What are your views on Shia and their beliefs? And are they among the 70+ sects that are doomed?
First, the notion of the “72 doomed sects” is false, as I explain here. It is based on fabricated evidence.
As for the Shia, I believe that anyone who believes in God and His Books and does their best to follow Him, sincerely and in good faith, will be rewarded by Him, as the Quran promises:
Those who believe, and the Jews, and the Sabians, and the Christians—whoever believes in God and the Last Day, and does what is right—they have nothing to fear, nor shall they grieve.1
The above verse and those like it have been interpreted in various ways. The fate of ‘others’ in Islam, whether non-Muslims or Muslims belonging to sects considered non-orthodox, is a contentious issue that lends itself to many interpretations. Those interested can read professor Mohammad Hassan Khalil’s book Islam and the Fate of Others: The Salvation Question, which is a study that shows that there is sufficient room within Islam for what I mentioned above.
While it is common for Muslims to complain about Islamophobia in the West and the fact that people refuse to try to understand Islam, they themselves unfortunately act in very much the same way toward other Muslims. I have talked to some Sunni Muslims who have never met a Shia Muslim in their lives and who have the most absurd misconceptions and prejudices about the lives and thinking of the Shias. The Iranian government, in the name of Shia Islam, has committed a great deal of injustice and oppression against the Sunnis (a glaring example being that Sunni Muslims are not allowed to pray the Friday prayers in cities like Tehran, in their sectarian chauvinistic view only Shia mosques should have the right to hold Friday prayers). But many Iranian Shias do not support the actions of the government, or are simply busy making a living and not having the time to worry about what their government is doing, similar to the attitude of many Americans toward their government’s mass-murder of innocent people overseas. Among the Shia there are those who do their best to hold onto the Quran and to follow it in their lives, and God is generous and intelligent enough to understand and appreciate the efforts of such people even if they have beliefs and attitude that Sunnis would consider wrong. The Quran says the following about Jews and Christians, and I believe the same applies to the Shia:
113. They are not all alike. Among the People of the Scripture is a community that is upright; they recite God’s revelations throughout the night, and they prostrate themselves.
114. They believe in God and the Last Day, and advocate righteousness and forbid evil, and are quick to do good deeds. These are among the righteous.
115. Whatever good they do, they will not be denied it. God knows the righteous.2
So my view is that God holds each soul according to the knowledge He has given it:
God never burdens a soul beyond what He has given it.3
God will not hold a Shia Muslim responsible for what Sunnis consider wrong beliefs if they really think what they believe is true, if they follow the Quran in good faith, and if they do not knowingly do evil.
By saying that, I do not mean to say that Sunni and Shia Islam are equally good religions. Religions are tools toward understanding and worshiping God, and the best tool is the one that helps the most people worship God in the best way possible. We can judge a religion by the number of pious, self-less and devout people it can produce, and I believe Sunni Islam comes out on top according to this measure.