Often words of the infallible Imams (as) are taken out of context or misunderstood. During a time where severe taqiyyah (righteous dissimulation) was required and practiced by the infallibles, they found it necessary for certain statements to be made to save them (as) and their Shi’a. Some took the opportunity to use this for their own desires and building a false aqeeda upon those words without understanding the use of this taqiyyah. Thankfully, the Imams (as) gave us an explanation of these words and were able to show the true wisdom, knowledge, and eloquence of the infallibles and their companions – in that even the use of taqiyyah was a way to expose and insult the tyrants with their words. This style of language, where a statement may have double meanings, is called tawriyah (تورية). Let’s have a look at a few examples.

Example 1: Mu’awiyah and his followers were the brothers of Imam Ali (as) and his followers.

عبد الله بن جعفر الحميري في ( قرب الإسناد ) عن هارون بن مسلم ، عن مسعدة بن زياد ، عن جعفر ، عن أبيه ان عليا ( عليه السلام ) لم يكن ينسب أحدا من أهل حربه إلى الشرك ولا إلى النفاق ، ولكنه كان يقول : هم إخواننا بغوا علينا
Jafar al-Sadiq (as) from his father (as) who said: “Ali didn’t attribute anyone from those who fought against him to shirk and neither to hypocrisy, but he said: “They are our brothers which rebel against us.””

Note: the author of the book, al-Hurr al-Amili, stated that this was said in Taqiyyah (أقول : هذا محمول على التقية)

Source: Wasaa’il al-Shia, Volume 15, Page 82-83, Hadith #10

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Some say this was not taqiyyah, and use this statement to prove that Ali (as) did not take such a hardline approach with Mu’awiyah and his forces, and that this statement shows Ali (as) saw brotherhood between him and his followers and Mu’awiyah and his followers.

However, we see Imam al-Sajjad (as) clear this up.

عن مفضل بن عمر عن أبي عبد الله عليه السلام قال : ان علي بن الحسين صلوات الله عليه كان في مسجد الحرام جالسا فقال له رجل من أهل الكوفة : قال علي عليه السلام ان اخواننا بغوا علينا ؟ فقال له علي بن الحسين : يا با عبد الله اما تقرأ كتاب الله ( والى عاد أخاهم هودا ) فأهلك الله عادا وأنجى هودا ( والى ثمود أخاهم صالحا ) فأهلك الله ثمودا وأنجى صالحا
Abu Abdullah (as) having said: ‘Ali bin Al-Husayn (as) was seated in the Sacred Masjid, so a man from the people of Al-Kufa said to him, ‘Ali (as) has said: ‘They are our brothers which rebel against us?’
So Ali bin Al-Husayn (as) said to him: ‘O Abdullah! Have you not read the book of Allah And to Aad (We Sent) their brother Hud? (7:65) So, Allah Destroyed (the people of) Aad and Rescued Hud (as) And to Thamood (We Sent) their brother Salih (11:61), so Allah Destroyed (the people of) Thamood and rescued Salih (as)’.

Source: Tafseer al-Ayaashi, Volume 2, Page 161, Hadith #43

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Example 2: Abu Bakr and Umar were two Just Imams..

Imam al-Sadiq (as) said (about Abu bakr and Umar): “They are two Imams Adel (Just) and Qasit (Balanced), they were upon the right, and died upon it, so may Allah’s mercy be upon them on the Day of Judgment.”

