Awa’il al-Maqalat fi al-Madhahib wa al-Mukhtarat – Shaykh Mufid

This is an on-going translation of Shaykh Mufid’s Awa’il al-Maqalat fi al-Madhaaib wa al-Mukhtaraat (Arabic: أوائل المقالات في المذاهب والمختارات). Click on the title to expand its content.

Table of Contents

1. Regarding the Difference Between the Shi'a In What is Attributed to Them and the Mu'tazilah In What the Term I'tizaal Implies

Allah (azwj) says: [28:15] “And he who was of his party cried out to him for help against him who was of his enemies.” He (swt) distinguishes them two with attributes based on the difference between them in who they were in friendship and animosity with. One of the two individuals is considered to be a follower, that is to say he is loyal, and this has been explicitly mentioned in the statement for him. Allah (swt) says: [37:83] “Verily among those who followed his way was Abraham.” He (swt) ordained him with the attribute Shi’a for his following the path of of Nuh (as). And it is from such statements when they (i.e. people) say: “‘So-and-so spoke regarding so-and-so, and so-and-so followed him in his words.” This is when the second person affirms the truthfulness of the first person’s statement and then follows it in its meaning. And from the same meaning, it has been said regarding a person who is bidding a traveler farewell: “he is his follower.” Although not every following is in reality a following of the manner that we have mentioned, which is deserving of the attribute Shi’a. The word is not placed upon a person to suggest that he is from the Shi’a, even if that which he is following is correct or false, except if the sign of being definite – which is the prefix Alif and Laam (Al) – gets dropped and the term is coined together with the word from (min). Such as: “They are from the Shi’a of Bani Umayyah” or “From the Shi’a of Bani Abbas” or “From the Shi’a of so-and-so”. However, if the sign of being definite is added to it, there is no doubt that it is for the followers of Amir ul-Mumineen (as). It is for those who are on the path of Guardianship, hold the belief in his (as) Imamate after the Prophet (pbuh) without any gap, and reject the leadership of those who preceded him (as) as caliphs. Their belief in his (as) position is that of someone who is completely followed, and not to be a follower of anyone of them (i.e. the caliphs).


4. Regarding Those Who Preceded Amir ul-Mumineen
The Imamiyah and many of the Zaydiyah are in agreement, that those who preceded Amir ul-Mumineen (as) are deviated sinners. Due to their causing the delay in Amir ul-Mumineen taking the place of the Messenger of Allah (pbuh), they are disobedient oppressors and are everlastingly in the hellfire because of their oppression. The Mu’tazilah, and the Khawarij and a group from the Zaydiyah and the Murji’ah and the Hashawiyah have together opposed this view. They have assumed that that they (i.e. those who preceded) have not deterred away any right of Amir ul-Mumineen, and that they are people of paradise. Except the Khawarij and the Jum’aiyah[1] from the Zaydiyah, for they distance themselves from Uthman specially, and claim that that he is everlastingly in the hell-fire for his additions to the religion, and not for his preceding Amir ul-Mumineen.


5. Regarding Those Who Fought Against Amir ul-Muminen
The Imamiyah, the Zaydiyah, and the Khawarij are in agreement that the Nakitheen and the Qasiteen from the people of Basrah and Shaam are all unbelievers, deviated and accursed because of their warfare against Amir ul-Mumineen and are everlasting in the hell-fire. The Mu’tazilah, except Ghazzal and Ibn Baab, and the Murji’ah and the Hashawiyah from the companions of the narrations (ashaab ul-hadith) are in opposition to this view. All the Mu’tazilah, except those two names we mentioned, and a group from the Murji’ah and a group from the companions of the narrations claim that they (i.e. those who fought) are sinners, but not unbelievers. Some from the Mu’tazilah believe that they are everlasting in the hellfire due to their sin.


6. Regarding the Designation of the Opponents of Imamate and the Rejecters of That Which Allah (swt) Has Made Compulsory In Regards to Obedience to the Imams
And the Imamiyah are in agreement that whoever rejects the Imamate of even one of the Imams, and opposes that which Allah (swt) had made compulsory in regards to their obedience, is a deviated unbeliever and is deserving of an eternal abode in the hellfire. The Mu’tazilah[2] are unanimous in their views against this, and reject the disbelief of those who reject that which we mentioned. They judge some of them as transgressors especially, and some others without transgressors, but as sinners.


8. Regarding the Difference Between the Messengers and the Prophets
The Imamiyah are in agreement that every Messenger is a Prophet, but not every Prophet is a Messenger. From the Prophets of Allah (azwj), are those who protected the canon law brought down by the Messengers, and their successors. The canon law only prevents us from claiming Prophethood for our Imams, although the intellect does not prevent it. This is because they have acquired the definition which we have mentioned regarding some of the Prophets (pbuh).

