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As for those who strive in Us,

We surely guide them to Our paths (Quran)

Why Follow the Family of the Prophet (s) ?**

"Verily Allah only desires to keep away the uncleanness from you, O People of the House (Ahl al-Bayt) and to purify you a thorough purifying."
[Verse of Purification from Qur'an 33:33]

Prophet Muhammad (s) was asked by his Companions:

"How should we invoke blessings for you?" ... He said: "Say: 'O Allah! Send Your blessings on Muhammad and the Family of Muhammad, as You sent Your blessings on Abraham and on the Family of Abraham, for You are the Most Praiseworthy, the Most Glorious.'"
[Sahih al-Bukhari, volume 4, book 55, number 589]

The Shi'ah believe that the twin legacy of Prophet Muhammad (s) is the Qur'an and the Ahl al-Bayt (specific members of his family). The Ahl al-Bayt are the source for the authentic Sunnah of the Prophet (s). Only by obtaining instruction from both these sources can a Muslim hope to attain true guidance.

Prophet Muhammad's Legacy:

"I am about to answer the call (of death). Verily, I leave behind two precious things (thaqalayn) amongst you: the Book of Allah and my Ahl al Bayt. Verily, the two will never separate until they come back to me by the side of the Pond." This authentic hadith from the Prophet Muhammad (s) is narrated by over 30 of his Companions and recorded by a large number of Sunni scholars. 

Some of the famous sources for this hadith include:
* al Hakim al Naysaburi, al Mustadrak `ala al-Sahihayn (Beirut), volume 3, pages 109-110, 148, and 533). He expressly states that the tradition is sahih in accordance with the criteria of al Bukhari and Muslim; al Dhahabi has confirmed his judgement
* Muslim, al-Sahih, (English translation), book 031, numbers 5920-3
* al Tirmidhi, al-Sahih, volume 5, pages 621-2, numbers 3786 and 3788; volume 2, page 219
* al-Nasa'i, Khasa'is'Ali ibn Abi Talib, hadith number 79
* Ahmad b. Hanbal, al-Musnad, volume 3, pages 14, 17, 26; volume 3, page 26, 59; volume 4, page 371; volume 5, pages 181-2, 189-190
* Ibn al 'Athir, Jami` al 'usul, volume 1, page 277
* Ibn Kathir, al Bidayah wa al nihayah, volume 5, page 209. He quotes al-Dhahabi and declares this hadith to be sahih.
* Ibn Kathir, Tafsir al-Qur'an al-'Azim , volume 6, page 199
* Nasir al-Din al-Albani, Silsilat al-Ahadith al-Sahiha (Kuwait: al-Dar al-Salafiyya), volume 4, pages 355-8. He lists many chains of narration that he considers reliable.

There are many more sources for this hadith than it is possible to list here.

Didn't the Prophet (s) say "I leave behind the Book of God and my Sunnah" ?

This is a popular misconception. The fact is that there is no reliable basis for this statement attributed to the Prophet's (s) Final Sermon. It is completely absent from any of the six Sihah books!! The version in Malik's Muwatta', Ibn Hisham's Sirat Rasul Allah, and from him in al-Tabari's Ta'rikh, all suffer from incomplete chains of narration with several links in the chain missing! The other versions that have a full chain of narration (isnad) - of which there are very few - all contain narrators that are unanimously considered to be highly unreliable by leading Sunni scholars of rijal. These remarkable facts can be confirmed by those interested in research by referring to the relevant books. Clearly, no one is suggesting that the Sunnah of the Prophet (s) should not be followed. As stated before, the Prophet (s) wished for the Muslims to refer to his Ahl al-Bayt as a reliable, pure and inerrant source for his Sunnah.

What is so special about the Family of the Prophet (s) ?

When the verse "(O Muhammad) Say, 'I do not ask for any reward for this (bringing of Allah's message) except the love for the near kinship.'" (42:23) was revealed, the Muslims asked the Prophet: "Who are these near kin of yours whose love is obligatory upon us?" He replied, "'Ali, Fatima, and their two sons."
* al Hakim al Naysaburi, al Mustadrak `ala al-Sahihayn, volume 2, page 444
* al-Qastallani, Irshad al-Sari Sharh Sahih al-Bukhari, volume 7, page 331
* al-Suyuti, al-Durr al-Manthur, volume 6, pages 6-7
* al-Alusi al-Baghdadi, Ruh al-Ma'ani, volume 25, pages 31-2

