Friday, 24 August 2012

Section 8: Miscellaneous issues, Q's 45-50

The last 6 questions to the fifty mark are about some general issues which don't fall into any particular catergory.

Q45: What is "Taqiyah"? Is it not lying and deception?

Today lots of Islamophobes and Muslim-haters say that the traditional Shia belief in Taqiyah makes us Muslims, Sunni and Shia alike, dishonest, untrustworthy people. Islam takes a hard line against lying in general and stresses the importance of truth and honesty. However, like other ethical systems, there are certain exception to rules in certain, often extreme scenarios.

The idea of concealing your faith, when your life, or your family's life is at risk is permissible. Just like the Jews tried to conceal their faith from the Nazi's in the 1930-40's to avoid being sent to the gas chambers. Taqiyah is a form of self defence, of self preservation and something I have discussed in more detail in a previous blog.

Taqiyah is the concealing of one's beliefs, beliefs that deep down you still hold and haven't abandoned but have been forced to conceal against your will. It is also discussed further by Ammar Nakshawani.

(source: Thaqlain)

Q46: What is "Muta"? How can Shias justify temporary marriages?

Out of all the misconceptions about Shia Islam, all the discussions and questions, forget the events in history, the Ahlul-Bayt etc, most of the controversy seems to surround the concept of Muta - temporary marriage. I've often entered discussions with Sunnis on forums, on social networks and even in person and when it comes to discussing Shia beliefs, the insults on Muta just start to flow: "How does it feel to know you're mother was probably a prostitute before meeting your dad?" Therein lies the crux of the misunderstanding, our enemies have taken it to mean a form of prostitution when that it not the case at all!

Muta has a Quranic mandate and specific rules and regulation. It is something I've discussed on this blog already and something Ammar Nakshawani goes into in great depth.

(source: Thaqlain)

Q47: Why do shias pay khums in addition to zakat?

Khums is one of the pillars of Islam ordained by Allah (SWT) and practiced during the time of the Holy Prophet. Khums means "one-fifth," and indicates that 20% of a person's excess income has to be dedicated according to the Holy Quran, for the following:

"Know that one fifth of everything that you obtain belongs to Allah, to the Messenger, to the near of kin, to the orphans, and the needy, and the wayfarer. This you must observe if you truly believe In Allah and in what We sent down on Our servant on the day when the true was distinguished from the false, the day on which the two armies met in battle. Allah has power over all things."(Surah 8, Verse 41)
Khums consists of two equal parts: one being the share of the Imam, meaning that this part goes towards constructing mosques, Islamic schools, libraries, hospitals, orphanages and other things which benefit, defend and/or propagate Islam. The second part is the portion for the poor Syeds (descendants of the Holy Prophet), since they are banned from receiving zakat.

The interpretation by the Ahlul-Bayt of the arabic word "ghanimtum," used in the above verse is "everything that you obtain." That is to say whether from war, work, trade, or other sources. Many Sunni books mention that khums existed during the time of the Holy Prophet and was subsequently banned during the time of the first and second caliphs. The importance of khums for the Holy Prophet can be seen in his advice to the delegation of Bani Abdul Qays:
"Once a delegation of 'Abdul Qais came to Allah's Apostle and said, "We belong to such and such branch of the tribe of Rab'a and we can only come to you in the sacred months. Order us to do something good so that we may (carry out) take it from you and also invite to it our people whom we have left behind (at home)." The Prophet said, " I order you to do four things and forbid you from four things. (The first four are as follows): 1. To believe in Allah. (And then he: explained it to them i.e.) to testify that none has the right to be worshipped but Allah and (Muhammad) am Allah's Apostle 2. To offer prayers perfectly (at the stated times): 3. To pay Zakat (obligatory charity)4. To give me Khumus  (The other four things which are forbidden are as follows): 1. Dubba 2. Hantam 3. Muqaiyat 4. Naqir (all these are utensils used for the preparation of alcoholic drinks)." (Sahih Bukhari, Vol. 1, Book 10, No. 501)
Q48: What is "taqlid"? Why do Shias follow "Marjas" and "Mujtahids"?

Taqlid literally means "to follow." In Islamic terminolgy, "marja at-taqlid" means "to follow a source of emulation," when it comes to religious law and rulings. A marja is the senior-most mujtahid and a mujtahid is a person who is an expert on Islamic jurisprudence (fiqh). It should be noted that taqlid pertains only to the realm of the shariah and the furu-e-deen; there can be no taqlid whatsoever in the matters of core beliefs (usul-e-deen). The Holy Quran states in relation to taqlid and mujtahids:

"(O Muhammad), even before you We never sent any other than human beings as Messengers, and to them We sent revelation. Ask the People of the Book if you do not know." (Surah 21, Verse 7)
"Nor should the Believers all go forth together: if a contingent from every expedition remained behind, they could devote themselves to studies in religion, and admonish the people when they return to them,- that thus they (may learn) to guard themselves (against evil)." (Surah 9, Verse 122)
This is about creating groups of scholars, not priests or clerics. Mujtahids are not priests, there is no concept of priesthood in Islam. Instead, they are scholars engaged in ijtihad (intellectual struggle). Without these scholars we may well have some of the problems that plague modern Sunni Islam. Among the Ahle Sunnah it is now possible for any person to issue a fatwa on this or that aspect of Islamic law or morality. Self proclaimed sheikhs have proliferated. This problem does not exist in Shia Islam, where the ulema have to have studied for decades and win the respect of their peers before they can start issuing fatwas.

We seek expert guidance in every aspect of our lives - accountants for our taxes, doctors for our health, dentists for our teeth, mechanics for our cars etc - and yet when it comes to religion, our faith, our way of life, we don't need any guidance? As Shias we can take advantage of a group of people who have studied Islam thoroughly and in great depth and are offering their services, their wisdom and knowledge in the form of taqlid.

Q49: What are the concepts of tawalla and tabarra?

Both of these concepts have simple definitions and are the opposite of each other. Tabarra draws the most criticism due to the amount of Shias that abuse it and go too far with it. Tawalla is the practice of loving and praising those people whom Allah (SWT) is pleased with. For Shias that consists of the Holy Prophet, the Ahlul-Bayt and some great companions who helped spread, protect and save the religion of Islam. The concept is based around the Quranic ayat:

"That is (the Bounty) whereof Allah gives Glad Tidings to His Servants who believe and do righteous deeds. Say: "No reward do I ask of you for this except the love of those near of kin." And if any one earns any good, We shall give him an increase of good in respect thereof: for Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Ready to appreciate (service)." (Surah 42, Verse 23)
Allah (SWT) states that the only recompense the Holy Prophet asks for is the love of his next of kin, his Ahlul-Bayt. Tabarra is the opposite sentiment. It is the practice of dissociating ourselves from the enemies of Allah (SWT) and the Holy Prophet and the Ahlul-Bayt. We ask Allah (SWT) to withdraw his blessings from those who have wronged Him, His Holy Prophet and the Ahlul-Bayt.

Two relatively simply concepts, but tabarra has been abused to include the cursing of certain people, certain companions, which many Shia scholars have condemned. There is no mandate from Allah (SWT) or the Ahlul-Bayt that instructs Shias to curse anyone. There is a clear difference between asking Allah to withdraw his blessings and asking for Him to send curses on people. The later is surely a wrong practice and one that right draws great derision from non-Shias. As always, Ammar Nakshawani is able to explain in more detail.

