Chapter Six – Imamate and Taqwa

Ibn al Hashimi states:

The Quran

Islam came and destroyed the concept of hereditary rank. The Quran declares that people are created inherently equal and differ only based on their Taqwa(piety):

“Verily the most honored of you in the sight of Allah is he who is the most righteous of you.” (Quran, 49:13)
And then Allah says:

“…one soul shall not avail another” (Quran, 2:48)

And again:

“…one soul shall not avail another” (Quran, 2:123)

The Quran categorically states that no soul shall have an effect on another:

“…no soul benefits except from its own work, and none bears the burden of another” (Quran, 6:164)

And again, Allah repeats it “that no bearer of burden shall bear the burden of another–And that man shall have nothing but what he [himself] strives for” (Quran, 5:38-39)

As well as: “that every soul delivers itself to ruin by its ownacts” (Quran, 6:70)

The Hadith

The Prophet (s) declared that people were born inherently equal “except by piety and good action (Taqwa ). Indeed the best among you is the one with the best character (Taqwa ). Listen to me. Did I convey this to you properly?…Each one of you who is here must convey this to everyone not present.” (Excerpt from the Prophet’s Last Sermon as in Baihaqi)

The Prophet (s) said:

“There are indeed people who boast of their dead ancestors; but in the sight of Allah they are more contemptible than the black beetle that rolls a piece of dung with its nose. Behold, Allah has removed from you the arrogance of the Time of Jahiliyyah (Ignorance) with its boast of ancestral glories. Man is but an Allah-fearing believer or an unfortunate sinner. All people are the children of Adam, and Adam was created out of dust.” [At-Tirmidhi and Abu Dawud]

The Prophet (s) said further:

“Undoubtedly Allah has removed from you the pride of arrogance of the age of Jahiliyah (ignorance) and the glorification of ancestors. Now people are of two kinds. Either believers who are aware or transgressors who do wrong. You are all the children of Adam and Adam was made of clay… If they do not give this up (i.e. pride in ancestors) Allah will consider them lower than the lowly worm which pushes itself through Khara (dung).” [Abu Dawud and Tirmidhi]

The Shia are accusing the Prophet (s) of being a hypocrite; after all, how could the Prophet (s) praise and exalt his progeny and lineage whilst forbidding anyone else from glorifying their lineage?


Reply – Was Prophet Ibrahim (as) being ignorant for supplicating that Prophethood and Imamate remain in his lineage?

Notice how none of these references have anything to do with the doctrine of Imamah. It refers to not to have arrogance about your lineage. Arrogance is one thing, Imamate is another. The right of the Ahl’ul bayt (as) to rule over the Ummah is not based on some arrogance on the part of Muhammad (s). The creator who placed Nubuwwa in one family likewise placed Imamah in one family, and showed with the Imamate with special grace needed to lead the Ummah. If this is deemed arrogance then shall we conclude bigotry on the part of Ibrahim (as):

And remember that Abraham was tried by his Lord with certain commands, which he fulfilled: He said: “I will make thee an Imam to the Nations.” He pleaded: “And also (Imams) from my offspring!” He answered: “But My Promise is not within the reach of evil-doers.”

Ibrahim (as) was asking for Imamah to remain in his descendants, if this was an arrogant supplication disliked by the Creator why did He (swt) grant the supplication with this caveat? Rasulullah (s) praised and exalted his progeny BECAUSE Allah (swt) had bestowed the responsibility of leadership upon them. Rasulullah (s) by citing this favor and their excellence was providing a clear steer for the Ummah, where to turn to for assistance.

Taqwa as the litmus test for measuring people

Ibn al Hashimi states:

People should not be accorded special rights simply because they were born to the right womb. People should be judged on their Taqwa , not their birth. Bilal (r) was a slave, born to a slave woman, and today he is remembered as one of the noblest of Sahabah–despite his “lowly birth.” (He is also one of the few Sahabah that the Shia respect.) On the other hand, both Abu Jahl and Abu Lahab were from the same bloodline as the Prophet (s), and yet they are the two people who Allah has promised Hell-fire for them.

And to take it even one step further: today, there are descendants of Abu Jahl and Abu Lahab who are highly religious Muslims, and will Insha-Allah enter Paradise. We do not think their lineages will any way hamper their greatness. Such a thing would run contrary to the egalatarian spirit of the Quran. And what about the example of Prophet Nuh (as), in which his own progeny died as a Kaffir?

