Does Tabarra lead to killing of Shias?

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There is a view among some followers of Ahle Bait (a.s.) that Tabarra should be abandoned as it leads to Shias being killed out of enmity.


At the start, it should be pointed out to the skeptics that Shias were killed, plundered, harassed, threatened right from the time the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) was martyred. The Ahle Bait (a.s.) bore the brunt of this persecution because of their relationship with the Noble Prophet (s.a.w.a.) and the Shias faced the same treatment because of their association with the Ahle Bait (a.s.).

So, the persecution and killings are not due to some specific action like tabarra. The mere link between the Shias and the Ahle Bait (a.s.) is sufficient reason for the tyrants to unleash their injustices.

1. Tawalla was reason enough to kill the Shias
2. Fooling the Muslims in the Battle of Jamal and Siffeen
3. Shias have been warned
4. Imam Ali Reza (a.s.) orders Shias to remain steadfast

Back to Top1. Tawalla was reason enough to kill the Shias

History is witness that Tawalla was a sufficient condition for the caliphs to eliminate the Shias.

Muawiyah Ibn Abi Sufyan, the accursed, as also his governor, Ziyaad Ibn Abeeh (l.a.), had Iraqis arrested and even killed on the mere suspicion of being a Shia of Ahle Bait (a.s.).

During his reign, Muawiyah imposed a complete ban on the narration of Ahle Bait’s virtues and the properties of Shias were confiscated if they dared disobey him. (Kitab-o-Sulaim Ibn Qais, tradition 26)

Likewise, other companions of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) and Ameerul Momineen (a.s.) have faced the wrath of the caliph of the time merely for their association with the Ahle Bait (a.s.).

For instance:

Abu Zarr (r.a.) was exiled by Usman, the third pseudo-caliph

Ammar (r.a.) was roughed up by Usman and later martyred at the hands of Muawiyah in Siffeen

Owais (r.a.) was martyred by Muawiyah in Siffeen

Hujr Ibn Adi (r.a.) was martyred by Muawiyah

Amr Ibn Himaq (r.a.) was martyred by Muawiyah

Meesam (r.a.) as also Rushaid al-Hujari (r.a.) were martyred by Ubaydullah Ibn Ziyaad (l.a.)

Kumail Ibn Ziyaad (r.a.) and Qambar (r.a.) were killed by Hajjaaj Ibn Yusuf (l.a.)

The list is endless we have mentioned the bare minimum to highlight our point.

There is nothing to suggest that these personalities were targeted for Tabarra. Mere love for Ahle Bait (a.s.) was sufficient for the pseudo-caliphs to have them killed.

Not just companions, rather tens of thousands of Muslims were killed for their affiliation with Ali Ibn Abi Talib (a.s.). Three battles were fought during the tenure of Ameerul Momineen’s (a.s.) caliphate over some pretext or the other with the obvious motive being to eliminate Ali Ibn Abi Talib (a.s.) and his adherents.

Back to Top2. Fooling the Muslims in the Battle of Jamal and Siffeen

History is dotted with shrewd and conniving individuals who fashioned entire battles on one pretext while cleverly disguising the real issue from the masses.

‘Noted’ companions like Talhah, Zubair and the Prophet’s (s.a.w.a.) wife were guilty of inciting hatred against Ali Ibn Abi Talib (a.s.) and leading Muslims into a civil war. They were shrewd enough not to mention Ali Ibn Abi Talib (a.s.) as the motive behind the battle and advanced the motive of avenging Usman’s blood for going into the battle. To residents of Medina it was clear that they were least concerned about Usman and were in fact guilty of inciting Muslims to murder him. So they shifted their battle plans to Basrah and managed to deceive the simple Muslims there into thinking that they were avenging Usman’s murder.

Likewise, Muawiyah took a cue from them and started his own battle to avenge Usman’s blood. Again, Muawiyah’s real reason was to wrest the caliphate from Ali ibne Talib (a.s.), since he saw it as the property of Bani Umayyah that should have been passed onto him after Usman’s death.

A parallel can be drawn today with the skeptics claiming that Tabarra is the reason for Shias being killed by the enemies. The real reason as testified by history is Tawalla since Shias have always been persecuted for their love of Ahle Bait (a.s.). Tabarra is just a pretext. Shias will be killed regardless of whether there is Tabarra or not. Tabarra only serves as convenient excuse to disguise the real reason which is Tawalla. Think Jamal and Siffeen where Usman’s blood was the pretext while the real reason was hatred and jealousy for Ali ibne Abi Talib (a.s.).

Back to Top3. Shias have been warned

The skeptics who incite Shias to abandon Tabarra by scaring them with death and distress should read the traditions of the Ahle Bait (a.s.). The infallibles (a.s.) have already warned the Shias not to expect the world to be a bed of roses. In fact, Shias must be prepared to meet with any and every eventuality for their love of Aal-e-Muhammad.

In the book of Al-Momin (pp. 15-16) by Husain Ibn Saeed al-Kufi al-Ahwaazi, the author documents many such traditions some of which have been listed below:

Imam Husain (a.s.) said: Surely difficulty, poverty, death descend more swiftly over our lovers than racing horses and flood in a valley and had it not be so, we would not know whether you are from us.

Imam Sadiq (a.s.) said: There are more Satans around a believer than there are flies around a piece of flesh. (Satans could mean humans and jinns, because there are Satans in both categories)

And these difficulties should not be seen as bad news; rather they are harbingers of felicity as the infallibles (a.s.) inform us:

Imam Sadiq (a.s.) – Only if the believer knew how he will be recompensed in the hereafter for difficulties, he would desire to be cut by scissors.