The position of truthfulness and virtue of the Ahl al-Bayt was further confirmed by the Qur'an during the disputation with the Christians of Najran. When the verse was revealed "But whoever disputes with you in this matter after what has come to you of knowledge, then say: come let us call our sons and your sons and our women and your women and our near people and your near people, then let us be earnest in prayer, and pray for the curse of Allah on the liars." (3:61), the Prophet (s) called 'Ali, Fatima, al-Hasan and al-Husayn and said: 'O Allah, these are my Family (Ahli)'.
* Muslim, al-Sahih, (English translation), book 031, number 5915
* al Hakim al Naysaburi, al Mustadrak `ala al-Sahihayn, volume 3, page 150. He states that it is sahih in accordance with the criteria of al-Bukhari and Muslim
* Ibn Hajar al-'Asqalani, Fath al-Bari Sharh Sahih al-Bukhari, volume 7, page 60
* al-Tirmidhi, al-Sahih, kitab al-manaqib, volume 5, page 596
* Ahmad b. Hanbal, al-Musnad, volume 1, page 185
* al-Suyuti, History of Khalifas Who Took The Right Way, (London, 1995), page 176

Isn't it enough to show respect towards the Ahl al-Bayt ?

Is it sufficient to just show respect towards the Qur'an? Surely the Muslims have no choice but to follow it, as a source of Divine guidance, in all their affairs. The Prophet Muhammad (s) left two things as legacy to the Muslims, and promised that they will never separate from each other until the Day of Judgement. By twinning the Ahl al-Bayt with the Qur'an, the Prophet (s) was telling us to not only show respect towards them, but also to take explanations of Islamic doctrine, practices, hadith and tafsir from them.

"Behold! My Ahl al-Bayt are like the Ark of Noah. Whoever embarked on it was saved, and whoever turned away from it perished"
* al Hakim al Naysaburi, al Mustadrak `ala al-Sahihayn, volume 3, p. 151 and volume 2, page 343. He states that it is sahih in accordance with the criteria of Muslim
* al-Suyuti, al-Durr al-Manthur, volume 1, pages 71-72

Ibn Hajar al-Makki, al-Sawa'iq al-Muhriqa, page 140. He states that this tradition has come down through many chains of narration that strengthen each other.

Who are included in the Ahl al-Bayt ?

It has been shown that the Family of the Prophet (s) – interchangeably referred to as the Ahl al-Bayt, 'Itrah and Aal - included his daughter Fatima al-Zahra', her husband Imam 'Ali, and their children Imams al-Hasan and al-Husayn ('a). The members of this Family of five, with the Prophet Muhammad (s) at its head, were the ones alive at the time the Qur'anic verses regarding their virtue were being revealed to the Prophet (s). However, nine other Imams from the descendants of Imam al-Husayn ('a) are also in this chosen Family, the final one being Imam al-Mahdi ('a). The Prophet (s) said:

* "I and 'Ali and al-Hasan and al-Husayn and nine of the descendants of al-Husayn are the purified ones and the inerrant." [al-Juwayni, Fara'id al-Simtayn, (Beirut, 1978), page 160. Note that al-Juwayni's greatness as a scholar of hadith has been attested by al-Dhahabi in Tadhkirat al-Huffaz, volume 4, page 298, and also by Ibn Hajar al-'Asqalani in al-Durar al-Kaminah, volume 1, page 67]
* "I am the chief of the Prophets and 'Ali ibn Abi Talib is the chief of successors, and after me my successors shall be twelve, the first of them being 'Ali ibn Abi Talib and the last of them being al-Mahdi." [al-Juwayni, Fara'id al-Simtayn, page 160]
* "Al-Mahdi is one of us Ahl al-Bayt" and "al-Mahdi will be of my family, of the descendants of Fatima" [Ibn Majah, al-Sunan, volume 2, page 519, numbers 4085-6; Abu Dawud, al-Sunan, volume 2, page 207]

What about the Wives of the Prophet (s) ?

The verse of purification "Verily Allah only desires to ... " was revealed to the Prophet (s) in the house of his wife Umm Salama (may Allah be pleased with her); the Prophet called al-Hasan, al-Husayn, Fatima and 'Ali, and he gathered them together and covered them with the mantle. Then he said, "O Allah, these are my Ahl al-Bayt, so keep away every impurity from the Ahl al-Bayt, and purify them with a perfect purification." Umm Salama said, "Am I with them, O Apostle of Allah?" The Prophet (s) said, "You stay in your place, and you are virtuous."
* al-Tirmidhi, al-Sahih, volume 5, pages 351 and 663
* al Hakim al Naysaburi, al Mustadrak `ala al-Sahihayn, volume 2, page 416. He states that it is sahih in accordance with the criteria of al-Bukhari
* al-Suyuti, al-Durr al-Manthur, volume 5, page 197

The beginning of verse 33:33 and subsequent statements are addressed to the wives of the Prophet (s) as is evident from the feminine pronouns used. However, in the verse of purification, the gender changes to the masculine or mixed gender. This also shows that it was an independent revelation addressed to different individuals.

