The Views of Non-Shi`ah Regarding the Inception of Shi`ism

The Origins of Shi`ism
April 15, 2016
Views of the Shi`ah Regarding Their Inception
April 18, 2016

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The Views of Non-Shia Regarding the Inception of Shi’ism


The First View

Shi’ism started after the demise of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, as a result of some believing that ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu was most deserving of being the khalifah. This view was stated by group of classical as well as contemporary scholars including ‘Allamah Ibn Khaldun, Ahmed Amin and some orientalists. This view stems from that which is narrated by some that there were people at that time who felt that the relatives of Nabi salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam were most deserving of being the khulafa’ after him. In Khaldun says:


The inception of this state (of the Shia) was when Nabi salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam passed away and the Ahlul Bayt opined that they are most deserving of the post, and that the khilafah was reserved for their men, excluding everyone else.[1]


Ahmed Amin says:


The first seed of Shi’ism was the group that believed that after the demise of Nabi salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam the Ahlul Bayt were most deserving of succeeding him.[2]


This view of Ahmed Amin (among others) is identical to that of the orientalists.[3]


An Analysis of this View


This view has been adopted based upon the view that the relatives have the greatest right to khilafah. There is no doubt that if there was such a view, then there was also a view that Sa’d ibn ‘Ubadah should be appointed as the khalifah and the Ansar were most deserving of the post. This does not tell us of the inception and birth of any separate group or sect. Differences of opinion were an obvious and natural occurrence. They are the result of the system of consultation in Islam.

Hence, they differed in that meeting, however, “they did not separate until they agreed upon a decision. This cannot be considered a fight.”[4] All of them unanimously agreed to obey Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu. Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu heard the entire affair and he pledged allegiance to Abu Bakr in front of a crowd of witnesses. He even volunteered to join in the campaign against Banu Hanifah.[5] Their condition was one of mutual love and unity. They would put their lives and the best of their wealth in obedience to their khalifah (Imam), just as they would do during the era of their Nabi salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam.[6]

If the view of the Ahlul Bayt being most deserving of the post was in reality the inception of Shi’ism, then undoubtedly they would have made some appearance in the era of Abu Bakr and ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhuma. However, it was a view (if it is established) like all the other views that were expressed at the meeting at al Saqifah. If it was expressed, it was discarded after the bay’ah took place; unity was reached and all agreed upon one decision.

The stance of Amir al Mu’minin ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu demands that these views and opinions ceased to exist and came to an end among the Sahabah. It has been narrated from him with tawatur[7] in many different ways that he proclaimed from the pulpit of Kufah, “the best of this ummah after its Nabi is Abu Bakr and then ‘Umar’.”[8] Thus, how is it possible that any of the other Sahabah of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam would believe regarding him that which he himself did not believe?

There is no mention of the Shia in the eras of Abu Bakr, ‘Umar and ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhum. Thus, how can it be claimed that their inception took place after the demise of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam.[9] As mentioned, this reality has been accepted by some of the scholars of the Shia.


The Second View


Shi’ism started when ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhuma was murdered. Ibn Hazm states:


Thereafter, ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu assumed governance, and he remained for twelve years. His death was the cause of disputes, whereupon the Rawafid[10] were given birth to. The one who started the plantation of the seed of Shi’ism was ‘Abdullah ibn Saba’, (the Jew.[11]) who started his movement at the end of the era of ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu.


Many classical and modern-day researchers have insisted that he was the foundation and the first brick in the building of Shi’ism.[12] His existence has been narrated with tawatur in both, Shia as well as Sunni sources. However, a group of Shia have sprung up in this era who attempts to deny his existence by simply striking their pens and blackening pages. They have no real grounds or solid proof[13] to prove their claim. Some of them even claim that ‘Abdullah ibn Saba’ was in fact ‘Ammar ibn Yasir.[14] These claims are an attempt or a strategy by which they wish to exonerate the Jews from the crime of conspiring against the Muslims. At the same time, it serves as a scheme by which they wish to attribute divinity to Rafd and silence the opposition, who have stated that Shi’ism has roots that are foreign to Islam.

