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The Guardian of Mastership (Wilaayah) – Shaikh Sadooq (a.r.) and his debate with a denier

The standard bearer of Shiite faith and the defendant of Wilaayah, Shaikh Abu Jafar Muhammad b. Ali b. Hasan b. Babwayh Qummi (r.a.), popularly known as Shaikh Sadooq, is among the stalwarts of the Isna Ashariyya scholars. A fourth century scholar, Shaikh Sadooq (r.a.) has participated in many a debate in the defense of Shiaism. His relentless safeguarding of Shia beliefs and painstaking efforts in the service of Islam have stunned the most malicious critics of Shiaism. In the earlier issues of Al Muntazar, glimpses of Shaikh Sadooq’s (r.a.) life and books have been narrated in vivid detail. What follows is a discussion of Shaikh Sadooq (r.a.) mentioned in the foreword of his own remarkable compilation – Kamaaluddin wa Tamaamun Nemah. The discussi on had taken place in the court of Rukn al-Daulah, wherein a denier raised his skepticism about Imamat and Shaikh Sadooq had refuted his notions. The entire dialogue is reproduced below:

Denier: It is imperative on your Imam to revolt and come out of  ccultation because soon the Romans will overcome the Muslims.

Shaikh Sadooq (r.a.): In the time of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) the number of disbelievers were much more than our times. By the command of the Almighty, the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) kept his mission of prophethood a closely guarded secret for forty years. Even after that, he disclosed it to the select few who earned his trust. This he did for three years. At one stage, the infidels of Quraish unanimously decided to boycott and ostracize the Bani Hashim and all those who supported the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.). Consequently, the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.), along with his companions and family took refuge in the She’be Abi Talib and resided there for three years.

Now listen! If skeptics would have asked as to why the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) is not rising when the polytheists have subjugated Muslims, we would have replied that when the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) left for She’be Abi Talib, it was at the instance of Allah and remained in occultation with His consent. Even the reappearance of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) in Makkah was not on his own accord; rather, it was at the behest of the Almighty.

The details of the Holy Prophet’s (s.a.w.a.) return to Mecca are related thus: the pact to boycott the Bani Hashim was signed by 40 signatories of various tribes of the Quraish. The document was kept in the custody of Zuma’ah b. Aswad. Allah revealed to the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) that the termites had eaten up the whole document barring portions that bore Allah’s Name.

The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) apprised his uncle Hazrat Abu Talib (a.s.) of this miraculous development. Hazrat Abu Talib (a.s.) immediately left for Makkah to meet the chieftains of Quraish and inform them about this amazing phenomenon. When the chiefs and leaders saw Hazrat Abu Talib (a.s.), they presumed that perhaps he had buckled under pressure and now wanted to hand over his nephew to the Quraish so that they could either kill him or make him renounce his claims of Prophethood. Encouraged at this presumption, they treated Hazrat Abu Talib (a.s.) quite reverentially and gave him a warm reception.

However, Hazrat Abu Talib (a.s.) had no such plans. He addressed them, ‘O People of Quraish! I have never heard my nephew lying. And he had informed me that the Almighty Allah has revealed to him that He had sent termites to devour all the oppressive clauses pertaining to sanctions and leave those portions that bear Allah’s Name. So, O Quraish, the document has now become mere fodder for termites that have spared nothing except His Name.’ Stunned by this revelation, the Quraish sought to see the document and were shocked to find that the document was exactly as described by Hazrat Abu Talib (a.s.). After this turn of events, some of the Quraish leaders embraced Islam while others persisted in their infidelity. However, the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) along with his kith and kin returned to Makkah. Ditto shall be the circumstances of our Imam (a.t.f.s.). Whenever Allah will permit, he will reappear from his occultation.

Denier: It can be inferred from your statement that Allah holds much bigger sway on the infidels than the Imam then why has He given respite to His Enemies and why doesn’t He annihilate them, while they deny His existence or associate others with Him?

Shaikh Sadooq (r.a.): Allah does not have any fear that these people will manage to wriggle out of His Power and Authority that He makes haste in their retribution. There is none who can question Allah about His Actions, while He can question anyone.

‘He cannot be questioned concerning what He does and they shall be questioned.’

(Surah Anbiya (21): 23)

The questions of ‘why’ and ‘how’ in context with Allah does not arise. Similarly, Allah cannot be criticized about the reappearance of Imam (a.t.f.s.). Imam (a.t.f.s.) is in occultation by His Command and whenever He Wishes, He will make him reappear.

Denier: I cannot believe in an Imam who I cannot see. And until the time I don’t see him, his mastership is not acceptable to me.

Shaikh Sadooq (r.a.): Then it is equally imperative for you to admit that
even Allah’s Authority is not acceptable to you since you have not seen Him
either. Similarly, even the authority of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) is not mandatory on you since you have not seen him. Irritated at this strong argument, the denier turned towards Rukn al-Daulah and addressed him thus:

Denier: O Amir, just look at what the Shaikh is saying that Imam is not seen because Allah too is not visible?!

Rukn Al Daulah: You have distorted his statement and alleged something
totally misleading to him. This is an indication of your defeat and an admission of your helplessness and loss of face.’ Similarly, those who argue with us about our Imam (a.t.f.s.) resort to all kinds of inane and illogical arguments which are lame attempts to mislead the common folks.

(Kamaluddin Wa Tamamun Nemah, Shaikh Sadooq (r.a.), foreword pg 87-88, Persian Translation, vol. 1, pg 179-180, Urdu translation, vol. 1, pg 110, 111)

Reminder: Since this debate of Shaikh Sadooq (r.a.) was with a denier, who had some measure of belief in Allah’s Existence, he discussed about Allah on the premise of His Existence and did not try to prove His Existence first. Therefore, the learned Shaikh cleverly employed the argument of God’s Invisibility and not His Existence.

Deniers (Agnostics) are also those groups of people who are cynical about God’s Existence. They are opposed to a religious code of beliefs and conduct and with this bent of mind they misrepresent and ridicule religious beliefs. Hence, the infidels alone are not called deniers; even those people who are skeptical towards Allah’s Existence fall in this category. We should distance ourselves from them and seek Allah’s Help