They are in agreement upon the permissibility of a Messenger being delegated to revive the canon law (of a previous Messenger), while not renewing any law and to reaffirm the Prophethood (of a Prophet) from the predecessors, while not imposing a requirement besides what was required (previously).

The Mu’tazilah are unanimous in their views against these two statements. A group from among the Murji’ah, and all the companions of the narration (ashaab ul-hadith) are in agreement with the Imamiyah.


9. Regarding the Ancestors of the Messenger of Allah and his Mother and Uncle Abu Talib
The Imamiyah are in agreement that the ancestors of the Messenger of Allah from Adam (as) till Abdullah bin Abdul Muttalib were believers in Allah (azwj) and were monotheists. The proof for this view requires the Qur’an and the reports. Allah (azwj) says: [26:218-219] “Who sees you when you stand up. And your turning over and over among those who prostrate themselves before Allah.”

The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said: “(Allah) continued to transfer me from the noble loins to the pure wombs, until he brought me forth in this world of yours.” And they (i.e. the Imamiyah) are unanimous upon the view that his uncle Abu Talib (ra) died a believer, and that Amina the daughter of Wahab believed in the Oneness (of Allah) and she will be gathered amongst the believers. All the sects that we have named from the beginning are against this view.


10. Regarding al-Raj'ah and al-Bada' and the Compilation of the Qur'an
The Imamiyah are in agreement upon the necessity of the return of many of the dead to the world before the Day of Judgment. Although there is a difference of opinion between them with regards to the details of Raj’ah. They are in agreement that the usage of the word al-Bada’ is in regards to the description of Allah (swt), and that it (this view) is based on evidence not conjecture. The Imamiyah are in agreement that the deviated leaders disagreed on numerous views regarding the compilation of the Qur’an. They turned away in it from the basis of revelation and the Prophetic Sunnah. The Mu’tazilah, the Khawarij, the Zaydiyah, the Murji’ah and the companions of the narration (ashab ul-hadith) are unanimous in their views against the Imamiyah in all that we have recounted.


16. Regarding the Innovators and the Titles & Judgement That They Deserve
The Imamiyah are in agreement that all innovators are disbelievers. It is necessary upon the Imam, that when possible and after inviting them and presenting them the clear evidences, to seek their repentance. So if they repent from their innovations, and become righteous (then they are freed), otherwise they are to be killed for their turning away from the faith. If anyone of them dies while he is an innovator, then he is from the people of hell.

The Mu’tazilah are unanimous in their view against that. They allege that most of the innovators are sinful, and not unbelievers. There are those from among the Islamic sects, who consider the innovators neither sinners nor out of the folds of Islam, like the companions of Ibn Shabib from the Murji’ah and the Batriyyah from the Zaydiyah who agree in principle (with Ibn Shabib), although they differ with them in the qualities of an Imam.


25. Regarding Not Seeing Allah With Eyesight
And I say: that it is not possible to see God, glory be to Him, with eyesight. The Intellect, speech of Qur’an, and the numerous reports from the Imams of guidance from the progeny of the Prophet (pbuh) testify to this. All the Imamiyah as well as all their theologians are unanimous in this regard, except one from them, due to a suspicion that appeared for him in an interpretation of the tradition. The Mu’tazilah are in agreement with the Imamiyah in this regard and all the Murji’ah and many of the Khawarij and the Zaydiyah and groups from the companions of the narrations (ashab al-hadith). The anthropomorphists and their brothers from the supporters of the theory of attributes (ashab al-sifat) are in opposition to this.


32. Regarding the Infallibility of the Prophets
I say: that all the Prophets of Allah (pbut) are infallible from committing major sins before and after their Prophethood and all minor sins that belittle the doer of the act. However, those minor sins whose doer is not belittled through them, then their unintentional occurrence is permissible before Prophethood, and prohibited after it, in all cases. This is the view of the Imamiyah and the Mu’tazilah oppose it.


33. Regarding the Infallibility of Our Prophet Muhammad
And I say: Surely our Prophet, Muhammad (pbuh) is from those who did not disobey Allah (azwj) from the moment Allah created him till the moment He (swt) took his spirit. He did not do anything contrary to Him (swt) intentionally, and he did not sin deliberately or forgetfully. The speech of the Qur’an and the various reports from the progeny of Muhammad (pbut) are proof for this. This is the view of all the Imamiyah, and the Mu’tazilah are in opposition to it.

