Are the Shia (Rafidis) unbelievers?
I [GFH] had cited a passage of al-Tabari's life in which he had pronounced the
Rafidis to be unbelievers. The passage in question stated:
In one of his classes al-Tabari asked: "What is the status of one who
says: Abu Bakr and `Umar are not two Imams of guidance?" Ibn al-A`lam
replied: "He is an innovator." Al-Tabari said: "An innovator? Just an
innovator? Such a person is put to death! Whoever claims that Abu Bakr and
`Umar are not two Imams of guidance is definitely put to death!"1
1 In Ibn Hajar, Lisan al-Mizan (5:101).
A reader in soc.religion.islam reacted and wrote:
"Do you think you can intimidate us by quoting such statements into believing that Abu Bakr and Umar were appointed as successors to the Prophet by God Himself or something?"
If the Prophet says: "Take for your leaders
the two that come after me: Abu Bakr and `Umar" then yes, this is a divine
appointment to which the believers say: We hear and obey. I will discuss
this sahih hadith [elsewhere] insha Allah.
The purpose of these biographical notices is to give a glimpse of the life
and works of the pious imams of the past. If the respondent or others feel
intimidated by some of their contents then they have to ask themselves
where they stand if they do not stand with the likes of al-Tabari.
The "us" in the outburst above indicates that sadly the respondent
considers himself a Rafidi, which is to say he rejects the guidance of Ahl
al-Bayt imams such as Ja`far al-Sadiq and Zayd ibn `Ali - Allah be
well-pleased with them. For the definition of "rafidi" is none other than
those who reject such guidance. Al-Fayyumi in al-Misbah al-Munir under the
article r-f-d defined the Rafida as "one of the sects of the Shi`a of
Kufa, who rejected Zayd ibn `Ali - peace upon him - after he forbade them
to revile the Companions and refused to dissociate himself from the Two
Shaykhs, Abu Bakr and `Umar. Then the term was used for anyone in this
school that went to extremes and allowed attacking the Companions." See
also the chapters on Zayd ibn `Ali in al-Dhahabi's Siyar and other
Ibn `Asakir narrated in his Tabyin (p. 164-165) that the hadith master Ibn
Shahin al-Hanbali (d. 385) said: "Two righteous men have been afflicted
due to evil people: Ja`far ibn Muhammad and Ahmad ibn Hanbal." Ibn
al-Salah (d. 643) said: "Two imams have been afflicted because of their
followers although they are innocent of them: Ahmad ibn Hanbal was tried
with the anthropomorphists (al-mujassima), and Ja`far al-Sadiq with the
[Shi`i] Rejectionists (al-Rafida)." Quoted by Ibn al-Subki in his Qa`ida
(p. 43), also found in his Tabaqat al-Shafi`iyya al-Kubra (2:17).
There is a huge difference between those Shi`a who respect Ahl al-Bayt
_and_ the Companions beginning with Abu Bakr and `Umar, such as the Shi`i
narrators in Bukhari and Muslim whom the same respondent cites [in question 14],
and the likes of the Rawafid who have gone beyond all bounds. With the
Shi`a of old, Ahl al-Sunna have no quarrel. It is extremism of all kinds,
whether clothed in Shi`i or Sunni garb, that Ahl al-Sunna stand against.