The classical Shia and Sunni scholars did not have any difference of opinion concerning the existence and presence of ‘Abdullah ibn Saba’ during a certain period in history. Thus, how can something be denied after it has been established by both groups? The claim that he was ‘Ammar ibn Yasir is rejected by the intellect, narrations and history. It is impossible that ‘Ammar ibn Yasir subscribed to the beliefs that were proclaimed by Ibn Saba’. This claim is another offence carried out against the Sahabah of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam and an insult to their integrity.

There is no need for me to delve into this matter as objective and comprehensive studies have already been penned down regarding the subject. Thus, it is unnecessary for us to continue discussing it.[15] At this juncture, it will be sufficient for us to reproduce that which appears in the reliable books of the Shia regarding Ibn Saba’. This will add weight to the argument in a few different senses. Firstly, it is in accordance to the standards of the discussion, i.e. basing our discussions upon their sources. Secondly, the claim that he did not exist came from the Shia camp. Thus, their claims will be uprooted if they are proven wrong from their reliable books. Thirdly, by presenting the views regarding Ibn Saba’ from Shia sources, a sketch of the roots and origin of Shi’ism will be painted in their own words.

So what do the Shia books say regarding Ibn Saba’? The scholar of the Shia, Sa’d ibn ‘Abdullah al Qummi (d. 229-301), “the scholar, jurist and pride of the sect” (as described by al Najashi[16]) admits that he existed and mentions the names of some of his accomplices. He names their sect “the Saba’iyyah”. He also considers them to be the first extremist Islamic sect. He believes that Ibn Saba’ was:


اول من اظهر الطعن على ابى بكر و عمر و عثمان والصحلبة و تبرء منهم و ادعى ان عليا رضى الله عنه امره بذلك

The first person to disparage Abu Bakr, ‘Umar, ‘Uthman and the Sahabah. He dissociated himself from them and claimed that ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu commanded him to do so.


Al Qummi mentions that ‘Ali was informed of this, whereupon he ordered that he should be killed. However, he later decided against this and sufficed upon expelling him to al Mada’in.[17] He also quotes from a group of scholars (as he describes them):


ان عبد الله بن سبا كان يهوديا فاسلم و والى عليا و كان يقول وهو على يهوديته فى يوشع بن نون وصى موسى بهذه المقالة فقال فى اسلامه بعد وفاة رسول الله صلى الله عليه و سلم فى على بمثل ذلك و هو اول من شهد ب القول بفرض امامة على بن ابى طالب و اظهر البراءة من اعداءه…و اكفرهم فمن هاهنا قال من خالف الشيعة ان اصل الرفض ماخوذ من اليهودية


‘Abdullah ibn Saba’ was a Jew who embraced Islam and accepted the Wilayah of ‘Ali. Whilst he was a Jew, he would believe that Yusha’ ibn Nun was the Wasi of Musa ‘alayh al Salam, so after embracing Islam, he believed in the same concept with regards to ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu. He was the first person to proclaim that the Imamah of ‘Ali was compulsory and he dissociated himself from his enemies… and declared them disbelievers. On account of this, those who oppose the Shia say that the Rafd is based upon Judaism.[18]


Thereafter, al Qummi quotes the words of Ibn Saba’ when the news of the demise of ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu reached him, wherein he claimed that he did not pass away but rather will return back to the world and in this manner did he adopt extremism.[19] You have just read the statement of al Qummi regarding Ibn Saba’, and al Qummi is described by the Shia as, “reliable and an expert on the science of narrations.”[20] His knowledge, according to them, is extremely lofty, as a result of it being collected at a very early stage. Also, Sa’d al Qummi, as narrated by their scholar who was given the title al Saduq (the honest one), that is Ibn Babawayh al Qummi, met their infallible Imam Hassan al ‘Askari (as they believe) and heard from him.[21]

Their scholar, al Nowbakhti agrees with all that which has been mentioned by al Qummi regarding Ibn Saba’, even as far as the wording is concerned.[22] He is considered by them to be reliable.[23] Al Kashshi[24] reports six narrations regarding Ibn Saba’[25] in his famous book Rijal al Kashshi. This book is the oldest and most reliable book of the Shia on the science of narrators. Those narrations imply that Ibn Saba’ claimed nubuwwah and that Amir al Mu’minin is Allah — Allah is exalted and pure of these allegations! It also mentions that ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu commanded him to repent, but he refused to do so, whereupon he had him burnt alive. Al Kashshi mentions that he would concoct lies in the name of ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu and he quotes the curses of the Imams regarding ‘Abdullah ibn Saba’ as well. ‘Ali ibn Hussain said:


