Real difference between Shia Muslims and Sunni Muslims
The following is a response by Sayyed Mohammad Musawi to a queation from a Sunni brother :What are the differences between Shias and Sunnis ?
1- One Religion:
Islam is One religion sent from Allah (swt) to all human beings as the last and final massege. It was never divided into different sects like Hanafi, Shafi’ee, Maliki , Hanbali,Wahabi, Sufi etc, but only because of people’s interference in the religion which is the word of Allah(swt). All previous religions suffered from the same problem of divisions upto the extent of loosing the real massege.Islam being the last and final massege from Allah(swt), was perserved by Allah (swt),so, Real Islam was kept and still remains and will remain intact, inspite of many divisions existing and even governing many Muslim countries.
2- The Prophetic Islam:
The Real Islam is the Prophetic Islam which was preached and practiced by the Prophet Mohammad (sawa) and His noble progeny (Ahlul Bayt a.s.) , and not any other Islamic sect, though Islamic sects have many Islamic practices, but The Complete Real Islam is non but the Islam of the Prophet (sawa) and Ahlul Bayt which existed originally from the begenning of Islam before any Islamic sect came to existance, and contineued till now through Ahlul-Bayt .
3-Who Leads Islam?:
The leadership of Islam after the Prophet (sawa) was the main subject on which division started.The question is : Who appoints the successor of the Prophet to lead the Ummah ? Is it Allah who appoints ? or anybody from the people?Those who believed in Allah (swt) as the source and authority to appoint the divine leaders are the followers of Ahlul-Bayt , while Sunnis believed that Islamic leadership can come through group of individuals as what happened in Saqeefa, or one individual, as when Abu Bakr appointed Umar as a Khalifah after him,or just six individuals from the whole Ummah as Umar appointed six to select one of them, or to be killed if they were unable to select one. Majority of Sunnis believe that any person can be a Khlifah as far as he is able to get the power by any way even by killing the previous Khalifah and sitting in his place.
4-Divine Leadership (Imamah):
There are plenty of very authentic evidences from Quran and authentic Sunnah that the Prophet (sawa) has not left the Ummah without perfect leadership after him. He has said many times in accordance to Allah’s orders that the leader after him will be Imam Ali followed by the infallible Imams from Ahlul Bayt . These evidences are mentioned even in famous Sunni books where they narrated the Prophetic Hadeeth stating that ( The Khalifas after me will be twelve all of them from Quraish) or ( The Imams after me will be twelve, all of them from Quraish).(Saheeh Al-Bukhari vol.9 p.541 and Saheeh Muslim vol.3 p. 1452 ).They also admitted Hadeeth Al-Thaqalain stating (I am leaving behind two greatest things, that you will never go astray as far as you keep following both of them; The book of Allah, And my Ahlul Bayt)Saheeh Muslim vol.4, p.1874, Sunan Al-Tirmithi vol.5, p.662, al-Mustadrak by Al-Haakim vol.3, p.109, Musnad Ahmad Bin Hanbal vol.3, p.14,Tafseer Ibn Katheer vol.4, p.114, Tafseer Al-Durr Al- Manthoor by Soyooti vol.5, p.702 and many others.
Following Quran and Ahlul-Bayt who teach the real Sunnah and have the real Tafseer of Qur’an, is the belief and practice of the followers of Ahlul-Bayt(as) who are known by Shia Muslims.They are in fact following Allah’s orders by following the ligitimate Islamic leadership, and getting themselves saved from going astray.
Other Muslims who are known as Sunni Muslims do not believe in the immediate leadership of Ahlul-Bayt(as) after the Prophet(sawa) and claim that the Prophet (sawa) has left the Ummah without any specific sytem for leadership, though many of them claim it as Shoora(election).Shoora in fact is applicable in managing wordly affairs, but never in religious affairs, as no Prophet came through election,so how Prophet’s successor can come through election?. It is only Allah(swt) who knows who is the best to lead mankind, and He appoints him.