Here is the full text:

كتاب نفحات اللاهوت : نقلا من كتاب المثالب لابن شهرآشوب ، أن الصادق عليه السلام سئل عن أبي بكر وعمر ، فقال : كانا إمامين قاسطين عادلين ، كانا على الحق وماتا عليه ، فرحمة الله عليهما يوم القيامة ، فلما خلا المجلس ، قال له بعض أصحابه  : كيف قلت يا بن رسول الله ؟ ! . فقال : نعم ، أما قولي : كانا إمامين ، فهو مأخوذ من قوله تعالى : * ( وجعلناهم أئمة يدعون إلى النار ) *  ، وأما قولي قاسطين ، فهو من قوله تعالى : * ( وأما القاسطون فكانوا لجهنم حطبا ) *  ، وأما قولي عادلين ، فهو مأخوذ من قوله تعالى : * ( الذين كفروا بربهم يعدلون ) * ، وأما قولي كانا على الحق ، فالحق علي عليه السلام ، وقولي : ماتا عليه ، المراد أنه  لم يتوبا عن تظاهرهما عليه ، بل ماتا على ظلمهما إياه ، وأما قولي : فرحمة الله عليهما يوم القيامة ، فالمراد به أن رسول الله صلى الله عليه وآله ينتصف له منهما ، آخذا من قوله تعالى : * ( وما أرسلناك إلا رحمة للعالمين )
An opponent (Sunni) asked Imam Jaffar as-Sadiq and said: O Allah’s apostle son what do you say about Abu Bakr and Umar? He replied: They are two Imams Adel (Just) and Qasit (Balanced), they were upon the right, and died upon it, therefore may Allah’s mercy be upon them on the Day of Judgment. When the people left, a man from his retinue (Shia) said: O Allah’s apostle son I’m wondering from what you have said about Abu Bakr and Umar! He replied: yes they are two Imams calling for hellfire as Allah said And We made them Imams who call to the fire (28:41) The Qasit as Allah almighty said And as for those who are unjust (Qasit – in this context means unjust), they are firewood for hell (72:15) and the Adel that because they switched from the right as Allah almighty said Yet those who disbelieve ascribe (Ya`diloon) rivals unto their Lord (6:1). What I meant by this was that they were upon the right in that they seized the right of the Commander of Believers (Ali). What I meant by they died upon it that they died was on enmity without repentance. What I meant with mercy be upon them that the mercy is Allah’s apostle because he was a mercy to mankind and he will be a rival for them on the Day of Judgment.

Note: It is difficult to show the eloquence of this hadith once translated into English. We recommend to read the Arabic.
Source: Bihaar al-Anwaar, Volume 30, Page 286, Hadith #150

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Example 3: Imams (as) the unjust caliph of the time “Ameer al-Mu’mineen”

Many times we find hadiths where the Imams (as) would call the caliph of the time “Ameer al-Mu’mineen” – a title adopted by themselves taking from the sunnah of Umar bin al-Khattab. Here we see Imam al-Jawad referring to al-Mu’tassim as “Ameer al-Mu’mineen”

ما تقول في هذا يا أبا جعفر؟ فقال: قد تكلم القوم فيه يا أمير المؤمنين
al-Mu’tassim said: “What do you say about this oh Abu Ja’far (al-Jawad), so he (as) replied: “The people have already spoken oh Ameer al-Mu’mineen

Source: Tafseer al-Ayaashi, Volume 1, Page 348

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The Question arises why would the Imams (as) give such a high title (Prince of Believers) to these unjust rulers? Could they have avoided it?

Perhaps the reason is that this is actually an insult to them rather than praise. We see the Hadith from Imam al-Sadiq (as)

عن محمد بن إسماعيل الرازي ، عن رجل سماه ، عن أبي عبد الله عليه السلام قال : دخل رجل على أبي عبد الله عليه السلام فقال : السلام عليك يا أمير المؤمنين ، فقام على قدميه فقال : مه هذا اسم لا يصلح إلا لأمير المؤمنين سماه به ، ولم يسم به أحد غيره فرضي به إلا كان منكوحا
“A man visited Aba Abdillah (as) and said: “Asalaama `alayka oh Ameer al-Mu’mineen”, so he (as) got up on his feet and said: “What! This name is not allowed except for Ameer al-Mu’mineen (as) (Ali bin abi Taleb) who was named this, and no one was named this name other than him (Ali), and was pleased with it – except that he was one who was penetrated (a passive homosexual)…”

