Q.10: Tafsir of Qur'an 22:52

Can you please enlighten us with the correct meaning of the verse 52 of ch.22 (Hajj) which says:

"Never did We send a messenger or a prophet before thee, but, when he framed a desire, Satan threw some (vanity) into his desire: but Allah will cancel anything (vain) that Satan throws in."

Aparently this is the verse on which the accursed Salman Rushdie based his book, The Satanic Verses.

A: I am sending to you my book, "The Qur'an and Hadith" (Revised and Enlarged edition). You are advised to study the whole book minutely; but before any thing else, read the Addenda: The Satanic Suggestion, (pp. 113-126) which deals particularly with this topic.

Q.11: ON TAFSIRS OF QUR'AN:

What is the meaning of Tafseer of Qur'an? When did it originate? Is the Tafseer concerned only to the Shi'as'? How many Tafseers had been written so far? Whether the difference between one Tafseer let's say A and other B are same or different?

A: Tafsir does not mean translation. It means explanation of real meaning and connotation of a verse or verses. For example, take the verse, Bismillahir Rahmanir Rahim. Its translation is known to every body. But Tafsir tells us what is the implication of "Bi"; what does the divine name, Allah, signify, what is the difference between Rahman, and Rahim; and so on.

Tafsir originated with the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) who explained the true significance of the verses whenever they were revealed For example, when the verse was revealed which says: "O you who believe! obey Allah and obey the Messenger and those vested with authority from among you..." (4:59), the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) explained who "those vested with authority" were, giving in detail the names of the twelve Imams (as.).

Books on Tafsir are found in every sect, and in these fourteen centuries thousands of such books have been written by the Muslim scholars.

Q.I2: CONTRADICTION IN THE QUR'AN?

Why do the verses 2:253 and 2:285 contradtict each other? The verse 2:253 says: "These Messengers, We have made some of them to excel the others; among them are some to whom Allah spoke, and some of them He exalted by degrees of rank..." And the verse 2:285 says:

"The Messenger believes in that has been revealed to him from his Lord, and (so do) the believers; they all believe in Allah and His angels and His books and His messengers; (they say,) we make no difference between any of His messengers..."

A: If you had taken a few minutes to ponder on the two verses before writing this question, you could have solved the problem yourself. The former verse described the messengers' varying degrees of rank before Allah, while the latter describes the responsibilities of the believers towards all of them. (It had been hinted in the reply to the Question 12 of Your Questions Answered, Vol.3 from which you have copied only half of the reply), the lines you have omitted say:

"Its meaning is that we have to^believe in all the Messengers of Allah. We should not be like Jews who do not believe in Hadhrat 'Isa (a.s.) and Hadhrat Muhammad Mustafa (s.a.w.), nor like Christians who do not believe in Hadhrat Muhammad Mustafa (s.aw.)."

Let us say, there are 50 teachers in a secondary school. Naturally their status differs from one to the other - one is the Principal; another, Vice-principal, a few are heads of their departments, and so on. Their scales of pay also differ according to their qualification, experience and rank.

But all these matters are between the Board of Governors and the teachers. As far as the students are concerned, they have to pay respect to all the teachers, be he senior or junior, obey their orders and listen attentively to what they teach. Even with this obligation of respecting all of them without any difference, the students, like every body else, know and understand that the Principal's rank is the highest, followed by that of the Vice-principal, and so on

Q. 13: QUR'AN: PROTECTED FROM TAHRIF:

I am sending to you photocopy of 2 pages of a booklet distributed by the Wahhabis in Mombasa. It quotes some ahadith from Shi'a books purporting to show that the Shi'a do not believe in the present Qur'an, because they think there is alteration and omission in it. Now is it a fact that the present Qur'an is not complete according to our belief? Is it because the majority sect belives in its authenticity and we just follow in TAQIYA? If yes, then the present Qur'an in which we believe is a make believe?

Please shed some light on this issue, very close to my heart.

A: The idea of tahrif of the Qur'an is humbug. The photocopy sent by you is probably from the same booklet which was sent to me many years ago. I had written its reply which was published under the title, Wahhabis' Fitna Exposed, from Dar- es- Salaam, New Jersey (U.S.A.) and Qum (Iran); and its Swahili translation, Fitina za Wahhabi zaflchuliwa, was published in Dar- es-Salaam.

