Monday, June 28, 2010

Western converts and Zaidism

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How to pray the Zaidi way

This post is for Sunnis and 12er Shi-ites who would like to know how to pray the Zaidi way. See "How to become a Zaidi" post, click on comments. Prayer info is supplied by Brother Aws of Arabia.
Or, for a detailed collection of narrations about salaat and wudhu, compiled by a Zaidi scholar, go to
This is our sister blog where we present English translations of Zaidi books.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Zaidis judge ahadith by the Qur'an, not the other way around

According to a Zaidi brother/scholar from Arabia, the Zaidi scholars only accept ahadith (i.e. reported sayings of the Prophet Muhammad s.a.w.) which are compatible with the Holy Qur'an. He writes:

"Regarding the ahadith (reported sayings) of the prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.) their authenticity is to be judged by comparing them with the principals laid down in the Holy Qur’an, and any reported sayings of the Prophet which contradict with the Qur’an in any way are invalid." (Brother Owais).

In this regard, there is agreement between the Zaidis and the 12 Imamers, according to the following quote from their book "Tathkira bi Usool al Fiqh":
“And the intellects permit that the Book may be abrogated by the Book, and the Sunna by the Sunna, and the Sunna by the Book, however the tradition has brought that Allah ta`ala does not abrogate His speech by (anything) other than His speech with His saying "What we abrogate of a verse or cause to be forgotten We bring a better than it or its like". (2:106) So we know that the Book is not abrogated by the Sunna, and we permit what is other than that of what we have mentioned.”
This may sound obvious to anyone with reason, however Sunni math-habs try to reconcile the Qur'an with their ahadith (refusing to accept that any of their ahadith could be erroneous), instead of reconciling the ahadith with the message of the Qur'an.
To read more, click on comments....

Thursday, June 24, 2010

How to become a Zaidi

This link has good advice in English on how to become a Zaidi:

Come on Sunni and Shi'a converts to Islam, let's all unite under one banner, the centre unity math-hab of Zaidism! What Muslims need is unity!
Imam Zaid bin Ali bin al Hussain said:
"Muslims are not brothers when they accuse each other and kill each other."
But only a few Muslims (the Zaidis) listened to him.
The Shi-ites didn't support him because he refused to make accusations against Abu Bakr, Umar and Uthman. The non Shi-ites didn't support him because they had accepted the corrupt leader of the time.
Sunnis: Why co-operate with corrupt leaders? Look where it has got you!
12er Shi-ites: Why persist with the myth of the hidden Imam? (Muslims usually convert to Islam because they cannot accept that God has a son. It doesn't make sense to them. A hidden imam doesn't make sense to new muslims either!)
Sunnis and 12 Shi-ites: It is your duty to stop fighting and reach a compromise, that means meeting half way. Zaidism is the half-way point. Hope to see you there.
Read more: To find out how to pray the Zaidi way, click on comments (comment 6 and 7)

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

monarchy or imamate?

This link describes the monarchy Yemen had from 1926 till 1962. Do Zaidis today want a return to a Hashemite monarchy like in Jordan and Morocco, where leadership is passed from father to son, or an Islamic Imamate, where leaders are selected based on religious knowledge? I am just curious, not trying to promote either alternative.

The next link shows a list of the Imams of Yemen from 898 to 1962. Interestingly, the Imamate was not always passed from father to son. It would be interesting to know what criteria was used to select the new imam when it was not passed to a son.

Here is a link about the Hashemite leader of Jordan, i.e. a descendant of Hassan bin Ali, and a promoter of peace. His wife Rania is an inspiration to all women. Their Hashemite parliamentary monarchy is an example of what Hashemite leaders can achieve. May Allah continue to bless their Hashemite Kingdom.

You can learn more about Queen Rania's initiatives at this site:

Read about the Hashemite Kingdom in Morocco at this site:

See page 24 about the leadership of King Muhammad VI.