Q50: Is Shia'ism a product of Abdullah ibn Saba - a Jewish convert to Islam?

We end the 50 Questions about the Shias with arguably the most ridiculous of claims - the concept of Shia'ism is the product of Jewish convert. In Ahle Sunnah tradition Abdullah ibn Saba was a Yemenite Jew who embraced Islam very late in life. During the rule of Imam Ali (as), he is alleged to have introduced a number of concepts, later ascribed to both the Shias and the Ghuluww (those who exalt and deify Imam Ali (as)). He and his followers are also accused of killing the third caliph, Uthman ibn Affan, and dividing the Muslims into two sects.

Yet, neural Western historians, non-Muslims like George Hodgson and Bernard Lewis conclude that he probably did not exist and even if he did, he certainly wasn't responsible for all the intrigues, plots and religious conspiracies that have been attributed to him by some anti-Shia scholars.

The chain of narration about Abdullah ibn Saba goes back to Sayf ibn Umar. He has been discredited by the likes of Hakim al-Nishaburi and Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani. In his acclaimed book "The Succession of Muhammed," Professor Wilferd Madelung writes how "few if any modern historians would accept Sayf's legend of ibn Saba." Similarly, renowned Egyptian Sunni historian, Dr Taha Hussein has said that the "fabrication" of Ibn Saba was done by the enemies of the Shias and that the insertion of a "Jewish element" was aimed at discrediting that Shias. He noted that the absence of any record of Ibn Saba being present at the Battle of Siffin suggests that he is a fictitious person. For the last time, here's Ammar Nakshawani with a detailed dissection about the man.

(source: Thaqlain)

That finally concludes the 50 Questions about the Shia. What started in January and I hoped would finish over a few weeks has taken over eight months to complete! Fortunately the questions I've addressed during Ramadhan happened to coincide with Ammar Nakshawani discussing the same topics in great detail. I hope people are able to read the questions with an open mind and not resort to typical criticisms and rejections. I am extremely interested to hear what people think about all these points, whether it makes any sense, whether it clears any confusion or in fact generates more questions.

You are always welcome to leave comments and you can also follow me and get in touch via Twitter - @truthaboutshias. Many thanks for reading.

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Section 7: Prayers (Salaat), Q's 40-44

Continuing from my previous post answering questions to do with prayers, here are a further four common questions that get asked of Shias about the subject.

Q40: Why don't Shias offer tarawih prayers in Ramadhan?

During this holy month of Ramadhan, our brothers and sisters in the Ahle Sunnah gather in mosques most evenings to perform extra congregational prayers, but it is not something the Shias do. The simple reason is because we don't believe that there is any reliable historical evidence that the Holy Prophet ever performed such prayers.

The truth is that the concept of tarawih prayers was introduced during the time of Umar's caliphate:
"Narrated Abu Huraira: Allah's Apostle said, "Whoever prayed at night the whole month of Ramadan out of sincere Faith and hoping for a reward from Allah, then all his previous sins will be forgiven." Ibn Shihab (a sub-narrator) said, "Allah's Apostle died and the people continued observing that (i.e. Nawafil offered individually, not in congregation), and it remained as it was during the Caliphate of Abu Bakr and in the early days of 'Umar's Caliphate." 'Abdur Rahman bin 'Abdul Qari said, "I went out in the company of 'Umar bin Al-Khattab one night in Ramadan to the mosque and found the people praying in different groups. A man praying alone or a man praying with a little group behind him. So, 'Umar said, 'In my opinion I would better collect these (people) under the leadership of one Qari (Reciter) (i.e. let them pray in congregation!)'. So, he made up his mind to congregate them behind Ubai bin Ka'b. Then on another night I went again in his company and the people were praying behind their reciter. On that, 'Umar remarked, 'What an excellent Bid'a (i.e. innovation in religion) this is; but the prayer which they do not perform, but sleep at its time is better than the one they are offering.' He meant the prayer in the last part of the night. (In those days) people used to pray in the early part of the night." (Sahih Bukhari, Vol. 3, Book 32, No. 227)
Shias instead offer the tahhajud prayers ("the prayer in the last part of the night") which Umar admits is better than the tarawih prayers that Sunni Muslims recite in congregation during Ramadhan. We don't follow  the sunnah of Umar but continue to follow the recommendations of the Holy Prophet. As before, here's Ammar Nakshawani with more on the subject.


(source: Thaqlain) 

Q41: Why don't Shias cross their arms during prayers?

It's rather depressing that Muslims cannot agree on whether the Holy Prophet crossed his arms in prayer or not. During his lifetime he must've prayed at least 40,000 times in front of his sahabah and yet we cannot agree on what he did with his arms while he was praying.

"Narrated Muhammad bin 'Amr bin 'Ata': I was sitting with some of the companions of Allah's Apostle and we were discussing about the way of praying of the Prophet. Abu Humaid As-Saidi said, "I remember the prayer of Allah's Apostle better than any one of you. I saw him raising both his hands up to the level of the shoulders on saying the Takbir; and on bowing he placed his hands on both knees and bent his back straight, then he stood up straight from bowing till all the vertebrate took their normal positions." (Sahih Bukhari, Vol. 1, Book 12, No. 791)
The statement "he stood up straight from bowing till all the vertebrate took their normal positions" is considered to be proof that the Holy Prophet did not cross his arms, for this is not the natural position at which the bones and limbs rest. If the Holy Prophet place crossed his arms in the prayer, then at least one of the sahabah present would have objected to Abu Humaid As-Saidi's failure to report on that in his narration. None did so.

In other tradition, Sunni scholar Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani writes that "...when the Prophet would stand for salat, he would raise both hands to his ears, and after saying Takbeer would then drop his hands." Drop, not cross. Another scholar, Yusuf ibn abd al-Barr in his book Al-Tamheed narrates that "Abdullah ibn al-Izar said, "I used to make tawaf around the Kaabah with Said ibn al-Jubayr [a leading member of the second generation of companions]. Once, Said saw a man placing one hand over the other, so he went to him, separated his hands, and then returned to me.

Shias once again follow the sunnah of the Holy Prophet as has been confirmed by his companions and the children of the companions. One final point on this question, the different schools of Sunni fiqh can't seem to make up their minds on how to cross their arms. Maliki Sunnis agree with the Shia view, and amongst the  Hanafis,  Hanbalis and  Shafi's there is no consensus on where exactly on the abdomen one's hands should be held or how they should be held during prayer. Here's Ammar Nakshawani once more on the topic.

(source: Thaqlain)

Q42: Why do Shias say "Allahu Akbar" three times at the end of the prayer?

Shias at the end of prayer, in accordance with the sunnah of the Holy Prophet, finish by reciting takbeer thrice after the tashahud (the final kneeling prayer of the salah). During the days of the Holy Prophet, the daily prayers were ended with the recitation of takbeer, not with the turning of head from side to side.

"Narrated Ibn 'Abbas: I used to recognize the completion of the prayer of the Prophet by hearing Takbir." (Sahih Bukhari, Vol. 1, Book 12, No. 803)
"Ibn 'Abbas said: We used to know that Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) had finished his prayer when we heard the takbir (Allah-O-Akbar)." (Sahih Muslim, Book 4, No. 1209)
Q43: How do Shias justify praying at graves?

