to Islamic Unity
The distinguished book entitled "al-Ghadir"
has raised a huge wave in the world of Islam. Islamic thinkers shed light on the book in different
perspectives; in literature, history, theology, tradition,
tafsir, and sociology. From the social perspective we can
deal with the Islamic unity. In this review the Islamic unity
has been dealt with from a social point of view.
Muslim thinkers and reformists are of the view that unity and
solidarity of Muslims are the most imperative Islamic
exigencies at the present juncture when the enemies have made
extensive inroads upon the Islamic community and have tried to
resort to different ways and means to spread the old
differences and create new ones. We are aware that Islamic
unity and fraternity is the focus of attention of the Holy
Legislator of Islam and is actually the major objective
pursued by this Divine religion as firmed by the Qur'an, the
"Sunnah", and the history of Islam.
this reason, some people have been faced with this question:
Wouldn't the compilation and publication of a book such as "al-Ghadir"
which deals with the oldest issue of differences
among the Muslims- create a barrier in the way of the sublime
and lofty objective of the Islamic unity?
answer this question, it is necessary first to elucidate the
essence of this issue, that is, the Islamic unity, and then
proceed to examine the role of the magnum opus entitled "al-Ghadir"
and its eminent compiler 'Allamah Amini in bringing
about Islamic unity.
is meant by the Islamic unity? Does it mean that one Islamic
school of thought should be unanimously followed and others be
set aside? Or does it mean that the commonalities of all
Islamic schools of thought should be taken up and their
differences be put away to make up a new denomination which is
not completely the same as the previous ones? Or does it mean
that Islamic unity is in no way related to the unity of the
different schools of Fiqh (jurisprudence)
but signifies the unity of the Muslims and the unity of the
followers of different schools of Fiqh, with their different religious ideas and views,
vis-a-vis the aliens?
give an illogical and impractical meaning to the issue of the
Islamic unity, the opponents of the issue have called it to be
the formation of a single Madhab, so as to defeat it in the
very first step. Without doubt, by the term Islamic unity, the
intellectual Islamic 'Ulama' (scholars) do not mean that all denominations
should give in to one denomination or that the commonalities
should be taken up and the different views and ideas be set
aside, as these are neither rational and logical nor
favourable and practical. By Islamic unity, these scholars
mean that all Muslims should unite in one line against their
scholars state that Muslims have many things in common, which
can serve as the foundations of a firm unity.
Muslims worship the One Almighty and believe in the
Prophethood of the Holy Prophet ('s).
Qur'an is the Book of all Muslims and
is their "qiblah" (direction of prayer).
go to "hajj" pilgrimage with each other and perform the
"hajj" rites and rituals like one another.
say the daily prayers and
like each other
establish families and engage in transactions like one
have similar ways of bringing up their children and
burying their dead.
from minor affairs, they share similarities in all the
aforementioned cases. Muslims also share one kind of world
view, one common culture, and one grand, glorious, and
in the world view, in culture, in the civilization, in insight
and disposition, in religious beliefs, in acts of worship and
prayers, in social rites and customs can well turn the Muslim
nation into a unified nation to serve as a massive and dominant power
before which the big global powers would have to bow down.
This is especially true in view of the stress laid by Islam on
this principle. According to the explicit wording of the
Qur'an, the Muslims are brothers, and special rights and
duties link them together. So, why shouldn't the Muslims use
all these extensive facilities accorded to them as the
blessing of Islam?
group of 'Ulama' are
of the view that there is no need for the Muslims to make any
compromise on the primary or secondary principles of their
religion for the sake of Islamic unity. Also it is not
necessary for the Muslims to avoid engaging in discussions and
reasons and writing books on primary and secondary principles
about which they have differences. The only consideration for
Islamic unity in this case is that the Muslims- in order to
avoid the emergence or accentuation of vengeance - preserve
their possession, avoid insulting and accusing each other and
uttering fabrications, abandon ridiculing the logic of one
another, and finally abstain from hurting one another and
going beyond the borders of logic and reasoning. In fact, they
should, at least, observe the limits which Islam has set forth
for inviting non-Muslims to embrace it:
to the way of your Lord with wisdom and good exhortation, and
have disputations with them in the best manner... "
people are of the view that those schools of fiqh, such as, Shafi'i and Hanafi which have no
differences in principle should establish brotherhood and stand in one
line. They believe that denominations which have differences
in the principles can in no way be brothers. This group view
the religious principles as an interconnected set as termed by
scholars of Usul, as
an interrelated and interdependent set; any damage to one principle
harms all principles.
