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Well, Sunni Muslims believe in four Califs after the holy prophet S.A the fourth of which being the first Imam of Shia Muslims. However, they respect all The Fourteen Infallibles (not sure about how they believe in Imam Mahdi Aj. though) in Shia Islam according to both Quran (verses about Ahl-ol-Beit A.S.) and Hadith from the holy Prophet S.A. . Now the question is if Sunni Muslims agree on that the holy prophet of Islam has given the title of Sadiq (honest and truthful) to the sixth Imam of Shia Muslims, Imaam Ja'far Sadiq A.S., why they do not follow the teaching of him, being introduced as truthful by the holy prophet, instead of e.g. his students not being nominated to any attribute by the holy prophet S.A if I am right?

To me, if the holy prophet has accepted such a position for 13 people after him among all his companion and children (children of Fatimah S.A. to be more explicit), God being talked about them as them being infallible (Al-Ahzab:33) then why a Muslim may follow others talking different than those holy and innocent people? I mean if they were wrong they were not of such a position in the eyes of prophet and for Allah, were they? And if they are not wrong why to follow others giving Fatwa sometimes in complete different ways?

Hope that the question is clear enough for the answers also to be clear.


To emphasize the point in question let put the matter as follows:

If I was a non-Muslim and I was to become a Muslim, just after confessing in uniqueness of Allah Azza-va-Jalla and that Muhammad --peace be upon him-- is his prophet I required first to know which school in Islam to obey. If I have no precise knowledge of Quran and Hadith, when all Muslim brothers know their own school to be the right one, how can I decide which one to follow? Maybe there should be a hint for me to decide, based on Quran or/and Hadith equally accepted by all different schools of Muslims. If it is a relevant expectation, then does there exist any hint in Quran or/and Hadith accepted by all Muslim brothers? Shia claims there are some, and maybe many, one of them is asked about here, that Sadiq (truthful) is an attribute (and not a forename) accepted by all Muslim brothers to be given to Imam Ja'far-ibn-Muhammad Sadiq by the holy prophet --peace be upon him-- around a century before Imam's birth date, and that Imam Sadiq --peace be upon him-- is one from whom the majority of Shia's Fiqh is derived. That is Shia Muslims believe majority of their Fiqh is already approved by the holy prophet --peace be upon him-- when he called his son "Al-Sadiq". Is this hint acceptable by Sunni brothers? And if not, do they have their own hints to override this and the other hints used by Shia brothers? Do such hints exist for all the branches of the Sunni's, Hanbali, Shaafe'ee, Maaleki, and etc.? That is, if it is proved to someone that Shia Islam is not the one which should be followed, does exist a hint that explain which Sunni school should he follow then?

In other words, the questioner tries to understand why Sunni brothers don't agree upon the Shia's hints, and that do they have their own hints then or not?

NOTE: I am trying to ask the question as neutral, I really want to know if these reasoning by Shia Brothers are considered as reasonable or unreasonable by other Muslims, and if not reasonable then why? And that if the answer to the previous question is no then what is their own reasonable hints (based on Quran and Hadith accepted by all the Muslims) to prefer their own school over the Shi'ite's based on them? This is a general question with a general scope but at the same time I have specified its scope to one single question about Imam Sadiq --peace be upon him-- for the question to meet the conditions of an acceptable question to Islam.SE.

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+1 for respectful, curious, and clear tone. – Ansari Sep 18 '12 at 19:36

1 Answer 1

You raised very interesting points in your question, I will focus on answering the two major points you asked about are related to:

1- The concept of Infallibility

Understanding this concept will answer your main question why there are differences between Sunna and Shia in Fiqh.

In Shi'a theology, the belief is that the Ahl al-Bayt, including Muhammad, his daughter Fatima Zahra and Shi'a Imams are all infallible and do not make mistakes [source]

and you quoted the below ayah from surrat Al-Ahzab:33:

And stay in your houses, and do not display yourselves like that of the times of ignorance, and perform As-Salât (Iqamât-as-Salât), and give Zakât and obey Allah and His Messenger. Allah wishes only to remove Ar-Rijs (evil deeds and sins) from you, O members of the family (of the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم), and to purify you with a thorough purification.