Reply One – This has nothing to do with Imamate

What does this doctrine have to do with Imamah? We have no dispute with this text. People will indeed be judged on their Taqwa not on their birth. When it comes to religious leadership then like Prophethood, Imamate is also divine and as such Allah (swt) appoints whoever he chooses, and in this instance he appointed those descendants from the Itrat (progeny) of Muhammad that he blessed with superior knowledge and infallibility.

Ibn al Hashimi ’s false assertion that birthright has no correlation to Imamate

Ibn al Hashimi states:

Allah did not select people to become leaders based on their birth but rather instead He chose from amongst the people those of best of character and those with the most Taqwa

Reply One – Allah (swt) designated divine leadership in one lineage

Prophets are Prophets from birth; they are not offered this post by Allah (swt) because they are the best of character and possess the greatest Taqwa . They possess these excellences because they are Prophets, so being selected as some reward doesn’t even come into the equation! As for selection due to one’s lineage, Prophets were selected through lineage, so birth right was a factor, if it wasn’t then Prophethood would not have passed through one lineage! If there are attempts to reject this notion, then what does Ibn Hashimi say to the accepted du’a of Ibrahim (as) that Imamate remain in his lineage thus making birth right a criterion for Imamate? This automatically means that Allah (swt) bestowed Imamate in one family, BUT then He (swt) placed a condition – that they do not commit injustice – we have already evidenced that all transgression if deemed as injustice in the eyes of Allah (swt) and the worship of Iblis. In this verse Allah (swt) does not state Imamah will go just to those that are pious amongst the descendants of Ibrahim, rather it will go to those that are no unjust. Exactly the same is the case with Imamate after Muhammad (s) – Allah (swt) appointed the 12 Imams from the descendants as the inheritors of the mission of Muhammad (s) – those that never committed any form of injustice because they were showered with infallibility.

Reply Two – The Fatwa of Umar prohibiting the entry of non Arabs in Madina proves that Imamate is based on Arab lineage not Taqwa

Immediately after the death the centre for political power was Madina. It was from here that the Khalifa ruled. Anyone with a desire to attain power would hence need to have some association with Madina. Ibn al Hashimi would of course like his Sunni readership to believe the caliphate was so fair (from the outset) that anyone wishing to attain power from whatever position in the social strata could work towards achieving that dream. The reality was very different. Imam Abdulrazaq al-San’ani records in his authority work Al-Musanaf, Volume 5 page 474:

عبدالرزاق عن معمر عن الزهري قال : كان عمر بن الخطاب لا يترك أحدا من العجم يدخل المدينة

Abdulrazaq – Mu’amar – Al-Zuhari said: ‘Umar bin al-Khatab didn’t allow any one of the non Arab to enter Madina.’

Abdulrazaq: Dahabi said: ‘Thiqah’ (Mizan al-Etidal, v2 p609), Ibn Hajar said: ‘Thiqah’ (Taqrib al-Tahdib, v1 p599). Mu’amar: Dahabi said: ‘Hujja’ (Tazkirat al-Hufaz, v1 p190), Ibn Hajar said: ‘Thiqah Thabt’ (Taqrib al-Tahdib, v2 p202). Al-Zuhari: Dahabi said: ‘Hujja’ (Mizan al-Etidal, v4 p40), Ibn Hajar said: ‘There is an agreement on his magnificence’ (Taqrib al-Tahdib, v2 p133).


When Umar had prohibited non Arabs from entering Madina not only did he deny them the right to perform pilgrims of the tomb of the Prophet (s) he also negated the right of all non Arabs from having a say in the running of the Islamic State, whether that be as advisers or a future khalifa. How could a non Arab of good character and brimming with taqwa hoe to become Khalifa when he was not even permitted to enter Madina, the heart of political power? Is this edict egalitarian in nature?

