Reflecting on the Fundamentals – Shaykh Ansari on Sunnis being Believers | Sayyid Kamal al-Haydari | Lesson 15


In our previous episode, we took a look at the opinion of Faydh Kāshānī and we explained his view that if a person loves someone out of the love for the good that he embodied, he will be rewarded by God for this even if the person being loved was in Hell. And this applies vice versa as well.

However it’s possible someone may object to this and ask for the opinion of a well-known scholar from the school of ῡsul and fiqh, as they may reject the views of Faydh Kāshānī on the basis that his theology was mixed with philosophical and mystical ideas. Of course this type of objection is completely flawed and illogical, nevertheless, I can reassure you that this view is not limited to the likes of Faydh Kāshāni and now I shall present the words of another great scholar who has mentioned a view similar to this. I won’t mention the name of the scholar right now but I can guarantee he was amongst the greatest of Usῡli jurists and scholars. First, the scholar brings the following tradition from Imām Bāqir from al-Kāfī:

أن الله عزّ وجل بعث محمداً صلى الله عليه وآله وهو بمكة عشرة سنين فلم يمت بمكة في تلك العشر سنين يشهد أن لا اله إلا الله وأن محمداً رسول الله صلى الله عليه وآله إلا ادخله الله الجنة بإقراره 

Allah, the Glorious and Exalted, sent Mohammad (ع) and he was with the people of Mecca for ten years. Whoever passed away during those years and confessed in the belief of Allah, and his Messenger Allah made him enter Paradise. [1]

Here’s a question, assuming that someone lived during the time of Mecca and believed in both Allah and the Messenger, like Ammār and dozens of others who were tortured (by the Quraysh), did they believe in the wilāya of the Ahlulbayt? Was this topic even mentioned during the Meccan period? It wasn’t even discussed during that time but rather during the end of the Prophet’s time in Medina (is when it was mentioned). Someone might say what about the verse: “And warn your nearest of relatives[2] but this isn’t correct as the verse is in relation to succession and here we are talking about Imāmate, wilāya, infallibility etc.  That is why Imam Bāqir is saying here the two testimonies sufficed for admission to Paradise and there is no condition for wilāya.  Now let’s look at this tradition and compare it to this tradition from Imam Sādiq:

إن أول ما يسأل عنه العبد إذا وقف بين يدي الله جل جلاله عنالصلوات المفروضات، وعن الزكاة المفروضة، وعن الصيام المفروض وعن الحجالمفروض، وعن ولايتنا أهل البيت، فان أقر بولايتنا ثم مات عليها قبلت منه صلاته وصومه وزكاته وحجه، وإن لم يقر بولايتنا بين يدي الله جل جلاله لم يقبل الله عز وجل منه شيئا من أعماله

The first thing a person will be asked of when he dies will be of his obligatory prayers, alms, fasting, pilgrimage, and our – the Ahlulbayt’s – wilāya. If he has accepted our wilāya before dying, his prayers, alms, fasting and pilgrimage shall be accepted. However if he has not accepted our wilāya, Allah shall not accept anything of his actions. [3]

On the basis of this narration (if it is to be understood in absolute terms), what can we say about those people who passed away during the time of Mecca where the topic of wilāya wasn’t even mentioned? Are their actions going to be accepted by Allah? Do their actions have any value? And this is while Imām Bāqir says:

 وهو إيمان التصديق

This is the justified belief. [4]

Now the author says:

فإن الظاهر أن حقيقة الإيمان التي يخرج الإنسان بها عن حد الكفرالموجب للخلود في النار، لم تتغير بعد انتشار الشريعة  

It is apparent that the reality of belief which exonerates an individual from spending eternity in Hell did not change after the spreading of Sharī’a. [5]

Here he is saying (that the two testimonies are) the reality of belief (īmān) and not the reality of Islam! Those who propagate on their satellite channels and on the pulpits that the majority of Muslims are not believers (mu’minīn) need to go back and read the traditions of the Ahlulbayt. You will find that they have been referred to as believers even though they didn’t recognise the wilāya of the Ahlulbayt! This is the great Shaykh Ansārī talking about (what constitutes) the reality of belief and not the reality of Islam! He is saying the reality of belief which earns a person Paradise is believing in Allah and His Messenger.

You might say, so is wilāya not a condition? It depends, for someone who has had the proof of wilāya completed and established for them as a condition of belief, then yes, it would be a condition. For such a person the pillars of belief would be three, belief in Allah, belief in His Messenger and belief in the wilāya of the Ahlulbayt. However as for those who haven’t had this proven to them, or they haven’t heard of the wilāya of the Ahlulbayt, the two testimonies shall suffice.

So then, (re-visiting what Shaykh Ansārī has said), are the Muslims [i.e Sunis] from amongst the believers or not? Of course, without a shadow of a doubt they are! So then what about the Shi’ī? They are believers also! However with the difference that belief within Shi’ism is established upon three pillars (for those who have been convinced of wilāya being a condition). However in respect to the rest of the Muslims where this hasn’t been proven to them, or they haven’t been convinced by the proof presented on wilāya, then belief rests on the two pillars and not the three.

Someone might object and say that this was relevant only during the early few years where Islam was in it’s infancy, and no mention of Imāmate was made. After this when the Prophet made the topic of Imāmate clear the pillars of belief moved from simply being two to inculcating wilāya and being three. Shaykh Ansārī refutes this claim by saying: “This did not change after the spreading of the Sharī’a.” So don’t think that the Sunnis are not believers! Yes, as we mentioned, for the person who has had wilāya established and believes it to be a necessary requirement to the fulfilment of belief it would be so. Refer back to the three principles we elaborated early in the series, we said (and proved that) the basis for believing something is not whether it conforms with reality but whether it is based on solid and sound evidence, and that this evidence should provide a person certainty to it being true. Shaykh Ansārī continues:

نعم، ظهر في الشريعة أمور صارت ضرورية الثبوت من النبي (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم)، فيعتبر في الإسلام عدم إنكارها

Yes, there has appeared matters within the Sharī’a established [to have come] from the Prophet that have become essential (dharῡrī), and within Islam it is not accepted to reject them.[6]

So then when it comes to matters that are established to be essential, like Imāmate, there is no choice but to believe in it. However for those who haven’t had it established for them, like now when you speak to Sunni scholars, or you speak to scholars from Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism etc., has it been established for them through certainty deriving evidences that such a belief is an essential of faith? They would say it hasn’t been made clear for us. So they are exempt from believing in such. So here we have one of the most important admissions from one of our greatest scholars, that the reality of belief is in the two testimonies and nothing else.


1 – Al-Kāfī by Shaykh Kulaynī, v. 2, p. 29

2 – Qur’ān, Surah 26, verse 214

3 – Al-Amāli of Shaykh Sadῡq, p. 154

4 – Al-Kāfī by Shaykh Kulaynī, v. 2, p. 29

5 – Farā’id al-Usῡl by Shaykh al-Ansāri, v. 1, p. 561-562

6 – ibid, p. 562

1 thought on “Reflecting on the Fundamentals – Shaykh Ansari on Sunnis being Believers | Sayyid Kamal al-Haydari | Lesson 15”

  1. I think Sheikh Ansari is being misinterpreted and misrepresented here. Also, the establishment of proof on those who are non-shi’i is clearly being misinterpreted in this series of articles. I’ll suffice with the opinion of Syed al-khui here: In the words of Sayyid Khū’ī ‘Islām is built upon al-Wilāyah, and with the absence of Wilāyah, Islam disappears in reality’. Quoted here:

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