|The Fourteen Infallibles|
Twelver Shi'a Islam (Arabic: اثنا عشرية, Athnā‘ashariyyah or Ithnā‘ashariyyah; Persian: شیعه دوازدهامامی, pronounced [ʃiːʔe-je dævɑzdæh emɑmiː]) or Imamiyyah (Arabic: إمامية) is the largest branch of Shi'a Islam. The term Twelver refers to its adherents' belief in twelve divinely ordained leaders, known as the Twelve Imams, and their belief that the last Imam, Muhammad al-Mahdi, lives in occultation and will be the returned as the promised Mahdi.
Twelvers believe the Twelve Imams are the spiritual and political successors to the Islamic prophet Muhammad. According to the theology of Twelvers, the Twelve Imams are exemplary human individuals who not only rule over the community with justice, but also are able to keep and interpret sharia and the esoteric meaning of the Quran. Muhammad and Imams' words and deeds(Sunnah) are a guide and model for the community to follow; as a result, they must be free from error and sin, known as Ismah or infallibility and must be chosen by divine decree, or nass, through the Prophet. Also the Twelvers believe to "the seal of the prophcecy" by Muhammad and the esoteric and exoteric meaning of Quran.
Twelvers make majorities in Iran, Iraq, Azerbaijan and Bahrain; a plurality in Lebanon; and significant minorities in Kuwait, India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Kuwait, Qatar, UAE and Saudi Arabia. Smaller minorities also exist in Oman, Yemen, Egypt, and Uzbekistan.
Twelvers share many tenets of Shia with related sects, such as the belief in Imams, but the Ismā'īlī believe in a different number of Imāms and, for the most part, a different path of succession regarding the Imāmate. They also differ in the role and overall definition of an Imam. Alevis in Turkey and Albania and Alawis in Syria share belief in the twelve Imams with Twelvers, but their theological doctrines are different.
- 1 Terminology
- 2 Theological doctrine (Usul al-Din)
- 2.1 Tawhid (Unity of God)
- 2.2 The Justice of God (Adle Elahi)
- 2.3 The Prophethood (Nubuwah)
- 2.4 Imamah and Walayah
- 2.5 The Resurrection (Ma'ad)
- 3 Shari'ah (Furu al-Din)
- 4 Differences
- 5 Jurisprudence (Fiqh)
- 6 History
- 7 Calendar
- 8 Mourning, Rawdah-khani, Ta'zia, and Sini-zani
- 9 Notable scholars
- 10 See also
- 11 Footnotes
- 12 References
- 13 External links
The name of the Twelver is based on the belief that twelve male descendants from the family of Muhammad, starting with Ali ibn Abi-Talib and ending with Muhammad al-Mahdi, are Imams who have religious and political authority.
The Twelvers are also known by other names, each connoting some aspect of the faith:
- The Shī'ah (or Shi'a) is commonly used as a synonym for "Twelvers" since this branch comprises the majority group of Shī'ī Islam. Shia refers to a group of Muslims who believe that the succession to Muhammad must remain in his family who are designated by a divine appointment. Tabataba'ei states that the word referred to the partisans of Ali at the time of Muhammad himself.
- Ja'farī refers to Twelvers to the exclusion of the Ismā'īlī ). This term refers to the majority Twelver school of jurisprudence (a minority school, the Akhbarī, also exists). It is attributed to Ja'far al-Sadiq, who the Twelvers consider to be their Sixth Imām. The founders of the Sunni Hanafi and Maliki schools of jurisprudence narrated hadith from Ja'far al-Sadiq.
- Imāmī or Imamiyyah or Imamite is a reference to the Twelver belief in the infallibility of the Imāms. Though the Ismā'īlī also accept the concept of Imāms, this term is used specifically for the Twelvers. Now the word refers to the Muslims who believe that the leadership of the community after Muhammad belongs to Ali and his successors who are infallible.
Theological doctrine (Usul al-Din)
Twelver's theology has formed during the history based on Quran and Hadith of Muhammad and Twelve Imams especially Jafar al-Sadiq, the sixth Imam, and in response to the intellectual movements in the Muslim world as well as the main events of the Twelver's history such as the occultation of the twelfth Imam, Muhammad al-Mahdi.
Tawhid (Unity of God)
According to Seyyed Hossein Nasr, Ali, the first Shia Imam, is credited with having established Islamic theology and his quotations contain the first rational proofs among Muslims of the Unity of God.
"The first step of religion is to accept, understand and realize him as the Lord... The correct form of belief in his unity is to realize that he is so absolutely pure and above nature that nothing can be added to or subtracted from his being. That is, one should realize that there is no difference between his person and his attributes, and his attributes should not be differentiated or distinguished from his person."
