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An Introduction to Shi'i Islam:
The History and Doctrines of Twelver Shi'ism

by Moojan Momen

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Chapter 9


          Doctrines, Ritual Practices and Social

The main sources for all rituals and legal practices in
Islam are the Qur'an and the Traditions (hadith). In the
matter of basic theological principles, however, Shi'is hold
that reason is the primary source.

The Qur'an

The Qur'an is considered to be the Word of God revealed
through Muhammad acting as God's mouthpiece. The text of the
Qur'an in the recension compiled under the direction of the
third Caliph, 'Uthman, is accepted by both Sunnis and
  There is, however, considerable evidence that the early
Shi'a did not accept the standard text of the Qur'an. Even
as late as the time of Shaykh al-Mufid, there was
considerable discussion among the Shi'a as to what had been
omitted from the Qur'an by the enemies of 'Ali, although by
that time there was a consensus that nothing had been added.
In other words, it was felt that although the standard text
of the Qur'an represented God's word with no human
additions, part of the text extolling 'Ali and pointing to
his Imamate had been excised by his

   Although most Shi'is eventually took the view that
nothing had been omitted or added to the Qur'an, traces of
the earlier view are enshrined among some of the hadith and
are even reproduced in some of the later books. The
following are some examples taken from the Bihar al-Anwar,
the important collection of hadith made by the seventeenth-
century scholar, Muhammad Baqir Majlisi:

1. In the verse: 'God has chosen Adam, Noah, the family of
Abraham and the family of 'Imran above all beings' (Qur'an
3:33), the phrase 'and the family of Muhammad' is considered
to have originally been present after the phrase 'family of

2. In commentary upon the verse: 'O would that I had not
chosen such-


and-such as a friend' (Qur'an 25:28), the sixth Imam, Ja'far
as-Sadiq, said: 'In 'Ali's copy is: "O would that I have not
chosen the second as a friend," and this will appear one
day.'[2] This is a clear reference to Abu Bakr who is known
as ath-Thani (the second) because he was the second in the
cave during Muhammad's flight from Mecca.
3. The phrase: 'You are the best of people' (khayr al-umma,
Qur'an 3:110), should read: 'You are the best of Imams'
(khayr al-a'imma).

4. The Qur'an has been altered so that it has dropped the
names of the successors (awsiya, i. e. the Imams) and the
hypocrites (munafiqun, i. e. the enemies of the Imams).[4]
  A small minority of Shi'is have attempted to get much
larger passages (and even whole suras) accepted as being
missing portions of the Qur'an but without success.[5]

Commentary (tafsir) on the Qur'an has become an important
branch of the religious sciences in Shi'ism as in Sunnism.
Shi'is, however, have tended to emphasise the esoteric
interpretation (ta'wil) of Qur'anic verses by the Imams. An
example of Shi'i commentary can be found in the
interpretations of verses in relation to the Imamate in
Chapter 7.
  The best known of the Shi'i commentaries on the Qur'an are
two very early tafsirs by 'Ali ibn Ibrahim al-Qummi and
Muhammad al-'Ayyashi and two later works, At-Tibyan (The
Exposition) by Shaykhu't-Ta'ifa Muhammad at-Tusi and the
Majma' al-Bayan (Collection of Elucidation) by al-Fadl ibn
al-Hasan at-Tabarsi. A recent work, al-Mizan (The Balance)
by 'Allama Muhammad Husayn Tabataba'i, may well come to be
regarded as the equal of these in importance.

The Traditions (Hadith)

Since the Prophet and, for Shi'is, the Imams were sinless
and infallible, their words and deeds are a guide and model
for all to follow. These were eventually written down after
being transmitted orally for several generations. Thus each
hadith consists of the names of the chain of transmitters
(isnad) followed by the text (matn) of the Tradition being
transmitted. The hadith constitute the Sunna (practice) of
the Prophet and Imams. They are also frequently called
khabar (information, plural akhbar) by Shi'is.
  In Sunni Islam there are six collections of Traditions
relating to the Prophet and passed on by his companions
which are regarded as canonical. In Shi'i Islam, however,
the majority of the companions, in accepting the Caliphate
of Abu Bakr, 'Umar and 'Uthman in preference to 'Ali, are
considered to have erred and, therefore, cannot be regarded
as reliable transmitters of Traditions. The Shi'i Traditions
usually rely on the words or actions of one of the Imams and
even those that go back to


