The Sunni perspective by Waqqas
The Jews of Yathrib feared the unification of the Arabs, because they used to play on the differences between the various groups. The Jews thus conspired with a group of people, the Munafiqoon (the hypocrites), who claimed to be Muslim but were really disbelievers. Their leader was a man named Abdullah ibn Ubayy ibn Salool. This was the first attempt of the Jews to subvert Islam from the inside, using Abdullah ibn Ubayy and his lot to create schisms within the Ummah. Later, a Jew by the name of Abdullah Ibn Saba would use this same technique to create schisms within the Ummah.
First, the Prophet unified the city of Yathrib (Medinah) and he expelled the conspiring Jews. Then, he conquered Mecca and set about unifying all of Arabia. The Prophet sent invitation letters to the nations of the world, inviting them to the Call of Allah.
The Persian King, Chosroes, tore up the letter and declared that he would never follow what he regarded as “the lowly” Arabs. The Persians considered themselves a superior race. Theirs was a nation of racial haughtiness and supremacism. They were not willing to submit to the way of the inferior Arabs, nor were they ready to accept the radical Islamic call for racial equality.
After the death of the Prophet, Caliph Abu Bakr quelled the apostate tribes in the Wars of Riddah (Apostasy), and he thereby maintained the unity of the Arabian Peninsula. Two years later, Umar bin Khattab assumed power and at this time, the Islamic nation-state was coming of age. Border skirmishes between Rome and Persia eventually erupted into all-out war.
Under the guidance of the Commander of the Faithful Umar, the Muslim armies defeated Rome and blitzed across Persia, dealing both empires a crushing blow. The Persians, with their haughty attitude of superiority, were sourly humiliated. The Muslims took the Persians as POWs (Prisoners of War).
Harmuzan was one of the P O W.
Harmuzan was to be executed for war crimes by Caliph Umar, but he saved his life through an ingenious trick. He asked for water to drink, and requested Caliph Umar for a reprieve for his life until he could finish his drink of water. Umar granted him this request, and upon this, Harmuzan spilled the water on the ground. Because he was unable to drink the water, therefore technically his royal reprieve would never lapse. Caliph Umar upheld his word, and thereby pardoned Harmuzan.
Harmuzan “converted” to Islam and moved to Medinah, whereupon he planned the Persian revenge on the Arab Muslims. Harmuzan blamed the Commander of the Faithful Umar for the downfall of the Persian Empire, and it was thus that Harmuzan hatched the plan to assassinate the Caliph.
In Medinah, Harmuzan became close companions with a staunch Christian named Jafeena Al-Khalil. Jafeena was a political pawn of the Roman ruler and had served as an official in Damascus, Palestine and Heerah; the defeat of Rome by the Muslims left its mark on Jafeena who, like Harmuzan, swore revenge.
The third partner was a Jew by the name of Saba bin Shamoon (whose son would be Abdullah Ibn Saba, the notorious founder of the Shia movement). Saba despised the Muslims who had expelled the Jews on charges of conspiracy. All three of these individuals–Harmuzan (the Zoroastrian), Jafeena (the Christian), and Saba (the Jew) – belonged to peoples who had grievances against the rise of Muslim dominance.
They hired Feroz Abu Lulu, a Persian, who had recently been captured by the Muslims as a POW; he was a slave under a Muslim master. Abu Lulu stabbed Caliph Umar bin Khattab to death.
A day before Umar had been assassinated, Abdur Rahman-–Abu Bakr’s son-–had seen Abu Lulu standing with Harmuzan and Jafeena. The three men were whispering to one another. As Abdur Rehman passed by, the three got startled and a double edged dagger fell to the ground. Abdur Rahman would later confirm that this was the same dagger that killed Umar. The murder of Umar was thus instigated by a coalition of a Roman Christian, a Jew, and a Persian Zoroastrian. It should be noted that the Prophet had prophesied that the Christians, Jews, and pagans would always be united against the Muslims.
