OPEN LETTER TO DR. AHMAD GUMI
I hope you had a smooth sallah celebration. May the Almighty Allah accept our fasting and other acts of worship.
Sheikh, I am sure you will agree with me that the Holy month of Ramadan has come and gone like twinkle of an eye. Indeed Allah (S.W.A) has said the truth “for a fixed number of days” (The Qur’an 2: 184. During the blessed month, various scholars have put in their efforts in interpreting the Holy Qur’an according to their understanding with the aim of bringing people closer to the message contained therein. Your Tafsir this year has been centered towards nothing but castigating Shia and Shiism on one hand and praising the cursed servants of Allah (the Jews) on the other hand. It is obvious that you either came to Nigeria with a preconceived intent of making the Holy Qur’an suit your agenda or you were contracted to do so for the glee of your masters.
Your tafsir was undoubtedly used to set up the psyche of the Muslim ummah against the Shia. Then came to light when the evil plan by the state apparatus to kill and if possible bomb the residence of Sheikh Ibraheem Zakzaky (H) and mercilessly massacre the Muslim brothers (popularly termed Shia) during the annual International Quds Day processions. During the course of your tafsir, you had consistently urged the Nigerian government to descend on the Shia whom you have branded as Kuffar (non Muslims) and Munafiqun (hypocrites) and whom you openly accused of stock piling arms. Similarly you have assured your listeners that soon the Shia will be dealt with by the government. You were even reported saying the Shia will be bombed. Could all this be sheer quirk or was it a contract unlimited. Coincidently, the unpopular Israeli foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman was in Nigeria at about the end of the Ramadan period when the evil plot to assassinate Sheikh Zakzaky was to be carried out, perhaps after watering the soil of the Muslim minds with hatred against Shia and their revered leader Sheikh Ibraheem Zakzaky by their stooges.
Though you have touched incorrectly on many aspects of Islam that need to be addressed, I will however limit this letter to the issue of Shia and Shiism at least to keep focus. Otherwise, the letter may be too long and boring.
It may interest Dr. Gumi to know that the word Shia literarily means supporters and has been used in this milieu in the Holy Qur’an in a number of places. The origin of Shiism is not separate from the origin of Islam since the Prophet himself sowed its seed by proclaiming the wisãya (successorship) and khilãfat (caliphate) of Ali bin Abí Tãlib in the first open call to Islam that he made in Mecca.
When the verse “And warn thy nearest relations." (The Qur'an 26:214) was revealed, the Prophet organized a feast that is known in history as "Summoning the Family - Da'wat dhu 'l-'Ashira". The Prophet invited about forty men from the Banu Hãshim and asked Ali bin Abi Tãlib to make arrangements for the dinner. After having served his guests with food and drinks, the Prophet wanted to speak to them about Islam; Abu Lahab forestalled him and said, "Your host has long since bewitched you." All the guests dispersed before the Prophet could present his message to them.
The Prophet then invited them the next day. After the feast, he spoke to them, saying:
“O Sons of 'Abdu 'l-Muttalib! By Allah, I do not know of any person among the Arabs who has come to his people with better than what I have brought to you. I have brought to you the good of this world and the next, and I have been commanded by the Lord to call you unto Him. Therefore, who amongst you will support me in this matter so that he may be my brother (akhhí), my successor (wasiyyí) and my caliph (khalifatí) among you?”
This was the first time that the Prophet openly and publicly called the relations to accept him as the Messenger and Prophet of Allah; he also used the words "akhí wa wasiyyí wa khalífatí- my brother, my successor, and my caliph" for the person who will aid him in this mission. No one answered him; they all held back except the youngest of them - Ali bin Abí Tãlib. He stood up and said, "I will be your helper, O Prophet of God."
The Prophet put his hand on the back of Ali's neck and said:
"Inna hadhã akhhí wa wasiyyí wa khalífatí fíkum, fasma'û lahu wa atí'û - Verily this is my brother, my successor, and my caliph amongst you; therefore, listen to him and obey."
This was the first explicit statement because the audience understood the appointment of Ali very clearly. Some of them, including Abu Lahab, even joked with Abu Tãlib that your nephew, Muhammad, has ordered you to listen to your son and obey him! At the least, this shows that the appointment of Ali bin Abí Tãlib was clear and explicit, not just implied.
