What Sunni Scholars (Ulama) said about Shia

 Shaykh al-Bishri

 Shaykh Salim al-Bishri al-Maliki, Shaykh al-Islam and head of the scholars in Egypt, was born in the village of Bishr in the region of Al-Buhayra in the year 1248 A.H./1832 A.D. He studied at Al-Azhar and led it twice: the first period was from 1317/1900 to 1320/1904, and the second period was 1327/1909 to 1335/1916, which was the time of his death.

 Shaykh al-Bishri addressed his questions to an eminent scholar of the time, Sayyid ‘Abd al-Husayn Sharaf al-Din of Jabal ‘Amil (in the southern part of Lebanon), who visited Egypt in 1329-1330 A.H./1911-1912 A.D. and came in touch with him. The Shaykh was deeply impressed by the frank, outspoken, reasonable and learned Sayyid. The Sayyid, being a man with a mission, was only too eager for a question that would open the discussion and afford him an opportunity to unburden himself, allowing him to unfold all his accumulated knowledge.

 Thus, the correspondence began. The Sayyid spared no pains to answer each question as it came, dispelling doubts and exposing fallacies. He cited authorities for every principle of the Shi’i faith, giving chapter and verse of the Qur’an, and quoted the interpretations of the great commentators like Fakhr al-Din al-Razi, Baydawi and Zamakhshari. Then he supported his claim on the basis of universally accepted tradi­tions from Sahih al-Bukhari, Sahih Muslim, Sunan Abu Dawud, Jami’al-Tirmidhi, Sawa’iq al-Muhriqah and numerous other Sunni authorities. The Shaykh acknowledged all these letters, encouraged him to write more and, wherever neces­sary, pointed out any omission that remained. The Sayyid immediately proceeded to clarify doubts. This exchange of letters continued for three and one-half years, at the end of which the Shaykh praised and thanked his friend and ad mitted that the truth had been made clear to him.

Thus what Shaykh al-Bishri wrote his last letter to Sayyid Abd al-Husayn Sharaf al-Din :

Letter 111


Jamadi al-«la 1, 1330

I bear witness that you, in the roots and branches of the faith, are followers of the Imams from the Messenger’s progeny. You have clarified this matter and rendered it obvious, unveiled whatever was obscure thereof; so, to doubt you is madness, and to mistrust you is misguidance. I have scrutinized your letter and found it very pleasing. I verified it and was able to inhale its divine fragrance which nourished me with its sweet scent.  Before knowing you, I used to be confused about your beliefs due to what I hear of allegations from scandal-mongers; now I have found it to be a lantern that dispels the darkness, and I am leaving you victorious, successful; so, how great is the blessing which Allah has bestowed upon me, and how great your benefit unto me! Praise to Allah, Lord of the Worlds, Wassalamo Alaikom.




 al-Azhar Verdict on the Shia

 What follows is the Fatwa (religious verdict/ruling) of one of the Sunni world's most revered scholars, Shaikh Mahmood Shaltoot with regard to the Shia. Shaikh Shaltoot was the head of the renowned al-Azhar Theological school in Egypt, one of the main centers of Sunni scholarship in the world. It should be of interest to know that a few decades ago, a group of Sunni and Shia scholars formed a center at al-Azhar by the name of "Dar al-Taqreeb al-Madhahib al-Islamiyyah" which translates into "Center for bringing together the various Islamic schools of thought". The aim of the effort, as the name of the center indicates, was to bridge the gap between the various schools of thought, and bring about a mutual respect, understanding and appreciation of each school's contributions to the development of Islamic Jurisprudence, among the scholars of the different schools, so that they may in turn guide their followers toward the ultimate goal of unity, and of clinging to one rope, as the well-known Quranic verse, "Hold fast to the Rope of Allah and do not diverge" clearly demands of Muslims.

