A video recently seems to have gone viral whereby a scholar by the name of Sheikh Mumtaz ul Haq is presenting an argument against the Shi’as. It appears that for some Sunnis this may be a brand new argument (see comments under video). Though the truth of the matter is, it is an old and rinsed out argument that in reality holds no real weight. The way the lecture is being given, the scholar seems to be presenting a very naive view without keeping into consideration the historic and cultural aspects of how society was 1400 years ago.
The argument that is primarily being made is that since Imam Ali (as) had sons named Abu Bakr, Umar and Uthman he thus had nothing against the 3 caliphs. Furthermore, the scholar states that the subsequent Shi’a Imams also had sons named Abu Bakr, Umar or Uthman thus it is further proof that they had nothing against the 3 caliphs, because how can someone name their kids after the names of their enemies. The argument sounds very interesting on face value and it is true that today most Shi’as will not name their kids Abu Bakr, Umar or Uthman. Though by this measure, the argument can also be reversed and said that since Abu Bakr, Umar and Uthman named none of their sons Ali, they must have possessed some degree of dislike towards him.
The biggest problem in making these arguments is that one just cannot interpret or describe the events that were happening 14 centuries ago with the perception of the world we have today. There are many things that were non-issues or culturally accepted 1400 years ago which are not so anymore. Having numerous slaves and more than 1 wife at the same time was a norm and wives readily accepted this way of life. Today most wives would not be willing to live with a husband like this even though in fiqh this is totally allowed. 1400 years ago it was not taboo, at least within the Shi’a community to have names like Abu Bakr, Umar or even Muawiyah, but over time it did become so.
To add to Sheikh Mumtaz’s point, he should have also made mention that a lot of Shi’a individuals in history (which the Ahlul Sunnah would consider as clear Rafidhi) have had names like Muawiyah and even Yazid. If anything all this really truly proves is that Imam Ali (as), the other Imams and individuals did not hate these names. They were common names and the caliphs themselves were not the first ones to have these names. As a matter of fact Abu Bakr’s real name was not Abu Bakr and his father’s name was Uthman. Below is a very brief list of some Shi’a narrators that had names like Yazid, Muawiyah, Umar and Abu Bakr (taken from Mu’jam Rijal al-Khoei).
- Yazeed, Abu Khaled Al-Kammat: A Shi’a Imami from the companions of Imam al-Sadiq. [Page 110]
- Yazeed Ibn Ishaaq Ibn Abi As-Sakhf: A Shi’a Imami from the companions of Imam Sadiq (as). [Page 113]
- Yazeed Ibn Saleet: A Shi’a Imami from the companions of Imam Al-Kazim (as). [Page 122]
- Mu’awiyah ibn Ammar ibn Abi Mu’awiyah: A Shi’a Imami, he was among the greatest companions of Imam Sadiq (as). [Page 235]
- Mu’awiyah Ibn Wahb: A great Shi’a Imami from the companions of Imam al-Sadiq (as). [Page 244]
- Umar Abu Hafs: A Shi’a Imami, from the companions of Imam al-Sadiq (as). [Page 10]
- Umar Ibn Aban: A trustworthy Shi’a Imami companion of Imam al-Sadiq (as). [Page 12]
- Umar Ibn Abi Ziyad: A trustworthy Shi’a Imami companion of Imam al-Sadiq (as). [Page 15]
- Umar Ibn Uthunayh: Among the greatest Shi’a Imami companions of Imam al-Sadiq (as). [Page 21]
- Umar Ibn Al-Rubay: A Shi’a Imami from the companions of Imam al-Sadiq (as). [Page 38]
- Abu Bakr Al-Hadhrami: A Shi’a Imami from the companions of Imam Baqir (as) and Imam Sadiq (as). ~ Page 72
Is it possible that these Shi’as were named after Muawiyah or Yazid the killer of Imam Husain (as)? Even the majority of mainstream Sunnis will not name their sons Yazid today. When you look at the past, this clearly seemed like an acceptable thing to do. However, we can’t use what is culturally not acceptable today or is taboo and apply it on a society where it was acceptable and make conclusions based on that.