Therefore, Twelvers believe God is alone in being, along with his names, his attributes, his actions, his theophanies. The totality of being therefore is he, through him, comes from him, and returns to him. God is not a being next to or above other beings, his creatures; he is being, the absolute act of being (wujud mutlaq). For, if there were being other than he (i.e., creatural being), God would no longer be the Unique, i.e., the only one to be. As this Divine Essence is infinite, his qualities are the same as his essence, Essentially there is one Reality which is one and indivisible.
Contrary to the Tawhid, is Shirk. It is a belief that the world has more than one basis or pole, Motahari states. The border between theoretical Tawhid and Shirk is to know that every reality and being in its essence, attributes and action are from him(from Him-ness), it is Tawhid. Every supernatural action of the prophets is by God's permission as Quran points to it. The border between the Tawhid and Shirk in practice is to assume something as an end in itself, independent from God, not as a road to God(to Him-ness).
According to Twelver's theology, Tawhid consists of several aspects including Tawhid of the Essence, the attributes, the creatorship, the lordship and oneness in worship.
Tawhid of the essence of God means his essence is one and peerless. Regarding this, Quran 112 states: Say, "He is Allah, [who is] One, Allah, the Eternal Refuge. He neither begets nor is born, Nor is there to Him any equivalent."
Tawhid of the attributes means God's names and attributes have no other reality than His essence. Ali argues that "Every attributes testifies to its being other than the object to which it is attributed, and every such object in turn testifies to its being other than the attribute." Tawhid of the attributes means to deny the existence of any sort of multiplicity and combination in the Essence itself. A differentiation between the essence and the attributes or between the attributes implies a limitation in being.
Tawhid of Creatorship means that there is no creator but God, that is the causes and effects of the universe are not independent from God just as the beings which are not independent in essence. There is no power except by God, according to Motahari.
Tawhid of lordship means of the governance of the world and man only belongs to God. This oneness of lordship has two aspects: creative governance (tadbir takwini), and religious governance (tadbir tashrii).
At last oneness in worship, that is God alone is deserved to be worshipped. According to Murteza Mutahhri, oneness in worship means rejecting all kinds of counterfeit worship (such as worship of carnal desires, money or prestige). According to the Quran, every act of obedience to an order is worshiping.
The Justice of God (Adle Elahi)
Justice in Creation
Justice in Religious Dispensation
This belief of Twelvers imply that God guides man through sending the messengers and He does not impose upon them obligations that are beyond his capacity.
Justice in Recompense
Tabataba'i states that the Justice of God necessitates that the virtuous and evil people become separated; the virtuous have a good life and the evil have a wretched life. He will judge the beliefs and the deeds of all the people according to the truth and he will give every one his right due. Then the reality of every thing as it is will be revealed for the man. Through his faith and good deeds, he can get to friendship with God. The form of man's deeds are joined to his soul and accompany him which are the capital of his future life. The verse 96:8 refers to getting back to God.
Predestination and Free Will
Twelvers believe to the Tawhid of Creatorship, i.e. all the existence is his creation including human being and his actions. But actions have two dimensions. The first is committing the action by free will, the second is the creation of that action by God’s will with which he gave the people the power to commit the action. Sadr al-Din Shirazi states that "God, may He be exalted, is far removed from doing any evil deeds and goes about His Kingdom at will."
The Prophethood (Nubuwah)
Ja'far al-Sadiq narrates from his fathers that Muhammad, in one of his sermons expressed that "[God] sent to people messengers so they might be His conclusive argument against His creatures and so His messengers to them might be witnesses against them. He sent among them prophets bearing good tidings and warning." Tabataba'i states that God has perfected the guidance of people through sending the prophets; When the doctrines and practices of the revealed law gets to its perfection, the prophecy comes to an end,too. That is why the Quran points out that Islam is the last and the most perfect religion and Muhammad is the "seal of the prophets", he adds. Al-Hilli describes that "the Prophets are greater in merit than the angels, because the prophets have conflicts with rational power and they compel it to submit to reason."
Tabataba'i expresses that according to the thesis of general guidance, as the human reason can not perceive the perfect law of happiness (Sa'adah) and he could not get it through the process of creation, there should be a general awareness of this law and it could be within the reach of every one. He adds there must be people who apprehend the real duties of life and bring them within the reach of human being. Tabataba'i refers to this power of perception, which is other the reason and sense, as the prophetic consciousness or the consciousness of revelation as the verse 4:163 points to this perception namely revelation. Tabataba'i describes that the reception of revelation, its preservation and its propagation are three principles of ontological guidance. What the prophets got through the revelation was religion which consists of doctrine and practice or method. He further adds that with passing of the time and gradual development of the society, the gradual development in the revealed law is apparent.
