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Introduction

INTRODUCTION
The status quo of the Muslims nowadays is truly pitiful. Nations have assailed them just as hungry people assail a coveted meal following the success of Imperialism in disseminating discord and dissension among the members of one and the same nation. These nations have expanded the gap between the Muslims in order to achieve their vicious objectives which cannot be achieved except by Muslims colliding with each other.

It has been very difficult for the enemies of Islam to see the blessed Islamic resurgence overwhelming the hearts of the members of our Islamic nation. There have been efforts to let the Qur'an and the Sunnah take charge of our countries especially after the success of one of such attempts which caused international arrogance to be gravely shocked. Such arrogance remains maintaining its efforts to put an end to such efforts through various methods and means. During the last few years, these folks have been stirring sectarian differences and schisms among the Shi'ahs and the Sunnis. This task has been vested upon the agents of Imperialism in our Islamic world. In turn, they have instructed their hired hands from among the preachers to write and publish various books to attack the beliefs of the Shi'ahs and to charge them with apostasy, accusing them of sharing their beliefs with the Zoroastrians, Jews and Christians, in addition to such nuances which unfortunately caused many simple-minded people, as well as fanatics, to fall prey to such vicious attacks, having believed, without first researching and verifying the venom with which such books are filled. Millions of copies of such books have been distributed all over the Islamic world ...


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Like other Muslims, I was exposed to this campaign which was undertaken by some movements the objective of which is only to "protect the Sunnis from the Shiite danger," according to their claims, to "bring them awareness about the beliefs of this sect which stems out of Judaism and Zoroastrianism," as they claim. In the beginning, I resented such a campaign due to the rude and non-subjective method whereby they describe the Shi'ah faith and which I also noticed to often rely on exaggeration and sensationalism. Although I was born in Palestine for a Sunni Palestinian couple, and although the vast majority of Palestinians are "followers of the Sunnah and Jama'ah," and despite my belief then that the sect following the "Sunnah and the Jama–ah" was the right one, yet I could not see how the Shi'ahs could be "unbelievers." All I knew about them was their high regand for 'Ali (a.s), that they prefer him over all other sahabah. But I did not know why other than the status which most Sunnis believe he is worth of, that is, his being no more than the fourth of the "righteous caliphs;" he is simply a sahabi1 whose status they equated with that of other sahabah, including Mu'awiyah and 'Umar ibn al-'As. But this "exaggeration" in raising the status of 'Ali (a.s), in my view, did not warrant their expulsion from the Islamic creed altogether, despite many of their claims that the Shi'ahs prefer 'Ali (a.s) over the Seal of Prophets (a.s), that they believe Archangel Gabriel made a mistake in bringing the divine message down, even the claim often put forth that they consider 'Ali (a.s) as the Lord, that they have a copy of the Qur'an different from theirs, in addition to other such claims.

But I did not pay attention to any of that because as long as I live, I shall never forget what my theology teacher at the high school once said: "Shi'ahs are many sects some of which do, indeed, regand 'Ali (a.s) as the Lord. But the Shi'ah Ithna-'Ashari (Twelvers) sect, also
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1 Sahabis are generally the companions of the Holy Prophet and, terminologically, every one, disregarding the age, who saw, heard or witnessed the Holy Prophet. Yet, various opinions have been given in this regand. For more information, see Ahmad Husayn Ya'qub: The Conception of the Sahabah's Ultimate Decency; translated by Badr Shahin, Ansariyan Publications – Qum, 1999.


