• Abbas

The characteristics of a Shia (the follower of Ahlulbyt a.s)


Imam Ali (peace be upon him), used to listen well to the words of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). He used to obey the Holy Prophet Muhammad's (peace be upon him) instructions and, in all his actions, was perfectly submissive to them. Imam Ali (peace be upon him) always helped and assisted the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and struggled in the way of righteousness.

During the time of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), a group amongst the Muslims were friends of Imam Ali (peace be upon him) and, together with Imam Ali (peace be upon him), strove and struggled for the advancement of the "religion of Islam". These Muslims always used to take example from Imam Ali's (peace be upon him) speech, behavior, manners and morals, and, like Imam Ali (peace be upon him), they used to obey the instructions of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).

Our Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) used to speak to Imam Ali (peace be upon him) and that distinguished group in this fashion; "O Ali! You and your 'Shia' are the best people on the earth."

Also, sometimes when he (peace be upon him) saw Imam Ali (peace be upon him) with his friends, he would point to them and say, "This youth and his 'Shia' are the successful ones." This distinguished group, who really had conviction, was named by the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), as 'Shia or Shiite'.

So, from that very day, a Muslim who followed Imam Ali (peace be upon him) in behavior, speech, ethics, morals, and righteousness, was called a Shia (Shia means follower or friend).

We Shia believe in what our Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said, that, after the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), twelve Imams (Ithna Ashari), one after the other, have attained to leadership and Imamate. The first Imam is the Holy Imam Ali (peace be upon him) and the twelfth Imam is the Holy Imam al-Mahdi (peace be upon him).

And We made them leaders guiding (men) by Our Command and We sent them inspiration to do good deeds, to establish regular prayers and to practice regular charity; and they constantly served Us (and Us only). Holy Qur'an (21:73)

Shia Islam or Shiite Muslims

The term "Shia or Shiite" is an adjective used for Muslims who follow the Imams from the Family (Ahlul Bayt) of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). Sunni Muslims use it not for the reasons of sectarianism or for causing divisions amongst Muslims.

Shia or Shiite Muslims use it because the Holy Qur'an uses it, the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) used it, and the early Muslims used it - before words such as Sunni or Salafi ever came into existence.

"And most surely Abraham was among the Shia of him (i.e., Noah)" (Holy Qur'an 37:83)

(Notice that the word "Shia" is explicitly used, letter by letter, in the above verse.) In another verse, Holy Qur'an talks about the Shia of Moses (peace be upon him) versus the enemies of Moses (peace be upon him):

"And he (Moses) went into the city at a time when people (of the city) were not watching, so he found therein two men fighting, one being of his Shia and the other being his enemy, and the one who was of his Shia cried out to him for help against the one who was of his enemy..." (Holy Qur'an 28:15)

In the above verse of Holy Qur'an, one is named the Shia of Moses (peace be upon him) and the other one is named the enemy of Moses (peace be upon him), and the people at that time were either the Shia of Moses (peace be upon him) or the enemy of Moses (peace be upon him). Thus Shia is an official word used by Allah in Holy Qur'an for His high rank prophets as well as their followers.

If somebody calls himself a Shia, it is not due to any sectarianism, nor any innovation. It is because Holy Qur'an has used the phrase for some of His best servants.

Conversation of Imam Ali (peace be upon him) with Shias

On a certain evening Imam Ali (peace be upon him) was departing from the Mosque. The surroundings were bright due to the moonlight. Imam Ali (peace be upon him) saw behind him a group of people walking towards him. He enquired as to who they were? They said: "We are your Shias." Imam Ali (peace be upon him) looked at their faces carefully and said:

"Why is it that your faces do not exhibit any sign of you being a Shia?"

"Master, what are the signs of a Shia?"

"Their faces are pale due to excessive worship and the fear of Allah, their backs are bent due to prolonged prayers, too much fasting causes their abdomen to touch their backbones, their lips become dry be repeating endless invocations, and their hearts are filled with the fear of Allah."