Tabataba'i states that the prophet to provide his prophecy and to confirm the claim for his prophecy should have a miracle according to the demands of the people of his own time. By miracle, al-Hilli means "the bringing into existence of something which is abnormal or the removal of something which normally exists, in a way which breaks through normality and which conforms to the claim (of prophethood which is made)."
Imamah and Walayah
Shia believe to the trilateral structure of authority; authority of God which is absolute and universal as the verse 3:26 implies, authority of the prophet which is legitimized by the grace of God as the verse 7:158 points to it and the authority of the Imams who are blessed for the leadership of the community through Muhammad as the verses 5:67 and 5:3 verifies according to Shia fundamental belief. According to Shia, Imamah is the continuation of the prophetic mission. [clarify]. They must meet these attributes: nass (designation by the previous Imam), Ismah (infallibility), ilm (divine knowledge), Walayah (spiritual guidance). The Twelve Imams are the spiritual and political successors to Muhammad, in the Twelver or Ithna Ashariya branch of Shia Islam. According to the theology of Twelvers, the successor of Muhammad is an infallible human individual who not only rules over the community with justice, but also is able to keep and interpret the Sharia and its esoteric meaning. The prophet and imams' words and deeds are a guide and model for the community to follow; as a result, they must be free from error and sin, and must be chosen by divine decree, or nass, through Muhammad.
It is believed in Shi'a Islam that 'Aql, a divine wisdom, was the source of the souls of the prophets and imams and gave them esoteric knowledge, called Hikmah, and that their sufferings were a means of divine grace to their devotees. Although the Imam was not the recipient of a divine revelation, but has close relationship with God, through which God guides him, and the imam in turn guides the people. The Imamat, or belief in the divine guide is a fundamental belief in Shi'i Islam and is based on the concept that God would not leave humanity without access to divine guidance.
According to Twelvers, there is always an Imam of the Age, who is the divinely appointed authority on all matters of faith and law in the Muslim community. Ali was the first Imam of this line, and in the Twelvers' view, the rightful successor to the Prophet of Islam, followed by male descendants of Muhammad (also known as Hasnain) through his daughter Fatimah. Each Imam was the son of the previous Imam, with the exception of Husayn Ibn Ali, who was the brother of Hasan Ibn Ali. The twelfth and final Imam is Muhammad al-Mahdi, who is believed by the Twelvers to be currently alive, and in hiding.
The Shi'a Imams are seen as infallible. It is an important aspect of Shia theology that they are not prophets (nabi) nor messengers (rasul), but instead carry out Muhammad's message. While Sunni Muslims view all religions and groups that accept prophets or messengers after Muhammad to be heathen or heretical, Shi'a Muslims do consider the Imams to be higher in rank than all the prophets and messengers except Muhammad.
The Succession to Muhammad
Shia believe that with the death of Muhammad, his religious and political authority were inherited to the Imams. Shia considers the Successor as the esoteric interpreter of the revelation and the Divine Law.
Twelvers believe that the descendants of the Islamic prophet Muhammad through his daughter Fatimah and his son-in-law 'Alī are the best source of knowledge about the Qur'an and Islam, the most trusted carriers and protectors of Muhammad's Sunnah (traditions) and the most worthy of emulation.
In particular, Twelvers recognize the succession of 'Alī, Muḥammad's cousin, son-in-law, the male head of the Ahl al-Bayt or "people of the [Prophet's] house" and the father of Muḥammad's only bloodline, as opposed to that of the Caliphate recognized by Sunni Muslims. Twelvers also believe that 'Alī should have been successor to Muḥammad.
Although 'Alī is widely accepted by Muslims in general to be the fourth successor to the Caliphate after Uthman, for the Shī'ah, however, he is the first divinely sanctioned "Imām", or divinely appointed spiritual leader after the Prophet Muḥammad. The seminal event in Shī'ah history is the martyrdom in 680 CE of 'Alī's son Husayn, who led an uprising against the then, illegitimate to them, Caliph. For the Shī'ah, Husayn came to symbolize resistance against tyranny.
Regardless of the dispute about the Caliphate, Twelvers recognize the religious authority of the Twelve Imams, also called Khalīfah Ilāhi.
Ziyarat and Tawassul
By Shia, to Take advantage of factors to attain the goals is natural but these factors should not be taken as independent from God and should have been established in the Quran and hadith. This means can be anything which causes drawing proximity to God such as prayer, almsgiving.
In Shia theology Ismah means "impeccability", "immunity to sin" and "infallibility." When Ismah is attributed to human beings, the concept means "the ability of avoiding acts of disobedience, in spite of having the power to commit them," As in Prophets and Imams, Ismah is a Divine grace realized by God's preservation of the infallible, first by endowing them with pure constitution then, following in order, by blessing them with great excellences, giving them firm will against opponents, sending tranquility down upon them (as-Sakinah), and preserving their hearts and minds from sin.
