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Which is the correct phrase according to the Hadith, "wa etrati" or "wa sunnati":

The narrations of the very well known "Thaqalain" have been recorded in the books of tradition in two ways that we shall now illuminate so as to find out which the correct one is.


What is meant by the term'Shia'?


'Shia', in the Arabic language means 'follower'. The Holy Quran says:

"And most surely Ibrahim was one of His Shia" (followed His way),

Meaning that Ibrahim (as) was one of the followers of prophet Noah. However, in the Muslim terminology 'Shia' is used for a group who believe that the prophet (saw) before his death, appointed the successor and a caliph for the Muslims. He did so in many occasions among which one of them happened to be on the eighteenth of Zilhajj which is known as the day of 'Ghadeer'. This was a gathering consisting of thousands of people where the prophet himself specified Imam Ali appointing him as the political, religious and judicial authority.


After the demise of the honorable prophet, the Muhajir and Ansar divided into two groups:

A group believing that God's messenger attended to the matter of appointing a caliph making Ali to be his successor, who was the first believer after him.

This group constituted from a group of Muhajir and Ansar headed by the all the dignitaries of Bani-Hashim including a group of close companions such as Salman, Abu dhar, Miqdad, Khabab bin Arr among others. This group remained steadfast on the prophet's belief and were named as "Shia of Ali (as)." Of course, this title was given by the Holy prophet himself during his lifetime to the followers of the leader of the faithful. This was when he pointed to Ali Ibn Abi Talib and said:

"I swear by the one who possesses my soul that surely, he and his followers are the winners on the day of Judgment."

Therefore, the Shia are a group of Muslims during the early period of Islam, who because of their belief in the appointment (by a specific text) of the position of guardianship and leadership, were known by this name, and this very group is still on the line of executorships and following the prophet's household.

Thus, the position of Shia is determined in this way. With the above explanation, the baselessness of the speech of some of the ignorant or among the private motives of forgery based on the formation of Shia creed to have come in the later Islamic era, becomes evident of it's falsification. For further knowledge of the Shia's history, refer to the books of 'Asl-Al-Shia wa Usuluha', 'Al-Murajia'at' and 'Aayan Al-Shia.'

Another group believed that the position of caliphate is an elected one; therefore, swore allegiance to Abu bakr. This group were later known as 'Ahl sunnah' or 'Sunnis'. Thus, this finally resulted in the difference between two Islamic sects. However these two sects seem to have many common features between them. The difference in opinion arose regarding the matter of caliphate, and the fact that who is to succeed the Holy prophet. The initial source of conflict was however due to the two very groups of Ansar and Muhajir.

(saffat, 83)

Jalal Al-Deen Al-Seuti, Dur Al-Manthur, vol.6, in interpretation of the seventh verse of sura Bayyinah (as for) those who believe and do good, surely they are the best of men.)


Why is Ali bin Abi Talib the guardian and successor of the Holy prophet?


As we previously mentioned, the Shia have firm belief that the position of caliphate is appointed by God (according to a text) and that Imamate after the honored prophet is similar to prophet hood in some aspects; the guardian has to be appointed by God as was the appointing of the prophets.

The history of the prophet's life certifies this principle; because he had appointed Ali (as) as his successor in several occasions of which we shall mention three instances:

During the early period of the prophet hood of the prophet:

When the Prophet was commanded as the mission from God to call his relatives inorder to create unity according to the verse

"and warn your nearest relations."

So he addressed the gathering saying that whosoever supported him in this way, as dictated by Allah, will become the guardian, vizier, and successor to him. His holiness said the following words:

"Who is ready amongst you to support me in this matter so that he be my brother, vizier, guardian and successor?"

The only one to give a positive response to this heavenly call was Ali bin Abi Talib (p). It was then that the prophet turned to his relatives and said:

"He (Ali) is my brother, guardian and successor (caliph) among you, so listen to him and obey him."

In the battle of 'Tabuk': The prophet (p) said to Ali (p):

"Aren't you pleased to be considered by me as Aaroon (was) for Moses, except that after me there is no prophet."

That is, Aaroon was the immediate successor of Moses, you too are my successor in the same manner.

In the tenth year of Hijrat:

God's messenger (p), when returning from Hajjat-ul-wida (last pilgrimage of the prophet), stopped in an area known as 'Ghadeer Khum' and introduced Ali (p) to a unanimous gathering as the guardian of the Muslims and believers.

He said:

"Whosoever (until now) I was his guardian, (from now on) Ali is his guardian."

The point worth mentioning and of paramount importance is that the prophet (p) at the beginning of his speech said:

"Am I not more superior to you than yourselves?"

All the Muslims stood up in approval to his statement. Therefore, it should be clearly noted that what the prophet (p) meant by the term 'Mawla'in his tradition is the position of superiority over them; this result can be used as a deduction that his holiness approved for Ali (p) the same position of superiority that he possessed.

The narration of Ghadeer is one of the most widely transmitted Islamic narrations which in addition to the Shia scholars, about a number of three hundred and sixty Sunni scholars have also narrated it; it's narration reaches up to a hundred and ten companions, twenty six of the great scholars have also written an independent book regarding its chain of transmitters.

Abu-Jaffer Tabari, the renowned Muslim historian, has collected the chains of transmitters of this tradition in two thick volumes. For more information, refer to the book of 'Al-Ghadeer'

1. Shura: 214.

Tarikh Al-Tabari vol.2 p. 62-63; Al-Tarikh Al-Kamil, vol.2 p. 40-41,

2. Masnad Ahmad vol.1 p. 111, and Shar e Nahjul Balagha (Ibn Abi Al-Hadid) vol. 13 p. 210-212

3. Seerat Ibn Hisham vol.2 p.520 and 'Al-Sawa-eq Al- mohrigha (Ibn Hajar) 2nd print, Egypt section 9, chapt. 2, p. 121.

For example, 'Al-sawa-eq Al-mohregha' (Ibn Hajar) 2nd print, Egypt, section 9, p. 122.

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