The Wahhabis' booklet is full of deception, tahrif and baseless claims; its author has exposed his ignorance on every page. I am sending to you tne book, Wahhabis Fitna Exposed, which will remove all your worries. Also another booklet of mine: Qur'an, Its Protection from Alteration, is also sent which is particularly on this subject.

Q. 14: HAS ANY CONTEMPORARY PERSON MET THE IMAM (A.S.)?

A question regarding the Imam (a.s.) was asked by my fellow Muslim brother. He enquired whether any person has met the Imam (a.s.) in this century. [As we have heard many Aalims of previous centuries of having met the Imam (a.s.).] If so, then who are those dignified personalities.

And if possible, then please send their brief biography. A: Yes. We know of many such personalities. There are some books even in Urdu giving some such events, which you should obtain and read. A letter is not a proper medium to write people's biographies.

Q.I5: WHY 'ALI'S NAME IS NOT MENTIONED IN QUR'AN?

The Holy Qur'an has talked about the past, the present and the future. Today in the world there are so many anti-Islamic movements and together with these movements there are conflicts between the Muslims themselves. The conflict between the two great sects of Islam (ie Shi'as & Sunnis) is because Shi'as believe and know that Imam Ali (a.s.) is the first Khalifah and Sunnis believe otherwise.

Now my question to you is that why didn't the Holy Qur'an CLEARLY mention this? It may have mentioned in other Ayats regarding the Ahlul Bait, but what I am asking is that why did it not mention them clearly so that there would not be such conflicts between these two sects.

If the Qur'an can mention about the past prophets by giving their names why then not mention the Ahlul Bait clearly?? A: First of all, you should decide which word could have been used for announcing the Imamate and Khilafate of 'Ali (a.s.) in the Qur'an. For the terms khalifa and Imam literally do not convey the meaning of "heir apparent to the Prophet."

Secondly, if the name, 'Ali would have been included in any verse, what was there to stop all the families of Arabia to name all their newly-born babies 'Ali?

A similar question was asked of Imam Ja'far Sadiq (a.s.). The Imam once explained the verse 4:59, which says:

O you who believe! Obey Allah and obey the Messenger and those vested with authority from among you; then if you quarrel about anything, refer it to Allah and the Messenger, if you believe in Allah and the last day; this is better and very good in the end (4:59). Upon hearing this, someone asked the Imam: "People say, 'Why did Allah not mention the names of 'Ali and his family in His Book?"

The Imam answered: "Tell them that there came the command of salai (prayer), but Allah did not mention whether three or four raka'at (units) to be performed; it was the Messenger of Allah who explained all the details. And (the command of) zakat was revealed, but Allah did not say that it is one in every forty dirham;

it was the Messenger of Allah' who explained it, and hajj (Pilgrimage to Mecca) was ordered but Allah did not say to perform tawaf (circumambulation of the Ka'bah) seven times - the Messenger of Allah explained it.. Likewise, the verse was revealed: Obey Allah, and obey the Messenger and those vested with authority from among you, and it was revealed about 'Ali and Hasan and Husayn (a.s.)." [And as in other cases, it was the Messenger of Allah who announced their names]

Q.I6: SUNNI REFERENCES OF A HADITH:

I have a question which I would like to ask. In the book Day of Judgement on p. 88 there is a Hadith where the Prophet said to Imam Ali (a.s.), "O Ali on the Day of Judgement, shall sit I and you and Gabriel on the Sirat, and shall not pass over tfie Sirat except he who would have a 'release' (from Jahannam) based on your wilayat (love and obedience).

"This Hadith has been narrated by many Sunni scholars". Could you please tell me in which Hadith Books of the sunnis it appears and what category of Hadith it is e.g. Sahih. Hasan. Dhaif etc.

A: The hadith quoted in Day of Judgement is from Shi'a sources. As for the Sunni sources, the hadith is narrated by the following well-known muhaddithin (narrators of ahadith), fuqaha' (jurisprudents) and mufassirin (exegetes of the Qur'an) in their well-known books as described below:

  1. Ibn Hajar al-Haytami al-Makki Ash-Shafi'i, (died 973 A.H./1565- 66 C.E.) in his book, As-Sawa'iqu 'l-muhriqah. (pp.78 & 97).

