Some Twelver polemicists cite some statements of Sunni scholars who apparently regarded Imamah/Khilafah (rulership) as one of the Usūl (principles) of the Dīn in addition to declaring the one who rejects the Khilāfah of Abū Bakr and ‘Umar (رضي الله عنهما) as Kuffar.
Conflating between the concept of rulership in Sunnism and Shiism – A false analogy
All Muslims believe that Imamah/Rulership is one of the *many* principles (أصل من الأصول) of the religion; the religion in its entirety is based on the implementation of the Shari’ah, many Ahkām (like Hudūd) are not applied if the Shari’ah is not enforced. So in THAT sense scholars speak of rulership (Imamah/Khilafah/Mulk etc.) as a necessity and as a principle of the religion, Muslims are not anarchists after all.
However, the disagreement between us and the Rafidah is not if rulership is a social and religious necessity. Our disagreement is based on the TA’RīF (definition) and TYPE of this Imamah/rulership and the claim of the Rafidah that the entire religion is literally BASED on the Wilayah (divine rulership) of Ali b. Abi Talib (رضي الله عنه) and in addition (!) the alleged divine Imamah of eleven of his descendants.
See for instance these kufri narrations:
‘It is also mentioned in many traditions that at that time Allah took the oath of fealty from all the Prophets in that ethereal world regarding His lordship, Muhammad’s Prophethood and the Imamate of ‘Ali and the Holy Imams. Then Allah took their oath regarding belief in the Messenger of Allah and to help ‘Ali during the time of Raj‘ah. (The return before the Resurrection Day).’
‘O ‘Ali! Allah did not send any Prophet but ordered him of your love and Wilayah whether he liked it or not.’
‘According to an authentic tradition, Prophet Muhammad stated that Allah did not take the soul of any of His Prophets until he had ordered them to nominate their nearest relative as their legatee and I was also commanded similarly. I asked Allah whom I should nominate and He revealed to me, “Nominate your cousin ‘Ali Ibn Abi-Talib, whose name I have mentioned in the previous divine Books and stated that he is your successor. I have also obtained the oath of fealty for My Lordship, your Prophethood and Imamate and Wilayah of ‘Ali ibn Abi-Talib from all the creatures and Prophets.’
[Hayat al-Qulub by Muhammad Baqir Majlisi]
This is the foolish and nonsensical anti-Quranic ghuluw (exaggeration) that the highest authorities of the Twelvers have not just compiled but also deemed as authentic.
The Qur’an is filled with the stories of the Prophets, it even includes details about their lives. Every sane human being who has read the Qur’an will attest that it speaks of Prophets who all came with the main call which is Tawhid and not the so-called divine authority of the cousin (!) of the Prophet (s).
Imagine Sunnis would claim that all Prophets came with the good news of the caliphate of the Sahabah! Yes, that too would be nonsensical, but the thing is, Sunnis have never made such alien claims and have thus never fallen in such ghuluw.
When and where did Allah and the Prophets teach the previous nations about the Wilayah of ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib (may Allah be pleased with him) and his descendants?
See how they have replaced the real main mission of the Messengers (that is Tawhid) with the so-called divine leadership of the cousin of the Prophet (S) and on top of that they have the audacity to compare the Sunni belief in Imamah (non-divine rulership based on Shura) with their exaggerated belief that can’t be proven from the Qur’an.
To further clarify that conflating between the Sunni belief of Imamah and the Shia one is nothing but dishonesty and a distraction tactic I would like to present the following narrations that can be found in the most authentic books of the Twelvers:
بني الاسلام على خمس : على الصلاة ، والزكاة، والصوم ،والحج ، الولاية ، ولم ينادي بشيئ كما نودي بالولاية – الكافي – الشيخ الكليني – ج ٢ – الصفحة ١٨
‘Islam is based on five pillars; Prayer, Zakat, Fasting, Hajj, and Wilayah. Nothing has been announced as much as Wilayah.’
[al-Kafi by al-Kulayni, vo. 2, pg. 18]
Comment: the zindiq who fabricated this narration was either ignorant of the Qur’an, or like other Shia scholars he disbelieved in the Qur’an to begin with. Every unbiased truth-seeker will come to the conclusion that the Qur’an (which Islam is based on) and the Sirah of the Prophet (s) are based on the call of Tawhid i.e. nothing has been announced as much as Tawhid in Islam, not the so-called divine authority (‘Wilayah’) of the cousin of the Prophet!
