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In the Name of God بسم الله


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  1. Baqar, Here is where our theological terms are important. When Catholics speak of 'infallibility' we believe that when a pope speaks definitively as head of the Catholic Church and in collegiality with his fellow bishops and clergy (that is, 'ex cathedra') on matters only of Doctrine or Morals his pronoucement is Infallible. As I pointed out, Infallibility, is not IMPECCABILITY. Impreccability means that one is free of sin, not error. THe Church teaches that popes can and do sin. As you point out, historically, some popes have sinned a great deal, but as the Vicar of Christ on earth, teaching from the see of Peter, they teach infallibly. While this isn't exactly akin to the Shia idea of the imamate, it is close. Thanks, Ryan
  2. MMM, You make a very valid point. I was born into an Evangelical Protestant family and your very question is among those that convinced me to become a Roman Catholic Christian. There are literally thousands of Protestant denominations, all of which have come onto the scene within the last 500 years as you point out. I believe firmly that the Roman Catholic Church is the one true Church of God. However, we Christians occasionally set aside our differences and declare that a "Christian" is anyone that declares that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God. Anything else is worthy of debate but not sufficient to exclude them fully from being called Christian. Similarly, there are many Muslims that believe that one is a Muslim that can say, "THere is no God but Allah, and Muhammed is his prophet", irrespective of whether they are Shia, Sunni, Alawi etc. Keep in Touch, Ryan
  3. Wazz, Thanks for your inquiries. There are many (mostly minor) disputes between Catholic and Protestant Christians, but among Protestant accusations against Catholicism is that we "worship" Mary and the saints, that we are too legalistic, to ritualistic, and that we don't value the Scriptures as highly. In terms of infallibility, it is the teaching of the Catholic Church that the Popes, as Vicars of Christ on earth, are Infallible when they teach 'ex cathedra'--that is, as head of the Church--on matters of doctrine and morals. Essentially, we believe that the Holy Spirit protects the Church from teaching error. I believe this is very close to the Shia concept of the Imamate. I should point out here though that Infallibility is not the same as Impeccability. We believe that popes can and do sin, and popes regularly confess their sins. Yes, Roman Catholic Christians are 'trinitarians' in that we believe that God is eternally existant as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. As for Christians that aren't 'trinitarians', in that group could be included Unitarians, Jehovah's Witnesses, and a few minor sects. You should know that all Christians consider Jesus Christ to be a prophet in addition to his other titles and prerogatives. Keep in Touch, Ryan
  4. As-salaamu alay-kum, Greetings to all of you again, and blessings from The One True God in whom we all trust, Christian and Muslim alike. And thus I, a Christian, begin formally to engage in the discussion between you; Sunni and Shia. It would seem from the outset that a primary point of discussion must be with Muhammad's own desire, while he was alive, as to whom should succeed him as leader of the Muslim community. One historical event that I feel speaks strongly to Muhammad's wishes occured at Ghadir Khumm. I quote from Ibn Hanbal (a Sunni): "We were with the Apostle of God on his journey and we stopped at Ghadir Khumm. We performed the obligatory prayer together and a place was swept for the Apostle under two trees amd he performed the midday prayer. And then he took Ali by the hand and said to the people: 'Do you not acknowledge that I have a greater claim on each of the believers than they have on themselves?' And they replied, 'Yes!' And he took Ali's hand and said: 'Of whomsoever I am Lord, then Ali is also his Lord. O God! Be thou the supporter of whoever supports Ali and the enemy of whoever opposes him.' And Umar met him (Ali) after this and said to him: 'Congratulations, O son of Abu Talib! Now morning amd evening you are the master of every believing man and woman!'" (Musnad Vol. 4, p. 281) My questions, with respect, to Sunnis is this: 1. Do you accept the historicity of this event? 2. What do you think Muhammad was trying to accomplish by this act? 3. How do you interpret Muhammad's use of the term "Lord" (Mawla) in this context? 4. What do you think Umar meant by his declaration? Thank You, Ryan