 This massive effort finally bore its major fruit when Shaikh Shaltoot made the declaration whose translation is appended below. It should be made unequivocally clear as well, that al-Azhar's official position, vis a vis the propriety of following any of the Madhaahib, including the Shi'ite Imami school, has remained unchanged since Shaikh Shaltoot's declaration.

 Some people who follow pseudo-scholars in Hijaz may beg to differ; that notwithstanding, what you see below is the view held by the overwhelming majority of Sunni scholars, and not just those at al-Azhar. Let it be known to those who strive to divide us, that their efforts are but in vain.

 For the readership's reference the phrase "al-Shia al-Imamiyyah al-Ithna 'Ashariyyah" means the Twelver Imami Shi'ite School of thought which comprises the overwhelming majority of Shi'ites today. The phrase "Twelver Shi'ites" is used interchangeably with "Ja'fari Shi'ites" and "Imami

Shi'ites" in various literature. They are merely different names for

the same school of thought.

 "al-Shia al-Zaidiyyah" are a minority among the Shi'ites, concentrated mainly in Yemen located in the Eastern part of Arabian peninsula. For a more detailed description of the Zaidis vs. the Twelver Shi'ites, please refer to the book, "Shi'ite Islam" written by the great Shi'ite scholar, Allamah Tabataba'i, and translated by Seyyed Hossein Nasr, and published by the State University of New York Press (SUNY).

 And as for Shaikh Shaltoot's declaration ...


Head Office of al-Azhar University:


 Text of the Verdict (Fatwa) Issued by His Excellency

 Shaikh al-Akbar Mahmood Shaltoot,

 Head of the al-Azhar University,


on Permissibility of Following "al-Shia al-Imamiyyah"

School of Thought 

His Excellency was asked:  

Some believe that, for a Muslim to have religiously correct worship and dealing, it is necessary to follow one of the four known schools of thought, whereas, "al-Shia al-Imamiyyah" school of thought is not one of them nor "al-Shia al-Zaidiyyah." Do your Excellency agree with this opinion, and prohibit following "al-Shia al-Imamiyyah al-Ithna Ashariyyah" school of thought, for example?  

His Excellency replied:  

1) Islam does not require a Muslim to follow a particular Madh'hab (school of thought). Rather, we say: every Muslim has the right to follow one of the schools of thought which has been correctly narrated and its verdicts have been compiled in its books. And, everyone who is following such Madhahib [schools of thought] can transfer to another school, and there shall be no crime on him for doing so.  

2) The Ja'fari school of thought, which is also known as "al-Shia al- Imamiyyah al-Ithna Ashariyyah" (i.e., The Twelver Imami Shi'ites) is a school of thought that is religiously correct to follow in worship as are other Sunni schools of thought. 

Muslims must know this, and ought to refrain from unjust prejudice to any particular school of thought, since the religion of Allah and His Divine Law (Shari'ah) was never restricted to a particular school of thought. Their jurists (Mujtahidoon) are accepted by Almighty Allah, and it is permissible to the "non-Mujtahid" to follow them and to accord with their teaching whether in worship (Ibadaat) or transactions (Mu'amilaat). 


Mahmood Shaltoot.


The above Fatwa was announced on July 6, 1959 from the Head of al-Azhar University, and was subsequently published in many publications in the middle east which include, but are not limited to: 

1. al-Sha'ab newspaper (Egypt), issue of July 7, 1959.

2. al-Kifah newspaper (Lebanon), issue of July 8, 1959.  

The above segment can also be found in the book "Inquiries about Islam", by Muhammad Jawad Chirri, Director of the Islamic Center of America, 1986 Detroit, Michigan.  


Mohammed Yusuf



وَنَجَّيْنَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَكَانُوا يَتَّقُونَ {41:18}

But We delivered those who believed and practised righteousness


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 unni Scholars says about Shia
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وَنَجَّيْنَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَكَانُوا يَتَّقُونَ     اللهم صلى على محد و ال محد.... و عجل فرجهم