Question : How can the infallibility of the Imams (peace be upon them) be proven? Are there traditions in Sunni books which inform us about the Imams and their names? Is denial of the religious leadership of the Imams tantamount to disbelief?
Answer : Shia Muslims prove the infallibility of their Imams (peace be upon them) in various ways; some are logical, and others are from the Holy Quran and the traditions of the Prophet (peace be upon him and his holy progeny). The books of beliefs state these proofs clearly.
Many narrations from Sunni and Shia books of traditions mention that the Imams are twelve, without mentioning their names. Many narrations in the Shia books of traditions mentioned the names of the Imams (peace be upon them).
Whoever does not believe in any of the twelve Imams â€“ when the evidence is established to him â€“ will be punished on the Day of Judgment, but this does not take him outside Islam or to be considered as an infidel.
Question : Why did God create humans? Did he want to achieve his goal that humans should worship and love him willingly?
Answer : The Holy Quran states clearly the reason for creating humanity: "I created the jinn and humankind only that they might worship Me." (51:56)
Question : Are tawalli and tabarri considered as one of the fundamentals of the religion or branch issues in it?
Answer : They are considered as perfections to the beliefs of the true religion.
Question : If someone in his youth committed the sin of adultery and then repented and has thereafter not committed such sins, should he still expect punishment on the Day of Judgment?
Answer : Certain verses from the Quran and religious texts indicate that when a person sins and afterwards regrets what he has done and decides to stop committing such a sin, then almighty Allah will not punish him.
Question : What is the historical background of the Shia?
Answer : A: Shias are those who believe in the right of the Ahlulbait in the religious leadership after the Prophet (peace be upon him) because they believe that the latter ordered Muslims to follow the Ahlulbait and refer to them after his death. This idea was explained by many texts, one of them is the tradition of Al-Thaqalain in which the Prophet said: "I leave among you the two weighty things, the book of Allah and my progeny; as long as you are attached to them both, you will never be misguided". The said tradition is widely recognized in the Shia and Sunnis books of traditions. Similar to this is the tradition of Al-Ghadeer and other narrations as well.
A number of companions of the Prophet (peace be upon him) believed in this faith and defended it, like Salman, Abu Tharr, Ammar, Hudaifa and others.
This ideology remained in all different stages of Islamic history without any change.
Question : What is Wilayat-e-takweeniah?
Answer : In Quran and authentic narrations, we find that prophets and the guardians that came after them broke the usual natural laws, like when Jesus cured the blinds and the lepers and when the Guardian who succeeded Prophet Solomon brought the throne of Queen Belqees faster than the twinkling of an eye.
There is no doubt that similar acts took place by our Prophet and the Imams from his household (peace be upon them) as many authentic narrations indicate.
Question : What should be our belief towards the black stone of the Kaaba? We are told that it was brought down by angel Gabriel from heaven. How true is this? Some people say it is probably a meteorite. Kindly clear the issue.
Answer : We believe in it as the religious texts describe. It was narrated that it is a stone from heaven. Even if it was proven that it is a meteorite, such a thing does not oppose the unseen side of it as the texts indicate.
Question : I have some confusion in mind about Shirk (polytheism). What is Shirk and are there different kinds of it?
Answer : The belief that takes the person outside Islam is believing in a partner to the Almighty Creator in His creation, like believing in a god for goodness and another for evil etc. Another form of it is worshiping idols as Arabs used to do in the time of ignorance before Islam. The name of lesser Shirk is given to the person that does certain acts of worship to show people that he is a religious person and this is a major sin but does not take the person outside Islam.
Question : Why are the Zoroastrians people of the book?
Answer : Some narrations indicated that they used to have a godly message but was altered by misguided people.
Question : Are Druze and Alawites considered Muslims or not?
Answer : They do not usually declare their beliefs, but if they believe in Islam and in the two testimonies, then they are considered as Muslims. If they believe in the divinity of other than Allah, then they are non-Muslims.
Question : It is claimed by some that Imam Ali (peace be upon him) offered prayers in congregation led by Abu Bakr. Is this true?
