b. The Definition of the Word Shi`ah from the Books of the Isma`ili

c. The Definition of the Word Shi`ah from Other Sources
April 18, 2016
The Technical Meaning of the Word Shi`ah – a.As Defined by the Books of the Ithna `Ashariyyah
April 18, 2016

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The Definition of the Word Shia from the Books of the Ismaili


Abu Hatim al Razi (who was among the most prominent propagators of Ismailism[1]) says in his book al Zinah:


الشيعة لقب لقوم قد الفوا امير المؤمنين على بن ابى طالب صلوات الله عليه فى حياة رسول الله صلى الله عليه و سلم و عرفوا به مثل سلمان الفارسى و ابى ذر الغفارى والمقداد بن اسود و عمار بن ياسر و كان يقال لهم شيعة على و اصحاب على…ثم لزم هذا اللقب كل من قال بتفضيله بعده الى يومنا و تشبعت من هذه الفرقة فرق كثيرة سميت باسماء متفرقة و القاب شتى مثل الرافضة والزيدية والكيسانية وغير ذلك من الالقاب وهم كلهم داخلون فى جملة هذا اللقب الواحد الذى يسمى الشيعة على تباينهم فى المذاهب و تفرقهم فى الاراء


Shia is the title of the group who befriended ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib ‘alayh al Salam during the lifetime of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam and they were known for this. They were Salman al Farsi, Abu Dhar al Ghifari, Miqdad ibn al Aswad and ‘Ammar ibn Yasir. They were referred to as the Shia of ‘Ali and the companions of ‘Ali… Later, this title became attached to all those who believed in his superiority after him,[2] up until this day. Many sub groups emerged from this group, all of whom adopted different titles such as Rafidah, Zaidiyyah, Kasaniyyah, etc. All of these groups are included in this one title, viz. Shia, even though there sects and beliefs are different.[3]


It should be noted that in this definition, the author claims that the word Shia was used to refer to a specific group of people in the very lifetime of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. This cannot be established historically. The only claimants of this are the Shia, whose object is to somehow prove their mazhab and its validity. We have peeked into the matter under the discussion of the development of Shi’ism. Another noteworthy claim is that he believes that the basis of the relationship between those Sahabah and ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu was friendship. He did not claim — as others have done —that it was on account of his divine appointment (to the post of Imamah) from Allah and his Rasul, as is believed by the Shia.


NEXT⇒ c. The Definition of the Word Shia from Other Sources

[1]  Abu Hatim Ahmed ibn Hamdan ibn Ahmed al Razi. Among his books are A’lam al Nubuwwah, Al Zinah, etc. He died in the year 322 A.H. Refer to Ibn Hajar: Lisan al Mizan 1/164, A’lam al Ismailiyyah pg. 97 for more details regarding him.

[2]  i.e. superiority of ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu over all the Sahabah after Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. It is also possible that this means he is the greatest person after Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, which would mean that he is greater than the ambiya’. In this way the extremist Rawafid as well as others would be included as well. However, the meaning that seems most likely is that it refers to all those who consider ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu to be the greatest of all people from the moment Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam passed away until this day. This seems to be the most accurate interpretation.

[3]Al Zinah pg. 259 (Inside the book Al Ghuluw wa l-Firaq al Ghaliyah).

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