The Fabrication of the Fake Divide ‘Sunni Islam vs. Shia Islam’

Pre-publication of Part Seven and Chapter XXI of my forthcoming book “Turkey is Iran and Iran is Turkey”; Part Seven (The Fictional Division of Islam into ‘Sunni’ and ‘Shia’) consists exclusively of Chapter XXI. The book is made of 12 parts and 33 chapters.

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The fake divide ‘Sunni Islam vs. Shia Islam’ is indeed an outrage. Perhaps the most successful, colonial Orientalist trickery and machination was the fact that they entrapped sizable portions of Muslims and most of the rest of the world in the false idea that “Muslims are divided into Sunni and Shia” – in an effort to establish a parody of similarity with the categorization of Christians into various denominations (Orthodox, Catholic, Protestant, etc.) and to exploit politically, militarily and economically the assured mutual destruction of the idiotic elites who believed this fallacy concerning themselves. This topic is so vast that one could elaborate a series of books to expand on the different stages of varied historical developments and how – out of them – the present, fake divide was gradually, methodically, artificially, subtly and deceitfully created by the colonial Orientalists, agents and diplomats over the past 500 years. 

The entire effort was vast and involved the following stages:

– the creation of a false perception of the historical past,

– the projection of various historical misrepresentations onto the minds of rulers, religious leaders, and average people during periods of turmoil,

– the production of divisions among empires, hatred among people, and outrageous rhetoric among theologians and religious heads about contemporary issues (16th – 20th c.),

– the association of these contemporary issues with the misrepresented and misperceived past, and

– the deterioration of the polarization around wrongly but highly politicized religious issues viewed on the basis of the misunderstood historical past.

The result of this evil technique was that contemporary rulers, religious leaders, and average people simply projected the image of the deteriorated polarization (in which they have lived) onto the historical past, and they were totally confused and blinded in the process.

Of course, the colonial effort was supported by the release of enormous emotional reactions which were triggered in the process and caused uncontainable fanaticism and unprecedented odium of the misperceived ‘other’, thus ending in the fabricated, yet fictional division among Muslims. At the end, what was left was only to vastly misinform the world’s non-Muslims about the hypothetical divide; tons of disposable literature were then published by useful idiots and bribed academics. 

Najaf, Iraq – the shrine of Imam Ali, who had to be the first but managed to become the fourth caliph, only due to the evilness of his opponents

It is easy to find many self-contradictory points in Orientalist narratives pertaining to the topic. First, it is clearly admitted that literally speaking there is no such group as ‘Shia’: those who are fallaciously labeled as Shia are categorized to ‘Twelver Shia’, Isma’ili or ‘Sevener Shia’, ‘Fiver Shia’ or Zaidi, and even these groups are subdivided. These differentiations do not pitch all the Shia Muslims on one side and the Sunni Muslims on the other side. Second, many historical groups of Muslims have been categorized as Shia without however being so. Third, for many leading figures of the Islamic civilization, scientists, scholars, polymaths, philosophers, mystics, architects, artists, poets, authors, historians, theologians and connoisseurs in Islamic Law it cannot be specified whether they were Sunni or Shia, and this happens for a very good reason, namely that the division is fake.

Even worse, the Sunni – Shia fake divide is an ahistorical or unhistorical fiction. The early division of the Muslims and the civil wars (‘Fitna’) did not occur between ‘Sunni’ and ‘Shia’, and all the people then involved, who are today labeled as ‘Shia’, were Sunni Muslims. The name ‘Shia’, as the group of Ali’s closest friends and supporters, did not have any meaning related to religious or theological or spiritual differentiation – let alone denomination. This additional connotation appeared only later. So, the factoid narrated as the origin of the hypothetical division between Sunni and Shia is an event of totally different spiritual dimensions and historical contents, and in it there is no evidence of religious differentiation similar to the present situation.

Those early civil wars had therefore a totally different meaning; it has nothing in common with fallacies and naïve narratives that are nowadays attributed to them. Those civil wars were denounced 200 or 300 years later by 9th – 11th c. Muslims – either they are called ‘Sunni’ or they are labeled ‘Shia’ nowadays. By that time, the main groups that today’s Western Orientalists and useful Muslim idiots call ‘Shia’, namely the ‘Twelver Shia’, the Isma’ili or ‘Sevener Shia’, and the ‘Fiver Shia’ or Zaidis, had been formed but

a. they all believed that they were Muslim pretty much like those who disagreed with them, 

b. none of them used any of the aforementioned, modern and mistaken terms to designate themselves,

c. not one of the contemporaneous Muslims, who disagreed with them, used the above terms at the time or considered them as another, different ‘denomination’, and

d. only the rulers, whose illegitimate power was destabilized, endangered or denounced by the activities of these groups (and many others), tried to kill these groups’ leaders, soldiers or adepts (and every challebger), also calling names and mounting a lawless and divisive propaganda against them to protect their own criminal regimes.

But, of course, we cannot afford to take seriously the defamatory propaganda that anti-Islamic, illegal and criminal pseudo-caliphs addressed against their opponents and challengers, who were original Muslims and truly faithful mystics.

Kerbala, Iraq – the shrine of Imam Husayn (Hussein) who had to be the caliph but was slaughtered after fighting detrimentally superior forces dispatched against him by the pseudo-Muslim Umayyad Yazid

It is now essential to observe in brief what truly happened, how these groups were formed, and what concepts and beliefs were developed in the process. After a period of 24 years (632-656) when three caliphs elected in minority congregations ruled the early Muslim state, Ali was accepted as the caliph of all Muslims; he stopped immediately the Islamic invasions of other lands, but failed to eliminate the illegal claimants to the Islamic realm’s authority. There were tribal and imperial motives in those claims that were baseless as per the Islamic criteria of administration and rule. Calling the clashes of those days “First Fitna” (first civil war’ / 656-661) is a fallacy for two reasons; first, it was not a ‘civil war’ properly speaking; second, the events that today’s Orientalists and useful Muslim idiots call ‘First Fitna’, ‘Second Fitna’ and ‘Third Fitna’ were of totally different contents and essence and cannot therefore be all categorized under one name.

After the assassination of Ali (661 CE), an anti-Islamic dynasty prevailed in Damascus (Umayyad), distorting Islam and using it only to promote evil tribal interests, to diffuse anti-Islamic concepts, and to ensure material benefits. This heretic, bogus-Islamic dynasty, although overwhelmingly rejected at the time by the outright majority of all Muslims, is presented as ‘Sunni’ by today’s Western Orientalists and useful Muslim idiots. This is a fallacy. Caliphs who identified themselves as “Khusraw of the Arabs” cannot be accepted as Muslims but as ostensible enemies of Islam.

After the dreadful murder of Ali’s elder son Hasan (or Al-Hasan – 670 CE) and the repugnant extermination of Husayn ibn Ali, Hasan’s younger brother (680 CE), it was clear that the white terror regime of the Umayyad minority would not last much. There were many challenges and revolts against the Damascus regime at the time and the bellum omnium contra omnes (‘war of all against all’: falsely called ‘Second Fitna’) lasted 12 years (680-692). Few modern historians reveal the truth about what happened at those days in the Damascus Empire that was deceitfully called ‘Islamic Caliphate’.

Only 50 years after Prophet Muhammad’s death, the outright majority of the Muslims were against the ruling class of the caliphate; they sided with the descendants of the family of Prophet Muhammad, who were called Ahl-ul-Bayt {: People of the House (of Prophet Muhammad)}. So, they sided with Ali ibn Husayn (659-713), Husayn’s son, who is now peremptorily described as the Fourth Imam (following Ali, Hasan and Husayn). But it is always important to keep in mind that they were not the only opponents to the Umayyad dynasty; there were many others too. And there was no Sunni-Shia categorization for any of them.

In fact, at the time, there was no such categorization or classification at all; Muslims at the end of 7th c. and the beginning of 8th c. considered Ali ibn Husayn as the true leader of Islam on the basis of his piety, faith, origin, spirituality and theological – philosophical works. It is to be noted that Ali ibn Husayn’s mother was an Iranian princess, often described as daughter of the last Sassanid Emperor Yazdgerd III; this is important because it shows that as early as the middle of the 7th c., there were some members of the Iranian imperial elite, who accepted Islam, thus bringing their culture into it.

Ali ibn Husayn had many children; his elder son was Muhammad al Baqir (677-733) and his second son was Zayd ibn Ali (695-740). It is clear that there were no dynasty rules in that family, which was leading the opposition to the ailing Umayyad dynasty, gathering for this the support of most Muslims, who were not categorized into Sunni and Shia. As it happens in many cases, two sons of the same parents have different pursuits in life; Muhammad al Baqir was known as an erudite theologian, an authoritative moralist, and a great spiritual leader. His many books testify to his unique spiritual and mystical experiences, his profound knowledge of the relationship between the spiritual and the material worlds, and his mastership of Islamic Jurisprudence; people called him Baqir al-‘ilm, i.e. ‘Opener of the Knowledge’.

Zayd ibn Ali was a man of social and military action, uprising, struggle for prevalence and fight against the shameful Umayyad dynasty, and the anti-Islamic manners and methods of those caliphs. There was no opposition or antagonism between the two brothers, but there were surely different paths, different views as to what it meant to them to be a spiritual leader, and different theoretical confirmations of their approach to Islam and stance to life. Zayd ibn Ali’s deeds and action seem to reveal sympathy for, or adhesion to, the early Mutazilite philosophical school, which represents a form of Aramaean rationalism (notably as expressed by Tatian, the 2nd c. Father of the Christian Church) diffused among early Muslims.

Highly conscious of his right to rule the early Islamic state as the comprehensively accepted spiritual leader of all Muslims, Muhammad al Baqir avoided the use of violence in the assertion of his claim, being today a highly revered figure among Sunni and Shia altogether. Contrarily to his elder brother, Zayd ibn Ali led the uprising against the Umayyad dynasty in 740 CE. The end result was that he was assassinated by bribed inhabitants of Kufa. This was highly effective however, because those events triggered a series of revolts the last of which is the so-called ‘Abbasid revolution’. It is also wrong to categorize those events as ‘Third Fitna’ (744-750) because very diverse incidents took place at the same time in that period independently from one another.

What truly matters is that then even the supporters of the Ahl ul Bayt were divided; some of them followed the stance of Muhammad al Baqir whereas others joined forces with Zayd ibn Ali and fought against the caliph’s guards. This division had an everlasting imprint. Zayd ibn Ali’s followers accepted him as the main leader or principal representative or genuine descendent of Ahl ul Bayt, and followed his offspring. There was no such appellation as ‘Fifth Imam’ at the time, and there were no Sunni and no Shia. But there was evidently a division marked by social and theoretical differentiations.

Contrarily to the above group, the followers of Muhammad al Baqir accepted him, and not his younger brother, as the main leader or principal representative or genuine descendent of Ahl ul Bayt, and followed his offspring. This split prolonged in the next decades produced a split that was not a religious dispute, a social confrontation or the dispute for a throne. Nowadays, the followers of Zayd ibn Ali are called Zaydi or Zaidi Shia and their tradition is fallaciously portrayed as Zaidi Shiasm or Zaidiyah in the sense of a separate Islamic denomination; that’s wrong.

What is true is that the followers of Zayd ibn Ali followed another lineage of leaders, descendants from the champion of the historic uprising in Kufa (740 CE). However, the designation of Zayd ibn Ali as the “fifth imam”, of the Yahya bin Zayd bin Ali bin Al-Husayn as “sixth imam” (and so on) is a modern phenomenon. It is only by means of colonial propaganda that they are made to believe that they are “Shia” whereas all the descendants of Zayd ibn Ali never accepted that they were spiritually or religiously or theologically different from other Muslims, and in this all the rest agreed. This lineage ended with the 49th imam, who died in 975 in Cordoba, but – again – there is no religious divergence in the matter. Today, Yemenite Zaidis are called ‘Shia’ only for the needs of the destructive colonial plans and the divisive policies of the bribed local stooges of the Western countries. 

As it can be deduced, the followers of Muhammad al Baqir accepted Ja’far al Sadiq (700-765) as their leader, and he is now falsely labeled “6th imam of Twelver and 6th imam of Isma’ili Shia”, which is absolutely nonsensical, because there was no such distinction as the time, and with the exception of the followers of Zayd ibn Ali, most of the Muslims embraced him as their spiritual and religious leader. Named al Sadiq (: truthful), he wholeheartedly followed his father’s path and spiritual approach to material matters, rejecting demands of various people for insurgence approval. 

Based on Orientalist fallacy and colonial perfidy, misleading statements in the Wikipedia make of him a sort of hereditary ruler or a kind of political tenure:

“Al-Sadiq was thirty-four or thirty-seven when he inherited the position of Imamah or Imamate upon the death of his father Muhammad al-Baqir. He held the Imamate for 28 years, longer than any other Shi’ite Imam”.

Ja’far al Sadiq did not “inherit” any “position”; that’s pathetic and ludicrous. Being an ‘imam’ is a moral and spiritual task, not a silly political position as in Khomeini’s nonsensical, pseudo-Shia, fake Iran. Even worse for the demented, villainous authors of the aforementioned entry, not one Muslim spiritual leader (imam) held an ‘office’, commanded a ‘bureaucracy’ or supervised an ‘administration’. The vocation of a spiritual leader is never counted in years and it cannot be compared with the mission of others. There cannot be quantitative approach to a spiritual matter. That’s part of the nauseating distortion implemented by the said site.

Ja’far al Sadiq was an outstanding spiritual leader of supreme intuition, and a man of unique erudition, exemplary piety, and total devotion; he understood better than any other person of his time that there is no law of material nature, and that all true laws emanate only from spiritual principles, concepts, values and virtues as revealed by prophets and holy books. Ja’far al Sadiq’s explicit rejection of any association of the judicial power with ruling caliphs and monarchs is not only the most outstanding embodiment of separation of powers in the Islamic world, but also a comprehensive demonstration of the reality that Justice is a spiritual idea and not an abstract notion of materialistic minds and silly philosophers.

Ja’far al Sadiq’s works fully testify to his moral and spiritual authority; as he was opposed to ruling dynasties (during his lifetime the Umayyad dynasty was supplanted by the Abbasids), caliphs did their best to destroy any manuscript that would contain his authoritative refutation and condemnation of their lawless rule. His books are essentially saved in later manuscripts and in extensive quotations included in the books of other scholars, historians and theologians, who viewed him as the Islamic world’s foremost authority. As a matter of fact, Ja’far al Sadiq is historically the Islamic (Jurisprudence) Fiqh’s most recommendable master. All the major authors of Tafsir (Quranic Commentary – Exegesis), all the leading Islamic theologians and experts on Aqidah (Creed), and all the founders of Madhhab (Schools of Islamic Jurisprudence) were practically speaking his students (directly or indirectly), referred to him as the source of their knowledge and understanding, and depended on his considerations, conclusions and judgments.

All conquests stopped with the rise of Imam Ali as the fourth caliph at 656 CE. The reason for this is clear: Ali considered the so-called Islamic conquests as un-Islamic and anti-Islamic.

Today, the corpus of Ja’far al Sadiq’s teachings, commentaries, treatises, instructions, theological guidelines, jurisprudential recommendations, and Fiqh (Islamic Law) theoretical background presentations are said to be the foundations of the so-called Ja’fari jurisprudence school (madhhab – مذهب‎). This is an outrageous distortion because, over the centuries, many erroneous considerations and abusive judgments, which Ja’far al Sadiq would have never accepted, have been added to his corpus.

Even worse, an effort of verbalistic systematization was undertaken by various false theologians of later periods for various reasons, and this deprived Ja’far al Sadiq’s jurisprudence from its spiritual quintessence. In fact, today, Ja’fari jurisprudence school stands in direct opposition to Ja’far al Sadiq’s foremost concepts of spirituality and religion. This erratic development is due to the fact that, in later centuries, wrong claimants to Ja’far al Sadiq’s authoritative thought wanted to use his spiritual, theological and jurisprudential heritage to reject, attack, denounce and denigrate other efforts of Islamic jurisprudential systematization. In fact, Ja’far al Sadiq never viewed Fiqh in terms of debased and materialistic, legalistic systematization, but as a transcendental human reasoning of spiritual concepts and principles.

To turn the distortion to a nightmarish, counterfeit reality, colonial Orientalists’, agents’ and diplomats’ systematic interference achieved that today, among Muslims, the so-called Ja’fari jurisprudence school is believed to be the main Shia madhhab, which is an aberration, because Ja’far al Sadiq was not a Shia, his followers did not accept this term to denote themselves, and they were not even called ‘Shia’ by their opponents. The paranoid attempt to colonize the Islamic world, the Western interference, and the numerous, ceaseless Orientalist distortions finally presented to specialists, to students and to average readers a totally fallacious picture as regards the History of Islamic Law; as per this deceitful trickery, there have been four (4) Sunni schools of Islamic jurisprudence (madhhab) and one Shia madhhab. That’s a disgusting lie.

Cornerstone of the colonial distortion of Islamic History (and of the History of Islamic Law), pillar of the Orientalist fallacy projected on modern, colonized Muslims (through colonially controlled, ignorant, and subservient pseudo-sheikhs and bogus imams who are the puppets of local illiterate dictators imposed by the colonial West), and axis around which revolves the engulfment of all Muslims in endless fratricide wars is the fallacy of the supposedly only four Sunni madhhabs (Sunni schools of Islamic jurisprudence). In reality, there have been many more and, if one is extinct, it can come back to existence with several young Muslim theologians and specialists in Islamic Law, after duly delving in the texts of the now extinct madhhab, can be tasked to endorse the concepts and the principles of the said madhhab and start issuing statements and legal opinions that reflect the spirituality, the ideas and the views of this madhhab’s founder.

The most ridiculous aspect of the colonial Orientalist fallacy of 4 Sunni and 1 Shia madhhabs is this: according to this evil distortion of Islamic History, the Shia madhhab is that ‘founded’ by Ja’far al Sadiq (which is false as we already explained), and the four Sunni madhhabs are those ‘established’ by Abu Hanifa, Malik ibn Anas, Al-Shafi’i and Ahmed ibn Hanbal. The above is not only false, but also ridiculous for the following reasons:

Abu Hanifa (699-767) was not a Sunni, pretty much like Ja’far al Sadiq (702-765) was not a Shia. Both were Muslims and did not accept any religious differentiation or categorization. Even more emphatically, Abu Hanifa was the student of Ja’far al Sadiq; and he was a student who greatly respected and highly praised his master. Abu Hanifa, although slightly older, was of Iranian origin, and despite his Islamic faith, he could never be compared to someone like Ja’far al Sadiq, who was a descendant of Prophet Muhammad, and due to his moral authority and unmatched spiritual qualifications, was viewed almost as a sacrosanct person. There is not one text, one sentence or one word written by Abu Hanifa to contain the slightest differentiation from the principles and the concepts of Ja’far al Sadiq’s legal opinions. On the contrary, Abu Hanifa expressed only his personal admiration for the unsurpassed moral authority, spiritual authenticity, and jurisprudential mastery of his instructor in theology and guide in spirituality.

So, how come, and why is Ja’far al Sadiq ‘credited’ with the ‘foundation’ of the only Shia madhhab, whereas his student, Abu Hanifa, who wholeheartedly accepted his master’s teaching, interpretations and jurisprudential methods, is said to be as the initiator of the oldest Sunni madhhab? It makes no sense. Even worse, in the second half of the 8th c., when both jurisprudential authorities were still alive, not one man considered them and their students, followers and adepts as two distinct groups characterized by religious differentiation, jurisprudential divergence, theological contrast or spiritual disparity. Even more categorically, for Abu Hanifa, Ja’far al Sadiq was the only rightful caliph of the Islamic Caliphate, and all the Umayyad and Abbasid rulers were illegal criminals and cursed idiots whose presence only endangered Islam and tarnished its character. 

In fact, there cannot be found even one point of difference between Ja’far al Sadiq and Abu Hanifa, not only in theological matters but even in their lifestyle and personal choices; this was reconfirmed by Abu Hanifa’s rejection to become the Chief Judge (Qadi) of the Abbasid Empire in 763, at the age of 64. The offer was made by the second Abbasid caliph al-Mansur himself. Both, Ja’far al Sadiq and Abu Hanifa, were mature and intuitive enough to realize that there cannot be “Just Justice” as a state’s institution for the very simple reason that all states are unjust. Justice can be true and fair only if the judicial system is kept among a society’s members, out of the state control, and under the condition that all the paragons and the functionaries of the state are subject to all the legal opinions and the verdicts of the independent, societal judicial system. Abu Hanifa paid dearly for his foremost integrity, as he was imprisoned by the idiotic and evil ruler al-Mansur, who simply wanted to find a highly revered theologian, who would be docile, flexible, immoral or fool enough to approve of the caliph’s disgustingly perverse and evil decisions by endorsing them. This would be tantamount to Satanization of Islam.

However, Abu Hanifa’s total disdain for, and double rejection of, the Abbasid caliph’s offer can be interpreted only as full acceptance of Ja’far al Sadiq’s adamant claim to the title of caliph. As a matter of fact, Ja’far al Sadiq was imprisoned several times. Many people suspected that his death (765) was due to poisoning, and the same was also believed two years later for Abu Hanifa’s death.

What concerns Abu Hanifa is also valid for Malik ibn Anas (711-795), the supposed founder of the historically second Sunni madhhab. Malik ibn Anas was not a Sunni, pretty much like Ja’far al Sadiq was not a Shia. Both were Muslims and did not accept any religious differentiation or categorization. Even more emphatically, Malik ibn Anas was also the student of Ja’far al Sadiq; and he was a student who greatly respected and highly praised his master. Being Yemenite of origin and born in Medina, Malik ibn Anas formed a circle of students, followers and adepts, who attended his courses and recorded his numerous, respectful references to, and great admiration of, Ja’far al Sadiq. There is not one text, one sentence or one word written by Malik ibn Anas to contain the slightest differentiation from the principles and the concepts of Ja’far al Sadiq’s legal opinions.   

As in the case of the earlier two spiritual, theological and jurisprudential authorities, the circle of adepts was not an institutionalized ‘school’ or ‘foundation’, had no hierarchical structure like modern, so-called Islamic establishments, and did not influence the decision-making process of the Islamic Caliphate. Furthermore, Malik ibn Anas had the same attitude of distance from, and indifference for, the imperial authority as Ja’far al Sadiq and Abu Hanifa. When the viciously and incessantly scheming Abbasid caliph al-Mansur suggested Malik ibn Anas to make of his own book ‘Muwatta’ (‘the approved’: a collection of oral speeches and sermons of Prophet Muhammad and a description of principles of Islamic law) a …. “state law”(!!), to diffuse it across the Caliphate, and to order the execution of anyone, who would contravene it, Malik ibn Anas had the outstanding moral authority to fully repudiate the evil idea.  

This reflects exactly the same position as that of Abu Hanifa; Malik ibn Anas did not want to get contaminated from the evilness of the early caliphs, the viciousness of their purposes, and the un-Islamic character of their tenure. This means that Malik ibn Anas did not want to be associated in any manner with the state that today’s fake Muslim theologians and imams, who even claim to be relevant to Malik ibn Anas’ madhhab and to the so-called ‘Maliki jurisprudential tradition’, praise and insidiously want to bring back to life: the Islamic Caliphate. 

So, how come, and why is Ja’far al Sadiq ‘credited’ with the ‘foundation’ of the only Shia madhhab, whereas his student, Malik ibn Anas, who wholeheartedly accepted his master’s teaching, interpretations and jurisprudential methods, is said to be as the initiator of the historically second Sunni madhhab? It makes no sense. Even worse, in the second half of the 8th c., when both jurisprudential authorities were still alive, not one man considered them and their students, followers and adepts as two distinct groups characterized by religious differentiation, jurisprudential divergence, theological contrast or spiritual disparity.   

What concerns Malik ibn Anas is also valid for Al-Shafi’i (767-820), the supposed founder of the historically third Sunni madhhab. Al-Shafi’i was not a Sunni, pretty much like Ja’far al Sadiq was not a Shia. Both were Muslims and did not accept any religious differentiation or categorization. Even more emphatically, Al-Shafi’i was the student of Malik ibn Anas, and he testified to his master’s great respect and high praise of Ja’far al Sadiq. Similarly with his instructor, Al-Shafi’i demonstrated total indifference for state positions; pretty much like Abu Hanifa and Malik ibn Anas, who rejected the offers of the Abbasid caliph al-Mansur, Al-Shafi’i rejected the offer made to him by the Abbasid caliph al-Ma’amun (813-833; half-brother of Al-Amin and elder son of Harun al-Rashid, who was the grandson of al-Mansur). More importantly and in striking contrast with modern, ignorant, pseudo-Muslims’ silly theories and evil practices, Al-Shafi’i attended the courses of Sayyida Nafisa bint Al-Hasan, who was the first female Muslim to attain spiritual, moral, doctrinal and theological authority and organize her own courses and seminars in Egypt; Sayyida Nafisa was the granddaughter of Hasan (Ali’s son and Prophet Muhammad’s grandson) and wife of Ja’far al-Sadiq’s son, Is-haq al-Muʾtamin.

The above gives a brief outline of the major events and the central spiritual, theological and imperial figures that marked the historical period between the death of Prophet Muhammad (632) and the peak of the Abbasid dynasty that coincides with the reign of Harun al-Rashid (786-809). This period was irrevocably marked by

i) the spiritual prevalence of certain descendants of Prophet Muhammad as spiritual guides, who were deprived from their right to rule the caliphate, and

ii) a series of illegal, lawless and cruel rulers, who wanted to find corruptible theologians and jurists, who by being hired into state positions would find all possible ‘Islamic’ excuses and justifications to endorse the crimes of their masters.

During this period, there was no theological division of Muslims and no differentiation between Sunni and Shia; the modern, fake Muslim groups that claim to be Sunni and Shia simply misinterpret all the historical data of this period, and of all the subsequent historical periods. The existing internal conflicts within the early Caliphate were all due to the desire of the ruling gangs to obtain power, carry out military campaigns, accumulate wealth, and use some corruptible people to ‘justify’ their un-Islamic tenures. 

However, this period was also marked by several significant phenomena of rather spiritual, religious, intellectual, educational and cultural character:

a) the formation of several groups or ‘schools’ (not properly speaking ‘institutions’) around leading theologians and jurists, who accepted the spiritual guidance of Prophet Muhammad’s descendants and created a very wide context of pluralistic perception and interpretational diversity of the Quranic text and of Prophet Muhammad’s oral tradition.

b) the establishment of various groups of mystics, intellectuals, erudite scholars, theologians and military activists, who viewed early Islam (already while Prophet Muhammad was alive and soon after his death) through the eyes of earlier faiths, doctrines and dogmas, had a great easiness to accept Prophet Muhammad’s preaching in general, and starting from a single point of spiritual or theoretical differentiation (which existed already among other Muslims), added extra beliefs, concepts, interpretations and transcendental experiences to it, therefore forming theological particularities. Some examples: the Khawarij (Kharijites), the Muʿtazila (Muʿtazilites), the Kaysanites, and others. 

The main issue with this situation is that it was so deeply intertwined with historical developments, facts and some purposefully selected early Muslims that it generated polarizations and schisms at the social and spiritual-mystical levels. Example: the Kaysanites accepted Ali ibn Abi Taleb’s third son, Muhammad ibn al-Hanafiyyah, as the prophesied Mahdi (Savior or Messiah) at the End of Times; this cannot happen without an enormous dose of apocalyptic eschatology that was not present at the time among the other Muslims, but must have been the determinant element of the Kaysanite mystical doctrine. In its turn, this situation impacted other developments because the rebellion laid in 685 by Mukhtar al Thaqafi (one major incident among the numerous and diverse events that are confusingly named as Second Fitna) was in Muhammad ibn al-Hanafiyyah’s name.

c) the intermingling of spirituality with knowledge, of morality with exploration, of mysticism with science, of theology with symbolism, of doctrine with aesthetics, of dogma with logic, and of transcendental experience with academic learning. This phenomenon led to the formation of the foundations of what we now call in general “Islamic Civilization”; Aramaeans, Iranians and Turanians had a great role in this new atmosphere that emanated from Abbasid Baghdad and more particularly the Beit al Hikmah, i.e. the university, research center, library, museum, translation center, and scriptorium to which the accumulated knowledge and the accessible material record of almost all earlier civilizations were scrupulously gathered. This totally new environment was certainly very Islamic of character, if we take into consideration that in reality Islam is the religion of knowledge par excellence, but it was also very different indeed from the milieu of Medina of the time of Prophet Muhammad. It goes without saying that such an environment favors and promotes an even more pluralistic perception of the world, of life, of spirituality and of religion, while at the same time it does grant its participants an unprecedented interpretational diversity.

d) the differentiation between reflection and social action; some spiritual guides, erudite scholars, theologians and jurists believed that the main task of the human being (and more specifically of the Muslim) is to correct himself (which is called the Major Jihad), and others thought that it was their duty to mend the world and to fix the unjust early Islamic society (which is called the Minor Jihad).

e) the cataclysmic impact of earlier faiths, religions on the various early Muslim groups. With this I do not refer to the contents of the aforementioned point b. On the contrary, I allude to the immense spiritual, intellectual, religious, and cultural amalgamation that took place between 1) various pre-Islamic religions and systems of spirituality and 2) numerous spiritual masters, apocalyptic groups, theological schools and mystical orders of early Islamic background. As it can be easily surmised, to this phenomenon greatly contributed the aforementioned point c. This amalgamation started in the early Abbasid times and reached its peak 200-250 years later, shaping what is known as the Golden Era of Islamic Civilization.

This phenomenon predetermined the unprecedented pluralism of Islamic expressions of spirituality, religion, knowledge, science, art, thought and lifestyle, which is diametrically opposed to the customary Christian rigidity, uniformity and scholasticity (i.e. the tendency and trend that led to theological scholasticism) and fundamentally unfathomable to any devious, rationalistic, modern Western European academic discipline, philosophy, ideology, political system, social order, and colonial practice. This is the reason neither Christian times’ theologians and monarchs nor modern times’ scholars and statesmen proved to be able to even minimally comprehend the phenomenon of Islamic Civilization, let alone properly represent it. 

Westerners from the times of Abbasid Baghdad onwards failed to realize that Islam as religion was only a part or the nucleus of the Islamic Civilization, and that in its entirety, this phenomenal phenomenon was larger than life. In fact, it is enough for someone to declare “there is no god but God and Muhammad is the prophet of God” to be a Muslim. The paranoid, rationalistic Westerners, who have ceaselessly tried to separate, distinguish, and differentiate Sunni from Shia, Khawarij from Mu’tazila, and so on, simply distort an indivisible religion and civilization (which means that their effort is meaningless and useless); these Western academics and Orientalists end up ‘representing’ a nonexistent, monstrous fallacy and a fictional entity that they call “Islam”. Their effort can be described as a conscious, deliberate and systematic Christianization of Islam, but quite unfortunately, this is all in vain.

Ja’far al Sadiq had evidently understood the nature of Islam better than anybody else. Before his death (765), it was clear to him that Islam encompassed the Universe and that there is no, and -more importantly- that there cannot be any, division among two people, who accept that “La ilaha illa Allah wa Muhammad rasul Allah” and disagree on all the rest and for their entire lives. And Ja’far al Sadiq showed this in a masterly manner in his own testament; for a supreme mystic of formidable spiritual power and for a man, who walked on the flames of his blazing house (when agents of the caliph tried to kill him), it was to be expected. In his testament, Ja’far al Sadiq had to name the future imam (spiritual guide) of the Muslims.

As Ja’far al Sadiq was living in Medina, the idiotic caliph al-Mansur sent the local governor to make some inquiries and to behead the person named by Ja’far al Sadiq in his testament as the future spiritual guide of the Muslims. In fact, the designation of an imam would also be tantamount to transfer of Ja’far al Sadiq’s claim (to the title of the caliph) to the designated person. It was then found that in his testament Ja’far al Sadiq had suggested four different persons as eventual spiritual guides of the Islamic world: 1) Musa al-Kazim (Ja’far al Sadiq’s firstborn son from his second wife), 2) Abdullah al-Aftah (Ja’far al Sadiq’s second born son from his first wife, but the oldest among her surviving children; as a matter of fact, Abdullah al-Aftah was much older than Musa al-Kazim, his half-brother), 3) the governor of Medina, and 4) the caliph al-Mansur himself!

It would be wrong to consider this type of recommendation as either evasion or sarcasm. Ja’far al Sadiq knew very well that spirituality, religion, faith and salvation have nothing to do with following silly orders issued by an ignorant, indoctrinated sheikh (like those of today’s fake Islam) or by a cruel gangster who happened to be a caliph. It was therefore high time for average people to be tested in terms of moral standards, spiritual comprehension, personal integrity, and correct judgment. Everyone should make his own free choice and be rewarded or chastised accordingly.

As one can imagine, this stance and attitude increased the tendency for splits and fractures, but within the universal nature of the Islamic world, this fragmentation is normal and has nothing in common with the highly publicized by the demented Western academics ‘division’ of Muslims ‘between Shia and Sunni’, which simply does not exist. After Ja’far al Sadiq’s death (765), several different groups were formed almost instantly – but no enmity and no animosity among themselves:

i. Most of the people accepted his son Musa al-Kadhim (745-799 – younger than Abdullah al-Aftah) as their imam (7th imam). 

ii. Other people accepted that, since Ja’far al Sadiq’s eldest son Isma’il ibn Ja’far (719-762) had died before his father and (according to their opinion) the spiritual quality of imam had already been transferred to him (while his father was still alive), he did not actually ‘die’, but was concealed from human sight in an Occultation, because he was the expected Mahdi (: Islamic Messiah and Savior); this group has expected ever since (and until our times) the physical reappearance (i.e. the end of Occultation) of Isma’il ibn Jafar. So, for them Isma’il ibn Ja’far was the 7th imam.

iii. Another group believed also that the imamate qualifications had already been passed on to Isma’il ibn Jafar, but accepted that he really died and that therefore his son Muhammad ibn Ismail (740-813) was the then spiritual guide of the Muslims. This group was the first to utterly and explicitly make an association between spiritual qualifications and hereditary succession; this has to be noted. The concept emerged only after 130 years after Prophet Muhammad’s death. All earlier imams were accepted as such basically because of their spiritual qualifications and moral standards. 

iv. A small group accepted Abdullah al-Aftah (ca. 725-766), Ja’far al Sadiq’s oldest living son, as their imam.

v. Another small group accepted Muhammad ibn Ja’far al Sadiq (ca. 750-818), younger full brother of Musa al-Kadhim, as their imam.

vi. Some other people believed that Ja’far al Sadiq was the last imam.

vii. When Musa al-Kadhim (745-799) died some other people believed that he was the very last imam.

Contrarily to group vii., the majority of group i. accepted that Ali al-Ridha (766-818) was the spiritual guide (imam) of the Muslims (8th imam).

Group i. formed the beginning of what is now called Twelver Shia (those who accept 12 Shia imams with the last being the Mahdi currently in Occultation).

Groups ii. and iii. shape the origin of what is now called Sevener Shia or Isma’ilis. Group iii represents the largest portion of Sevener Shia, but it also split later into many branches. One of these groups, being named ‘Qasimi’ and having continued down to our times, accepts (as Isma’ili imam) Aga Khan IV.

Groups iv., v., vi. and vii. continued existing for hundreds of years, although they were rather marginal, and of minor spiritual, social or imperial impact.

Mashhad, Iran – the shrine of Imam Reza (Imam Ali al-Ridha)
Mashhad, Iran – the shrine of Imam Reza

It must be pointed out that this process of fragmentation was not caused because of stressed claims of spiritual guidance, personal antagonism, tribal discord or family conflict. The splits and fractures were however initiated by believers, who without viewing other imams as improper or false or wrong or impertinent, preferred to follow one spiritual guide instead of another. But many pre-Islamic notions and concepts were already diffused among the early Muslims and the clash with the various caliphs generated a tendency for apocalyptic and messianic eschatology and an expectation for the imminent (re-)appearance of a Savior who would impose Justice at last.

