The religious beliefs and practices of Shi’ah distinguish and separate them from the entire Muslim ummah.  The Shi’ah have specific beliefs about the attributes of Allah, the attributes of Allah's messengers, the position and mission of Prophet Muhammad (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam), and the authenticity of the Qur'an.  They even have their own unique moral codes.  Unfortunately, because of their clannish nature and secretive doctrines, very few people have proper knowledge of their beliefs and practices.


Since its inception Shi’ism has been shrouded in mystery.  The initial preaching and propagation of Shi’ism was done only through word of mouth.  None of the twelve Shi’ah imams left any documentary evidence of their teachings.  It is strange that the Shi’ah claim to follow Ja'fari fiqh when, in fact, Imam Ja'far (may Allah be pleased with him) did not leave any evidence of having compiled fiqh rulings.  And later, when the Shi’ah did start writing about their beliefs, such writings were meant only for Shi’ah – the Sunnis had no access to them.  In these writings, sayings attributed to the twelve imams are classified as "Hadith," thus eliminating any differentiation between them and the sayings of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam).


Contrary to universal teachings of monotheistic religion, the Shi'ah doctrine of Taqiyyah teaches its followers to conceal their faith and to hide their beliefs.  The following two so-called "hadiths," said to have been narrated by the sixth Shi'ah imam, Ja'far as-Saadiq, clearly elaborate this point:

"One who exposes something from our religion is like one who intentionally kills us."  (Usool-e-Kafi page 88).

"You belong to a religion that whoever conceals it - Allah will honor him; whoever reveals it - Allah will disgrace and  humiliate him."  (Usool-e-Kafi page 522).


Additionally, the practice of Taqiyyah encourages Shi’ah to put up a hypocritical front and act in such a way that others will never be exposed to real Shi’ism.  It even allows them to lie when the intention is to conceal their religion from non-Shi’ah.  The following Shi’ah narration testifies clearly to this effect:


Imam Ja'far as-Saadiq said:  "Associate with your opponents outwardly and oppose them inwardly."  (Usool-e-Kafi page 244).


Zaraarah narrated: "I asked a certain question of Imam al-Baqir, and he gave me its answer.  Another person then asked the same question, and the imam gave him a different answer.  Later, a third person asked the same question, but the imam’s answer that time was different than the previous two answers.  I then asked him, '0 son of the Messenger, the two persons who just came here to ask you questions were from Iraq and were Shi’ah, yet you gave them contradictory  answers.'    The imam then answered, '0 Zaraarah, this is good for me as well as for you, and this will help us survive and prosper."  (Usool-e-Kafi page 37).


Because of this doctrine neither the Muslim ummah nor western scholars have had much genuine and reliable knowledge about Shi'ah beliefs and practices until fairly recently.  Many of the declared Shi’ah beliefs revolve around the concept of imamate, the superiority of Hazrath 'Ali (Radiyallahu Anhu), and the so-called love for the Prophet's family members.  Their own love and respect for the Prophet's family, including the noble Hazrath 'Ali, has led a number of Sunnis to overlook major aspects of their beliefs and accept the Shi’ah as an integral part of the Muslim ummah.


The fact remains, however, that under the pretense of reverence for the Prophet's family members, the Shi’ah have literally evolved an entirely new religion. They have grossly distorted the teachings of the Holy Qur'an, and completely rejected the sanctity of the authentic Sunnah. In elevating the sayings of their imams to the rank of the Prophet's sayings, they have classified them as Hadith.  For all practical purposes they reject the authentic sayings of our beloved Prophet and base their religion on the so-called hadiths attributed to their imams.  Hence, they have rejected one of the most fundamental principles of Islam, which is that Islamic law can be derived only from the Qur’an and the Sunnah of the Prophet (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam).


Shi’ah scholars are not consistent in their stated faith and beliefs.  Consequently, Shi’ism has become subdivided into numerous sub-sects, each having its own imam, whose preaching and personal attributes are often diagonally opposed to each other.  The dominant Shi’ah sect, which believes that there was a total of twelve imams, is known as al-Ithna 'ashariyyah, meaning in Arabic, “twelvers”.


It is essential that Muslim sympathisers of the Shi'ah divest themselves of the notion that Shi’ism is part of Islam – that it is just as one of the other four Madhabs which constitute the Ahlus Sunnah. Shi’ism is not Islam nor is it a sect of Islam. The ostentatious religious calls of an Islamic hue emanating from Khomeini and his clergy do not make Shi’ism any closer to Islam than the religious and ‘Islamic’ calls and slogans of religions such as Qadianism. Like Qadianism, Shi’ism too believes in the extension and perpetuation of Nubuwwah (Prophethood) after Muhammad (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam). Although both religions (Qadianis and Shi’ism) overtly assert a belief in the finality of the Nubuwwah of Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam), they covertly believe by way of fallacious interpretation in the continuation of Nubuwwah.

Shi’ah religious literature abundantly clarifies the fact that Shi’ah believe in the continuation of Nubuwwah after Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam). The only cover presented by Shi’ism for this Kufr belief is a name, viz., Imam. Instead of calling the one they believe to be a Prophet or Nabi or Rasool, they describe him as an Imam, and instead of saying Nubuwwah they say Imamate. But, in terms of Shi’ah religion there is absolutely no difference between a Nabi and a Shi’ah Imam. In fact, Shi’ism propagates the superiority of an Imam over a Nabi. Hence, Khomeini declares:

“It is one of the essential beliefs of our Shi’ah school that no one can attain the spiritual status of the Imams, not even the cherubim or the prophets.” (Writings and Declarations of Imam Khomeini: Islam & Revolution). 

