One of the ‘biggest’ objections leveled against the Shias is – Does the term ‘Shia’ even appear in the Holy Quran?
The propaganda machinery of the extremists makes it appear as if this is the most important factor that will determine the validity of the Shias. If the term appears in the Holy Quran then Shias have a place in Islam, else they have nothing to do with Islam.
A. General Response
Before we fashion a detailed response to this baseless question – we have our own set of questions.
Does the term Salafi feature in the Holy Quran?
Do either of these terms – Sunni or Sunnah or Jamaat or Sunnah wa al-Jamaat feature in the Quran?
i. Does the Holy Quran mention every Islamic detail?
It is not the practice of the Holy Quran to outline every single detail about what does and does not conform to Islam.
Hence the very question – ‘Do Shias feature in the Holy Quran?’ is baseless and does not warrant a reply.
To questions of this nature, the infallible Imams (a.s.) have instructed the Shias to counter thus:
Inform them that prayers (salaat) was revealed on Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) but Allah did not mention the number of units (whether 2,3 or 4) in the Holy Quran, rather the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) had explained the same to the people.
The command for poor-rate (zakaat) was revealed, but Allah the High did not specify the quantity; this was explained by the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.).
The command for Hajj was revealed, but Allah the High did not mention the number of circumambulation (Tawaaf) of Kaaba; this was explained by the Prophet (s.a.w.a.).
- Al-Kafi vol. 1 p. 284
- Shawaahid al-Tanzil vol. 1, p. 191, tradition 203 of Haakim Haskaani, a Ahle Tasannun scholar
Clearly it is the responsibility of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) to explain the details of religion as announced by the Holy Quran itself:
‘…and We have revealed to you the Reminder that you may make clear to men what has been revealed to them…’ (Surah Nahl (16): Verse 44)
Also for those ever so keen to resort to the Holy Quran for every detail we have our own questions:
i. Where in the Holy Quran can we find details about the so-called Sunnah of Taraweeh?
ii. Or about the ‘practice’ of adult breast-feeding
iii. Or about misyar – temporary marriage – which is distinct from the mutah which is sanctioned by Islam
ii. Distortion in the Book of Allah
Before demanding proof from the Holy Book on Shias or Ali Ibn Abi Talib (a.s.) or the concept of Imamat, the opponents must clarify their stand on the Holy Book itself.
Is the Holy Book in our midst today pure from of all changes (tahreef)?
Many narrations of the Ahle Tasannun suggest that the present version of the Holy Quran has undergone distortion (tahreef). They claim many verses have gone missing.
Over here we mention two instances, from a companion and a wife:
Ayesha narrates: A verse was revealed in Quran that considered feeding a child ten times a reason for becoming mahram and later a verse was revealed that stated feeding five times as sufficient and abrogated the previous verse and till the time of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a) it was a part of Quran and was recited as Quran.
- Saheeh Muslim vol. 4 p. 167
- Sunan al-Daaremi vol. 2 p. 157
She also said: The verse of stoning and suckling of a grown-up was revealed and I wrote it on a paper and kept it under my seat. When I was preoccupied at the time of the Holy Prophet’s (s.a.w.a) demise, a goat came and ate it.
- Sunan Ibn Maajah vol. 1 p. 625
Umar said: If all of the verses of Surah Ahzaab (33) were present, its length would be like that of Surah Baqarah (2) and the verse of stoning (rajm) was also in it.
Haakim considers this tradition as authentic and reliable vis-à-vis its narrators.
- Musnad-o-Ahmad vol. 5 p. 132
- Mustadrak-o-Haakim vol. 2 p. 415 and vol. 4 p. 359
- Sunan-o-Baihaqi vol. 8 p. 211
- Kanz al-Ummaal vol. 2 p. 480,
And there are many more ‘reliable’ references from the Ahle Tasannun records stating that tahreef of Quran is a reality.
Under the circumstances, how can the skeptics grill Shias about whether or not the term ‘Shia’ features in the Holy Quran, when according to them ‘important’ verses like those related to breastfeeding of adults have gone ‘missing’?
Is it not possible that some of the ‘missing’ verses could also be related to topics like the Shias and Imam Ali Ibn Abi Talib (a.s.) and Imamat?
B. Direct Response
i. ‘Shia’ in the Holy Quran
If the opponents had only referred to the Holy Quran, they would not have gone around making baseless claims and exposing their poor knowledge of the Book.
The opponents have historically attempted to humiliate the lovers of Aal-e-Muhammad (a.s.) with this very term ‘Shia’.