It is totally deceitful and wrong to call these early groups as Sunni and Shia; there was no such distinction. The only polarization in the early caliphates was between followers of the various spiritual guides, theologians and jurists from one side and the caliphs (with their guards and stooges) from the other side. As a matter of fact, antagonism, discord and conflicts characterized mainly the very few Arab families that disputed the title of caliph among themselves and categorically denied this status to the descendants of Prophet Muhammad. The conflicts, the rebellions, the fights, the persecution and the oppression created an explosive environment and a serious destabilization, but there was no religious schism, theological dispute or spiritual divergence.

Over the centuries, there was certainly a deterioration of relations that existed among the numerous early Islamic spiritual, mystical, theological, philosophical, ideological and jurisprudential groups or schools that started gradually being ‘institutionalized’; this is a posterior phenomenon that dates to 9th – 11th c. It is mainly due to the fact that several jurists accepted to associate themselves with various caliphs, sultans, emirs, khans and rulers in order to man positions of the various imperial or royal administrations (as several kingdoms started seceding from the Abbasid Caliphate). Not all the theologians, jurists and erudite scholars of the caliphate had the spiritual integrity and the moral authority of Ali al-Reza (8th imam) to reject the offer made to him by caliph al-Ma’mun to become a ‘crown prince’; not all were strong enough to repudiate offers for various, materially fanciful and spiritually shameful, titles. Then, these scholars and jurists, working for rival rulers, started misinterpreting the jurisprudential traditions to which they belonged in order to endorse the evil acts of their sovereigns.

Samarra, Iraq – Al Askari shrine
Covered in 72,000 gold pieces and surrounded by walls of light blue tiles, the mosque eclipsed all other mosques and shrines throughout the Ottoman Empire. The remodeling of the old edifice was done at the expenses of the Qajar Empire of Iran as a sign of piety and devotion.

This phenomenon caused a systematization of the early madhhabs (schools of jurisprudence), a spiritual, moral and theological degradation of all of them (because every contact with a perverse state consists in a contamination), and a definite departure from every madhhab’s original virtue, moral valor, and integrity. This situation produced tensions and wars among the various Muslim states, but again it has nothing to do with religious schisms or theological disputes.

The Iranization of Islam: from 821 until 1055 (and the arrival of the Seljuk), the disintegrated Abbasid Caliphate was in reality replaced by several Iranian emirates whereas the caliph at Baghdad had only nominal power, as all the practically speaking independent emirs recognized him as a symbolic figurehead. It was then that the joint Iranian-Turanian pre-Islamic heritage and past permeated the Islamic World in every sense.

Simply, from one side, subsequent misinterpretations of the Quranic verses, the Hadith, and earlier issued legal opinions and, from the other side, consecutive wars among Muslim states ended up in deliberate alteration of the Islamic past among the Muslims of the 13th – 15th c. As a matter of fact, every group or state tried to make early Islamic History look like compatible with its own interests and aspirations; subsequently, every imperial, intellectual, academic, theological, jurisprudential and administrative elite intentionally distorted and misinterpreted facts in order to justify its own claims. However, as I already indicated, this is a later historical phenomenon, and modern scholars cannot afford to take posterior historical sources as reference for their representation of the Early Islamic History; this would lead to confusion and falsehood. All the same, this undeniable fact played a very important role in the History of Islamic states over the past 5-7 centuries.

Example: there was no differentiation between Sunni and Shia in the 8th c.; there was only a clear opposition of faithful Muslims to evil pretenders to the title of Caliph and there ceaseless fights against these illegal caliphs, who used Islam to accumulate power, titles and wealth. So, when in 1258 Nasir al-Din al-Tusi, a leading Iranian scholar, astronomer and mathematician, sided with the Great Turanian Emperor Hulagu (so, with a Buddhist!), moved with him and his army, and even led the negotiations between the Turanian army and the Abbasid Caliph prior to the invasion and destruction of Baghdad, in Nasir al-Din al-Tusi’s mind the only thing that mattered was the chastisement of the criminal, pseudo-Muslim dynasty and the termination of a long series of rulers who mercilessly murdered a multitude of Muslims and numerous descendants of Prophet Muhammad only because they had told them the truth.

This situation was accurately studied by several groups of Crusaders during their stay in the Orient, meticulously examined later in Western European scriptoria and lodges, and aptly manipulated from the first days of colonial involvement in the Orient, in the beginning of the 16th c. The fake distinction between the so-called ‘Sunni’ and the supposed ‘Shia’ did not even exist at the days of Selim I (1512-1520) and Ismail I (1501-1524); the tension created and the ensuing wars were only the escalation of a spiritual rivalry intertwined with personal antagonism and imperial conflict. Both emperors with their calamitous policies worsened the situation among Muslims, among Turanians, and among their respective theologians, who by serving material interests destroyed the Islamic faith. This was the point after which the colonial powers had only an easy task to carry out, namely pulling the strings and destroying the colossal Islamic empires and the silly and faithless administrations. All the same, down to our days, the so-called Sunni-Shia dispute is a delusion for Muslims and a fallacious reconstruction of the historical truth by the Orientalist gangsters. About:


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The Great Mosque at Samarra, Iraq


Note about the featured image (at the very top):

The Investiture of Ali by Prophet Muhammad as first caliph at Ghadir Khumm; from a miniature illustrating Al-Biruni’s Chronology of Ancient Nations (dating back to AH 707/1307-8 CE), manuscript currently available at the Edinburgh University Library (MS Arab 161)