لعن الله من كذب علينا انى ذكرت عبد الله بن سبا فقانت كل شعرة فى جسدى لقد ادعى امرا عظيما ما له لعنه الله كان على رضى الله عنه و الله عبدا لله صالحا اخو رسول الله ما نال الكرامة من الله الا بطاعته

May curse of Allah be upon the one who fabricates in our names. When I think of ‘Abdullah ibn Saba’ every hair on my body stands on end. He propagated a most heinous belief, what is wrong with him, may Allah curse him. ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu was, by the oath of Allah, a pious slave of Allah and the brother of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam He only achieved honour from Allah on account of his obedience to Allah.[26]


After mentioning these narrations, al Kashshi says:


ذكر اهل العلم ان عبد الله بن سبا كان يهوديا فاسلم و والى عليا و كان يقول وهو على يهوديته فى يوشع بن نون وصى موسى بهذه المقالة فقال فى اسلامه بعد وفاة رسول الله صلى الله عليه و سلم فى على بمثل ذلك و كان اول من شهد بالقول بفرض امامة على و اظهر البراءة من اعداءه و كاشف مخالفيه و اكفرهم فمن هاهنا قال من خالف الشيعة ان اصل الرفض ماخوذ من اليهودية


‘Abdullah ibn Saba’ was a Jew who embraced Islam and accepted the Wilayah of ‘Ali. Whilst he was a Jew, he would believe that Yusha’ ibn Nun was the Wasi of Musa ‘alayh al Salam, so after embracing Islam, he believed in the same concept with regards to ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu. He was the first person to proclaim that the Imamah of ‘Ali was compulsory and he dissociated himself from his enemies, exposed them and declared them disbelievers. On account of this, those who oppose the Shia say that the Rafd is based upon Judaism.[27]


This is the statement of al Kashshi, which corresponds to the statement of al Qummi and al Nowbakhti, all of whom authenticate their statements by attributing them to the people of knowledge.

In addition, all of these narrations appear in Rijal al Kashshi, which they accept as one of the four references which can be relied upon regarding the science of narrators. This book was systemised by Sheikh al Ta’ifah al Tusi, due to which its reliability and the value of research therein was multiplied manifold in their sight. This is because it was a combined effort of al Kashshi, who is regarded by them as reliable and well-versed in sciences of narrations and narrators, as well as al Tusi, who is the author of two of their four canonical books as well as two of their reliable books (according to them) on the science of narrators.[28]

Many of their other books on the science of narrators have mentioned Ibn Saba’[29]. An example of this is the book which is considered as the most important and all-encompassing book on narrators in this day and age, i.e. Tanqih al Maqal[30] by their scholar ‘Abdullah al Mamaqani[31] (d. 1351). It is for this reason that another approach can be noticed among some of the contemporary Shia scholars, i.e. they abstain from denying that he existed. As an example, Muhammad al Zayn says:


و على كل حال فان الرجل اى ابن سبا كان فى عالم الوجود و اظهر الغلو و ان شك بعضهم فى وجوده وجعله شخصا خياليا…اما نحن بحسب الاستقراء الاخير فلا نشك بوجوده و غلوه

Nevertheless, the man (Ibn Saba’) existed and he was an open extremist, even though some of them have doubted his existence and felt that he was an imaginary individual. As far as we are concerned, in accordance to the latest research, we have no doubt regarding his existence and extremism.[32]


This approach rescues them, because if they deny his existence, they will be discrediting and belying their scholars (even though they have not clearly stated so) who have mentioned Ibn Saba’, and their books on narrators wherein he is repeatedly mentioned. It will also be an unintentional acknowledgement from them that their books on narrators cannot be relied upon and they hold no weight, even if all of them state the same view.

Thus, it is admitted in the books of the Shia that Ibn Saba’ was the first person to claim that ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu was divinely appointed, he will be reincarnated and he was also the first person to revile the first three khulafa’ and the Sahabah of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. These are ideas and beliefs which later became the foundation of Shi’ism, as they, as well as other beliefs were given the form of narrations and ahadith and they were falsely, deceptively and shamelessly attributed to the Ahlul Bayt. This duped many of the ignorant masses, non-Arabs and others into accepting them.


