Q: We are in urgent need of information about the differences between the Sunnis and Shi’is. We hope that you can explain something about their beliefs?.
A: Praise be to Allaah.
The Shi’ah have many sects. Some of them are kaafirs who worship ‘Ali and call upon him, and they worship Faatimah, al-Husayn and others. Some of them say that Jibreel (peace be upon him) betrayed the trust and the Prophethood belonged to ‘Ali, not to Muhammad. There are also others among them, such as the Imamiyyah – the Raafidi Ithna ‘Ashari – who worship ‘Ali and say that their imams are better than the angels and Prophets.
There are many groups among them; some are kaafirs and some are not kaafirs. The mildest among them are those who say that ‘Ali was better than the three (Abu Bakr, ‘Umar and ‘Uthmaan). The one who says this is not a kaafir but he is mistaken, because ‘Ali was the fourth, and Abu Bakr al-Siddeeq, ‘Umar and ‘Uthmaan were better than him. If a person prefers him over them then he is erring and is going against the consensus of the Sahaabah, but he is not a kaafir.
The Shi’ah are of different levels and types. The one who wants to know more about that may refer to the books of the scholars, such as al-Khutoot al-‘Areedah by Muhibb al-Deen al-Khateeb [available in English under the same title, translated by Abu Ameenah Bilaal Philips], Manhaaj al-Sunnah by Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah, and other books that have been written on this topic, such as al-Shi’ah wa’l-Sunnah by Ihsaan Ilaahi Zaheer [also available in English translation] and many other books which explain their errors and evils – we ask Allaah to keep us safe and sound.
Among the most evil of them are the Imamis, Ithna ‘Asharis and Nusayris, who are called al-Raafidah because they rejected (rafadu) Zayd ibn ‘Ali when he refused to disavow the two Shaykhs Abu Bakr and ‘Umar, so they went against him and rejected him.
Not everyone who claims to be a Muslim can be accepted as such. If a person claims to be a Muslim, his claim should be examined. The one who worships Allaah alone and believes in His Messenger, and follows that which he brought, is a real Muslim. If a person claims to be a Muslim but he worships Faatimah or al-Badawi or al-‘Aydaroos or anyone else, then he is not a Muslim.
We ask Allaah to keep us safe and sound. Similarly, anyone who reviles the faith, or does not pray, even if he says that he is a Muslim, is not a Muslim. The same applies to anyone who mocks the faith or mocks the prayer or zakaah or fasting or Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), or who disbelieves in him, or says that he was ignorant or that he did not convey the message in full or convey the message clearly. All such people are kaafirs. We ask Allaah to keep us safe and sound.
Majmoo’ Fataawa al-Shaykh Ibn Baaz (28/257).