Shoora was an excuse to justify bypassing the Quranic and Prophetic orders stating the leadership of Imam Ali .Those who claimed Shoora were trying to ligitimize the incident of Saqeefa which brought Abu Bakr’s government, but such claim can not justify why Abu Bakr himself appointed Umar as a Khalifa after him and did not leave the Muslims to elect a khalifa by Shoora as it was claimed by Sunnis as if it was done by the Prophet (sawa). Why they accept Abu Bakr appointing Umar After him and do not accept the Prophet(sawa) appointing Ali after Him? Knowing that the Prophet’s statements are from Allah(swt), while Abu Bakr’s statements were from himself.
In Saqeefa few people from Quraish led by Umar Bin al-khattab and Abu Bakr Bin Abi Quhafa along with few from Ansaar, gathered and argued and even quarelled, then Umar proposed the name of Abu Bakr to be Khalifa, in the absence of Imam Ali who was busy in the preparation of the funeral of the Prophet (sawa). Ahlul-Bayt and leading Sahaba like Imam Ali ,Salman Al-Farisi,Ammaar Bin Yaser, Abu Thar Al-Ghifari,Al-Miqdaad Bin Al-Aswad, Al-Abbas Bin Abdul-Muttalib uncle of the Prophet(sawa) and others refused the outcome of Saqeefa which was against the orders of the Prophet (sawa) who told the Ummah in many occasions that Ali is the leader after Him.Those who accepted Saqeefa are called now Sunni Muslims, where those who followed the divine leadership of Ahlul-Bayt(as) are called Shia Muslims.
6-Prophetic Statements on The Real Leaders after him:
The Prophetic statements and Hadeeths support the fact of the leadership of Imam Ali(as) and Ahlul-Bayt after the Prophet(sawa). Many of these Hadeeths are narrated in main Sunni references, so must be accepted by all Muslims.Here are Just few examples:-
A) The Prophetic Hadeeth stating: (O Ali, you are the leader who will lead my Ummah to the right path when they differ after me)(Al-Mustadrak Alal Saheehain by Al-Haakim Al-Neesaboori vol.3 page 122, Kanz Al-Ummaal vol.6 page 156, Tareekh Dimishq ,Biography of Imam Ali, vol.2, p.488).
B)The Prophetic Hadeeth:(O Ali, your status from me is as the status of Haroon from Moosa, but there will be no prophet after me).Quran states that Haroon was always the Khalifa and deputy of Moosa till the end of Haroon’s life. This Hadeeth was narrated in many Sunni sources such as Saheeh Al-Bukhari vol.5, p.280, Saheeh Muslim vol.4, p.1870,Sunan Al-Tirmithi vol.5, p.638, Musnad Ahmad Bin Hanbal vol.1, p.170, Al-Mustadrak by Al-Haakim vol.3, p.109, Sunan Ibn Maajah vol.1, p.42 and many others.This Hadeeth is well known in the Islamic books as Hadeeth Al-Manzilah.(The Hadeeth of The Status).
C)The Prophetic Hadeeth This,Ali, is my brother,my trustee,and my Khalifa(deputy) on you, so listen to him and obey him.)(Musnad Ahmad Bin Hanbal vol.1, p.111, Tafseer Ibn Katheer vol.3, p.352, Tareekh Dimishq by Ibn Asaakir Imam Ali biography vol.1, p.99, Shawaahid Al-Tanzeel by Al-Hasakaani vol.1, p.371, Al–Khasaa’is by Al-Nisaa’ee p.24, Al-Kaamil Fil Taareekh by Ibn Al-Atheer vol.2 p.41,and many others.This Haddeth is well known as Hadeeth Al-Daar.(The Hadeeth of the House).
D)Hadeeth Al-Ghadeer when the Prophet (sawa) said infront of thousands of Sahaba after asking them whether they accept him as a master on them more than themselves on themselves, and their reply as : Yes, then he announced that: (For whomsoever I am the master(leader), Ali is his master(leader), O Allah,support him who follows Ali and be enemy of him who becomes enemy of Ali).Sunan Ibn Maajah vol.1, p.43, Sunan Al-Tirmithi vol.5, p.633, Musnad Ahmad Bin Hanbal vol.1, p.84, Al-Mustadrak by Al-Haakim vol.3, p.109,Al-Bidayah Wal-Nihaayah by Ibn Katheer vol.5, p.209, Tafseer Al-Durr Al-Manthoor by Soyooti vol.2, p.519, Shawaahid Al-Tanzeel by Al-Hasakaani vol.1, p.157, Tareekh Al-Khulafaa by Soyooti p.200,Al-Khasaa’is by Al-Nisaa’ee p.28 and many others.
