|Author||Sayyid 'Abd al-Husayn Sharaf al-Din|
|En. publisher||Imam Husayn (as) Islamic Foundation Beirut; Ansariyan Publications|
Al-Murājaʿāt (Arabic: المُراجَعات) is a revealing book about the truth of Shiism and the immediate imamate of Imam 'Ali (a) after the Prophet (s). It contains letters communicated between Sayyid 'Abd al-Husayn Sharaf al-Din, a well-known Shiite scholar in Lebanon and al-Shaykh Salim al-Bishri, a well-known Sunni scholar in Egypt. To further examine all the doubts expressed by Sunni scholars, the book makes several arguments on the issue of imamate of Imam 'Ali based on the holy Quran and Sunni accepted sources of hadiths in this regard. More importantly, the reliability of its sources, references along with its inspiring style of writing are the reasons it has received wide acceptance.
- Main article: Al-Sayyid 'Abd al-Husayn Sharaf al-Din
The book's author, Sayyid 'Abd al-Husayn Sharaf al-Din al-Musawi al-'Amili (b. 1290/1832 - d. 1377/1916) was a Lebanese Shiite Mujtahid and a supporter of the idea of the proximity of Islamic sects (especially Shiism and Sunnism)—he made remarkable efforts to unify both schools and resolve tensions between them. He was a leader of the Lebanese Independence Movement.
Al-Shaykh Salim al-Bishri al-Maliki, a Sunni scholar, was the head of al-Azhar in Egypt for two terms. During his travel to Egypt in 1329 A.H./ 1911, Sharaf al-Din visited al-Bishri. There was debate between them about Sunni and Shiite beliefs when they met—a debate that continued throughout the 112 letters between them. They decided to publish their exchanges, but Sharaf al-Din postponed it because of his political and social struggles. In 1338 A.H./ 1919, French occupiers raided his house and his personal library, and burned some of his writings. Fortunately the letters, later called al-Muraja'at, were undamaged. Sharaf al-Din compiled the letters in the form of a book and published them.
In the preface to the book, Sharaf al-Din says that he has included all exchanges between him and al-Bishri in the book. The book was first published in 1355 A.H./ 1936 in Sayda, Lebanon.
The written form of the debates in book, has the advantage that the two parties had the opportunity to provide the best possible replies they could give. The book is written without any disrespect and under mutual fairness. This is one of the most important books that provides a well-argued account of Shiite beliefs, drawing upon reliable sources with a persuasive tone. The book is also called al-Munazarat al-Azhariyya wa al-mubahathat al-Misriyya (Debates in al-Azhar and discussions in Egypt).
Shiites believe that the Prophet (s) has repeatedly announced 'Ali b. Abi Talib (a) as his immediate successor, but Sunni Muslims believe that the Prophet (s) died without choosing a successor after him. In this book, Sharaf al-Din appealed to the Quran and hadiths in Sunni sources to prove Shiite beliefs and reply to their dissents. The book is made up of two parts:
First: Shiism and imamat, 16 letters.
- The reason why Shiites have not followed the Four Sunni schools of jurisprudence and followed the school of Ahl al-Bayt (a).
- That the views of Sunni scholars have no preference over Shiism.
- The place of Ahl al-Bayt (a) in Islam
- Suggestion to resolve the disputes between Sunnis and Shiites
- Evidence from the Quran and hadiths to prove the superiority of Ahl al-Bayt (a).
- Hadith al-Thaqalayn and its tawatur (being frequently narrated).
- Hadiths from the Prophet (s), including Hadith al-Safina, concerning the place of Ahl al-Bayt (a).
- What is meant by "Ahl al-Bayt" in the Quran and hadiths.
- The appeal of 12 Sunni scholars to Shiite narrators of hadiths in al-Sihah al-Sitta (the most important sources of Sunni hadiths).
- One hundred Shiite narrators of hadiths considered as reliable by Sunni scholars.
- Al-Bishri's acknowledgment that it is sufficient to follow the school of Ahl al-Bayt along with Sunni schools.