The Wahhabis and Salafis of the Ahle Sunnah are obsessed with graves - they say it is banned and forbidden. During Hajj and Umra, Shias are constantly attacked for trying to visit the graves at Janatul Baqi. And yet, the grave of the Holy Prophet is in the mosque in Madina. If it is so unimportant, so unholy as some Wahhabis claim, then why has it been given such status in Madina? Why did the first two caliphs of the Ahle Sunnah insist on being buried next to the Holy Prophet?

The House of Allah, the Kabaah is itself a grave for Prophet Ismail and his mother, Bibi Hajira. Should it be forbidden to visit the Kabah? When Shias visit graves, pray and perform sajdah at graves the issue is one of intention. It is totally wrong and forbidden for Shias, Muslims, to pray to the person buried in the grave. That is clearly an act of shirk. However, if the intention is to pray to Allah (SWT) in the presence of a holy personality, then how is this wrong?

Furthermore, the Holy Quran refers to prostations carried out to or by Prophets of Allah that were not considered to be acts of shirk.

"And behold, We said to the angels: "Bow down to Adam" and they bowed down. Not so Iblis: he refused and was haughty: He was of those who reject Faith." (Surah 2, Verse 34)

"Behold! Joseph said to his father: "O my father! I did see eleven stars and the sun and the moon: I saw them prostrate themselves to me!" (Surah 12, Verse 4)

Satan was eternally damned for refusing to bow to Prophet Adam. Were the angels committing shirk by prostrating? Was Prophet Yacub (father of Prophet Yusuf), commiting shirk when the dream came true? Here's Ammar Nakshawani with another speech on this very topic.

(source: Thaqlain)

Q44: What about intercession? Shias pray to the Holy Prophet and the Imams instead of Allah?

Another popular myth about the Shias. Rather than pray to Allah (SWT), we apparently pray to the Holy Prophet and the Imams instead and engage in shirk Intercession refers to the act of praying to Allah (SWT) via an intermediary who prays to Him on our behalf by virtue of their higher status in the eyes of Allah (SWT). We are asking for help in obtaining Allah's blessings and mercy.

Sunnis point to the verse "Thee (alone) we worship; Thee (alone) we ask for help." (Surah 1, Verse 5), but intercession doesn't change the principle of that verse. We are still worshipping Allah (SWT) alone and asking only Allah for help. We are simply making this request via an intermediary. The prayer is still, ultimately, directed towards Allah (SWT) and definitely not at the intermediary.

Wahabbis like to accuse this act of being shirk but common sense tells us that we ask for help in everyday life so why is prayer any different? When we're sick we seek the advice of a doctor, when our car develops a fault we turn to a mechanic. Being facetious, if we stick strictly to the Wahabbi view point, we should only turn to Allah (SWT) for help when we're sick or when our car breaks down (forget a car breaking down, we shouldn't have a car in the first place - Allah should transport us)! Anything else is shirk! Of course this is ridiculous and when Shias use intercession, we are simply asking certain individuals to help us when praying to Allah (SWT).

The Holy Quran discusses the concept of intercession. Firstly there are some verses (like above) that appear to negate intercession:
"O ye who believe! Spend out of (the bounties) We have provided for you, before the Day comes when no bargaining (Will avail), nor friendship nor intercession. Those who reject Faith they are the wrong-doers." (Surah 2, Verse 254)
Then there are verses which state that intercession is exclusively the domain of Allah (SWT), only He has the ability to intercede, not humans:
"Say: "To Allah belongs exclusively (the right to grant) intercession: to Him belongs the dominion of the heavens and the earth: In the End, it is to Him that ye shall be brought back."" (Surah 39, Verse 44)
Here, Allah (SWT) alone has the ability to grant intercession. In-fact, Allah Himself was the first to use intercession to spread His message. Prophets of Allah are intercessors acting on Allah's behalf to spread, educate and teach people about the oneness of Allah. The Holy Prophet spread the religion of Islam as the Messenger of God - Allah's intercession.

Finally, there are those verses which contextualise and explain the first two categories and give the complete and final verdict about the validity and efficacy of intercession in Islam. These verses confirm that intercession is only the right of Allah (SWT), but He will, whenever He wishes, extend it to certain people in His creation.
"O ye who believe! Do your duty to Allah, seek the means of approach unto Him, and strive with might and main in his cause: that ye may prosper." (Surah 5, Verse 35)
This verse commands us to "seek means of nearness" to Allah and then several verses go on to explain how to do so:
"None shall have the power of intercession, but such a one as has received permission (or promise) from (Allah) Most Gracious." (Surah 19, Verse 87)
"On that Day shall no intercession avail except for those for whom permission has been granted by (Allah) Most Gracious and whose word is acceptable to Him." (Surah 20, Verse 109)
"We sent not a messenger, but to be obeyed, in accordance with the will of Allah. If they had only, when they were unjust to themselves, come unto thee and asked Allah's forgiveness, and the Messenger had asked forgiveness for them, they would have found Allah indeed Oft-returning, Most Merciful." (Surah 4, Verse 64)
Surah Maryam spells out how we can turn to the Holy Prophet for intercession and increase our chances for forgiveness. The other verses highlighted, mention that intercession is permissible only by those granted permission by Allah (SWT). Shias believe them to be the Ahlul-Bayt and namely Bibi Fatima and the 12 Holy Imams. Therefore when we pray at their graves, including the Holy Prophet, we are not praying to them, but THROUGH them - to Allah (SWT). For further information and detail, please watch Ammar Nakshawani discuss the question.

(source: Thaqlain) 

That concludes this section and we're left with 6 more questions to get to fifty. The last section deals with some general miscellaneous misconceptions about the Shia as we reach the end of the series.

Section 7: Prayer (Salaat), Q's 36-39

This section discusses specific differences in the prayer between and Sunni and Shia and the reasons behind them. Again, many myths have been spread and exaggerated and inshallah this will make things clearer.

Q36: Why do Shias combine their prayers into three sittings?

Starting with the most common question about Salaat. We often combine our prayers into three sittings. Fajr  before sunrise, Zohr & Asr in the afternoon and then Maghrib & Isha after sunset. Majority of Ahle Sunnah scholars say that the combining of the prayers is only permissible during journeys or in state of danger or war.

However, in Sahih Muslim there are narrations that confirm the Holy Prophet combined his prayers whilst neither in danger nor whilst travelling.
"Ibn 'Abbas reported that the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) combined the noon prayer with the afternoon prayer and the sunset prayer with the 'Isha' prayer in Medina without being in a state of danger or rainfall. And in the hadith transmitted by Waki' (the words are):" I said to Ibn 'Abbas: What prompted him to do that? He said: So that his (Prophet's) Ummah should not be put to (unnecessary) hardship." And in the hadith transmitted by Mu'awiya (the words are):" It was said to Ibn 'Abbas: What did he intend thereby? He said he wanted that his Ummah should not be put to unnecessary hardship." (Book 4, No. 1520)
"Ibn 'Abbas reported: The Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) observed the noon and afternoon prayers together, and the sunset and Isha' prayers together without being in a state of fear or in a state of journey." (Book 4, No. 1515)
The Holy Quran also confirms the idea of three separate times for prayer, not five:
"Establish regular prayers - at the sun's decline till the darkness of the night, and the morning prayer and reading: for the prayer and reading in the morning carry their testimony." (Surah 17, Verse 78)
The Holy Quran states three seperate prayer times; "sun's decline," "darkness of the night" and "The morning prayer."  It was the sunnah of the Holy Prophet to combine his prayers and is something permissible for all of us. Of course, the reward is greater to try and pray five times during the day as it means we are remembering Allah (SWT) on more occasions, but it is still possible to combine prayers as Shias do. For a more thorough analysis, have a watch of this speech by Sayed Ammar Nakshawani on the same question.