**Source: Why Follow the Family of the Prophet (s) ? Rafed for cultural development. Available From: [Accessed August 22, 2009].

Imāmah (leadership) in Shia Islam *

Shia believe in the institution of Imāmah as a continuation of prophethood. In the Shia faith the ‎Imam in its narrower sense is the person who is in charge of all political and religious affairs of ‎the Islamic nation. 

More exactly, the Imam is the person who is appointed by God and introduced ‎by the Prophet and then by each preceding Imam by explicit designation (nass) to lead the ‎Muslim community, interpret and protect the religion and the law (shar3ah), and guide the ‎community in all affairs. 

He must be sinless and possess divine knowledge of [...the...] meaning of the Quran. ‎

* Source (with summarization):‎ Discovering Shia Islam, by Mohammad Ali Shomali.

The Term "Shia" in Prophet's (S.A.W.W) Hadith*  

The Messenger of Allah said to Ali: "Glad tiding O Ali! Verily you and your companions and your Shia (followers) will be in Paradise."

Sunni references:

1.Fadha'il al-Sahaba, by Ahmad Ibn Hanbal, v2, p655
2.Hilyatul Awliyaa, by Abu Nu'aym, v4, p329
3.Tarikh, by al-Khateeb al-Baghdadi, v12, p289, by al-Tabarani
5.Majma' al-Zawa'id, by al-Haythami, v10, pp 21-22, who said this tradition has been transmitted via numerous authorities.'iq al-Muhriqah, by Ibn Hajar Haythami , Ch. 11, section 1, p247

Thus the Messenger of Allah (PBUH&HF) used to say the phrase of "Shia of Ali". This phrase is not something invented later! Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HF) said that the TRUE followers of imam Ali will go to Paradise, and this is a great felicity. Also Jabir Ibn Abdillah al-Ansari narrated that:

The Messenger of Allah (PBUH&HF) said: "The Shia of Ali are the real victorious in the day of resurrection/rising"

Sunni references:

al-Manaqib Ahmad, as mentioned in:
Yanabi al-Mawaddah, by al-Qundoozi al-Hanafi, p62
Tafsir al-Durr al-Manthoor, by al-Hafidh Jalaluddin al-Suyuti, who quotes the tradition as follows: "We were with the Holy Prophet when Ali came towards us. The Holy Prophet said: He and his Shia will aquire salvation on the day of judgment."

The "day of rising" may also refer to the day of rising of al-Mahdi (AS). But in more general term, it means the day of judgment. Also it is narrated that:

The Messenger of Allah said: "O Ali! On the Day of Judgment I shall resort to Allah and you will resort to me and your children will resort to you and the Shia will resort to them. Then you will see where they carry us. (i.e. to Paradise)"

Sunni reference:
Rabi al-Abrar, by al-Zamakhshari

Furthermore, it is narrated that:

The Messenger of Allah said: "O Ali! (On the day of Judgment) you and your Shia will come toward Allah well-pleased and well-pleasing, and there will come to Him your enemies angry and stiff-necked (i.e., their head forced up).

Sunni references:

al-Tabarani, on the authority of Imam Ali
al-Sawa'iq al-Muhriqah, by Ibn Hajar al-Haythami, Ch. 11, section 1, p236

A more complete version of the tradition which has also been reported by the Sunnis, is as follows:

Ibn Abbas (RA) narrated: When the verse "Those who believe and do righteous deeds are the best of the creation (Quran 98:7)" was revealed, the Messenger of Allah (PBUH&HF) said to Ali: "They are you and your Shia." He continued: "O Ali! (On the day of Judgment) you and your Shia will come toward Allah well-pleased and well-pleasing, and your enemies will come angry with their head forced up. Ali said: "Who are my enemies?" The Prophet (PBUH&HF) replied: "He who disassociates himself from you and curses you. And glad tiding to those who reach first under the shadow of al-'Arsh on the day of resurrection." Ali asked: "Who are they, O the Messenger of Allah?" He replied: "Your Shia, O Ali, and those who love you."

