Does Tabarra clash with the broader goal of Muslim Unity?

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Tabarra is opposed by a group of Muslims on the pretext that it clashes with the broader and overarching goal of Muslim Unity


Only one reality of the correct religion

The Muslim Unity that is proposed as a goal has many conflicting areas and the Holy Quran and traditions have pointed this out in many places.

The religion based on revelation and principles of Holy Quran and Sunnah is but one religion and cannot have multiple versions so that these different versions must unite under a single banner.

Truth and falsehood are two separate realities and unity not possible

Likewise, truth and falsehood are two separate and distinct realities. When one talks of unity, exactly what does he want – does he want to unite truth and falsehood? This is impossible. Or he wants to mix truth with falsehood and form a third entity, which will also be falsehood and error as the Holy Quran points out ‘And what can be beyond truth except error’ (Surah Yunus: 32).

According to traditions there is only truth and falsehood, knowledge and ignorance, felicity and wretchedness, heaven and hell, there is no third category for these.

Allah has pointed out the impossibility of merger of opposites in the Holy Quran:

Allah has not made for any man two hearts within him…

  • Surah Ahzad (33): 4

Why Ahle Bait (a.s.) did not unite?

If Muslim Unity was the broader goal, then the Ahle Bait (a.s.) should have been more eager to pursue it. But we see that after the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) the Ahle Bait (a.s.) were constantly in conflict with the rulers over Fadak and leadership of the nation. They are seen challenging the rulers in their sermons and even the companions of the Ahle Bait (a.s.) are delivering sermons in the Prophet’s Masjid challenging the validity of the rulers.

Ahle Bait (a.s.) are the Rope of Allah that unites Muslims

Allah orders the Muslims:

واعتصموا بحبل الله جميعا ولا تفرقوا

‘And hold fast by the Rope of Allah all together and be not disunited…’ (Surah Ale Imran (3): 103)

Proponents of Muslim Unity like to quote this verse more than anything else. But have they ever studied the context and paused to reflect on what Allah means exactly?

What is the Rope of Allah (حبل الله) to which the Muslims have been invited?

Is it the Quran? Or the rulers? Or the companions? Or the wives?

Scholars of the Ahle Tasannun affirm that the ‘حبل الله’ is none other than Ali Ibn Abi Talib (a.s.).

  • Al-Sawaeq al-Muhriqah p 233
  • Shawahid al-Tanzeel v 1 p 269
  • Tafseer al-Thalabi under Surah Ale Imran (3): 103

Shia scholars have likewise documented this in their books viz.

  • Tafseer al-Ayyashi p 102 under Surah Ale Imran (3): 103
  • Tafseer al-Furat p 91 under Surah Ale Imran (3): 103
  • Nahj al-Sidq v 5 p 390

We find Fatima Zahra (s.a.) refer to this aspect in the Sermon of Fadak:
Allah has made our (i.e. Ahle Bait) obedience as a system for religion, our leadership as a safeguard from disunity.

  • Al-Ehtejaj v 1 p 132-141
  • Sharh Nahj al-Balaghah v 16 p 210
  • Behar al-Anwar v 29 p 216

Only believers are brethren unto each other

The Noble Quran announces:
The believers are but brethren…

  • Surah Hujurat (49): 10

It is under this verse that Shaikh Muhammad Hasan Najafi – author of the famous work of fiqh ‘Jawaher al-Kalaam’ records:
According to this verse only believers are brethren, not their opponents. Then how is it possible for believers and their opponents to be united. Based on such verses and traditions, it is necessary to maintain enmity and tabarra with the opponents.

  • Jawaher al-Kalaam v 22 p 62

If unity is to be achieved, then in which sphere?

If there is a desire to achieve the goal of Muslim Unity, then in which sphere do they wish to achieve unity – Usul al-Deen or Furu al-Deen?

If we take Usul al-Deen, then the concept of Tauheed in the school of the opponents is vastly different from Tauheed in the school of Ahle Bait (a.s.).

Even the concept of the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) in the two schools is sharply at variance.

Ditto for the concept of the Imam.

Matters are no better in Furu al-Deen.

Regarding the vast differences in Furu al-Deen, Imam Jafar Sadiq (a.s.) says:
By Allah, the enemies have not abided by any law delivered by the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) except for facing the Qibla!

  • Al-Mahasin v 1 p 156
  • Fusool al-Muhimma v 1 p 578
  • Mustadrak al-Wasail v 3 p 169
  • Jame Ahadeeth al-Shia v 4 p 569

No appetite for unity with the Shias

The opponents show no inclination to unite with Shias as is evident from their books.

Consider some of these comments against the Shias:

  1. Shias are to be considered at par with Jews, Christians and idol-worshippers even if they pray and fast.
  • Asaas al-Emaan p 691 from Zaherah al-Takfeer of Muhammad Ahmed Amin
  1. Ibn Taymiyyah considers war with Shias a bigger obligation than war with the Khawarij and considers their wealth and women as permissible.
  • Asaas al-Emaan p 692 from Majmu al-Fatawa of Ibn Taymiyya
  1. Ibn Kathir considers shedding blood of Shias more permissible than shedding alcohol.
  • Asaas al-Emaan p 692 from Al-Bidayah wa al-Nihayah of Ibn Kathir – student of Ibn Taymiyya
  1. Bukhari believes that Shias (Rafizis) are just like Jews and Christians. We must not greet them (salam), we must not visit their sick ones, we must not give our women or take their women in marriage, we must not accept their witness and we must not eat their sacrificed animal.
  • Asaas al-Emaan p 693

Given the sharp differences in the fundamentals of religion on one hand, the constant dissociation of Ahle Bait (a.s.) and their companions from the rulers of the time, the sharp attacks of mainstream Muslim scholars against the Shiite creed, there is little to suggest any Muslim Unity program will ever achieve the credibility and success it deserves, given the vast compromises from the Shias in particular. Under the circumstances to blame Tabarra for hampering Muslim Unity ignores the sharp differences that always existed, making it an Impossible Muslim Unity.

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