CHAPTER THREE- Shiite creed vis-à-vis prophethood, the last prophet (s.a.w.a.) and the prophetic traditions

بسم الله الرحمن الرحیم

We are Muslims. In other words, we are the followers of a special ideology brought by a messenger from the Messengers of Allah. Our being Muslims has its roots in our being monotheists because the essence of a Muslim lies in total submission before Allah the Almighty. Imam Ali (a.s.) describing Islam said,

“Islam is submission and submission is Islam. Then whoever brings Islam he has submitted and whoever has submitted has brought Islam… And surely a believer takes his religion from his Lord and not from his own whim.” (Al-Amaali Sadooq, Page 351)

Yes, before anything else, a Muslim is the one who submits before Allah. He should discard the robe of self-opinion and prostrate before his Lord in submission. He must disregard his own desires, views and opinions and bind himself only and only with the will of Allah. Simply put, he must learn his entire responsibilities, religion and ideology from Allah and purify his life completely from selfishness and whimsical interpretation.
Evidently, till a person is not a monotheist and does not submit completely before Allah, he cannot be a Muslim. Hence, a Muslim has his roots in being a monotheist.

Now, we will take a glance at our Islamic beliefs, through which we will find our personalities higher than our monotheistic character and become even more distinguished and distinct than others.

  1. We believe that the command of Allah should be obeyed and hence, we submit to His orders. He has the right to frame rules, regulations and conditions concerning all our possessions. He has the right to take back from us whatever He has given us and He even desires that we should sacrifice our lives in His way. We obey His commands and accept Islam on the basis of this belief

وَنَحْنُ لَهُ مُسْلِمُونَ

“And we are those who submit to Him.” (Al-Baqarah [2:136])

