Criticism of Twelver Shi'ism


Criticism of Twelver Shi'ism

Bismillahir Rahmanir Rahim Part of a series on Shī‘ah Islam
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Criticism

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Criticism of Shi'ism has occurred since the initial rift between the primary factions of Islam, the Sunni and Shi'a. Sunni commentators have identified several aspects of Shi'a belief which they allege are incorrect and even heretical. Further, Shi'a commentators and authorities have criticised practices and beliefs which have become prevalent in the Shi'a community, engaging in self-criticism in an attempt to reform the faith.


Contents

Nikah mut‘ah

Nikah mut‘ah (Arabic for "pleasure marriage"), is a fixed-term marriage practiced in Twelver Shi’ism. The duration of this type of marriage is fixed at its inception and is then automatically dissolved upon completion of its term. For this reason, nikah mut‘ah has been widely criticised as the religious cover and legalization of prostitution.[1][2][3][4][5]

Taqiyya (dissimulation)

Taqiyya is a Shi'a practice under which it is permissible to lie about one's faith in order to preserve life. The Shi'a have been criticised for this practice, deemed cowardly,[6] especially given Islam's emphasis on the declaration of faith.

However, Shi'a commentators have argued that taqiyya has precedents from the time of Muhammad, including the story of Ammar ibn Yasir, a follower of Muhammad who saved his life by pretending to return to idolatry, only to return to Muhammad later and resume life as a Muslim. Such commentators argue that to not avoid certain death is illogical, and that dissimulation is permissible under various circumstances, such as to preserve life, to protect the chastity of women, or avoid destitution.[6]

Alleged disrespect to Abu Bakr, Umar and Uthman

One allegation commonly leveled against the Shi'a is that they disrespect the Sunni Caliphs Abu Bakr, Umar and Uthman who supported Mohammad as per Sunni belief[7] during the early days of Islam but later turned enemies of Mohammad's household (Ahl al Bayt) as per Shia belief.[8] Such Shi'a practices include the recited Dua Sanamain Quraish, which calls God's curse on the first two caliphs following Muhammad's death, Abu Bakr and Umar. Following the Safavid empire's conversion to the Shi'a sect of Islam, the first three caliphs, whom the Shi'a felt usurped Ali's right to be caliph, were cursed during Friday sermons.[9]

As Sunni scholar Shaykh Saleh Al-Fawzan summarises:

The Raafidis [Shi'a] are the opposite: they love the Prophet's family (ahl al-bayt) - or so they claim, but they hate the Saahaaba, whom they curse, denounce as kaafirs, and criticize.[10]

During the 1960s, when an incipient ecumenical movement called for the unification of Shi'a and Sunni Islam, religious writers cited this "disrespect" for the Sahaba as a barrier to unification. In 1980s and 1990s, three major religious writers in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan again cited this argument, noting that until all "profanity" against the Sahaba was abandoned, dialogue with Shi'a scholars could not begin.[11]

Self-flagellation during Ashura

The Shi'a have been criticised for the practice of self-flagellation during Ashura, the observation of the martyrdom of Husayn traditionally accompanied by acts of ritual self-harm. These acts have not only been criticised by non-Shi'a; the Supreme Leader of Iran, Ayatollah Khamenei issued a 1994 just for one year because he want people to donate blood for the army which was fighting against irqa and suadi army.[11]

Child imams

Three of the Twelve Imams, held by the Shi'a to be God's representatives on Earth, were less than ten years old when they assumed the undisputed sole and ultimate leadership of the Twelver Shia community. The ninth imam, Muhammad al-Taqi was 7 and a half years old at the time he assumed the imamate; the 10th imam Ali al-Hadi was between 6.5 and 8.5 years, and the 12th and final imam Muhammad al-Mahdi was 4 and a half years old. Critics argue against the possibility of these personalities assuming the leadership of the Imamate at such young ages. Wilferd Madelung notes, however, that in Shi'a belief the knowledge of an imam comes from "inspiration, not acquisition", and thus that even a young imam is not considered unprepared, receiving revelation upon the death of his predecessor.[12]

Fatimah's divine revelations

According to Twelver Shi’ism, Muhammad's daughter Fatimah received divine revelations after her father's death.[13] During the 75 days that Fatimah had contact and communication with Gabriel, her husband Ali wrote down and recorded the revelations that were made to Fatimah which she dictated to him, to form the Book of Fatimah.

Sunni critics argue that Fatimah never received divine revelations[14] and as a result they also deny the existence of the Book of Fatimah.

See also

References

  1. ^ Iran talks up temporary marriages, by Frances Harrison, BBC News, Last Updated: 2 June 2007.
  2. ^ Temporary 'Enjoyment Marriages' In Vogue Again With Some Iraqis, by Nancy Trejos, The Washington Post, 20 January 2007.
  3. ^ Law of desire: temporary marriage in Shi'i Iran, by Shahla Haeri, pg.6.
  4. ^ Islam For Dummies, by Malcolm Clark.
  5. ^ Islam: a very short introduction, by Malise Ruthven.
  6. ^ a b Muḥammad Ḥusayn Ṭabāṭabāʼī, Muhammad H. Al-Tabataba'i. Shiʻite Islam. Issue 5 of The Persian studies series. SUNY Press, 1977. ISBN 0873953908, 9780873953900. Pg 227
  7. ^ Nicholas Schmidle. To Live Or to Perish Forever: Two Tumultuous Years in Pakistan. Macmillan, 2010. ISBN 0805091491, 9780805091496. Pg 23
  8. ^ The History of al-Tabari, Volume IX, The Last Years of the Prophet, p186-187, SUNY Press
  9. ^ Patrick Cockburn. Muqtada: Muqtada al-Sadr, the Shia revival, and the struggle for Iraq. Simon and Schuster, 2008. ISBN 1416551476, 9781416551478. Pg 25
  10. ^ Muhammad Saed Abdul-Rahman. Islam: Questions and Answers - Schools of Thought, Religions and Sects, Volume 8. MSA Publication Limited, 2003. ISBN 1861792913, 9781861792914. Pg 102
  11. ^ a b Jamal S. Suwaidi. Iran and the Gulf: a search for stability. I.B.Tauris, 1996. ISBN 186064144X, 9781860641442. Pg 165
  12. ^ An Ismaili heresiography, by Wilferd Madelung, Paul Ernest Walker, pg.114-115
  13. ^ Kitab Al-Kafi, Chapter 40 (Statements about al-Jafr, al-Jami‘ and the Book of Fatima (a.s.)), H 639, Ch. 40, h 5, translated by Muhammad Sarwar. A sound tradition according to Grand Ayatollah Khomeini in: “THE POSITION OF WOMEN FROM THE VIEWPOINT OF IMAM KHOMEINI”, pg.10-11. This tradition quotes Imam Ja'far al-Sadiq, as saying: “After the death of her father, Fatima, upon whom be peace, lived for 75 days. She was in this world and she was overcome with grief. Gabriel, the Trusted Spirit, came to her regularly to console her and tell her of future events.”
  14. ^ Thomas Patrick Hughes. Dictionary of Islam: being a cyclopædia of the doctrines, rites, ceremonies, and customs, together with the technical and theological terms, of the Muhammadan relgion. W. H. Allen, 1885. Pg 573

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