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called the Ja'fari sect, is the closest one to the Sunnis, and those who adhere to it are Muslims." Since these words came from someone whose righteousness, piety, vast knowledge and information acquired, in addition to his moderation and subjectivity when criticizing those whose views differed from those of Islam or from his Sunni sect, these words kept ringing in my ears for many days and years. Add to this, the fact that I was very much influenced by one of my relatives who invited others to the Path of Allah and I have no doubt in his sincerity and concern about the unity of the Muslims—Sunnis and Shi'ahs. This concept found its firm grounds in my soul until it became a de facto reality especially when I came to know that most Sunni scholars and callers of our time regand the Shi'ahs as Muslims who believe in the Unity of Allah. Among them is the martyr Hassan al-Banna, the martyr Sayyid Qutb, 'Allamah Mawdudi, Sheikh Muhammed Kashak, Alleimah Sheikh Muhammed al-Ghazali, Sheikh Muhmad Shaltat, Professor al-Bahansawi, al-Talmasani, Anwar al-Jundi, Hassan Ayyub, Sa'id Hawi, Fathi Yakun, Abu Zuhrah, Yasuf al-'Azm, [Prof. Rashid] al-Ghannachi and many, many others whose works I have been honored to read and which have filled the shelves of libraries frequented by a generation that is witnessing an Islamic resurgence.
Thus, no doubt ever entertained my mind that the Shi'ahs are Muslims. I did not make any distinction between a Sunni and a Shi'ah person because I decided to overlook their differences which in no way label one of them as "Muslim" and the other as "non-Muslim", differences the details of which I did not fully know, nor was I ready to even think about them or even research due to my feeling that there was no need to conduct such researches which require digging through history and arriving at mazes which do not get anyone to reach any outcome. I was convinced at that time that researching these differences was a norm of dissension from which one should stay away or discuss especially since both parties are Muslims. I looked upon the Sunnis and the Shi'ahs in the same light wherein I used to look at both 'Ali (a.s) and Mu'awiyah: that they


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both were Muslims despite all what went on between them.

My trip to Western lands, in order to pursue my graduate study, coincided in the 1980s when this dissension intensified in heat and when many voices were raised warning against the Shi'ah creed, voices which were accompanied by charges against the Islamic revolution in Iran and against its leader who I believed was the real target of that campaign. Quite often, I found myself the object of criticism for no reason other than my conviction that the Shi'ahs were in no way apostates. Whenever I wanted to defend myself against one assault, the next assault came more fiercely than its predecessor, so much so that someone once said to me that I had to choose one path, that is, to clearly define my sect, since I could not be both a Sunni and at the same time a sympathizer with the Shi'ahs and a supporter of the Islamic revolution in Iran because this issue, in his view, was an issue of the "doctrine", one which did not permit any compromise. I cannot hide the fact that some hand and embarrassing moments confronted me because of my lack of knowledge of the details of the Shi'ah sect. I did not know how to respond to the claims of some people that the beliefs held by the Shi'ahs, such as Imamate, Infallibility, Taqiyyah (pious dissimulation) and labeling some saliabah as apostates took them out of the creed altogether. I developed a great deal of interest in familiarizing myself with such "beliefs". Thus, I found myself prompted to do what many others flee from: the pursuit of the truth, in an attempt to put an end to lengthy months of doubt and puzzlement.

But how would I do that? Shall I be satisfied with what Sunni writers, who consider the Shi'ahs as apostates, have written? I had by then read many of them and was not convinced by them at all because most of such writers departed from good manners and from the scientific spirit which mandates subjectivity and the providing of evidence. And should I be satisfied with the views of moderate Sunnis who consider the ideological differences between the Shi'ahs and the Sunnis as an artificial fuss? These include al­Ghazali, al-Bahansawi, 'Izzid-Din Ibrahim and others. But these


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views did not solve the problem. Rather, they keep it suspended where it started.

I had no choice except to seek the truth from books written by the Shi'ahs themselves. But in the beginning I dismissed this option because I thought that in their works, the Shi'ahs would support their views from traditions narrated through their own venues which, of course, cannot be accepted by us [Sunnis]. But later I came to acquire a book titled Al-Muraja'at1 as a loan from a friend of mine and with which I became familiar. Luckily, that friend, too, was like me: a seeker of the truth. In his turn, he had acquired this book from one of his Shi'ah friends who advised him to read it after my friend had requested him to give him a book that would make him familiar with the beliefs of the Shi'ahs.