a result, those who believe in this principle are of the view
that when, for instance, the principle of "imamah" is damaged and victimized, unity and fraternity
will bear no meaning and for this reason the Shi'ah and the
Sunnis cannot shake hands as two Muslim brothers and be in the
same rank, no matter who their enemy is.
first group answers this group by saying: "There is no
reason for us to consider the principles as an interrelated
set and follow the principle of "all or none". Imam
'Ali ('a) chose a very logical and reasonable approach. He
left no stone unturned to retrieve his right. He used
everything within his power to restore the principle of "imamah",
but he never adhered to the motto of "all or
none". 'Ali ('a) did not rise up for his right, and that
was not compulsory. On the contrary, it was a calculated and
chosen approach. He did not fear death. Why didn't he rise up?
There could have been nothing above martyrdom. Being killed
for the cause of the Almighty was his ultimate desire. He was
more intimate with martyrdom than a child is with his mother's
breast. But in his sound calculations, Imam 'All ('a) had
reached the conclusion that under the existing conditions it
was to the interest of Islam to foster collaboration and
cooperation among the Muslims and give up revolt. He
repeatedly stressed this point.
one of his letters (No.62 "Nahj
al Balaghah") to Malik al-Ashtar, he
wrote the following:
I pulled back my hand until I realized that a group of people
converted from Islam and invited the people toward
annihilating the religion of Muhammad ('s). So I feared that if
I did not rush to help Islam and the Muslims, I would see gaps
or destruction which calamity would be far worse than the
several-day-long demise of caliphate."
the six-man council, after appointment of 'Uthman by 'Abdul-Rahman
ibn 'Awf, 'Ali ('a) set forth his objection as well as his
readiness for collaboration as follows:
well know that I am more deserving than others for caliphate.
But now by Allah (swt), so long as the affairs of the Muslims are in
order and my rivals suffice with setting me aside and only I
am alone subjected to oppression, I will not oppose (the move)
and will give in (to it)." (From Sermon 72, "Nahj
indicate that in this issue 'Ali ('a) condemned the principle
of "all or none". There is no need to further
elaborate the approach taken by 'Ali ('a) toward this issue.
There are ample historical proofs and reasons in this regard.
it is time to see to which group the eminent 'Allamah,
Ayatullah Amini - the distinguished compiler of the "al-Ghadir"
- belonged and how he thought. Did he approve of
the unity of the Muslims only within the light of Shi'ism? Or
did he consider Islamic fraternity to be broader? Did he
believe that Islam which is embraced by uttering the "shahadatayn"
(the Muslim creed) would willy-nilly create some
rights for the Muslims and that the brotherhood and fraternity
set forth in the Qur'an exists among all Muslims?
Amini personally considered this point - i.e. the need to
elucidate his viewpoint on this subject and elaborate whether "al-Ghadir"
has a positive or a negative role in (the
establishment of) Islamic unity. In order not to be subject to
abuse by his opponent - be they among the pros and cons - he
has repeatedly explained and elucidated his views.
Amini supported Islamic unity and viewed an open mind and
clear insight. On different occasions, he set forth this
matter in various volumes of the "al-Ghadir'.