In the same book, Khomeini states:

“In fact, according to tradition that have been handed down to us, the Most Noble Messenger and the Imams existed before the creation of the world in the form of lights situated beneath the divine throne: They were superior to other men even in the sperm from which they grew and in their physical composition.”

“The Prophet himself said: We have states with God that are beyond the reach of the cherubim and the prophets.”

“It is part of our belief that the Imams too enjoy similar states …”

It is thus clear from the above excerpts that Shi’ism asserts the superiority of its Imams above the ranks of the other Ambiyaa (Alayhimus salaam). In fact, they even assert the superiority of Hazrat Ali (Radiyallahu Anhu) over Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam). Insha Allah, we will show from their writings that the Shi’ah priests believe that Hazrat Ali (Radiyallahu Anhu) is higher in rank than even Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam). In Volume1 of Al-Kafi, the work of the Shi’ah authority, al-Kulaini, the following appears on page 223:

“A man said to him (Abu Ja’far): ‘O son of Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam)! Has Ameerul Mu’mineen (Hazrat Ali) greater knowledge or some of the Ambiyaa?’ Abu Ja’far said: ‘Listen to what he says! Verily, I have explained to him that Allah has bestowed to Muhammad the knowledge of all the Ambiyaa and most assuredly He has bestowed all of it to Ameerul Mu’mineen. And he (the questioner) asks me if he (Hazrat Ali) has greater knowledge or some of the Ambiyaa.”

Al-Kafi is one of the most authoritative books in Shi'ah theology. Kulaini, the author, is regarded by the Shi’ah clergy to be one of their top ranking authorities. Thus, in the Shi’ah book, Shi’ahte Islam by the Shi’ah priest, Tabatabai, al-Kafi is praised in the following terms:

“The book of Kulaini known as Kafi is divided into three parts … it is the most trustworthy and celebrated work of Hadith known in the Shi’ahte world.”

From the aforementioned that Imamate is a continuation of Nubuwwah, there is no doubt. Their beliefs as propounded by their own authorities unequivocally assert total equality between Nubuwwah and Imamate, in fact, Imamate is even accepted to be superior to Nubuwwah by the Shi’ah religion. The Shi’ah book, ‘The faith of Shi’ah Islam’ states, ‘We believe that Imamate is one of the fundamentals of Islam and that man’s faith can never be complete without belief in it. It is wrong to imitate our fathers, family or teachers in this matter, even if we respect both, for it is just as necessary rationally to consider Imamate as it is to consider Tawheed and Nubuwwah.’

‘We believe that, just as it is necessary for Allah to send someone as a prophet, so it is also necessary for Him to appoint an Imam.’

‘The Imamate is therefore a continuation of a prophethood, and the reasoning which proves the former’s necessity is the same that which prove the latter’s. ‘We believe that, like the Prophet, an Imam must be infallible, that is to say incapable of making errors or doing wrong, either inwardly or outwardly …’

‘Their (i.e. the Shi’ah Imams) position in regard to Islam is the same as the prophet’s, and the reasoning which necessitates their infallibility is the same as that which necessitates the Prophet’s infallibility, and there is no difference between them in matters.’

There is no difference of opinion among the Shi’ah regarding their belief of the equality between Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) and the Imams of Shi’ism. The abovementioned statements testify to this claim. The same book, viz., ‘The Faith of Shi’ah Islam’, states:

‘We believe that the Imamate, like Prophethood, must be an appointment from Allah through His Messenger, or an appointed Imam. From this point of view, the Imamate is the same as the prophethood.’

No one should therefore labour under the misapprehension that Shi’ism believes in the Islamic concept of Finality of Nubuwwah. The “Qadianis claim to believe in the Finality of Nubuwwah, but their devious interpretation of this concept opens the way for them to accept Mirza Ghulam as a Nabi. In the same way, the Shi’ah believe in the continuation of Nubuwwah in spite of their claim to believe in the Finality of the Nubuwwah of Muhammad (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam). Each and every attribute, office, function and institution exclusive with Nubuwwah is asserted for the Imams by the Shi’ah. One who studies the religious literature of the Shi’ah will not fail to understand that on only this one basis of Imamate, the Shi’ah are not Muslims.

Rejection of a Nabi is Kufr. One who does not believe in a Nabi is a Kafir. This is the belief of Islam. But according to the Shi’ah religion, belief in Imamate is Fard just as Fard as it is to believe in Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam). According to Shi’ism, one who denies any of the Shi’ah Imams – one who does not accept any of the Shi’ah Imams – is a Kafir. Propounding this view, the Shi’ah authority, Kulaini, states in his ‘most trustworthy and celebrated work of Hadith’, Al-Kafi:

“We (i.e. the Imams) are those whose obedience Allah has made Fard… Whoever denies us is a Kafir.’

This belief in Shi’ism categorically indicates that the Shi’ah religion regards its Imams as Ambiyaa (Prophets).  All those who do not subscribe to the Shi’ah doctrine of Imamate are branded as Kafir by the Shi’ah religion. This is an indisputable fact in terms of Shi’ah theological writings. It is entirely another matter for Khomeini and the present Shi’ah clergy to ostensibly claim that they regard Sunnis as Muslims.  Such devious statements are based on the Shi’ah doctrine of Taqiyyah (holy hypocrisy) and stem from pernicious political motives.


Abdul Haq Abdul Qadir

Umhlanga Rocks, KZN, South Africa


References to quotations in this article is from the book:  SUNNI & SHIAH perspectives on Islam – 1998 by Dr. Ahmad Abdullah Salaamah, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.