Although the writer of this book, Al-Muraja'at, is a Shi'ah, yet he, to my great surprise, supports his arguments with regand to Shi'ah beliefs from books of tradition in circulation among Sunnis, especially both Sahib books. I actually found in it what encouraged me to seek the truth, the truth which puzzled and divided people. I always used to participate with my friends in researching and discussing the contents of this book which is comprised of correspondence between a Sunni scholar, namely Sheikh Salim al­Bishri, [then] rector of al-Azhar, and a Shi'ah Lebanese scholar, namely imam Sharafud-Din Sadr ad-Din al-'Amili al-Musawi. The said correspondence revolves around the most important issues .wherein the Sunnis and the Shi'ahs differ.

I do not hide the fact that what I read in that book was a great surprise to me, and I do not exaggerate when I say that it was the shock of my life. I did not expect at all to find the difference
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1 The very first English translation of Al-Muraja'at titled Al-Muraja'ait: A Shi'ite-Sunni Dialoguewas completed by Yasin T. al-Jibouri and published in Beirut, Lebanon, in 1415 A.H./1995 A.D. by Imam Hussain Foundation. A larger-size second edition of the same was then published in Qum, Islamic Republic of Iran, by Ansariyan Publications in 14 A.H./2001 A.D., and the entire translation is available on the Internet on this web site address: www.al-Islam.com.-- Tr.


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between the Sunnis and the Shi'ahs to be as I saw it depicted in that book. I discovered that I was ignorant of the [Islamic] history and of hadith, as is the case with anyone who tackled this subject from among those whom I saw and met, including those who had Ph.D. degrees in Shari' ah (the Islamic code of law) as you will see from the details of this research. Because of the extent of the shock produced by the facts stated in that book, and despite the claim of its writer that he draws his arguments from the Qur'an and from both Sahih! books [of al-Bukhdri and Muslim, two of what is called Al Sihah al-Sittah, the six books of authentic traditions held by the Sunnis as the most reliable], some of us started doubting the authenticity of these books, so much so that one of my friends said, "If what this Shi'ah writer claims is true, that is, there are such facts in al-Bukhari's Sahih! book, I shall disbelieve in all traditions narrated by al-Bukhari from this day onwand." But he did not mean what he said. He only meant to say that it was impossible for that Shi'ah writer to be accurate. We all felt that had the contents of his book been true, this would mean a lot for us in as far as our understanding of the truth behind the difference between the Sunnis and the Shi'ahs is concerned.

It became necessary to verify the contents of Al-Muraja'at from our own review of al-Bukhari's Sahih.Allah did, indeed, grant us success, after exerting a great deal of effort, in coming across a copy of al-Bukhdri's Sahih! book. I was not at all surprised when I found in al-Bukhari's Sahih all the places to which the Shi'ah writer referred. Some may wonder: "Why such emphasis on al-Bukhari's Sahih?" This is so because the arguments which he derives from the Book of Allah are often subject to interpretation, and one verse may bear more than one meaning, depending, of course, on one's own interpretation. For example, the verse saying, "He frowned and turned away because the blind man came to him._ etc." (Qur'an, 80:1-2). These couple of verses do not state the name of the person who frowned, nor that of the blind man, hence the role of tradition in explaining all of that. Thus, Al-Bukhari's Sahih came to occupy the first position with regand to "authenticity" after the Book of


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Allah, according to the Sunnis who held themselves bound to accept all of its contents. This is why tradition solves any differences with regand to interpreting the verses of the Glorious Book of Allah.

Whenever I read additional books which deal with this topic, the truth kept getting clearer to me until in the end it manifested itself most gloriously in a way which accepts no doubt whatsoever. But the question which always kept bothering me revolved around the reason behind hiding so many historical events, as well as the traditions of the Messenger of Allah (a.s), despite their authentication in the references which the Sunnis regand as reliable and which may remove a great deal of ambiguity accompanying the issue of the differences between the Sunnis and the Shi'ahs during the past centuries. Is the method of hiding the facts, or enforcing a blackout in their regand, or creating confusion about them..., etc., can be accepted as a justification for avoiding dissension, as they claim? Is it not dissension when facts are hidden and distorted?!

