Clarification: Are we presenting extreme Shia positions as mainstream ones?

(Please read the notice concerning our draft articles and works)

by the Team

بِسْمِ اللَّـهِ الرَّحْمَـٰنِ الرَّحِيم

Due to some recent discussions we engaged in regarding the excerpts we include in our works, it is appropriate to write the following brief clarification regarding our articles and works: We know that there is a potential for certain readers to say that perhaps the views we are presenting here do not represent the ‘mainstream’ of the Twelver Shia faith, and that what we are presenting as quotes and evidences only represent an ‘extreme faction’ of Shiaism that we are trying to pass off as “genuine, normative Twelver Shiaism” only for the sake of polemics.

We know that generalizations are in many cases inappropriate especially in the context of polemics. However, as far as we know, the views shown do represent a ‘mainstream’ understanding of the dogmas of Twelver Shiaism as far as their scholars are concerned. This is done while remembering that the tenets of any religion are set out and defined by what the scholars of that religion specify them to be, even if the lay members of the group are not aware of such beliefs.

Thus, the questions revolve around whether the scholars quoted are considered “mainstream” ‘Ulama of Shiaism, whether the views expressed in the quoted excerpts are really theirs, and what is the level of tolerance or acceptance that the view in question enjoys amongst the scholars of Twelver Shiaism. Based on what we know, there is nothing in the quotes we bring forth or in the scholars from whom they emanate that would make us consider that such views are disproportionate outliers.

Now, it may very well be that certain other major scholars of Shiaism have claimed the exact opposite of what we are presenting in our works. We believe that this would not affect the “mainstream” angle of what we are forwarding. In such cases, the attribution would not be to all “Twelver Shias”, but would rather be toned down to “those Twelver Shias who follow the view as expressed by such-and-such Shia scholar”.

Thus, if anyone brings forward compelling evidence showing that other Twelver Shia scholars have declared views on the topics under discussion that are explicitly and diametrically opposed to what we are presenting in our articles, we acknowledge that for those Shias who follow the scholars expressing this “alternate viewpoint”, the situation in their case may be judged differently, according to the specifics of what is mentioned by the scholars advocating such differing opinions.

But as far as we are aware, the scholarly Shia views expressed in our articles are indeed “mainstream views” and there is no reason to divorce Twelver Shiaism as a religious group from these scholars and their respective views and opinions.

There is one thing we need to mention that is of importance: We know that a number of mainstream views of the Twelver Shias have been declared as heretical to the point of disbelief by a number of our scholars. However, neither we (as lay writers on this site who cannot pronounce any rulings) nor a great proportion of true traditional Sunni scholarship have resorted to making a blanket declaration of disbelief on all Twelver Shias.

There are a number of reasons for this abstention from this type of general declaration, but among them is the fact that Sunni scholarship generally holds out hope that if the matters are explained in a detailed and methodical manner to the deviant opponent, then this opponent may see the error of his ways and come to the correct understanding of the Islamic religion. This is not to say that declarations of disbelief are not pronounced at all on specific people or groups, but only that Sunni scholarship tries to avoid blanket statements on groups as much as reasonably possible, and that even if the well-known individuals of a sect are judged to have written or held beliefs outside the fold of Islam, this cannot be taken to signify the entire group’s having left the fold of Islam unless an extensive research from a variety of angles is carried out to truly determine whether the link between the high-ranking member(s) of the group, the group as a whole, and the heretical beliefs mentioned really warrants a formal declaration of blanket disbelief.

There is also one point specific to what we write on this site: Even if we were to accept that the Twelver Shias are indeed disbelievers, simply confronting them with this declaration will not bring them on the correct path. We believe the correct way for the proof to be established is to conclusively show how the heretical statements of their scholars irrevocably clash either with rational analysis or with the basic principles upon which true religion are to be based on, and then remind the Twelver Shias that such methodologies and fundamentals are wrong from the root and would give rise not to a better understanding of the Islamic religion, but rather to confusion and anarchy in religious matters.  

Having said this, we hope to have cleared up our position with respect to this important matter. And through Allah is our success, and to Him is our return.