The Third View


Shi’ism started in the year 37 A.H. Among the most famous people to hold this view is the author of Mukhtasar al Tuhfah al Ithna ‘Ashariyyah who says:

The name Shia became known in the year 37 A.H.[33]


This view is also held by Montgomery Watt who says:

The Shia movement started on one of the days of the year 658 CE (37 A.H).[34]


It seems as if this view links Shi’ism to the incident of Siffin — which occurred in the year 37 A.H between ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu and Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu — and that all the incidents that followed and all the effects that came about resulted from this incident. However, this view is not related to the inception of Shi’ism as far as its principles are concerned, as none of the books of history state that the proclamation of the views of divine appointment of ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu as the khalifah, his Raj’ah or any of the other famous beliefs of the Shia were among the happenings of this year.

It is impossible that the supporters of ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu were upon the religion of the Shia, or that they adopted any of their principles. This is despite the fact that among the ranks of the supporters of ‘Ali as well as Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhuma were some enemies of Islam who acted as if they were Muslims in order to plot against Islam from the inside. The Saba’iyyah were definitely highly influential in stirring up strife. This cannot be denied. However, it should be noted that prior to the arbitration as well as in the write up thereof, the word Shia was used for both parties without singling out any of them, as was explained.


The Fourth View


Shi’ism started after the martyrdom of Hussain radiya Llahu ‘anhu. R Strothmann[35] says:


The blood of Hussain was the first seed of Shi’ism in the form of beliefs.[36]


The Preferred View


We have presented most of the views regarding the inception of Shi’ism, along with an analysis of each view. However, my view is that Shi’ism as a separate ideology and set of beliefs did not come into being all of a sudden. It went through different stages along and transformed over a period of time. Nonetheless, the first signs thereof and the core fundamentals were first proclaimed by the Saba’iyyah, as admitted in the books of the Shia, which state that he was the first person to claim that the Imamah of ‘Ali was compulsory and that he was the Wasi of Muhammad salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam (as explained). This is the basis of Shi’ism according to the scholars, whose statements have already been quoted under the definitions of Shi’ism.

Shia books also admit that Ibn Saba’ was the first person to openly disparage Abu Bakr, ‘Umar, and ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhum — who were the in-laws of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, his relatives, his successors and the closest of people to him. He was also guilty of reviling the other Sahabah. The beliefs of the Shia in respect of the Sahabah are identical to the above-mentioned, and they are recorded in their most reliable books. Furthermore, Ibn Saba’ believed in the Raj’ah of ‘Ali,[37] a belief which is also among the fundamental beliefs of the Shia, as will be explained. Another belief of Ibn Saba’ to which they also subscribe is that ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu and his Ahlul Bayt were granted a special knowledge which was confined to them, as indicated to by Hassan ibn Muhammad ibn al Hanafiyyah[38] (d. 95/100 A.H.) in Risalat al Irja.[39]

These beliefs have become the fundamental beliefs of the Shia. Sahih al Bukhari contains narrations which indicates that these beliefs came about at a very early stage, and that ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu enquired regarding them. He was asked, “do you people (Ahlul Bayt) have any knowledge that is not mentioned in the Qur’an or is not known to anyone else?” He answered by strongly denying this.[40] These are the most important beliefs of the Shia,[41] which were traced immediately after the martyrdom of ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu, in the era of ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu. However, they were not accepted in the form of a set of beliefs by any specific and known sect. In fact, he Saba’iyyah did not raise their heads, except that ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu fought against them.[42]

Unfortunately, the events that took place after this (the Battle of Siffin, the incident of the arbitration that followed it, the assassination of ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu and the killing of Hussain radiya Llahu ‘anhu) created a perfect environment for these ideas to be propagated and kept up by a specific group and sect. All of these incidents stirred up the emotions of people and prompted them to support the Ahlul Bayt. Therefore, the idea of supporting ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu and his household began penetrating the hearts of people, but it was then hijacked and misused by all those who wanted to destroy Islam, whether they were irreligious, hypocrites or satanic. In this manner, the infiltration of foreign ideas and beliefs into the Muslims took place, all under the guise of support for ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu, as it was the easiest path. Thereafter, with the passing of time, this innovation began spreading and its danger thereof was intensified, as Ibn Saba’ now had many successors.

