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“ weak Tradition” has little force; but few rival theologians agree as to which are, and which are not, « weak Traditions."
(2). Hadis-i-Mua’llaq, or a Tradition in the Isnád of which there is some break. If it begins with a Tábi' (one in the generation after that of the Companions), it is called “ Mursal,” the one link in the chain, the Companion, being wanting. If the first link in the chain of narrators begins in a generation still later, it has another name, and so on.
(3). Traditions which have various names, according as the narrator concealed the name of his Imám, or where different parrators disagree, or where the narrator has mixed some of his own words with the Tradition, or has been proved to be a liar, an evil liver, or mistaken ; but into an account of these it is not necessary to enter, for no Tradition of this class would be considered as of itself sufficient ground on which to base any important doctrine.'
It is the universally accepted rule, that no authentic Tradition can be contrary to the Qurán. The importance attached to Tradition has been shown in the preceding chapter, an importance which has demanded the formation of an elaborate system of exegesis. To an orthodox Muslim the Book and the Sunnat, God's word direct and God's word through the mind of the Prophet, are the foundation and sum of Islám, a fact not always taken into account by modern panegyrists of the system.
1. A full account of these will be found in the preface to the Núr-ul. Hidáyah, the Urdu translation of the Sharh.i.Waqáyah.
It is a commonly received but nevertheless an erroneous opinion, that the Muhammadan religion is one remarkable for the absence of dogma and the unanimity of its professors. In this chapter I propose to show how the great sects differ in some very important principles of the faith, and their consequent divergence in practice. There is much that is common ground to all, and of that some account was given in the first chapter on the “ Foundations of Islám.”
It was there shown that all Muslim sects are not agreed as to the essential foundations of the Faith. The Sunnís recognise four foundations, the Wahhábís two; whilst the Shía'hs reject altogether the Traditions held sacred by both Sunní and Wahhábí. The next chapter will contain a full account of the doctrines held by the Sunnís, and so no account of this, the orthodox sect, is given in this chapter.
The first breach in Islam arose out of a civil war. The story has been so often told that it need not be reproduced here at any length. 'Ali, the son-in-law of Muhammad, was the fourth Khalíf of Islám. He is described as “ the last and worthiest of the primitive Musalmáns who imbibed his religious enthusiasm from companionship with the Prophet himself, and who followed to the last the simplicity of his character.” He was a man calculated by his earnest devotion to the Prophet and his own natural graces to win, as he has done, the admiration of succeeding generations. A strong opposition, however, arose, and ’Alí was assassinated in a mosque at Kúfa. It is not easy, amid the conflicting statements of historians of the rival sects, to arrive at the truth in all the details of the events which happened then ; but the generally received opinion is, that after the assassination of 'Ali, Hasan, his son, renounced his claim to the Khalifate in favour of his father's rival, Muavia. Hasan was ultimately poisoned by his wife, who, it is said, was instigated by Muavia to do the deed, in order to leave the coast clear for his son Yezíd. The most tragic event has yet to come. Yezid, who succeeded his father, was a very licentious and irreligious man. The people of Kúfa, being disgusted at his conduct, sent messengers to Husain, the remaining son of ’Alí, with the request that he would assume the Khalifate. In vain the friends, of Husain tried to persuade him to let the people of Kúfa first revolt, and thus show the reality of their wishes by their deeds. In an evil hour Husain started with a small band of forty horsemen and one hundred foot-soldiers. On the plain of Karbalá he found his way barred by a force of three thousand men. “ We are few in number," said Husain, "and the enemy is in force. I am resolved to die. But you-I release you from your oath of allegiance ; let all those who wish to do so leave me.” “O Son of the Apostle of God !” was the reply, “what excuse could we give to thy grandfather on the day of resurrection did we abandon thee to the hands of thine enemies ?”? One by one these brave men fell beneath the swords of the enemy, until Husain and his infant son alone were left. Weary and thirsty, Husain sat upon the ground. The enemy drew near, but no one dared to kill the grandson of the Prophet. An arrow pierced the ear of the little boy and he died. from God, and we return to him," were the pathetic words of Husain, as with a sorrowful heart he laid the dead body of his son on the sand. He then stooped down to drink some water from the river Euphrates. Seeing him thus stooping, the enemy discharged a flight of arrows, one of which wounded him in the mouth. He fought bravely for a while, but at last fell covered with many wounds. The schism between the Sunni and the Shía'h was now complete.