E)The Prophetic Hadeeth stating O Ali you are from me and I am from you) Saheeh Al-Bukhari vol.5, p.278, as well as the Prophetic Hadeeth stating Ali is from me and I am from him, and he is the leader of every believer after me) Sunan Al-Tirmithi vol.5, p.632, Al-Mustadrak by Al-Haakim vol.3, p.110, Al-Manaaqib by Ibn Al-Maghaazili Al-Shaafi’ee p.152, Al-Khasaa’is by Al-Nisaa’ee p.25. and many others.
F)The Prophetic Hadeeth:(Whosoever believed in me and had faith that I brought the truth, must follow Ali Ibn Abi Talib,because following Ali is following me, and following me is following Allah) Muntakhab Kanz Al-Ummaal with Munad Ahmad vol.5, p.32, Tareekh Dimishq by Ibn Asaakir Biography of Imam Ali vol.2, p.91.
7- Where Is The Real Sunnah?
All Muslims claim following the Prophetic Sunnah, but the majority of such claims are clearly baseless with the vast differences and contradictions between many Islamic sects in faith and practice, keeping in mind that the Prophet’s Sunnah can not contardict itself. The differences are based on different Hadeeths stating different statements in the same matter and situation. These are the fabricated Hadeeths which were made to meet wordly benefits of certain people or governments or groups etc. The fabricating of Hadeeths started during the time of the Prophet (sawa) and was so much that He declared on the pulpit that :Lying on me has become so much, beware , whosoever lies on me deliberately should be sure of his place in the fire.
No doubt, Hadeeth fabricating was much more after the departure of the Prophet (sawa) since many governors like Mu’awiyah and Hajjaj and many others were paying money to fabricators like Abu Hurairah and many others.Hundreds of thousands of fabricated Hadeeths were mentioned in the books and on pulpits to please the governors or to oppose their opponants.Sunni Ulama’ admit this unfortunate fact.
The big question for all Muslims who really want to follow the Prophet (sawa) is : from where can we get the real Sunnah and be away from the fabricated Hadeeths?
The most authentic source for getting the real Sunnah are Ahlul-Bayt , not only because they were living with Him most of the time, but also because their highest degree in truthfullness and nobleness, beside the Prophetic statements that (I am the city of knowledge and Ali is it’s gate, so, whosoever wants the city must come through it’s gate.)(Al-Mustadrak by Al-Haakim vol.3, p.126, Shawaahid Al-Tanzeel by Al-Hasakaani vol.1, p.81 Hadeeth no. 118, Al-Jaami’ Al-Sagheer by Soyooti vol.1, p.108 and many others).
Following the Quran and Ahlul-Bayt means taking the Prophetic Sunnah from Ahlul-Bayt(as) and leaving anything away from them.If all Muslims follow the real Sunnah, there will be no disputes or differences among them, because of the fact that One Prophet’s Sunnah is just One Sunnah which leads all into The One Islam.
The followers of Ahlul-Bayt take the Real Sunnah from the most authentic sources who are Ahlul-Bayt and the authentic Sahaba, while the followers of other Islamic sects take their religion from sources which are never strong and authentic as Ahlul-Bayt .
So, these are the main two differences between Shia Muslims and Sunni Muslims:
- Islamic leadership from Allah(swt)? or from anybody else? Shia believe it from Allah(swt).
-From where to get the Real Sunnah? Shia take it from the most authentic sources who are Ahlul-Bayt(as) and authentic Sahaba.
May Allah (swt) guide and keep all of us on the sraight path of the Prophet (sawa) and Ahlul-Bayt .
Wassalamu alaikum wr wb
Sayyed Mohammad Musawi
World Ahlul Bayt Islamic League(WABIL)
Unity, Love and Tolerance – Islamic Perspective”
Shia Sunni ulema Reciting Namaz Together.