During the era of ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu, the title ‘Shia’ meant nothing else but support and help. It was not related in any way to the present-day beliefs of the Shia. Further, this word or title was confined to the supporters of ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu. This is proven from the record of the arbitration, in which the word Shia was used for both, the supports of ‘Ali (ra as well as the supports of Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu. The details of this have already passed.

Thus, the tragedies that that were faced by the Ahlul Bayt (the martyrdom of ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu, the martyrdom of Hussain radiya Llahu ‘anhu, etc.) were among the influential causes for people to unhesitatingly support the Ahlul Bayt. However, this matter was hijacked by the enemies, who were impatiently awaiting the occurrence of calamities among the Muslims. Thus, they found this to be an opportune moment and a perfect reason to infiltrate the ranks of the Muslims.

Among their ‘achievements’ thereafter was that they split the ranks of the ummah and they managed to achieve, through plotting and planning, that which they failed to achieve by means of weapons and arms. Shi’ism was the realisation of the dream of all those who longed for the downfall of Islam and conspired against it. This is why it also attracted many conspirators of other religions. Once they managed to form a sect, they began laying down the ‘inspired and revealed’ principles of their religion, and they attributed it to Islam. This will be discussed next under the topic, “the origins of Shi’ism”.


NEXT⇒ The Origins of Shi’ism

[1]Al ‘Ibar 3/170-171

[2]Fajr al Islam pg. 266, Refer to Duha al Islam 3/209. Dr ‘Ali al Kharbutali says, “we are of the view that Shi’ism started after the khilafah was concluded in respect of Abu Bakr instead of ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhuma.” Al Islam wa l-Khilafah pg. 26. Muhammad ‘Abdullah ‘Inan held the same view. Refer to Tarikh al Jam’iyyat al Sirriyah pg. 13

[3]Da’irat al Ma’arif al Islamiyyah 14/58

[4]Minhaj al Sunnah 1/36

[5]  Al Juwayni: Al Irshad pg. 428

[6]  Al Nashi al Akbar: Masa’il al Imamah pg. 15

[7]  A narration reported by such a large number of people that it is inconceivable that they could have all agreed upon a lie.

[8]  Ibn Taymiyyah says, “it is reported from ‘Ali from approximately eighty sources or more that he said this on the pulpit of kufah. A narration of Bukhari which is reported by the men of al Hamdan specifically, wherein ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu says ‘if I was a doorkeeper of Jannah, I would say to Hamdan, ‘Enter in peace.’”. From the narration of Sufyan al Thowri who reports from — Mundhir al Thowri from — Hamdan-al Bukhari from — Muhammad ibn Kathir from —Sufyan-Jami’ ibn Abi Rashid from — Abu Ya’la-Muhammad ibn al Hanafiyyah: “I asked my father, ‘who is the best of people after Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam?’ He replied, ‘Abu Bakr.’ I asked, “who is next?’ He replied, ‘then ‘Umar.’ I feared that he would say ‘Uthman so I asked, ‘and then you?’ He replied, ‘I am one among the Muslims’. (Sahih al Bukhari with Fath al Bari Kitab Fada’il al Sahabah Bab Fadl Abi Bakr 7/20) This was said to his son, in whose presence there is no way that he could have been doing Taqiyyah.” Al Fatawa 4/407-408, Minhaj al Sunnah 4/137-138

[9]  That which has been narrated by some (that a group appeared after the demise of Nabi salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam who believed that ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu was deserving of Imamah) has no authentic historical evidence. It seems as if it is based upon the narration of al Yaqubi in his book on history, wherein he says, “a group, including Salman, Abu Dhar, ‘Ammar and Miqdad delayed their pledge of allegiance to Abu Bakr and inclined towards ‘Ali.” (Tarikh al Yaqubi 2/124) However, the narrations of al Yaqubi, and similarly al Mas’udi should be carefully studied or avoided. This is because they were inclined towards Shi’ism. Thus, when a narration reflects their inclination towards Shi’ism, then it becomes even more deserving of being discarded. Qadi Abu Bakr ibn al ‘Arabi comments regarding those narrations which are reported by them alone, “do not take the speech of any historian except al Tabari. Besides him, the rest are cancerous and deadly.” He further states regarding the historian al Mas’udi, “he was an innovator who was deceived.” (Al ‘Awasim Min al Qawasim pg. 248-249) Another reason why al Tabari can be relied upon is that he narrates with chains of narration, which makes it possible to ascertain the authenticity of his narrations.

