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An Examination of the Authenticity and Sharia Status of the Third Segment of Ziyāra ʿĀshūraʾ al- Mashhūra

By Shaykh Arif Abdulhussain and Riaz Walji

· Academic

The third segment of the popular version of Ziyāra ʿĀshūra includes the cursing of ‘the first’, ‘the second’, ‘the third’, ‘the fourth’ and ‘Yazīd as the fifth’. The majority of the faithful among the Shīʿa believe that the four unknown individuals refer to the first three caliphs – Abū Bakr, ʿUmar and ʿUthmān – and Muʿāwiya. This article examines whether this third segment is authentic as per the traditional standards of report analysis, and hence whether it is ascribable to the Sharia as a ‘Sharia-ordained’ encouraged act (mustaḥabb). Using the earliest extant versions of Ziyāra ʿĀshūra, the authenticity of its third segment is analysed in accordance with the two versions of ‘the transmission-reliability criterion’ and ‘the content-reliability criterion’. The two versions of the former criterion are ‘the trustworthiness of the reporter’ version (maslak al-withāqa) and ‘the personal satisfaction’ version (maslak al-wuthūq wa al-ṣudūr); the latter criterion is the compatibility of the contents of reports attributed to the blessed Prophet or Imāms with reason (ʿaql) and the Qurʾān. The conclusion is that it is not possible to authenticate the third segment as having been issued from the Imām by either of the versions of ‘the transmission-reliability criterion’ nor ‘the content-reliability criterion’. Hence it is not possible to ascribe the third segment of the popular version of Ziyāra ʿĀshūra to the Sharia as a ‘Sharia-ordained’ encouraged act.