Shia is typically a person who believe in the leadership (Imamah) of the true twelve Imams after the Great Prophet (PBUH&HP) and loves and follows Amir al-Mu’minin Ali (PBUH) and his children.
The first Shia Imam, Amir al-Mu’minin (PBUH) was the front runner in battlefields, symbol of piety, owner of true wisdom and practice. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) had not only declared Amir al-Mu’minin (PBUH) as the greatest and wisest1, but he held so many virtues within him where the Great Prophet had praised them so many times.
Nonetheless, such position had triggered the jealousy of some people with less capacity from one side, and the fire of hatred of those who could not take Ali’s (PBUH) justice and truth seeking principles from the other side. He was just and never hesitated with anyone at all on the path of Allah (SWT). Therefore, after the demise of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) where Amir al-Mu’minin (PBUH), by the command of Allah (SWT), was expected to become the leader and successor, everyone from (certain) Muslims to Infidels grouped to drag him into isolation and weak position and eventually put him out of any power. His followers were also continuously bothered by the oppressive choices of the tyrant rules of the Islamic nation made to keep their positions; choices such as enforced poverty, torture, looting and murder!!
The enemy had many methods to take the Shias out of the normal social life and prevent them from having any power to resist them; amongst these methods, economical means was one. One of the methods initiated by Muawiyah and then continued by other rules for the ones who did not accept them as caliph particularly the Shia, was to remove their names from the recipient listing of the (public) Treasury2. Muawiyah had commanded his subordinates in a memorandum to remove the people who are a follower of Ali (PBUH) from the recipient of the treasury of Muslims. So many followers of Ali (PBUH) lost everything they had. It was only enough for one to be involved in a court case with a Shia; as soon as the first person had proof of the other to be Shia, the court would favor the victory for that person and the Shia would be accused of being Rafedhi (non-believer); the judge then had the right to confiscate the Shia from his belongings and sentence him to jail.
Murder and assassination of the Shia was another method used at the time of Muawiyah and then continued to become even more common practice during the reign of Marwan and his successors; during the rule of Hajjaj Ibn Yusuf, countless Shias were executed and simply lost their lives and everything. Hajjaj had not even skipped those who had children name as Ali or Fatimah.
These people went to great deals to reduce in value the virtues of Amir al-Mu’minin (PBUH), even to the extent of changing interpretations of the verses of the Holy Quran. For example verse 207 of Surah Baqarah3, which was revealed about Amir al-Mu’minin (PBUH) regarding his sleeping in place of the Prophet (PBUH&HP) during the night of the Hijrah, was changed in interpretation to be about Ibn Muljam, adding that it was Ibn Muljam who put his life in danger for killing Amir al-Mu’minin!4
The grave of Amir al Muminin (PBUH) was hidden to most except for the Ahlul Bayt (PBUT) and their close companions until the era of Harun al-Rashid, some 100 years after the martyrdom of Imam Ali (PBUH). And even when the location of the grave was identified, the Bani Abbas Dynasty would prevent pilgrims from visiting the grave, while also destroying its surrounding cities.
The true followers of the school of Amir al-Mu’minin (PBUH) from the day in which the Prophet (PBUH&HP) introduced the “Shiites of Ali” as the true victors of the day of Judgment5, stood strong with the forces of Allah’s religion, and tolerated all difficulties so that the word of the One God stays safe and secure from the unbelievers.
The history of the followers of Amir al-Mu’minin (PBUH) has proven to those living in the future that traveling the path of religion is always intertwined with difficulties and hardships; hardships in which the traveler of this path takes on with belief in the truthfulness of the path, so that he/she can become victorious in the constant exams of Allah and so they can complete their path by bringing this expensive belief and to the end. This matter can be summed up in the words of Amir al Mu’minin (PBUH) whom after the incident of Saqifah declared, “Whosoever is our friend, should put on a cloth of tragedy.”6
(The above is a selection taken from “Why Shia?” by Dr. Ali Qaemi (with minor additions))
The Roshd Website offers condolences to all Muslims, especially you dear friend, upon 21st of the Month of Ramadan, the anniversary of the martyrdom of the symbol of justice and courage, the father of the nation and the commander of the believers, Amir al-Mu’minin, Ali ibn Abi Talib (PBUH), and commemorates the Nights of Qadr.
1. Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 46, p. 136 – al-Mustadrak al-Sahihain Hakim, vol. 3, pg. 32 – Fadha’il Ibn Shazan Qummi, p. 138; Kashful al-Qummah, vol. 1, pg. 150
2. Comments on the Peak of Eloquence ibn Abi al-Hadid, vol. 11, pg. 45
3. “And of men there is he who would sell himself to seek the pleasure of ALLAH; and ALLAH is Compassionate to HIS servants.” The Holy Quran, 2:207
4. Both Sunni and Shia resources have addressed the verse:
Sunni resources: Tarikh al-Tabari, vol. 2, pg. 99 to 101. Al-Kamil Fi al-Tarikh Ibn ‘Atheer, vol. 1, pg. 516
Shia resources: Amali Sheikh Saduq, pg. 446; Tafsir Nour al-Thaqalain, vol. 1, pg. 204
ibn Abi al-Hadid narrates that: “Muaweiah asked one named to create a false narration about this verse being about Ibn Muljam in exchange of one thousand gold coins. Samrah Ibn Jundab did not accept in the beginning and Muaweiah raised the price to four hundred thousand gold coins and then he accepted to create such fake narration.”
Comments on the Peak of Eloquence ibn Abi al-Hadid, vol. 4, pg. 73
5. Kashful Qummah, vol. 1, pg. 56; al-Durr al-manthur, vol. 8, pg. 589
6. Qurar al-Hikam, pg. 657