  2. Imam Ad-Darqutni al-Baghdadi Ash-Shafi'i (d.385/995) in his As-Sunan.

  3. Abu Bakr Al-Khwarazmi (d.383/993) in his al-Manaqib (ch. 19, p. 234 & 222) and in Maqtalu 'l-Husayn (vol.1, p.39).

  4. Muhibbu 'd-din At-Tabari Ash-Shafi'i (d.694/1295) in his Ar-Riyazu 'n-nazarah fi Faza'ili 'l-'asharah (vol.2, pp. 173; 177 & 244)

  5. Al-Hamwayni, Sadru 'd-din Ibrahim ibn Muhammad (d.722/1322) in his Fara'idu 's- simtayn (vol.1, ch.54)

  6. Al-Imam Al-Hakim an-Nishapuri ash-Safi'i (d. 403/1012-13) in his Al-Arba'in.

  7. Ibn-Al-Maghazili al-Jullabi (d 483/1090) in his Al-Manaqib.

  8. Shaykhu 'l-Islam Sulayman Al-Qunduzi al-Hanafi (d. 1294/1877) in his Yanabi'u 'l- mawaddah (p.95).

  9. Abu Bakr Al-Khatib Al-Baghdadi (d.463/1070) in his Tarikh Baghdad,

  10. Qazi Abu 'l-Fazl 'Ayaz ibn 'Amr As-Sabti Al-Maliki (d.544/ 1149-50) in his Kitabu 'sh- Shifa'.

  11. 'Abdullah Ash-Shabrawi (d.1172/1758-59) in his Al-Ithaf bi Hubbi'il-Ashraf (p. 15); and 'Is'afu 'r-raghibin (p. 161).

Ms. Latiefa Benjamin should note that the above scholars' list contains muhaddithin of various Sunni sects (Shafi'i, Hanafi and Maliki) beginning from 383 A.H. to 1294 AH. Such a widely accepted hadith does not need checking whether it is Sahih or Hasan or what.

And in any case it is not our problem to look into its various chains of narrators (which end on the Companions, Abu Bakr, Ibn 'Abbas, Ibn Mas'ud, Anas ibn Malik and 'Ali a.s). For us it is enough that so many famous Sunni muhaddithin have narrated it in their books.

Q.I7: IS IMAMATE SUPERIOR THAN PROPHETHOOD?

It is said that the office of Imamate is superior to that of prophethood, and verse 124 of Surah Baqarah is put forward as proof of this claim. Can you please give detailed & clear explanation of this issue.

Further, in your book "Guidance From Qur'an", page 42 you have briefly written about the question asked to Imam 'Ali (a.s.) by Sa'sa'ah ibn Sauhan on the 19th of Ramadhan, 40 A.H., concerning the above mentioned issue and you have also stated there in your references but as I don't have the original books to refer to, I request you to please send me in detail the question asked & the answer given by Imam 'AH (a.s.).

A: Go to a big paint shop; they will give you a chart of colours in which you will find various shades of each colour.- e.g. 15 shades of green, 20 of blue and so on. All the shades of blue are called blue, but differ in intensity: Likewise, the words, Islam, Iman, Taqwa, truthfulness, Imamah etc., have various shades of meaning, some very light, some medium and some very fast.

To give you an example, when Ibrahim (a.s.) with help of Isma'il (a.s.) was building the Ka'bah, he was already a Prophet and Messenger of Allah; but the father and the son were praying to Allah in these words:

",.. O our Lord! and make us two the Muslims for You, and make a group from our progeny Muslims for You.... (2:128)

You find here a Messenger of Allah and His prophet praying to become Muslims!! Does this word here mean those who believe in one God and the veracity of their prophet? And why did not they pray for their whole progeny to become such Muslims? Why did they pray for only "a group" from their progeny to become Muslims? Obviously the Islam they prayed for was something far superior than messengership and prophethood.

