Why do the Twelver Shia balance the Qur’an on their heads during the nights of Ramadan? Where does this bizarre practice stem from? Do they have any evidence for this practice? “It is your Sunni books tho”?
This article shall clarify these questions and shed some light on this bizarre ritual that is falsely attributed to the Imams of the progeny of the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ).
Holding the Qur’an on the head (Persian: قرآن به سر گرفتن) is among the rituals Shi’a perform in the night of Qadr. In this act, people hold the Qur’an on the head and ask God by the rights of the Qur’an, The Prophet (s), Lady Fatima al-Zahra (a) and the twelve Imams (a) to forgive their sins and include them among the rescued from the hellfire. It is not necessary to hold the Qur’an on the head in open form.
Yes, you read right, they invoke others besides Allah in the very essence of worship which is supplication ( الدعاء ) for the forgiveness of their sins (and for everything else for that matter just like how Muslims invoke Allah.
The spurious pieces of evidence in Twelver sources
A Rafidi fabrication attributed to Muhammad ibn Ali (al-Baqir):
عَنْ أَبِی جَعْفَرٍ علیه السلام قَالَ تَأْخُذُ الْمُصْحَفَ فِی ثَلَاثِ لَیالٍ مِنْ شَهْرِ رَمَضَانَ فَتَنْشُرُهُ وَ تَضَعُهُ بَینَ یدَیک…(بحارالأنوار، ج 95، ص 146)
On the authority of Abu Ja’far (Muhammad ibn Ali al-Baqir) who said: “Take the mushaf in three nights of the month of Ramadan and open it and place it between your hands…” (Bihar al-Anwar, v. 95, p. 146)
This narration mentions putting the mushaf near us, between our hands, not on the top of our heads, let alone whilst collectively invoking other than Allah. It also doesn’t contain an authentic chain of narration.
Note: the literal translation of mushaf (Arabic: مصحف, pronounced mus haf) is "written pages/collection of pages".Its technical meaning is, therefore, the “compiled, written pages of the Qur’an.” In other words, the term “Qur’an” refers to the specific revelation that was read to Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) whereas the term “mushaf” denotes the “written form” of that revelation. A small but delicate difference that is lost in the English language (in Arabic a copy of the Qur'an is always refered to as a "mushaf", even to this day. What is read, i.e. the revelation is called "al-Qur'an".
In Islam, we have been prescribed the implementation of congregational prayers with all their details. The implementation of putting the Qur’an on the head is not in the hands of the people and in any way that they want. Just like mourning and even relieving ourselves are regulated by the shari’ah, so is every other action, especially those pertaining to worship. Custom ( العرف ) does not regulate worship, it is rather the other way around.
Another Rafidi fabrication attributed to Jafar ibn Muhammad (al-Sadiq):
«عَنْ مَوْلَانَا الصَّادِقِ صَلَوَاتُ اللَّهِ عَلَیهِ قَالَ خُذِ الْمُصْحَفَ فَدَعْهُ عَلَی رَأْسِک وَ قُلِ اللَّهُمَّ بِحَقِّ هَذَا الْقُرْآن …»(بحارالأنوار، ج 95، ص 146)
On the authority of al-Sadiq who said: “Take the mushaf and place it on your head and say, ‘O Allah, by the right of this Qur’an…” (Bihar al-Anwar, v. 95, p. 146)
This is a fabrication with no authentic chain of narration and it neither mentions Ramadan nor the nights of Qadr.
In short, the Imamites fail to prove this bizarre bid’ah (innovation in religion, ie heresy) from their own sources. But as you might expect, they have the audacity to say they can prove it from Sunni books.
The spurious pieces of evidence in Sunni sources
Imamite propagandists claim that their foolish ritual of juggling the Qur’an on the head can be proven from Sunni books. Needless to say, this claim, like so many of their other claims (“evidence from Sunni books”), is nothing but the deception of the devil (Talbis Iblis).