Another narration states:
علي بن إبراهيم، عن أبيه وعبد الله بن الصلت جميعا، عن حماد بن عيسى، عن حريز بن عبد الله، عن زرارة، عن أبي جعفر عليه السلام قال: بني الاسلام على خمسة أشياء: على الصلاة والزكاة والحج والصوم والولاية، قال زرارة: فقلت: وأي شئ من ذلك أفضل؟ فقال: الولاية أفضل، لأنها مفتاحهن والوالي هو الدليل عليهن، قلت: ثم الذي يلي ذلك في الفضل؟ فقال: الصلاة إن رسول الله صلى الله عليه وآله قال: الصلاة عمود دينكم، قال: قلت: ثم الذي يليها في الفضل؟ قال: الزكاة لأنه قرنها بها وبدأ بالصلاة قبلها وقال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وآله الزكاة تذهب الذنوب. قلت: والذي يليها في الفضل؟ قال: الحج قال الله عز وجل: ولله على الناس حج البيت من استطاع إليه سبيلا ومن كفر فإن الله غني عن العالمين وقال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وآله لحجة مقبولة خير من عشرين صلاة نافلة ومن طاف بهذا البيت طوافا أحصى فيه أسبوعه وأحسن ركعتيه غفر الله له وقال في يوم عرفة ويوم المزدلفة ما قال: قلت: فماذا يتبعه؟ قال: الصوم قلت: وما بال الصوم صار آخر ذلك أجمع؟ قال: قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وآله الصوم جنة من النار، قال: ثم قال: إن أفضل الأشياء ما إذا فاتك لم تكن منه توبة دون أن ترجع إليه فتؤديه بعينه، إن الصلاة والزكاة والحج والولاية ليس يقع شئ مكانها دون أدائها وإن الصوم إذا فاتك أو قصرت أو سافرت فيه أديت مكانه أياما غيرها وجزيت ذلك الذنب بصدقة ولا قضاء عليك وليس من تلك الأربعة شئ يجزيك مكانه غيره، قال: ثم قال ذروة الامر وسنامه ومفتاحه وباب الأشياء و رضا الرحمن الطاعة للإمام بعد معرفته، إن الله عز وجل يقول: من يطع الرسول فقد أطاع الله ومن تولى فما أرسلناك عليهم حفيظا أما لو أن رجلا قام ليله وصام نهاره وتصدق بجميع ماله وحج جميع دهره ولم يعرف ولاية ولي الله فيواليه ويكون جميع أعماله بدلالته إليه، ما كان له على الله عز وجل حق في ثوابه ولا كان من أهل الايمان، ثم قال: أولئك المحسن منهم يدخله الله الجنة بفضل رخمته – الكافي – الشيخ الكليني – ج ٢ – الصفحة ١٨
‘Islam is based on five pillars; Salah, Zakat, Fasting, Hajj, and Wilayah. Zurarah asked: “Which of those things is the most excellent??” He replied: “Wilayah, because it is the key to these things, and the successor is the reference to them.” And I (Zurarah) said: “Which one is the most excellent after that?” He said: “Prayer, because the Messenger of Allah said: “Prayer is the pillar of your religion.” I said: “after that which is the most excellent?” He said: “The (Zakah), for he made it a companion of prayer, and started before it the prayer, and the Messenger of Allah (s.) said: “By the (Zakah), sins are forgiven.” I said: ” After that, which is the most excellent?” He said: “The pilgrimage. God said: “God has imposed the duty of pilgrimage to the house on the people, on all those who are able to do it, and if one is a nonbeliever, God is not dependent on the worlds.” (3:97) And the Messenger of God (s.) said: “One accepted pilgrimage is better than twenty voluntary prayers, and whoever goes around this house seven times and performs the two accompanying bows (rak’ah) in a beautiful way, God will grant him His forgiveness.” And on the day of Arafah and the day of Muzdalifah, he said what he said.” I said: “What comes after that?” He said: “The fast.” I said: “What is it about fasting that comes at the end of things?” He said: ” The messenger of God (s.) said: “Fasting is a shield against fire.” Then he said: “The most excellent of things is that of which there is no atonement if it escapes you, except that you return to it to do just that. Prayer, charity, pilgrimage, and closeness (Wilayah) are not things that can be substituted with that which is like them. If you miss the fasting or you shorten it or you are on a journey during it, then you fast on other days and compensate this sin with a donation and you do not have to repeat it and nothing replaces these four things.” Then he said: “The highest of the things and their peak and the key to them and the gate to the things and the good pleasure of the Merciful is obedience to the Guide (Imam) after gaining knowledge (Ma’rifah) about him. Allah said: “Whoever obeys the Messenger, obeys Allah. And if any turn away, behold! We have not sent you as a guardian over them.” (4:80) If a man would spend his night with prayer and his day with fasting and donate all his possessions and make a pilgrimage all his life, showing no knowledge of the divine authority (Wilayah) to the divine guide so that he joins him and does all his deeds according to his indication, then he would have no right with God to be rewarded and he would not be one of the people of faith (Iman). God lets the one who is benevolent among them enter paradise by the virtue of His mercy (Rahmah).”
