Did Sunni Scholars Change the Explanation of a Qur’an Verse to Oppose the Shi’a?

Answered by Shaykh Jamir Meah

Question: Assalamu alaykum

I heard that the Qur’anic ayah (verse), “And [by] ten nights.” (Al-Fajr, 02) intends the ten nights of the month Muharram, and not the the ten nights of Dhu-l-Hijjah. Supposedly, this was Mujahid ibn Jabr’s opinion and also Muqatil ibn Sulayman’s opinion.

But then, because Shi’as “adopted” the month Muharram, Sunni scholars said that, by ten nights, it means the ten nights of Dhu-l-Hijjah.

Is this true?

Answer: Wa’alaykum assalam. Jazakum Allah khayran for your question.

There is a difference of opinion among the scholars of Quranic exegesis on what days the verse ‘وليال عشر’ ‘And [by] ten nights’ [89:2] refers to. The reliable opinion is that it refers to the first 10 days of Dhul Hijja.

Ten Nights

In almost all classical texts, three to four opinions are transmitted:

1. It refers to the first 10 days of Dhul Hijja: This is the soundest opinion and supported by the majority of tafsir scholars, and was related from Ibn Abbas

2. It refers to the last 10 days of Ramadan: This is also narrated from Ibn Abbas.

3. It refers to the first 10 days of Muharram: This opinion was held by some scholars.

4. It refers to the ten nights appointed to Sayyidna Musa (peace be upon him): This refers to the words of Allah Most High, ‘We appointed for Moses thirty nights then added another ten—completing his Lord’s term of forty nights. [7:142]. This was related from Masruq.

The Tafsir of Mujahid makes no mention of the opinions. Even if we refer to the ‘tafsir’ of Muqatil bin Sulayman, it explains that the ten days as the days preceding Eid al Adha, meaning the 10 days of Dhul Hijja.


The claim that because Shi’as ‘adopted’ the month of Muharram, the Mufassiruns of the Ahlus-Sunnah said that, by ten nights, it means the ten nights of Dhu-l-Hijjah’ is unfounded.

Classic Quranic exegesis is a rigorous science undertaken by scholars of the highest calibre and God-fearingness because they are explaining the words of God, the final revelation to mankind. Each verse of the Qur’an was revealed in a certain context, with certain meanings and purpose, and they were all revealed during the time of the Prophet ﷺ. The qualified scholars among the early generations, such as Ibn Abbas and Mujahid, only ever explained the Qur’an from a deep understanding of these contexts and meanings.

Later events, schisms, and politics have nothing to do with the explanation of the words of God revealed to His Prophet ﷺ, and its meanings are never open to change due to such factors. To alter one’s opinion on the meaning of a verse of the Qur’an due to sectarian animosity is a betrayal of one’s own knowledge, and a betrayal to the ummah of Sayyidna Muhammad ﷺ. The Sunni scholars of classical exegesis were far beyond this.

[Tafsirs: al Qurtabi, al Baydawi, al Kabir, al Qushayri, al Sam’ani, Mujahid, Muqatil, al Sawi, Safwatul Tafasir]

Warmest salams,
[Shaykh] Jamir Meah

Shaykh Jamir Meah grew up in Hampstead, London. In 2007, he traveled to Tarim, Yemen, where he spent nine years studying the Islamic sciences on a one-to-one basis under the foremost scholars of the Ribaat, Tarim, with a main specialization and focus on Shafi’i fiqh. In early 2016, he moved to Amman, Jordan, where he continues advanced studies in a range of Islamic sciences, as well as teaching. Jamir is a qualified homeopath.

"Sunni and Shia Hatred: A Disease We Must Fight"

Sunni and Shia Hatred with Imam Zaid Shakir

This SeekersHub Study Circle will give you a deeper understanding of the centrality of love and mercy within Islam. Loneliness and isolation, Imam Zaid Shakir argues, have no place in an ummah of compassion and mercy. He also addresses Sunni-Shia aggression and hatred, which he describes as a disease we must fight.

Imam Zaid Shakir shia
Ambassadors of Goodness

Students will be empowered to be ambassadors of goodness through learning about the love of Allah, His Messenger ﷺ, the duties of brotherhood and sisterhood, and the signs of a healthy community in a world suffering from hatred and division, spreading love and respect is needed with the utmost urgency.

Setup Your Own SeekersHub Study Circle

Can’t attend these gatherings in person? We encourage you to set up SeekersHub Study Circle in your own community. It’s easy! Just email us or find more details online.

