Is Your Shia Friend Asking You Questions?

Replies to Questions by Shias and a review of their beliefs

Early Shia History and Divisions Part 1

Posted by answersforshiafriend on September 26, 2012

Even the standard shia sources admit that as a religious group, the Shia of Ali were an extremely small group.They were limited to four persons initially and many non shia scholars have even cast doubt on this number.

Much confusion has arisen due to the use of the  term shia to describe persons of very widely differing opinions.There has been a tendency to imagine that when someone from the early period is described as Shia, that means he held the same opinions and religious beliefs as a modern day shia. So to make things clear for understanding, two terms should be clear:

Political Shia ism:this indicated a belief that the members of the house of Hisham are the people most worthy of holding political authority in the Islamic community,but no belief in any particular religious stations for this family(divine appointement of imams and their infallibility etc i.e. the modern shia concept of Immamat)

Religious Shia ism: this indicates a belief that particular members of the house of Hashim are in receipt of divine inspiration  and are thus the channel of God’s guidance to men whether or not they hold de facto political authority.

Although during the life time of Ali and Hasan (ra),there were many who could be numbered as political shia (and they were indeed the people who were Ahlus Sunnah – following the Quran and Sunnah), no religious shia existed at that time.

Even the case of Hujr ibn Adi al Kindi and his thirteen companions whom the shia count as the first of their martyrs were merely political shias and no proof exists to label them as religious shias.

The Sabaiyyah:

Abdullah ibn Saba al Himyari, a jew convert to Islam was the first to start  the tendency to ghuluww (extremism in matters of doctrine/creed). He was initially a political Shia of Ali and during Uthman ra caliphate travelled from place to place agitating in Ali’s favour. However during Ali’s caliphate he was banished by Ali ra because he said to Ali (ra) thou art god and Ali also burned some of his followers.[ al Kashshi, Rijjal, p.48 – Shia Source]

After the assasination of Ali ibn Abi Talib, Abdullah ibn Saba was the first one to have stated that Ali had not died at all and that he was alive in the clouds and would return to earth to fill the earth with justice [ibn Hazam] Thus the Sabaiyyah were the first group of extremist religious shias who were  Waqifa/Waqifiyyah (those who hesitate) this term is applied to any group who deny or hesitate over the death of a particular imam and therefore stop at that imam and refuse to recognize any  other imam.  The Sabaiyyah were the waqifiyyah who stopped at Ali. The the modern day shias stopped at the 12 Imam al Mahdi. However there are many other shias groups who stopped at various different Imams and will be discussed in another post. (See Zaidi Shias)

The Sabaiyyah were the first to introduce the concept of Ghaybah – Occultation which the modern day shia believes for their 12th Imam and they were the first to believe in the concept of Raja (return of the dead back to this dunya)[ibn Hazm;Maqrizi, Kitab al Mawaiz] which is also believed by modern day Shia.

Thus Abdullah bin Saba and his followers were the first real religious shias, however they went one step ahead and claimed that Ali was God.  Where as a modern day shia does not claim Ali to be god but does indeed commits shirk by giving many divine attributes to their imams (see Qualities of Imams as described in Al Kafi)

Shias nowadays deny the existence of Abdullah bin Saba because of the embarassment caused to the shias linking their main beliefs to a jew! Read Abdullah bin Saba Fact or Fiction for proof of his existence from Shia Sources.

It was only after the martyrdom of Al Husayn ra that the first unequivocally religious manifestation of the Shia movement appeared.They were the Tawwabun (the penitents)

Source: The History of Shii Islam by Moojan Momen, pg 64]

[to be continued]pg 64

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