Sheikh Mumtaz in his video says that there was a son of Imam Ali (as) named Abu Bakr. One thing that needs to be clarified is that there is a difference of opinion amongst scholars in regards to whether this was an actual name or just the kunyah of a son (Muhammad al-Asghar). Majority of the scholars agree that this was his kunyah and not his real name. Likewise, there is another tradition in regards to Imam Ali naming one of his sons Uthman where he explicitly states that he named his son Uthman after a companion of the Prophet (pbuh), Uthman Ibn Ma’dhoon. Any argument in regards to the case of names that is made can never 100% prove that Imam Ali (as) indeed named his sons or that any of the later Imams or Shi’as named their sons Abu Bakr, Umar, Uthman, Muawiyah or Yazeed after the caliphs. It will always be an assumption. It could have been after anyone else or it could have been just because it was a name they wanted to keep. However, what can’t be assumed is what did occur in history and that is the atrocities that took place against the progeny of the Holy Prophet (pbuh) and to falsify traditions to suggest that everything after his (pbuh) demise was good and a fairy-tale ending. Whereas this is not true and we all know how many civil wars and rebellions broke out throughout the subsequent caliphate dynasties where Muslims fought against Muslims.
At around 3 and half minutes, Sheikh Mumtaz speaks about Imam Jafar al-Sadiq (as) and says that he passed away. This is not correct and the term that he should have used is that he was martyred under the orders of the Abbasid caliph Mansur (all the Shi’a Imams attained martyrdom, mostly under the orders of the ruling caliph of their time).
The last point that Sheikh Mumtaz brings about is that Imam Ali gave his daughter Umm-e-Kulthoom (sa) to Umar in marriage. The sheikh himself admits that Umm-e-Kulthoom was a very common name and thus he should know that there is a difference of opinion amongst scholars. I do not feel it is necessary for me to explain in this specific post the difference of opinions on the marriage of Umar with Umm Kulthoom and under what circumstances it happened or didn’t happen (it would require a whole new post). The goal is to explain that even if it did happen, it does not necessarily mean that Umar was devoid of the mistakes or wrong-doings that the Shi’as accuse him of. The greatest example of this was during the selection of Uthman as caliph where Imam Ali (as) explicitly denied following the sunnah of the preceding caliphs, clearly implying that he did not agree with their methods.
For the sake of argument, let us take the scenario that she did marry Umar. Once again, when you study the society 1400 years ago you will notice that it was considered rather inappropriate and disrespectful for a man to reject a proposal from a woman or a father of a woman. To illustrate, at least two Shi’a Imams were married in such circumstances and subsequently also given poison by the very wives. Imam Hassan (as) – poisoned by his wife who was bribed by Muawiyah and Imam Mohammad Taqi who married the daughter of Abbasid caliph Ma’mun, Umm Fadhl. One could question why the Imams would marry these women – Mohammad Taqi (as) marrying the daughter of an Abbasid caliph who killed his father Imam Ridha (as) and Imam Hassan (as) marrying a woman after he was deceived. Furthermore, we read in Surah Hijr:
قالَ هؤُلاءِ بَناتي إِنْ كُنْتُمْ فاعِلينَ
[15:71] He (Lot) said: ‘These are my daughters, (you may wed them) if you desire to do so.
We can definitely be sure that Prophet Lut (as) was not offering his daughters (or in some interpretations, referring to the women of the community) to homosexual men because he loved them or respected them. However, the fact that he was willing to offer his daughters to them speaks volumes (about the possibility of the men changing). Furthermore, neither Prophet Lut (as) nor Nuh (as) married the specific wives who have been condemned because they were believing women with great piety. As a matter of fact they were unbelieving women. However, just because they did does not mean that they now had great ties with the near kins of the wives (when the very wives would expose details of the lives of the respected Prophets to the community outside). Likewise, the marriage of Imam Taqi (as) for example does not mean that he was in good ties with the father-in-law (particularly when he was the killer of his father) and Umm Fadhl was known to complain and report details about Imam Taqi (as) all the time to her father. Once again, we can’t interpret historic events that happened centuries ago with our perception of how and why events happen in the 21st century. Therefore, just because Umm Kulthoom was married to Umar does not mean that Imam Ali (as) was on good terms with Umar. It is an extremely naive conclusion to make especially when it is not put in a context and simply delivered from the pulpit within a few sentences. Besides, we have other examples of marriages showing us that not every marriage that took place in history was between two parties who liked each other, but in fact other variables played a significant role.