(source: Thaqlain)

Q37: Why don't Shias wash their feet in wudhu as the Ahle Sunnah do?

Shias wipe their feet in wudhu whilst Sunnis tend to wash their feet. The Quranic mandate for how to perform wudhu comes in Surah Al-Maida:

"O ye who believe! when ye prepare for prayer, wash your faces, and your hands (and arms) to the elbows; Rub your heads (with water); and your feet to the ankles. If ye are in a state of ceremonial impurity, bathe your whole body. But if ye are ill, or on a journey, or one of you cometh from offices of nature, or ye have been in contact with women, and ye find no water, then take for yourselves clean sand or earth, and rub therewith your faces and hands, Allah doth not wish to place you in a difficulty, but to make you clean, and to complete his favour to you, that ye may be grateful." (Surah 5, Verse 6)
Shias argue that the verse states to wash the face and hands & arms and then wipe the head and feet. Sunnis would link the washing of the feet along with the face and hands. Various Sunni scholars have reported that during the time of the Holy Prophet, Abu Bakr and Umar, wiping of the feet was how wudhu was performed. The method apparently changed during the rule of Uthman and Ali ibn Abd-al-Malik al-Hindi, in his book Kanz al-Ummal, mentions more than twenty narrations, all narrated by the third caliph, about his new method of performing wudhu. These traditions indicate his responsibility for establishing the new method of washing, rather than wiping.

Some Muslims would argue that the washing of the feet is better than simply wiping, it is more hygienic. However, that doesn't then explain why the same Ahle Sunnah scholars who say you must wash your feet and not wipe, go on to say that it is also permissible to do wudhu by wiping wet hands over your socks or even your shoes. That is probably the least hygienic option of all.

Furthermore, with regard to the more hygienic option, Allah (SWT) is more aware of the advantages and disadvantages of washing versing wiping. Imam Ali (as) once said: "If religion was according to human opinion, the bottom of the foot would be more worthy of wiping, than the top. But I saw the Messenger of Allah wiping the top of his feet." Once again, here's Sayed Ammar Nakhshawani with more detail on this particular question.

(source: Thaqlain)

Q38: Why do Shias include "Aliyun Waliyullah" in the kalima and adhan?

Firstly, the line of "Aliyun waliyullah" in the adhan is not wajib. Most Shia scholars state that is it recommended to recite but not compulsory. For example, the world's leading Shia aalim, Ayatullah Sistani says on his website "Ash hadu anna Amiral Mo'mineena Aliyyan Waliyyullah (I testify that the Commander of the Faithful, Imam Ali is the vicegerent of Allah (SWT) is not part of either adhan or iqamah. But, it is preferable that it is pronounced with the niyyat of Qurbat (nearness to Allah)"

Numerous Ahle Sunnah books refer to the importance of proclaiming the divine appointment of Imam Ali (as) every time we proclaim the oneness of God and the prophethood of the Messenger. Sunni scholars Tabari and Suleman al-Hanafi al-Qandozi both narrate that Abu Hurairah, of all people, says that the Holy Prophet told him: "It is written on the Divine Arsh that 'There is no God by Allah, the One who has no associate; and Muhammed is my servant and Prophet whom I helped through Ali ibn Abu Talib.'"

Jalaluddin Al-Suyuti, in his book Al-Durr Al-Manthur narrates how Anas ibn Malik said that the Holy Prophet told him that he had seen, on the Me'raj, written on the Arsh: "There is no God but Allah; Muhammed is the Prophet of Allah; I have given him support through Ali." Hence, according to various Sunni scholars, the coupling together of Muhammed (SAW) and Ali's (as) names has been authorised by Allah (SWT) himself in the highest of heavens.

Furthermore, there is even evidence to suggest that the line "Aliyun Waliyullah" was uttered in adhan during the time of the Holy Prophet. Sunni scholar Shakyh Abdullah al-Maraghi al-Misri in his book, Kitab al-Salafa fi Amr al-Khilafa, narrates how a man came to see the Holy Prophet and said:
"O Prophet of God, I have heard a thing which I have not heard before."He (the Prophet) said: "And what is this?" The man replid: "After the shahadah to the risalah, Salman (al-Farsi) bore witness in his adhan a shahadah to the wilayah of Ali."The Prophet said: "You have heard a good thing."
Shias are attacked for supposedly adding a man-made line to the adhan and iqamah about Imam Ali (as) and yet the Ahle-Sunnah gloss over the fact that Umar confessed to adding his own line to the adhan and iqamah. Sunni scholar Malik ibn Anas, reports in his Al-Muwatta
"Yahya related to me from Malik that he heard that the muadhin came to Umar ibn Khattab to call him to the morning prayer and found him sleeping, so he said, "Prayer is better than sleep," and Umar ordered him to put that in the adhan for morning prayer."
So whilst Sunnis are happy to include a line added by Umar in their Fajr prayers, they condemn a line about Imam Ali (as) which is written on the Arsh of Allah (SWT) and which was approved by His Messenger. Sayed Ammar Nakshawani has more to say on this subject as well.

(source: Thaqlain)

Q39: Why do Shias pray on a stone, on a piece of earth (a 'sajjdah' or 'turbah')?

When Shias prostrate on a piece of earth it does not in any way imply worshipping of the earth or stone. You are prostrating to Allah (SWT) and him alone - the gesture of prostration is one of humiliation and insignificance before the Creater and it is it done on the earth, then it will have more of an effect than prostrating on a man-made carpet. This is the philosphy behind the sajjdah.

How did the Holy Prophet prostrate? According to Sahih Bukhari:
"Maimuna (wife of the Holy Prophet) narrated: "Allah's Apostle used to pray on a 'Khumra'." (Vol. 1, Book 8, No. 378) A Khumra is a small palm-leaf.
"Abu Said al-Khudri says: "I saw Allah's Apostle prostrating in mud and water and saw the mark of mud on his forehead." (Vol. 1, Book 12, No. 798)
The majority of Shias pray on a stone which is a baked piece of soil from the desert of Karbala, Iraq. It is not considered wajib but Shias prefer to use such sajjdah's because the soil of Karbala is the holiest of all soils. It is the soil that the Holy Prophet held in his hand as he wept and prophesied the death of his youngest grandson. It is the soil under which the third holy Imam Hussain (as) is buried.

If we're going to be accused of being "stone-worshippers," hopefully this explanation provides some clarity on the issue. Besides, as Sunnis pray on carpets, should they be called "carpet-worshippers?" I finish this segment of section 7 with another link to Sayed Ammar Nakshawani who has addressed this in yet more detail. Next time I hope to conclude this section with a further 4 questions.

(source: Thaqlain)

Monday, 13 August 2012

Section 6: The Holy Quran, Q35 - Do Shias believe in a different Holy Quran? Do Shias believe that the Holy Quran is incomplete?