Today, the modern day Shia venerate Abu Lulu, and they call him “Baba Shuja-e-din” which can be translated as “Honored Defender of Religion.” These Shia have a shrine erected for this murderer, located in the Iranian city of Kashan called the Abu Lulu Mausoleum wherein he is buried. The Shia travel from far distances to pray inside this shrine, and many of the Shia fast on the day that Umar was killed, and even pass out sweets. Feroz Abu Lulu is one of the venerated founding figures of Shia ideology; the same people who conspired to kill Umar were the ones who planted the seeds of the Shia movement.
Umar’s son, Ubaidallah, was infuriated by the murder of his father. Ubaidallah killed both Harmuzan and Jafeena. Ubaidallah was thus charged with murder and brought to the court of the new Caliph, Uthman bin Affan. Ali bin Abi Talib, Uthman’s vizier, advised that Ubaidallah should be executed for murder because there was not enough evidence to convict Harmuzan and Jafeena of any crime. Furthermore, reasoned Ali, extra-judicial vigilante justice was not permitted in Islam; Harmuzan and Jafeena should at least have been entitled to a fair trial and-–if found guilty–-be executed by none other than the state.
However, the other Sahabah–-including Amir bin al A’as-–differed with Ali’s position , because they sympathized with Ubaidallah , who was the son of the great Umar . His father had just been murdered in cold blood, and so they wished that Ubaidallah be forgiven due to the fact that he was acting out of distress. Caliph Uthman thus ruled that Ubaidallah must pay blood-money. But because Harmuzan and Jafeena had no relatives, Uthman declared that the blood-money should be given to charity and the Baitul Mal. However, Ubaidallah was unable to pay the blood-money due to lack of funds, and so it was that Caliph Uthman paid this money out of his own pocket.
This was one of his first acts as Caliph, and the conspirators (in particular Abdullah Ibn Saba’s father) viewed Uthman’s decision very unfavorably. It was in this atmosphere that Uthman bin Affan came to power, and the machinations of the conspirators continued in full force. Ubaidallah had killed Harmuzan and Jafeena, but Saba bin Shamoon remained alive. His son, Abdullah Ibn Saba, “converted” to Islam and he would uphold the task of destroying Islam from within.
The fact that Uthman showed mercy upon Ubaidallah angered Saba bin Shamoon and his son, Abdullah Ibn Saba. These two men looked sympathetically towards Ali, due to the fact that Ali had taken a harsh stance towards Ubaidallah’s actions. It was thus that Abdullah ibn Saba “converted” to Islam and founded the Shia sect, calling the masses to adore Ali and agitating them against Uthman. It was Abdullah Ibn Saba’s propaganda against Uthman that helped fan the flames of civil discontent and caused the people to rise against the Caliph. And so it was that the Saba’ites (followers of Abdullah Ibn Saba) assassinated Uthman.
Ali’s supporters were a myriad of disenchanted people, some of whom had grievances with Caliph Uthman. These became the “Partisans of Ali” or the Shia’t Ali. (It should be noted that this is not the same group as the Ithna Ashari of today. In fact, the truth is that the Ithna Asharis did not exist back then, and the doctrine of Ithna Ashari Shi’ism would only emerge centuries later.) Indeed, these Partisans of Ali were simply recently converted Bedouins as well as conquered Persians. They were not a religious sect, but rather a political party. The term “Shia’t Ali” was not used to denote a distinct religious sect; in fact, the partisans of Muawiyyah would be called “Shia’t Muawiyyah.”
Within the Partisans of Ali were a myriad of different groups; many of which were Bedouins who had just recently converted from a Mushrik faith, as well as recently conquered Persians who clung to their Zoroastrian ways. They were weak in faith, ignorant, and barbaric. Both the Bedouins and the Zoroastrians were accustomed to their former pagan beliefs and had a difficult time adjusting to Islam, and often-times they would mix Islam with pagan thought.
The Zoroastrians (of the defeated Persian Empire), the Christians (of the defeated Eastern Roman Empire), and the Jews (who had been expelled by the Muslims) grieved for the old days. In their private counsel, these defeated elements had reached the conclusion that it was not possible to fight Muslims on the battlefield. Therefore, they resolved to sow the seed of discord amongst Muslims, using the model of the Jews of Yathrib. The Prophet had called the Muslims to unite under the banner of Islam and the Quran; the disunited Arabs had unified and defeated their enemies. Thus, these conspirators decided to undo this process; they reasoned that to remove the Muslims from Islam and the Quran would also cause disunity and weakness.
