Idrissid Shi'ism

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What is Shi'ism?

Indeed, Shi'ism cannot be reduced to a single trend, an ideological monolith. I will list here, insha'Allah, the main Shiite currents.

During the political conflict between 'Ali and Mu'awiya (رضي الله عنهم), the supporters of 'Ali (رضي الله عنه) were called "شيعة علي", translation: the supporters of 'Ali.

'Ali, (رضي الله عنه) had two sons with Fatima (رضي الله عنها); Al-Hassan and Al-Hussein (رضي الله عنهم), we will not mention here the third (Muhammad Ibn Al Hanafiya), whom he had with Khawlah Bint Ja'far.

Upon his death, two currents arose within the political 'Shi'ism' that had formed around him: the Shi'is followers of Al-Hassan, and the Shi'is followers of Al-Hussein (رضي الله عنهم). Al-Hussein (رضي الله عنه) had a son, 'Ali, who himself had two sons: Muhammad Al-Baqir, and Zayd Ibn 'Ali. The group of Zaydites (whom we will see in a little more detail later) felt that Zayd Ibn 'Ali was the better successor, while the rest of the Shi'a currents agreed that Muhammad Al-Baqir was, of the two, the one to be followed. Muhammad Al-Baqir's successor was Ja'far Al-Sadiq (very influential and respected in the Malikite madhab by the way). The succession of Ja'far Al-Sadiq again created two divergent currents, which would become the two largest Shi'a currents to date. Of his five children, two emerged: Isma'il was considered successor by the Ismailites, and Musa Al-Kazhim was considered successor by the Duodecimans (الاثني عشرية) (also called Imamites or Ja'farites).

Thus we understand that "Shiism" was primarily political. The dogma of infallibility, the esotericism around the imams, and other innovations, were only developed late, around the 10th century by the Duodecimans.

For example, Yahya Ibn Ma'in was questioned by Imam Ahmad because he did not understand why Imam Ahmad thought that Imam Al-Shafi'i was Shi'a. Yahya Ibn Ma'in replied that in his fiqh chapter on the unjust, Al-Shafi'i had placed Ahl Al Bayt as the victims of injustice, and the Umayyad party as the oppressors. It is thus understood that whether or not one was affiliated with 'Shi'ism' was essentially conditioned by his position on the conflict between Mu'awiya and 'Ali. This is even supposedly the case because in reality Imam Al-Shafi'i was not, but the mere fact that Yahya Ibn Ma'in thinks so reveals that it is mainly a question of politics.

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The current of Zaydism:

Today, when one speaks of "Shiism" or "Shiites", several elements stand out in the imagination of many people: the insult of the companions, a fiqh and heritage drastically different from those of the Sunnis, the elevation of the "imams" to the rank of infallible and mystical individuals, the belief in the falsification of the Qur'an, etc. ....

However, as we shall see, these elements are alien to traditional Zaydism.

First of all, it should be known that one of the reasons why the Duodecimans and Ismailis did not follow Zayd Ibn 'Ali, is the fact that he clearly ,and notoriously, stated his respect for the early Rightly Guided Caliphs and companions, saying that he heard nothing but good about them from his father, and asking for الله's mercy for them

[...] لا أقول فيهم إلاّ خيراً وما سمعت من أبي فيهم إلاّ خيراً

"رحمهما اللّه وغفر لهما ما سمعت أحداً من أهل بيتي يتبرّأ منهما ولا يقول فيهما إلاّ خيراً [...]" As a result of this clear stance, some "Shiites" rejected Zayd Ibn 'Ali and his religious legitimacy, and it was from this that the appellation "رافضي" (one who rejects/rejects) began to be used to refer to Shiites who were unmitigatedly and systematically hostile to the early Caliphs and Companions. A designation which is therefore by definition contrary to Zaydism and its foundations.

Not to mention the many words of great Zaydi scholars that support this.