Moving on to discuss the Holy Quran and two very specific questions that often gets asked to Shias. The answer to both queries is a definitve "No!" Shias have been accused of this for centuries, we apparently have a different Quran or feel that there are some missing verses. However, we believe in the same Holy Quran as the Ahle Sunnah, there is only one Holy Quran and no other.

The Ahle Sunnah believe that the Holy Quran was actually compiled and put together into one book during the reign of the third caliph, Uthman ibn Affan. Shias believe that the Holy Quran was compiled by the Holy Prophet during his lifetime. At Ghadeer-e-Khumm the Holy Prophet announced: "I leave you the book..." How can the Holy Prophet refer to a book if it was not yet in existence?

The Holy Quran is protected from change or human tampering as Allah (SWT) confirms:
"We have, without doubt, sent down the Message; and We will assuredly guard it (from corruption)." (Surah 15, Verse 9)
This is a guarantee that the Holy Quran will always be preserved. Unlike any other holy book, wherever you go in the world the Holy Quran is always the same. Unfortunately there are some Shias narrations which suggest that some changes to the text have been made but they are not considered authentic by the majority of Shia scholars and should be disregarded. The sixth Shia Imam, Imam Jafar as-Sadiq (as) declared in a hadith narrated in Usul al-Kafi: "Test the various reports by the Book of God; whatever agrees with it take it, whatever disagrees with it reject it."

Despite a few narrations which suggest changes have been made to the Holy Quran, the overwhelming majority of traditions by renowned Shia scholars all agree that the Holy Quran as not been changed at all since its existence during the time of the Holy Prophet. Al-Shaykh al-Saduq wrote: "Our belief is that the Holy Quran which Allah (SWT) revealed to His Prophet Muhammed (SAW) is (the same as) the one between the two covers (daffatayn). And it is the one which is in the hands of the people, and is not greater in extent than that. And he who asserts that we say that it is greater in extent than that, is a liar."

Ayatullah Abul-Qassim al-Khoei, one of the most influential Shia scholars in the 20th century, teacher to the great contemporary marja, Ayatullah Sayyid Ali al-Husayni al-Sistani, writes in his Tafsir al-Bayan that to hold a belief in: "...tahriff (corruption of the Holy Quranic text) is nothing more than a delusion and imagination, maintained by those with weak reasoning."

If you chose to continue to focus on the unreliable Shia traditions which suggest that we believe in another version or form of the Holy Quran, then let's turn to some Sunni traditions which (wrongly) suggest that corruption of the Holy Quran has occurred.

For example, according to Umar and Aisha, there were once verses in the Holy Quran that were called the "verse of stoning" and the "verse of suckling" that were subsequently lost from the Holy Quran after the death of the Holy Prophet. According to Sunan ibn Majah: "When the verse of stoning and the verse of suckling descended, they were written on a piece of paper and kept under my pillow. Following the demise of Prophet Muhammed (SAW) a goat are the piece of paper while we were mourning." (Book of Suckling, Hadith 20.20) A goat?!

Then there are Sunni traditions suggesting that the Holy Quran was once longer than it is now. Jalaluddin Al-Suyuti narrates from Aisha in his book, Al-Durr Al-Manthur: "Aisha narrated that during the lifetime of the Holy Prophet 200 verses were recited in Surah Ahzab, but when Uthman collected (the text of the Holy Quran), he only successed in locating the present number of verses (which is 78)."

So where do the Sunni ulema believe the other 122 verses went? Such traditions are of course nonsense and there won't be a Shia who accuses Sunnis of having a different version of the Holy Quran. The Holy Quran is the same Quran that the Holy Prophet left behind and that Allah (SWT) says He will protect and preserve. Any tradition that suggests otherwise - Shia or Sunni - should be rejected as false.

Next time I will be answering some questions about prayer (Salaat) and in the meantime I would highly recommend a view of this lecture by Sayed Ammar Nakshawani who speaks in more detail about today's question.

(Source: Thaqlain)

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Section 5: The 12th Imam, Q's 30-34

This section deals with the 12th Imam, Imam Mahdi (as) who Shias believe is the last of the 12 Holy Imams and descendent of the Holy Prophet. He is currently the hidden Imam, under Allah's (SWT) protection who we believe will one day return to earth to restore order in the world with Allah's guidance.

Q30: Who is Imam Mahdi (as)?

The Shia belief in the Mahdi (as) is not some unorthodox or unconventional belief. All of the three Abrahamic faiths, including Islam, believe in the concept of a messiah, or one who shall return. Shias are quite clear as to who this person is, whilst Sunnis have as yet, not defined who it will be.

However, looking through traditions in the Al-Kutub Al-Sittah‎ (the six authentic books of the Ahle Sunnah), there are a few which confirm who the messiah could be. Sunan Tirmidhi narrates that the Prophet said "The world will not come to pass until a man from among my family, whose name will be my name, rules over the Arabs."

Sunan Abu Dawood narrates: "Even if only a day remains for the Day of Judgement to come, yet Allah (SWT) will surely send a man from my family who will fill this world with such justice and fairness, just as it initially was filled with oppression."

Furthermore, in another narration it is even more specific: "The promised Mahdi will be among my progeny, among the descendants of Fatima." This is also reinforced by Sunan ibn Maajah: "The promised Mahdi will be among my family."

Ahle Sunnah scholars also narrate that not only will there be this Mahdi, but he will return with Prophet Isa (Jesus). It has been narrated that Prophet Isa will pray behind the Mahdi upon his return.

"Jabir b. 'Abdullah reported: I heard the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) say: "A section of my people will not cease fighting for the Truth and will prevail till the Day of Resurrection." He said: "Jesus son of Mary would then descend and their (Muslims') commander would invite him to come and lead them in prayer, but he would say: No, some amongst you are commanders over some (amongst you). This is the honour from Allah for this Ummah." (Sahih Muslim, Book 1, No. 293)
The only real difference is that Shias believe that the Mahdi is already born, already alive but in occultation. Sunni Muslims believe the Mahdi is still to be born.

Q31: How can a small child become an Imam?

Shias are often criticised for believing in an Imam who was a young boy. Imam Mahdi (as) was a small child when his father, the 11th Imam, Hasan al-Askari (as) was martyred. The critics argue that such a young person would not be able to lead the Muslims and be an infallible guide for mankind.

For non-Shia Muslims, there should be no real surprise about such a belief. The Holy Quran clearly indicated how a child can be guided by God as was the case with Prophets Yayha (John the Baptist) & Isa.
"(We said:) "O John, hold fast to the Book;" and We gave him wisdom right from boyhood," (Surah 19, Verse 71)
Prophet Isa was a baby when he spoke from the cradle. Youth, childhood, even babyhood, is no barrier to receiving revelation or inspiration from Allah (SWT):
"O sister of Aaron, your father was not a wicked person, nor your mother sinful!" But she pointed towards him. "How can we talk to one," they said, "who is only an infant in the cradle?" "I am a servant of God," he answered. "He has given me a Book and made me a prophet, And blessed me wherever I may be, and enjoined on me worship and zakat for as long as I live, And be dutiful to my mother. He has not made me haughty or rebellious. There was peace on me the day I was born, and will be the day I die, and on the day I will be raised from the dead."  This was Jesus, son of Mary: A true account they contend about." (Surah 19, Verses 28-34)
Q32: How can Imam Mahdi (as) still be alive today and be over 1,000 years old?

