Discussion One – Their Belief Regarding the Qur’an as a Source of Proof

b. Their Belief that the Knowledge of the Qur’an and its Understanding is Confined to the Imams
April 15, 2016
The Sects of the Ithna `Ashariyyah
April 15, 2016

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Section One – Their Beliefs Regarding the Sources of Islam


This section contains three chapters:

Chapter One – Their Beliefs Regarding the Book of Allah

Chapter Two – Their Beliefs Regarding the Sunnah

Chapter Three – Their Beliefs Regarding Ijma’


Chapter One – Their Beliefs Regarding the Glorious Qur’an


In this chapter, if Allah wills, we will first include the statements of the Shia which expose their beliefs regarding the Book of Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala. We will first present their view regarding the Qur’an as a source of proof and their opposition of the consensus of the ummah in this matter. They believe that the Qur’an cannot be a proof, unless it is accompanied by one who keeps it in place (one of the twelve Imams). They also believe that the knowledge of the Qur’an is preserved only with the Imam. They were handpicked for its knowledge, and none besides them had access to it. Furthermore, they opine that he has the right to restrict the general command and add conditions to that which is stated without any conditions therein, etc.

Secondly, we will present their beliefs regarding the meaning of the Qur’an. This will include their view that the Qur’an has an inner meaning, which is only known by the Imams as well as their view that most of the Qur’an was revealed regarding them and their enemies. Thirdly, we will include their views regarding the text of the Qur’an, and we will study whether or not the Shia believe that the Qur’an is incomplete and was interpolated.

Added to the above, the Shia believe that the Qur’an is a creation — an idea which they inherited from the Mu’tazilah. This matter will also be discussed under the chapter regarding their beliefs concerning the names of Allah and His attributes. Another claim of theirs, which repeatedly appears in their books although no one has analysed it or pointed it out, is that divine books are revealed to the Imams. This matter was unclear to many, to the extent that I seen some researchers mistaking this to be the same as another view that is attributed to the Shia, viz. the Qur’an was interpolated. Among them was Goldhizer, Muhibb al Din al Khatib and Ihsan Ilahi Zahir.

The Shia also uphold the belief that their Imams possess all the books that were revealed upon the prophets. We will look into this matter as well as the one prior to it under the discussion ‘belief upon the Book’ – which is one of the pillars of faith. The reason why I mentioned them here is so that a complete picture of their beliefs regarding the Book of Allah could be drawn (as this is easier when everything is mentioned in one place). However, these three matters have been discussed in the mentioned places, as they are more appropriate for the discussion.

All the above has been covered in this book, as I noticed (according to my own research) that those who countered Shi’ism did not give due attention to them. Our contemporary scholars have excessively discussed one subject, i.e. the view of interpolation of the Qur’an, which is attributed to the Shia. We will see that the discussions around this subject were not free from mistakes and generalisation of the view that is actually upheld by the extremist Shia. We seek the help of Allah alone.

Discussion One – Their Belief Regarding the Qur’an as a Source of Proof


This discussion will be divided into three sub-sections; Firstly, their claim that the Qur’an cannot be used as a proof, unless it is accompanied with the opinion of the Imam. Secondly, the belief that the knowledge of the Qur’an and its understanding is confined to the Imams. Thirdly, the view that the Imam has the right to restrict the general commands of the Qur’an and add conditions to those which were revealed without any conditions attached to them, etc.

a. The Qur’an Cannot be a Proof Unless it is accompanied With the Opinion of the Imam

Along the course of my study of Shia literature, I found that this matter was emphasised in a number of their relied upon works. I had never previously imagined that any sect which associates itself with Islam would dare say, “the Qur’an cannot be used as a source of proof,” whereas Allah says regarding those who asked for a sign to prove the truthfulness of the Messenger salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam:


اَوَ لَمْ یَكْفِهِمْ اَنَّآ اَنْزَلْنَا عَلَیْكَ الْکِتٰبَ یُتْلٰی عَلَیْهِمْ ؕ

And is it not sufficient for them that We revealed to you the Book (i.e., the Qur’an) which is recited to them?[1]