the Prophet are usually transmitted through one of the
Imams. It was clear to Muslim scholars that large-scale
forgery of Traditions was occurring in order to support
factional and political opinions. The Muslim answer to this
problem was to develop a whole branch of the of the
religious sciences which consisted of examining the chains
of transmitters in order to assess the reliability of
Traditions. These were
then classed according to their reliability into one of four
sahih (correct), hasan (good), muwaththaq (trustworthy) and
da'if (weak). The exact definitions of these categories are
not, however, very clear and different authorities will
place the same Tradition in different categories. In
addition, the Traditions were classified as mutawatir
(successive) meaning Traditions handed down through several
chains of reliable authorities and considered as genuine in
every generation from the time of Muhammad and the Imams;
and khabar al-wahid (plural ahad) meaning Traditions which
are only known through one chain of transmitters. The former
are regarded as binding while the latter may be used as a
  There are four early collections of the hadith that have
become regarded by Shi'is as canonical. These were written
by three authors who are known as the 'Three Muhammads':
a. Al-Kafi 'Ilm ad-DIn (The Sufficient in the Science of
Religion) by Muhammad al-Kulayni (d. 328/939). This is the
only one of these four to contain a section on the
fundamentals of the religion (usul ad-din, see
below in this chapter).
b. Man la yaduruhu al-Faqih (He who has no Jurist present)
by Muhammad ibn Babuya (d. 381/991).
c. Tahdhib al-Ahkam (The Rectification of Judgements) by
Shaykh Muhammad at-Tusi, Shaykhu't-Ta'ifa (d. 460/1067).
d. Al-Istibsar (The Perspicacious) by the same author.
  In addition to these four, there are three other books
which belong to more modern times and which are highly
regarded in this field. Their authors have also been named
as modern 'Three Muhammads'.
a. Al-Wafi (The Complete) by Muhammad ibn Murtada, known as
Mulla Muhshin-i Fayd (d. 1091/1680).
b. Wasa'il ash-Shi'a (The Means of the Shi'a) by Muhammad
ibn Hasan, known as al-Hurr al-'Amili (d. 1104/1692).
c. Bihar al-Anwar (Oceans of Lights) by Muhammad Baqir
Majlisi (d. 1110/1699).
  Even more modern is the collection Mustadrak al-Wasa'il
(The Rectification of al-Wasa'il) by Husayn an-Nuri at-
Tabarsi (d. 1320/ 1902).
  The need for information regarding the transmitters of the
Traditions in order to be able to assess their reliability
led to a large number of


biographical dictionaries. The most important of these are
the three on Rijal by Ahmad ibn 'Ali an-Najashi, Muhammad
ibn 'Umar al-Kashshi and Shaykhu't-Ta'ifa, and the bio-
bibliographical work, the Fihrist, also by Shaykhu't-Ta'ifa.
  Each generation of the ulama is regarded as transmitters
of the Traditions and so biographical works on the later
ulama are also an important part of the Shi'i literature.
Among the most well-known of these are:

a. Ma'alim al-'Ulama (Guide-posts of the Ulama) by ibn
b. Amal al-'Amil (The Hope of the [Jabal] 'Amil) by al-Hurr
c. Lu'lu'at al-Bahrayn (The Pearls of Bahrain) by Yusuf al-
d. Nujum as-Sama (The Stars of the Firmament) by Muhammad
'Ali Kashmiri
e. Rawdat al-Jannat (The Garden of Paradise) by Muhammad
Baqir al-Khwansari
f. Qisas al-'Ulama (Stories of the Ulama) by Muhammad
Tunukabuni g. Tabaqat A'lam ash-Shi'a (The Generations of
the Eminent Persons of the Shi'a) by Agha Buzurg Tihrani
h. A'yan ash-Shi'a (The Notables of the Shi'a) by Muhsin al-

Independent Investigation and Blind Imitation

There are several verses in the Qur'an which forbid the
blind imitation (taqid) of others in matters of religion
(Qur'an 5:104-5; 17:36; 21:52-4; 43:22-4). However, this
prohibition is interpreted to refer only to the fundamentals
of religion (usul ad-din. As far as the details of law and
ritual practices are concerned, knowledge of these, although
incumbent upon the believers, is what is called wajib
kifa'i. This means an obligation which if undertaken by a
sufficient number of the community need not be undertaken by
the rest. In other words, provided a sufficient number of
persons undertake the detailed study of religious law and
ritual (i.e. the ulama and, especially, the mujtahids or
fuqaha), it is not obligatory for the ordinary believer. It
is obligatory, however, for all to follow the provisions of
the religious law, the Shari'a. Therefore it is necessary
for every believer who has not made a special study of the
Shari'a to seek out the person who is known to him as the
most learned in the religious law and to follow that person.
This following of a mujtahid is called taqlid (imitation)
and the person doing it is called a muqallid while the
mujtahid becomes marja' at-taqlid (reference point for
  Thus, in summary, belief in the fundamentals of the
religion must be the result of each individual's own
independent investigation and must not be the result of
merely following one's parents or religious leaders.
However, with respect to the subsidiary elements of the
religion (furu'