Honorable Sheikh, you may please refer to the writing of Ibn Hajar in his book as-Sawa'iq ul-Muhriqa p. 96 -Egyptian edition. He wrote that ad-Daylami mentioned a tradition saying that the Prophet (s.a.w.a) said, “O Ali, Allah has forgiven you, your progeny, your wives and your Shia (followers). Be delighted…"
The same hadith has been mentioned by ibnul-Maghazili in his book al-Manaqib, al-Hamawini in Fara'id us-Samtayn, al-Manaawi in Kunuz ul-Haqaayiq p. 202, al-Qanduzi in Yanabi' ul Mawaddah p. 270, Abu Bakr bin Shihab in Rashfat us-Sadi p. 81, -Egyptian edition- and others. Furthermore, ad-Daylami recorded that the Prophet (s.a.w.a) said, "O Ali, you and your Shia will come to me at the Pond in Paradise quenched with shining faces, while your enemies will come to me thirsty and necks thrust forth." This very tradition has been mentioned by al-Manaawi in Kunuz ul-Haqaayiq p. 203, -Bolaq edition-, by al-Qanduzi al-Hanafi in Yanaabi' ul Mawaddah p. 182, -Egyptian edition-, and Muhammad Saalih at-Tirmidhi in al-Manaaqib ul-Murtazawiyya p.101, -Bombay Edition-.
Ad-Daylami mentioned in his book Firdous ul-Akhbar that Umm Salama (the Prophet's wife) said that the Prophet (s.a.w.a) had said:
"Ali and his Shia -followers- are the winners on the Day of Resurrection." The same was also mentioned by al-Manaawi in Kunuz ul-Haqa'iq p. 98, and al-Qanduzi in Yanabi' ul Mawaddah p. 188 and 237, -Istanbul Edition-.
My dear Sheikh you may also rejuvenate your mind with the hadith reported by Sabt bin al-Jawzi in his book Tadhkirat ul-Khawaas p. 59, narrated by Abu Sa'id al-Khudri that the Prophet (s.a.w.a) looked at Ali bin Abu Talib and said:
"This Man and his Shia are the winners on the Day of Resurrection." Al-Khatib al-Khawarizmi mentioned in al-Manaaqib p. 178 a hadith reported by Yazid bin Shurahil al-Ansari, Imam Ali's clerk, that he had heard Imam Ali (a) saying,
“The Prophet (s.a.w.a) said to me while he was leaning on my chest, O Ali, you have heard Allah's saying: Those who believe and do good; they are surely the best of men. (The Qur’an 98:7). They are you and your Shia. My rendezvous and yours will be at the Pond when the nations gather for the Judgment and you (and your Shia) will come with honor and radiant."
This tradition was also mentioned by as-Suyuti in his ad-Durr ul-Manthur vol. 6 p. 379 -Egyptian edition-. The same tradition has been reported by Muhammad Ib Jarir adDabariy who is considered Imamul Mafassarin in the Sunni world (died about 1120 years ago) while commenting on the same verse.
Al-Khatib ul-Baghdadi mentioned in his Muwazzih Awham uj-Jam' wa at-Tafriq vol. 1 p. 43; a tradition from Muhammad bin Amr bin al-Hasan, from Zaynab, from Fatima (a) the daughter of the Prophet (s.a.w.a) that the Prophet said to Ali, "O Abul-Hasan (Ali), you and your Shia will be in Paradise." Al-Haythami also mentioned in his book Majma'uz-Zawa'id vol. 10 p. 21 -Egyptian edition- that Umm Salama(r) said: "When the Prophet (s.a.w.a) was in my house one night, Fatima and Ali sat with him. He raised his head towards them and said,
"O Ali, be delighted. You and your Shia will be in Paradise."
He (Al-Haythami) also mentioned, in vol. 9 p. 173, a tradition narrated by Abu Hurayra that the Prophet (s.a.w.a) said to Ali, 'You and your Shia are with me in Paradise." The same was mentioned by al-Khatib al-Baghdadi in his book The History of Baghdad vol. 12 p. 289 –Egyptian edition-. Ibnul-Maghazili ash-Shafie has mentioned, in al-Manaqib p. 293 tradition No. 335, a hadith from Anas bin Malik that the Prophet (s) had said, "Seventy thousand from among my ummah will enter Paradise without there being any reckoning." Then he looked at Ali and said: "They are from your Shia and you are their Imam."