And as for what is attributed to him (pbuh) by those who are in opposition, from the statements of Allah (swt): [48:2] “That Allah may forgive you your sins of the past and the future” and from other similar verses to this in the Qur’an, and they depend on it as proof for being against what we stated, the real interpretation of these verses is in fact against that which they have imagined. Rational arguments reinforces our view. The Qur’an has definitely spoken about that which we have described and Allah, Glorified are His Attributes, says: [53:1-2] “I swear by the star when it goes down. Your companion does not err, nor does he go astray,” and all sins and forgetfulness are negated through this (verse).


37. Regarding the Infallibility of the Imams
And I say: that the upright Imams who are in the position of the Prophets (pbut) with regards to implementing the laws, instituting the penalties, protecting the canon law, and disciplining the people, are infallible like the Prophets. Minor sins are not permitted to be committed by them, except those that we have previously mentioned being permissible for the Prophets (pbut). Inattention to anything in the religion and forgetfulness in anything from the religious rulings is not permitted to be committed by them. This is the view of all the Imamiyah except the outliers from them, who rely on the apparent meaning of some reports. However those reports have interpretations that are against their corrupt assumptions. The Mu’tazilah are in opposition to this and permit (the possibility of) major sins and apostasy from Islam for the Imams.


46. Regarding the Comparison Between the Imams & the Prophets
A group of people from the Imamah are with (the view that) the Imams (as) from the progeny of Muhammad are greater than all previous Messengers and Prophets except our Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). A group from them consider the Imams to be greater than all the Prophets except the arch-Prophets (ulul azm). Another group reject both these views and hold (the view that) all the Prophets are greater than the Imams. And in this belief there is no room for the intellect to necessitate or prohibit (any of the views), and there is no consensus on any of the views. It has come in the narrations from the Prophet (pbuh) regarding Amir ul-Mumineen (as) and the Imams from his progeny, and reports from the truthful Imams (have come) as well, and in the Qur’an there are places, that strengthen what has been said by the first group regarding this. I am an observer in this issue (i.e. don’t have a view) and seek protection from Allah (swt) against deviance.


49. Regarding the Possibility of the Messengers, Prophets & Imams Having Afflictions & Their States After Death
And I say: that the Messengers of Allah are mortal beings, and His Prophets and the Imams who are their successors, are contingent created beings. Afflictions are attached to them and pleasures occur for them. Their bodies are made to grow by food and become deficient with the passing of time. Death is for them, and annihilation is permitted upon them. Upon this view is the consensus of the monotheists, but those belonging to the view of delegation (i.e. the mufawwidha) and certain categories of the exaggerators have opposed us in it. As for their sates after demise, then they are transferred from under the earth and they dwell with their bodies and spirits, in a garden of Allah. So they are alive in it, living in enjoyment till the Day of Judgment, giving glad tidings to whoever follows them from the righteous of their communities and their Shi’a, meeting them with munificence and awaiting whoever comes to them from the likes of those who preceded from the previous religions. And the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) and the Imams from his progeny especially, the states of their Shi’a from the realm of the world are not hidden from them through the notification of Allah. For them is such, state after state, and they hear the words of the supplicant for them in their grand noble shrines through a grace from the graces of Allah. It is announced to them from the mass of the servants and the supplications are conveyed to them as the narrations have come with. And this is the ideology of all of the jurists of the Imamiyah and the bearers of the traditions from them. I do not know of a treatise regarding it from previous theologians. And it has reached me from the Bani Nawbakht (ra), a difference in regards to it, and I have met a group from those who fall short in recognition (i.e. the muqassiroon) who also belong to the Imamah that refuse it. And Allah (swt) has said, proving it: [3:169-170] “And never think of those who have been killed in the cause of Allah as dead. Rather, they are alive with their Lord, receiving provision, rejoicing in what Allah has bestowed upon them of His bounty, and they receive good tidings about those [to be martyred] after them who have not yet joined them – that there will be no fear concerning them, nor will they grieve” and what follows after this from the speech. And He said in the story of a believer from the people of Fir’awn: [36:26-27] “It was said, “Enter Paradise.” He said, “I wish my people could know of how my Lord has forgiven me and placed me among the honoured.”

And the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said: Whoever sends peace upon me near my grave, I hear him, and whoever sends peace upon me from afar I am informed of it, the peace of Allah be upon him and the mercy of Allah and His blessings. More so, the reports detailing what we have mentioned in sum from the Imams of the progeny of Muhammad (pbuh) with what we have described of it, textually and orally, are more. However this book is not the place to mention them, otherwise I would have brought them in detail and elucidation.