Answer : We are not aware of a historical source that clearly indicates this, but offering the prayer behind Abu Bakr does not give legitimacy to his caliphate. Imam (peace be upon him) no doubt was forced to give the allegiance to Abu Bakr. He did so because those people were ready to kill whoever does not pay allegiance. They killed Saâ€™d bin Abadah because he did not agree with them although he left Medina and migrated to Syria and did not resist them. This clearly shows that they were willing to do anything in order to be in power. From this, one can conclude that Imam Ali (peace be upon him) was forced to get along with them. It is not far to consider that such prayers â€“ if it really happened - made them confident that the Imam (peace be upon him) was not acting against them.
Question : Some people are against the concept of intercession (waseelah). Kindly tell me in Quran which verse indicates waseelah for prayer to Allah.
Answer : This topic entails a detailed discussion, but in summary: Allah said: â€œAnd if, when they had wronged themselves, they had but come unto thee and asked forgiveness of Allah, and asked forgiveness of the messenger, they would have found Allah Forgiving, Mercifulâ€ (4:64). It is clear that intercession of the Prophet (peace be upon him and his progeny) is one of the reasons of mercy and forgiveness, and there is no evidence that this is limited to his life, especially with the traditions narrated from him that indicate that he replies to our salutations and greetings to him after his death; so just as salutations reach him after his death, so do our requests for his intercession.
Question : I want to know what is the authenticity status of the advice of Imam Ali (peace be upon him) mentioned in Letter 31 in Nahjul Balagha? Some people say that some part of the letter is from an unauthentic chain of narrators? Others say that the whole letter is unauthentic. What are your views regarding this?
Answer : The said letter is not different from the rest of the letters found in Nahjul Balagha. The doubt about the authenticity of the letter may come from the fact that this letter includes advises directed to Imam Hassan (peace be upon him) which raises the question about the need of the young Imam to such directions although he is infallible.
Apparently, the said doubt is not valid since this way of presenting the advice could be for the sake of reminding the person and repeatedly giving him the advice. The Quran used this way when Almighty Allah said: â€œAnd warn, for warning profits believers.â€ (51:55). Also it could be part of indirect guidance to all Muslims by directing the advice to Imam Hassan (peace be upon him). This way is also mentioned in the Holy book as well. Almighty Allah said: â€œAnd cry not unto any other god along with Allah. There is no Allah save Him. Everything will perish save His countenance. His is the command, and unto Him ye will be brought back.â€ (28:88). It is a given that a Prophet would not worship anyone but Almighty Allah.
Question : What is the philosophy of Infallibility? Is it true that the Shia believe that the Prophet and the Imams (peace be upon them) cannot make mistakes?
Answer : There is no dispute amongst the followers of the Ahlul-bait (peace be upon them) that the Prophets and the Imams are sinless, in such a way that they do not commit what opposes the religion. Our scholars have explained in their books of beliefs the evidences to prove this concept.
There is no doubt that the Prophet and the Imam are appointed by Almighty Allah. He has ordered people to follow them. So, if it is possible for them to commit sins, they might order people to do so as well and people have to follow them. So their orders would not be trusted to be from Almighty Allah, and He will not order us to follow somebody who can misguide us.
Similarly, they are to be taken by their followers as role models. If they were to commit sins, others will be encouraged to do the same.
Question : Why do the Shia make the five prayers times into three prayers times, by praying Dhuhr and Asr together and Maghrib and Isha together?
Answer : Shias did not make this up. The Prophet (peace be upon him and his holy progeny) joined between the Dhuhr and Asr prayers, and between Maghrib and Isha prayers when he was not traveling and when it was not raining â€“ i.e. without an excuse and not during special circumstances - as per the texts narrated in famous Sunni narration books.
Question : The Holy Prophet said that his intercession is for those who committed major sins. He also said that whoever does not believe in his intercession does not deserve it. But according to me, I do not want to expect intercession from anyone in this world, and that is an advantage, because if you do then you will commit sins and you might not repent for that because you think that Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him and his holy progeny) will intercede for me on the Day of Reckoning. So is it an obligation to believe and expect intercession from the holy Prophet and holy Imams and Fatima Al Zahra (peace be on them) on Day of Judgment?
