Saturday, August 21, 2010

Zaydism and 12 Imamer discussion translated to English

This post has been moved to


  1. Thank you for your prayers!

    The text is available in pdf format for download at
    Please excuse any raunchy ads! It's a free file sharing site.

    Links to downloads of our other works can be found at:



  2. Zaida,

    I don't know if you saw, but in another place I offered to send you a book that has a translation of the early Imamite scholar ibn Qiba writing during the time of the minor occultation in response to criticisms of the Zaidis. I can in a couple weeks mail it to you if you will send it back when you are done. I think that the rest of the book will be of interest to you too and show you a different picture of ithna ashari shi'ism than you may be used to seeing. Btw, Amir-Husayn is the name of the young boy who is the child of a dear friend in Tehran. He was just a baby when I was last in Iran.

  3. I hope we are not misconstrued. Our purpose is not to bash 12ers or Sunnis. Rather, we want to make a clear distinction between us. In this age of supposed “unity” and diminishing differences, it is not considered fashionable to highlight distinctions. However, I think that by showing these differences, we are able to get a better appreciation of other views rather than trying to deemphasise them in fear of stirring fitna. It is also by this that we are able to correct our own misconceptions based upon this conscience obliviousness.
    I remember vividly hearing a 12er speaker mention to the congregation that the Zaydis are “Mu’tazili in aqida and Hanifi in fiqh.” I said to myself: “How can this be when the Muta’zilites do not believe in the wilaya of Ali, and Hanifis do not say the Basmala aloud or “Hayya ala khayr al-amal” in their adhan and iqama?!” To me, it was either a deliberate attempt or accidental slip to obfuscate and misrepresent the Zaydi madhhab. Had there been a forum where this speaker had the opportunity to hear a Zaydi explain their different views, maybe it wouldn’t have happened.
    It is also by our differences that we are able to understand the complexities of scholastic development over the centuries. For example, in the book Da’im al-Islam by Qadi an-Nu’man (a medieval Isma’ili Fatimid jurist from Africa), there are numerous passages that are almost verbatim from the Zaydi book of fiqh Tajrid al-Imamayn. The only difference is that in the Da’im it is narrated on the authority of Imam as-Sadiq (as) whereas in the Tajrid, it is narrated on the authority of Imams al-Rassi (as) and al-Hadi (as). This shows a sense of continuity despite different madhahib and place.

  4. BTW, I would like to see the book that Br. Devin mentioned.

  5. A challenge to the 12rs is that if Shaykh Saduq their major scholar believed Prophet Isa (as) is dead why is binding on non-12rs to believe in the existence of the 12th imam ?

  6. Also, it is absolutely ridiculous for the 12rs to accuse the Zaydis of borrowing material from the Mutazillah. If you look at history the same accusation is placed at their esteemed scholar Shaykh Mufid, since he studied under the Mutazillah Scholar Abu'l-Qasim al-Ka'bi al-Balkhi(ra). Therefore, the same accusations is placed against the 12rs too.

  7. Here is Imam Al Asi's challenge toward the 12rs on muta.

    Imam Al Asi says There's an ayat in the Qur'an that I have the impression is avoided by these 12r Shias scholars who advocate for mut'ah. The ayat says: "Muhsineena ghayra musafiheena wala muttakhithee akhdanin."

    5:5: muhsineena ghayra musafiheena wala muttakhithee akhdanin

    The word khadan, the plural is akhdan, is one of these words that doesn't figure into a concentration of thought by 12r Shia scholars. I would invite them to take a closer look at this ayat."

    This day are (all) things good and pure made lawful unto you. The food of the People of the Book is lawful unto you and yours is lawful unto them. (Lawful unto you in marriage) are (not only) chaste women who are believers, but chaste women among the People of the Book, revealed before your time,- when ye give them their due dowers, and desire chastity, not lewdness, nor secret intrigues if any one rejects faith, fruitless is his work, and in the Hereafter he will be in the ranks of those who have lost (all spiritual good). (Al Quran 5:5)

    Refer to these words
    desire chastity- not lewdness nor secret intrigues
    In the 12rs school muta includes lewdness and secret intrigues.

    4:25: muhsanatin ghayra masafihatin wala muttakhithati akhdanin
    4:25 Wed them with the leave of their owners, and give them their dowers, according to what is reasonable: They should be chaste, not lustful, nor taking paramours.

    Again the condition
    They should be chaste- not lustful or taking paramours.
    Muta of the 12rs again allows you have sex with women who are lustful and allows you have relation based on infatuations.
    So far the 12rs have only replied by throwing back the ahadith where some sahaba said it was halaal. However, they failed to show a verse from the Quran where it fits their laws of muta.

