The Origins to the Practice of Cursing the Sahabah

October 23, 2015
`Ali’s Clear Prohibition Against Cursing and Maligning
October 23, 2015

BACK Return to Table of contents


The Origins to the Practice of Cursing the Sahabah

Abu al Qasim Sa’d ibn ‘Abdullah al Qummi[1] writes that ‘Abdullah ibn Saba’[2] was the first person to criticise and disclaim his association with Abu Bakr, ‘Umar, and ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhum. He claimed that ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu himself ordered him to do so.[3]

The motive for these deviant sects (whose beliefs are based on falsehood and superstitions) coming into existence is quite clear; that is, to try and dismantle the Muslims from within and to provoke civil strife and disunity amongst one another by spreading disinformation and myths. After failing to attack Islam openly, the enemies of Islam — especially the Jews with their rancour and hatred for Islam and Muslims — turned to these conniving tactics. ‘Abdullah ibn Saba’ began promulgating his false creed and even attempted to motivate the people of Egypt to revolt against ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu, claiming that he usurped the khilafah from ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu, citing as evidence Nabi’s bequest to ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu.

Sayed ‘Alawi ibn Muhammad Balfaqih writes in Min A’qab al Bid’ah al Muhammadiyyah al Tahirah:


A certain group[4] has treaded a path of (pseudo) love for ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu. It is a dangerous path indeed! They accuse the previous khulafa’; Abu Bakr, ‘Umar and ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhum of having usurped ‘Ali’s radiya Llahu ‘anhu khilafah. In doing so, they have effectively shattered the ijma’ of the best of generations, a consensus of paramount importance in the eyes of all. The implications of such a claim are colossal: viz. ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu employed Taqiyyah when he pledged his allegiance to the previous three khulafa’. How could this be? ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu was neither a coward nor would he ever shy away from the truth; rather, he was a bold and courageous leader. When he spoke, people listened, and when he gave a command, they obeyed.[5]


Speaking about the perception people have of ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu, the author of Nahj al Balaghah writes:


‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu said: “Two groups of people will be destroyed in my name: the first will be those who have excessive love for me, such love that will lead them astray, and the second will be those who have excessive hatred for me, such hatred that will lead them astray. Therefore, act moderately (with regards to me) and follow the al sawad al ‘azam (the vast majority). For verily, Allah’s Ta’ala help is with the majority. And beware of disputation and dissention.”


NEXT⇒ Conclusion

[1]  Sa’d ibn ‘Abdullah al Qummi was a famous Shia scholar from the city of Qumm, in modern-day Iran. He died in the year 301 AH.

[2]  Also known as Ibn al Sowda’, ‘Abdullah ibn Saba’ was a Jewish zealot from San’aʾ — the capital city of Yemen. He claimed to have professed his Islam during ‘Uthman’s radiya Llahu ‘anhu khilafah. He held an active presence in Iraq, Egypt, and the Levant (modern-day Syria, Palestine, Lebanon and Jordan). He would contrive and proclaim fallacies so as to turn the Muslims away from Islam. He was a mischief-maker and a charlatan; he even tried to create a state of anarchy and social upheaval during ‘Uthman’s khilafah. Imam al Tabari rahimahu Llah (d. 320 A.H) in Tarikh al Rusul, Ibn ‘Asakir rahimahu Llah in Tarikh Dimashq and Ibn Kathir rahimahu Llah in al Bidayah wa al Nihayah have all written extensively about him. He is mentioned by both the Sunni and Shia scholars in their respective books. In fact, there is a narration from the hadith scholar al Sha’bi rahimahu Llah (d. 103 A.H) affirming that the first person to resort to lies and fabrications was in fact ‘Abdullah ibn Saba’.

Hereunder are but a few examples of what the scholars (both Sunni and Shi’i) have said about him:

  • Imam al Tabari in his famous history book, Tarikh al Tabari, cites narrations about ‘Abdullah ibn Saba’ and the controversy around him.
  • Ibn ‘Abd Rabbihi (d. 328 A.H) writes that ‘Abdullah ibn Saba’ and his followers, the Saba’iyyah, completely transgressed their limits by stating that ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu is actually God-incarnate — May Allah safeguard us from such blasphemy — similar to what the Christians believe about Nabi ‘Isa ‘alayh al Salam.
  • Abu al Hasan al ‘Ashari (d. 330 A.H) also mentions that ‘Abdullah ibn Saba’ and the Saba’iyyah are an extremist faction because one of their many claims is that ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu never actually died, and, in fact, he will return to this world and fill it with equality and justice, just as it was filled with inequality, tyranny, and injustice [before his return].
  • Al Khatib al Baghdadi (d. 429 A.H) mentions that the Saba’iyyah sect disclosed their heresy in the time of ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu. He actually ordered for them to be burnt alive, and even sent him into exile to Asbat.
  • Imam al Isfarayini (d. 471 A.H) writes that ‘Abdullah ibn Saba’ claimed that ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu was, in fact, a nabi of Allah. Later on, he went on to claim that ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu is God-incarnate, – May Allah safeguard us from such blasphemy.
  • Hassan ibn Musa al Nowbakhti (d. 310 A.H) writes that when the news of the death of ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu reached al Mada’in, he (‘Abdullah ibn Saba’) exclaimed to the one who reported the news: “If you bring before us his brains in a hundred bags, we will still not be convinced that he has died. He cannot die until he gathers them with his staff.”
  • Al Kashshi narrates (with his chain of transmission up until al Imam ‘Ali ibn al Hussain) that he (the Imam) once said: “When I think of ‘Abdullah ibn Sabaʼ, every hair of my body stands on end. He propagated a most heinous belief…”
  • Abu Jafar al Tusi (d. 460) writes that Ibn Saba’, after supposedly becoming Muslim, returned to his kufr and began propagating his extreme tendencies and views.
  • Ibn Babuwayh Abu Jafar al Saduq (d. 381 A.H), a famous hadith scholar among the Shia, mentions an objection that ibn Saba’ once raised against ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu with regards to raising of the hands towards the sky during supplication.
  • Ibn Abi al Hadid (d. 655 A.H) writes in the commentary of Nahj al Balaghah: “When ‘Ali was assassinated, Ibn Saba’ began propagating his beliefs, and thereafter his following increased.”

For a detailed synopsis of the events, see Muhammad Amhazun’s, Tahqiq Mawaqif al Sahabah fi al Fitnah min Riwayat al Imam al Tabari

  Abu al Qasim al Qummi: al Maqalat wa l-Firaq no: 20

[4]  Referring to the Shia

[5]Tarikh ibn ‘Asakir

Back to top