According to Twelver Shia the Islamic prophet Muhammad, his daughter Fatima Zahra; and the Twelve Imams are considered to be infallible under the theological concept of Ismah. Accordingly, they have the power to commit sin but are able to avoid doing so by their nature The Infallibles are believed to follow only God's desire in their actions, because of their supreme righteousness, consciousness, and love for God. They are also regarded as being immune to error: in practical matters, in calling people to religion, and in the perception of divine knowledge. Shias believe that the Fourteen Infallibles are superior to the rest of creation, as well as to the other major prophets.
From historical viewpoint, Wilferd Madelung claims that the purification of Ahl al-Bayt—the family of the Prophet Muhammad—is guaranteed by the verse of purification in the Qur'an. Donaldson in his argument believed that the development of the Shi'ite theology in the period between the death of Muhammad and the disappearance of the Twelfth Imam originates the concept of Ismah which adds to its importance. Ann Lambton claims that neither the term nor the concept of Ismah is in the Qur'an or in canonical Sunni hadith. It was apparently first used by the Imamiyyah, perhaps during the beginning of the second century of the Islamic calendar in which they maintained that the Imam must be immune from sin (ma'sum). According to Hamid Algar, the concept Ismah is encountered as early as the first half of the second century of the Islamic calendar. The Shia scholars of the fourth and the fifth centuries of the Islamic calendar defined the infallibility of the Prophet Muḥammad and the Twelve Imams in an increasingly stringent form until the doctrine came to exclude their commission of any sin or inadvertent error, either before or after they assumed office.
The Resurrection (Ma'ad)
By Shia theological doctrine, since the people has come from God, they will go back to God, and it is related to people's reaction to the prophecy. [clarify] While the quality of this world makes the recompense impossible, the Justice of God necessitates that every one be recompensed according to his own actions. Tabataba'i describes that death is as the transfer from one stage of life to another stage which is eternal.
The Return (Raj'a)
Twelvers believe in the Return, the term refers to the revival of a group of Muslims back to this world after the appearance of Mahdi. The base of this belief derives from the revival of the dead in the past communities as mentioned in the Quran and the revival at the Day of Resurrection. Sobhani describes that Resurrection is both of body and spirit. Quran 17:51, in response to those that ask "Who will restore us", answers: "He who brought you forth the first time." In another place, verse 22:5-6, it is like the revival of the earth in the season of the spring after the winter. He adds the verse 36:79 implies that the person who is raised up at the Resurrection is the one who was alive on the earth. The purpose of the Resurrection of the body and rejoining the soul is that it experience the rewards and punishments which are sensible and they can not be experienced with the lack of the body.The purpose of spiritual resurrection is to observe those rewards and punishments which are especial to the spirit.
Belief to the Intercession derives from the Quran,21:28, 10:3, 53:26 and Sunna. Muhammad, the angels 53:26, Imams and martyrs are among the intercessors by God's will. Muhammad has expressed that one of God's gifts to him is the right of intercession of those who have committed major sins. As Quran represents the sons of Jacob asked their father to intercede for them and their father promised to them that he will do it at the promised time.
Shari'ah (Furu al-Din)
- Salat (Prayer) – meaning "connection", establish the five daily prayers, called namāz in Persian and Urdu.
- Sawm (Fasting) – fasting during the holy month of Ramadhan, called rūzeh in Persian.
- Zakat (Poor-rate) – charity. Zakat means "to purify".
- Khums ("Fifth" of one's savings) – tax.
- Hajj (Pilgrimage) – performing the pilgrimage to Mecca.
- Jihād (Struggle) – struggling to please God. The greater, internal Jihad is the struggle against the evil within one's soul in every aspect of life, called jihād akbār. The lesser, or external, jihad is the struggle against the evil of one's environment in every aspect of life, called jihād asghār. This is not to be mistaken with the common modern misconception that this means "Holy War". Writing the truth (jihād bil qalam "struggle of the pen") and speaking truth in front of an oppressor are also forms of jihād.
- Commanding what is just.
- Forbidding what is evil.
- Tawalla – loving the Ahl al-Bayt and their followers.
- Tabarra – dissociating oneself from the enemies of the Ahlu l-Bayt.
Shahada (Declaration of faith)
- Arabic text:
- أشهد أن] لا إله إلاَّ الله �� [أشهد أن ] محمداً رسول الله ]
- [ʾašhadu ʾan] lā ilāha illā l-Lāh wa [ʾašhadu ʾanna] Muḥammadan rasūlu l-Lāh
- English rendering:
- [I testify that] there is no god (ilah) but God and [I testify that] Muhammad is messenger of God.
In usage the occurrences of ʾašhadu ʾan "I testify that" are very often omitted.
Another rendering current among some English-speaking Muslims, but without a historical tradition, is "(I bear witness that) there is none worthy of worship except God, and (I testify that) Muhammad is the messenger of God." This version relies on a translation of (ilah) as being "worthy of worship", something which is correctly said in Arabic but does not translate well into English syntax.
Twelvers, along with Sunnis, agree that a single honest recitation of the shahādah in Arabic is all that is required for a person to become a Muslim according to most traditional schools.
A vast majority of Twelvers often add ʻAlīyun waliyu l-Lāh (علي ولي الله "Ali is the vicegerent of God") at the end of the Shahādah. This testifies that ʻAlī is also the Leader of the Believers along with God and Muhammad, proof of which Shi'a theologians find in the Qur'an.[Quran 5:55]
Shia perform prayers on especial occasions like fear, joy, thanksgiving and at the pilgrimages. There are minor differences between Sunnis and Twelver Shīʻa in how the prayer ritual is performed. During the purification ritual in preparation for prayer (which consists of washing the face, arms, feet, etc. and saying of some prayers), the Shīʻa view wiping the feet with wet hands as sufficient. Also, Shīʻa do not use their fingers to clean inside the ears during the ablution ritual. A prerequisite for purification is that one has to be clean before performing the purification ritual.
During prayer, it is the Jaʻfarī view that it is preferable to prostrate on earth, leaves that are not edible or wood, as these three things are considered purest by Muhammad in hadith specifically mentioning Tayammum. Hence many Shīʻa use a turbah, a small tablet of soil, often taken from the ground of a holy site, or wood during their daily prayers upon which they prostrate.
In the Jaʻfarī view, the hands are to be left hanging straight down the side during the standing position of the prayer. The Jaʻfarī consider the five daily prayers to be compulsory, though the Jaʻfarī consider it acceptable to pray the second and third prayer, and the fourth and fifth prayer, one after the other during the parts of the day where they believe the timings for these prayers to overlap.
Eating, drinking, smoking and sexual intercourse in forbidden from the adhan of dawn until the adhan of the evening during the month of Ramadan. This abstention may cause an spiritual purification.
Khums and Zakat
Khums (خمس), meaning one fifth, is an annual tax of one-fifth which is levied on net income(after paying all expenses). This tax is to be spent on the prophet, his family, orphans, the needy and the travelers. Half of the Khums is the share of the Imam which is his inheritance from the prophet and at the absence of Imam, it is paid to Marja' as the representative of Imam.
The items which are eligible for khums are seven:
- the profit or the surplus of the income.
- the legitimate wealth which is mixed with some illegitimate wealth.
- mines and minerals.
- the precious stones obtained from sea by diving.
- the land which a dhimmi kafir buys from a Muslim.
- the spoils of war.
Khums is mandatory on seven assets: earned profits, net income(after paying all expenses), Zakat or alms is levied on crops, livestock, gold, silver and cash
In Islamic legal terminology, it means "one-fifth of certain items which a person acquires as wealth, and which must be paid as an Islamic tax". According to Shi'a, the items eligible for khums are referred to as Ghanima (الْغَنيمَة) in the Quran. The Arabic word Ghanima has two meanings
- "spoils of war" or "war booty"
- gain or profit
The Sunni translate this word exclusively as "war booty" or "spoils of war". The Twelvers hold the view that the word Ghanima has two meanings as mentioned above, the second meaning is illustrated by the common use of the Islamic banking term al-ghunm bil-ghurm meaning "gains accompany liability for loss or risk".
Also, in a famous supplication, the supplication after the noon prayer, the person asks God to bestow on him His favors, one of those favors which the person asks is the benefit or gain from every act of righteousness, the word used here is al-ghanima (وَالْغَنيمَةَ مِنْ كُلِّ بِر ) this is in accordance with the second meaning of the word.
Shia associates the doctrine of Jihad directly to the Walayah or allegiance to the Imamah, i.e., it is Imam who can distinguish the situation which necessitates the Jihad and just this kind of Jihad may cause the entry to the paradise. Nasr states that as equilibrium, both outward and inward, is the prerequisite for the spiritual flight, all Muslims should carry out Jihad against any outward and inward forces to maintain equilibrium. The outward Jihad is related to the defense of the muslim world against non-Islamic forces. It also includes the defense of one's honor, family and rights and establishing justice in the whole environment. But this lesser jihad should be completed by a greater Jihad which is war against all forces that are against the nobility of the human. He adds that from the spiritual point of view all the pillars of Islam like Shahadah, prayer...are the weapons for the practice of this inner Jihad. So inner Jihad is the path for the realization of the One who is the ultimate message of the Islam. This inner Jihad continues until every breath of man echoes that reality who is the origin of every thing and all things return to him. 
By Shia, acting according to religion is incumbent on every one, but if the expression of a belief endanger one's life, honor and property, he can conceal his belief as the verse 16:106 implies. It is as a weapon for the weak before the tyrants. If Dissimulation cause the disappearance of the religion or the fundamentals of the religion, it is forbidden and muslims are to give up their lives but if there is no advantage in their being killed, it is to dissimulate. There is no place for Dissimulation regarding the teaching of the doctrines of the religion. As Shia has been a minority under the rule of regimes who were in hostility to their beliefs, they choose to be cautious to prevent their extinction.
Henry Corbin, states that "the practice was instituted by the Imams themselves, not only for reasons of personal safety, but as an attitude called for by the absolute respect for high doctrines: nobody has strictly the right to listen to them except those who are capable of listening to, and comprehending, the truth."
Mut'ah: Temporary marriage
Nikāḥ al-Mut'ah, Nikah el Mut'a (Arabic: نكاح المتعة, also Nikah Mut'ah literally, "marriage of pleasure"), or sighah, is a fixed-time marriage which, according to the Usuli Shia schools of Shari'a (Islamic law), is a marriage with a preset duration, after which the marriage is automatically dissolved. It has many conditions that can be considered as pre-requisite, similar to that of permanent marriage. It is the second form of Islamic marriage (Nikah). However, it is regarded as haram (prohibited) by Sunnis. This is a highly controversial fiqh topic; Sunnis and Shi'a hold diametrically opposed views on its permissibility. But some of the Sunni Muslims recognizes Nikah Misyar. Mutah existed during the time of the Prophet Muhammad, and during a portion of his time it was not prohibited. On this principle, Shias believe that anything that was allowed during the time of the Prophet should remain allowed after. Mut'ah was practiced from the time of revelation to Muhammad until the time of Umar as the verse 70:29 points to it.
According to Ja'fari jurisprudence, Sharia is derived from the Qur'an and the Sunnah. The difference between Sunni and Shīʻa Sharia results from a Shīʻa belief that Muhammad assigned ʻAlī to be the first ruler and the leader after him (the Khalifa or steward). This difference resulted in the Shīʻa:
- Following hadith from Muħammad and his descendants the 12 Imāms.
- Not accepting the "examples", verdicts, and ahādīth of Abu Bakr, Umar and Uthman ibn Affan (who are considered by Sunnīs to be the first three Caliphs).
- Attributing the concept of the masūm "infallibility" to the Twelve Imāms or The Fourteen Infallibles (including Muhammad and his daughter Fatimah) and accepting the examples and verdicts of this special group.
The sources of Jurisprudence
According to Shia, the Quran, the Sunna, intellect and consensus are the bases of the jurisprudence. As Islam is considered by Shia to be the last and the most perfect religion, by ijtihad, it deduces the responses through Islamic sources. Thus ijtihad brings flexibility to Islamic system 
Guardianship of the jurisprudent
||The neutrality of this article is disputed. (May 2015)|
By Shia political thought, at the absence of an infallible Imam, a capable jurist (faqih) takes the responsibility of leadership of the community. By Shia jurisprudence, the basis of the juristic authority is derived from the Imamate as the expansion of the prophecy and knowledge (ilm) which is also the basis for the religious and political authority of the Imam. As Islam is the foundation of Muslim's culture, it needs government in order to be implemented. and establishing an Islamic society is the aim of the Islamic government. The Islamic authority responds to social needs by Islamic norms. God's absolute authority is the foundation of Twelvers political thought, though every one who wishes to have authority must be assigned by Him. In referring to the Hakim (Wali) Ja'far as-Sadiq states that: "I have appointed him a hakim over you. If such a person orders (judges) according to our ruling and the person concerned does not accept it, then he has shown contempt for the ruling of God and rejects us; and he who rejects us, actually rejects Allah and such a person is close to association [Shirk] with Allah." Regarding the priority of the guardianship over all other religious law, Khomeini states that:"The government, or the absolute guardianship (alwilayat al-mutlaqa) that is delegated to the noblest messenger of Allah, is the most important divine law and has priority over all other ordinances of the law. If the powers of the government be restricted to the framework of ordinances of the law then the delegation of the authority to the Prophet would be a senseless phenomenon." Shaykh al-Saduq and Shaykh al-Tusi transmit the hadith that Muhammad al-Mahdi, in response to Ishaq ibn Yaqub, through Muhammad ibn Uthman al-Umari exprsses that:"As for the events that may occur (al-hawadith al-waqi'a) [when you may need guidance] refer to the transmitters (ruwat) of our teachings who are my hujjah (proof) to you and I am the Proof of God (Hujjatullah) to you all." Ja'afar al-Sadiq, pointing to verse 4:60, forbids referring to tyrannical government for all the times." In fact, the idea of jurist authority is based on the belief that establishing an ideal society without any aid from God's revelation, is not possible. According to Twelvers, Juristic authority emphasizes on the role of Shari'a in society. Traditionally Twelver Shi'a Muslims consider 'Ali ibn Abi Talib and the subsequent further eleven Imams not only religious guides but political leaders, based on a crucial hadith where Muhammad passes on his power to command Muslims to Ali. Since the last Imam, Muhammad al-Mahdi, went into "occultation" in 939 and is not expected back until end times, this left Shi'a without religiously sanctioned governance.
The first Shi'a regime, the Safavid dynasty in Iran, propagated the Twelver faith, made Twelver's law the law of the land, and patronized Twelver scholarship. For this, Twelver ulema "crafted a new theory of government" which held that while "not truly legitimate", the Safavid monarchy would be "blessed as the most desirable form of government during the period of awaiting" for Muhammad al-Mahdi, the twelfth imam.
In general, the Shi'a adhere to one of three approaches towards the state: either full participation in government, i.e., attempting to influence policies by becoming active in politics, or passive cooperation with it, i.e. minimal participation, or else most commonly, mere toleration of it, i.e. remaining aloof from it.
This changed with Iranian Revolution where the Twelver Ayatollah Khomeini and his supporters established a new theory of governance for the Islamic Republic of Iran. It is based on Khomeini's theory of guardianship of the Islamic jurist as rule of the Islamic jurist, and jurists as "legatees" of Muhammad.
Ijtihad and Taqlid (Accepting a scholar's verdict)
How to associate with a religious and judicial problem that its answer is not in the Quran and hadith. Regarding Ijtihad, Halm explains that while the religious material are limited, what procedure should be taken if a problem arises. Here human reason comes in; God gave reason to human to discover His Will. If no answer was given by tradition (naql) the intellect (aql) should come in. This rational effort to find the solutions for the temporary issues is called Ijtihad (making of an effort). It is derived form the word jihad which means the struggle for the attainment of God's Will on earth. The participle of ijtihad is mujtahid (the person who makes effort). They should master the Arabic language and be familiar with the foundations of Quran and hadith. They also should know the principles of Jurisprudence and logic. The remaining other believers, who are not expert, exercise taqlid which means authorization; that is common believers authorize the experts to make decisions for them. If the mujtahid make a mistake, the believer is not responsible for his error. Though ijtihad makes the Shia theology flexible. The traces of Ijtihad refers back to the time of Imams when they trained scholars to answer to the judicial problems of the people. As al-Baqir said to Aban ibn Taghlib: "Sit down at the door of the mosque and pronounce fatwa (judgement) to the people..."
Crisis and Consolidation
During tenth century and Buyid era, Baghdad was the center of Mu`tazila theologians. Their ideas about attribute and justice of God and human free will affected Shia theologians. Bani Nawbakht, particularly Abu Sahl Al-Nawbakhti(d. 923-924), fussed Mu`tazili theology with Imami system of thought. On the other hand, Imami traditionists of Qom, particularly Ibn Babawayh(d. 991), react to their theological ideas based on Twelve Imams' Hadiths. He tried to defend Imami ideas against Mu`tazili criticism ragarding Anthropomorphism(Tashbih).
Al-Mufid was a Twelver theologian, Muhaddith and Fiqih who is used Bani Nawbakht as well as Baghdadi Mu`tazila ideas to form his theology while trying to adapt theological ideas with Twelve Imams' Hadith. While the Mu`tazila was dominant in Baghdad, he tries to distinguish Shia and Mu`tazila ideas and assert reason needs revelation.
Shaykh Tusi, founder of Shia Ijtihad, was the first to establish the bases of reasoning in Shia Jurisprudence. His book al-Mabsut is the first book of Ijtihad which derives the subordinates from the principles. Tusi bought the Shia religious law to a new period. The main point is that he recognized the needs of the community and preserved the principles.
Jurisprudencial and Theological Development
School of Hillah
The beginner of this school, Ibn Idris al-Hilli (d. 1202), with his rationalistic tendency, detailed Shi'ite jurisprudence in his al-Sara’ir. Ibn Idris, with rejecting the validity of the isolate hadith, states rational faculty ('aql) as the fourth source of law in deducing legal norms before Quran and hadith. But real Usuli doctrinal movement began by al-Muhaqqiq al-Hilli (d. 1277) who brought up ijtihad and qiyas (analogy) to jurisprudence. Ijtihad brought dynamism into Shi'a law. Muhaqqiq Hilli and al-Hilli gave a definite shape to Shia jurisprudence and they separated the weak hadith from the sound.
In 1256 the Abbasid dynasty collapsed with the invasion of Mongols to Baghdad. Under the ruling of Mongols, Shi'its were more free to develop and al-Hilla became the new learning center for Shia. Continuing the rationalistic tradition of the Baghdad School, defining reason as an important principle of Jurisprudence, al-Hillah school laid the theoretical foundation upon which the authority of Jurisprudents is based today.
Rising to Power
School of Isfahan
In 1501 Isma'il I took the power in Iran and set up the Safavid dynasty. While most of the larger cities of Iran were Sunni, he declared Twelver Shi'ism as the official religion of his empire. Many Shia scholars were brought to set up the Shia seminaries in Iran. One of those was Karaki who stated that, for the interest of Umma, it is necessary for a Shia scholar to be a legitimate leader of carry out the tasks of the Imam who is hidden. Under Safavids, religious authorities (Shaykh al-Islam) were appointed for all major cities. Karaki established a great seminary (Hawza) in Qazvin and Isfahan, consequently, Iran once again became center of Imami jurisprudence.
By the mid of Safavid era (1736), the Usuli School suffered by Akhbari (traditionalist) trend which Mulla Muhammad Amin Astarabadi (d. 1626) was its founder. By his debates and books, Behbahani attacked the Ikhbaries and their method was abandoned by Shia.
Twelver Shi'a, celebrate the following annual holidays:
- Eid ul-Fitr (عيد الفطر), which marks the end of fasting during the month of Ramadan and falls on the first day of Shawwal.
- Eid al-Adha, which marks the end of the Hajj or pilgrimage to Mecca, starts on the 10th day of Dhu al-Hijjah.
The following holidays are observed by Twelvers Shi'as, unless otherwise noted:
- The Mourning of Muharram or Remembrance of Muharram and Ashurah (عاشوراء) for Shia commemorates Imam Husayn ibn Ali's martyrdom in the Battle of Karbala. Imam Husayn was grandson of Muhammad, who was killed by Yazid ibn Muawiyah,the second Caliph of the Umayyad Caliphate (and the first one by heredity).One group of Sunni Scholars have deemed Yazeed to be a kaafir (e.g. Sunni Scholar Ibn Jauzi in Wafa al-Wafa), another has stated he was a fasiq (transgressor), a fajir (one that commits debauchery) and a drunkard. Yazeed considered nikah (marriage) with mothers and sisters to be permissible and drank alcohol". Ashurah is a day of deep mourning which occurs on the 10th of Muharram. Sunnis also commemorates Imam Husayn ibn Ali's martyrdom, but little different from Shi'as.
- Arba'een (Arabic word for forty(40)) commemorates on 40th day of Imam Husain's martydom (40th day is an auspicious day for any deceased as per Islam) remembering the suffering of Imam Husayn and his household, the women and children. After Husayn was killed, they were marched over the desert, from Karbala (central Iraq) to Shaam (Damascus, Syria). Many children (some of whom were direct descendants of Muhammad) died of thirst and exposure along the route. Arba'een occurs on the 20th of Safar, 40 days after Ashurah.
- Milad al-Nabi, Muhammad's birth date, is celebrated by the Shia on the 17th of Rabi' al-awwal, which coincides with the birth date of the sixth imam, Ja'far al-Sadiq.
- Mid-Sha'aban is the birth date of the 12th and final imam, Muhammad al-Mahdi. It is celebrated by Twelvers on the 15th of Sha'aban. Many Shia fast on this day to show gratitude.
- Eid al-Ghadeer celebrates Ghadir Khum, the occasion when Muhammad announced Ali's imamate before a multitude of Muslims. Eid al-Ghadeer is held on the 18th of Dhu al-Hijjah.
- Al-Mubahila celebrates a meeting between the Ahl al-Bayt (household of Muhammad) and a Christian deputation from Najran. Al-Mubahila is held on the 24th of Dhu al-Hijjah.
Mourning, Rawdah-khani, Ta'zia, and Sini-zani
Ta'zia, its root azza meaning to mourn, a term used for the Shiʿite passion play performed in Persia. It is a kind of a serous drama to have developed in the world of Islam. These Ta'zias are performed if the monthes of Muharram and Safar. Taʿzia reenacts the passion and death of Hoseyn ibn Ali. rowża-ḵᵛāni is reciting and singing the story of Ḥosayn and his family and followers at the battle of Karbala while sitting on a pulpit (menbar)above the assembled crowd. The audience responds with weeping, chest-beating, and body flagellation. According to shia, Hoseyn intercedes those who participate in the Rowza and Rowza khans (a master storyteller) point to the social, political and moral issues of the day.
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- Ithna 'Ashariyah An article by Encyclopædia Britannica online
- al-Islam.org - Ahlul Bayt Digital Islamic Library Project
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