Disturbed By Orientalist Writings On The Sunni/ Shi'i Split: I Need Advice On Healthier Readings

Answered by Shaykh Gibril Haddad
Question: Assalam ‘aleykum
I was given the  book ‘After The Prophet: The Epic Story Of The Shia Sunni Split In Islam” by Lesley Hazleton’ and wanted to know the ruling on reading it.
I started the book, and left  it, because it “humanized” the sahaba. Before reading this book for me the sahaba were more like “superhuman”. My faith is at an all time low and would like some alternate recommendation on this topic.

Answer: Assalamualaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,
The study of Qur’an, Sira and Hadith does show the all-too-human fallibility of the Sahaba and how archetypal of us all they are. But this should not be confused with the rewritings of the sources wrought by Orientalists and other Sahabophobic sectarians with various agendas. This includes bestselling vulgarizers in our times.
A reasonable book on the topic by a non-Muslim scholar is the first volume of Marshall Hodgson’s Venture of Islam. As for the author mentioned in the question, she most definitely has biases including — just to name one of the most elephantine — the itch to fictionalize, grossly oversimplify, ignore, twist or just go ahead and make up facts in order to sell her material.
At the same time the unmatchable merit of all the Sahaba is undisputed and established in Qur’an and Sunna forever and ever.
Do not just give up on Muslim scholars just because they might strengthen your faith — which you yourself lament it is in need of uplift. They will also strengthen your reason and reasoning, because “Our intelligence is in our hearts” (Ali b. Abi Talib). They have a wealth of treasures in store for those who seek, and higher standards of verification than a gazillion of our end-times pen-pushers put together.
Hajj Gibril

Was Imam Ja’far al-Sadiq Sunni or Shi’i?

Answered by Ustadh Abdullah Anik Misra

Question: I am a bit confused about Imam Jafar as-Sadiq(ra). The Shias consider him one of the Imams amongst the 12 Imams of which they believe. I also read  that he was also the founder of the Jafari madhab for Shias. In addition, I discovered that he is revered by the founders of the Naqshabandi tariqah and that he was Imam Abu Hanifa’s (ra) teacher for some time. Was Imam Jafar as-Sadiq (ra) Sunni or Shia? I am confused.

Answer: In the Name of Allah, Most Merciful and Compassionate,

Wa alaikum as salam,

Thank you for your question.  Imam Ja’far al-Sadiq (80-148 AH) was a pious Sunni scholar and the great-great-grandson of the Prophet Muhammad [Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him].

He was from the generation of the Followers (Tabi’een) and would narrate hadiths, most of which he had heard from his father, to a large number of prominent scholars such as Imams Malik, Abu Hanifa and Sufyan al-Thawri, may Allah be pleased with them. [Sawa’iq al-Muhriqa, Ibn Hajr al-Haytami].

Even though they were contemporaries, Imam Abu Hanifa did hear some hadiths from him and reviewed some questions of sacred law with him, as Imam Ja’far was a mujtahid in his own right, who had his own legal school.

Imam Ja’far al-Sadiq was far from any bad opinion or hatred regarding any of the Sahaba.  Being a great-grandson of Abu Bakr (Allah be pleased with him) from his mother’s side and having great respect and love for him, he was vehement in rejecting any belief that involved looking down upon him or rejecting the validity of his caliphate.  [al-Dhahabi, Siyar A’lam al-Nubalaa’]

A Paragon of Virtue and Chivalry

Imam Ja’far al-Sadiq was once asked by the famous mystic Shaqiq al-Balkhi to describe what chivalry was [Ar. futuwwa].  So Imam Ja’far asked him back, “Well, what do you think it is?”  Shaqiq replied, “If we are given [favors or gifts from someone] we thank them, and if we are not given [anything], we remain patient.”

“Even the dogs here in Madina do that!” Imam Ja’far exclaimed.  Then Shaqiq asked, “O son of the Messenger of Allah [peace and blessings of Allah be upon him], then what is chivalry to you all [of the Prophetic household]?”

Imam Ja’far replied: “If we are given, we show appreciation… but if we are not given anything, we still thank them.”  [Imam al-Qushayri, al-Risala]

It was said that when the name of the Prophet [Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him] used to be mentioned in front of Imam Ja’far, he would become pale out of his love, respect and awe.  This was coupled with his steadfast following of the Sunnah [life example] and emulation of his great-grandfather, the Prophet [Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him]   [Ibn Abi Jamra, Adab al-Sami’ wa al-Mutakallim]

The Way of Moderation and Avoiding Unnecessary Dispute

The way of Ahl al-Sunnah is to have love and respect for the descendents the Prophetic Household and to hold its true scions, may Allah be pleased with all of them, in high esteem, especially when they are adorned by sacred knowledge, piety and righteousness.