The first step of these conspirators was the assassination of Umar. Umar’s son Ubaidallah took revenge and killed Jafeena the Christian and Harmuzan the Persian. It was then that Ali ibn Abi Talib demanded that Ubaidallah be given the death penalty for murdering Umar’s assassins. Abdullah Ibn Saba, whose father had been a companion of Jafeena and Harmuzan, thus took a liking for Ali and declared himself a Partisan of Ali.
Ibn Saba carried a grudge against Umar-–it had after all been his father responsible for Umar’s death; he also carried a grudge against Uthman who pardoned the killers of his father’s companions.
Abdullah Ibn Saba saw an opportunity to exploit the disunity of the Muslims during the time of civil unrest during Uthman’s Caliphate. Ibn Saba “converted” to Islam, and tried to gain a following amongst Ali’s more extreme supporters. These followers of Ali were using him in their appeals to Caliph Uthman. They were already upset with Uthman, and thus they were the perfect target audience for Ibn Saba who would convince them of Ali’s superiority over Uthman.
Ibn Saba first called the masses to show their love and devotion to the Ahlel Bayt (Prophetic Household). He then started claiming that none could exceed the Ahlel Bayt in status. When he gained some popularity at this, he boldly claimed that Ali was the most superior person after the Prophet. When he saw that some of his followers had indeed believed him, he confided in them that Ali was in reality the appointed successor of the Prophet, but that the Three Caliphs had usurped this right from him. Ibn Saba then unleashed a campaign of vilification against the Sahabah, and he is the first to start the practice of Tabarra, or ritualistic cursing of Abu Bakr, Umar, and Uthman. He then told his staunch supporters that Ali had powers above those of a normal human being.
To appeal to the recent Persian converts, Ibn Saba infused Zoroastrian beliefs into Islam. The Zoroastrians believed that God’s spirit was in their Chosroes (king), and that this spirit moved from one king to another, through his descendants. Ibn Saba declared that the divinity of Imamah also moved from one Imam to another through the descendants of Ali. Many of the exaggerations in Shi’ism in regards to the powers of Imams take their inspiration from the Chosroes.
Ibn Saba’s ideas appealed to the pagan side of the new converts from amongst the Bedouins and Persians; these pagans were accustomed to worshiping idols and people, so the exaltation of Ali appealed to them. Eventually, Ibn Saba would take it to the ultimate extreme and he applied in full force the concept of the Persian Chosroes, declaring Ali to be Allah incarnated.
Up until then, Ali had not paid much attention to Ibn Saba’s antics, but once he heard of this news, Ali was furious. Ali threatened to burn all of Ibn Saba’s followers (called Saba’ites) to the stake including Ibn Saba; Ali asked them to repent and he would eventually exile them to Mada’in (modern day Iran) when he was Caliph.
However, the Saba’ites adopted the concept of Taqiyyah (lying) and Kitman (hiding one’s faith); this allowed the Saba’ites to avoid detection from the authorities, infiltrating the ranks of the Shia’t Ali.
Ali, who before becoming Caliph spent most of his time in Mecca and Medinah, remained oblivious to the Saba’ites who were mostly in Iraq (i.e. Kufa), Persia, and Egypt.
With the practice of Taqiyyah and Kitman, the Saba’ites functioned much like a secret society or cult, such as the Free Masons, Illuminati, and other clandestine organizations. The Saba’ites operated under a strict code of secrecy and hid their identities for fear of reprisal from the government. This created a situation such that the authorities could not clamp down on the Saba’ites due to their elusiveness, and the secret society continued to grow in numbers and fill the ranks of the Shia’t Ali, without even Ali’s knowledge.
The Saba’ites were the originators of the Shia faith. Generations later, these Saba’ites would branch out into the various Shia sects we know of today: the Druze, Bohras, Nizaris, Zaydis, Jarudis, Sulaymanis, Butris, Ismailis, Kaysaniyyas, Qaddahiyyas, Ghullat, Aga Khanis, Ithna Asharis, Usoolis, Akhbaris, Shaykis, and so on.