وقال يعقوب بن أبي سفيان: ثنا عبد العزيز بن عبد الله الاريسي ثنا إبراهيم بن سعيد، عن شعبة عن أبي عون – محمد بن عبد الله الثقفي – عن أبي صالح الحنفي قال: رأيت علي بن أبي طالب أخذ المصحف فوضعه على رأسه حتى أني لارى ورقه يتقعقع
( ابن عساكر (42/534), البداية والنهاية – ابن كثير – ج ٨ – الصفحة ١٣)
[…] on the authority of Abu Salih al-Hanafi who said: “I had seen Ali ibn Abi Talib taking the mushaf and putting it on his head until I could hear the pages flutter…” (Ibn Asakir’s Tarikh, 42/534, Ibn Kathir, al-Bidayah wa al-Niyahah, v. 8, p. 13)
Irrespective of the authenticity of the narration, even if taken at face value, in no way does it prove the heresy of placing copies of the Qur’an (masahif) on one’s head during the nights of Ramadan (much less the additional heresies such as invoking the Imams besides Allah) or during any night as a form of worship.
The reason for that is simple: Ali ibn Abi Talib (may Allah be pleased with him) himself didn’t intend a specific ritual – he was giving a speech and invoking Allah alone! He did not intend to introduce the absurd ritual of balancing/juggling the Qur’an on the head as a form of worship during the nights of Qadr which is attributed to him by the Twelvers.
What is the proof for this claim? Well, the very context of the narration (that Shia apologists fail to mention if they are aware of it in the first place).
The narration actually continues with Ali lamenting and complaining about the people of Kufa (the Shia who betrayed him and later his sons and who have misused their names to this very day), rebuking them and invoking Allah in one of his sermons.
ثم قال: اللهم إنهم منعوني أن أقوم في الامة بما فيه فأعطني ثواب ما فيه، ثم قال: اللهم إني قد مللتهم وملوني وأبغضتهم وأبغضوني، وحملوني على غير طبيعتي وخلقي وأخلاق لم تكن تعرف لي، اللهم فأبدلني بهم خيرا منهم، وأبدلهم بي شرا مني، اللهم أمت قلوبهم موت الملح في الماء.
قال إبراهيم: – يعني أهل الكوفة
Ali is basically using the Qur’an against them i.e. the people of Kufa, his pseudo-followers. He rebukes them and says that he hates them ( وأبغضتهم ) and that they in return hate him ( وأبغضوني ). The narrator explains that this was about the people of Kufa. The irony: Unlike the Shia Ali does not invoke anyone or anything besides Allah. He is fully God-centric and invokes none but Allah.
Persianised demigod-Imams – legislators alongside Allah
According to Twelver Shia Imamism, not only “al-Baqir said” is equivalent to “the Prophet said”, but the rulings of the i̶n̶fallibles are nothing but the decree of Allah i.e. revelation.
The Imams are de facto mini-gods who are invoked to fulfill needs and desires just like the “saints” in the church. So it is not surprising that these deified Imams are lawgivers alongside Allah.
Wilayah Tafwidh/Takwiniyyah ( الولاية التكوينية / التفويض )
In his book “The Islamic Government”, Khomeini expresses the extreme Twelver Shia view regarding the Imams:
قال الخميني في كتابه الحكومة الإسلامية : فإن للإمام مقاما محمودا ودرجة سامية وخلافة تكوينية تخضع لولأيتها وسيطرتها جميع ذرات هذا الكون . وان من ضروريات مذهبنا أن لأئمتنا مقاما لا يبلغه ملك مقرب، ولا نبي مرسل – “الحكومة الإسلامية”: صفحة 52
“The Imam occupies a glorious station and a supreme place and wields such a delegated authority of genesis that every atom in this universe submits to his surpassing glory. And one of the necessary teachings in our sect is that our Imams hold a status that cannot be attained by either an exalted angel or a prophet.” (Khomeini, al Hukumah alIslamiyyah, pg. .52)
This is kufr and riddah by ijma’ and this is why this kafir Khomeini is rightfully takfired by those who know his reality.