Thus, the glorious Qur’an is the sign, proof and evidence. However, the scholar of the Shia, who they have dubbed Thiqat al Islam (the reliable one of Islam), al Kulayni, reports in his book Usul al Kafi (which the Shia revere as much as the Ahlus Sunnah revere Sahih al Bukhari[2]):


ان القران لا يكون حجة الا بقيم…و ان عليا كان قيم القران و كانت طاعته مفترضة و كان الحجة على الناس بعد رسول الله

The Qur’an cannot be a proof except with the Imam one who keeps it in place…’Ali was the one who kept the Qur’an in place. Obedience to him was compulsory upon the people, and he was the proof against the people, after Rasulullah.[3]


This doctrine can be found in many of their seminal books such as Rijal al Kashshi[4], ‘Ilal al Shara’i’[5], al Mahasin[6], Wasa’il al Shia,[7] etc. What exactly do they mean by this statement? Does it mean that the text of the Qur’an cannot be used as proof unless it is sanctioned or explained by the Imam? This would mean that the actual proof is not the word of al Rahman, but rather the word the Imam! Or, do they mean that the Qur’an will not be practised upon except if it is enforced by the sultan, and he is the one who keeps it in place by implementing it? This possibility is ruled out due another narration which complements the above narration. This narration states:


فنظرت فى القران فاذا هو يخاصم به المرجئ و القدرى والزنديق الذى لا يؤمن به حتى يغلب الرجال بخصومته فعرفت ان القران لا يكون حجة الا بقيم

I pondered over the Qur’an. I found that the Murji’ah, Qadariyyah and renegades who do not have faith; all use it to argue and defeat men with their arguments. Thereupon I realised that the Qur’an cannot serve as proof unless it is accompanied by the Imam.[8]


This implies that the statements of the Imam are clearer than the speech of al Rahman. It is also clear from the above that the actual proof is the statements of the Imam as he alone has the ability of explaining it. Hence, they have referred to the Qur’an as al Qur’an al Samit (the silent Qur’an) and the Imam as al Qur’an al Natiq (the talking Qur’an). They even have a ‘narration’ from ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu wherein it is alleged that he said:


هذا كتاب الله الصامت و انا كتاب الله الناطق

This is the silent Book of Allah, and I am the Book of Allah who speaks.[9]


Another narration goes:


ذلك القران فاستنطقوه فلن ينطق لكم اخبركم عنه

This is the Qur’an. Ask it to speak, and it will never speak to you people. I will inform you about it.[10]


Their narrations also state:


و على تفسير كتاب الله

‘Ali is the explanation of the Book of Allah.[11]


On other occasions, they claim that the Imams are in fact the Qur’an.[12] Yet another claim of theirs is that the Qur’an was not explained to anyone besides ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu.[13] If any of the above makes any sense, what definitely does not make sense is how could ‘Ali be the one who keeps the Qur’an in its place if he himself was the Qur’an? If he was the Qur’an or the one who keeps it in place, then why was it explained to him? Similarly, how could it have been explained to him when he was the explanation? Undoubtedly, these views are a collection of contradictions, which were concocted by a disbeliever whose only intention was the corruption of the religion of the Muslims. Who else would have said this regarding the Book which was revealed by Allah as a means of guidance for the entire humanity? Allah says:


اِنَّ هٰذَا الْقُرْاٰنَ یَهْدِیْ لِلَّتِیْ هِیَ اَقْوَمُ وَیُبَشِّرُ الْمُؤْمِنِیْنَ الَّذِیْنَ یَعْمَلُوْنَ الصّٰلِحٰتِ اَنَّ لَهُمْ اَجْرًا کَبِیْرًا

Indeed, this Qur’an guides to that which is most suitable and gives good tidings to the believers who do righteous deeds that they will have a great reward.[14]


The rightly guided Khalifah, ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib radiya Llahu ‘anhu said:


كتاب الله فيه نبا ما قبلكم و حكم ما بينكم هو الفصل ليس بالهزل من تركه من جبار قصمه الله و من ابتغى الهدى فى غيره اضله الله وهو حبل الله المتين وهو الذكر الحكيم وهو الصراط المسثقيم وهو الذى لا تزيغ به الاهواء ولا تلتبس به الالسن و لا تنقضى عجائبه ولا يشبع منه العلماء من قال به صدق و من عمل به اجر و من حكم به عدل ومن دعا اليه هدى الى صراط مسستقيم