So much so that the Aal-e-Muhammad (a.s.) used to soothe the Shias by informing them of the great significance of this title.
Imam Muhammad Baqir (a.s.) informed Abu Basir (r.a.) – Should I not give you glad tidings of the name?
I asked – And what name is it, may I be sacrificed over you?
Imam (a.s.) – The Shia.
Imam (a.s.) was informed that the enemies discredit the Shias with this name.
Imam (a.s.) said – But haven’t you heard Allah’s Saying –
وَ إِنَ مِنْ شِيعَتِهِ لَإِبْراهِيمَ
‘And most surely Ibrahim followed his (Nuh) way.’ (Surah Saffaat (37): 83)
And Allah’s Saying:
فَاسْتَغاثَهُ الَّذِي مِنْ شِيعَتِهِ- عَلَى الَّذِي مِنْ عَدُوِّهِ
‘…and he who was of his party cried out to him for help against him who was of his enemies…’ (Surah Qasas (28): 15)
Hence I give you glad tidings about the name (Shia).
- Tafseer al-Qummi v 2 p 233 under Surah Saffaat (37): 83
- Tafseer al-Safi v 4 p 282 under Surah Saffaat (37): 83
- Tafseer al-Burhan v 4 p 600 under Surah Saffaat (37): 83
- Tafseer Kanz al-Daqaiq wa Bahr a-Gharaib v 11 p 135
The skeptics will note that the name ‘Shia’ has great significance and features in the Holy Quran not once but twice.
ii. Prophet Ibrahim (a.s.) was a Shia of Aal-e-Muhammad (a.s.)
On referring the exegesis (tafseer) of Surah Saffaat (37): 83
وَ إِنَ مِنْ شِيعَتِهِ لَإِبْراهِيمَ
It is clear that Prophet Ibrahim (a.s.) on being introduced to the light of Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.a.) and Imam Ali Ibn Abi Talib (a.s.) and Hazrat Fatima Zahra (s.a.) and Imams Hasan (a.s.) and Husain (a.s.) and the nine Imams (a.s.) after Imam Husain (a.s.), and their Shias and lovers, was left so captivated that he immediately supplicated to Allah to include him from the Shias and lovers of Aal-e-Muhammad (a.s.).
- Al-Fazail of Ibn Shazaan (r.a.) p. 158
- Kashf al-Muhajjah p. 236
- Ithbaat al-Hodaat vol. 2 p. 240
- Madinah al-Maajiz vol. 3 p. 365, vol. 4 p. 38
- Al-Insaaf p. 478-480
- Behaar al-Anwaar vol. 36 p. 151
- Mustadrak al-Wasail vol. 4 p. 187, 399
In another tradition Imam Sadiq (a.s.) relates in exegesis of this verse:
Ibrahim (a.s.) was from the Shias of Ali (a.s.), although all the Prophets were from his Shias…
- Mashaareq Anwaar al-Yaqeen p. 289
- Shia of Ali Ibn Abi Talib (a.s.) is the Shia of Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.a.)
Undoubtedly the exegesis of Surah Saffaat (37): 83 will invite skepticism and accusations of exaggeration (ghuluv).
How can Ali Ibn Abi Talib (a.s.) be superior to Prophet Ibrahim (a.s.)?
How can Prophet Ibrahim (a.s.) desire to be Shia of Ali Ibn Abi Talib (a.s.) over Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.a.)?
Even though the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) is an ordinary ‘mortal’ for these Muslims, they still act very agitated when the Prophet’s (s.a.w.a.) status is compromised. Although we don’t how anyone can lower the Prophet’s (s.a.w.a.) status further than these Muslims have already done.
Since Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.a.) is superior to all prophets, Imam Ali Ibn Abi Talib (a.s.) by virtue of being his ‘nafs’, is superior to all prophets except Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.a.).
Imam Sadiq (a.s.) informed regarding Surah Saffaat (37): 83:
Ibrahim (a.s.) was from the Shia of the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) and was therefore from the Shia of Ali (a.s.). And every Shia of Ali Ibn Abi Talib (a.s.) is already a Shia of Prophet (s.a.w.a.).
- Tafseer al-Burhan vol. 4 pg. 600
In the end we thank Allah:
الحمد للّه الذي جعل مقام شيعة الحق عليا، و صيرهم مع نبيه إبراهيم في ذلك الاسم سميا
- Al-Sawarim al-Muhriqah fi Naqd al-Sawaiq al-Muhriqah p. 53 from Nahj al-Sidq