Saba’ites Organize Attack on Uthman
It should be noted that these Saba’ite Bedouins were only one segment of the Shia’t Ali; they were an extremist fringe group. With the goading of Abdullah Ibn Saba, the Egyptian Bedouins (led by the Saba’ites) were planning on rebelling against Caliph Uthman. However, news of this imminent treason by the extremist wing of the Shia’t Ali reached the ears of Uthman . Caliph Uthman thus ordered the Egyptian governor to pre-emptively take action against the malcontents. But when the Eygptian Bedouins found out that the governor was to punish the malcontents on orders of Caliph Uthman, Abdullah Ibn Saba convinced the Bedouins to siege the Caliph’s home in Medinah.
Ali did not take part in the siege, nor did he approve of it. In fact, Ali sent his own sons to protect Caliph Uthman, and he even offered 500 men to protect Uthman . How is it then that the Shia claim that Ali hated Uthman when he sent his own beloved sons to defend him and to prolong his Caliphate?
Indeed, Ali did not support the Saba’ite Bedouins who favored Ali over Uthman-–much like Ali would not support the modern day Shia today. The modern day Shia can never explain why Ali did not raise his sword against Uthman, and they can only say that perhaps he was preventing bloodshed. But then why was Ali ready to shed blood in the defense of Uthman? Truly, the Shia cannot explain this: a man does not send his sons to defend a tyrant.
In any case, Uthman was assassinated by the Saba’ite Bedouins. Once Uthman was slain, the Shia’t Ali urged Ali to become the next Caliph. Ali, however, did not approve of the actions taken by his extremist followers and he asked his Shia’t Ali to find someone else to be Caliph. Ali became reclusive and shunned his followers severely. This is recorded in Nahjul Balagha, which the Shia consider one of the most authentic sources of Ali’s lectures.
Nahjul Balagha, Sermon 91
When people decided to swear allegiance at Amir al-mu’minin’s hand after the murder of Uthman, Ali said:
“Leave me and seek someone else. We are facing a matter which has (several) faces and colors, which neither hearts can stand nor intelligence can accept. Clouds are hovering over the sky, and face are not discernible. You should know that if I respond to you that I would lead you as I know and would not care about whatever [anyone else] may say. If you leave me, then I am the same as you are. It is possible I would listen to and obey whoever you make in charge of your affairs. I am better for you as a counselor than as chief.”
(source: Al-Islam.org, http://www.al-islam.org/nahj/)
However, the people pressured him and finally Ali became the Fourth Caliph. If Ali had really been appointed to the Imamah by Allah, then why would Ali have refused this appointment at first? Why would he dislike a position that was supposedly granted to him by Allah? If Imamah was destined for him, why is Ali claiming that he wasn’t even going to be the Caliph until the people put him up to it?
We see that Ali says the following in Nahjul Balagha:
Nahjul Balagha, Sermon 205
“By Allah, I had no liking for the caliphate nor any interest in government, but you yourselves invited me to it and prepared me for it.”
(source: Al-Islam.org, http://www.al-islam.org/nahj/)
Battle of the Camel Instigated by Saba’ites
There was a public demand for Ali to find the killers of Uthman, especially since it was known that the killers were part of the Shia’t Ali. However, Ali found himself too busy preventing a civil war to invest time and resources into finding the killers, so he planned on delaying it. This angered many people who wanted justice immediately. They found a spokeswoman in Aisha, the Prophet’s widow. She sympathized with the people who wanted to find the killers of Uthman.
The reality is that both Ali and Aisha had equally convincing arguments. On the one hand, Ali wanted to delay spending time and resources to find the killers because he had to prevent a civil war. On the other hand, Aisha cannot be blamed for feeling hurt and loss at the murder of Uthman, and surely the murderers should be brought to justice!
Aisha went to see Caliph Ali in order to resolve the issue peacefully through arbitration. She feared that if she did not intercede on behalf of the malcontents by convincing Ali to find the murderers, they would rebel against Caliph Ali. She thus adopted the previous role of Ali: it had, after all, been Ali who would take the case of the people to Caliph Uthman in order that their demands be heard.