Again, we should turn to the Holy Quran which clearly states that Prophet Nuh (Noah) lived till he was almost 1,000 years old: 

"We sent Noah to his people, and he lived with them a thousand years minus fifty. Then they were caught by the deluge for they were evil." (Surah 29, Verse 14).
The Holy Quran also states that Prophet Isa didn't die but was raised into heaven. 
"And for saying: "We killed the Christ, Jesus, son of Mary, who was an apostle of God;" but they neither killed nor crucified him, though it so appeared to them. Those who disagree in the matter are only lost in doubt. They have no knowledge about it other than conjecture, for surely they did not kill him, But God raised him up (in position) and closer to Himself; and God is all-mighty and all-wise." (Surah 4, Verses 157-158)
Jesus is still alive and yet Sunnis doubt the Shias for believing Imam Mahdi (as) is alive - despite the fact that Jesus would have been already over 1,000 years old when the occultation of Imam Mahdi (as) began.

Then, of course, there is the Devil, Satan, who was born before Prophet Adam and is still with us - he is a Jinn who has not died. Are we then expected to believe that Allah (SWT) allows Satan to live as long as he likes but cannot prolong the life of his representative on earth, Imam Mahdi (as)?

Q33: How can Shias believe in an Imam you cannot see?

Just because you cannot see something, doesn't mean it cannot exist, otherwise how can we believe in the existence of Allah (SWT)? There are also the angels and jinns. All Muslims believe in angels that they cannot see like Jibraeel (Gabriel) who brought revelation to the Holy Prophet, or the angel of death. Then there's Satan who despite his invisibility, has the power to do us harm; to manipulate and trick us and whisper in our ears as described by Allah in Surah 114 of the Holy Quran.

Yet, when we Shias say we believe in a positive force, authorised by Allah (SWT), and that this force, this hidden Imam, is alive and available to Muslims as a spiritual (if not a physical) guide, we are accused of being crazy and irrational.

Q34: Why do Shias believe that the Holy Prophet and the Imams are infallible?

"I call to witness the star of the pleiades when it has dipped That your companion is not confused, nor has he gone astray, Neither does he speak of his own will. This is only revelation communicated, Bestowed on him by the Supreme Intellect." (Surah 53, Verses 1-5)

The Holy Quran makes it quite clear that the Holy Prophet doesn't speak out of his own desire, Allah (SWT) is vouching for him and who are we to say or believe otherwise? Some Sunni scholars argue that the Holy Prophet was only infallible in religious issues and that in private he made mistakes. Some say he forgot to pray on time or perform correct wudhu. If that was the case, how could we know that the Holy Prophet was giving us correct information if he was an ordinary fallible man? Today, how can we be sure that Fajr is two units not three units? If the Holy Prophet was fallible, maybe he made a mistake or misremembered when communicating the number of rakaats to his companions. The truth is that infallibility goes hand-in-hand with prophethood and with all forms of divinely-inspired religious leadership and guidance.

However, the Holy Quran also mentions other people, besides the Holy Prophet, who are also infallible. Satan is quoted as saying:
"He said, "My Lord, then reprieve me until the Day they are resurrected." [Allah] said, "So indeed, you are of those reprieved, Until the Day of the time well-known." [Iblees] said, "My Lord, because You have put me in error, I will surely make [disobedience] attractive to them on earth, and I will mislead them all. Except, among them, Your chosen servants."" (Surah 15, Verses 36-40)
Who are the "chosen servants?" Jalaluddin al-Suyuti in his book Dur al-Manthur, after the revelation of Verse 33 of Surah 33 - Ayat of Tathir, states that according to the companion and cousin of the Holy Prophet, Abdullah ibn Abbas: "The Messenger of Allah recited Ayat of Tathir and then said: "Thus Me and my Ahlul Bayt are clear from sins."

There are people other than the Holy Prophet who are infallible and sinless. We believe them to be the 12 Holy Imams and Bibi Fatima (as). That concludes this particular section and I'll next be moving on to discuss the Holy Quran and Prayer (Namaaz) inshallah.

Thursday, 9 August 2012

Section 4: The Ahlul-Bayt, Q's 25-29

This next section discusses some questions about the Ahlul-Bayt - the Holy Prophet's household. They typically include the 14 infallibles, namely the Holy Prophet, his daughter Bibi Fatima (as) and the 12 Imams starting with his cousin (and son-in-law), Imam Ali (as).

Q25: The Holy Prophet said "I leave two things, the Holy Quran and my Sunnah." Why follow the Ahlul-Bayt?

It is a common misconception amongst Sunnis that the Holy Prophet uttered the above sentence in his final sermon and whilst it has been narrated in various Sunni books, interestingly it has not been narrated at all in the main Sunni books of hadith. In-fact, in Sahih Muslim it states:

"O people, I am a human being. I am about to receive a messenger (the angel of death) from my Lord and I, in response to Allah's call, (would bid good-bye to you), but I am leaving among you two weighty things: the one being the Book of Allah in which there is right guidance and light, so hold fast to the Book of Allah and adhere to it. He exhorted (us) (to hold fast) to the Book of Allah and then said: The second are the members of my household I remind you (of your duties) to the members of my family." (Book 31, No. 5920)
Sahih Muslim clearly states the two weighty things as the Holy Quran and the Ahlul-Bayt. Even if you disagree and believe that the Holy Prophet states his 'Sunnah', who knew the sunnah better than anyone else? People like Imam Ali (as) and Bibi Fatima (as) who were with him throughout his mission. Shias are those Muslims who follow the Holy Quran and the Ahlul-Bayt together as instructed by the Holy Prophet. We do not take one and reject the other.

Q26: Why doesn't the Ahlul-Bayt include the wives of the Holy Prophet?

The above hadith from Sahih Muslim continues on:

"He (Husain) said to Zaid: Who are the members of his household? Aren't his wives the members of his family? Thereupon he said: His wives are the members of his family (but here) the members of his family are those for whom acceptance of Zakat is forbidden. And he said: Who are they? Thereupon he said: 'Ali and the offspring of 'Ali, 'Aqil and the offspring of 'Aqil and the offspring of Ja'far and the offspring of 'Abbas. Husain said: These are those for whom the acceptance of Zakat is forbidden. Zaid said: Yes." (Book 31, No. 5920)
A similar version of this has also been narrated in Sahih Bukhari. The Holy Prophet, again and again, in the traditions of the Ahle Sunnah, identifies the Ahlul-Bayt as being five people, himself, his daughter, Bibi Fatima (as), her husband (and his cousin) Imam Ali (as) and his two grandsons Imams Hasan (as) & Hussain (as). Most famously, he states the people of the Ahlul-Bayt upon the revelation of the following verse of the Holy Quran:
"Allah intends only to remove from you the impurity [of sin], O people of the [Prophet's] household, and to purify you with [extensive] purification." (Surah 33, Verse 33)
This verse was revealed and acknowledged by none other than Aisha, wife of the Holy Prophet in Sahih Muslim (also known as Hadith al-Kisa - tradition of the Cloak):

"'A'isha reported that Allah's Apostle (may peace be upon him) went out one morning wearing a striped cloak of the black camel's hair that there came Hasan b. 'Ali. He wrapped hitn under it, then came Husain and he wrapped him under it along with the other one (Hasan). Then came Fatima and he took her under it, then came 'Ali and he also took him under it and then said: Allah only desires to take away any uncleanliness from you, O people of the household, and purify you (thorough purifying)" (Book 31, No 5955)

The same tradition has also been narrated by the son of another wife of the Holy Prophet, Umm Salama as mentioned in Sunan Tirmidhi (one of the six major hadith collections for the Ahle Sunnah):

The above Quranic verse is known as Ayat of Tathir - the verse of purification, and does not refer to the wives of the Holy Prophet. Although it appears in a section of verses in which the wives are being discussed, the reference to the Prophet's household does not include the wives. When you study the Holy Quran, there are many occasions when it changes subject and in this verse the gender also changes from feminine to masculine which refers to a mixed group rather than just the wives of the Holy Prophet. Besides, how could the wives be considered part of the Ahlul-Bayt when one of the wives took up arms against Imam Ali (as)? If she was part of the Ahlul-Bayt surely she would not take such action.