  1. We believe that the pre-requisite of submission before Allah is the knowledge of His desires, likes and dislikes. Since our thoughts are incapable of scaling the domain of the knowledge of His likes and dislikes and since we are not in direct contact with the Almighty, we are bound to refer to those who are informed by Allah about His religion. Such (informed and knowledgeable) individuals are called as the Prophets and Messengers of Allah. These individuals, on one hand, while being the narrators of the religion of Allah in their language and style, are on the other hand, practical role models in the way of religiousness. Briefly, we confess that our intellects and thoughts are not enough to acquire the religion of Allah. We must learn Allah’s religion from Himself and from those taught by Him. In other words, we believe that to become Muslims we are in need of Prophets.
  2. We witness in the universe and during the lengthy course of human history that a number of Divine Emissaries have come to the people. Particularly, for the last time, approximately 1400 years ago Hazrat Muhammad Ibn Abdullah (s.a.w.a.) has been sent unto us by Allah to
    bring His eternal religion as a souvenir. Considering the excessive number of Prophets, who arrived before him, clarifies for us that Prophethood and Messengership was an ordinary thing. It was very common that a person like us is raised amongst us as a Prophet. We
    acknowledge that by sending all these Prophets and Messengers during history, Allah has completed His arguments on humanity and opened the door for them becoming religious and Muslim.
    رُّسُلًا مُّبَشِّرِينَ وَمُنذِرِينَ لِئَلَّا يَكُونَ لِلنَّاسِ عَلَى ٱللَّهِ حُجَّةٌۢ بَعْدَ ٱلرُّسُلِ ۚ وَكَانَ ٱللَّهُ عَزِيزًا حَكِيمًا
    “(We sent) Messengers as givers of good-news and as warners so that the people may not have any argument against Allah after the advent of the Messengers.” (Al-Nisa [4:165])
  3. We believe that the most important assignment that a Prophet or Messenger should perform is to awaken the sleeping masses and to make them nearer to Allah. We know that the Messenger of Allah, Hazrat Muhammad (s.a.w.a.) commenced his prophethood with the
    invitation towards Allah. All his (s.a.w.a.) activities revolved around the development of relation between Allah and His creatures, their acknowledgment of His Oneness, seeking nearness to Him and enjoying His abundant bounties under the shade of His Grace. In his
    very first invitation, he (s.a.w.a.) said,
    ادعوکم الی شهادةِ انْ لا اله الا الله وخلعِ الانداد و الاصنامِ
    “I call you to witness that there is no god (worth praying to or worshipping) except Allah and I ask you to forsake all the partners that you have regarded along with Him.”(Tafseer Qomi, Vol. 1, Page 379)
    Throughout his (s.a.w.a.) messengership, Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.a.) always drew the attention of the people towards Allah, His perfect attributes and signs and the necessity of fearing Him and His worship. This special trait was a good sign for the monotheists. For, the monotheists are always on the lookout for those who come from the side of Allah and open the way of attention and proximity to Allah for them. The Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.)
    was extremely successful in developing the contact of the people with their Lord and he could achieve successfully what a Prophet generally must do. Even today, in our times, his religion is the best answer for those who desire to come in contact with their Lord and acquire His satisfaction. Most of the people who accept Islam in modern times, do so due to its simple yet profound discussions on divine monotheism (Tawheed) and which have been explained to mankind through Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.a.). Also, many non-Muslims have a very high regard for Islam due to its approach towards monotheism.
  4. We believe that the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) started his call from the area of Hejaz in conditions where many people were awaiting him. Allah had given glad-tidings to the previous Prophets (a.s.), especially Prophet Isa (a.s.) that soon He will raise His Last Prophet and greatest Messenger in this very land. Apart from the monotheists of Hejaz,
    who followed the Deen-e-Haneef (of Hazrat Ibrahim (a.s.)), a number of Jews and Christians had also migrated to this region to witness the advent of this great Prophet (s.a.w.a.) that when he arrives they may welcome him wholeheartedly and be blessed by him. We believe that Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.a.) was the same promised Prophet, and by his Prophethood, Allah had fulfilled the glad-tidings to Prophet Musa (a.s.), Prophet Isa (a.s.) and other Prophets (a.s.). The concordance and conformity of the previous Prophets (a.s.) vis-à-vis the advent of a Prophet in Hejaz accompanied with the peculiarities that tallied with those of the Messenger of Islam (s.a.w.a.) was yet another proof of his Prophethood.
  5. We believe that Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.a.) throughout his life enjoyed a fantastic reputation and great reliability. The people of Mecca named him as ‘Muhammad the trustworthy’ because he was the most trusted person in the entire city. His presence was a blessing at all places. Love and affection overflowed in his looks, speech and actions. He was a helper of the weak and the enemy of the oppressors.
    He always carried a very noble character, good disposition and great fragrance. Numerous disputes were solved through him. Truthfulness and righteousness were apparent in his deeds. All his relatives and acquaintances considered him reliable. He was chastity and purity personified. He was courageous and brave. He extended a generous hand and was an active philanthropist. He was a treasure-chest of knowledge and cognition. He opposed superstitions tooth and nail. He never revered the idols, nor did he ever prostrate before them. Instead, in his precious moments of loneliness, he prayed to the One God, the
    Lord of the heavens and the earth. He was pure and infallible. He never usurped anybody’s right and was contented with whatever God gave him. He was obedient to his Lord and feared only Him. He accepted difficult responsibilities in the way of Allah and tasted great
    bitterness in His path. Yet, whatever Allah desired from him, he fulfilled it and executed it to perfection. He was a pure role model and submitted before the Almighty. Notwithstanding the facts that Allah had preferred him to the entire mankind and had granted him
    perfections, he (s.a.w.a.) never indulged in pride or arrogance over the people and not once did he forsake humility and meekness before his Lord. We believe that such a person was worthy of Prophethood and leadership of the people. We believe that Prophet Muhammad
    (s.a.w.a.) possessed all the good traits and characteristics towards which he invited the people. He was exactly like the one who was standing at a height and took the hands of others to help them scale that peak as well. He was certainly an ideal of humanity in truthfulness and action and trained the people through his deeds. The adornment of Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.a.) with the highest human traits, his being devoid of all evils and vices and his constant purity and truthfulness, is yet another proof for the seekers of truth to endorse his Prophethood and believe in him. We also take pride in believing in the Prophethood of such a great person.
  6. We believe that Allah the Almighty has helped and assisted Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.a.) on a number of occasions so that it may be clear for one and all that he (s.a.w.a.) indeed is a true Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.). Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.a.) possessed divine knowledge and divine power. He answered the questioners and lent power to the
    weak. Stones, trees and animals, all bore testimony of his Prophethood. In times of war, angels descended for his help. He was traversing long distances in no time. He knew about hidden matters through revelation. Quite often, the plots and conspiracies of the
    enemies were exposed for him but with complete kindness and benevolence, he (s.a.w.a.) neither named the conspirators nor did he insult them so that the way of repentance and return remains open for them. He informed about the past secrets and the hidden history of different nations (particularly Bani Israel). He elaborated as to how their scholars distorted the religion of the Prophets (a.s.), especially the books of Prophet Musa (a.s.) and the ideology of Prophet Isa (a.s.). Besides the news of the past, he also prophesied the future and whatever he said, occurred without fail. More important than all of these is the descent of the Holy Quran on him, a book whose lofty concepts made history bow in submission before it. Apart from this, more than four thousand miracles have been recorded in books and historical documents from this noble Prophet (s.a.w.a.). Even now,
    many Muslims get their needs fulfilled and solve their seemingly insoluble problems through his medium. We believe that the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.), considering his special and divinely gifted knowledge and power, had enough proofs for his Prophethood.
  7. Keeping in view the facts that the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.):
    a. Was successful in establishing contact between man and his Lord
    b. Possessed all the traits and characteristics mentioned by the previous Prophets (a.s.) in their prophecies concerning the promised Prophet
    c. Owned an eminent personality, was infallible and perfect and had the ability to guide others for the attainment of human perfection
    d. Had miracles and arguments that only the Messengers of Allah can possess
    we find that Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.a.) was the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.) and bear testimony to this fact by declaring ‘I bear witness that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.).’ We pay allegiance to that great Prophet (s.a.w.a.) and promise to obey him, to support his friends and relatives and to stand up against his enemies.
  8. We believe that the Messenger of Islam (s.a.w.a.) was the last Prophet of Allah and after him, no other Prophet or Messenger will follow (Al-Ahzab [33:40]).
  9. We are aware of Allah’s love for His beloved Prophet, ProphetMuhammad (s.a.w.a.). Hence, we seek proximity to Him by performing the following deeds:
    a. Steadfastness in our belief in him
    b. Paying allegiance to him
    c. Expressing our love to him
    d. Pronouncing our love and affection to his Ahle Bait (a.s.)
    e. Hating his enemies
    f. Sending salutations (صلوات )on him
    g. Acknowledging his divine positions and praying through him(تو سل)
    h. Visiting his tomb.

