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Are Shias Muslim or Not?




  1. Why do Ulama say that Shias are Kaafir? Shouldn’t we be more tolerant and promote unity and peace? I have Shia friends who say that they don’t believe in the wrong beliefs attributed to the Shias. They say that they are just following another mazhab (school of thought) within Islam. They do admit that there are extremists amongst them just as you would find extremists in other groups as well. Should I consider them as Kaafir even though they claim to be Muslims?


(Question published as received)



  1. The criteria for declaring someone a non-Muslim is as follows:


  1. a) When a person openly calls himself a non-Muslim, i.e. he accepts that he is a Christian, Jew, Hindu, etc.


  1. b) When a person negates, through his words or actions, something from the Daruriyyat of Deen ( a compulsory /core aspect of the Islamic faith) proven through Quran and Hadith. Such a person will not be regarded as a Muslim even though he/she claims to be a Muslim.(Jawahirul Fiqh Vol:1 Page:23)


In light of the above kindly take note of the following:


The Shi’a are categorised into three groups in regards to the ruling they fall under:


  1. Those about whom it is certain that they negate the principles of Islam. Such Shias will be regarded as non-Muslims even if they do claim otherwise. Shias have the habit of taqiyyah (i.e. they regard it virtuous to lie in order to safeguard their beliefs); therefore, their word will not be accepted, if reliable sources prove otherwise.


  1. Those who do not negate any principles of Islam, but have a difference of opinion with the Muslims on saying that Ali (Radiyallahu Anhu) was the most superior amongst all the Sahabah (Radiyallahu Anhum) and other such issues. Such Shias will not be regarded as non-Muslims, but they will still be regarded as fussaq (those who transgress the laws of Islam openly).


  1. Those whose beliefs cannot be confirmed. They will not be regarded as Muslims nor will they be regarded as non-Muslims.(Jawaahirul Fiqh Vol:1 Pg:59-63)


The Shi’as predominantly found in the world today including Iran are the Ithna Ashari Shi’as who are not Muslims.


Although the Ithna Ashari Shi’as claim that they are Muslims, they have beliefs, as established from their own books, that negate the clear cut principles of Islam.


Some of these beliefs are listed below:


  1. They regard the Quran to be incomplete, and say that much of the Quran has been changed.(Usool al-Kafi Vol:4 Pages: 444/446)


  1. They regard most of the senior Sahabah (Radiyallahu Anhum), including the first three Khalifas, as murtads (those who have left the fold of Islam).(Ainul Hayāt page:3, aqq al-Yaqīn page: 522)


  1. 3. They regard the status of their twelve Imams to be higher than the status of the Ambiya Alaihim Assalaatu Wassalaam.(ayāt al-Qulūb vol:3 page:10, Wilāyat al-Faqīh of Khomeini page: 58)


These are just a few examples. Many more references can be cited on various aspects of Aqeedah. Due to these and many other such beliefs, the Ithna Ashari Shi’a are not Muslims.


It should be noted that Shi’a have the habit of taqiyyah (i.e. they regard it virtuous to lie in order to safeguard their beliefs). A person should be aware of this fact when interacting with them.


The differences between Ahlus Sunnah and the Shi’a are well documented and is in no way similar to the differences of opinion within the four schools of Fiqh (jurisprudence) within the Ahl al-Sunnah. While there would be extremists in all groups as you have alluded to in your question, we are referring to the beliefs of the mainstream Shi’a. Only the canonical works of the Shi’a and the opinions of their chief scholars were relied upon when determining their fundamental beliefs.


We acknowledge your concern for the unity and well-being of the Muslim Ummah. However, as much as one would want to put aside the differences between the Ahl al-Sunnah and the Shia, the fact remains that these differences do exist, and that by their very nature both groups are worlds apart.


We do condemn all forms of extremism and sectarian violence, and also pray for a peaceful end to the conflict in the Middle East, however, at the same time, we do not consider our adherence to the Truth to be detrimental to that aim.


It is an obligation upon each one of us to uphold the pristine purity of the Deen of Islam as established from the Quran and Sunnah and to honour the Ahlul-Bait (the pure family of the Prophet Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) and all of his Noble Sahaabah Radhiyallahu Anhum.

May Allah guide us all and keep us on the straight path. Aameen.


And Allah Ta’ala Knows Best

Mufti Tahir Hansa

(The answer hereby given is specifically based on the question asked and should be read together with the question asked. Islamic rulings on this Q&A newsletter are answered in accordance to the Hanafi Fiqh.) 



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