Q27: Where is the concept of Imamat or Imams mentioned in the Holy Quran?

There are a few references to the concept of Imamat in the Holy Quran, most significant is in Surah Bani Israel:

"The day (of Judgement) We shall summon all men with their respective Imams, whosoever is given his record in his right hand will be able to read his account, and none will be wronged the breadth of a thread." (Surah 17, Verse 71)
"With their respective Imams," not with their parents, with their Prophets or with their Holy Books - although some Sunni scholars have tried to translate the arabic "bi-Imaamihim" as meaning the Holy Book which is clearly incorrect. On the day of Judgement we will be called with our respective Imams - something I will be discussing in the next section inshallah.
"And (remember) when his Lord tried Abraham with (His) commands, and he fulfilled them, He said: Lo! I have appointed thee a Imam for mankind. " (Surah 2, Verse 124)
Imam is a very holy title, a holy position referred to in the Holy Quran. Prophet Ibrahim became a Prophet first and then an Imam. The title of "Imam" was bestowed upon him by Allah (SWT) after he was "tried" and tested.

Q28: Why should we believe in the 12 Imams?

Well, how about because Sahih Muslim and Sahih Bukhari say so?

"Narrated Jabir bin Samura: I heard the Prophet saying, "There will be twelve Muslim rulers (who will rule all the Islamic world)." He then said a sentence which I did not hear. My father said, "All of them (those rulers) will be from Quraish." (Sahih Bukhari: Vol 9, Book 89, No.329)
"It has been narrated on the authority of Jabir b. Samura who said: I joined the company of the Holy Prophet (may peace be upon him) with my father and I heard him say: This Caliphate will not end until there have been twelve Caliphs among them. The narrator said: Then he (the Holy Prophet) said something that I could not follow. I said to my father: What did he say? He said: He has said: All of them will be from the Quraish." (Sahih Muslim: Book 20, Nos. 4477-4484)
There are countless traditions referring to the twelve caliphs or twelve successors contained in many other Ahle Sunnah books - Sunan Tirmidhi, Sunan Abu Dawud and Kanz al-Ummal.

Q29: How do we know the 12 Imams are the 12 Shia Imams?

After highlighting the ahadiths that exist in Sahih Bukhari and Sahih Muslim, surely it is down to the Ahle Sunnah to try and name these 12 rulers, caliphs. We Shias know exactly who they are, but it seems many Sunni scholars struggle to identify them.

Ibn Arabi goes through all of the Ummayad and Abbasid caliphs and concludes: "I cannot understand the meaning of this hadith." Ibn Hajar Asqalani, leading Sunni scholar states: " No one has much knowledge about this particular hadith of Sahih Bukhari."
Jalaluddin Al-Suyuti (famous Egyptian Sunni scholar and commentator on the Holy Quran) has had a stab at naming them: "We see that from the twelve, four are the Righteous Caliphs, then Hasan ibn Ali, then Muawiyah, then Ibn Zubayr, and finally Umar ibn Abd al-Aziz. They are eight, four of them remain."
So how does he get twelve? He pulls together eight names and then starts speculating in a desperate and unsuccessful attempt to get to twelve.

Another Sunni scholar, Suleman ibn Ibrahim al Hanafi al Qandozi actually backs the Shia belief in his book Yanabi al-Mawaddah:
"A Jewish man named Na'thal, went to the Prophet (SAW) and said: "Every Jewish Prophet left a successor, who is your successor? The Prophet (SAW) said, specifying them, "After me, Ali ibn Abu Talib and then my two sons Hasan and Hussain and after Hussain, nine Imams will follow from his children."The Jewish man said, "Name them."The Prophet said, "When Hussain leaves this world, his son Ali, and after him, his child Muhammed and after Muhammed, his son Jafar and after Jafar, his son Musa and after Musa, his son Ali and after Ali, Muhammed. After Muhammed, his child Ali and after Ali, Hasan and after Hasan, his child Muhammad al-Mahdi. These are the twelve Imams."
That concludes the section about the Ahlul-Bayt and next time I will be focussing more specifically on the 12th Imam, Muhammad al-Mahdi (as).

Sunday, 5 August 2012

Section 3: Imam Ali (as), Q's 22-24

This entry concludes section 3 about Imam Ali (as) and deals with a few questions focusing on the aftermath of the Holy Prophet's death.

Q22: Why did Imam Ali (as) not fight for the leadership after the death of the Holy Prophet?

It is true to state that Imam Ali (as) never took up arms or retaliated against
Abu Bakr, Umar or Uthman whilst they were the caliphs of the Muslim world. Some Sunnis have argued that this proves he was not opposed to them and that he was satisfied with them as leaders. However, this is simply not the case.

The main reason Imam Ali (as) did not fight after the death of the Holy Prophet is because he did not want to dived the nascent, infant Muslim community. He did not want innocent Muslims to die in battle, killing each other in order to take power. Historians record how
Abu Sufyan even offered him troops but Imam Ali (as) turned him down and criticised his divisive offer.

Imam Ali's (as) caliphate, succession to the Holy Prophet was given from Allah. He was not then expected to go and chase and force people to follow him, it was their job to do so of their own free will. His position of Imamat was not an elected position, he was divinely appointed. Sunni scholar
Ali ibn Abd-al-Malik al-Hindi in his book, Kanz al-Ummal, narrates a tradition in which the Holy Prophet told Imam Ali (as): "[O Ali], You are like the Kabah, people go to the Kabah, the Kabah does not come to the people..."

During the rules of Abu Bakr, Umar and Uthman, not once did Imam Ali (as) fight in their armies. He also refused to give allegiance to Abu Bakr for at least six months after the death of the Holy Prophet and his wife Bibi Fatima (as). When he did, it was against his will with the threat of force. What was his problem with them to show such resistance?