It is best to avoid argumentation on polemical matters with those who see differently, as this is neither constructive to seeking the truth, nor to become closer to Allah Most High, nor to living alongside one another in mutual respect, despite our differences.   And Allah knows best.


Abdullah Anik Misra

Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani

Is the hadith: “The scholars are the inheritors of the Prophets” authentic? If so, what does it mean? – Faraz Rabbani

Is the hadith: “The scholars are the inheritors of the Prophets” authentic? If so, what does it mean?

by Faraz Rabbani

Abu al-Darda’ (Allah be pleased with him) that the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) said,

“Scholars are the inheritors of the prophets.” [Related byTirmidhi, Abu Dawud, Nasa’i, Ibn Maja, Ahmad, Ibn Hibban, and others] Ibn al-Mulaqqin, Zayla`i, Ibn Hajar, and others seemed it sound (hasan) or rigorously authentic (sahih)]

When Fudayl ibn Iyad (Allah be pleased with him) heard this hadith, he commented, “The people of spiritual wisdom (hukama’) are the inheritors of the prophets,” [Ibn Nu`aym, Hilyat al-Awliya, 8.92] explaining the nature of knowledge that is ultimately sought.

Imam al-Ayni (Allah have mercy on him) explained in his commentary on Sahih al-Bakhari, Umdat al-Qari (2.39) that this hadith is inspired from the words of Allah Most High, “Then We gave the Scripture as inheritance unto those whom We elected of Our servants.” [Qur’an, 35.32]

The knowledge possessed by these scholars is the knowledge deemed beneficial (al-`ilm al-nafi`) by Allah and His Messenger (Allah bless him and give him peace). This knowledge was defined by Imam Ghazali as being, “Knowledge of the way to Allah Most High and the next life.”

Muhammad in Green.jpg

It is not just information: rather, it is the way of transforming oneself outwardly and inwardly, in order to become true slaves of Allah, on the path of His Beloved Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him).

This is the “deep understanding in religion” that the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) praised when he said, “Whomever Allah wishes well for He gives deep understanding (fiqh) in religion.” [Bukhari and Muslim]

This deep understanding (fiqh) was defined by Imam Abu Hanifa (Allah have mercy on him) when he said, “Fiqh is to know one’s self: what is for it and against it.” Deep understanding of religion encompasses all three dimensions of the religion: beliefs (iman), outword actions (islam), and, most importantly, spiritual excellence (ihsan).

The person who possesses this knowledge is one deserving of being called a true scholar (faqih). A true scholar is defined as being, “A person of knowledge (`ilm) who acted (`amal) on their knowledge, so Allah bequeathed them knowledge of what they didn’t know.”

Everyone who acts on their knowledge has a share of this understanding (fiqh), and of Prophetic inheritance. The one realized in this knowledge is a true inheritor (warith) of the Beloved Messenger of Allah (peace & blessings be upon him & his folk).

A sure sign of having this knowledge & inheritance is that one upholds excellence of character, as the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “The weightiest thing on the Scales on the Day of Judgment is good character.” [Abu Dawud] And he said, “The believers most perfect in faith are those best in character, and the best of you are those best to their spouses.” [Tirmidhi]

The best of good character is restraint and forbearance (hilm), for the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “Forbearance (hilm) is the best of character.” The most beautiful of character and conduct was the character and conduct of the Beloved Messenger of Allah (peace & blessings be upon him & his folk).

True inheritors of the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) reflect some of this excellence and beauty in their character and conduct. This character emanates from making Allah one’s true concern; being conscious of Allah; and true love for Allah.


The Pinnacle of Beneficial Knowledge

The pinnacle of beneficial, consequential knowledge is experiential knowledge and love of Allah, for Allah Most High said, “And those who believe are overflowing in their love of Allah.” [Qur’an, 2.165].

As Dr. Mostafa al-Badawi explains in “The Centrality of Love in Islam” (Islamica Magazine, Fall 2003),


“Love is the central emotion in Islam. Without it there would be no motive to expend effort in worshipping God, acquiring knowledge, increasing in virtue, or benefiting others. Neither would there be any motive to strive for excellence in all these endeavours.

“Current Muslim failures are undoubtedly due to the majority having forgotten that the God they worship requests nothing less than excellence in everything they do. That the love of God be supreme in one’s heart is a prerequisite for sincere tawhid.”

Shaykh Zaid Shakir translated an excellent work by Imam Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali, The Heirs of the Prophets (Starlatch Press.

May Allah grant us beneficial knowledge, and the success to act upon it as He loves, so that we become of those who love Him and whom He loves.


Faraz Rabbani