The Post- Al-Khilafa Al-Rashida Period: Religious Legitimacy and Early Contentions
29th January 2022
On Saturday 29th January, CIMS held its first meeting of 2022. Due to uncertainty about the Covid pandemic situation, in the build-up to the meeting, the CIMS board decided to exercise diligence and hold the meeting entirely online. The meeting was well-attended and more than 30 participants – scholars from various Muslim persuasions – were present.
As periods of earlier Islamic history have already been fruitfully discussed, this meeting concentrated on the period of the Umayyad and Abbasid Dynasties, which coincide with the later Shia Imams, from Imam Al-Sadiq onwards.
In contrast to previous meetings, the Shia and Sunni scholars were given different remits on which to present, whilst also addressing the same time period and contentious notions that exist on either side in this regard. A vibrant question and answer session took place, directed to the specific speaker, after each respective presentation.
From the side of Ahl Al-Sunna, CIMS was honoured to host a presentation from Dr. Shaykh Hassan Al-Kittani, from Morocco. Shaykh Al-Kittani began his presentation by illustrating how political developments led to a need to codify 10 rules and conditions necessary for the Caliph ruling over the Muslims. Shaykh went further to explain how some scholars allowed the contravention of some stipulated conditions, in order to avoid anarchy and for the greater good of having a Muslim government in relative harmony. Among the conditions upon which scholars exercised leniency and allowed to be eschewed, was the idea that the Caliph was required to be just and upright (عدالة). Religious tenets regarding political authority in Ahl Al-Sunnah developed in such a way, that insofar as a limited number of conditions were upheld, rebellion and uprising against the Caliph was forbidden by leading Sunni scholars, in order to protect the Muslim rulership.
Shaykh Hassan ibn Ali Al-Kittani was born in Morocco in 1972, and comes from a celebrated scholarly family. He spent his youth being educated in a number of countries, including Jordon, Saudi Arabia and Morocco. He completed a Masters degree in Islamic jurisprudence and The Principles of Jurisprudence (al-fiqh wa al-usool) while being based in the Jordanian capital of Amman, wherein his thesis was supervised by the renowned scholar, Al-‘Allamah Sa’dullah Abu Al-Qasim Al-Jaza’iriy. Thereafter, Shaykh Hassan was the Friday prayer leader in the central mosque of the coastal province of Salé, in Morocco, for a number of years.
From the Shi’a side, CIMS was delighted to have Dr. Shaykh Kumail Rajani (University of Exeter). It must be acknowledged that, after a logistical setback, Shaykh Kumail was asked to step in to present at short notice and he executed his role competently. While he delivered a presentation that primarily consisted of historical analysis, it was not without theological connotations. His study showed that the contentions and rebellions against the prevailing later Caliphs, were often politically motivated and their explanations were not always solely religious. While the later dynasties had no foundation for religious legitimacy, the Shia Imams often worked in cooperation with them, to the extent that it would be overly reductive to explain their cooperation as taqiyyah alone.
Dr. Shaykh Kumail Rajani extensively studied in the seminary of Qum from propaedeutic sciences (al-muqaddimāt) to extra-textual course (dars al-khārij), Kumail Rajani is currently a PhD candidate at the University of Exeter. He has taught topics such as tafsīr, ḥadīth, history, theology and fiqh at Al-Mostafa International University, Jamiat al-Zahra and a number of other research institutions of Qum. Subsequent to the attainment of his PhD from the University of Exeter, Shaykh Kumail currently holds a post-doctoral research position at that same institution.