    1. See Surah 4:24. Ayat revealed two years after the battle of Khaybar. What does istimta' mean?

  8. To Devin: If it's a book about Imamate I'm not interested...What I am really looking for is a book which states the 12 Imamer position on the main theological issues where Zaidis differ from Sunnis. I have presented a comparison, in earlier posts, between our view and the sunnis on these ponts: 1. Divine justice (adl)/ free will versus jabr (compulsion), ash'ari (kasb/acquisition), and maturidi (hovering indecisively between adl and kasb)
    2. ta'wil (metaphorical interpretation of attributes and qur'anic verses) 3. the Zaidi halfway position between khawaarijism and murjism (which the sunnis have adopted) 4. Enjoining right and forbidding wrong (political activism or quietism?)
    When I get answers on these (still waiting for shia-chat brothers to give answers) I'll be able to write a post comparing zaidi and 12er theological tenets. See the section on aqeedah (iqdu thamin) at for more details of Zaidi theological position.

  9. Sister Zaydia
    Here is an articles compares how the 12rs differ from the Ashariyah and the Mutazilla.

  10. Zaida,

    The book is in two parts. The first part of the book is basically a historical study of the Imamite Shia leading up to and then into the occultation of the twelfth imam. One of the interesting things about this time period is how there was a strong group of Shia at this time who were much more theologically moderate than the majority of Shia today. The second part is some letters the early moderate Imamite scholar Abu Jaf'ar ibn Qiba al-Razi wrote in reply to a mutazilitie, a follower of Ja'far ibn 'Ali, and a Zaydi in separate letters discussing their differences. You suggested I scan it, but I do not own a scanner and the letter to the Zaydi scholar is about 40 pages, which is certainly beyond fair usage. If you just want to know the position of modern ithna ashari Shia on the issues you mentioned I would just get the book "Doctrines of Shi'i Islam" by Ja'far Sobhani. The Iranian print is very cheap and I think the book is pretty non-controversial. If you have specific questions on the issues you raised I might be of assistance as well. Personally however I think there is a lot more to ithna ashari Shiism than one particular manifestation of it.

    Imam Rassi, the book I am talking about is Hossein Modarressi's "Crisis and Consolidation in the Formative Period of Shi'ite Islam". If it is not available I can mail it to you, but I would ask that you send it back when you are done with it as it is currently out of print and copies are very hard to find.

  11. Also here is series of lectures where the 12r Shia Scholar compares the 12rs vs the Ashaari and Mutazilla.

  12. Thanks everyone, I will look into it. Can we limit the debates to those between Zaidis and Sunnis, and those between Zaidis and 12 Imamers? The issues being debated between sunnis and 12ers are already given lots of coverage on Shiachat.
    e.g. we don't need to discuss mut'aa until/unless a 12er wants to debate it with a zaidi.

  13. Ok, a small section from Ibn al-Qiba on enjoining good and forbidding evil:

    His sole purpose is to blame the Imamites on the basis that they do not consider the holy struggle and enjoining the good and forbidding the evil [as obligatory]. But he is wrong because we do consider these [as obligatory] as far as one can...

    It will be said to the author: Do you know among the truthful Imams anyone more excellent than the Commander of the Faithful, peace be upon him? His answer will be no. Then it will be said to him: Do you know of any reprehensible thing, after polytheism and disbelief, that is more evil and grave than what the people at Saqifa did? His answer will be no. Then it will be said to him: Do you know more about enjoining the good and forbidding the evil and holy struggle or does the Commander of the Faithful, so it will be said to him: so what was in his mind that he did not fight those people? If he gives any kind of excuse, it will be said to him: So accept a similar excuse from the Imamites, for everyone knows that today falsehood is stronger than it was in those days and the the supporters of Satan are more. Do not try to frighten us with the holy struggle and mention it, for God, the Exalted, only imposed it with preconditions that, if you knew them, would cut short your speech and curtail your book."

    The author has another section where he argues based on the actions of Imam Hasan who had an army and still negotiated with Mu'awiya while the Imamites only have peaceful people who know nothing about warfare. Basically he is arguing that the precedent of the Imams is that we enjoin the good and forbid the evil as much as we are able to, but do not throw ourselves into our own destruction by fighting those who are much more powerful than ourselves.

  14. Bismillah al-Rahman Al-Raheem

    allahumma Sali ala muhamad Wa aali Muhammad

    i think the main criticism of zaydis against Ithna Asharis are on the verse of jihad ,i.e. allah prefers the mujahedin above those who are sitting in their homes.the same verse defines this jihad as '''bi amwalihim wa anfusihim''i..e with their wealth and Selves and no mention of killing . with this in mind many of the zaydi attacks against ithna asharis can be stopped.