I'm not saying that these leaders are Zaidi, my point it that these countries with Hashemite leaders are peaceful stable countries, which compare favourably with other Muslim countries controlled by non Hashemites.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Zaidi theology allows metaphorical interpretations of the Quran

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Abu Hanifah and Malik's view on Hashemite leadership

According to the following website, Abu Hanifah gave financial support to Imam Zaid bin Ali bin al Hussein for his struggle against the Khalif Mansur, and called on others to join his rebellion:

Also, according to the historian Watt in his book "The History of Islamic Theology" (p.92), he supported two other Hashemite leaders, Muhammad Nafs Zakiyyah and his brother Ibrahim, in their attempts to get the leadership from Mansur, and because of this, Abu Hanifah was imprisoned by Mansur and then poisoned, causing his death.
According to the following site, he was even tortiured for supporting the Hashemites:

According to the Preface of "Al Muwatta" of Imam Malik (written by Mazheruddin Siddiiq), Imam Malik was "flogged in public until he bled white" by the governmental authority of Mansur, because he issued a fatwa that the khalifate should go to Muhammad Nafs Zakiyyah. He still refused to bow to the wishes of the rulers, and never recognized the legitimacy of the non Hashemite government. It is perhaps for this reason that the Hashemite Kingdom of Morocco (which is Maliki) continues to this day.

Funny how most Sunnis get upset and call you a Shi-ite if you say Hashemites should be our leaders, even though their Imams had that same view.

zaidi leaders

Here are the names of some Zaidi clerics, political leaders and princes I managed to dig up, also links to the websites where I found them:

1. Sheikh Ibrahim Ibn Muhammad Al Wazir, from Yemen, who represented Zaidis at the 2005 International Islamic Conference, hosted by King Abdullah of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.

2. Sheikh Muhammad bin Muhammad al Mansour, born 1917, Yemeni, Imam of the Zaidis according to this list of the top 50 most influential Muslims in the world (he is ranked 26th with 10 million followers)

3. Abdul Malek Al Houthi, a leader of the al Houthi insurgency in Sa'ada, Yemen

4. Ageel bin Muhammad Badr, son of the former (deposed) King Muhammad Badr of Yemen, living in United Kingdom, listed by royalist website as next in line to the throne.

Apologies if I have left anyone off.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

what is the zaidi position on the burqa?

The following article would suggest that the widespread use of the burqa in Yemen these days is a salafi inspired phenonomen (perhaps encouraged by the ikhwanis as well?). ....

The niqab, with its unrelenting blackness broken only by a narrow slit for the eyes, has become a symbol for the lack of women’s rights in the Islamic world, and in Yemen, it has become a point of contention between conservative sheiks and Yemeni politicians on the one hand, and westernized Yemenis and Yemeni women’s rights activists on the other.

“I am a Muslim. I pray, I fast, I follow what is in the Koran,” said Ramzia Aleryani, head of the Yemeni Women’s Union in Sana. “[The niqab] is not in the Koran. There is nothing Islamic about it — there is nothing in the Koran that says a woman must cover her face.”

Aleryani arms herself and her visitors with photocopied packets of Koranic passages and the prophet Muhammad’s sayings defending women’s rights. She says the niqab was imported to Yemen by Salafists, followers of an ultraconservative sect of Islam that originated in Saudi Arabia.

Thirty years ago, many Yemeni women wore traditional dresses or Western attire, and shared meals with men. The current vice governor of the southern port city of Aden said his mother used to walk around “in a miniskirt.”

To accept the niqab, Aleryani said, would be to accept many more often intolerant and regressive edicts.

“We are at war with the Salafists,” she said, unblinkingly. “It us versus them.”

Salafists and conservative political groups in Sana have in the last two decades gained an extraordinary amount of power in government and society. In the last few years, Salafists have threatened the Yemeni Women’s Union, left menacing phone messages for its leaders and published pamphlets decrying it as an anti-Muslim organization.

“Our women are cared for, respected and protected according to the Koran,” said Sheik Ali Werafi, a Salafist and a conservative member of parliament. “We cover them up to protect them. They have everything they need. The world comes to them. We do not need Western ideas imposed on our culture.”