Imam Moosa Kazim (a.s.) – There is none from our Shias who is afflicted and is patient over the affliction but Allah grants him reward of a 1,000 martyrs.

Notwithstanding the warning of difficulties and tribulations, the Majestic Quran and Ahle Bait (a.s.) offer Shias glad tidings of salvation.

So We responded to him and delivered him from the grief and thus do We deliver the believers.

(Surah Anbiya (21): Verse 88)

Imam Ali Ibn Muhammad al-Hadi (a.s.) tells Abu Noaas: Our Wilayat protects our Shia even if they are caught in the waves of the sea or in the darkness of the desert or if they are surrounded by lions, wolves, and the enemies from amongst the men and the jinn. Our Shia will be safe with our Wilayat. So trust Allah and be loyal in your Wilayat of your pure Imams, and travel whenever you want and wherever you want.

• Al-Amaali of Shaikh Toosi (r.a.) p. 277

• Mustadrak al-Wasaail vol. 8 p. 242

What is clear from the aforementioned traditions and verses is that the Shia will always be under stress and difficulties. But Allah the Almighty and the infallible Imams (a.s.) have reassured them that they will be rescued due to their love and affection for the Ahle Bait (a.s.).

So tabarra and azadari and other defining traits of the Shia may invite difficulties but the Imams (a.s.) have comforted Shias with salvation. Even with the difficulties, the infallibles (a.s.) have never recommended that the Shias abandon tabarra, as we will see.

Back to Top4. Imam Ali Reza (a.s.) orders Shias to remain steadfast

Even in the time of the Imams (a.s.) the skeptics urged them (a.s.) to change their stance by complaining of Shias being killed due to their love for Ahle Bait (a.s.).

For instance, sample these two reports:

عَنْ يُونُسَ عَمَّنْ ذَكَرَهُ قَالَ: قِيلَ لِلرِّضَا ع إِنَّكَ تَتَكَلَّمُ‏ بِهَذَا الْكَلَامِ‏ وَ السَّيْفُ يَقْطُرُ دَماً فَقَالَ إِنَّ لِلَّهِ وَادِياً مِنْ ذَهَبٍ حَمَاهُ بِأَضْعَفِ خَلْقِهِ النَّمْلِ فَلَوْ رَامَهُ الْبَخَاتِيُّ لَمْ تَصِلْ إِلَيْهِ‏.

Yunus reports that Imam Reza (a.s.) was asked that you speak such words while swords are dripping with (our) blood (i.e. due to your tabarra, Shias are being killed elsewhere). Imam (a.s.) replied, ‘Allah has a valley of gold which He has kept for the weakest of His creation, ants (martyred Shias) and even if a powerful camel (great people) intends to reach there, it would not be able to reach there.’

• Al-Kaafi vol. 2 p. 59, vol. 3 p.154
• Wasaail al-Shia vol. 15 p. 203

عَنْهُ عَنْ أَحْمَدَ بْنِ هِلَالٍ عَنْ مُحَمَّدِ بْنِ سِنَانٍ قَالَ:
قُلْتُ لِأَبِي الْحَسَنِ الرِّضَا ع فِي أَيَّامِ هَارُونَ إِنَّكَ‏ قَدْ شَهَرْتَ‏ نَفْسَكَ‏ بِهَذَا الْأَمْرِ وَ جَلَسْتَ مَجْلِسَ أَبِيكَ وَ سَيْفُ هَارُونَ يُقَطِّرُ الدَّمَ فَقَالَ جَرَّأَنِي عَلَى هَذَا مَا قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ ص إِنْ أَخَذَ أَبُو جَهْلٍ مِنْ‏ رَأْسِي شَعْرَةً فَاشْهَدُوا أَنِّي لَسْتُ بِنَبِيٍّ وَ أَنَا أَقُولُ لَكُمْ إِنْ أَخَذَ هَارُونُ مِنْ رَأْسِي شَعْرَةً فَاشْهَدُوا أَنِّي لَسْتُ بِإِمَامٍ.

Muhammad Ibn Sinaan narrates that I said to Imam Abul Hasan Reza (a.s.) during the days of Haroon (al-Abbasi), “Surely, you have made yourself famous with this affair of Imamat, succeeding your father while Haroon’s sword drips with blood (of your followers).”

He (a.s.) retorted, “I am given this audacity through what the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) said, that is, ‘if Abu Jahl (l.a.) was to harm a single hair on my head, then all of you testify that I am not a Prophet’; and I say to all of you, if Haroon harms a single hair on my head, all of you testify that I am not an Imam.”

• Al-Kaafi, vol. 8 p.257

The scholars have recorded these traditions under the chapter:

بَابُ وُجُوبِ الْيَقِينِ بِاللَّهِ فِي الرِّزْقِ وَ الْعُمُرِ وَ النَّفْعِ وَ الضَّر

Chapter of Necessity in maintaining certainty on Allah with regards sustenance, life, profit and loss

It means that Shias should adhere to the tenets of religion and have certainty that Allah will deal with them in a manner that is best for them. If this means practicing tabarra as ordered by the infallibles (a.s.), so be it. Offering lame excuses like Shias are being killed for tabarra shows lack of certainty on Allah. Imam Reza (a.s.) certainly did not stop although Haroon’s sword was dripping with blood. That is sufficient for Shias who look to the Imams (a.s.) for guidance.

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