- Many hadiths in Sunni sources, such as Hadith al-Indhar, Hadith al-Manzila, the first and the second Fraternity Agreement, the story of closing all the doors to the Prophet (s)'s mosque except the door of 'Ali b. Abi Talib (a)'s house
- Hadiths showing the superiority of Imam 'Ali (a) over all others.
- The Wilaya Verse and the meaning of wilaya in Quranic verses and hadiths
- The hadith of Ghadir and its tawatur, (being Mutawatir).
- Forty hadiths in Shiite sources and the reason why Sunnis did not cite them.
- 'Ali (a) as the heir and the "wasi" (successor) of the Prophet (s).
- The Prophet (s)'s wives and the reason why 'Ayisha's hadiths are accepted but Umm Salama's hadiths are rejected.
- Lack of consensus about the khilafa of people other than 'Ali (a).
- The reason why Imam 'Ali (a) did not insist on pursuing his right to khilafa after a while.
- Hadith of Qirtas and the disrespect of the Prophet (s) by some of his Sahaba (companions) in the last days of his life.
- That some Sahaba defied Usama b. Zayd's army and the Prophet (s) cursed them.
- A reply to the objection that it is improbable for Sahaba to have disobeyed the Prophet (s)'s order that 'Ali (a) should be his successor, and so there was no such order.
- The arguments by Imam 'Ali (a), Fatima al-Zahra (a) and some Sahaba against the usurpation of caliphate.
- The superiority of Shiites in compiling Islamic and other disciplines.
The book counts as equivalent to precious works, such as 'Abaqat al-anwar by Mir Hamid Husayn al-Hindi, Ihqaq al-haqq by Qadi Nur Allah al-Shushtari and al-Ghadir by 'Allama Amini, which are devoted to defending, and arguing for, the truth of Shiism and the immediate khilafa of Imam 'Ali (a).
When it was published, al-Muraja'at was welcomed by readers and scholars; it was translated into different languages, and was widely published. Some Sunni scholars have attacked the book in order to defend their own viewpoints, but their attacks have been replied to by some Shiite scholars. One such reply is Tashyid al-Muraja'at wa tanfid al-mukabarat by Sayyid 'Ali al-Husayni al-Milani.
Translations and Researches
The book is originally in Arabic, and there are several Farsi translations of it.
- A translation by Sardar Kabuli under the title Munazarat-i Shia wa Sunni (Shiite and Sunni debates).
- A translation by Abulfadl Najm Abadi, published by Ayatollah Burujirdi Publications.
- A translation by Muhammad Sadiq Najmi under Munazara 'ilmi (a scholarly debate).
- Another translation by Muhammad Ja'far Imami under Rahbari-yi Imam 'Ali dar Qur'an wa sunnat (Imam 'Ali (a)'s leadership in the Quran and the Tradition).
- A translation and paraphrase of selections of the book (eliminating its technical contents and leaving the most publicly important ones) under Haqju wa haqshinas (truth-seeker and truth-knower), annotated by scholarly footnotes of Husayn Radi. The book is organized in terms of 72 dialogues.
The book has been translated and published, under aegis of Ahl al-Bayt (a) World Assembly, into Urdu (1369 S.H./ 1990), French (1371 S.H./ 1992), Tajik (1376 S.H./ 1997), Turkish (1377 S.H./ 1998), Fula (1385 S.H./ 2006), and Kurdish (1385 S.H./ 2006).
There are other translations of the book as well:
- A translation into English by Yasin al-Jiburi
- A translation into Spanish by Feisal Morhell under Les Referencias
- A translation into German under Die Konsultation
- A translation into Indonesian under Dialog Sunnah Syi'ah
- Husayn Radi has made a research on al-Muraja'at: it identified all the sources of the book (with the volume and page numbers) as well as some additional sources. This research has been published with the book by Ahl al-Bayt (a) World Assembly.
- Another research has been made by Muhammad Jamil Hamud with footnotes and annotations on some contents of the book.
- The center for researches in the Islamic Propagation Office in Qum did another research on the book that has not been published yet.
- The material for this article is mainly taken from المراجعات in Farsi Wikishia.