Neither are these) women (lawful for them, nor are those) men (lawful for them And give them) former husbands (what they have spent And no blame attaches to you in marrying them when you give them their dowries And hold not to the ties of marriage of unbelieving women and ask for what you have spent, and let them ask for what they have spent That is Allah’s judgment He judges between you And Allah is Knowing, Wise”.[3] In this regards, a man asked Imam Sadiq (as) that my wife has a sister who lives in Basrah city where many people are of religion other than Islam, in this case are we allowed to marry her to one of them? The Imam (as) forbade him according to verse of the holy Quran.[4]
  3. There is another verse of the holy Quran in which Allah, the Almighty says: “… And do not give (believing women) in marriage to idolaters until they believe And certainly a believing servant is better than an idolater, even though he should please you. These (idolaters) invite to the Fire And Allah invites to the garden and to forgiveness by His will And makes clear His communications to men, that they may be mindful”[5]

Traditions:

The followings are some highly valuable guidelines and models presented by the Infallibles (pbuth) for us to have a good spouse and a healthy marriage:

  1. Having real faith and adherence to Islamic moral codes: Imam Reza (a.s) said: “If a man seeks your hand for marriage and you are happy with his religiosity and moral characteristics, give consent for marriage with him. Do not reject him because of his poverty.”[6]
  2. Cultural, financial, family, scientific and religious equality of man and woman: The Holy Prophet said: ““If one with whose religion and character you are pleased comes to you (to seek your daughter’s hand in marriage), then marry (your daughter) to him.”[7]
  3. Being carefree and inattentive to prayers and hijab and drinking wine mean that the boy is not the equal of a practicing and faithful Muslim girl. The Holy Prophet (pbuh) says: “If a drinker makes a request for marriage, do not accept him.”[8]

Imam Baqir (as) was asked if we are allowed to marry Ahle Kitab, He said: You are not allowed to do so. The man asked again, what is the reason behind this prohibition? The Imam (as) replied: According to this following verse of the holy Quran: “And hold not to the ties of marriage of unbelieving”. [9]

Fatwa:

Imam Khomeini: A Muslim woman cannot marry a Kafir whether permanently or temporarily[10]

Sistani: As for a Muslim woman, she is not allowed to marry a non-Muslim man at all.[11]

Fadhil, Safi, Makarem: A Muslim woman cannot marry a man from Ahle Kitab.[12]

If a non-Muslim woman, who got married to a non-Muslim man, converts to Islam:

Khamenei: She must separate from him and there is no need for the divorce contract.

Sistani: There is no need for the divorce contract and she must separate from him as soon as she embraces Islam.

Makarim: In the case asked about, if her husband does not embrace Islam, she will separate from him.

Saafi: [The woman] needs to finish the waiting period; if her husband embraces Islam by then, the marriage will hold, but if he doesn’t, then the wife separates from him without the divorce contract and the marriage is terminated.

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

Index:  Rules regarding temporary or permanent marriage with people of the book, answer 080.

[1] . Surah al-Nisa, verse 141.

[2] . Al-Kafi, Vol. 5, Pg. 348.

[3] . Surah al-Mumtahinah, verse 10.

[4] . Sheikh Hurr Ameli, Wasael al-Shia, Vol. 14, Pg. 424, chapter 10, Abwab ma Yohramo Bil Kufr, H. 4.

[5] . Surah al-Baqarah, verse 221.

[6] – Rayshahri, Muhammad, Mizanul Hikmah, vo.4, pg.280, Darul Hadith Publication.

[7] – Nahjul Fasahah, pg. 37, hadith No.193.

[8] – Hurr Ameli, Muhammad bin Hasan, Wasail al-Shi’ah, vol.20, pg.79, Aalulbayt Publications.

[9] . Wasael al-Shia, Vol. 20, Pg. 534, H. 4, # 26275.

[10] . Tahril al-Wasilah of Imam Khomeini, Vol. 2, Kitab al-Nikah, Pgs. 254-258.

[11] . The official website of the office of Sayyid Sistani, Marriage » Questions and Answers.

[12] . Tawzih al-Masael (annotated by Imam Khomeini), Vol. 2, Pg. 468. The official website of the office of Ayatollah Makarem.

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Permissibility of using Henna even if it was mixed by a Hindu

Question 563: Salam. Can henna be applied if it was mixed by a Hindu?

Answer 563: Generally, if a thing like henna comes into contact with moisture from or on body of a Kafir (like Hindus and Buddhists who are polytheists[1] and considered to be idolaters in a way) it would make the thing najas as well. Meaning that we are supposed to wash it according to what mentioned in Tawzih al-Masael.

Although, there would be no problem to use such henna even if it was mixed by a Hindu, because, it is not something related to drinking and eating that we are forbidden to use, but if we want to offer our prayers we have to wash it first (i.e. the henna itself not its ink and color as it doesn’t  prevent water from reaching the skin) then offer our prayers as taharat is one of the conditions must be fulfilled for offering prayers.[2]

Note: the important issue we are recommended to take it into consideration is that we are not allowed to eat the food prepared by a non-Muslim who is not from Ahle Kitãb [for example, a Hindu or a Buddhist], provided that we certainly know that the non-Muslim touched the food with wetness; and provided that the food consists of what is forbidden to us like intoxicating drinks. As for meat, fat and their extracts, the food cooked by non-Muslims should not contain any of these. If the food contains meat and animal fat, we should be sure that they are halal.[3]

[1] – Serat al-Nejat by Ayatollah al-Shaikh al-Tabrizi, vol.6, pg. 373.

[2] . Tawzih al-Masael of maraja (annotated by Imam Khomeini), Vol. 1, Pg. 95-873.

[3] . Adopted from answer 537 (Index: Eating food has been cooked by a Hindu or Buddhist).