ad-din), religious law and rituals, these can only be
learned through extensive study and anyone who has not
carried out this study follows the guidance of those who

The Fundamental Elements of the Religion (Usul ad-Din)

Both Sunni and Shi'i Islam agree on three fundamental
elements of religion: Tawhid (the unity of God), Nubuwwa
(prophethood) and Ma'ad (the resurrection). However, to this
the Shi'is add two further fundamentals: Imama (the Imamate)
'Adl (Justice of God). 

I. Tawhid (Divine Unity)

At its simplest level, this is the assertion in the first
half of the Shahada (declaration of faith) which says:
'There is no god but God' (la-ilaha-ila Allah). Over the
centuries, Sunnis have accused Shi'is of violating this
fundamental doctrine by elevating the station of the Imams
and venerating them to a point where they become partners
with God in the people's hearts. Shi'is, of course, reject
this accusation, stating that it has originated from the
early heresiographers lumping the Twelver Shi'a with the
ghulat or extremists.
  In the dispute between the Mu'tazili and Ash'ari
theological positions that concerned Islam a great deal in
its early days, Shi'is took the Mu'tazili viewpoint. One
consequence of this is that they hold the names and
attributes of God to have no independent or hypostatic
existence apart from the Being and Essence of God. Any
suggestion of these names and attributes being conceived of
as separate is thought to entail polytheism. It would even
be incorrect, for example, to say that God knows by His
Knowledge which is in His Essence. The correct statement is:
God knows by His Knowledge which is His Essence. Similarly
the viewpoint held by Sunni theologians, that the Qur'an is
the uncreated, eternal Word of God, is considered to set up
two eternal entities (God and the Qur'an) which is
polytheism. Thus the Shi'is consider the Qur'an to have been
created in time.

Also related to the Mu'tazili position adopted by Shi'ism is
the assertion that God has no physical form and that such
Qur'anic verses as seem to imply that the believer shall
achieve a beatific vision of God should be understood
metaphorically and not literally as should those verses that
appear to attribute to God physical organs such as a face or
hands, etc.

More philosophically-minded Shi'i writers have expanded the
concept of tawhid to include such concepts as the unity of
the heart and mind and the integration of the individual in
society. This sort of


interpretation of tawhid is particularly prominent in the
writings of 'Ali Shari'ati (see pp. 258-9).

2. Nabuwwa (Prophethood)

Each prophet is an intermediary between God and man. The
mission of the prophet is to bring God's revelation in its
pure form to man. This revelation, the word of God, is in
the form of teachings and laws to guide mankind. In
addition, the prophet also leads mankind and interprets the
word of God. In order to carry out his mission, God bestows
sinlessness or infallibility upon the prophet and thus the
prophet is also the perfect model of the teaching that he
  Throughout the ages God has sent many prophets to mankind
in different parts of the world. According to the Traditions
these have numbered 124,000 or 144,000. Certain of the more
important prophets are called Ulu al-'azm, prophets endowed
with constancy. These are those prophets that brought a book
and a new religious law and in the Qur'an they are also
called rusul, apostles (from God). Among those recognised to
be such prophets are Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus, until in
the succession of the prophets, Muhammad is reached.
  Muhammad is not considered to be just a prophet for the
Arabs or for the limited area in which he lived, but a
prophet with teachings from God for the whole world.

3. Ma'ad (the Resurrection)

In the Qur'an there are numerous verses about the Day of
Resurrection and the Day of Judgement. Indeed, most of those
suras revealed during the Meccan period of the Prophet's
life have a large eschatalogical content. The occurrence of
the resurrection is considered a logical necessity of divine
justice, since only with the resurrection can each man's
full reward and punishment be given.

4. Imama (The Imamate)

This subject, which is distinctive to Shi'ism as compared to
Sunnism, is fully discussed in Chapter 7.