When I started investigating this sensitive issue, my ultimate goal was to make sure whether the Shi'ahs are Muslims or not. I had no doubt at all that the method [of worship] of the followers of the "Sunnah and Jama'ah" was the right one. But after having reviewed, researched and carefully considered this matter, the result which I reached was an amazing contradiction, yet I did not hesitate for one moment to accept the fact which I discovered. Why should I not accept it so long as there are those who support it with proofs and evidences which all are considered by the Sunnis as accepted arguments, and so long as they agree with reason which Allah—the most Sublime the most High—regards as evidence against all creation?

The same fact has been accepted by a good number of our students, something which irritated some fanatics and those who issued verdicts that we [Shi'ahs] are apostates, even saying that it is not permissible to reciprocate the greeting whereby we greet them [Sunnis]. They circulated against us rumors the lightest of which was the receipt by everyone who becomes Shi'ah of S300 from the


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Iranian Embassy as a rewand. As regarding al-Bukhari's
which we used as our argument against them, they said that it was a forgery and is not the true Sahih of al-Bukhari! Facing such ignorance and fanaticism on one hand, and seeing how oppressed the Shi'ahs are on the other, I was of the view to write a summary of my research then present it to every seeker of the truth so that people may review it as well. As long as there are those who tell lies about the Shi' ahs in order to mislead others, and there are some people who tell such lies, that doing so is permissible, the truth is worthier of being written and published. Despite the pains and the wounds which this book may cause to some fanatics, I ask them: "Who is to blame?!"

As for the book, which presents the views of both parties and the refutation of each with regand to the most significant issues of contention, there is no claim in it except that it is supported by proofs and arguments from what the Sunnis hold in high esteem and in which they believe, such as both Sahih books of al-Bukhari and Muslim in the first place. So, why do they not blame the ignorance which prohibited them from knowing these facts? Or did their fanatical religious leaders hide such facts deliberately from them? Or why do they not blame al-Bukhari and Muslim and others from among the scholars of hadith with regand to what they wrote in their books, texts which caused them such a shock?! But how can this be since the Sunnis have taken upon themselves to follow everything both Sahih books contain?

The sect of the Imamite Shi'ahs, to which we refer in this research, is the one the adherents to which believe in following the caliphate of 'Ali (a.s) and the rest of the twelve Imamsfrom among the Ahl al-Bayt (a.s)1 after the Prophet (a.s). Regarding other sects included
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1 The Ahl al-Bayt (People of the House) is a term dedicated to the family of the Holy Prophet. More precisely, it is dedicated to definite individuals; namely, Imam 'Ali ibn Abi-Talib, Fatima al-Zahra' (the Holy Prophet's daughter and Imam 'Ali's wife), al-Hasan ibn 'Ali, and al-Husayn ibn 'Ali. The nine Immaculate Imams (namely, 'Ali ibn al-Husayn al-Sajjed Muhammad ibn 'Ali al-Baqir, Ja'far ibn Muhammad al-Sadiq, Musa ibn Ja'far al-Kazim, 'Ali ibn Musa al-Rids, Muhammad ibn 'Ali al-Jawad, 'Ali ibn Muhammad al-Hadi, al‑Hasan ibn 'Ali al-'Askari, and al-Mahdi the Awaited) are also within the Ahl al­Bayt.


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under the label of "SIT ah", such as those who believe in the godhead or prophethood of 'Ali (a.s), or other sects, the Shi'ahs dissociate themselves from them. So, why do some people insist that these sects are Shi' ah? And why do they and their likes undertake the circulation of such nonsense in order to mislead Muslim commoners and the ignorant ones among them? And why such shameful forgery in the history of the Muslims and in their tolerant creed?!

 

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