Tuesday 31st of January 2023
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there is No Association between the Shī‘ism and the Ghulāt-3

When I was a Wahhābī, I used to think it was acceptable to call the Shī‘ahs by such designations as the Zoroastrians, Jews, or Gnostics.[1] But when I recognized my mistake I became confident that such names befit the Ghulāt. My perception of the error I had made at this particular stage, no doubt, played an important role in liberating me from the grip of the Wahhābī research methodology, and helping me follow the approach of the earlier and contemporary Suunīs—not so extensively of course. It was also effective in revising my opinion concerning the Shī‘ah, and authoritatively freed me from the trap I had fallen into, i.e. the mingling of the Shī‘ism with the Ghulāt.

There is no doubt that the environment where I had received my training was closely linked with the difficulty created for me. In San‘a, Yemen’s capital, I studied in a religious school affiliated to the Wahhābism. This school is responsible for printing and distributing books on the Shī‘ism. The authors of these books, who had all been trapped when identifying the Shī‘ism and the Ghulāt, had mingled the Shī‘ism with the extremist sects and attributed to the Shī‘ahs superstition and idolatry of all sorts. These books had, of course, left a great impression of the Shī‘ism on me.

The school felt satisfied with the books that similarly followed the Wahhābīs’ method of investigation, and issued no permission for other the Sunni books that pursued a different method in their search to know the Shī‘ah.

Some time later, I found a chance to study the works of the eminent Sunnī writers regarding the Shī‘ism and I was greatly surprised to find that their research procedure was fundamentally different from that of the Wahhābīs. They seemed to have noticed the erroneous mingling of the Shī‘ism with the extremists. These authors strongly criticized the Wahhābīs’ methods that saw no distinction between the Shī‘ism and the Ghulāt, and believed that what the Wahhābīs write concerning the Shī‘ism does not give the reader even the slightest hint of the realities or features of the Shī‘ah school of thought.

Professor Hāmid Hafnī, the contemporary Sunnī author and Head of the Department of Arabic Literature of the ‘Ayn-u Shams University, says, “I spent a long time studying the doctrinal pronouncements of the Imāms of the Ahl al-Bayt (‘a), in particular, and the Shī‘ah belief, in general, through the works of those who had criticized this school of thought. I did not, however, gain anything worthwhile to familiarize myself with this school of thought.”[2]

Such is the opinion of the distinguished Sunnīs who maintain that the Wahhābīs are unaware of the error they commit at “the stage of the Shī‘ah’s affinity”; naturally, they don’t keep the Shī‘ism and the extremists apart.

Anwar Jundī, a Sunnī Egyptian thinker, says, “It is right that a research worker separates the Shī‘ahs from the extremists, whom the Imāms (‘a) of the Shī‘ahs have severely criticized and about whose tricks they have given warnings.”[3]

Pointing to the same trouble, ‘Alī ‘Abd al-Wāhid Wāfī, another Egyptian scholar, says, “Many of our authors have mingled the Ja‘farī Shī‘ism with other Shī‘ah sects.” [4]

[1] Gnosticism, a mystical and philosophical school that flourished in the first two centuries C.E., maintains that it is possible to know God through esoteric knowledge. The author of this book may have meant Sufi sects.

[2] Murtadā al-Razawī, Fī Sabīl al-Wahdat al-Islāmiyyah, p. 45.

[3] Al-Islām wa Harikat al-Tārīkh, p. 421.

[4] Bayn al-Shī‘ah wa Ahl-e Sunnah, p. 11.

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