We have for example the great reference of Zaydism, the 14th century Gregorian Imam Al-Mahdi Ahmad Ibn Yahya, who did not differentiate between those who insulted 'Ali, and Abu Bakr or Omar: see page 49    

Another great reference of Zaydism in the 9th century Gregorian period, Al-Imam Al-Hadi, had ruled firmly and clearly on the flogging of those who insulted the companions (see page 174).

There are still hundreds of quotations in this sense, and this reveals that Zaydism in its tradition and essence is deeply opposed to the insult and curse of the Companions. It should be noted that among the Zaydis the Qur'an has not been corrupted by the Companions, and has been preserved, as is well known among them.

As for the infallibility of the Imams ("العصمة"), Zaydism differs from other "Shi'a" currents, by asserting that a governor can be politically legitimate, even if other and better contenders for the regency exist. The conditions for power are also much broader than simply being a descendant of Nabi - one must be pious and notoriously reliable, and have attained the degree of ijtihad in all Islamic fields. This is a far cry from the esotericism and mysticism put forward by the Ismailis and Duodecimans in relation to the Imams and their legitimacy.

Secondly, in terms of fiqh, how can Zaydism be situated in relation to the traditional Sunni schools?

Zaydi fiqh is extremely similar to Hanafi fiqh, and for good reason: Imam Yahya Ibn Al-Hussein Al-Hadi, seen above, the founder of Zaydism as a distinct ideological and even political entity, took his fiqh from the Hanafis, and this is verifiable by observing his legal positions in his fiqh books such as Al Ahkam Fi Al Halal wa Al Haram among others, where a large part of the opinions are from Abu Hanifa. When one knows that Abu Hanifa was very attached to Ahl Al Bayt (his school being considered the school of Ahl Al Bayt, as many of the opinions are from 'Ali and Abdullah Ibn Mas'oud), and that he had financed and supported the revolt of Zayd Ibn 'Ali (with whom he studied) against the Umayyads, this seems more than logical. The Zaydis also use the various Sunni collections of hadith in their ijtihad (Al-Bukhari is the best known among others), especially since references to Zaydism are found in several chains of transmission of the various collections. In addition, the words of great Zaydi scholars such as Ibn Al-Wazir and Ibn Isma'il Al-San'ani (from the 15th and 18th centuries respectively) have repeatedly refuted the Duodecimans and clearly affirmed their closeness to the Sunnis, considering Zaydism to be a Sunni school among others.

Thus, all these elements objectively and unambiguously differentiate the Zaydites from the Rawafids, and by extension from all the deviations and dogmas of the latter.

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What about Idriss I?

Having demonstrated that Shi'ism was very diverse in its tendencies, and that the school of Zaydism was in many ways similar to (even affiliated with) Sunnism, how can we place Idriss Ibn Abdallah Al-Kamil in the "Shi'i" and political problematic?

As seen earlier, Shi'ism was first and foremost a political stance. And it was in his capacity as a descendant of Nabi ﷺ , and a political opponent of the Abbasids (who had in the first place risen against the Umayyads as defenders and standard bearers of Ahl Al-Bayt) that Idriss was fought and forced into exile from the Hijzaz to Al-Maghrib Al-Aqsa to escape the massacres of the descendants of Nabi ﷺ there, he would found his own kingdom, the first Muslim political entity truly distinct from any Abbasid influence in Iraq and Umayyad influence in Andalusia.

Thus, the foundation of his kingdom and dynasty is in no way based on an esoteric/mystical heresy,based on the traditional rejection and curse of the companions, such as that of the Ismaili Fatimids of Egypt, or the Duodecimal Safavids of Iran. But well on the descent of Nabi ﷺ and the political opposition to unjust and oppressive regimes of the descent of Nabi ﷺ and their supporters.

End of the thread, hoping to have been as clear, complete and concise as possible. و الله اعلم.

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References :

الصحابة عند الزيدية of محمد عزان

تارخ الطبري

مناقب الامام ابي حنيفة

مناقب الشافعي

الأحكام في الحلال والحرام

العواصم والقواصم في الذب عن سنة أبي القاسم