The Book of Allah contains historical anecdotes of the people before you and the law that you should apply among yourselves. It is the judge. It is not a means of amusement. Whoever discards it out of arrogance, Allah will destroy him and whoever looks to anything besides it for guidance, Allah will lead him astray. It is the Rope of Allah which will not ever snap, the reminder which is filled with wisdom and the straight path. Desires are not corrupted by it and tongues are not confused by its recital. It does not cease to amaze (the reader) and the scholars are never satiated by it (it always leaves them with a desire for more). Whoever speaks it or recites it says the absolute truth, whoever practices upon it, will be rewarded, whoever passes a judgement according to it, his judgement will be filled with justice and whoever calls towards it will be guided to the straight path.[15]


Ibn ‘Abbas radiya Llahu ‘anhu says, “whoever recites the Qur’an and practices upon it is guaranteed safety from misguidance in this world and protection from being ill-fated in the hereafter by Allah.” Thereafter he recited this verse:


فَمَنِ اتَّبَعَ هُدَایَ فَلَا یَضِلُّ وَلَا یَشْقٰی

Then whoever follows My guidance will neither go astray [in the world] nor suffer [in the hereafter].[16]


This matter (i.e. the Qur’an is the actual proof and guide) is so widely accepted that it does not serve any purpose for us to mention all the proofs thereof. We have chosen to suffice upon the Qur’an itself and that which is reported by the Ahlus Sunnah from a personality of the Ahlul Bayt. However, before concluding this discussion, we deem it appropriate to point out those statements in their own books which contradict their claims, as evidence against them regarding their excessive contradictions. We will also shed light upon the objective behind the concoction of such a theory. One of their reliable sources reports the following statement:


ذكر الرضى –رضى الله عنه- يوما القران فعظم الحجة فيه…فقال هو حبل الله المتين و عروته الوثقى…جعل دليل البرهان و حجة على كل انسان لا ياتيه الباطل من بين يديه ولا من خلفه تنزيل من حكيم حميد


Al Rida mentioned the Qur’an one day and he presented a great deal of proof regarding it… thereafter he said, “it is the Rope of Allah which will not snap and the His reliable handhold. It was made the guide of the proof[17] and evidence against every human. No falsehood will infiltrate it neither from its front nor from the back. It is a revelation from the one who is Wise and Praiseworthy.”[18]


Another text of theirs reads:


فاذا التبست عليكم الفتن كقطع الليل المظلم فعليكم بالقران فانه شافع مشفع من جعله امامه قاده الى الجنة ومن جعله خلفه ساقه الى النار وهو الدليل يدل على خير السبيل

When trials cause confusion among you, like portions of a dark night, then hold onto the Qur’an as it is an intercessor whose intercession is upheld. Whoever keeps it in front of him, will be drawn by it to Jannat, and whoever keeps it behind him, it shoves him into hell. It is a guide which guides to the best path.[19]


Nahj al Balaghah, which the Shia attribute to ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu[20] and believe regarding it that “no falsehood will infiltrate it neither from its front nor from the back”[21] reports the following statement:


فالقران امر زاجر و صامت ناطق حجة الله على خلقه

Thus, the Qur’an commands and reproaches. It is silent and it speaks. It is the proof of Allah against His creation.[22]


These texts are corroborated by any others, which exposes to us the degree of contradiction and confusion that exists in the sources of these people. As you have seen, their narrations always contradict one another. The greatest problem that after finding themselves in this state of confusion, they decided to steer themselves out of it by holding onto all that which is against the view of the majority, i.e. the Ahlus Sunnah. Further details regarding this will appear under the section of their beliefs regarding ijma’.

They prefer the views which oppose the views of the majority, even though they have texts which oppose these views. Furthermore, if any of their scholars were to wake up to the call of the truth and openly declare that he opposes them, they simply use their trump card of Taqiyyah, as will be discussed under the discussion related to Taqiyyah. Whoever ponders regarding this view of the Shia concerning the Qur’an — which is established beyond any doubt in their books — will realise that it is a product of one of their malicious enemies, who intended to keep them away from the Book of Allah and His guidance.