[10]Al Fisal 2/8. This view of Ibn Hazm was held by other scholars as well, such as Sheikh ‘Uthman ibn ‘Abdullah al Hanafi, the author of Al Firaq al Muftariqah Bayn Ahl al Zaygh wa l-Zandaqah. Refer to Al Firaq al Muftariqah pg. 6. Similarly, the orientalist Wellhausen also held this view. Refer to Al Khawarij wa l-Shia pg. 112

[11]  ‘Abdullah ibn Saba’ was the founder of the Saba’iyyah. He would claim that ‘Ali was a deity, he believed in Raj’ah and he would revile the Sahabah. He was originally from Yemen. He was a Jew who portrayed himself to be a Muslim. In order to spread his mischief, he travelled to Hijaz, followed by Basrah and thereafter Kufah. He entered Damascus during the reign of ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu, but he was expelled by its people, due to which he turned towards Egypt, where he openly proclaimed his corrupt innovations. Ibn al Hajar states: “‘Abdullah ibn Saba’ was among the extremist disbelievers (who adopted blasphemy as their trademark). He was astray and he would lead others astray. I think ‘Ali burnt him in the fire.” There are many narrations regarding his mischief, personal ideas and efforts in causing strife along with his cohorts in the books of sects, biographies, history etc., of both, the Ahl al Sunnah as well as the Shia. Refer to al Milti: Al Tanbih wa l-Radd pg. 18, al Ash’ari: Maqalat al Islamiyyin 1/86, al Baghdadi: al Farq Bayn al Firaq pg. 233, al Shahrastani: Al Milal wa l-Nihal 1/174, Al Isfarayini: al Tabsir fi l-Din pg. 71-72, Al Razi: I’tiqadat Firaq al Muslimin pg. 86, Ibn al Murtada: Al Munyat wa l-Amal pg. 29, Ibn Hajar: Lisan al Mizan 3/289, Ibn ‘Asakir: Tahdhib Tarikh Dimashq 7/431, al Sam’ani: al Ansab 7/46, Ibn al Athir: Al Lubab 1/527, al Maqdisi: Al Bad’ wa l-Tarikh 5/129, Tarikh al Tabari 4/340, Ibn al Athir: Al Kamil 3/77, Ibn Kathir: Al Bidayah wa al Nihayah 7/167, Ibn Khaldun: Al ‘Ibar 2/160,161, al Tabari: Tabsir Uli al Nuha paper 14 (of the manuscript)

Shia sources: Al Nashi al Akbar: Masa’il al Imamah pg. 22-23, al Qummi: al Maqalat wa l-Firaq pg. 20, al Nowbakhti: Firaq al Shia pg.22. Al Kashshi reports a few narrations regarding Ibn Saba’, refer to Rijal al Kashshi, narrations 170, 171, 172, 173 and 174 (from page 106-108), Ibn Abi al Hadid: Sharh Nahj al Balaghah 2/308

[12]  Ibn Taymiyyah, for example, is of the view that Ibn Saba’ was the first person to claim that ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu was infallible and his appointment to Imamah was divine. He wished to pollute Islam, just as Paulus polluted Christianity (Majmu’ Fatawa 4/518 (compiled by ‘Abdur Rahman ibn Qasim)). Ibn al Murtada corroborates this view in his book al Munyat wa l-Amal (pg. 125). From the modern-day scholars, Abu Zahrah (among others) states that Ibn Saba’ was the greatest devil who was at the fore-front of the groups who were filled with hostility towards Islam and conspired against its adherents. He concocted the belief of the re-incarnation of ‘Ali and that he was the appointed successor of Muhammad salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, and he called towards this.

Abu Zahrah also states that ibn Saba’ and his group were the greatest mischief-makers, in whose shadows the Shia religion was formed. Refer to Tarikh al Mazahib al Islamiyyah 1/31-33). Another scholar is Sa’id al Afghani, who is of the view that Ibn Saba’ was one of the pioneers of a (Talmudic) secret society, whose ultimate dream was to crush the Islamic empire, and they were working towards empowering the Roman empire. Refer to Aisha wa l-Siyasah pg. 60 and al Qasimi fi l-Sira’ 1/41.