5. 'Adl (Divine Justice)

It may, at first sight, seem strange that just one of God's
attributes, His justice, has been picked out by Shi'is as
one of the fundamental elements of their faith. But in fact
this is another historical remnant of the Mu'tazili-Ash'ari
debate in the period when Shi'i doctrine was being


crystallised in the 4th-5th/10th-11th centuries. The
Mu'tazili position, which was eventually adopted by Shi'is,
stressed the individual's own responsibility for his own
action and God's subsequent judgement of these actions
according to His justice. Ash'arism, which was adopted by
many of the Sunnis, stressed much more that God created
man's acts and thus there is little room for a man's own
volition in this doctrine. It was because of the fierce
debate that raged at this time that the Mu'tazili concept of
divine justice became enshrined as one of the fundamental
principles of Shi'ism.

Ritual Practice ('Ibadat)

Ritual practices are traditionally divided into eight
elements. One factor that has been given a great deal of
importance in the works of some Shi'i writers is the
intention (niyya) in the mind of the believer when
performing the ritual. The intention must be pure; the
ritual is performed for the love of God -not for the sake of
social standing or even the reward of paradise. In the
following sections, the various ritual practices will not be
described in detail as this would take a great deal of space
but rather the differences from Sunni practice will be
briefly described:

1. Obligatory Prayer (Salat or Namaz)

The word salat, or in Persian namaz, has been translated as
obligatory prayer to distinguish it from other forms of
prayer which are dealt with later in this chapter. The
obligatory prayers are to be said five times a day by all
Muslims; sunrise, noon, afternoon, evening and night.
However Shi'is consider it permissible to run together the
noon and afternoon and the evening and night prayers so that
the prayers are only said on three separate occasions during
the day. The Prophet is said to have considered this an
allowable practice and there is some support for this view
even in the Sunni collections of hadith.[6]
  The call to prayer (adhan) has three slight differences
in Shi'ism as compared to Sunnism. The phrase 'Come to the
best of actions' is added. It is considered that this phrase
was in the original adhan but was omitted on the orders of
the Caliph 'Umar. 'Umar is also considered to have added the
phrase 'Prayer is better than sleep' to the dawn adhan and
so this is omitted by Shi'is. The addition of the phrase 'I
bear witness that 'Ali is the Wali Allah' (literally: the
friend of God, but here meaning the guardian of the religion
of God) after the declaration that Muhammad is the Apostle
of God is considered to be commendable but not obligatory.

Preparatory to the prayers themselves are the ablutions
(wudu). Here


again there are minor differences between Sunni and Shi'i
practice. In Shi'ism, for example, the water is allow,ed to
run from the elbow to the palm, while Sunnism decrees the
opposite direction.
  The content of the obligatory prayer itself contains no
more variations from the Sunni formula than the variation
among the four Sunni schools themselves. The only
distinctively Shi'i feature is the insistence that the
forehead be placed on dust or the earth (and preferably a
block of baked mud from the earth of Karbala) during the
prostration phase of the prayers, whereas the Sunnis place
their foreheads directly onto their prayer-mats.

2. Fasting (Siyam, Sawm)

During the whole of the month of Ramadan, food, drink,
smoking and sexual intercourse are forbidden from dawn to
sunset. The physical abstentions are only symbolic of an
inner purification of the character. The fast of the Shi'is
is a little longer than the Sunni fast in that they wait
until the sun has completely set.

3. Alms (Zakat)

The alms or poor-rate is levied on crops, livestock, gold,
silver and cash. It is not payable by anyone whose debts
exceed his assets. The formula for deriving how much is
levied is complicated in the case of livestock and grain.
With respect to gold, silver and cash, it is approximately
two and one half percent once a minimum threshold of assets
is exceeded.
  This tax is, according to the text of the Qur'an (9:60),
intended to assist the poor and needy, those in debt and
travellers. It is also used for ransoming captives of war
and the expenses of collecting and administering the tax.
  The principal difference between Shi'ism and Sunnism is
that whereas in Sunnism this tax is paid to the state which
is responsible for supervising its disbursement according to
the provisions of the Qur'an, in Shi'ism it is paid by the
believers to their marja' at-taqlid for disbursement (see
pp. 206-7).

4. The One-Fifth Tax (Khums)

Also in the Qur'an (8:41) is a provision,for an annual tax
of one-fifth. This is levied by Shi'is on net income (after
paying all expenses), net increase in land holdings, stored
gold, silver and jewellery, mined products, items taken from
the sea and war booty. This tax is to be spent on the
Prophet, his family, orphans, the needy and travellers.


