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Asl al-Shi'a wa usulu-ha (book)

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Asl al-shi'a wa usuluha
Author Muhammad Husayn Kashif al-Ghita'
Original title أصلُ الشّيعَة و أصُولُها
Language Arabic
Published 1415/1994 , Qom
Publisher Mu'assisa al-Imam 'Ali (a)

Aṣl al-Shiʿa wa uṣulu-hā (Arabic: أصلُ الشّيعَة و أصُولُها ) is a concise and yet comprehensive book by Ayatollah Muhammad Husayn Kashif al-Ghita' (b.1294/1877 - d.1373/1953). The book aims to clarify the base of some disagreements between shi'as and sunnis and for this end, the author discusses about the subjects such as mut'a (temporary marriage). One of the characteristics of the book is explaining fundamentals that all of shi'a scholars unanimously agreed on them. The author was motivated to make unity among Muslims and try to resolve misunderstandings of sunnis about shi'a. He avoided to debate about divisive issues.

The book has been translated with additional explanation by Ayatollah Nasir Makarim Shirazi, titled "A'in-i ma".

The Author

Muhammad Husayn Kashif al-Ghita' (b.1294/1877 - d.1373/1953) was a Shi'a marja' and an open minded thinker in Najaf. He was an expert in fiqh, sermon, Arabic literature, philosophy, interpretation of Qur'an and mysticism.

He was among the first faqihs who began to teach comparative fiqh in the seminary of Najaf . He has written many works to introduce Shi'a.

He was concerned for the unity of Muslims and Islamic awakening and his effort for introducing Shi'a mainly was for making a base for unity and proximity of Islamic sects.

Motivation of the Author

A group of young Iraqis traveled to Egypt to study. They realized that some of the scholars of al-Azhar do not consider Shi'a as an Islamic sect. They sent a letter to Ayatollah Kashif al-Ghita and asked him for help.

Ayatollah Kashif al-Ghita became surprised by the content of the letter and started to study about the problem. He read the book Fajr al-Islam by Egyptian writer, Ahmad Amin. In the book, Amin discuses about Shi'a in a chapter and his information about Shi'a is completely different with the real Shi'a.

In his meeting with the Sunnis of Iraq and Syria, Kashif al-Ghita realized that their information about Shi'a is very untrue and far from the real Shi'a. He believed that the prosperity and development of Muslims is based on the peace and unity among them, hence he started to introduce Shi'a truly in his books and answer accusations.

The Content

In his approximately long introduction, the author discusses about the ways that can lead to Islamic unity and points out to the roots of divisive actions of enemies of Islam. In the main part of the book, he explains the historical origin of Shi'a, its fundamentals and its ideas in jurisprudential issues such as prayer, fasting, hajj, zakat, mut'a, judgment, hunting, etc. The last part of the book is about some theological issues that are unanimously accepted among Shi'a (daruriyyat al-madhab) such as bada' and taqiyya.

The book is divided into a number of parts as follows:

  • The reason of writing this book
  • Founders of the Islamic sciences were Shi'a
  • Untrue accusation to Shi'a
  • Main causes of the problems of Muslims
  • Shi'a and 'Abd Allah b. Saba
  • Emergence and the growth of Shi'a
  • Shi'a in the time of the Holy Prophet (s)
  • Who is Shi'a?
  • Why Shi'a has expanded after the Holy Prophet (s)
  • Fundamental beliefs of Shi'a
  • Islam and faith
  • Imam al-Mahdi (a) and his long life
  • The secret of ghayba (absence) of Imam al-Mahdi (a)
  • Shi'a's beliefs in Furu' al-din
  • Ijtihad from Shi'a's point of view and others
  • The difference of the Shi'a's jurisprudential sources with other Islamic sects
  • Islamic obligations and laws in Shi'a's view: Prayer, Fasting, Zakat, Khums, hajj, al-Amr bi l-ma'ruf wa al-nahy 'an al-munkar and transactions.
  • Mut'a (temporary marriage) in Shi'a's view
  • The reason of the complexity of the mut'a and its final solution
  • Mut'a as an inescapable social necessity
  • Philosophy of temporary marriage and the status of its children
  • Maysar marriage
  • Divorce and the ways to confine it
  • 'Irth (inheritance), waqf, hiba (gift), sadaqa (charity), qada' (judgment)
  • Punishment of sins
  • Bada' from Shi'a point of view
  • Taqiyya from Shi'a point of view


"Asl al-Shi'a wa usuluha" was published in 1351/1932 in Sayda, in 1363/1944 in Najaf, and in 1415/1994 in Qom.


The most famous translation of the book in Persian is "A'in-i ma" by Ayatollah Nasir Makarim Shiarazi. This translation was published for the first time in 1387/1967 in 415 pages. The translator in his preface discusses about the current situation of Muslims in the world and proposes solutions for the problems of Muslims. He also introduces the author and his scholarly position and works.

"Asl al-Shi'a wa usuluha" was also translated by 'Ali Rida Khusrawani (Hakim Khusrawani) into Persian (without comments) under the title "Rishi-yi Shi'i ya asl wa usul shi'i". The book has been translated into English and Urdu as well.