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, Imam 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.

  • 11
    +1 for respectful, curious, and clear tone.
    – Ansari
    Commented Sep 18, 2012 at 19:36

2 Answers 2


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.
  • 2
    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
    Commented Feb 15, 2013 at 3:27
  • 5
    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? Commented Feb 15, 2013 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.
    – Medi1Saif
    Commented Sep 8, 2015 at 5:38

This is a really great topic which can be talked in most of Muslim communities. I appreciate your question as a Shia. let me first proof you the Infallibility and then lets talk about a question which proofed the truth of Shi'ism much times in the history. At the end, I wanna answer your question about different Figh's.


We first need to know a bit more about Al-Ahzab:32-33 ayah which you mentioned in your question:

يَا نِسَاءَ النَّبِيِّ لَسْتُنَّ كَأَحَدٍ مِّنَ النِّسَاءِ ۚ إِنِ اتَّقَيْتُنَّ فَلَا تَخْضَعْنَ بِالْقَوْلِ فَيَطْمَعَ الَّذِي فِي قَلْبِهِ مَرَضٌ وَقُلْنَ قَوْلًا مَّعْرُوفًا (32)
O wives of the Prophet! You are not like any other women: if you are mindful ˹of Allah˺, then do not be overly effeminate in speech ˹with men˺ or those with sickness in their hearts may be tempted, but speak in a moderate tone.

وَقَرْنَ فِى بُيُوتِكُنَّ وَلَا تَبَرَّجْنَ تَبَرُّجَ ٱلْجَـٰهِلِيَّةِ ٱلْأُولَىٰ ۖ وَأَقِمْنَ ٱلصَّلَوٰةَ وَءَاتِينَ ٱلزَّكَوٰةَ وَأَطِعْنَ ٱللَّهَ وَرَسُولَهُۥٓ ۚ إِنَّمَا يُرِيدُ ٱللَّهُ لِيُذْهِبَ عَنكُمُ ٱلرِّجْسَ أَهْلَ ٱلْبَيْتِ وَيُطَهِّرَكُمْ تَطْهِيرًۭا (33)
Settle in your homes, and do not display yourselves as women did in the days of ˹pre-Islamic˺ ignorance. Establish prayer, pay alms-tax, and obey Allah and His Messenger. Allah only intends to keep ˹the causes of˺ evil away from you and purify you completely, O members of the ˹Prophet’s˺ family!

What did you see in these 2 mubarak-ayats? The first ayah is fully about the wives of the Prophet (PBUH), and end part of second ayah is talking about members of the Prophet's family (PBUT). We all know the wives of the Prophet (PBUH) are not counted as Prophet's family (with many reasons in Sunni and Shia hadiths). But where and why did God changed his audiences?

This is what can solve our problem. Lets take a look at first ayah. God is talking with the wives. What do you see in his tone of talking? Yes! God is talking about sickness in their hearts and overly effeminate! Then, look at the end of second ayah: God is fully talking about Keeping evil away from members of him! Is these 2 tones equal? Absolutely not. Now, its time to read the first part of second ayah. God is talking about Pre-Islamic ignorance. Absolutely, this tone is very similar to the first ayah!

Yes, God is still talking about the wives in this part of ayah #33. And as its actually clear, God suddenly change his audience to The members of the Prophet's Family (AS) with changing his tone of talking suddenly.

This reason, invalidates the reason's of Sunnis who say The Prophet's Family (AS) cannot be Infallible (which you read in another answer in this page). right? I hope this guide was useful for your thoughts.

A Question for finding the Truth

Here is a question that asked many times in the history by Shia scholars to Sunni ones, and never did Sunni scholars answered it!
A question which uses Al-Ahzab:33 ayah with the meaning of Infallibility of family members (AS) of the Prophet (PBUH) which I proofed that in previous part, and a hadith from the Muhammad (PBUH) which is accepted by ALL Shia-Sunni scholars:

مَنْ ماتَ بِغَیْرِ إمامٍ ماتَ ميتَةً جاهلیّة
A person who died without an Imam, died in culture of Pre-Islamic ignorance.

(Shia source: Sheikh-Sadugh, کمال‌الدين و تمام‌النعمة, Page #409)
(Sunni source: صحیح مسلم, Vol #3, Page #1478)

So, We all know dear Fatemeh Al-Zahra (PBUH) is one of family-members of Muhammad (PBUH) and infallible (based on Al-Ahzab:33), and she was died (killed) in age 18. What she tells about his Imam after the Prophet (PBUH)? Was she talking about "Abu-Bakr" or "Umar" as her Imam? Or dear Ali-ibn-Abi-Taleb (AS)? We all know she was very angry to Abu-Bakr and Umar based on events of those days (like Fadak garden, etc) and at the end of her Mubarak-life, she was inviting people to accept the Allegiance of Ali (PBUH) with talking in mosque and going to Muslims' homes and inviting them one-by-one. What do you say? Who was the true Imam based on activities of dear Fatemeh Al-Zahra (PBUH) as an infallible person?... I hope you answer this question without bias.

Answer to your question

Shia Muslims and Sunni Muslims both accept that we must accept what did Quran said and what did Muhammad (PBUH) said. But they are different in ways of finding the true Hukms (rules).

Shia Muslims say that we should accept 14 people whom God accept them as infallible ones (Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and Fatemeh Al-Zahra (PBUH) and Imam Ali (AS) and 11 sons of them) and Sunni Muslims believe that we can give our rules from some people else (Like Abu-Bakr, Umar, Uthman and all of Ansar and Mohajerin : helpers of prophet Muhammad in wars and his life) by accepting 4 people who was students of Imam Jafar Al-Sadegh (AS). Absolutely, they say something that 14-Infallibles don't say. So Shias don't accept them unlike Sunnis. This is why they rules are different.

الله یحفظکم إن‌شاءالله

  • I appreciate the effort you put into this answer, but the question was asked about the Sunni view, not the Shia view that I'm already aware, at least to some extent. Beside that, no offense meant but I diagree with you on some points. For example a Sunni brother may answer we already accept Ahadeeth only from Imam Sadiq PBUH, and we accept Hadeeth from the 4 imams only because they are students of Imam Sadiq PBUHthat we can accept their honesty and the chain of Sanad, as @نافع‌المدنی's could implicitly claim so. ...
    – owari
    Commented May 23 at 22:01
  • This is somewhat how Shia scholars accept many Ahadeeth from Ibn Abbas for him being a direct student of Imam Ali PBUH. However, that will arise other questions, one of them being my question under his answer. Why then the 4 Imams narrate Hadeeth from many Sahabah but very rarely, if any, cite Imam Sadiq PBUH as a reference (contrary to Ibn Abbas frequently narrating Hadeeth from Imam Ali PBUH in our books), and things like that ...
    – owari
    Commented May 23 at 22:03
  • Thanks for your points and I'm sorry because I didn't look at "Sunni view" part of title of your question. I newly watched your profile and I'm so happy that I found another Iranian person in this forum. nice to meet you.
    – MHSarmadi
    Commented May 23 at 22:37

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