Who is a Real Shia Muslim?
We find many people in the world who claim to hold certain beliefs but do not act upon their professed convictions at all. These people are not steadfast in their beliefs. They claim to belong to a certain religious group, but are not faithful to the basic teachings of the religious sect they profess. They may not even know much about the fundamental beliefs of their own religious order. They sometimes even go so far as to trample the basic beliefs of their professed religious denomination underfoot due to lack of real faith and piety. We cannot seriously consider such people as really belonging to a particular sect, even though they may apparently appear to belong to that sect. In reality, they are a deadly army of hypocrites posing the greatest danger against the very religion or sect they claim to adhere to. Even the opponents of that particular religion or sect do not take such people seriously, and do not fear them. In reality, they do not consider them to be members of that sect at all. On the contrary, the real people belonging to a particular religion or sect are the people who are faithful and steadfast to the basic teachings of that group. They are the people that are ready to sacrifice their lives and property for their beliefs that are genuinely considered to be members of a particular group. The same can be said about the Shiism and the Shias; in the sense that even though many may claim to be Imam Ali’s (PBUH) Shia and followers of the Holy Prophet’s Ahl al-Bayt (PBUTH), if their profession of belief has not gone beyond mere words and has not settled in their hearts, they are not dedicated to the basic beliefs of the Shia Islam and cannot be considered to be real Shia.
We cannot consider such people to be pious Shia, and neither can we judge the Shiism by their actions. A real and pious Shia is a person who certainly would not dare kill an Imam who he professes to love and follow. On the contrary, he sacrifices his life and soul for his Imam, in the same way that many real sacrificed their lives on the day of ‘Ashura in order to assist Imam al-Husayn (PBUH). The real Shia reached out to their Imam lovingly, and sincerely gave their lives up in his way as martyrs. We can ask those who doubt and dispute these questions: Can we say that all the people living in Islamic countries are real and pious Muslims? Are they all steadfast to their professed beliefs? Who are the people living in Islamic countries that are busy working for world imperialists and by doing so are helping destroy and wipe out Islam? Are there not people in Islamic societies who are abject slaves and servants of the unbelievers [kuffar] and are working with the colonizers against Islam and the Muslims? It is certainly not possible for reasonable persons to consider such people to be real Muslims. On the contrary, such people only possess Islamic names and identities.
It is also possible to find some Shia Muslims who are like this and there is nothing unusual at all about it. They call themselves pious or believing, but are not steadfast to their basic beliefs of their professed religion. Religious instructor, Shaykh ‘Ali Al Muhsin, says, “There is open contradiction and discrepancy in the words of those who accuse the Shia of killing of Imam al-Husayn (PBUH) because the very word Shia means someone who follows and loves the Imam. How is it possible to compromise this meaning with fighting against and killing an imam? Does a real Shia kill an imam? If the accusation that Imam al-Husayn’s (PBUH) killers were Shia is right, their treacherous action would certainly expel them from the fold of the Shiism.”1 While responding to this unfair and unfounded accusation, Sayyid Muhsin Amin ‘Amili says, “I seek refuge in Allah that the real Shia should be the killers of al-Husayn (PBUH)! The people who martyred Imam al-Husayn (PBUH) were of various categories; some were people drowned in worldly appetites and pleasures who had nothing to do with religion whatsoever, others were low, mean and wicked people of the flesh, and the rest consisted of those people lacking religious conviction and pursuing their worldly dreams. Love of this world persuaded all these people to commit such a great crime. None of Imam al-Husayn’s (PBUH) lovers and Shia took part in killing him. On the contrary, all the sincere and real Shia accompanied and helped Imam al-Husayn (PBUH). They stood by their Imam to the last drop of their blood, devoting and sacrificing their lives for him until they attained martyrdom. They stayed at the service of their Imam despite the insurmountable hardships which lay in the way and never gave up on him to the very last moments of their lives. Many of these people did not expect any financial reward from Imam al-Husayn (PBUH) for their loyalty, so they were definitely not motivated by money when they decided to sacrifice for him and take part in his hardships. In order to escape and join their beloved Imam (PBUH), others took such high risks as tearing down the fortification which Ibn Ziyad had raised around Kufah, and made their escape. These steadfast Shia underwent every kind of hardship imaginable to join their beloved Imam. The fallacious accusation that even one of Imam al-Husayn’s (PBUH) Shia and lovers took part in killing him is something that never took place in reality…”2
1. Lillahi wa lil-Haqiqah, p. 97.
2. A‘yan al-Shi‘ah, vol. 1, p. 585.
Adapted from: "The Uprising of Ashura and Responses to Doubts" by: "‘Ali Asghar Ridwani".