[13]  Murtada al ‘Askari in his book ‘Abdullah ibn Saba’… pg. 35 onwards.

[14]  ‘Ali al Wardi in his book Wu’az al Salatin pg. 274. He was parroted by another Shia, i.e. Mustafa al Shibi in his book al Silah bayn al Tasawuf wa l-Tashayyu’ pg. 40-41. The scholar ‘Ali al Basri is of the view that al Wardi was in fact parroting his teacher Hidayat Aluhakim al Hilli, who is a lecturer in the University of London, and he published these views of his in his book Takhs Imam (the first Imam). Al Wardi published the translation thereof in his book Wu’’az al Salatin. Refer to Majallat al Thaqafat al Islamiyyah-Baghdad-edition 11 year 1, the article of ‘Ali al Basri titled, “‘Ali al Wardi-Another Attention Seeker”.

[15]  Among the most important and outstanding books on the subject is the book ‘Abdullah ibn Saba’ wa Atharuhu fi Ihdath al Fitnah by Dr Sulaiman al ‘Awdah. It is a comprehensive study wherein he scrutinises the speech of those who wish to create doubts, and deny the existence of Ibn Saba’ or claim that he was ‘Ammar ibn Yasir. On the basis of proof and evidence, he established the preposterousness of these views.

Another scholar who disproves these views is Dr ‘Ammar al Talibi, who done so in his book Ara’ al Khawarij (pg. 75-81). Dr ‘Izzat ‘Attiyah also scrutinises and disproves these views in his book al Bid’ah (pg. 64). Dr Sa’di al Hashimi did a valuable discourse on the subject, in which he proved the existence of Ibn Saba’ from the sources of both groups. (Refer to Ibn Saba’ Haqiqah la Khiyal pg. 201-223 Muhadarat al Jami’ah al Islamiyyah, year 1399 A.H.-1998 C.E)

[16]Rijal al Najashi pg. 126

[17]Al Maqalat wa l-Firaq pg. 20

[18]Al Maqalat wa l-Firaq pg. 20

[19]Al Maqalat wa l-Firaq pg. 21

[20]  Al Tusi: al Fahrist pg. 105, al Ardabili: Jami’ al Ruwat 1/352

[21]  Ibn Babawayh al Qummi: Ikmal al Din pg. 425-435

[22]Firaq al Shia by al Nowbakhti pg. 22-23

[23]  Al Tusi: al Fahrist pg. 75, al Ardabili: Jami’ al Ruwat 1/228, ‘Abbas al Qummi: al Kunna wa l-Alqab 1/148, al Ha’iri: Muqtabas al Athar 16/125

[24]  He is regarded by them as “reliable and well-versed with narrations and narrators”. (al Tusi: al Fahrist pg. 171)

[25]Rijal al Kashshi pg. 106-108, 305

[26]Rijal al Kashshi pg. 108

[27]Rijal al Kashshi pg. 108-109

[28]  That which we have quoted from al Kashshi was from the systemisation and selection of al Tusi, as the original (as they claim) no longer exists. Refer to Muqaddimat Rijal al Kashshi pg. 17, 18, Yusuf al Bahrani: Lu’lu’at al Bahrayn pg. 403

[29]  Perhaps the oldest source of the Shia wherein ‘Abdullah ibn Saba’ and Saba’iyyah is mentioned is the book Masa’il al Imammah pg. 22-23 by ‘Abdullah al Nashi’ al Akbar (d. 293 A.H). One may read his biography in the books Wafayat al A’yan 3/91-92 and Anba al Ruwat 2/128-129. Among their books on narrators which mention Ibn Saba’ are Muntaha al Maqal (which has no page numbers) by al Mazindarani, Manhaj al Maqal fi Tahqiq Ahwal al Rijal (pg. 203-204) by al Istarbadi, Jami’ al Ruwat (1/485) by al Ardabili, al Rijal (2/71) by Ibn Dawood al Hilli, Qamus al Rijal (5/461) by al Tastaris, Rijal al Tusi (pg. 51), etc.

Among their books of hadith and fiqh wherein he is mentioned are Man La Yahdurhu l-Faqih (1/213) by Ibn Babawayh al Qummi, al Khisal (pg. 628), Tahdhib al Ahkam (2/322) by al Tusi, Bihar al Anwar (25/286) by al Majlisi.

[30]Tanqih al Maqal 2/183

[31]  Al A’lami: Muqtabas al Athar 21/230

[32]Al Shia fi l-Tarikh pg. 213

[33]Mukhtasar al Tuhfah pg. 5

[34]  Montgomery Watt, Islam and the Integration of Society pg. 104

[35]  Rudolf Strothmann was among the orientalists who studied religions and sects. He has penned down discussions regarding them. Among his works are Cult of Zaidi, as well as four Isma’ili books. Refer to Najib al ‘Aqiqi: al Mustashriqun 2/788.

[36]Da’irat al Ma’arif al Islamiyyah 14/59

[37]  Al Qummi: al Maqalat wa l-Firaq pg. 21, al Nowbakhti: Firaq al Shia pg. 23, al Nashi al Akbar: Masa’il al Imamah pg. 22-23, al Ash’ari: Maqalat al Islamiyyin 1/86, al Milti: al Tanbih wa l-Radd pg. 18, al Baghdadi: al Farq bayn al Firaq pg. 234, al Isfarayini: al Tabsir fi l-Din pg. 72, al Razi: Muhassal Afkar al Mutaqaddimin wa l-Muta’akhkhirin pg. 242, Al Iyji: al Mawaqif 419

[38]  Ibn Hajar says: “Hassan ibn Muhammad ibn ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib, Abu Muhammad al Madani. His father was well known by the name Ibn al Hanafiyyah. He has a booklet concerning Irja which was narrated along with its isnad by Muhammad ibn Yahya al ‘Adni in his book Kitab al Iman.’ Refer to Tahdhib al Tahdhib 2/32

[39]Risalat al Irja (inside Kitab al Iman of Muhammad ibn Yahya al ‘Adni pg. 249-250)

[40]  Al Imam al Bukhari reports this hadith under the following chapters: writing down knowledge 1/204 (al Bukhari ma’a al Fath), the sacredness of al Madinah 4/81, the freeing of captives 6/167, the protection and care offered by Muslims 6/273, the sin of the one who promises and then breaks his promise 6/279, 280, the sin of the slave who dissociates himself from those who freed him 12/41-42, blood money 12/246, a Muslim is not killed in lieu of a Kafir 12/260, the prohibition of delving deep into matters, fighting and being extreme 13/275-276, Muslim reports it under the chapters: the virtue of al Madinah and its sacredness 9/143-144, the book on animal slaughter 13/141 (Muslim ma’a Sharh al Nawawi), al Nasa’i reports it in al Mujtaba 8/19, Sunan al Tirmidhi 4/668, Musnad Ahmed 1/100.

[41]  It is important to take note of that the strong link between the inception of Shi’ism and Ibn Saba’ are confined to the extremist Shia (who are the majority in this era). as for “the moderate Shi’ism which merely grants precedence to ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu and this type of beliefs, this was not started by the irreligious ones, as opposed to the sect that claims he was divinely appointed and he was infallible. This sect was started off by a hypocrite who was irreligious.” Ibn Taymiyyah: Majmu’ah al Fatawa 20/466. The person referred to is Ibn Saba’ and his cronies from the Jews, hypocrites, jealous people and mentally instable persons.

[42]  He ordered that those who believe that he is a deity should be burnt. Refer to Ibn Taymiyyah: Minhaj al Sunnah (researched by Dr Muhammad Rashad Salim, Fath al Bari 2/270, al Milti: al Tanbih wa l-Radd pg. 18, al Isfarayini: al Tabsir fi l-Din pg. 70. As for the Saba’iyyah who would revile Abu Bakr and ‘Umar, he summoned Ibn al Sowda’ (who was believed to be the perpetrator of these crimes). It is said that he intended to kill him but he escaped and fled. Regarding the Mufaddilah, i.e. those who grant ‘Ali superiority over Abu Bakr and ‘Umar, he said, “If anyone is brought to me who says that I am superior to Abu Bakr and ‘Umar, I will mete out to him the punishment of false accusations.” Minhaj al Sunnah 1/219-220