(excerpt from “The Bridal Shower”, by Haley Sweetland Edwards, in the L.A. Times)

To read more on the burqa and hijab in Zaidism, see the July post "Zaidism and Women's Liberation"

zaidism under threat in yemen?

The following links about attacks on zaidi political leaders and zaidi schools in yemen, and the governments use of al qaeda fighters to supress zaidis, indicate that zaidism is under threat in yemen (the only country with a large zaidi population):

The Zaidis in the Sa’ada region of Yemen are embroiled in a 6 year war which threatens their very survival. The cease fire since February 2010 may not hold. The roads to the region are blocked so that journalists and supplies cannot pass through. It is a war that has been largely hidden from the outside world. The forces allied against Sa’ada Zaidis include the government of Abdullah Saheh, AQAP (Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula), the Salafis of Yemen, the Ikhwani group led by Sheikh Zindanee, and the Saudi government, including its airforce of flying wahhabis.

  1. The Yemeni government:

Although Yemeni President Abdullah Saleh’s family are originally Zaidi, he feels threatened by the Zaidis in Sa’ada region because they regard his government as illegitimate, as he is not a Hashemite. He knows that half of Yemen’s population are Zaidi and of these, most would therefore prefer a Hashemite leader over him (except perhaps for members of his own tribe, who he has given the important jobs to.) Saleh uses money and training from the U.S., that was meant to be for wiping out al Qaeda in Yemen, to suppress the Zaidi insurgency. The U.S. turns a blind eye to this. As well as massacring Zaidi civilians in the Sa’ada region, (a Yemeni journalist who recently uncovered a mass grave near Sa’ada is now spending 6 years in prison for reporting it) President Saleh is arranging to have Zaidi political leaders assassinated, so that people won’t be able to vote for them. The Zaidi’s political party in the so-called “democratic” government is the al Haq Party (i.e.the truth party). The recent attempt on the life of the al Haq party’s leader, by gunmen in government marked vehicles, is an example of this. The Yemeni government used, as an excuse to start military operations, the Zaidi’s fierce criticism of Israel and the U.S. (some Zaidis had begun chanting anti-Israel slogans in mosques after Friday prayers). However, considering that almost all Yemenis are anti Israel, including the Salafis whom the government encourages, this seems like a flimsy excuse. The Yemeni government also tried to convince foreign powers that Iran is behind the Zaidi insurgency. However, considering that there was once an autonomous Zaidi state in northern Iran, and the Iranians mercilessly wiped them out, it seems unlikely that Iran would encourage Zaidism in Yemen. Whether or not the Zaidis in Sa’ada were really trying to overthrow the government remains unclear, but it is a fact that Zaidis are committed to supporting Hashimite leaders who meet certain criteria, not leaders who are widely seen as being corrupt, like Saleh.

  1. AQAP:

Al Qaeda fighters who’ve been kicked out of other countries including Saudi Arabia have come to Yemen with their training, weapons and Saudi dollars. Abdullah Saleh is so desperate to keep the Zaidi insurgency under control that he even employs AlQaeda militias to fight alongside his troops against the Zaidis. The alQaeda are happy to co-operate, because they class Zaidis as unbelievers, and want to spread Salafism throughout Yemen without having to debate against Zaidi clerics.

  1. The Salafis of Yemen.

Salafis who returned from Afghanistan and set up schools and colleges in the Zaidi region, and then lobbied to have the Zaidi schools and colleges closed down, have recently taken up arms against the Zaidis alongside the recently arrived al Qaeda militias. Salafism has spread quickly throughout Yemen since the Afghan jihad, with the funding of the Saudis and the assistance of the Ikhwani group. The Zaidis have taken a strong stand against Salafism. Even though Zaidis and Salafis are united on the issue of anti-Zionism/anti-U.S. support of Israel, they are diametrically opposed on theological issues. The Salafis believe, among other bizarre things, that Allah is separate to and above his creation, that He literally “descends” (yanzilu), and that he literally has body parts among His attributes, including shins and feet, and furniture, including a throne and footstool. They dispute the free will message of the Quran, promoting instead a view of exaggerated pre-determinism in human deeds. Even orthodox Hanafi sunnis, who believe, like Zaidis, that “Allah has no body or mass (jism), no substance (jawhar), no width (ard) and no boundary or limit” (in the words of Abu Hanifa), find many of the Salafi fundamentalist theological views unacceptable. Salafi scholars (who are really Hanbali scholars) like Ahmed ibn Hanbal and Ibn Taimiya, were jailed by the Sunni leaders during their lifetimes for propagating their bizarre views. These days in Yemen it is the Zaidis who are being jailed for promoting reason and rationalism in Islam.

