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Last Updated: 2007/05/26
Summary of question
What are the problems with the Maliki and Hanafi sects?
question
What are the problems with the Maliki and Hanafi sects?
Concise answer

It must be made clear if your love for Shiaism is only love or is it backed up with strong reasoning? In the case that your love is based on proofs and reasoning the weakness and insufficiency of other sects would automatically become clear.

The main difference between Shiaism and the other Islamic sects and the reason that Shiaism is superior is its belief about Imamat and the Walayat of the Prophet’s (s) Ahlul-Bayt. Shias believe that the infallible Imams have all of the qualities of a prophet except the issue of revelation. Shias consider the Imam to be the religious source (i.e. the one who explains and protects the religion and the exegetist of Quranic verses) who has walayat takwini and the power to interfere in affairs pertaining to the world. They also consider the Imam to be the political source and the best leader in social matters who has the ability to judge and is the most knowledgeable person on the world. Shias believe that completely obeying the Imam is obligatory. Unfortunately, the remaining Islamic sects, including Malikis and Hanbalis, do not hold this belief and they only suffice themselves regarding the Ahlul Bayt and our infallible Imams with love and a belief in their trustworthiness.

These beliefs are held while there are traditions related by the Sunni brothers regarding the necessity of completely obeying the Imams and the Ahlul Bayt in addition to loving them. This can have a deep effect on our individual and social actions.

Detailed Answer

Your love of Shiaism is respected, but it is clear that choosing a religion or sect is not a matter of feeling, rather it is an obligatory rational duty. The reason behind your love of Shiaism must be known. Is it only love or does it have a strong rational backing as well? If your love has proofs behind it, it is definitely because of strong points that are only found in the Shia sect – and in the case that your love is based on proofs and reasoning the weakness and insufficiency of other sects would automatically become clear.

The main difference between Shiaism and the other Islamic sects and the reason that Shiaism is superior is its belief about Imamat and the Walayat of the Prophet’s (s) Ahlul-Bayt. Here some of the beliefs that the Shia hold regarding Imamat will be listed:

1. The twelve Shia Imams who have been mentioned by name in prophetic traditions[1] are infallible from any kind of mistake, forgetfulness, or sin.

2. The Shia believe that the infallible Imams have all of the attributes of the Noble Prophet (s), except the issue of revelation.

3. Shias consider the Imam to be the religious source (i.e. the one who explains and protects the religion and the exegetist of Quranic verses)

4. Shiaism holds that the infallible Imam has walayat takwini and the power to interfere in affairs pertaining to the world.

5. Shias believe the Imam to be the political source and the best leader in social matters who has the ability to judge and is the most knowledgeable person on the world.

6. Shias also consider the Imam to be the most intelligent and knowledgeable person in the world.

Unfortunately, the remaining Islamic sects, including Malikis and Hanbalis, do not hold this belief and they only suffice themselves regarding the Ahlul Bayt and our infallible Imams with love and a belief in their trustworthiness.

7. Of the characteristics of Shiaism is obeying Imam Ali (a) and the Ahlul-Bayt (a) completely which has a lot of importance in Islam’s viewpoint. It is also the criteria for the acceptance of worship by Allah as stated in many traditions of the Sunnis – that is accepting the walayat of the commander of the believers, Imam Ali ibn Abi Talib (a).[2]

The Messenger of Allah (s) said: “Looking into the commander of the faithful, Ali ibn Abi Talib’s, face is worship, remembering him is also worship. A person’s faith is not accepted unless he is a friend of him and keeps aloof from his enemies.”[3]

What is understood from this tradition is that a condition for the acceptance of faith (let alone worship) is walayat and keeping aloof from the enemies.

Sunni scholars have also narrated:

The Noble Prophet (s) said: “O’ Ali! If someone worships as long as (Prophet) Noah was alive and has as much gold as the Uhud Mountain giving it all in the path of Allah and his life is so long that he was able to walk to perform Hajj a thousand times and is killed in an oppressive manner in Mecca around Safa, but does not have your – O’ Ali – walayat the smell of heaven will not reach him and he will never enter paradise.”[4]

To understand what is meant by the walayat of Ali (a) one has to look at how the word has been used in the glorious Quran regarding Imam Ali (a). The Quran states: “Only Allah is your Wali and His Messenger and those who believe, those who keep up prayers and pay the poor-rate while they bow.”[5]

There is no doubt that the word ‘wali’ in the verse does not mean friend or supporter because friendship is not special to those who pray and give zakat while in ruku, rather it is a general principle that covers all Muslims. All Muslims must be a friend of one another and help each other – even those who zakat is not obligatory on and do not have anything to give for zakat let alone who want to give it in ruku; these people also must be friends to one another.

From here it becomes clear that ‘wali’ in the above verse means a physical and spiritual leader, especially since it is mentioned along with the walayat of the Prophet (s) and of Allah. All three of them were mentioned in one sentence. There are numerous traditions saying that the above verse has been revealed about Ali (a) in many Sunni books and sources of information. In some of the books the story of him giving a ring in charity while in ruku has been mentioned and in others it has not, but they have said that this verse is only about Ali (a).[6]

If someone looks at the issue of Imamah and leadership from the Shia perspective and their belief about Imamah and leadership is the belief of a Shia, his direction in life will change and he will not accept religious information and ask religious questions from anyone. He will also not give his mind to anyone regarding political issues. He will always be subservient to the infallible Imam (a).

Although followers of all Islamic sects, including Hanafis and Malikis, have love for Imam Ali (a) and his children (the infallible Imams), the term walayat in its Quranic and prophetic comprehensive and precise meaning is only present in the Jafari Twelver Shia sect. Every Muslim is duty bound to choose the sect that is the closest to the Quran and the Prophet’s (s) sunna.



[1] Bihar al-Anwar, v.36, p.362

[2] Manaqib Kharazmi, p.19 and 252

[3] Ibid, p.19 and 212, Kafayah al-Talib by Ganji Shafa’I, p.214: النظر الی وجه امیرالمؤمنین علی بن ابیطالب عبادة و ذکره عبادة ولایقبل الله ایمان عبد الا بولایته والبرائة من اعدائه

[4] " ثم لم یوالیک یا علی لم یشم رائحة الجنة ولم یدخلهاIbid, Maqtal al-Hussein (a) by Kharazmi, v.1, p.37

[5]إِنَّما وَلِیُّکُمُ اللَّهُ وَ رَسُولُهُ وَ الَّذِینَ آمَنُوا الَّذِینَ یُقِیمُونَ الصَّلاةَ وَ یُؤْتُونَ الزَّکاةَ وَ هُمْ راکِعُونَ (5:55)

[6] Tafsir Namunah, v.4, p.424-425

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