So if you have a person that you know that a group of people are infallible and does not make mistakes will you advice them to avoid sins and warn them from Allah's punishment?

In fact, this ayahs has nothing to do with proving infallibility, it is an guidance from Allah to the prophet family to the right path so they can be purified as a result of acting upon this guidance from Allah.

Here are similar ayats that are directed to all the believers:


Allah does not want to place you in difficulty, but He wants to purify you, and to complete His Favour to you that you may be thankful.


Allâh wishes to make clear (what is lawful and what is unlawful) to you, and to show you the ways of those before you, and accept your repentance, and Allah is All-Knower, All-Wise.

So the point from these ayat and similar is clear and have common message that Allah wants guidance for us and tell us about what we should do and what we should avoid.

Secondly, the below Hadith confirms this meaning; because if the prophet believed that his family are infallibles he was not going to warn them as such.

"O Fatimah bint Muhammad! Ask me for as much money as you wish, but I cannot save you from Allah's punishment." Bukhari and Muslim

So here is the answer to your question the Fiqh between Sunnah and Shia is different because simply Sunni people do not consider anyone after the prophet peace upon him is infallibles in the sense that they never do mistakes and everything they say (including Fiqh rules) must be followed as the only correct way in the religion.

Because such degree is only for prophets and messengers whom Allah support them by the revelation and non after them.

As Imam Malik used to say Take and leave the words of all men, except the one in this grave,' pointing towards the grave of Allah's Messenger (sallalalhu alaihi wa-sallam)

2- Which Fiqh school to follow?

  • First, religion is not taking by hints because it is a matter of Heaven or Hell that we cannot depend on hints to decide which is right we need solid knowledge and evidence to follow.

  • Second, we were not ordered in the Quran and Sunnah to follow a specific school (since they appeared after the prophet time), however we were ordered to follow scholars of knowledge and the evidence.

  • Third, all the Sunni school of Fiqh (e.g. Hanfi, Malki, Shafi and Hanbali) agrees that if there is evidence i.e. Quran and Sunnah against their opinion of Fiqh to throw their opinion and follow the Quran and Hadith.

  • Fourth, and the most important point we depend on the chain of trusted people (Sanad) to transmit the knowledge to us including Quran and Hadith. Many of the opinions that are attributed Imam Ja'far in the Fiqh and the Hadithes that Shia depend on in their books has no Sanad at all.

In summary,

Your question: why is the jurisprudence (fiqh) of Sunni Muslims different than Shia Muslims?

  • Because Sunni does not believe in the concept of Infallibility and they follow the evidence from Quran and Sunnah which scholars conclude from it Fiqh rules.
  • As a result, scholars can have different opinions that as long as they have an acceptable evidence to support they are considered valid.
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I appreciate your answer but why the holy prophet peace be upon him and his household mentioned Imam sadiq peace be upon him as "the truthful" but not the four main Fiqh imams of Sunni brothers, but Sunni scholars mainly (and almost only) narrate Ahadeeth from the 4 Fiqh imams ignoring the Ahadeeth of Imam Sadiq, peace be upon him? As you already mentioned rightly in your answer the most Ahadeeth from Imam Sadiq peace be upon him is narrated by Shia narrators. Please mention the reason as this is the key point in the question. The rest are arguable but I'm afraid they are not directly related. – owari Feb 15 '13 at 3:27
Let me re-emphasis what I mentioned, the problem is not in Imam Sadiq, he is one of Muslim scholars not for Shia only. People fabricated Ahadeeth against the prophet peace upon him, so you think they won't do this with Imam Sadiq? – نافع المدني Feb 15 '13 at 4:56
@owari there are hadiths talking about some or all of the 4 sunni Imams, but i guess they might be fabricated and they are at least not quoting them by name. – Medi Saif Sep 8 at 5:38

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