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Third Testimony

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Al-Shahāda al-Thālitha (Arabic: الشَهادَة الثالِثة) or the Third Testimony is to testify or witness the wilaya of 'Ali (a). It is recited after testifying the oneness of God and the prophethood of the Prophet Muhammad (s) as follows: "I bear witness that 'Ali is the wali of Allah" ( أشهَدُ أَنّ عَلیاً ولی‌ُّالله) or "I bear witness that 'Ali is the proof of Allah" (أشهَدُ أَنّ عَلیاً حُجَّةُ الله).

According to some hadiths, whenever one bears witness to monotheism and the prophethood of Muhammad (s), one should bear witness to the wilaya of 'Ali b. Abi Talib (a) as well. The main issue about the Third Testimony concerns adhan and iqama. In Shiite sources of fiqh and hadith, the Third Testimony is not considered as part of adhan or iqama. According to the majority of Shiite fuqaha, this phrase is not part of adhan or iqama, but it is mustahab or permissible to recite it with the intention of proximity to God in a way that it is known that the phrase is not part of adhan or iqama.

The Notion

Al-Shahada al-Thalitha, or the Third Testimony, follows the Shahadatayn (testification of monotheism and the prophethood of Muhammad (s)) and consists in a testification of the wilaya of 'Ali b. Abi Talib (a). It is usually expressed with the following phrases: "I bear witness that 'Ali is the wali of Allah", "I bear witness that 'Ali is the proof of Allah", and "I bear witness that 'Ali is rightly the Ruler of the Believers" (أشهَدُ أَنّ عَلیاً اَمیرالمؤمنین حقاً).

In some hadiths, it is recommended to bear witness to the wilaya of 'Ali b. Ai Talib (a) right after bearing witness to monotheism and the prophethood of Muhammad (s). The Third Testimony is mainly discussed within the issues of adhan and iqama. It is also discussed within the issues of tashahhud in prayers.

In Adhan and Iqama

Issues regarding the recitation of the Third Testimony in adhan or iqama are mainly concerned with its background and jurisprudential ruling.

Background

It is famously held that the Third Testimony entered the Shiite adhan since the Safavid era. However, there is evidence that it was recited in adhans prior to this era in different regions. For example, Ibn Batuta in 8th/14th century talked about the recitation of "I bear witness that 'Ali is the wali of Allah" in adhans of the Shi'as in Qatif. Also, al-Shaykh al-Saduq’s position about hadiths concerning the permissibility of the Third Testimony shows that there were people in his time who recited the Third Testimony in their adhans.

'Abd al-Muhsin al-Sarawi dates the recitation of "I bear witness that 'Ali is the wali of Allah" back to the Umayyad era, taking it to be a reaction by the Shi'as to those who cursed 'Ali (a) on minbars and ma'dhanas.

It is said that 'Abd Allah al-Maraghi al-Misri has cited hadiths in his book, al-Silafa fi amr al-khilafa, according to which Salman and Abu Dhar recited the Third Testimony in the period of the Prophet (s). However, some people have doubted the existence of such a book.

Disagreements over the Jurisprudential Ruling

According to the Shiite fiqh (jurisprudence), the phrase, "I bear witness that 'Ali is the wali of Allah", was not originally legislated as part of the adhan. Thus, the Shiite jurisprudents have not mentioned it as part of adhan or iqama. However, they disagree over the jurisprudential ruling of the recitation of the Third Testimony in adhan or iqama. Here are the jurisprudential views in this regard:

  • It is not permissible to recite the Third Testimony in adhan and iqama: al-Shaykh al-Saduq believed that hadiths implying the permissibility of reciting the Third Testimony in adhan or iqama are fabricated by ghulat (people who exaggerate about the position of Shiite Imams). According to al-Shaykh al-Tusi, these hadiths are shadhdh, believing that a person who recites the Third Testimony in adhan or iqama is sinful.
  • It is permissible or mustahab (recommended) to recite the Third Testimony in adhan or iqama without believing that they are parts thereof: 'Abd al-Halim al-Ghazzi has gathered fatwas of over 100 Shiite scholars in this regard in his book, al-Shahada al-thalitha al-muqaddasa, most of whom take the recitation of the Third Testimony in adhan or iqama to be mustahab on the condition that one does not take it to be part of adhan or iqama. They appeal to general hadiths (that is, not specifically regarding adhan and iqama) according to which one should bear witness to the wilaya of 'Ali b. Abi Talib (a) whenever he or she bears witness to monotheism and prophethood of the Prophet Muhammad (s). They take the positions of al-Shaykh al-Saduq and al-Shaykh al-Tusi to be concerned with cases in which one takes the Third Testimony as part of adhan.
  • If the Third Testimony is believed to be the slogan of Shiism, then it is mustahab or even obligatory (wajib) to recite it: Al-Sayyid Muhsin al-Hakim believes that it is mustahab to recite the Third Testimony in adhan and iqama on the condition that the reciter does not take it as part thereof. He believes that in our time, the Third Testimony is the slogan of Shiism, and so, it is mustahab or even obligatory to recite it in adhan and iqama.
  • The Third Testimony is part of adhan or iqama: a number of Shiite jurisprudents claim that the Third Testimony is part of adhan and iqama. They appeal to the very hadiths rejected by al-Shaykh al-Saduq and al-Shaykh al-Tusi. Some of them appeal to hadiths said to be cited by al-Maraghi al-Misri according to which Salman and Abu Dhar recited the Third Testimony in adhan or iqama. However, some scholars have doubted the existence of a book by al-Maraghi appealing to the author being totally unknown, unavailability of the book in libraries, and the absence of such a hadith in Shiite books of hadiths. Some Shiite jurisprudents believe that it is mustahab to recite the Third Testimony in adhan or iqama, although they do not take it to be part thereof. However, they maintain that it might be mustahab even if one intends it as part of adhan or iqama. According to Sahib al-Jawahir,
We would claim that it [i.e. the Third Testimony] is part [of adhan and iqama] had the scholars and jurisprudents not agreed on it not being a part.

In Tashahhud of the Prayer and Conversion to Islam

The issue of reciting the Third Testimony in the tashahhud of the prayer does not appear in jurisprudential books and Essays of Fatwas. However, it appears in some istifta's from Shiite authorities. Almost all Shiite authorities believe that it is not permissible to recite the Third Testimony in tashahhud after Shahadatayn. However, some authors appeal to general hadiths according to which one should bear witness to the wilaya of 'Ali b. Abi Talib (a) whenever one bears witness to monotheism and prophethood, and thus take it permissible to recite the Third Testimony in tashahhud.

According to Muslims, in order to convert to Islam, it is sufficient to recite Shahadatayn. According to Shiite jurisprudents, it is required for the conversion to Islam to recite the Third Testimony. However, the Shi'as recite the Third Testimony too in order to express their belief in Islam.

See Also

References