Wilayah Tashri’iyyah ( الولاية التشريعية )
In Imamism, Tashri’ ( التشريع ) is attributed to the Imams i.e. they are musharri‘in (lawgivers) who can introduce entirely new forms of worship that have no precedent in the Qur’an or the Sunnah of the Final Messenger (ﷺ).
“Ayatollah” Khomeini took this belief to even further extremes and assigned the authority of the Imams to the supreme leader of Iran (who happened to be him and later his favourite disciple, “Ayatollah” Khamenei).
“The government can even temporarily prevent performing ḥajj, which is among the important Divine obligations” (leader.ir)
‘Ayatollah’ Kamal al-Haydari says in his “Ilm Al-Iman”, p. 508:
فالنبيّ صلّى الله عليه وآله يقوم بوضع بعض التشريعات بإذن منه تعالى في ضوء ما أدّبه سبحانه، وهكذا الأمر بالنسبة إلى أئمّة أهل البيت عليهم السلام، فإنّهم يشرّعون بعض التشريعات التي لم يشرّعها الله تعالى ولا نبيّه صلّى الله عليه وآله، على أساس ما أدّبهم الله تعالى، بحيث لا يشرّعون شيئاً ولا يقولون إلاّ كان مطابقاً لما أراده الله سبحانه
“The Prophet (ﷺ) places some religious laws with the permission of Allah according to how Allah disciplined him. This also applies to the Imams of Ahlul-Bayt; they also legislate some Islamic laws that have not been previously legislated by Allah or his Messenger (ﷺ) according to how Allah disciplined them. This happens in a way, that every law they set and every saying they utter is always in accordance with the will of Allah.”
The Qur’an is the greatest enemy of Shi’ism and simply destroys all such claims in one breath:
الْيَوْمَ أَكْمَلْتُ لَكُمْ دِينَكُمْ وَأَتْمَمْتُ عَلَيْكُمْ نِعْمَتِي وَرَضِيتُ لَكُمُ الْإِسْلَامَ دِينًا
«This day, I have completed your religion for you, perfected My blessings upon you, and am pleased with Islaam as your Religion.» [Qur’an, 5:3]
The noble Messenger of Allah, Muhammad (ﷺ), left his nation upon المحجة البيضاء (the clear white path) whose night is the same as its day; no one deviates from it except that he is destroyed.
This verse contains testimony from Allah, the Perfect and Most High, that this religion is complete and that it covers everything of benefit to the servants; they do not need any other legislation after it or any other book to come down or any other messenger or “infallible Imams” to be sent after the final Messenger of Allah (ﷺ).
The verse also contains a refutation of the innovators, those who introduce worship from themselves and ascribe it to the religion, when it has no proof from the Book of Allaah and the Sunnah of His Messenger (ﷺ). Rather they just introduce it in accordance with what they deem to be good.
He (ﷺ) said:
«Whoever introduces into this affair of ours that which is not from it, then it is rejected.» (Bukhari and Muslim)
Whatever was not from the religion in the time of the Prophet (ﷺ) will never be from the religion after him. Allah completed the religion for this nation until the Hour is established for every time and place and for every generation of mankind.
Conclusion: A folk ritual that was never practiced by the Ahlul-Bayt
The Imamites have not a single (not even fabricated!) report stating that the Prophet (ﷺ) instructed anyone to put the Qur’an on the head during the night(s) of Qadr. Even with the narrations in their own books, they can’t prove that ritual, let alone from Sunni books.No heretical sect, no matter how heretical, has ever come to the idea of concocting an annual religious ritual where copies of the Qur’an are placed on the head, and Imams are invoked besides Allah.
No sect, neither the first (political) Shia, nor the Zaydi Shia, nobody has introduced such a ritual except for the Twelver Shia of course. The sect drowned in ghuluw which manifests itself in heretical rituals that are based on preposterous and fallacious arguments.
May Allah guide the bamboozled.