Answer : Intercession means to seek from the prophets and divinely appointed holy leaders the mercy of Allah and His forgiveness. It is a Quranic concept confirmed by the teachings of the Prophet and the Ahlulbait (peace be upon them all). However, a righteous devotee is encouraged to avoid sins, and if they occur, to repent to Almighty Allah and return to Him asking forgiveness and mercy. At the same time, he should ask the Prophet and the Ahlulbait (peace be upon them) to intercede and ask the Almighty Allah to grant him His mercy and acceptance. There is no doubt that joining between repentance and the intercession is more secure to obtain salvation rather than relying on repentance alone.
Having said that, this does not mean that one should rely on intercession and commit sins as this leads to disregarding sins, which is one of the greatest sins that may disqualify the person from deserving intercession. Committing sins while belittling them leads to disregarding Allahâ€™s punishment and it is amongst the greatest sins. This might lead to losing the good end of this life and not dying as a believer, which is â€“ no doubt - one of the conditions of deserving intercession. There is a difference between the desire of getting the intercession and the hope that one gets it, on one hand, and depending on intercession and committing sins because of this dependence on the other hand. The former places the person far from committing sins, whereas the latter encourages the person to commit sins and may lose, at the end, the chance to get the intercession.
Question : Surah Baqarah, verse 62, states: â€œVerily those who believed, and those who are Jews, and the Christians, and the Sabeans â€“ whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day, and does good deeds, shall have their rewards from their Lord. They will have nothing to fear or to be grieved for. "
This verse clearly indicates that non-Muslims can enter Heaven and attain salvation in the Hereafter. A person who has been raised in remote and distant places cannot learn about Islam and its teachings, so how can he go to Hell? This will be against the justice of Allah Almighty.
Please could you address these issues.
Answer : There is no doubt that Almighty Allah, after He sent the Messenger and asked people to believe him and act upon the ruling of the religion, has established the evidences to prove the truth of the message, so He will reward those who obey and accept the call, and He will judge those who did not accept and did not have an excuse. As for those who had valid excuses for their non-acceptance, like the lack of available evidences or because of lack of sanity, Almighty Allah will judge them accordingly, since He â€œwrongeth not even of the weight of an antâ€ (4:40). However, we cannot determine those who are excused and those who are not, and one should search for the right religion. Allah Almighty knows the circumstances and the intentions of His slaves. We, as humans, are only aware of the apparent behavior of people.
The verse that you were referring to, that talks about the believers in previous religions, is interpreted in many religious texts to be referring to the believers of those religions before the emergence of Islam. Some narrations indicate that the subject of this verse are those like Salman the Persian and similar believers who believed in undistorted religions before Islam.
This is the very clear message from the verse, which is consistent with the teachings of the rest of the Quran. The interpretation that you have chosen is inconsistent with the message of the rest of the Quran.
Question : Many people around the world believe in reincarnation. What is the view of Islam on reincarnation?
Answer : There is no doubt that reincarnation is an invalid concept. The entity of the human being does not change after death. Almighty Allah resurrects him after his death in his original form and identity and he will be judged for his actions. Allah almighty said "And whoso doeth good an atoms weight will see it then, And whoso doeth ill an atoms weight will see it then." (Quran 99:7-8)
Question : Some books mention that Luqman wasnâ€™t really a Prophet. Is this true?
Answer : What is popularly known is that Luqman was granted wisdom and was not a prophet, as this is also mentioned in some narrations. And Allah knows best.
Question : Does a believer have to face Barzakh after death? Or can he get the intercession of Imam Ali (peace be upon him)?
Answer : It appears from the narrations that Almighty Allah may punish the sinner because of his sins in this life by subjecting him to several hardships that he faces, including poverty, illness and the like, in order to reduce the punishment after death. The sinner might also undergo suffering as a form of punishment after his death, in the stage of Barzakh. At the same time, he might be given the chance of obtaining the intercession of the Ahlulbait (peace be upon them). In some narrations, the Prophet and the Imams (peace be upon them) visit the believer when he is dying to ease the hardship of death and to give him the good tiding of Heaven. Mohammed bin Hanthala asked Imam Jaffer Al-Sadiq (peace be upon him) that some of the Shia companions stated that the best time for the believer to see the benefit of his belief in the Imamate of the Ahlulbait (peace be upon them) is when he is about to die. Is this true? The Imam (peace be upon him) replied: Yes.