  1. The Ikhwanis:

Sheikh Zindanee is a very influential sheikh in Yemen who gets a lot of publicity because of this red beard (it’s just henna) and his free of charge “university” where salafi and alqaeda converts go to learn Arabic and meet jihaadis. Zindanee regards Zaidis as the same as 12er Shi-ites, i.e. outside Islam. He and his Islah party are very close to Saleh, who needs them because nobody else likes him (apart from his own tribe). Zindanee makes public announcements supporting the government’s military operations in Sa’ada, as well as supporting child marriage and other backward practices in Yemen. The red beard does the trick, and people believe whatever he says on TV. There doesn’t seem to be any difference between his version of Islam and those of the salafi/wahhabis. The only difference is that he and his party take part in the elections while Salafis plot behind closed doors. Next door to Zindanee's Al Iman University is an army training camp run by the President's half brother who happens to be, you guessed it, a Wahhabi sympathizer who used to recruit jihaadis for Afghanistan, and now co-ordinates the offensive against Zaidis. The land for the university was given to Sheikh Zindanee by the President. All very convenient. see this link for more details:

  1. The Saudi government:

There was a time when the Saudis supported the Hashemite Zaidi royal family against the Egyptian backed republicans (in the 1960’s) but then they switched sides, and as a result the Zaidi Imam (Muhammad Badr) was forced to flee to the U.K. For some reason, the Saudis preferred communists over Zaidis (perhaps because there are millions of Zaidis living in Arabia who would rather see a Hashemite family as custodians of the ka’bah than the Saudi family?) Ever since then, the Saudis have supported the republic and encouraged Salafism by funding Salafi schools and colleges in Yemen. Nowadays they are happy to provide military air power to President Saleh, using the excuse that Zaidi militias have crossed their border. Zaidis say they are being attacked from acroos the saudi border by the alqaeda fighters who come and go across the border freely.

It is difficult to get the full story because journalists are not allowed in. See Jane Novak's web- site "Armies of Liberation" for the latest developments on Sa'ada.

One Zaidi summed up their position two years in these words:

"President Saleh has been trying to implant by force the Wahhabi school of thought in Zaidi areas.... We are fighting a defensive war against a dictatorship, not republicanism. We also demand substantial autonomy in the governorate." (from Jane Novak's site in 2008)


I'm starting this blog so that muslims of the Zaidi school of thought can share articles, and so that others can learn about Zaidism.
The Zaidi school of thought represents a middle ground between traditional sunnism and 12 imamer shi-itism.
Zaidis believe that any descendant of the Prophet can be the imam, as long as they meet certain criteria. They reject the notion of the "hidden imam".
Theologically, Zaidism is a rationalist school of thought, it adheres to the rationalist doctrine known as mu'tazili. This doctrine is opposed to the wahabbi/salafi tendencies of (a) anthropomorphism in Qur'an interpretation, and (b) fatalism in the free will debate. The Qur'an interpreter Zamakhshari is an example of a mu'tazili scholar.
The Zaidi school flourished in Yemen for 1,000 years. It was begun there by Imam al Haadi, a descendant of Hassan bin Ali. Before that, it originated in Arabia with Zaid bin Ali bin Hussain bin Ali, one of the teachers of Abu Hanifa.

To read "A Quick Introduction to Zaidiya" (Zaidiya is the Arabic word for Zaidism) written by a Zaidi, click on the following link:!/pages/Zaidi-Madhab-The-Ahl-Bayt-School-of-Thought/146119802069996