Sheikh Ahmed al-Antaki’s birth and upbringing
Sheikh Ahmed al-Antaki’s academic life
-Sheikh Ahmed was brought up as a Shafeei and obtained his knowledge from his father at the beginning, he then went to study under the guidance of one of the Sheikhs in their village where he studied the basis of his education such as grammar, logic ,etc.
After, Sheikh Ahmed directed his way towards Antakia where he attended classes under the teachings of one of the Sheikhs in the area known as Shiekh Ahmed al-Taweel, furthermore Sheikh Ahmed al-Antaki and his brother attended additional classes which included studying under the teachings of Sheikh Saed al-Arfei.
After spending many years attaining his educational foundations, Sheikh Ahmed decided to travel to the ‘city of knowledge’- the Holy Azhar, to continue his strive for attaining knowledge and build upon his education. Upon deciding to travel to Azhar, his brother Sheikh Mohammed agreed to join him on the quest of gaining knowledge.
The Sheikh attended in al-Azhar many classes such as Islamic Theology, Arabic grammar, etc. Sheikh Ahmed received his Islamic theology teaching from the Theologian Mohammed Abu Taha and al-Sheikh Mohammed Bakhit. Both of whom were the teachers in Egypt in the past. Mohammed al-Samloot and Sheikh Hasanian were also teachers of Sheikh al-Antaki.
In the same period of time, the Sheikh of the al-Azhar institute was the deceased Sheikh Mohammed Abu al-Fatheel.
After completing his studies at al-Azhar, the Sheikh decided to return back to his homeland and spread the knowledge which he had obtained on his quest to al-Azhar to his friends and family. The sheikh returned to Antakia, however, the Sheikh did not prolong his stay there due to continuous occupation of the area by French forces.
Sheikh al-Antaki’s journey to Hijaz:
The sheikh was invited to a trip to Hijaz, the sheikh received knowledge that the city of Hijaz implements Islamic Sharia at the best of levels.
The sheikhs teaching were generally accepted and appreciated in Syria where he received an invitation from Abdul Aziz al-Saudi where he was given an opportunity to accept a position as Judge of Sharia, however what he observed on his trip from the Salafie’s and Wahabee’s disbelief towards other Muslims generally was the main reason for him not accepting the position as Islamic Judge (which was a position which couldn’t be rejected).
Sheikh Ahmed al-Antaki resided in a city in Syria called Halab after the occupation of the evil Mustafa Atartork. The sheikh was appointed as representative in the area by Sheikh Saed Areif who was the head of the Islamic Council at the time.
Sheikh al-Antaki’s conversion to Shia Ithna Ashari faith:
Reason for the change
The change from faith to faith or from sect to sect requires a balance between the two extremes. So whenever the facts become apparent of the faith or the sect, apparent to the logic that is, then a change is required. This is exactly what happened with sheikh Ahmed when he figured that the truth is with the Shia with a the reality of logic used between the two extremes: Shia-Sunni.
It was because of reasons of doubtfulness that the Sheikh first realised about the Shafiee school of thought and the Sunni faith in general. The faith contained disagreements as well as contradictions which disregard the fundamental bases. The sheikh notes this in his book ‘The way I became Shia’ the following:
“we realised that the Shafiee school of thought for example allows the marriage of a girl who is a prostitute to her father, the bases of this argument is that the water of a prostitute is not haram, as the daughter is not linked to the father so its allowable for the father to marry her. Abu Hanifa forbids this.” ( The way I became Shia-page 16).
A further reason of why the Sheikh converted to Shia Ithna Ashari sect was because of his ability to obtain a book by the name of “Morajaat- The right path” by Sayed Abdul Hussain Sharf al-Deen al-Amili, he says about this:
“ I took and browsed through the pages astonished at the literature I was reading, I was really happy with what I was reading, it made me think about this book and its contents from its discussions between Sayed Abdul Hussain Sharf al-Deen (may Allah bless his soul) and Sheikh Saleem al-Bashree. Sheikh Saleem al-Bashree was a scholar at al-Azhar institute, he was asking Sayed Abdul Hussain many questions which the Sayed was answering in the book…..”
When the sheikh was initially given the book, he first rejected it, as it was known to him to be a bias Shia book. The sheikh says about this:
“ my brother sheikh Moraeey must have come across it and said: take this book and read it you will be surprised about it, think about it. I replied to him: from which sect is he from? He replied to me that he is from Jaffari, so I said to him : take this book away from me as I am not interested in it, as I hate the Shia. He told me to read it and not to implement any of its words and he emphasised that reading it will not affect me. Prior to this incident a discussion arose between us in the village of ‘al-Faewa’ and this is the incident took place in a area called ‘adalab’ ‘’ (about his book-page 17).
Another reason which had an impact on his conversion ot the Shia school of thought was to due to reading the book entitled “Abu Horayra” whose author is also Sayed Abdul Hussain Sharf al-Deen al-Amili, where he found out that many hadiths were made up as they did not obey logic neither did it comply with the Quran or the teaching of the Prophet (PBUH). An example is that Prophet Muse (PBUH) slapped the face of the angel of death Izrael and so He opened his eyes.
Or for example Musa (PBUH) was walking naked between the children of Israel (bani Israel), or that Allah (SWT) created Adam (PBUH) like his picture?! And many more alike. The author of the book has written it in such a way which allows the reader to realise that “Abu Horayra” who befriended the Prophet (PBUH) for three years or less, was the companion of the Prophet who spread his teachings to the greatest. However the proportion of what the four khailafs saw in comparison to what Abu Horayra saw was only 27% from his traditions!!!.
The availability of strong facts which were not created and which are accepted by both Shia and sunna
– there exists many traditions in regards to household of the Prophet (PBUH), however one tradition which especially caught the Sheikhs attention was about the ark which the Prophet (PBUH) says: “My Household to you is like Noah’s ark, whosoever got on the ark survived, and who neglected the ark drowned” (‘Mostadreek Al Hokom- The book of Laws’ chapter 2, page 342 and Ibin Hijir ‘Sawaiqa’ page 153’)
Also the tradition of the “Thaqalaayn’ where the Prophet (PBUH) says “ I have leave for you two weighty things, the Holy Book of Allah and My household, whosoever keeps with them will never go astray. The two weighty things will not separate until they return to the pond in paradise, so observe how you will do contrary to what I have stated”( tradition contained in Sahih Muslim ch.2 page 238 also contained in Ahmed Ibin Hanbal ch.3 page 17 and Sahih Tarmadi ch.2 page 308).
The Holy Prophet (PBUH) has compared his household to (who comprise of Ali, Fatemah , Hasan, Hussain and the nine infallibles sons of Hussain) to Noah’s ark as the survival is only guaranteed with them as the ark was the only means of survival to the people at the time.
The Holy Prophet (PBUH) also compared his household to the Holy Quran which is the strongest proof that his Household are the most knowledge of people in the contents of the Holy Quran, and that they are all infallible.
For more guidance we highly recommend you to read the book ‘Morajaat- The right Path’ whose author is Sayed Abdul Hussain Sharf al-Deen al-Amili who has noted the most important references against the sunna’s and the truth of the household of the Holy Prophet(PBUH).
These are some of the reasons why Sheikh Ahmed al-Antaki converted to the Shia Inthna Ashari school of thought.
The above was a short piece of literature belonging to a humble individual who was guided to the correct path. Sheikh Ahmed al-Antaki has a book called “the way I became Shia” where he outlines the exact procedure of how he converted. Sheikh Mohammed Moraeey al-Antaki also has a book called “why I chose the Shia school of thought” both books are available at all good Islamic bookstores.