    We believe that the past Prophets (a.s.) and all the great people and believers during the course of history or whoever has had any position before Allah, was so only on account of being humble and lowly before him (s.a.w.a.). For, he was the noblest of creation, the seal of
    the prophets and the promised Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.). We believe that Allah had informed in advance of his arrival and his eminent position to the past Prophets (a.s.) and previous nations.
  10. We believe that on the Day of Judgement, all the inhabitants of bountiful Paradise will enter it only due to the blessings of the last Prophet (s.a.w.a.) and his intercession. We believe that Allah has conferred on him the Maqaam-e-Mahmud (Praiseworthy Station) and the Maqaam-e-Wasilah (Means of Recourse Station). We know that due to the excessive love that he has for his nation, the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.) will use his accepted prayers for their intercession on the Day of Judgement. On that day, all the believers including the
    great Prophets (a.s.), will enter Paradise due to his intercession and fastening unto him (s.a.w.a.), and shall attain high levels. We always ask Allah the Almighty to provide us his intercession in resurrection and believe that the following kinds of individuals will be deprived of the same:
    a. Those who take their Salat lightly
    b. Those who have hurt and tortured his Ahle Bait (a.s.)
  11. We believe that Allah has not made only His obedience obligatory on us. Rather, He has also ordered us to be obedient to and submit before His Prophet. For instance, He says,

    “Obey Allah and obey the Messenger.” اطيعوالله و اطيعوالرسول“Whatever the Messenger gives you, take it and whatever herestrains you from, keep away from it.”وَمَا آتَاكُمُ الرَّسُولُ فَخُذُوهُ وَمَا نَهَاكُمْ عَنْهُ فَانْتَهُوا
    According to these verses, the Holy Quran (which is a compilation of divine orders and speech) commands us to follow the tradition of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.) and to execute his dictates. Therefore, after the Holy Quran, it is obligatory upon us to know the tradition of the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) and to act upon it. So, whoever claims that the
    Holy Quran is enough for the eternal bliss of humanity and that we are not in need of evaluating the traditions and quotations of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) has actually contradicted the Quran.
  12. We believe that even after one thousand four hundred years, the tradition of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.) is alive because the man of today possesses the same characteristics as that of his counterpart of fourteen centuries ago and there has been no substantial transformation in him. In fact, only the modes of dressing and traveling have changed. Man is still in need of God and His recognition. Man is still in need of his own recognition to prevent him from forgetting his powers and responsibilities on one hand and on the other hand, not to fall in the trap of arrogance and pride by gloating over his power. Man is still in need of ethical guidance to enable him to come out of barbarism and become a human being. Man is still in need of laws that regulate his society.
    To understand the life of the ancient tradition of God’s Prophet (s.a.w.a.), one can pay attention to the reasoning of some of the Islamic laws and have a more enlightened glance at it. Higher than our limited understanding concerning the eternal wisdom and solid Prophetic tradition, is the saying of the Messenger of God (s.a.w.a.) himself,
    “The permissible of Muhammad shall remain so till the Day of Judgement and the prohibited of Muhammad shall remain so till the Day of Judgement.”
  13. We Shias, in the unanimous instances of the Prophet’s tradition (i.e. those things about which all the Muslims believe that it is ou Prophet’s tradition) are not in need of Taqleed nor are we skeptical about it. Like all Muslims, we consider ourselves bound by these fundamentals (i.e. Salat, Fasting, Hajj, Zakat, etc.). Anybody who denies any of these fundamentals, in our view, is neither a Muslim nor a follower of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.). For, such a person in reality is a denier of the Prophet’s Prophethood and his obligatory obedience.
  14. Where there is no consensus amongst the Muslims on a Prophetic tradition and in fact, there are differences amongst the thinkers, thereby creating doubts in the minds of the masses, we believe that we must refer to the Holy Quran and the Ahle Bait (a.s.). Thereafter, we must accept whatever is in accordance with the clear sayings of the Quran and the Ahle Bait (a.s.) and whatever contradicts the two should be rejected. For, the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) has himself willed unto us: انی تارک فیکم الثقلین کتاب الله وعترتی ما ان تمسکتم بهما لن تضلوا ابداً
    ْ“Surely I leave behind you two weighty things; the Book of Allah and my Ahle Bait. Till you fasten unto these two, you will never deviate (from the right path) after me.”