Sunnis and Shee`ah

Question: We are exposed to every kind of preaching and propagation of religions and we suffer immensely from this. One thing that we are suffering from at the moment is that the Shee’ah sect of the twelve Imaams has begun to spread its beliefs and teachings in many different ways. They deceive the Muslim youth who are living amongst Muslim minorities and they have reached regions which you would never think possible. Could your Eminence summarise the most important differences between the Sunni and Shee’ah?

Answer: There are many differences between the Sunni and Shee’ah. However, some of the most important are as follows Ahlus-Sunnah are compassionate and merciful towards the Companions of the Prophet. They say:

{Our Lord! Forgive us and forgive our brothers who preceded us in faith and do not put in our hearts any malice towards those who believed. Our Lord! You are Compassionate and Most Merciful}, [Soorah al-Hashr, Aayah 10].

It is well known, however, that the group the questioner mentioned slanders, defames and maligns the Companions. They consider them to be sinful and impious and they believe that they left Islaam after the death of the Prophet (sal-Allaahu `alayhe wa sallam). In fact, their slandering of the Companions is not only slander and defamation of them, but rather it is slander and defamation of the Companions, the Messenger of Allaah (sal-Allaahu `alayhe wa sallam) the religion of Islaam and it is also slander and defamation of Allaah’s Wisdom.

As for their slandering of the Companions, that is clear. Their slandering of the Prophet (sal-Allaahu `alayhe wa sallam) stems from the fact that to degrade the Companions to such an extent is itself to slander the Prophet (sal-Allaahu `alayhe wa sallam). A person is on the religion of his closest friend and a person is judged according to who his associates and Companions are. Therefore, if the associates and Companions of the Messenger of Allaah (sal-Allaahu `alayhe wa sallam) were so despicable, then he must be like them. We seek Allaah’s protection from believing such things!

As for it being slander and defamation of the religion of Islaam, this is because the religion of Islaam was not transmitted to us except by way of the Companions of the Prophet, may Allaah be pleased with them. If, therefore, they were so dishonourable and disreputable, how can we have trust in and rely upon this religion and how can we take it as our path to Allaah (Subhaanahu wa Ta’aala)?

As for it being slander and defamation of Allaah’s Wisdom, Glorified and Exalted is He, this is because the clearest contradiction to wisdom is that Allaah should choose for the very best of His creation, such dishonourable and disgraceful companions, as claimed by those misguided ones. This point is one of the main differences between Ahlus-Sunnah and the Shee’ah.

In fact, if we return to the actual meaning of the word Shee’ah, we find that they mean by it that they are the followers and party of Ahlul-Bayt (the Family of the Messenger). However, the Family of the Prophet (sal-Allaahu `alayhe wa sallam) and at the head of them ‘Alee Ibn Abee Taalib, one of the rightly guided khulafaa., did not condone the activities of this group. Rather, they disowned them, so how can a person he the follower and supporter of someone who has disowned him and renounced his actions? The people who have the greatest right to be the friends and supporters of the Family of the Messenger (sal-Allaahu `alayhe wa sallam) are Ahlus-Sunnah. Their right to this description lies in the fact that they believe that the Family of the Prophet have two claims: the claim to faith and the claim to kinship with the Messenger (sal-Allaahu `alayhe wa sallam). However, they do not go beyond the bounds of what is correct and proper concerning them. This is something that could lead to the claim that the Family of the Prophet are divine or that they have more right to the Message and to Prophethood than Muhammad, prayers and peace be upon him, and similar such claims which are common in their madhhab.

In short, it is incumbent upon us to make known in the clearest possible manner, the doctrine of Ahlus-Sunnah wal-Jamaa’ah concerning the Family of the Prophet and the remainder of the companions, in order that the falseness of what those fanatics believe may be exposed.

[Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen, al-Aqalliyaat al-Muslimah – Page 85, Fatwa No.24]