Likewise, the Imamat which Hazrat Ibrahim (a.s.) was given was much superior than his messengership and prophethood, because it was bestowed on him after all other offices. But it does not mean that every "Imam" is superior than a prophet, because there are Imams of jama'at prayers, leaders of army, scholars of religion etc. etc., all of whom are called Imams, but their only distinction is that they are followers of the prophet.

Sometimes designations and titles remain the same, but the reality on the ground happens to be quite different. There is a country, Nauru, and it has a prime minister; and there are U.K. and Canada with their prime ministers. Will you say that the Nauruan prime minister enjoys the same prestige and power in international fora as his British and Canadian counterparts do?

Our Prophet (s.a.w.a.) is much superior than all the previous prophets. Nautrally those who rightfully sit in his place will have the same distinction vis-a-vis previous prophets. It is a clear reality and we should not be afraid of anouncing it.

"Guidance from Qur'an" is not my book; its authors are Haji Ali Mohamedjaffer Sheriff (Mombasa) and Late Haji Hussein Alarakhiya (Dsm). The tradition they have reffered to is copied hereunder from the English translation of "Peshawar Nights":-

"In Ihya'u'l-Ulum by Imam Ghazali, Sharhe Nahju 'l-Balagha by Ibn Abi'l-Hadid Mu'tazili, the Tafsir by Imam Fakhru'd-Din Razi, and Tafsir by Jarullah Zamakhshari, Baidhawi, Nishapuri, etc., you will find this hadith of the Holy Prophet: "The ulema of my community are like the prophets of the Bani Isra'il."

In another hadith he said: The ulema of the Prophet's community were equal to or better than the prophets of the Bani Isra'il simply because their source of knowledge was that fountainhead of learning, the Prophet Muhammad.

Therefore, Ali Bin Abu Talib was definitely superior to the prophets, since the prophet said: "I am the city of knowledge, and Ali is its gate." He also said: I am the house of wisdom and Ali is its gate". When Ali, himself, was asked about this topic, he explained some aspects of his superiority to the prophets of the Children of Isra'il.

On the 20 th of Ramadhan, when Ali was on his death-bed following the attack by Abdu'r-Rahman Ibn Muljim Muradi, he asked Imam Hasan to call in the Shia who had gathered at the door of his house.

When they entered, they surrounded his bed and wept silently. Ali said: You may ask any question you like before I leave you, but your questions should be brief. One of those present was Sa'sa'a Bin Suwhan. Your own great ulema, like Ibn Abdu'l-Birr and Ibn Sa'ad, have written about his life and character, have relied on him, confirming that he was a man of great learning.

Sa'sa'a said to Ali: "Let me know who is superior, you or Adam." The Holy Imam said: "It is not proper for a man to praise himself, but according to the maxim: 'Declare the blessings that Allah has given you', I tell you that I am superior to Adam."

When asked why this was so, Ali explained that Adam had every means of mercy, comfort, and blessings for him in paradise. He was asked simply to abstain from the forbidden food. But he could not restrain himself, and he ate from the tree. As a result, he was expelled from paradise.

Allah did not forbid him, Ali, from eating wheat (which, according to Muslim belief was the forbidden 'tree'). But since he had no inclination towards this temporal world, he voluntarily refrained from eating wheat. (The point of Ali's remark was that excellence of a man before Allah lies in piety and devotion, and that the height of piety lies in abstaining even from what is permissible.)

Sa'sa'a asked: "Who is superior, you or Noah?" Ali replied: "I am superior. Noah called his men to worship Allah, but they did not obey. Their shameful mistreatment was torture to him. He cursed them and invoked Allah: 'O my Lord! Leave not on the earth a single person of the unjust ones!' After the death of the Prophet, even though the people caused me extreme difficulty, I never cursed them. I suffered their torment with patience."

Sa'sa'a asked: "Who is superior, you or Abraham?" Ali replied: "I am superior, for Abraham said. 'My Lord! Show me how thou Givest life to the dead! He said: "What! do you not believe?1 He said: "Yes, but that my heart may be at ease.' (2:260). My faith was such that I said: 'If the veil over the unseen were lifted, my faith would not increase."