  5. Wazz, Yes, I do feel that Catholicism has a remarkable amount in common with Shia Islam. However, I should point out one fallacy with your question. You ask, "How do Catholics differ from Christians?"--I would counter that, first, Catholics ARE Christians. Do you mean, rather, 'How do Catholics differ from OTHER Christians?". An analogy would be my asking, "How do Shiites differ from Muslims?" What we refer to today as Roman Catholicism is, in my opinion, original and authentic Christianity, although I do believe that Christians of other (Protestant and Orthodox) denominations are also sincere Christians in their own right. However, I digress. The purpose of this site is to discuss Shiism. Because I am a Roman Catholic Christian (a convert to Roman Catholicism from Evangelical Christianity in 1996) I have long had a soft spot in my heart for Shia Islam because of what I see as the remarkable number of similarities between the two: -the similar (though not exact) views of the Imamate and the Papacy (i.e. infallibility) -the concept of saints -a practice of faith that is deeply and beautifully ritual -the idea of martyrdom (even as a Christian I find the story of Karbala deeply moving) Even some of the common Sunni accusations against Shiism are echoed in Protestant accusations against Catholicism; both accusations are, I believe, based on profound misunderstandings and caricatures. Ryan
  6. I agree with you to a certain extent. But we have to differentiate between "Early" Shiism: that is the party loyal to Ali that felt that the Caliphate should be heriditary and derived from Muhammad through his son-in-law, and "Later" Shiism which developed the theological, socialogical, and political concept of the Imamate to protect their idea of succession. Can you agree that Shiism existed historically in two phases? Ryan
  7. Interesting that you associate Shiism with Protestantism. As a Roman Catholic Christian myself I have long thought that theologically, Catholicism has more in common with Shiism, but that historically, if you see Shiism as a later innovation (of that opinion I will not judge) then they more closely match Protestantism. It is my Catholicsm though that attracted me to the study of the history and theology of Shiism.
  8. The charge that the Shia sprang from a group of malcontents that formed much later and wrote their own forged Hadith because they opposed the Umayyads is an old charge. I believe in the legend they feld to Egypt and were pursued there by Umar. I honestly believe that the movement we now refer to as Shiite began the day Abu Bakr succeeded Muhammad. As to your latter question, I believe that SPECIFIC Shia hadith consist of the following: Ghurar al – Hikam, Al – Kafi, Al – tahdib Bihar al – Anwar and the like...I do not recall the full list. I await your correction. Ryan
  9. Ultimately, I believe the schism would have been ended had a more suitable method of succeeding Ali been arrived at in 661. The preceived usurpation of Mu'awiyah over the claim of Hasan, in the final analysis, sparked the conflict we see today. I hope this satisfies you. Ryan
  10. Ahh, a difficult question. And perhaps a test. Most would say that the schism began in C.E. 632 at the death of Muhammad and the sucession of Abu Bakr over Ali. Others would say that the schism had already begun in the disputes between the ansar and the muhajirun. Still, others would say that it started with the tension in Muhammad's own household between the mothers of the faithful. Ryan
  11. I think we can all agree that there are impressive Hadith with unimpeachable isnad that both come from Muhammad in praise of Ali and his qualities and that there is a collection of Shia sources that seem to border on Ghulat sympathies. Sunnis need to admit that Muhammad and the early community thought highly of Ali, whatever you think of the succesion, and Shia need to distance themselves from the more troublesome Hadith in their own tradition. I should point out that I know of no Shia scholar or believer that would attribute anything that Sunnis commonly believe they do to either Ali or the Imamate. Ryan
  12. as-salaamu alay-kum, and peace and blessings upon you all from the One God in whom we all trust, Christian and Muslim alike. This is my first post in this forum and on this site. I claim no pretensions as to my knowledge of Islam in general or Shia Islam in particular. I am merely a student of theology, and a Christian student at that, still unfamiliar with every intricacy of this discussion. I have been though, for quite some time, a student of Islamic theology and Islamic history, particularly pertaining to the issue of the historical, political, and religious dispute between you. My particular views on this dispute will become plain as time progresses, and I am happy to offer my opinions on matters of history, Qur'anic citation, Hadith, and theology. I look forward to hearing from you and being heard. Ryan
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