History of Shi'ism from the Advent of Islam up to The End of Minor Occultation

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History of Shi'ism from the Advent of Islam up to The End of Minor Occultation
History of Shi'ism from the Advent of Islam up to The End of Minor Occultation.jpg
AuthorGhulam Husayn Muharrami

The book History of Shi'ism from the Advent of Islam up to The End of Minor Occultation helps us to guess what stages and pathways the Shi‘ah have treaded during the past fourteen centuries in different realms and spheres.

About the author[edit | edit source]

Ghulam-Husayn Muharrami (1347), is an Iranian researcher and writer in the field of Islamic sciences. He studied in Maragheh and Tabriz and entered the seminary in 1365. He went to the seminary in Qom and studied at the seminary level for six years after that, and after that he participated in foreign courses for 13 years. He has also studied astronomy for four years, and learned the principles of beliefs from Ayatollah Makarem Shirazi for two years.

About the book[edit | edit source]

This book written by Ghulam-Husayn Muharrami and translated into English by Mansoor L. Limba was published in WELAYAT PUBLICATIONS (1 January 2016).

This book, a relatively comprehensive, elegant and worthy glance at the historical trend of Shi‘ism, is a product of relentless efforts and studies of the diligent researcher, Hujjat al-Islam Shaykh Ghulam-Husayn Muharrami, and has many distinguishing merits compared to other similar works—whose number is unfortunately few.

Abstract of chapters[edit | edit source]

Part 1: A Cursory Glance at the References[edit | edit source]

As the author believes, he is not able to comprehensively study and analyze everything that is relevant to the history of Shi‘ism, but tries to cite the most important historical references and citations, and to present and analyze them concisely. Since there have been many books on history and books about the life account of the Infallibles {ma‘sumin} as well as books on hadiths and rijal, which are related to the history of Shi‘ism, he has divided the references dealing with the history of Shi‘ism into two:

  • special references and
  • general references

which he deals with in this part.

Part 2: The Manner of Emergence of the Shi‘ah[edit | edit source]

In this part the author examines the word “Shi‘ah” and the fact that from where it came into existence. Some writers regard Shi‘ism to have emerged on the day of Saqifah while others regard the same to be on the latter part of ‘Uthman ibn al-‘Affan’s caliphate. The third group believe that Shi‘ism came into being after the murder of ‘Uthman while the fourth group say that it has come into existence after the martyrdom of ‘Ali. The fifth group is of the opinion that Shi‘ism originated after the event in Karbala. Apart from the Shi‘ah ‘ulama’ as a whole, some Sunni scholars such as Muhammad Kird-‘Ali maintain that the root of emergence of Shi‘ism is during the lifetime of the Messenger of Allah and it was the Prophet who first applied the term “Shi‘ah” to the comrades of ‘Ali.

Part 3: The Periods of Historical Development of the Shi‘ah[edit | edit source]

This part examines the Shi‘ah during the period of the first four caliph. The period of the Umayyad caliphate was the most difficult time for the Shi‘ah, starting from 40 AH up to 132 AH. After the event of Saqifah, although pure Imams as the Shi‘ah, were cooperating with the caliphs of the time in line with the interests of Islam, most of them were deprived of administrative positions. All the caliphs, with the exception of ‘Umar ibn ‘Abd al-‘Aziz, were sworn enemies of the Shi‘ah, and the Shi‘ah-populated regions the bloodthirsty and cruel governors were ruling over. After the martyrdom of Imam al-Husayn, the Shi‘ah lost their key support and experienced intense fear and apprehension. Only a small number remained beside Imam al-Sajjad, but after the death of Yazid, this state of affairs changed.

Imam al-Sajjad’s period can be divided into two stages.

  • The first stage covered the instability of the Umayyad rule, the downfall of the Sufyanis (descendants of Abu Sufyan) and the ascendance to power of the Marwanis (descendants of Marwan ibn al-Hakam).
  • The second stage covered the stabilization of the rule of the Marwanis. Shi‘ism spread more during the ‘Abbasid period than during the ‘Umayyad period.

During that period, the Shi‘ah were spread in both the east and west of the vast Muslim territory. It had found its way among the statesmen, judges and military commanders. Finally, Shi‘ism reached the height of its growth and spread during the fourth century. It was during this period when the Zaydi and Isma‘ili states of the Buyids and Hamdanis were set up.

Part 4: The Shi‘ah and ‘Alawi Uprisings[edit | edit source]

In this part, the author examines the Shi‘ah uprisings and great impact of them on the spread of Shi‘ism, including the uprisings of the Shi‘ah begun with the movement of ‘Ashura’, The uprisings of the Tawwabun and that of Mukhtar that were obviously staged to take vengeance for the martyrdom of Imam al-Husayn. The sporadic uprisings were mostly without any prior planning, and were undertaken with one individual’s decision. They were usually staged as a form of reaction to the cruelties of the tyrant caliphs and rulers. None of the leaders of these uprisings, which ended in victory, were Alawites, and as to why most of the uprisings of the ‘Alawis ended in failure, one must seek the reasons behind this in the weakness of leadership and the lack of cohesion of the forces.