This theory makes the Qur’an dependent upon the presence of one who keeps it in place. According to the Shia, the only people who can keep it in place are the twelve Imams. This is based on their belief that the Qur’an was only explained to one person, viz. ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu. Thereafter, this knowledge was passed on to the twelve Imams. Each Imam taught it only to the next Imam until this chain ended with the twelfth Imam.[23]

The twelfth Imam, however, is hidden and could not be traced for more than a thousand years. Neither can any of the sects of the Shia find him, nor anyone else. Despite this, the Qur’an cannot be used as a source of proof without the Imam (who is either hidden, as they claim, or does not exist). In other words, the Qur’an can no longer be used as proof as the one who is to keep it in place is either hidden or does not exist. The Qur’an can no longer be referred to or used as proof as the actual proof is the statement of the Imam who is not present (which ultimately means that the Qur’an no longer serves it purpose as a source of proof). This is why the Akhbari sect:


… rejected the other three sources of proofs,[24] including the Qur’an, and confined it to only one (i.e. the narrations, which is why) they were given the above-mentioned name.[25]


This is all that is needed to go astray and lead others away from the path of Allah. This was not where the conspiring against the Book of Allah and the Shia ended, rather, it was one link of the chain, and one tactic from the grand ploy which aimed at distancing the Shia in the furthest possible manner from the majority of the Muslims. It was the first and opening step towards interpreting the Book of Allah against its meaning, as they claimed that these (their concocted interpretations) were from the one who keeps it in place, the Imam from the Ahlul Bayt. There is no proof besides his statements. He speaks on behalf of the Qur’an and he alone can explain it. Without him, the Qur’an cannot serve as proof!


NEXT⇒ b. Their Belief that the Knowledge of the Qur’an and its Understanding is Confined to the Imams

[1]  Surah al ‘Ankabut: 51

[2]  Refer to the chapter, “their beliefs regarding the Sunnah,” in this book.

[3]Usul al Kafi 1/188

[4]  Al Saduq: ‘Ilal al Sahra’i’ pg. 192

[5]Rijal al Kashshi pg. 420

[6]  Al Barqi: al Mahasin pg. 268

[7]  Al Hurr al ‘Amili: Wasa’il al Shia 18/141

[8]  Ibid

[9]  Al Hurr al ‘Amili: al Fusul al Muhimmah pg. 235

[10]Usul al Kafi 1/61

[11]Al Bihar 37/209, al Tabarsi: al Ihtijaj pg. 31-33, al Barujardi: Tafsir al Sirat al Mustaqim 20/30

[12]  This is why we find them misinterpreting the verse:

وَاتَّبَعُوْا النُّوْرَ الَّذِیْ اُنْزِلَ مَعَه

…and followed the light which was sent down with him – (Surah al A’raf: 157).


They say, ‘“light” refers to ‘Ali and the Imams ‘alayhim al Salam. (Thus, according to this, the Imams were sent down from the heavens).’ Al Kafi 1/194. They also misinterpret the following verse:


وَ اِذَا تُتْلٰی عَلَیْهِمْ اٰیَاتُنَا بَیِّنٰتٍۙ قَالَ الَّذِیْنَ لَا یَرْجُوْنَ لِقَآءَنَا ائْتِ بِقُرْاٰنٍ غَیْرِ هٰذَآ اَوْ بَدِّلْهُؕ قُلْ مَا یَكُوْنُ لِیْٓ اَنْ اُبَدِّلَه مِنْ تِلْقَآیِٔ نَفْسِیْۚ اِنْ اَتَّبِعُ اِلَّا مَا یُوْحٰٓی اِلَیَّۚ

And when Our verses are recited to them as clear evidences, those who do not expect the meeting with Us say, “Bring us a Qur’an other than this or change it.” Say, [O Muhammad], “It is not for me to change it on my own accord. I only follow what is revealed to me. (Surah Yunus: 15)


They say, “Bring us a Qur’an other than this or change it (i.e. Amir al Mu’minin).” Refer to Tafsir al ‘Ayyashi 2/120, Usul al Kafi 1/419, Tafsir al Burhan 2/180, Tafsir Nur al Thaqalayn 2/296, Tafsir al Qummi 1/310, and Bihar al Anwar 80 /36.


