The Faith of the Imamiyyah Shi'ah
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It is a big mistake to claim that one can understand the beliefs, sciences, and literature of the Imamiyyah Shi`ah through the writings of their rivals, no matter how skilled...
It is a big mistake to claim that one can understand the beliefs, sciences, and literature of the Imamiyyah Shi`ah through the writings of their rivals, no matter how skilled and proficient these rivals may be and how honestly they transfer and comment on texts uninfluenced by fruitless fanaticism.
I say so with absolute accuracy after I have spent a considerable time investigating the doctrines of the Twelver(1) Shi`ah in particular and the Shi`ah in general. After such a time-consuming study in the books of Sunni historians and critics, I could not reach anything focal. Nevertheless, my sincere desire to study these doctrines and comprehend their most important principles was totally dampened, and increased my detachment from the truth. This is because investigating from the books of the rivals of the Shi`ah—the sect adopted by about half of Muslims all over the world—has been totally futile.
My great inclination to seek the truth made me turn my scientific study to the other side, since wisdom must be the object of a believer. I therefore began to investigate the sect of the Twelve Imams from the books of its embracers and to get to know the doctrines of these people from the reference books of their masters and adept scholars and researchers. It is natural that the master scholars of a sect know more about their beliefs than their rivals, no matter how eloquent and persuasive these rivals may be.
In addition, scientific honesty, which is the foremost foundation of modern scientific methodology—the method that I have chosen for myself and made my constitution in all my research and writings whenever I attempt to discover material and spiritual facts—requires complete verification while quoting texts and investigating them carefully. Hence, it is unsuitable for a skilled scientific researcher to rely upon an unfounded basis while investigating the texts appertaining to Shi`ism.
This fact provoked me to study the Shi`ah and Shi`ism from the books of the Shi`ah themselves and to get to know their doctrines from what they had written and said about themselves without addition or omission, to avoid the confusion which other historians and critics had fallen into while judging the Shi`ah and Shi`ism. As a rule, a researcher who investigates a set of facts from other than their primary sources and original habitats has definitely taken a misleading path and a futile course. Such a researcher has nothing to do with true knowledge.