[al-Kafi by al-Kulayni, vo. 2, pg. 18-19]
Comment: Is this extremism and nonsense falsely attributed to Ahul-Bayt what Sunnis believe with regards to Khilafah/Imamah? Is this what Sunnis believe with regards to Abu Bakr and ‘Umar?
The so-called divine leadership (‘Wilayah’) of the cousin of the Prophet () is not just a principle of the religion, but rather the most important principle of all principles upon which (allegedly) all other principles rest upon! It’s the mother of all foundations, yet the Rafidah can never prove it without decontextualising numerous verses of the Qur’an and using other forms of ambiguous pieces of evidence.
The Rafidah, in their ignorance, have gone as far as to claim that ‘nothing has been announced as much as the divine authority of the Prophet’s cousin! Of course, due to the Qur’an not supporting such a hideous belief many of their (more consistent) ‘scholars’ arrived at the conclusion that the Qur’an must have been distorted by the Sahabah as the Qur’an in our hands doesn’t mention this alleged important ‘Wilayah’ let alone emphasising on it.
Every just observer and researcher can conclude after studying the claims of the Imamites that their Imamah belief is not just a principle but the most important foundation of the religion, so comparing it with the Sunni concept of Imamah/Imarah/Khilafah/Mulk, etc. is inherently flawed.
The burden of proof is upon the Shia to prove their exaggerated concept of Imamah from the Qur’an and the Sunnah. It is them who have to provide evidence that Allah has legislated and commanded mankind to follow none but Twelve so-called infallible and divinely chosen Imams who are not just similar to the Prophets (over twenty of them who are clearly mentioned in the Qur’an) but according to Imamism even superior to them and important to the salvation of all of mankind (yet, Allah has never mentioned them anyway, except according to pathetic Shia tafasir i.e. tahrifat like where they interpret the twelve months in the Qur’an as twelve imams, or the fig and olive as al-Hasan and al-Husayn, and other nonsensical batini/esoteric tafsir that all religiously bankrupt heretical sects are known for).
But some Sunnis said that rejecting Abu Bakr and ‘Umar equates to kufr!
As for a group of Sunni scholars who have pronounced takfir on those who reject the caliphate of Abu Bakr and ‘Umar:
No Sunni scholar has ever claimed that the rejection of Abu Bakr and ‘Umar’s caliphate equates kufr (disbelief) in and of itself, i.e. due to them being divinely appointed Imams. Indeed, that would be a heretical view as is the Shia view with regards to ‘their’ Imams. Such a view would be as unjustifiable as the Shia belief and thus rejected and condemned.
Rejecting the caliphate of Abu Bakr and ‘Umar () is not kufr according to the most correct position amongst the Ahlu-Sunnah as they aren’t from the foundation of the religion just like Ali () isn’t.
The Shafi’yyah/Shawafi’ (Shafi’is) view those who reject the validity of Abu Bakr and ‘Umar’s caliphate as mubtadi’ah (Ahlul-Bid’ah) but not as Kuffar (of course, if in addition to their rejection they hold major kufri and shirki beliefs they can be charged with takfir). And no, neither Fatimah () is a heretic (to stop talking to a non-mahram doesn’t equate to rejecting his authority) nor Sa’d ibn ‘Ubadah.