Both Aisha and Ali wanted to resolve the issue peacefully. However, the extremist portion of the Shia’t Ali [i.e. the Saba’ites] that were responsible for the murder of Uthman did not want Aisha to convince Ali to prosecute the murderers, since of course it was they themselves.
So these Shia’t Ali decided to attack Aisha’s contingent thereby provoking a counter-response. Soon, Ali and Aisha found themselves in a battle that nobody even knew who started it. This was the Battle of the Camel, and both Ali and Aisha found themselves enmeshed in a battle that they did not want to fight.
Aisha’s contingent was defeated. She apologized to Caliph Ali for the trouble she had caused, and Ali forgave her and safely returned Aisha to her home. Both Ali and Aisha are considered Sahabah, and this is a shining example of how although Sahabah get into disputes, they can resolve them in a civil manner. Aisha had the humility to apologize, despite the fact that she really didn’t do anything wrong, and Ali had the nobility not to hold any ill-feelings towards her and to walk her safely home.
During this chaotic time of civil war, all of the Sahabah were being pulled and manipulated by their ardent followers, many of whom were rabble-rousers like the followers of Ibn Saba in the Shia’t Ali. In the confusion of all of this, the Sahabah found themselves facing a civil war, despite the verse in the Quran which stated that the Ummah should remain united. It was a sad time in the history of Islam, with great Sahabah fighting other great Sahabah. But it should be remembered that the Battle of the Camel was concluded with the eventual reconciliation between Umm al Mu’mineen Aisha and Amir al Mu’mineen Caliph Ali.
Battle of Siffin and the Saba’ite Revolt Against Ali
Uthman’s cousin Muawiyyah, then the governor of Syria, was not pleased with this outcome because Ali still did not prosecute the criminals within his own ranks. Muawiyyah was a blood-relative of Uthman and he was very upset that the murderers were not apprehended. Muawiyyah refused to recognize Ali as Caliph, and he demanded the right to avenge Uthman’s death. In what was perhaps the most important battle fought between Muslims, Ali’s forces met Muawiyyah’s in the Battle of Siffin.
The Shia say that Ali fought Muawiyyah for denying the Shia concept of the Imamah, and that Ali was the first Infallible Imam. And yet the Shia’s own books say that this was not the cause of the Battle of Siffin, but rather the cause was purely political, not religious. Ali clearly said in Nahjul Balagha:
“In the beginning of our matter, the people of Syria [Muawiyyah’s forces] and us met. It is obvious that our God is one, our Prophet is one, and our call in Islam is one. We do not see ourselves more in faith in Allah or more in believing His messenger than them, nor they do. Our matter is one, except for our disagreement in Uthman’s blood, and we are innocent from his murder.” [Nahjul Balagha, vol.3, p.648]
So it was that the Shia’t Ali met the Shia’t Muawiyyah. Caliph Ali’s forces were decimating the forces of Muawiyyah. It would have been a decisive victory for Caliph Ali, but the Shia’t Muawiyyah used a rouse to fool the Shia’t Ali. Muawiyyah’s Syrians adorned the tips of their swords with pages from the Quran. This confused the Shia’t Ali, who did not want to bring harm to the Quran.
The Shia’t Ali stopped fighting due to this trick, and the Shia’t Muawiyyah asked for a cease-fire and to resolve the issue through arbitration. Caliph Ali, being the noble man that he was, agreed to Shurah (consultation) for determining who would be Caliph. This greatly upset a contingent of his ardent followers, the Saba’ites, who did not agree that Ali should use arbitration. The Saba’ites had been convinced by Abdullah Ibn Saba that Allah had appointed Ali as Caliph. So they accused Ali of going against the Will of Allah by resorting to negotiation on the matter. How could there be negotiation on a matter that is decreed by Allah Almighty?
A portion of the Saba’ites defected and turned against Caliph Ali. They declared vociferously: “No rule but to Allah!” These defectors came to be known as the Khawaarij, which literally translates to “those who go out” or “those who secede.” For so long, these people had been the most ardent supporters of Ali, calling themselves the Shia’t Ali and the Lovers of Ahl el Bayt, but look now where their doctrinal innovation had taken them. They defected against the very man they had claimed to follow!