Part 5: The Geographical Expansion of Shi‘ism[edit | edit source]

In this part, we have information about demographic concentration of the Shi‘ah, the Shi‘ah-populated places during the second century hijri, and Shi‘ism among the different tribes.

  • The first center of Shi‘ism is Medina and the pioneering Shi‘ah used to live in this city.
  • The second Shi‘ah-concentrated region next to Medina was Yemen because the people embraced Islam through ‘Ali’s hand.

During the third century AH, Shi‘ism was extended in many regions in the Muslim territories and up to the end of the third century AH, Kufah, Qum, Samarra, and Nayshabur were regarded as the most important Shi‘ah-populated cities. Most of the supporters and Shi‘ah of the Commander of the Faithful were from the Qahtani and Yemeni tribes. Among the Yemeni tribes, the two tribes of Hamdan and Rabi‘ah were leading in Shi‘ism.

Part 6: The Rifts within Shi‘ism[edit | edit source]

There were major rifts within Shi‘ism during the first and second centuries AH, and at the end of the second century remarkable splits among the Shi‘ah had emerged. The most prominent Shi‘ah sects emerged during this time, and notable rifts within Shi‘ism had occurred after the end of the second century AH. As such, in contrast to Waqifiyyah, the Shi‘ah Imami who believed in the Imamate of Imam ar-Ridha (‘a) were called Qati‘ah and Ithna ‘Ashariyyah. No rift within Shi‘ism occurred during the time of Imam al-Hasan and Imam al-Husayn (‘a) on account of their towering station. Most of them were groups that eventually faded away with the death of their respective leaders and founders. But the sects that have appeared in the sociopolitical scenes are the Kaysaniyyah, Zaydiyyah and Isma‘iliyyah.

Part 7: The Intellectual Legacy of the Shi‘ah[edit | edit source]

In this part, the author surveys the works on hadith written by the Shi‘ah during the whole period of the presence of the pure Imams (‘a) in four categories that consist of four phases:

  • First category: Companions of the Commander of the Faithful, Imam al-Hasan and Imam al-Husayn.
  • Second category: Companions of Imam as-Sajjad and Imam al-Baqir.
  • Third category: Companions of Imam as-Sadiq.
  • Fourth category: Companions of Imam al-Kazim, Imam ar-Ridha, Imam al-Jawad, Imam al-Hadi, and Imam Hasan al-‘Askari.

After that, he explains a bit about the sciences of hadith, jurisprudence and scholastic theology that the Shi‘ah school has a particular disposition, keeping into account its fundamentals and principles in these fields. Then he points to the importance of writing in the sacred laws of Islam. With the receipt of the divine revelation, the need for recording it in writing was felt, and a number of scribes of the revelation were known. The Commander of the Faithful and a number of other companions of the Prophet had compiled some collections of the hadiths of the Prophet which were known together as Sahifah.. Shi‘ah up to the time of Imam Hasan al-‘Askari had written six thousand and six hundred books.

Part 8: The Role of the Shi‘ah Poets in the Spread of Shi‘ismPoetry in the past occupied a special place and apart from its literary dimension[edit | edit source]

It had been considered the most significant means of propaganda. After the event in Saqifah, the Shi‘ah made use of poetry in spreading their viewpoint concerning the Imamate, and the poets played a key role in strengthening and spreading Shi‘ism. The pure Imams who were completely aware of the use and influence of poetry appreciated and acknowledged the Shi‘ah poets satisfactorily. Meanwhile, on account of the impact of their words, the Shi‘ah poets had always been subjected to persecution and harassment by the hostile Umayyad and ‘Abbasid rulers.

The Shi‘ah poets had recited poetry in various arenas:

  • Argumentation: After the event of Saqifah, the truth-speaking Shi‘ah poets spoke out in defense of the Commander of the Faithful’s (‘a) right, among whom were the leading orators of the Banu Hashim such as ‘Abd Allah ibn Abi Sufyan ibn Harith ibn ‘Abd al-Muttalib and Mughayrah ibn Harith ibn ‘Abd al-Muttalib.
  • Confronting the Umayyad and ‘Abbasid poets: After ‘Uthman’s murder in 35 AH, the Umayyads used to recite poetry against the Commander of the Faithful (‘a). From then on, the Shi‘ah poets responded through poetry.
  • One of the most important areas about which the Shi‘ah poets have recited poetry was the elegy-recitation for the martyrs of the progeny of the Prophet. This area can be divided into two parts:
  • Elegies for Imam al-Husayn
  • Elegies for the martyrs among the descendants of the Prophet

Source[edit | edit source]