Reference will be made to some of them below:
the preface to volume 1, he briefly mentions the role of "al-Ghadir"
in the world of Islam. He states: "And we
consider all this as service to religion, sublimation of the
word of the truth, and restoration of the Islamic 'ummah' (community)."
volume 3 (page 77), after quoting the fabrications of Ibn
Taymiyah, Alusi, and Qasimi to the effect that Shi 'ism is
hostile to some of the Ahl al-Bayt ('a) (the Household of the Prophet) such as Zayd
bin 'Ali bin al-Huseyn, he notes the following under the title
of "Criticism and Correction":
fabrications and accusations sow the seeds of corruption, stir
hostilities among the 'ummah', create discord among the Islamic community, divide
the 'ummah', and
clash with the public interests of the Muslims.
in volume 3 (page 268), he quotes the accusation levelled on
the Shi'ahs by Sayyid Muhammad Rashid Rida to the effect that
"Shi'ahs are pleased with any defeat incurred by Muslims,
so much as they celebrated the victory of the Russians over
the Muslims." Then he says:
falsehoods are fabricated by persons like Sayyid Muhammad
Rashid Rida. The Shi'ahs of Iran and Iraq against whom this accusation is
well as the orientalists, tourists, envoys of Islamic
countries, and those who travelled and still travel to Iran and
Iraq, have no information about this trend. Shi'ahs, without
exception, respect the lives, blood, reputation, and property
of the Muslims be they Shi'ahs or Sunnis. Whenever a calamity
has befallen the Islamic community anywhere, in any region,
and for any sects, the Shi'ahs have shared their sorrow. The
Shi'ahs have never been confined to the Shi'ah world, the
(concept of) Islamic brotherhood which has been set forth in
the Qur'an and the 'sunnah' (the Prophet's sayings and actions), and in this
respect, no discrimination has been made between the Shi'ahs
and the Sunnis."
at the close of volume 3, he criticizes several books penned
by the ancients such as "Iqd al-Farid" by Ibn Abd
al-Rabbih, "al-Intisar" by Abu al-Husayn Khayyat al-Mu'tazili,
Farq bayn al-Firaq" by Abu Mansur al-Baghdadi, "al-Fasl"
Ibn Hazm al-Andulusi, "al-Milal
wa al-Nihal" by Muhammad ibn Abdul-Karim al-Shahristani
"Minhaj al-Sunnah" by Ibn Taymiah and "al-Bidayah
wa al-Nihayah" by Ibn Kathir and several by
the later writers such as "Tarikh al-Umam al-Islamiyyah" by
Shaykh Muhammad Khizri, "Fajr al
Islam" by Ahmad Amin, "al-Jawlat
fi Rubu al-Sharq al-Adna" by Muhammad Thabit al-Mesri, "al-Sira
Bayn al-Islam wa al-Wathaniyah" by Qasimi, and
"al- Washi'ah" by Musa Jarallah. Then he states the following:
quoting and criticizing these books, we aim at warning and
awakening the Islamic 'ummah' (to the fact) that these books create the greatest
danger for the Islamic community, they destabilize the Islamic
unity and scatter the Muslim lines. In fact nothing can
disrupt the ranks of the Muslims, destroy their unity, and
tear their Islamic fraternity more severely than these
Amini, in the preface to volume 5, under title of "Nazariyah
Karimah" on the occasion of a plaque of honour
forwarded from Egypt for "al-Ghadir", clearly sets forth his view on this issue and
leaves no room for any doubt. He remarks:
are free to express views and ideas on religion. These (views
and ideas) will never tear apart the bond of Islamic
brotherhood to which the holy Qur'an has referred by stating
that 'surely the believers are brethren'; even though academic
discussion and theological and religious debates reach a peak.
This has been the style of the predecessors, and of the 'sahaba'
and the 'tabi'un',
at the head of them.
all the differences that we have in the primary and secondary
principles, we, the compilers and writers in nooks and corners
of the world of Islam, share a common point and that is belief
in the Almighty and His Prophet. A single spirit and one (form
of) sentiment exists in all our bodies, and that is the spirit
of Islam and the term 'ikhlas,"
the Muslim compilers, all live under the banner of truth and
carry out our duties under the guidance of the Qur'an and the
Prophetic Mission of the Holy Prophet ('s). The message of all
of us is 'Surely the (true) religion with Allah (swt) is Islam ...