Ibn al Hashimi’s assertion that Taqwa determines rank not birthright

Ibn al Hashimi states:

Taqwa is what defines a person’s rank and station on this earth. It would be completely unfair for Allah to decide rank based upon birth, as this goes against basic morality and ethics. Prophet Muhammad (s) was not the best of the humans because of his birth, but only because he was the best in Taqwa

Reply One – Prophets are endowed with excellence long before exhibiting signs of Taqwa

First of all, would Ibn al-Hashimi like to tell us what level of Taqwa did the unborn Isa (as) exhibit when his mother was given glad tidings of the birth of a prophet? Amongst the matters of which Gabriel (as) conveys to her, is this fact:

[003.048-49 YUSUFALI]
“And Allah will teach him the Book and Wisdom, the Law and the Gospel, …”And (appoint him) a messenger to the Children of Israel, (with this message):

The Prophethood of Yahya (as) was likewise foretold whilst he was still in the blessed loins of his father.:

[003.039 YUSUFALI]
While he was standing in prayer in the chamber, the angels called unto him: “Allah doth give thee glad tidings of Yahya, witnessing the truth of a Word from Allah, and (be besides) noble, chaste, and a prophet,- of the (goodly) company of the righteous.”

Then we read:

‘O Yahya! Take hold of the Book with might,’ And We gave him the appointment (of prophethood) in his childhood.” (Quran 19:12)

Imam Fakhruddin Razi states in ‘Tafseer Kabeer’ Volume 10 page 277:

“The meaning of {granted him wisdom while yet a child} is magnification given to him, because He made him prophet while he was a child, there cannot more magnification than that.”
 Tafseer Kabeer, Volume 10 page 277

Reply Two – The Ahl’ul bayt (as) Imams are the greatest in Taqwa

We repeat our stance that Imamate is not a rank based on Taqwa. We challenge this Nasibi to produce us a SINGLE VERSE wherein Allah (swt) says that the criterion for appointing Imams is Taqwa and nothing else. If this was true the Sunni scholars of jurisprudence would include this as the first criterion for Imamate – but they didn’t – it doesn’t even come into the equation. Even if we accept that piety is the criterion for Imamah, then this Nasibi will still not be able to escape from the appointment of Maula Ali (as) and the other Imams (as) for our Prophet (s) said:

“Three things have been revealed to me about Ali: That he is the Sayyid al Muslimeen (Chief of Muslims), Imam-ul-Muttaqeen (Imam of the Pious), and wa Qa’id ul Ghurrul Muhajj’ileen (Leader of the bright) face people on Yaum al Qiyamah”.
1.   Al Mustadrak, by Imam Hakim, Vol 3 p 137 & 138
2. Riyad al Nadira, by Mohibbudin al Tabari, Vol 2, p 122

‘Whoever wants to board the boat of salvation, and take the firm handle, and grasp the firm Rope of Allah (swt) should love ‘Ali and be an enemy to his enemies, and from the lineage of ‘Ali he should follow the Imams of Guidance. Verily these are my Khalifas and the Proofs of Allah (swt) after me. These are the Chieftains of my Ummah and the Leaders of the Pious entering Paradise. This group is my group and my group is the group of Allah (swt). Their enemies group is the group of Shaytan”
  Yanabi al Mawaddat, pages 503-504

Sunni Islam does not deem Taqwa as the criterion for Imamate

Let us not forget Ibn Hashimi’s claim:

Taqwa is what defines a person’s rank and station on this earth.

If Taqwa does indeed determine the rank of Imamate, what of those Imams that were devoid of the Taqwa from the Banu Umayya and Banu Abbaside dynasties – has any Sunni scholar past or present ruled that their Imamates over the nations were unlawful because such men were devoid of Taqwa?

Tell us Ibn Hashimi, was Taqwa the criterion used by Muawiya to appoint his drunkard, homosexual son as the Imam over the nations? Did the Sahaba that ratified this ‘nomination’ consider Taqwa as the factor that influenced their bayya. When your great Sahaba did not deem Taqwa a factor when determining Imamah, rather you can appoint a Fasiq as the Head of State, what evidence do you have to claim that Imamate is based on one’s Taqwa?

The very fact that you Sunni Ulema have deemed the Khilafath of tyrants legitimate proves that Taqwa is not the pre-requisite for being the leader of the Muslim State. Take the example of Yazeed (la), we are sure that Ibn al Hashimi would not openly deem him to be pious, yet his Imamate is deemed legitimate, even after the ransacking of Madina, that involved the slaughter of the Sahaba that withdrew support for him and the rape of their women folk, Ibn Umar maintained loyal support for him:

I heard the Prophet saying, ‘A flag will be fixed for every betrayer on the Day of Resurrection,’ and we have given the oath of allegiance to this person (Yazeed) in accordance with the conditions enjoined by Allah and His Apostle.
Sahih al-Bukhari Volume 9, Book 88, Number 227


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