59. Regarding the Compilation of the Qur'an and What Some Have Said Regarding Addition & Abridgement To It
I say: that detailed reports have come from the Imams of Guidance from the Progeny of Muhammad (pbuh), about the difference between the Qur’an and the omission and abridgement that some oppressors have made in it.

So, as for the statement with regards to its compilation, then what exists needs rearrangement, putting certain parts before and others after. Anyone who knows about the abrogating and the abrogated (verses) and the Meccan and the Medinan (surahs) has no doubt about it.

As for omission, reason does not consider it impossible and neither prevents the occurrence of it. I have investigated the treatise of those who asserted it, and have talked about it at length with the Mu’tazilah and others. I have not successfully found a conclusive argument against this thesis from them. A group from the Imamiyah have said that there is no deficiency in any word, verse, or surah, and that what had been in the book of Amir ul-Mumineen (as) was the interpretation and exegesis of its meaning based on the truth of its revelation. That too is confirmed and revealed, although it is not from the category that compromises as the Word of Allah (swt), which is the miraculous Qur’an. The interpretation of the Qur’an has also been called Qur’an and Allah (swt) has said: [20:114] “And, [O Muhammad], do not hasten with [recitation of] the Qur’an before its revelation is completed to you, and say, “My Lord, increase me in knowledge.” So the interpretation of the Qur’an is also called Qur’an. There is no disagreement about this among the commentators. Near me, this view (omission of its interpretation) is more likely than claiming omission of words from the Qur’an itself. I lean towards this (view) and I ask Allah (swt) to give guidance towards what is right.

As for additions in it, then that is certainly false from one perspective and possible from another. So the perspective in which it is certainly false, it is that anyone from the creation be able to add to it (the Qur’an) amounting to a chapter, to the extent that it could confuse one of experts in eloquence. As for the perspective where it is permissible, it is the addition of one or two words or one or two letters or its like to it, while not amounting to the extent required for inimitability. And this will confuse most of the experts of eloquence as being the words of the Qur’an. However, when this takes place, Allah (swt) must show it and clarify the truth to His servants. I am not aware of such an alteration, instead I lean towards the non-occurrence of it and that the Qur’an is free from it. With me in regards to that is a tradition from Ja’far bin Muhammad al-Sadiq (as). This school of thought is against what we have heard from the Bani Nawbakht (ra), regarding the addition and abridgement in the Qur’an, and a group of Imami theologians and jurists from among them are also with it (the opinion of Bani Nawbakht).


64. Regarding the Minor Sins
And I say: They (minor sins) are not minor sins in essence, and only become minor in comparison to another (sin). That is the view of most of the people of (the sect of) Imamah and the (sect of) Irja’ (i.e. the Murji’ah). The Banu Nawbakht (ra) are in opposition to it, and go with the view of the people of Wa’eed and I’tizaal.


82. Regarding Atoms
Near me, atoms[3] are particulars with which bodies are composed. All of them are in essence indivisible. All monotheists are upon this view, except outliers from the people of I’tizaal. The atheists are in opposition to it and Ibrahim bin Sayyar al-Naẓẓam from those belonging to the monotheists.


83. Regarding Atoms - Are They Homogeneous or Is There a Difference Between Them
And I say: all atoms are homogeneous, and they only differ with each other in their accidental attributes. All the monotheists are upon this view.


84. Regarding Atoms - Do They Have Magnitude and Dimensions in their Essence
I say: that an atom has dimension and bulk in essence, because of which it has extension while it exists. Through this, it is distinguished from anything that does not hold the definition of an atom. Most of the monotheists are upon this view.


85. Regarding the Extension of Atoms and the Forms of Being
And I say: that every atom has extension in its existence, and it is never without an accident or that which can bring a decree for it, where it is placed in alignment with what is next to it. Some theologians call this accident kawn. Most of the monotheists are upon this view.


86. Regarding Atoms - Are They In Need of Place
I say: that atoms are in no need of place as far as their being atoms is concerned, except that if they are in motion or rest, for if they are in motion and rest then they must have place. All monotheists are upon the view that atoms are needless of place and its need when they are in motion and rest. Al-Jubba’ee and his son Abd al-Salam are in opposition to it.


[1] This is most probably a tasgheer for the word al-jama’ah (congregation), suggesting that it was a very small group from the Zaydiyah. Refer to footnote #3 on page 42 of Awail al-Maqalat researched and reviewed by Ibrahim al-Ansari al-Zanjani al-Khoeini
[2] Some manuscripts say “The Mu’tazilah and the Zaydiyyah”
[3] Refer to Chapter VIII of The Theology of Al-Shaykh Al-Mufid, by Martin J. McDermott on a discussion pertaining to this subject.