(3:18)' and the slogan of all of us is 'There is no god but
Allah (swt) and Muhammad is His Messenger ('s).' Indeed, we are (the
members of) the party of Allah (swt) and the supporters of his
the preface to volume 8, under the title of "al-Ghadir
Yowahhad al-Sufuf fil-Mila al-Islami", 'Allamah
Amini directly makes researches into the role of
"Al- Ghadir" in (the establishment of)
Islamic unity. In this discussion, this great scholar
categorically rejects the accusations levelled by those who
said: 'Al-Ghadir' causes
greater discord among the Muslims. He proves that, on the
contrary, "Al-Ghadir" removes many misunderstandings and brings the
Muslims closer to one another. Then he brings evidence by
mentioning the confessions of the non-Shi'ia Islamic scholars.
At the close, he quotes the letter of Shaykh Muhammad Saeed
Dahduh written in this connection.
avoid prolongation of this article, we will not quote and
translate the entire statements of 'Allamah Amini in
explaining the positive role of "al-Ghadir" in (establishing) Islamic unity, since what has
already been mentioned sufficiently proves this fact.
positive role of "al-Ghadir" is established by the facts that it firstly
clarifies the proven logic of the Shi'ahs and proves that the
inclination of Muslims to Shi'ism - notwithstanding the
poisonous publicity of some people - is not due to political,
ethnic, or other trends and considerations. It also verifies
that a powerful logic based on the Qur'an and the "sunnah"
has given rise to this tendency.
it reflects that some accusations levelled on Shi'ism - which
have made other Muslims distanced from the Shi'ah- are totally
baseless and false. Examples of these accusations are the
notion that the Shi'ites prefer the non-Muslims to the non-
Shi'i Muslims, rejoice at the defeat of non-Shi'ite Muslims at
the hands of non-Muslims, and other accusations such as the
idea that instead of going to hajj pilgrimage, the Shi'ahs go on pilgrimage to shrines
of the Imams, or have particular rites in prayers and in
it introduces to the world of Islam the eminent Commander of
the faithful 'Ali ('a) who is the most oppressed and the least
praised grand Islamic personality and who could be the leader
of all Muslims, as well as his pure offspring.
Comments on "al-Ghadir"
unbiased non-Shia Muslims interpret the "al-Ghadir" in the same way that has already been mentioned.
Abdul-Ghani Hasan al-Mesri, in his foreword on "al-Ghadir",
which has been published in the preface to volume
I, second edition, states:
call on the Almighty to make your limpid brook (in Arabic, 'Ghadir'
means brook) the cause of peace and cordiality
between the Shia and Sunni brothers to cooperate with one
another in building the Islamic "ummah."
Ghadban, the managing editor of the Egyptian magazine entitled
the following in the preface to volume 3:
book clarifies the Shi'ite logic. The Sunnis can correctly
learn about the Shi'iah through this book. Correct recognition
of the Shi'ahs brings the views of the Shi'ahs and the Sunnis
closer, and they can make a unified rank".
his foreword to the "al-Ghadir" which was published in the
to volume 4, Dr. Muhammad Ghallab, professor of
philosophy at the Faculty of Religious Studies al-Azhar
got hold of your book at a very opportune time, because right
now I am busy collecting and compiling a book on the lives of
the Muslims from various perspectives. Therefore, I am highly
avid for obtaining sound information about 'Imamiyah' Shi'ism. Your book will help me. And I will not make mistakes
about the Shi'ahs as others have".
this foreword published in the preface
to volume 4 of the "al-Ghadir", Dr. 'Abdul-Rahman Kiali Halabi says the following
after referring to the decline of the Muslims in the present
age and the factors which can lead to the Muslims' salvation,
one of which is the sound recognition of the successor of the
Holy Prophet (s):
book entitled "al-Ghadir" and its rich content deserves to be known by every
Muslim to learn how historians have been negligent and see
where the truth lies. Through this means, we should compensate
for the past, and by striving to foster the unity of the
Muslims, we should try to gain the due rewards".
were the views of 'Allamah Amini about the important social
issues of our age and such were his sound reflections in the
world of Islam.
be upon him.
by Mojgan Jalali Vol.
3, No. 1 and 2 (1417 AH/1996 CE)