This event in Islamic history is one that the Shia of today cannot explain away. They try to hide it under a rug, since it shows the falsehood of their beliefs. The Khawaarij, former Saba’ites, were of the same belief as today’s Ithna Ashari Shia (Twelver Shia, those who believe in 12 Imams) , namely that Allah had appointed Ali to be Caliph. And yet, Ali agreed to arbitration with Muawiyyah. The million-dollar question is: how could Ali agree to arbitration if it was a matter decreed by Allah?
How could Ali agree to negotiation on this matter if Allah Himself had chosen Ali to be this supposed “Infallible Imam”? Would Prophet Muhammad agree to arbitration and negotiation on the matter of his Prophet-hood? So why would Ali arbitrate and negotiate on the matter of his Imamah? In matters decreed by Allah, there can be no negotiation! For example, we cannot negotiate on the matter of eating pork or Salah, since these matters are already decreed by Allah.
This event proves without a shadow of doubt that Ali did not believe he was not divinely appointed by Allah nor by His Messenger, since he agreed to arbitration and agreed to Shurah (consultation) to decide who would be the Caliph. This proves that what the Ahl Sunnah’s (Sunnis) beliefs are correct: namely that Shurah is the way to elect a leader, much like how Abu Bakr was selected.
The Shia belief system is diametrically opposed to the very Ali they claim to follow, and soon will they also be faced against Ali, much like the Khawaarij (former Saba’ites) would turn against and confront Ali; Ali is he who denied all claims of divine appointment and of Infallible Imamah.
Caliph Ali eventually fought against the Khawaarij Shia and defeated them and was not successful in uprooting the beliefs of their followers. However, the Shia became a secret cult initially.
Ali Murdered by Saba’ites
In any case, the Khawaarij Shia turned against Caliph Ali and killed him. So it was that Muawiyyah became the fifth Caliph. The irony should not be lost that the Khawaarij Shia are the ones who killed Ali, allowing Muawiyyah to be the Caliph, and now look at the Shia today lamenting about Muawiyyah stealing the Caliphate! There can be no denying that the Saba’ites and the Khawaarij are the fore-fathers of Shi’ism, since the Shia today hold the same opinion that Ali was divinely appointed and thus arbitration (i.e. with Abu Bakr or Muawiyyah) cannot be accepted.
After Ali’s death, the Khawaarij went back into hiding, using Taqiyyah (lying) and Kitman (hiding). Abdullah ibn Abbas, a relative of the Prophet (p), attempted to persuade them to reject the Khawaarij doctrine, and so some of them did reject it. Unfortunately, most of them continued to hold onto their Saba’ite Shia beliefs, initially secretly, and later more openly.
This article has traced the origins of the Shia, which date back to the assassination conspiracy of Umar by the Persian Harmuzan, the Christian Jafeena, and the Jew Saba. The latter’s son, Abdullah Ibn Saba, would carry on his father’s work by adopting the subterfuge tactics of the Jews of Yathrib. Ibn Saba was successful in weakening the Muslims from the inside by creating the Shia sect. Throughout its turbulent history, the Shia (who originated from the Saba’ites) have spread Fitnah to every corner of the Muslim world.
These Saba’ites killed Uthman, attacked Aisha, and killed Ali. They also supported Umar’s assassin Abu Lula. Then, these Shia betrayed Ali’s son Hasan. The Shia also deceived Ali’s second son Hussain to seek the Caliphate by giving him the impression they they would support him, but they abandoned him and many of them actually fought against him, in the battle that lead to his brutal death. Later, Hussain’s grandson would also die due to the betrayal of the Shia.
The ancestors of the Shia were a hate-mongering people, responsible for creating disunity and disarray amongst the Muslim Ummah. Today, this tradition lives on in the Shia, who carry on the practice of Tabarra, cursing and insulting the pious pioneers of Islam, rabble-rousing and trying to create hatred and disunity amongst the believers.
However, the present day Shia recognize the game plan of secret societies and wants unity among different sects to put up a united front against their onslaught.
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