  Among Shi'is, half of the khums (i.e. a one-tenth tax or a
tithe) is considered to be the share of the Imam (sahm al-Imam),
being the Imam's inheritance from the Prophet. This
share of the Imam is paid by the believers to their marja '
at-taqlid in his capacity as the representative (na'ib al-'amm)
of the Imam.

5. Pilgrimage (Hajj)

Once in a lifetime, pilgrimage to Mecca is enjoined for
those who can afford it. There is an extensive ritual for
the performance of the pilgrimage covering every aspect of
the five key days, the sixth to the tenth days of the month
of Dhu'l-Hijja. The details of this are much the same for
Sunnis and Shi'is. Shi'is are highly recommended to complete
their pilgrimage by travelling to Medina and visiting the
tomb of the Prophet and of Fatima and the Second, Fourth,
Fifth and Sixth Imams at al-Baqi' cemetery.

6. Religious War (Jihad)

Participation in the jihad is obligatory for all able-bodied
male Muslims. However, since it is only the Imam who can
call for offensive jihad against the non-Muslim world, this
obligation has effectively lapsed with the occultation of
the Imam though defensive jihad is still obligatory.
However, jihad in its metaphorical meaning, the war against
one's own corrupt desires and inclinations, is an ever-
present battle. Some forms of missionary endeavour in the
non-Muslim world have also been referred to as jihad.

7. Enjoining to Do Good (Amr bi'l-Ma'ruf)

This is an injunction that every Muslim should lead a
virtuous life perform all the religious obligations and act
in accordance with the religious law (Shari'a). In addition,
he should enjoin all other Muslims to do the same (see
Qur'an 16:125).

8. Exhortation to Desist from Evil (Nahy 'an al-Munkar)

It is obligatory for every Muslim to avoid all vices and
other evil actions prohibited in religious law. It is also
obligatory to enjoin this on others and to act to prevent
evil being committed (see Qur'an 3:103, 109).

These last two injunctions have become the focus of a great
deal of debate in the writings of 'Ali Shari'ati and in
post-revolutionary Iran.


Doctrines and Practices Specific to Shi'ism

In the field of doctrines, Shi'is have placed doctrines
specific to themselves in parallel with those accepted by
  The field of jurisprudence may be divided into ritual
observances ('ibadat) and social transactions (mu'amalat).
As far as the former are concerned, Shi'ism does not differ
much from the four schools of Sunnism. But with respect to
social transactions (e. g. marriage, inheritance, etc.)
there are more marked divergences. Shi'is have, however,
tended to highlight their differences from Sunnis, even in
the field of ritual observances, by emphasising parallel
rituals that are specific to Shi'ism.

1. Shi'i Doctrines

In the matter of doctrines, as has already,been
demonstrated, Shi'is place along side the unity of God,
God's justice which they define in such a way as to set it
apart from the same Sunni concept. Parallel to the doctrine
of prophethood, Shi'is place the Imamate, while even with
such a powerful concept as the Day of Resurrection, Shi'is
displace its importance by emphasising the Return of the
Twelfth Imam and focusing the attention of the believers on
this event (see Chapter 8).

2. Prayers

The Friday prayer has never held the same importance among
Shi'is as it has among Sunnis. With the Occultation of the
Twelfth Imam who is the true leader of the Friday prayer,
the significance of this observance is diminished. In most
Shi'i centres, although the Friday prayer is performed, it
does not attract the large numbers seen in other Muslim
communities. But this situation has ›hanged in Iran since
the 1979 Revolution (see p. 298).
  In addition to the obligatory prayerS, Shi'is have a large
number of prayers, revealed by the Imams, which are for use
either on special occasions such as the Ramadan fast or are
purely devotional in nature. This type of prayer is known as
du'a or munajat.

