Jul 24, 2009, 6:35 AM
In further detail we may say that the Zaydis consider Imam Ali ('a) and his descendants from Fatimah ('a) to be more eligible and qualified as leaders of the Muslim ummah than those who assumed leadership positions after the Prophet(s). Most of the Zaydis do not vitiate the Islamic qualities and characters of Abu Bakr, Umar and Uthman as they assumed their leadership responsibilities the way they did. Hence, they were contractual and validated rulers even in the presence of Imam 'Ali ('a)-who was more accredited and, to a greater extent, accorded/nominated by the Prophet(s) to lead the Muslims. Moreover, in all the early historical developments that took place, the Zaydis remain ardent supporters of Imam Ali ('a) and continued to affirm that the most qualified to lead the Muslims is he who is a descendant of Muhammad(s) through his daughter, Fatimah ('a).
The Ibadis hold to the opinion that the majority of the sahabah were of an untainted character. However, they are strongly critical of some of them, due to the unfolding of early Islamic history. Most of this can be traced to the division that jolted the Muslims during the time of Imam 'Ali ('a). The faults and scandals that came out of that era are attributed to some of these figures, who, in the Ahlu-Sunnah context, are generally considered as sahabah.
The Ibadis believe that there are stages to redeem the injunctions or procedure of this din in its political applications, the most manifest of which is the phase of zuhur (prominence). This is when Muslims have their own Islamic state on the basis of justice and equality. In this sense, the Ibadis identify mostly with the rule of Abu Bakr and Umar. Moreover, they submit to the legitimacy of a popular vote to select the Islamic senior head-of-state.
As we can see from the above, our common history can give rise to divergent opinions and evaluations of the political process. If we are not able to absorb and understand the dynamics pertinent to these thoughts and evaluations, they have the potential of dividing us. In the "gap" of these potential misunderstandings, enemies may move in and stir sectarian strife or civil wars among the Muslims. Any political disagreements in our contemporary world affairs can draw in the cloudy detains of an ill-defined distant history and ignite nationalist and clannish tendencies, starting many conflicts through not doing must to help end them.
Pertaining to issues of fiqh and riwayah (hadith narration), the Ithna 'Ashari Muslims assert the infallibility of twelve Imams, their unquestionable leadership over the Muslims and their authority of interpreting the din after the Prophet(s). This systemic arrangement of conceptual beliefs gives the Ithna 'Aahari Shias what appears to be a degree of separateness from the rest of the Muslims. Before the Islamic Revolution in Iran and the implementation of the concept of the wilayah al-faqib, the doctrines of this school of thought were generally unknown by the majority of those outside of it. It was after the Islamic Revolution in Iran that other Muslim began to take notice of this school of thought. In fact, even non- Muslims began to look more closely at this "sector" of Muslims. Cognizant of this fact, the Islamic leadership in Iran came to the decision that Muslims are in need of an intimate and more personal understanding of who they are. In this regard, the Majma 'al-Taqrib was established at an appropriate time to diffuse the potential trouble-making that is brewing in certain imperial and Zionist quarters against Islamic Iran and its Islamic leadership.
One of the main differences between the Ithna 'Ashari school of thought and that of the other three is in the inclusiveness of the hadith literature, the second reference after the impeccable Quran, where the Ithna ‘Ashari only accept a hadith from the ma 'sum Imam. Unfortunately, this difference has found its way to the minds of many trouble makers, who use it as a formula for tension, an outline for civil instability and a strategy for ware- fare.
Furthermore, the Zaydis give particular credibility to the hadiths that are narrated by Imam Zayn ibn 'Ali Zayn al- 'Abidi on the authority of his father and grandfathers. This becomes the "backbone" of their school of thought in as far as the hadith narration is concerned.
The Ibadis consider Musnad al-Rabi ‘ibn Habid al-Farahidi to be the most reliable book of hadith. Al-Rabi 'narrated his hadith from the Prophet via Jabir ibn Zayd, one of the founders of the Ibadi school of thought
The Ahlu-Sunnah consider the compilation of Imam al-Bukhari to be one of the most authentic, if not the most authentic and reliable book of the Prophet’s hadith. In this book of hadith there are narrators who are disqualified by the other Islamic schools of thought.
As for the fiqhi, issues, the Ithna 'Ashari Shias refer to a scholarly class of 'ulama as their certified and credentialed authoritative source. Each Ithna 'Ashari Shia is required to conscientiously choose a mujtahid to follow. In the end, an intra-Islamic network of 'ulama is created, who are mutually supportive of their privileged but fiducially obligations.
The concept of wilayah al-faqih, in its dynamic application at the level of the state, has taken the Ithna 'Ashari Shias to new heights in their acknowledgment of the Islamic leadership in Iran. Due to this fact, the wali la-faqih in the Islamic State in Iran is ahead by leaps and bounds of all others in matters of decision-making and authoritative responsibilities.
As for the other schools of thought, at the moment, many remain at the behest of decision made by obscure individuals or "underground committees" that find an outlet through the general global Islamic movement. Others are politically "attached" to some secular governments; even through they may not want to admit it. In general, the Islamic leadership among non-Shia Muslims does not have the full range of political independence as is the case with Islamic Iran.
All this put together gives us a picture and an impression of an Islamic populace that needs to work on a thorough and healthy understanding of what its collective and historical character is. We cannot permit ignorance to substitute knowledge nor can we continue to allow prejudice and bigotry to define our social relations. Moreover, we must not allow imperialist-and Zionist-imposed politics and policies to act on our almost two billion population bloc of this world.
Many common impressions that Muslims have of other Muslims are inaccurate, to put in mildly; others are just plain fabrications. Some misunderstandings, which may have a semi-valid basis within the interpretative ideology of a particular school of thought, can nevertheless become obstructions and hurdles within the House of Islam if they are not understood properly.
The time has arrived for us to open up and understand each other without preconceived notions and without presuppositions or biases. Most of our ideas about other Muslims come from "structural historically unfavorable judgments". The time to shed light on these dark corners of our common mind and psychology is now.
We hope and pray that the Majam 'la-Taqrib Bayn al-Madahib al-Islamiyyah will be able to diffuse the explosive ideas that are buried deep down inside our historical terrain. We also hope that they will be able to provide Muslims everywhere with the aspiration and inspiration that will offer them the fertile grounds of Islamic brotherhood and human cooperation on the basis of the following verse:
And hold on to the strong cord of Allah and be not divided...