Saturday, February 13, 2010

Understanding Shia Sunni Dialogue

Sulaiman: How and when did the Shias come into existence? Was it after the demise of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) and after the consultation of Saqifah Bani Saada where the successor of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) was selected? Was it a result of the confrontation between Ali (karam allaho wajhohoo) and Muawiya? Or did it come about due to the murder of Imam Husain (a.s.) at Karbala? Or was it was due to confrontation between the companions of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) that the Shias broke away from the main community of the Muslims?


Ja’far: It is wrong to view Shias as a breakaway group that separated from the main body of the Muslims due to a particular incident like that of the false entity of Abdullah Ibne saba. The word ‘Shia’ was originally used with the meaning of ‘helper’ and ‘supporter’. Historical occurrences are different and to have a particular opinion about something is different. Shiaism denotes a school of thought that is related to the teachings of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.). It also indicates the source of guidance after the passing away of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.). Is it possible that the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) left the world without providing clear-cut instructions to his followers as regards the leadership of the community? But after the demise of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.s.) two types of views emerged. One believed that the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.s.) had appointed his Caliph on the basis of Divine instructions. The second view was that the Caliphate of the Prophet is a prerogative of the people (Shura).
The differing views caused a division in the Muslim community. Some followed the former and the rest followed the latter view. A series of incidents led to majority of the people aligning themselves with the latter view. The Shia school of thought was banished from the mainstream of the society. These people believed that the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.s.) had declared his successor a number of times. He even indicated the name of Ali (a.s.). He also ordered the people to follow Ahlul Bayt (a.s.). As regards the Shura we already know that it denotes the selection of the Caliph through election by the majority of the people. So let us see why the Shias support the former view?

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