Identity, Equality, Unity
I am no religious scholar, but as an ordinary Muslim I have always found it logical that the decision as to eiman (faith) or kufr (negation of faith) of human beings belongs solely to Allah the Omniscient or to those He finds capable of taking such decision – usually His representatives, and most certainly not every Tom, Dick and Harry who knows a thing or two about religion.
I have seen the fatwa (religious decree) of February 1986 by many Ulama-e-Deoband of Pakistan (including Samiul Haq’s father Abdul Haq, then a sitting senator, Nurududdin Shamzai and Yusuf Ludhianvi, both very eminent Deobandi religious scholars, and about 50 others) that apostatizes Shias and declares them ‘wajib-ul-qatl’ (subject to mandatory killing). The Anjuman-e-Sipah-e-Sahaba (ASS) and its gorier face, the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) were born as a result of this fatwa, as did the still continuing three decade old episode of Shia Genocide in Pakistan.
One had hoped that this gift of General Zia Nahaq shall gradually die, and “enlightened moderation”, to which his successor usurper paid a lot of lip service, shall replace it, at least among the intelligentsia if not the clergy. So, on the one hand, while one is encouraged by the views of Maulana Ishaq Madani (Ahle-Hadith) and recent statement of Javed Ghamidi (ex-Jamaat-e-Islami), as also the officially expressed views of most religious parties, more so the Barelvis, that declare Shias to be Muslims, on the other hand one was discouraged to read a piece in a high circulation newspaper by Mr. Ansar Abbasi that almost parrots the ASS/LeJ position. Mr. Abbasi is not a lone wolf – his pack of backers is easily identifiable. This may, thus, be a feeler – if not the foundation – for enactment of the Hurmat-e-Sahaba bill introduced by the ASS terrorist Azam Tariq in the assembly – a piece of legislation that effectively apostatizes Shia Muslims.
Now let us go back to the 1986 Deobandi fatwa. It stated three ‘bases’ for takfeer (apostatization) of Shias:
1. That they believe in divinity of Hazrat Ali a.s. and the Imams a.s in his progeny, and thus at a higher status than the Holy Prophet (sawas)
2. That they believe the Quraan in its present form as having been tampered with and incomplete.
3. That they abuse sahaba (ra) (companions of the Holy Prophet (sawas)) and Ummuhaat al-Momineen (ra) (wives of the Holy Prophet (sawas))
Let us take a look at each of these ‘bases’:
The Ali a.s that Shia Muslims believe in prided in calling himself “a slave among the slaves of Muhammad (sawas)”. He was martyred while prostrating to Allah, as was his son and the third Imam Husain a.s. Can we logically believe a follower of the Holy Prophet (sawas) at a higher status than him? Is it logical that one prostrating to Allah is himself a divine being? Do divine beings face martyrdom as our Imams a.s. did?
Go to any Shia household, seminary or mosque anywhere in the world and pick up a copy of the Quraan there. Compare it with the ‘authentic’ Quraan. You will find not an iota of difference. In fact, the belief that Quraan can be tampered with is itself a blasphemy against the Divine Guarantee that, “It is We that revealed the Quraan, and it is We that shall keep it safe.” Shia religious scholars right from Sheikh Saduq (d. 991) to Syed Muhammad Husain Tabatabai (d. 1981) and Syed Abul Qasim Khu’I (d. 1992) have written detailed commentaries confirming what I have submitted.
These two purported ‘bases’ of takfeer are so absurd that they are no longer repeated as ‘reasons’ for apostatization of Shias. The third ‘basis’ – which Mr. Ansar Abbasi has reintroduced in the vernacular press – is trickier.
It is a matter of record that senior-most Shia scholars of today, Sayyed Ali Khamene’i (HA) and Sayyed Ali Sistani (HA) have issued decrees prohibiting (declaring ‘haraam’) abuse of those held in esteem by Sunni Muslims. Any Shia abusing any Ummul Momineen (ra) or Sahabi (ra) shall, therefore, be violating this decree and committing a forbidden act.
Having said that, I would submit the following:
1. While such abuse is a vile act, using it as a basis for takfeer has no basis in Quraan or Sunnah.
2. Not all who professed to have converted to Islam at the hands of the Holy Prophet (sawas) actually did so. That is clear by the presence of Sura al-Munafiqun (The Hypocrites) in the Quraan. So, it is logical that not all who apparently accepted Islam actually did so and were, therefore, at the level of being sahaba (ra).
3. What about those personalities who abused eminent sahaba? For instance, history records that Muavia initiated the practice of abusing Ali a.s. from Umayyad pulpits. Ummul Momineen Aisha (ra) has been quoted as saying: ”Uqtul al-Naasal” (Kill that old jew) in respect of Caliph Usman (ra). In their eagerness to apostatize Shia Muslims, are the Ulama-e-Deoband – and now Mr. Abbasi – not using the same sword for these two?
4. What about those who were responsible for killing of sahaba (ra)? More serious than abuse, perhaps? During the caliphate of Hazrat Abu Bakr (ra) a posse under his military commander killed the sahabi Malik ibne Nuwaira (ra) and Khalid bin Waleed raped his widow, also a sahabia. During the reign of Hazrat Usman (ra), the sahabi Abdullah ibne Masoud (ra) was beaten so severely by government functionaries that he died of his wounds. During the same period, Hazrat Abuzar (ra) was exiled to the desert on the bare back of a camel – an act that resulted in his death. And then the uprisings against the caliphate of Hazrat Ali a.s. in the form of Jamal (led by Ummul Momineen Aisha (ra) and Talha and Zubayr) and Siffin (led by Muavia, along with Marwan al-Hakam and Amr ibne Aas). Thousands of sahaba (ra) – including Hazrat Ammar ibne Yasir (ra) – lost their lives in these uprisings. What about those responsible for their being killed? And then what about those responsible for martyring the sahabi and Imam Husain ibne Ali a.s. at Karbala? Persons like Zakir Naik are on record as having sought Allah’s pleasure for the one responsible for the martyrdom of Husain (a.s.). Would the Deobandi decree also cover this friend of theirs?
In summary, my submission is simple: let us not commit the possible blasphemy of deciding on issues that fall exclusively under Divine Authority – or authority of those to whom He delegates it – but certainly not within our authority. In the process, we are also guilty of opening a can of worms that will apostatize those whose sanctity we are ostensibly trying to protect!