Sunni references:

al-Hafidh Jamaluddin al-Dharandi, on the authority of Ibn Abbas
al-Sawa'iq al-Muhriqah, by Ibn Hajar, Ch. 11, section 1, pp 246-247

Then Ibn Hajar provides a bizarre commentary for the first tradition, saying:

The Shia of Ali are the Ahlussunnah since they are those who love Ahlul-Bayt as Allah and His Prophet ordered. But others (i.e., other than Sunnis) are the enemies of Ahlul-Bayt in reality for the love outside the boundary of law is the great enmity, and that was the reason for their fate. Also, the enemies of Ahlul-Bayt were al-Khawarij and their alike from Syria, not Muawiyah and other companions because they were Muteawweloon, and for them is a good reward, and for Ali and his Shia is a good reward!

Sunni reference:

al-Sawa'iq al-Muhriqah, by Ibn Hajar, Ch. 11, section 1, p236

And this is how Sunni scholars cope with the prophetic traditions in favor of "Shia of Ali"! They say that they are the real Shia!

*Source:  A Shi'ite Encyclopedia,  The Term "Shia" in Quran and Hadith

The Term "Shia" in Holy Quran *

The word "Shia" means "followers; members of party". As such, the term "Shia" alone has no negative or positive meaning unless we specify the leader of the party. If one is a Shia (follower) of the most righteous servants, then there is nothing wrong with being Shia, specially if the leader of such party has been assigned by Allah. On the other hand, if one becomes the Shia [of] a tyrant or a wrong-doer, he shall meet with the fate of his leader. In fact, Quran indicates that on the day of Judgment people will come in groups, and each group has its leader in front of it. Allah, to whom belong Might and Majesty, said:

"One day We shall call every group of people by their respective Imams. (Quran 17:71)

In the day of judgment, the destiny of the "followers" of each group highly depends on the destiny of his Imam (provided that they really followed that Imam). Allah mentioned in Quran that there are two types of Imams. Some Imams are those who invite people to Hell fire. They are tyrannical leaders of each era (like Pharaoh, etc.):

"And We made them (but) Imams inviting to the Fire; and on the Day of Judgment no help shall they find. In this world We continued to curse them; and on the Day of Judgment they will be among the hateful. " (Quran 28:41-42).

Certainly, being the members of the parties of such Satanic Imams has been severely denounced in Quran, and the followers of such parties will meet the fate of their leaders. However, Quran also reminds that there are Imams who are appointed by Allah as Guides for the mankind:

"And We ASSIGNED from among them some Imams who GUIDE by Our authority since they were patient and believed firmly in Our Signs." (Quran 32:24)

Certainly, the true followers (Shia) of these Imams will be the real prosperous on the day of resurrection. Thus being a Shia does not mean anything, unless we know the Shia of whom. Allah mentioned in Quran that Some of His righteous servants were Shia of His other righteous servants. An example was Prophet Abraham who was mentioned in Quran specifically as the Shia of Noah:

"And most surely Abraham was among the Shia of him (i.e., Noah)" (Quran 37:83)

(Notice that the word "Shia" is explicitly used, letter by letter, in the above verse as well as the following verse.) In another verse, Quran talks about the Shia of Moses versus the enemies of Moses:

"And he (Moses) went into the city at a time when people (of the city) were not watching, so he found therein two men fighting, one being of his Shia and the other being his enemy, and the one who was of his Shia cried out to him for help against the one who was of his enemy" (Quran 28:15

In the above verse of Quran, one is named the Shia of Moses (AS) and the other one is named the enemy of Moses, and the people at that time were either the Shia or the enemy of Moses (AS). Thus Shia is an official word used by Allah in His Quran for His high rank prophets as well as their followers. Do you want to say Prophet Abraham was sectarian? How about Prophet Noah and Prophet Moses?

If somebody calls himself a Shia, it is not due to any sectarianism, nor any innovation. It is because Quran has used the phrase for some of His best servants. The above verses that I mentioned in support of Shia, has used this term singular form (i.e., one group of followers). This means that it has special meaning, such as: THE Shia of Noah (AS), THE Shia of Moses (AS). Also in the History of Islam, Shia has been specially used for the "followers of Ali". The first individual who used this term was the Messenger of Allah himself [as shall we show in another article].

*Source: A Shi'ite Encyclopedia, The Term "Shia" in Quran and Hadith

Introducing Shia Islam

This page contains the following articles about Shia Islam (Islam as taught by AhlulBayt - the family of the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon them):  

  • The Term "Shia" in Holy Quran
  • The Term "Shia" in Prophet's (S.A.W.W) Hadith
  • Imāmah (leadership) in Shia Islam
  • Why Follow the Family of the Prophet (s) ?

​​Related  Pages:

Hadith (Sayings) of AhlulBayt a,s,

How Allah SWT will revenge the killing of Imam Hussain (a.s.)