Nahjul Balagha, Imam Ali (as), questions how Abu Bakr and others robbed him of his right to the caliphate but he chose to remain quiet. This has been narrated in the famous sermon of ash-Shiqshiqiyya (the roar of the camel) where Imam Ali (as) states:
"Beware! By Allah the son of abu Quhafah (abu bakr)dressed himself with it (the caliphate) and he certainly knew that my position in relation to it was the same as the position of the axis in relation to the hand-mill. The flood water flows down from me and the bird cannot fly upto me. I put a curtain against the caliphate and kept myself detached from it. 
Then I began to think whether I should assault or endure calmly the blinding darkness of tribulations wherein the grown up are made feeble and the young grow old and the true believer acts under strain till he meets Allah (on his death). I found that endurance thereon was wiser. So I adopted patience although there was pricking in the eye and suffocation (of mortification) in the throat. I watched the plundering of my inheritance till the first one went his way but handed over the Caliphate to Ibn al-Khattab after himself." (Sermon 3)
Umar appointed a six-man committee on his deathbed to decide who would be the next caliph. The position was then offered to Imam Ali (as) on the condition that he abides with 1) the Holy Quran, 2) the Holy Prophet's traditions and 3) the laws and regulations, the 'sunnah', introduced by the first two caliphs. Imam Ali (as), as narrated by various Sunni books, refused the offer because he could not accept the third condition. Why would he do that if he accepted the legitimacy of their leadership?

Q23: Why do Shias refuse to accept that the Holy Prophet did not appoint a successor?

This is a crucial question. I simply do not accept those who try to argue that the Holy Prophet did not appoint a successor and just left it for the community to decide. It just does not make sense. The Holy Prophet introduced the religion of Islam to a completely ignorant, backward class of people in the Arab world. He had only 23 years of Prophethood in which he introduced a whole new way of life that went against everything the people believed in. From minute details such as how to eat food or wash to major life events, everything was changed for the people. The idea of worshipping only one God, stopping idol-worship was all introduced and people were extremely resistant to this new religion.

The idea that after all his struggles and achievements, with the guidance of Allah and support of Imam Ali (as), he would simply leave it to the people to decide the next leader is ridiculous. The Holy Prophet never left Madina without appointing someone to take charge of the city in his abscence, how could he leave the Islamic world without appointing a successor or even lay out the rules to how to appoint a successor. It is illogical to believe such a thing.

People try to argue that the Holy Prophet did not leave a will and therefore couldn't have appointed a successor, but of course he tried to write a will in his last days but was prevented from doing so by a group of his companions. As I have mentioned
before, Umar was amongst those companions who prevented the Holy Prophet from writing his last public will. Despite that, according to Sahih Bukhari, the Holy Prophet sill managed to order three things on his death bed:
"Narrated Said bin Jubair: that he heard Ibn 'Abbas saying, "Thursday! And you know not what Thursday is? After that Ibn 'Abbas wept till the stones on the ground were soaked with his tears. On that I asked Ibn 'Abbas, "What is (about) Thursday?" He said, "When the condition (i.e. health) of Allah's Apostle deteriorated, he said, 'Bring me a bone of scapula, so that I may write something for you after which you will never go astray.'
The people differed in their opinions although it was improper to differ in front of a prophet, They said, 'What is wrong with him? Do you think he is delirious? Ask him (to understand). 
The Prophet replied, 'Leave me as I am in a better state than what you are asking me to do.' Then the Prophet ordered them to do three things saying, 'Turn out all the pagans from the Arabian Peninsula, show respect to all foreign delegates by giving them gifts as I used to do.' " 
The sub-narrator added, "The third order was something beneficial which either Ibn 'Abbas did not mention or he mentioned but I forgot.'"  (Vol 4, Book 53, No. 393)
How can it be that people who had memorised the entire Holy Quran, forgot the last, dying instruction of the Holy Prophet? According to traditions in Sahih Bukhari, Umar ibn Khattab led the group of companions who prevented the Holy Prophet from writing his last will, defied the Quranic injunction of raising one's voice in front of the Holy Prophet and accused the Holy Prophet of being delirious, of having lost his mind. Then, when the Holy Prophet tried verbally telling them the contents of his will, his final commands, they claim to have forgotten what he said.

Abu Bakr had the foresight to leave a will and appoint a successor, Umar appointed a six-man committee to elect the next leader, but the Holy Prophet? He died without any guidance or will - does that make any sense? The companions knew that the Holy Prophet wanted to write down what he had announced at
Ghadeer-e-Khum and they stopped him from doing so.

Q24: Why is Imam Ali's (as) name not mentioned in the Holy Quran?

Whilst Imam Ali's (as) name is not directly stated in the Holy Quran, there are countless verses devoted to the praise of Imam Ali (as) and announcing his position, proving his leadership and Imamat. Ibn Hajar al-Haytami al-Makki quotes the cousin of the Holy Prophet, Abdullah ibn Abbas, saying that he heard from the Holy Prophet that 300 verses of the Holy Quran were revealed specifically in praise of Imam Ali (as).

"Only Allah is your Vali and His Messenger and those who believe, those who keep up prayers and pay the poor-rate while they bow." (Surah 5, Verse 55)
Sunni and Shia commentators of tafsir unanimously agree that the above verse refers to Imam Ali (as), who gave his ring to a beggar while in the state of ruku in the middle of his prayer.

The fact that Imam Ali's (as) name is not mentioned in the Quran does not detract from his status. If we are to go by the number of mentions then consider the fact that the Holy Prophet is only mentioned by name four times in the Holy Quran, whereas Prophet Musa is mentioned 136 times, Prophet Yusuf is mentioned 27 times and Prophet Isa is mentioned 25 times. Are we to then take that to mean they are more important than the Holy Prophet?

What if Imam Ali's (as) name was mentioned in the Holy Quran? Would that change anything? Would it change his opponents' minds about the vailadity and legitimacy of his Imamat? If the statement by the Holy Prophet at Ghadeer Khum:
"Of whomsoever I am mawla, Ali is also his mawla," had been in the Holy Quran, would it make any difference? The arguements would still exist about what 'mawla' means and people would still try to deliberately misrepresent and misinterpret it, or simply ignore it. Having Imam Ali's (as) name in the Holy Quran would unfortunately change very little. Allah in his infinite wisdom decided not to refer to Imam Ali (as) by name, but made numerous impilicit or indirect references to him.

Lastly, it is not sensible to make the argument that because Imam Ali's (as) name is not mentioned in the Holy Quran, therefore he was not appointed as a leader after the Holy Prophet. If we extend that further, how do we derive the rest of our religious principles, beliefs and obligations which are not specifically mentioned in the Holy Quran? For example, there is no mention of how many rakats are in the
Fajr prayers or in  Maghrib prayers in the Holy Quran, that information has come from the Holy Prophet. Similarly it was the Holy Prophet who announced the status of Imam Ali (as) as his successor.

The sixth Shia holy Imam, Jafar al-Sadiq (as) famously told his companions:
 "The Quran says to pray Fajr salah but it is the Prophet who tells us that Fajr is two rakats. The Quran tells us to pay Zakat, but it is the Prophet who tells us how to calculate it. In the same way, the Quran tells us to obey the "ulul-amr," the people charged with authority, and it is the Prophet who tells us that they are Ali ibn Abu Talib and the Ahlul-Bayt."
"O you who believe! obey Allah and obey the Apostle and those in authority from among you." (Surah 4, Verse 59)
That concludes section 3 about Imam Ali (as). I hope it has cleared some misconceptions and clarified where we Shias stand on Imam Ali (as). His status has been maligned and degraded by people who are either confused, ignorant or malicious. Not much can be done about the later, but inshallah some will realise why we revere Imam Ali (as) so much and why he is so important. However, I must reiterate that we do not elevate him above the status of  the Holy Prophet. Next time I hope to discuss some questions about the Ahlul-Bayt in general.