The ceremonies celebrated during the annual fast of Muharram refer to these historical facts, and help to keep alive a bitter feud ; but to suppose that the only difference between the Shía'h and the Sunní is a mere dispute as to the
proper order of the early Khalífs would be a mistake. Starting off with a political quarrel, the Shía'hs have travelled into a very distinct religious position of their own. The fundamental tenet of the Shía'h sect is the “divine right of ’Alí the Chosen and his descendants. From this it follows that the chief duty of religion consists in devotion to the Imám (or Pontiff); from which position some curious dogmas issue. The whole question of the Imámat is a very important one. The word Imám comes from an Arabic word meaning to aim at, to follow after. The term Imám then becomes equal to the word leader or exemplar. It is applied in this sense to Muhammad as the leader in all civil and religious questions, and to the Khalífs, his successors. It is also, in its religious import only, applied to the founders of the four orthodox schools of jurisprudence, and in a restricted sense to the leader of a congregation at prayer in a mosque. It is with the first of these meanings that we have now to deal. It is so used in the Qurán-"When his Lord made trial of Abraham by commands which he fulfilled, He said: 'I am about to make of thee an Imám to mankind;' he said : Of my offspring also ?' 'My covenant,'said God, 'embraceth not the evil-doers.'” (Súra ii. 118.) From this verse two doctrines are deduced. First, that the Imám must be appointed by God, for if this is not the case, why did Abraham say " of my offspring also ?” Secondly, the Imám is free from sin, for God said: “My covenant embraceth not the evil-doer."
The first dispute about the Imámat originated with the twelve thousand who revolted from 'Ali after the battle of Siffin (657 A.D.), because he consented to submit to arbitration the dispute between himself and Muavia. Some years after they were nearly all destroyed by 'Alí. A few survi
vors, however, fled to various parts. Two at last settled in Omán, and there preached their distinctive doctrines. In course of time the people of Omán adopted the doctripe that the Imámat was not hereditary but elective, and that in the event of misconduct the Imám might be deposed. 'Abdullah-ibn-Ibádh (744 A.D.) was a vigorous preacher of this doctrine, and from him the sect known as the 'Ibádhiyah takes its rise. The result of this teaching was the establishment of the power and jurisdiction of the Imám of Omán. The 'Ibádhiyah seem to have always kept themselves independent of the Sunní Khalífs of Baghdad, and, therefore, would consider themselves free from any obligation to obey the Sultán of Turkey. From the ordinary Shía’hs they differ as regards the “divine right” of 'Ali and his children. The curious in such matters will find the whole subject well treated in Dr. Badger's “Seyyids of Omán."
The term Khárigite (Separatist) has since become the generic name for a group of sects which agree as to the need of an Imám, though they differ as to the details of the dogma. In opposition to this heresy of the Khárigite stands what may be termed the orthodox doctrine of the Shía’h. The Shía’hs hold that the Imámat must continue in the family of ’Ali, and that religion consists mainly in devotion to the Imám. The tragic end of 'Ali and his sons invested them with peculiar interest. When grieving for the sad end of their leaders, the Shi'ahs found consolation in the doctrine which soon found development, viz., that it was God's will that the Imámat should continue in the family of ’Alí. Thus a tradition relates that the Prophet said : “He of whom I am master has ’Alí also for a master.'
« The best judge among you is ’Alí.” Ibn Abbás, a Companion says :
I heard the Prophet say : ' He who blasphemes my name blasphemes the name of God; he who blasphemes the name of 'Ali blasphemes my name.'” A popular Persian hymn shows to what an extent this feeling deepened.