After our discussions we have reached this point, and it is very clear to see that this discussion can extend for hours and weeks and it would still not be enough. As I had mentioned in the first episode, it is permissible for a person to act according to any school within Islam, and now I will add quite clearly, that in addition to this, it is permissible to act according to any religion or any belief system. However this is to be done with the conditions I have explained. Now someone may ask the question, has Syed Kamāl Hayderī allowed a person to act according to any religion he wants? Is he saying I have a choice in deciding whatever I want to follow? The answer to this is both yes and no. Let me explain.
If proof is established on a person [and that person attains certainty] that he can act according to any Islamic school that he so wishes then he can act on matter X according to the Hanafī school and in matter Y on the Shāfi’ī school or the Imāmī school. Imagine a person who is an expert in religious law and a scholar, and it is established for him that a person can choose more than one scholar (tab’īdh) to follow in Taqlīd, then in matters pertaining to prayer he will follow marja’ X and in matters pertaining to fasting he would refer to marja’ Y. If he is told that you have to choose and follow only one marja’ he will say no, I have proof that I have the freedom to choose continuously and not only at the beginning of my selection.1
A researcher who has spent his years studying would ask the question on whether it is allowed to act according to traditions from Sahīh Muslim the way it is allowed to act according to traditions in Furu’ al-Kāfi? What about using traditions from other famous Sunni books? As we said before, if the person has a certainty providing proof for doing this then yes it would be permissible. To take this back to the original discussion of worshipping according to any religion out of choice, if the person has a proof allowing him to act in such a way then yes it would be permissible, if he doesn’t then no, it is not allowed. End of story.
In this regards a very important question comes up relating to some of the traditions we have narrated from the Ahlulbayt. Someone might say, how do we reconcile this [idea you are proposing] with clear cut traditions which speak of actions only being accepted by a person who accepts the wilāya of the Ahlulbayt, and if you don’t have this wilāya then your actions won’t be accepted. And we have dozens of traditions on this topic, perhaps even hundreds, so why do you accept traditions that only suit you and neglect others?
The tradition being referred to is this, and I won’t look at the chain of narrators [to check the authenticity] as it can be found in a number of reliable books [which suffices as it’s reliability]. That being said its chain of narrators is also reliable.
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 wilāya, the Ahlulbayt. 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.2
The question posed is that this tradition is very clear, if there is no wilāya than none of the actions will be accepted. I do not wish to get into a prolonged discussion on this tradition, or those like it. We could discuss what the context of it is, what is it indicating to, is it referring to people who refuse to accept the wilāya out of obstinacy and hatred, is the person culpably ignorant (muqassir), did he know about this or not, etc. These are specialist discussions that would happen within scholarly circles, and right now I don’t want to get into them.
To understand the tradition in this (literal) fashion is not acceptable. Why? Because we have mentioned that certainty (qat’) has probative force (hujjat), and if this person has certainty that the Ahlulbayt do not have wilāya then he is exonerated. You might agree that he is exonerated but argue that his actions won’t be accepted. My response to this is to reiterate that when there is a contradiction between traditions3 then the path I have stressed and made very clear in the book Mīzān Tashīh al-Mawruth al-Riwā’ī4 to solve this problem is to return to the Qur’an and to make the Qur’an the basis of all discussions. On this basis I have put forward the concept of a Qur’an orientated Islam, not a traditions orientated Islam. So if there are two sets of traditions contradicting with one another there is no doubt that we have to evaluate them against the Qur’an. So whatever agrees with the principles and foundations of the Qur’an will be accepted, and whatever doesn’t agree we either refer the matter to the experts in the field or find a way to explain the contradiction away. We will look at this discussion in more detail in our next lesson.
Sadiq Meghjee is a frequent contributor to Iqra Online and has been studying in the seminary of Qom for 6 years. Prior to entering the seminary he pursued an accounting qualification and worked in London. His field of interest is intellectual history.
- The discussion mentioned here is one scholars have differed over in Taqlīd over whether the choice of a person is limited to his initial selection of a marja’ or whether even after he has chosen a marja’ he retains that right to continue choosing. If we take the first view, known as takhyīr ibtidā’ī, then once an individual chooses a marja’ he forfeits his ability to chose and has to continue to abide by that marja’s view. If we take the second view, known as takhyīr istimrārī, then even after a person chooses his marja’ he retains the right to change and choose again if he so wishes. Our scholars have differed on this discussion greatly and you can find notable scholars proposing either side.
- Al-Amāli of Shaykh Sadῡq, p. 328
- He is referring to these traditions contradicting with the traditions that say the non-Shi’i will go to Heaven. Refer to lesson 10, 11, 12 and 13 of this series.
- The book can be downloaded here