This hadith was mentioned by al-Khawarizmi in his al-Manaqib p. 229, ibn Hasnawayh al-Musily in Durr Bahr il-Manaqib p. 119, and al-Qanduzi in Yanabi' ul Mawaddah p. 124.
History has reported that just two months before his departure from this world, the Prophet clearly appointed 'Ali in Ghadir Khumm as the leader (religious as well as political) of the Muslims. He said, "Whomsoever's Master I am, this 'Ali is his Master." He also said, "I am leaving two precious things behind, as long as you hold on to them both you will never go astray: the Book of Allah and my progeny”.
With these few ahadith all from sunni source, my respected sheikh, I hope you will come to realize that Shia and Shiism are no new phenomena in Islam. If you are quoting Ibn Taimiya to disqualify the Shia from being Muslims, then you may compare his words with those of the prophet of Islam Muhammad (s.a.w.a) who Allah has certified that he does not utter but the truth.
Sheikh Shaltoot was one of the Sunni world's most revered scholars. He was the head of the renowned al-Azhar Theological school in Egypt; one of the main centers of Sunni scholarship in the world issued the following verdict (after extensive research of about ten years in collaboration with a team of renowned scholars) fifty years ago (on July 6, 1959) with regard to the Shia:
Head Office of al-Azhar University:
IN THE NAME OF ALLAH, THE BENEFICENT, THE MERCIFUL Text of the Verdict (Fatwa) Issued by His Excellency Sheikh al-Akbar Mahmood Shaltoot, Head of the al-Azhar University, on Permissibility of Following "al-Shia al-Imamiyyah" School of Thought
His Excellency was asked:
Some believe that, for a Muslim to have religiously correct worship and dealing, it is necessary to follow one of the four known schools of thought, whereas, "al-Shia al-Imamiyyah" school of thought is not one of them nor "al-Shia al-Zaidiyyah." Do your Excellency agree with this opinion, and prohibit following "al-Shia al-Imamiyyah al-Ithna Ashariyyah" school of thought, for example?
His Excellency replied:
1) Islam does not require a Muslim to follow a particular Madh'hab (school of thought). Rather, we say: every Muslim has the right to follow one of the schools of thought which has been correctly narrated and its verdicts have been compiled in its books. And, everyone who is following such Madhahib [schools of thought] can transfer to another school, and there shall be no crime on him for doing so.
2) The Ja'fari school of thought, which is also known as "al-Shia al- Imamiyyah al-Ithna Ashariyyah" (i.e., The Twelver Imami Shi'ites) is a school of thought that is religiously correct to follow in worship as are other Sunni schools of thought. Muslims must know this, and ought to refrain from unjust prejudice to any particular school of thought, since the religion of Allah and His Divine Law (Shari'ah) was never restricted to a particular school of thought. Their jurists (Mujtahidoon) are accepted by Almighty Allah, and it is permissible to the "non-Mujtahid" to follow them and to accord with their teaching whether in worship (Ibadaat) or transactions (Mu'amilaat).
Signed, Mahmood Shaltoot.
Dr. Gumi with all these facts before us, I wonder how you can have the valor and mandate to dismiss the Shia from Islam and openly condemn them to hell fire. Allah (s.w.a) has said: “let not hatred of a people incite you not to act equitably; fear Allah: Verily Allah is aware of all what you do” (The Qur’an 6:8).
As I have said earlier, it is not my intention to write a lengthy letter to you Dr. Gumi. So, I will not go into details of the narrations from the prophet (s.a.w.a) on the right of Ali to his successor ship which is the main issue concerning Shiism, and has remained the dividing line between Shia and Sunni, at least for now, may be at a different time. However I hope you will take time to verify and contemplate over the above mentioned narrations from the holy prophet (s.a.w.a). I sincerely wish they will help in aligning your understanding of Islam in general and Shia and Shiism in particular. I pray to Allah the merciful, to guide us onto the straight path and He should make us among those that will see the truth and identify with it.
Yours in Islam,
Dr. Abdullahi Danladi. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Resource Forum, Islamic Movement in Nigeria.