3. Visiting Shi'i Shrines (Ziyarat)

The pilgrimage to Mecca was, until reCent times, beyond the
means of the majority of Shi'is resident in Iran and Iraq.
It was an expensive and often hazardous journey. Therefore,
the custom of visiting the shrines of the Imams was built up
as an alternative parallel activity given an importance
which in the eyes of the ordinary believer often appeared to


exceed that of the pilgrimage to Mecca. Visiting the Shrines
of 'Ali at Najaf, Husayn at Karbala, the Seventh and Ninth
Imams at Kazimayn, of Imam Rida at Mashhad and of Fatima
Ma'suma, the sister of the Imam Rida, at Qumm, became an
important activity in Shi'i religious life and one in which
comparatively humble persons could participate. In the 19th
century (and to a lesser extent among the older generation
today), it became customary to designate persons who had
visited the Shrines at Karbala and Mashhad by such prefixed
titles as Karbila'i and Mashhadi, in parallel to the
designation of Haul given to those who had performed the
pilgrimage to Mecca (the Hajj). The conferring of these
designations appears to vary from area to area depending on
the distance to the shrines. Among the Shi'is of southern
Iraq, for example, there is no particular designation for
visiting the shrines at nearby Karbala and Najaf but a visit
to distant Mashhad confers upon the pilgrim the designation
Za'ir (visitor). Similarly, in Khurasan and Afghanistan,
visiting Mashhad does not confer a title, but the visitor to
Karbala becomes Karbila'i.
  Elaborate rituals were drawn up for the performance of the
visitation of the shrines, again in parallel to the ritual
of the pilgrimage to Mecca. Part of this ritual includes
recitation of the prayer of visitation (Ziyarat-Nama).
Popular manuals, in particular those written by Muhammad
Baqir Majlisi, helped to spread this practice among the

Visiting the shrines of minor Shi'i saints and, in
particular, the descendants of the Imams, also became an
important activity with each shrine having its own prayer of
visitation. These shrines (called Imamzadas) are to be found
in large numbers in Iran, especially in the areas around
Qumm, Tehran, Kashan and Mazandaran which have been Shi'i
from the earliest times and therefore tended to be a refuge
for 'Alids who were often being persecuted in other parts of
the Muslim world. Visiting these minor shrines has become an
activity for a day out.

4. Temporary Marriage (Mut'a)

Marriage for a fixed term and usually for a pre-determined
financial arrangement is considered allowable by Shi'is. The
marriage may be for any length of time, even for a matter of
hours. There is also a period of time after the marriage
during which the woman is not supposed to marry again,
although there are ways of getting around this latter law.
Sunnis do not hold temporary marriage to be allowable and
indeed consider it to be mere prostitution but Shi'is
maintain it was a practice that was allowed during the
Prophet's lifetime and only later prohibited by the second
Caliph, 'Umar. There are indeed some hadith in the Sunni
literature that tend to confirm this.[7] In Persian, this
practice is called sigha


and it is also sometimes called nikah al-muwaqqat (temporary
marriage). Shi'is consider that the Qur'an refers to this
practice (see Qur'an 4:24).

5. Religious Dissimulation (Taqiyya)

Religious dissimulation while maintaining mental reservation
is considered lawful in Shi'ism in situations where there is
overwhelming danger of loss of life or property and where no
danger to religion would occur thereby. The following
Qur'anic verse (16:106) is held to justify this belief:
'Whoever disbelieves in God after believing--except for
those who are compelled while their hearts are firm in
faith--and then finds ease in his disbelief, upon him will
be the wrath of God.' (The section of this verse in italics
is held to refer to taqiyya.) Living as a minority among a
frequently-hostile Sunni majority, the condition of most
Shi'is until the rise of the Safavid dynasty, made such a
doctrine important to Shi'is.

6. Divorce (Talaq)

In general terms, divorce is made more difficult under Shi'i
law than under Sunni. Only the stricter divorce according to
the Sunna (talaq as-sunna) and not the easier innovated
divorce (talaq al-bida') is allowed. As distinct from the
Sunni schools, Shi'i law holds that the statement of the
divorce formula must be made explicitly, in the presence of
two witnesses and is not allowable if made in the state of
intoxication or rage. Both Shi'is and Sunnis agree that if a
man divorces his wife three times, he cannot marry her again
unless she is first married to another. Shi'is, however, do
not allow the three statements of divorce to be made on one

7. Inheritance

Under Sunni law, where there are males and females equally
close in kinship to the deceased, then the inheritance
passes to the male in preference to the female. In Shi'i
law, however. the presence of male heirs does not exclude
the female, although the share of the male is, in accordance
with a Qur'anic rule, double that of the female.
  The more accommodating attitude to women expressed in
Shi'i law over divorce and inheritance has been attributed
to the important position held by Fatima among Shi'is.
Fatima's position is crucial for the line of Imams after
'Ali since it is through her that they inherit their link
with the Prophet. But for a further analysis of why Shi'i
law differs from Sunni law, see p. 184.
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