The Twelve-Imam Shiite Sect [Archives:2004/768/Community]

August 30 2004

Hassan Al-Zaidi
The Twelve-Imam Shiite sect followers are Muslims who claim that Ali is the legitimate successor to the Prophet and that he had the right to the Caliphate. They believe in 12 imams the first of whom was Ali and the last is Al-Mahdi. They claim they are as powerful in thought and ideology as the Sunnah and Jama'ah sect, and aspire to spread their religious beliefs until they to prevail over the Islamic world.
The Twelve-Imam Shiite in Yemen is an extension of the Shiite thought present in Iran and Iraq, but they do not have specific referral sources (marjaiah) as there is in Iran and Iraq such as Al-Sistani and Al-Shirazi.
Moreover, they do not have big centers or wide appeal activities like other sects especially the Salafi which is found in all corners of the country. The Shiite, however, have their call activities confined to two centers in Sana'a and a number of libraries where their books and pamphlets are distributed. They celebrate their religious festivals such as Al-Ghadir Eid, and annually commemorate the killing of Imam Al-Hussein ibn Ali as well as other festivals.

The Shiite and Sa'ada events
The recent events in Sa'ada that have occurred since July 19th have cast a gloomy shadow over the Shiite sect in Yemen. The government has cast its attention onto them, monitoring their movements and tightening its grip upon them, as well as confiscating their books from the libraries sporadically scattered across the country.
The events have also led to a campaign of arrests against some members of this sect.
The statements released by the so-called Twelve-Imam Shiite in Yemen has not safeguarded them from troubles, though they defined their stance on the events of Sa'ada, denied that Al-Houthi belonged to their sect, and denounced his acts. The State, however, is still pursuing them, accusing them of allying with Al-Houthi. Not only that, but it manipulated leaders from other opposing sects to propagate that they are wrongdoers and rejecters of the truth.
Recently, a Twelve-Imam Shiite cleric, Ahmed Abdullah Al-Zaidi, who is active and in the past established a party, and then the Revolutionary Islamic Forces, which was later dissolved, has returned to a sectarian call by the formation of Al-Khumaini worshipping houses (husseiniats) in Marib. He has also recently published a book defining the Twelve-Imam Shiite.
He differentiates between Imamate and leadership. The first entails the referral leadership for jurisprudence issues, fatwas and the alike, and it is performed by great references in the age of Imam Al-Mahdi's absence.
He described the ideal governance system as being republican, constitutional, revolutionary, pluralistic, and electoral. He rejected oppressive monarchies, individual dictatorship, or dynasty rule.
He believes that all Islamic leaders should be selected with sincerity and honesty, which means that he believes in democracy and elections.
Moreover, he sees that the call and advice should not be imposed by force.
Dealings among Muslims, according to him, should be geared towards preserving their unity as much as possible, and safeguarding the interests of Islam and Muslims. Pronouncing Takfiri (labeling infidel) upon sects and terrorist groups as described by Muslims like Wahabis and others, should be based on advising them to repent and to abandon their use of force.
He claims that Shiites do not please themselves at the expense of obeying God. They do not kill except the killer, or in self-defense to protect their family, property or religion.
His book included a wish to debate with any side they are at odds with. “We are ready to hold dialogue with all Islamic sects to resolve problems and sticking points,” the book read.