Source: Wasaa’il al-Shia, Volume 14, Page 600, Hadith #1

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Example 4: Ten companions promised paradise

There is a hadith falsely attributed to the Prophet (sawa) which we find in the book of the mukhalafeen:

Narrated ‘Abdur-Rahman bin Humaid:
from his father, that Sa’eed bin Zaid reported to him, while in a group of people, that the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: “Ten are in Paradise: Abu Bakr is in Paradise, ‘Umar is in Paradise, ‘Uthman is in Paradise, Az-Zubair and Talhah, ‘Abdur-Rahman, Abu ‘Ubaidah and Sa’d bin Abi Waqqas” – He said: “So he counted these nine and was silent concerning the tenth – so the people said: ‘We implore you by Allah, O Abu Al-A’war, who is the tenth?’ He said: ‘You have implored me by Allah. Abu Al-A’war is in Paradise.'”
حَدَّثَنَا صَالِحُ بْنُ مِسْمَارٍ الْمَرْوَزِيُّ، حَدَّثَنَا ابْنُ أَبِي فُدَيْكٍ، عَنْ مُوسَى بْنِ يَعْقُوبَ، عَنْ عُمَرَ بْنِ سَعِيدٍ، عَنْ عَبْدِ الرَّحْمَنِ بْنِ حُمَيْدٍ، عَنْ أَبِيهِ، أَنَّ سَعِيدَ بْنَ زَيْدٍ، حَدَّثَهُ فِي، نَفَرٍ أَنَّ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم قَالَ ‏ “‏ عَشَرَةٌ فِي الْجَنَّةِ أَبُو بَكْرٍ فِي الْجَنَّةِ وَعُمَرُ فِي الْجَنَّةِ وَعُثْمَانُ وَعَلِيٌّ وَالزُّبَيْرُ وَطَلْحَةُ وَعَبْدُ الرَّحْمَنِ وَأَبُو عُبَيْدَةَ وَسَعْدُ بْنُ أَبِي وَقَّاصٍ ‏”‏ ‏.‏ قَالَ فَعَدَّ هَؤُلاَءِ التِّسْعَةَ وَسَكَتَ عَنِ الْعَاشِرِ فَقَالَ الْقَوْمُ نَنْشُدُكَ اللَّهَ يَا أَبَا الأَعْوَرِ مَنِ الْعَاشِرُ قَالَ نَشَدْتُمُونِي بِاللَّهِ أَبُو الأَعْوَرِ فِي الْجَنَّةِ ‏.‏ قَالَ أَبُو عِيسَى أَبُو الأَعْوَرِ هُوَ سَعِيدُ بْنُ زَيْدِ بْنِ عَمْرِو بْنِ نُفَيْلٍ ‏.‏ وَسَمِعْتُ مُحَمَّدًا يَقُولُ هُوَ أَصَحُّ مِنَ الْحَدِيثِ الأَوَّلِ ‏.‏

Grade: Sahih (Darussalam)

English reference: al-Tirmidhi, Vol. 1, Book 46, Hadith 3748

Link: http://sunnah.com/urn/636280

Notice, this version only counted 9, and left out Imam Ali (as). Here is another version:

It was narrated that Sa’eed bin Zaid bin ‘Amr bin Nufail said:
“The Messenger of Allah was one of the Ten (given glad tidings of Paradise). He said: ‘Abu Bakr will be in Paradise; ‘Umar will be in Paradise; ‘Uthman will be in Paradise; ‘Ali will be in Paradise; Talhah will be in Paradise; Zubair will be in Paradise; Sa’d will be in Paradise; ‘Abdur-Rahman will be in Paradise.” He was asked: ‘Who will be the ninth?’ He said: ‘I will.'”
حَدَّثَنَا هِشَامُ بْنُ عَمَّارٍ، حَدَّثَنَا عِيسَى بْنُ يُونُسَ، حَدَّثَنَا صَدَقَةُ بْنُ الْمُثَنَّى أَبُو الْمُثَنَّى النَّخَعِيُّ، عَنْ جَدِّهِ، رِيَاحِ بْنِ الْحَارِثِ سَمِعَ جَدَّهُ، سَعِيدَ بْنَ زَيْدِ بْنِ عَمْرِو بْنِ نُفَيْلٍ يَقُولُ كَانَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ ـ صلى الله عليه وسلم ـ عَاشِرَ عَشَرَةٍ فَقَالَ ‏ “‏ أَبُو بَكْرٍ فِي الْجَنَّةِ وَعُمَرُ فِي الْجَنَّةِ وَعُثْمَانُ فِي الْجَنَّةِ وَعَلِيٌّ فِي الْجَنَّةِ وَطَلْحَةُ فِي الْجَنَّةِ وَالزُّبَيْرُ فِي الْجَنَّةِ وَسَعْدٌ فِي الْجَنَّةِ وَعَبْدُ الرَّحْمَنِ فِي الْجَنَّةِ ‏”‏ ‏.‏ فَقِيلَ لَهُ مَنِ التَّاسِعُ قَالَ أَنَا ‏.‏

Grade: Sahih (Darussalam)

English reference: Ibn Majah, Vol. 1, Book 1, Hadith 133

Link: http://sunnah.com/urn/1251330

Here again, interestingly, only 9 are counted – but this time they were generous enough to add Imam Ali (as) into the list…

There is an interesting hadith regarding this issue found in Tafseer al-Askari:

And an opponent said, in the presence of al-Sadiq (as), to a man of his Shiites: ‘What do you say about the ten companions?’ He said: ‘I say about them good which eliminates my sins with Allah and increases my status’. The questioner said: ‘Praise be to Allah on saving me from your hatred which I heard about you being a Rejecter (Rafidhi) and your hatred of the companions’. The man said: ‘If I were to find fault in these companions, then the Curse of Allah would be upon me’. He said: ‘At first you said that ‘whoever hates the ten companions”. He said: ‘Whoever hates ten of them, the curses of Angels and men together, be upon him’. The man came over and kissed his forehead and said: ‘Forgive me, for I used to think of you as a Rafidhi before today’. He said: ‘Today you are forgiven and are my brother’. Then the questioner went away.
al-Sadiq (as) said to him: ‘Well done! Allah will Reward you. You have astounded the Angels in the heavens by your beautiful attitude, and your choice of words, that you did not disclose your religion and Allah has Increased their sadness, and veiled from them our friends by dissimulation (Taqiyyah)’. A companion of al-Sadiq (as) said: ‘O son of the Messenger of Allah! In our minds these words of our companions were in accordance with the Nasibi?’ al-Sadiq (as) said: ‘You did not understand them, but we have understood them and Allah has Thanked him. The one who befriends our friends and is an enemy to our enemies, Allah Tests him, involves him with the adversaries and Inclines him to those answers with which he comes out safe with his religion and honour, and Allah has Granted this companions of your great rewards for this dissimulation.’
He firstly said ‘If I were to find fault in one of these companions, then the Curse of Allah would be upon me’ meaning, find fault in one of them, and that is the Commander of the Faithful Ali Bin Abu Talib (as).
And secondly, he said ‘Whoever hates ten of them, the curses of Angels and men together be upon him’. He spoke the truth; for whoever faults them all, will be faulting Ali for he is one of them. So he did not find fault with Ali and did not condemn him but found faults with the other ones.

Source: Tafseer al-Askari, Pages 320-321, Hadith #247

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We also have another hadith, where Imam Ali (as) says: “Allah’s curse is on those who do not say that I am the fourth of the four caliphs.” This is explained here: Ali (as) is the FOURTH Caliph.

 May Allah (swt) protect our tongues and protect the Shia of Ali bin abi Taleb (as)