A similar misinterpretation is seen in their explanation of the verse:

اَمْ یَقُوْلُوْنَ تَقَوَّلَهۚ بَلْ لَّا یُؤْمِنُوْنَ ﴿33ۚ﴾ فَلْیَاْتُوْا بِحَدِیْثٍ مِّثْلِهٖٓ اِنْ کَانُوْا صٰدِقِیْنَ

Or do they say, “he has made it up”? Rather, they do not believe. Then let them produce a statement like it, if they should be truthful. (Surah al Tur: 33-34)


Tafsir al Qummi states:

“He has made it up”? i.e. Amir al Mu’minin. “Rather, they do not believe” (that he did not make it up and he did not place it on account of his own view.) Then let them produce a statement like it (a man like him from Allah), if they should be truthful.

Refer to Tafsir al Qummi 2/333, al Bahrani: al Burhan fi Tafsir al Qur’an 4/242, Bihar al Anwar 36/85, etc.

[13] Usul al Kafi 1/250

[14]  Surah al Isra: 9

[15]  Ibn Kathir states while commenting upon this narration: “Those who attribute this statement to Nabi salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam are mistaken. The most that can be said regarding it is that it is the statement of Amir al Mu’minin ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu.” Refer to Ibn Kathir: Fada’il al Qur’an pg. 15. Al Tirmidhi reports a version wherein it is attributed to Nabi salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam under the section of the reward received for the Qur’an, the chapter of the virtues of the Qur’an, number 2906 4/172. Al Darami reports it in his Sunan, the book regarding the virtues of the Qur’an, the chapter of the merit of the Qur’an pg. 831 and Imam Ahmed reports it in his Musnad 2/703, number 704 (researched by Ahmed Shakir. The isnad of this hadith has been criticised. Al Tirmidhi says, “we do not know this hadith except from these narrators. The isnad is unknown, and Harith (one of the narrators) has been criticised.” Refer to al Tirmidhi 4/172. Hafiz Ibn ‘Arabi al Maliki says: “The ahadith of Harith cannot be relied upon.” Refer to ‘Aridat al Ahwadhi 11/30. Ahmed Shakir says: “The isnad is quite unauthentic on account of Harith.”’ Refer to al Musnad 2/704. Another researcher corroborates the above and adds that perhaps the statement was uttered by ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu, and thereafter attributed to Nabi by Harith (who was even regarded by some of the scholars to be a liar). Sharh al Tahawiyyah (Takhrij al Albani) pg. 68. Nonetheless, this statement is reported from ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu in the books of the Shia. Refer to Tafsir al ‘Ayyashi 1/3, al Burhan 1/7, Tafsir al Safi 1/15, Bihar al Anwar 7/19

[16]  Surah Taha: 123, refer to Tafsir Ibn Jarir (al Tabari) 16/225

[17]  This appears in the source from which this is quoted. However, this seems to be an error. The actual sentence should have been, “It is the guide of the bewildered,” as proof does not need a guide.

[18]  Al Majlisi: al Bihar 92/14, Ibn Babawayh: ‘Uyun Akhbar al Rida 2/130

[19]Tafsir al ‘Ayyashi 1/2, al Bihar 92/17

[20]  The experts have always expressed great suspicion and doubt regarding the attribution of this book to ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu. Al Dhahabi says: “Whoever reads Nahj al Balaghah will be convinced that it was falsely attributed to ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu.” Thereafter, he explains the reasons and signs thereof. Refer to Mizan al I’tidal 3/124, under the biography of Sharif Murtada. More details will appear regarding it under the chapter of the Sunnah, as well as those books wherein it has been analysed and criticised, Allah willing.

[21]  Al Hadi Kashif al Ghita (a contemporary Shia scholar) states that denying its attribution to ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu, according to them, is in the category of denying that which is obvious. He says: “The condition of all that is narrated in it is the exact same as that which is narrated from Nabi salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam.” Refer to Madarik Nahj al Balaghah pg. 190

[22]Nahj al Balaghah pg. 265, researched by Subhi al Salih, al Bihar 92/20

[23]  We will discuss this in detail under the chapter of the Sunnah, Allah willing.

[24]  Ijma’, the intellect and the glorious Qur’an.

[25]  Refer to al Taqlid fi l-Shari’ah al Islamiyyah pg. 93.

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