Sa'sa'a asked: "Who is superior, you or Moses?" The Holy Imam replied: "I am superior, for when Almighty Allah ordered Moses to go to Egypt to invite Pharaoh to the truth, Moses said: 'My Lord! Surely I killed one of them, so I am afraid that they will slay me. And my brother Aaron, he is more eloquent of tongue than I.

Therefore send him with me as an aide, to help me. Surely I fear that they will reject me." (28:33-34) the Holy Prophet ordered me, by the command of Allah, to go to Mecca and to recite the verses of the Chapter 'Al-Bara'a' from the top of the Ka'ba to the Qur'aish infidels. Iwas not afraid, even though there were few people there who had not lost a near relative by my sword. Obeying his order, I performed my duty alone. I recited the verses of 'Al-Bara'a' and returned."

Sa'a'a asked "Who issuperior, you or Jesus?" Ali said: "I am superior, for when Mary became pregnant by the Grace of Allah, and the time of her delivery approached, a revelation was granted to her: 'Leave this holy House for this is a House for prayers, not a place for the delivery of children.' Accordingly, she left the holy House and went to the wilderness where she gave birth to Jesus.

But when my mother, Fatima Bint-e-Asad, felt labor pains within the precincts of the holy Ka*ba, she clung to the wall and prayed to Allah in the name of that House and the builder of that House, to lessen her pain. Soon a fissure appeared in the wall, and my mother heard a mysterious voice telling her, "O Fatima! Enter the House of the Ka'ba.! She went in, and I was bom inside of the holy Ka'ba."

Q.18: ON SHI'A TRADITION'S PRESERVATION:

What is your response to those who claim that the Shi'a traditions have not been preserved?

A: Abu Bakr and 'Umar forcefully suppressed narration of the Prophet's traditions, and burnt and destroyed their own and other companions' collections. This continued for a century, until the caliph 'Umar ibn 'Abdul 'Aziz (reigned 99-101 A.H.) asked az-Zuhri to compile the traditions. By that time, Umayyads1 propaganda department had spread tens of thousands of forged traditions throughout the Muslim empire.

It does not require a great intelligence to realize that all the collections of ahadith, beginning from az-Zuhri and ending a few centuries later, must have contained mostly the same fabricated traditions.

So, this is in a nut-shell the real situation of the Sunni collections of traditibns. As for us the Shi'as, our Imams, right from the first Imam 'Ali ibn Abu Talib (as.) to the 11th Imam Hasan al-'Askari (as.) always instructed their companions to write down whatever they hear from them. In this way hundreds of "note-books" were prepared which were used by the Shi'as for their guidance. (See my book, The Qur'an and Hadith, for detail.) Now you may decide for youself which sect's traditions have been preserved.

However, our treasures of knowledge have suffered from the blind hatred of the Sunni rulers and masses. The precious books of the library of ash-Shaykh at-Tusi (died 460 A.H.) were repeatedly plundered and burned in Baghdad. It was this barbaric behaviour of the Sunni masses which compelled at-Tusi to migrate from Baghdad to Najaf where he founded the Hawzah 'Ilmiyah which is still alive in spite of many ups and downs.

Mahmud of Ghazna ordered the great library of Sahib ibn 'Ubbad to be burnt. This attitude has continued uptil now. When Israel attacked Lebanon in 1980's, its soldiers were especially instructed to burn down the library of the late as-Sayyid Mohsin al-Amin (d. 1952 C.E.). Thus a great collection of rare manuscripts was lost for ever.

Despite such viccisitudes, our collection is very rich. Suffice it to say that the first of the four early collections, al-Kafi, contains more traditions than the six "authentic" books of the Sunnis put together.

Q.19: DHULFIQAR & CALL FROM JIBRA'IL:

According to 'majalis' that we have been hearing for years, Imam Husain (a.s.) while fighting at Kerbala was instructed by Jibra'il to stop fighting as the latter had been instructed to take possesion of the 'Dhulfiqar' and for Imam Husain to fulfill his promise (i.e. of his death in the way of Allah).

A: It is the first time that I am hearing this story about Dhulfiqar. It is rubbish. Regarding the call from the sky to Imam Husayn (a.s.) to stop fighting: This myth was started by poets, and was taken up by Zakirs. But it has no basis at all.