وقال ابن حجر: ثم لم يقع من سعد بعد ذلك شيء يعاب به إلا أنه امتنع من بيعة أبي بكر فيما يقال، وتوجه إلى الشام، فمات بها، والعذر له في ذلك أنه تأول أن للأنصار في الخلافة استحقاقًا، فبنى على ذلك، وهو معذور وإن كان ما اعتقده من ذلك خطأ. – الإمام بن حجر العسقلاني, فتح الباري شرح صحيح البخاري , ص 108ج8
… afterward, Sa’d did not commit anything blameworthy accept withholding his pledge to allegiance to Abu Bakr as it is said. He then went to Shaam and died there. And the excuse (‘udhr) for his withholding of the pledge of allegiance is that he had a ta`wil (understanding) that is that the Ansar (too) had a right of the caliphate. Based on that he is excused even though his understanding was wrong.
[Fath al-Bari, vol. 8, pg. 108, by Ibn Hajar al-‘Asqalani]
Sa’d was granted Jannah, but nobody is perfect, as Muslims we ask Allah to forgive every single sin of his. The entire Ansar opposed Sa’d (one of their chiefs!) and favoured Abu Bakr (who was from a weak clan of the Quraysh) over him, for what? They were already powerful, they were the heads of Madinah and If they were power-hungry they could have easily opposed Abu Bakr and ‘Umar and declare themselves as the rulers, or at least accuse Abu Bakr and ‘Umar of having forsaken the ‘Wilayah’ of ‘Ali and his children. Of course, nobody did any of that, because the best of the best finally agreed on the best i.e. Abu Bakr al-Siddiq.
Abu Bakr’s caliphate is not from the foundations of the religion, so he is excused, especially since he never accuse Abu Bakr of what the Rafidah accuse him of, let alone making Takfir on Abu Bakr and claiming that there is such a thing as the myth of Wilayah/Imamah.
The Ahnaf (Hanafis) are interestingly the Madhab with the most severe verdict on the Rafidah Shia. A group of Hanafi scholars declared anybody who rejects the Khilafa of Abu Bakr & ‘Umar as Ahlul-Bid’ah, others declared them Kuffar, this is a well known opinion in their school.
The Ahnaf (Hanafis) are interestingly the Madhab with the most severe verdict on the Rafidah Shia. A group of Hanafi scholars declared anybody who rejects the Khilafa of Abu Bakr and ‘Umar as Ahlul-Bid’ah, others declared them as Kuffar, this is a well-known opinion in their school.
However, those Hanafis that do declare those who reject the caliphate of Abu Bakr and ‘Umar as Kuffar do not do so due to the belief that Abu Bakr and ‘Umar are divinely appointed Imams and crucial to our salvation (as the Rafidah believe regarding their so-called infallible Imams). Rather they do so based on the argument that it (the Khilafah of Abu Bakr and ‘Umar, not ‘Uthman and ‘Ali) was based on the Ijma’ (consensus) of the Ahlul-Halli wa al-‘Aqd i.e. the decision-makers of the major Sahabah which is not invalidated by the opposition of a few individuals. Rejecting such a consensus is paramount to kufr to them.
However, this is not a predominant Sunni view, and more importantly, the hujjiyyah (proof) of the Hanafis is stronger than the Rafidah, and despite that, the Hanafis do not make mass-takfir, as believing in the Khilafah of Abu Bakr and ‘Umar is NOT from the foundations of the religion. They only declare takfir if someone willingly and with no excuses rejects this ijma’ (this is why they excuse Sa’d ibn ‘Ubadah, of course, like all Sunnis do).
Even those Sunni scholars who do regard that rejecting the caliphate of Abu Bakr and ‘Umar amounts to disbelief cite as proof the consensus regarding the Khilafah of the Shaykhayn (a consensus that even the early Kharijites didn’t violate!).
What do the Rafidah have? The consensus of the major Sahabah (Muhajirun and Ansar) regarding their alien Imamah belief? No! A single verse about so-called infallible Imams who are supposedly the divine proof of Allah on earth and more crucial to our salvation than the previous Prophets yet they (Imams) are nowhere mentioned neither in the book of Allah nor the authentic Sunnah.
The book of Allah has neither declared Abu Bakr and ‘Umar nor Ali (let alone their descendants) as divine guides who are part of the foundation of the religion. This is because all of them are equally inferior to all the Prophets (over 20 of them that have been repeatedly and clearly mentioned in the Qur’an!). All of them are equally NOT crucial to our salvation, they are not part of the foundation of the religion. All of them were fallible men. Yes, they were men of great virtues, but Sunni Islam i.e. Quranic and Prophetic Islam hasn’t declared any of them as the centre of the religion.
Finally, I’d like you with a devastating video refutation of the Rafidi claim that Sunni Imamah is pretty much the same as Shia Imamah with the difference of different Imams: