Meaning of Shi'a?

the word "shia" in arabic means "follower". therefore, the followers of imam ali (a.), as an imam after the prophet (p.), were called "shia". shi'a consider the life of imam ali (a.) in total accordance with islamic teachings; he implemented the holy qur'an in his life. he was very close to the prophet (p.). he was fully aware of the holy qur'an and the teachings of the prophet (p.). on one occasion he said, "i used to follow the prophet (p.) as a child who follows the parents".

therefore, all muslims historians report that he was the most knowledgeable person on the holy qur'an and the prophet (p.). when ata, a companion of the prophet (p.) was asked who was the most knowledgeable person beside ali (a.) among the companions, he said, "i swear by god, i do not know anybody beside ali". see isabe vol :3 p 1104. for these and other reasons, shi'a took imam ali (a.) as their leader for interpretation of the holy qur'an and prophet muhammad's (p.) tradition.

wa assalam alaykum

shi'a basic beliefs

shi'a believe in five principles :

1) tawheed (unity of god): the holy qur'an says,

"indeed your lord is one. the lord of heaven and earth and what is in between ". (37:4-5)

2) nabuwwa (prophethood) : the god has sent prophets to guide humans to the right path. first of them was adam (a.) and the last one is muhammad (p.). the holy qur'an says, "o' prophet ! we have sent you as a witness who brings good news and warn evil and calls to allah's order". (33 :45)

3) qiyamma (resurrection): the god resurrects people after death and rewards good people and punishes the bad doers. the holy qur'an says, " he is the one who created people and he will resurrect them. it is easier for him ". ( 30 : 27)

whoever denies one of these principles would not be considered a member of muslim community. however, the following two principles distinguish the shi'a. whoever denies them would not be a shi'a, though he is a muslim.

4)' adl ( justice): the god is not in need of anything. so he does not treat anybody unjustly. only a needy person can be unjust. the holy qur'an says, "god does not treat people unjustly, but people treat themselves unjustly". (10:44)

5) imama (leadership) : the prophet (p.) always looked after the interest of islam and muslims. he could not leave his people without an appointed successor for leadership of the islamic society. the leader cannot be unjust. the holy qur'an says to prophet ibrahim (a.), " i appoint you a leader", ibrahim said, " what about my descendants"? god said, " an unjust people cannot reach my promise". (2 :124)

these five principles are called usul-ud-din which means articles of faith.

Succession to the prophet Muhammad (p.)

shi'a believe that someone should have been appointed by the prophet muhammad (p.) to lead the muslims to the right path. therefore, the prophet (p.) did not leave this world without such an appointment. no wise leader would do so; every leader has someone to carry his message after him. therefore, in the case of the prophet (p.), according to shi'a, he appointed imam ali (a.) as his successor. it is impossible to say that the prophet (p.) ignored this important matter. in addition, it was not possible for muslims to ask the prophet (p.) about minor things but forget such an important matter while they used to read holy qur'an addressing the prophet muhammad (p.) explained this. among them are the following reports.

  1. hadith-ul-manzila : when the prophet (p.) went to tabuk in the 9th year a.h., he left imam ali (a.) in madina and said " wouldn't you like to be to me as haroon (a.) was to moses (a.)?" sahih bukhari vol :5 p. 24, cairo. sahih muslim adds to this report the following phrase, " but there would be no prophet after me ". sahih muslim vol : 7 p. 120, cairo. the prophet muhammad (p.), in this report, appointed imam ali (a.) as moses (a.) appointed haroon (a.). the holy qur'an defines the relationship between haroon (a.) and moses (a.) as follows :

a). succession : the holy qur'an says,

" moses says to his brother haroon, succeed me among my people and righteous and do not follow the way or mischievous people". (7 :142).

b). help : the holy qur'an says,

" amid appoint for me a helper from my family, haroon my brother ". (20 :29-30).

c). consultant : the holy qur'an says, " and consult him in my affairs ". ( 20-32).

therefore, all of the mentioned in the holy qur'an should be for imam ali (a.) as it was for haroon. 2. hadith-ul-thaqalain : the prophet (p.) said, " o, people ! i am a human being, i am going to die and i leave two valuable things among you, one is the book of allah, in it you find guidance and light ". then said, " and my family (ahl-ul-bayt), i remind you, the ahl-ul-bayt three times". see sahih muslim vol :7 p. 121.

  1. hadith-ul-ghadir : it is a place between mecca and madina in which the prophet (p.) gave a ceremony on 18th dhul hijjah 10th a.h. zaid ibn arqam says that we went with the prophet (p.) to the valley called vadi khum *. he asked us to pray, then he gave a speech in which he said, " don't you know, don't you witness that i am the leader of every believer "? they replied, "yes". then he said, " whomever i an the leader of , ali (a.) would be his leader. o' lord ! be enemy of his enemy and be helper of his followers ". see musnad ahmed bin hanbal vol : 4 p. 372.

Qualification of leadership

qualification for leadership are as follows :

1.) the leadership in islam during the prophet muhammad (p) was both for religion and daily matters. most important qualifications were knowledge and justice. there is no value for blood relationship nor age in islam. therefore, we see prophet muhammad (p.) appointed osama bin zaid who was 20 years old as a leader for the islamic army. the prophet (p.) ordered all his older companions to follow osama because prophet muhammad (p.) found in him the qualification of knowledge and justice. the prophet muhammad (p.) did not care about the age. therefore, shi'a believe that the question of age which was brought against imam ali (a.) was not valid at all. further, during the islamic history until 1339 a.h. most of a leader as a required qualification for leadership.

2.) infallibility : the other qualification is justice. according to shi'a principle, the leader should be just. the holy qur'an says to ibrahim (a.), " unjust people cannot reach my promise ". (2 : 124) the holy qur'an says " who does not repent is unjust " . therefore, every wrong doer is unjust. the prophet muhammad (p.) brought the message of islam completely during his life. the holy qur'an says, " today we have completed your religion " ( 5: 3).

therefore, no one has the right to add anything to islamic principle. rather everyone should apply qur'anic teachings to his life. infallibility of an imam is nothing but to adhere to his duty as leader. imam ali (a.) says, " how can i be called a commander of faithfuls and not share with them their difficulties of life". the ahl-ul-bayt followed the prophet (p.) who said, " i am not but a human being like you ". in short, infallibility is adhere to the principle of leadership as it is explained by the islamic teachings.

Meaning of Shi'a?

the qualification of a leader can be fully understood but by the previous leader. therefore, the prophet muhammad (p.) appointed imam ali (a.) and each imam appointed the imam after him. the first imam is imam ali (a.) and the last imam medhi (a.). the prophet (p.) mentioned twelve leaders to come after him. bukhari reports that jabir bin samra said, " i heard the prophet (p.) saying there will be twelve leaders all are from quraish ". sahih bukhari vol : 9 p 101, sahih muslim vol : 6 p 3 and this number agrees with the twelve imams (a.). it is obvious that political leadership cannot be justified in numbers because as long as there is life, there would be leadership. therefore, the number should be explained in the spiritual leadership. the islamic history does not show anyone qualified better then the twelve imams (a.) who implemented islam in their life.

Imam Mahdi (a.)

many reports are reported by scholars that a person from the family of the prophet (p.) will appear to bring justice to the world. the word " al-mahdi" means a true guided person. ibn hajar says, " mahdi is the descendent of fatima (a.)". sawaiq p. 165. all muslims agree upon this hadith. shi'a say these hadiths refer to the 12th imam who is alive by the will of god and the only reason that other people deny him is his long life. but by will of god, that is possible. the holy qur'an says,

" for noah (a.), he lived with them for 1000 but 50 years " (29 : 14). that is not natural to live that long but the will of god made that happen. also, the holy qur'an says, " regarding the people of cave, they lived in their caves for 309 years ". ( 18: 25) also regarding jesus (a.) the holy qur'an says," they did not kill him nor did crucify him " (4 : 157). therefore, the 12th imam is alive by the will of god as jesus (a.) is alive, all of these have been proven by hadith which confirms the will of god almighty.

32, 33, 34, & 34 i would like to have you reply regarding the following questions?. ( zamir mohamed. bombay, 400 003 india )

  1. is interest forbidden ?.

  2. which is the greatest ayat (verse) of the holy qur'an ? is it sura fateha, or ayatul kursi, or any other verse ?.

  3. what is the substitution for interest ?.

  4. are mujtehids liable and why do they differ on friday prayer ? Interest in Islam

interest is totally forbidden in the holy qur'an. there are seven verses in the holy qur'an against interest. in fact, there is no such severe punishment for any other actions which are forbidden by the holy qur'an as it is against interest. the holy qur'an says, " whomever deals with interest let him fight against god". the main reason probably is that muslims should invest their money instead of giving it to someone else to invest. however, according to shari'ah, any earning which does not fluctuate is forbidden. thus, if the deal earns dividends, which fluctuate, it is not forbidden. one can use this guideline for any particular transaction.

greatest verse of the holy qur'an which is the greatest ayat ( verse of the holy qur'an ) ? is it sura fateha or ayat-ul-kursi or any other verse?

the verses of the holy qur'an are unique at their level of impor. therefore, each verse of the holy qur'an is important on different subjects. ayat-ul-kursi explains the most important a tribute of god, while the surat-ul-hamd explains the relations of man to his lord. if we are to look at the arrangement of the holy qur'an in the way it is written and read by all muslims since the time of the prophet (p.), one should consider surat-ul-hamd, the greatest one as it is the opening of the holy qur'an. in addition, it is obligatory to recite it in the daily prayers. no prayer is accepted without surat-ul-hamd. while one can recite other suras in the place of surat-ul-tawhid, this emphasizes the importance of surat-ul-hamd which has to be recited in the five daily prayers. the content of fateha * clearly indicates the importance of the spiritual guidance which one repeats everyday to his lord.

substitution for interest

what is substitution for interest as interest is prohibited in islam?

interest is forbidden in the islamic law, while dividend is not. the main objective of this legislation seems to be that any profits should be earned justly by working for it. on the basis of the islamic law, if someone uses interest, he earns money and benefits without helping the society. the interest multiples as a result of time period and not any actual work of an individual in the society. but if one uses that capital in business, that capital would help others who are employed in the society because people would work with that capital for more products. on the contrary, by keeping money in a bank for interest, mainly banks would benefit from that money and people of the society have to bear difficulties. in the dividend system, money would be used in business which helps the society directly or indirectly. thus, the substitution of interest can be in mutual funds and dividends of a lawful transaction not dealing in alcohol or gambling or likewise transactions.

are mujtahids * liable ? why do they differ on friday prayers ?

this question has two dimensions :

a.) any decision from anyone either mujtahid or not, that contradicts the holy qur'an or reliable hadith, should be totally rejected, but it equally important to understand that mujtahid is in position to know the most likely interpretation of the holy qur'an and the hadiths. therefore, for a mujtahid, it is impossible to contradict the holy qur'an.

b.) on the friday prayer, in principle, there is no difference between shi'a and sunni, mujtahids and non mujtahids, that the friday prayer is obligatory. the only difference between them is on the conditions on which this prayer would become obligatory. both schools of thought, shi'a and sunni, believe that friday prayer cannot be performed with wudu *. in addition, both agree on some conditions e.g. that friday prayer should be performed in congregation (jamat) *. also they basically agree on the condition of minimum numbers participating in the congregation; there should be at least five of three according to different schools of thought. distance between the two places where friday prayer is performed is also important. the most important difference between the two is that shi'a and some hanfi believe, among the conditions for friday prayers to be the establishment of an islamic government, which practices islam in its totally. since this condition is absent from many muslim communities in which there are muslim rulers by names but not by practice. some shi'a mujtahids believe this condition is not obligatory because the conditions are not met exactly as wudu* or congregation. however, there are some mujtahids who do not consider this as a condition for friday prayer on the basis of different hadiths.

al-sahifa al-kamilah

write to you concerning the sources of the al-sahifa al-sajjadiyya. in a few months i will be ready to begin writing the introduction to the text which will include a section on the life of the imams (a.), an analysis of text's importance for islamic spiritually and ethics, and also, i hope a well founded argument for the text's authenticity. for the first part it is not difficult to find sources, and for the second part can rely on the text itself. but for the third part i am lost at where to turn, since i have no experience in tracking down the isnad of such work. dr. modaressi suggested that you may be able to give me information concerning books or articles that have written about authenticity of al-sahifa. naturally, any help you can give will be fully acknowledged in the introduction.

thanking you in advance for any assistance you can give, i remain,

william c. chittick port jefferson ny 11777

in response to your question you will find a list of books concerning al-sahifa al-kamilah. in the introduction of some of these books, authors have discussed in details on the "isnad", namely, in riyadh al-salihkin by ibn masum d. 1120 a.h., al-sahifa al-sajjadiyyah al-thaltha by al-afandi d. 1130 a.h., al-sahifa al-khamisa by al-amin d. 1371 a.h.. the oldest manuscript of the book is copied by yaqut al-mustasinum in 694 a.h. as it is described in fihrst-e-kutub-e-din kitakhan-e-saltanati by atabi, tehran, 1352 sh.p.787. unfortunately, i was not able to examine this manuscript, which is interesting is copied in 1079 a.h. with some chain of "isnad".

it is preserved at the tehran university central library no. 73. mishkat's collections. some pages of this are attached for your consideration. the following is the list of various sources concerning al-sahifa al-kamilah, which are in my possession.

note: in this list the following abbreviation are used:

1 : comment = commentary.

2 : photo = photography or xerox.

3 : script = manuscript.

4 : trans. = translation.

  1. ad`iyyat-ul-ayyam al-sab`a li ahl-il-bayt (a.). copyist ; yaqut a;-musta`sami d.682 a.h. - photo).

  2. shaifa sajjadiyyah, imam zayn al-abidin d.95 a.h. ( copyist : ala al-din muhammad hafiz tabrizi in 981 a.h. tehran, husayinyah irahad 1329 a.h.

  3. ibid, with introduction, by m. baqir al-sadr dar al-taruf. lebanon. n.d.

4.dua' al -sahifa al-kamila. copyist : ghulam ali m.amin in 1079 a.h.-photo).

  1. aharh al-sahifa ( comment.) by mir m.baqir al-damad d. 1040 a.h. copyist : m. zaman nafi ' phote-library of mar'shi qum no. 2616.

  2. al-sahifa al-thaniyyah. by m.b. al-hasan al-hur al-amil d. 1104 a.h.

  3. riyadh al-salikin (comment). by sayyid ali khan b. ahmed madani (ibn ma'sum) d. 1120 a.h. lithograph 1137 a.h. iran.

  4. al-sahifa al-thaniyyah, al-durdar al manthura by mirza abdullah afandi d. 1130 a.h. (photo) mar'shi qum no. 1960. 9. sahifa kamila ( trans) urdu by sayyid ali qibla. pakistan ( 1128 a.h.).

10 sahifa kamila ( trans. urdu ) by sayyid m. huran qibla, delhi.1333 a.h.

11 al-sahifa al-rabi'a by mirza husayn al-nuri s. 1320 a.h. ( photo ) mar'shi no. 167.

  1. al-sahifa al-kamila with introduction by sayyid m. mishkat and sayyid mar'shi copyist : tahir khunshniwis in 1321 sh. tehran 1321 sh. )

  2. sharh b'ad ad'yyah al-sahifa ( trans farsi ), by wuthuq al-hukama mirza ibrahim sabziwari in 1342 a.h. copyist : ahmed b. m.hizarjiriby lethograph tehran 1349 ).

14 tarju'ma sahifa ( trans farsi ) by husayn imad zadeh isfahani, tehran, 1374 a.h.

  1. al-sahifa al-khamisa, by muhsin al-amin al-amili d. 1371 a.h. damascus 1330 a.h.

  2. tarjumai sahifah ( trans farsi ) by sayyid ali naqi fayd al-islam copyist : tahir khusniwis in 1376 a.h. tehran 1376.

17.tarjumai sahifah ( trans : farsi ) by jawadi-fazil copyist : tahir khushnivis in 1376 a.h. tehran 2536 sh.

  1. sharh al -sahifa ( comment). by sayyid muhammad shirazi. najaf 1387 a.h.

  2. tuhfat al-talibin fi talkhis riyadh al-salikin. by aby al-fadi al-husayni in 1381 a.h. tehran 1381 a.h.

  3. tarjumai al-sahifa ( trans farsi ). by muhi al-din ilahi qumshi, tehran 1378 a.h.

21 al-sahifa al-sajjadiyah by dr. husayn ali mah, an excerpt from al-balagh, baghdad 1967=1387.

  1. al-mu'jam al-mufahras lil sahifa by ali akbar al-qurashi. dar al-tabligh, qum, 1391 a.h.

  2. tarjumat ul-sahifa ( trans farsi ) by abu al-hasan sha'rani tehran 1378 a.h.

  3. fi zilal al-sahifa ( comment ) by muhammad jawad mughniyyah, dar ul taaruf lebanon 1399 a.h. =1979.

  4. sharh al-sahifa ( comment ) by iz al-din al-jaza'ri lebanon 1398 a.h.=1978.

  5. al-sahifa al-sajjadiyyah copyist : abbas misbah zadeh in 1403 a.h. london.

  6. al-dalil ila mawzu'at al-sahifa by muhammad hussayin al-muzaffar, qum, 1403 a.h.

  7. saheefa-e-kamelah ( trans english ) (the book of perfection). by ahmed ali mohani b.a. 2nd edition 1968. peer muhammad ebrahim trust pakistan, 1968.

  8. tarjuma sahifa ( trans urdu ) by qasim raza nasin amr dahwi . copyist : m.abbas siqqiqi karachi.

  9. al-sahifa al-sajjadiyah with introduction by sh. ahmad wa'ili ahl-ul-bayt society cario.

i hope most of the sources mentioned above are available at the libraries such as princeton or harvard. however, if you find that inconvenient, please do not hesitate to specify the pages of any book in this list in order to copy them for you.