Edited and Revised by Al Olonzo 
Here we present a classic debate between Sunni and Shia branches of Islam.
Sunnis and Shia Muslims often engage in public debates about their understanding of the religion of Islam as preached by Prophet Muhammad. Scholars use many different forums are used to engage one another. Most debates are verbal and the parties meet face-to-face in a small gathering of men to discuss matters of faith according to their own perspective. However, some debates take place over the internet; while others are conducted on television. Occasionally the participants write to one another over long distances. One such debate between Sunni and Shia scholars took place at the beginning of the twentieth century.
Here are edited letters sent in 1911 between Shiekh Salim al Bashiri, a Sunni professor from Egypt, and a Shia teacher from Lebanon, Sayyid Sharafuddin Mooswe. Both men were religious authorities of their day. This is a revised version of the printed book. A hash symbol # is added at start of each letter and the reply. As a result of this debate, the Sunni University of Al Azhar in Cairo later declared Shias muslims as as Muslims and their Jafari School to be one of the five legitimate school in Islam.
DEBATE OF 1911
Letter # 1 - Please give me your reasons on these points. Why you (Shias) do not follow the (Sunni Ashari) sect of the majority of Muslims. How great is our need today for unity and uniformity, especially when the religion's enemies have made up their minds to harm us by all possible means. They have set their minds and hearts upon such goals while Muslims are heedless, as if they are overcome by slumber, assisting their enemies against their own selves by letting them split their own ranks and tear their unity apart through partisanship and fanaticism, leaving them disunited, divided, leading each other astray, excommunicating one another; hence, wolves preyed on us while dogs coveted our flesh. May Allah lead your steps to unite our ranks. Sincerely, Salim.
Reply # 1: [by Sharafuddin]
# Our adherence, in the principles of the creed, to a sect other than that of Ashari, and our following in the branches of Islam of a sect other than those four sects, has never been due to partisanship nor fanaticism, nor has it been because of doubting the ijtihad of the Imams of these sects, of their fairmindedness, trustworthiness, integrity, or loftiness in knowledge and deeds. Juristic proofs, rather, have mandated upon us to follow the sect of the Imams from the Household of Prophethood, the cradle of the Message, and the place the angels frequent, the abode of revelation and inspiration. We have always, therefore, referred to them in order to comprehend all matters related to the creed's branches and doctrines, in the roots and in the bases of fiqh, in the knowledge of ethics, behaviour, and manners. We have done all this in accordance with the judgment of evidence and proof, following the Sunnah of the Master of Prophets and Messengers, peace of Allah be upon him and all his progeny. Had the proofs allowed us to differ from the Imams of Muhammad's progeny, or had we been able to achieve nearness to Allah by following others' sects, we would then have followed in the general public's footsteps, asserting the friendship and strengthening the ties of fraternity. On the contrary, positive proofs stand in the believer's way, diverting him from following his own inclinations.
2) Still, the majority cannot prove that their own sect must be preferred over those of others, let alone making it obligatory. We have looked into Muslims' pretexts as one inquiring in depth with keen eyes, but we have found no proof for your argument except what you mentioned of their ijtihad, trustworthiness, fair-mindedness and loftiness. You, however, know that ijtihad, trustworthiness, fair-mindedness and loftiness of status are not a monopoly of them only; therefore, how, since the case is as such, can their sects be obligatory by your merely pointing them out? I do not think that there is anyone who dares to advocate their preference in knowledge or deeds over our Imams who are the cleansed Etrat, the nation's life-boats, the Gate of Salvation, the security against dissension in religion, the flags of its guidance, the descendants of the Messenger of Allah and his remnant in his nation. He has said: "Do not go ahead of them lest you should perish, nor should you lag behind them lest you should perish. Do not teach them, for they are more learned than you." But it is the dictates of politics at the dawn of Islam. I wonder about your claim that the good previous generations adhered to those sects, finding them the most fair and the best of sects, and that they agreed to adhere to them in every time and clime. You say so as if you do not know that our predecessors, the good past generations that followed the progeny of Muhammad and that, literally, constituted half the Muslim population, followed only the faith of the Imams among the descendants of Muhammad. They did not find for it any substitute, and they have been this way ever since the days of Ali and Fatima, when neither Ashari nor any Imam of the other four sects, or even their fathers, existed, as you very well know.
3) The generations of the first three centuries, then, never followed any of those sects at all. Where were those sects during those three generations, the best generations ever? Ashari was born in 270 hijri and died in 320 hijri, Ibn Hanbal was born in 164 hijri and died in 241 hijri, Shafi was born in 150 hijri and died in 204 hijri, Malik was born in 95 hijri and died in 179 hijri, Abu Hanifah was born in 80 hijri and died in 150 hijri. Shias follow the sect of the Imams from the Prophet's Household, and the household surely know what their house contains. NonShias follow the sects of the learned sahabah and tabi`in; so, what makes it "mandatory" on all Muslims, after those three centuries had gone by, to follow those sects instead of the one followed before them? What made them divert their attention from those who were peers only to the Book of Allah and its own companions, the descendants of the Prophet and his trustees, the nation's ark of salvation, the leaders, the security, and the Gate of Salvation?
4) What caused the door of ijtihad to be shut in the face of Muslims after it had been kept widely open during the first three centuries other than resorting to reluctance, comfort, laziness, the acceptance of deprivation and the satisfaction with ignorance? Who would permit himself, knowingly or unknowingly, to say that Allah has not sent the best of His Messengers and Prophets with the best of His religions and codes, nor has He revealed unto him His best Books and Tablets, judgment and doctrines, nor has He completed His Religion for him and perfected His blessing unto him, nor has He taught him the knowledge of the past and the present, except for the sole purpose that the whole matter would end to the Imams of those sects to monopolize for their own selves? They would then forbid all others from acquiring it from any other source, as if the Islamic faith, in its Book and Sunnah, and in all other signs and testaments, a property of their own, and that they forbade faring with it in any way contrary to their own opinions... Were they the Prophets' heirs, or had Allah sealed through them the successors and Imams, or taught them the knowledge of the past and the present, and that He bestowed upon them what He had never bestowed upon anybody else among all human beings? No! They were just like many others, pillars and caretakers of knowledge, ministers and callers. Those who call for knowledge are far above closing its doors against others or forbidding others from reaching it. They never curb the minds, nor confine public attention only to their own selves, nor can they seal people's hearts or make others deaf, blind, dumb, handcuffed, or chained. This can never be attributed to them except as a liar's allegation, and their own statements bear witness to ours.
5) Let us now concentrate on the matter to which you attracted our attention: the unity of Muslims. What I see is that this matter does not depend on Shias forsaking their faith, or the Sunnis forsaking their own. Asking Shias to do so without asking others (Sunnis) to do likewise is to prefer without preponderance, or even to favour the less preferable. It is demanding what is beyond one's capacity, as it is known from our Introduction. Yes. Unity and uniformity can be achieved if you release Ahlulbayt's sect and view it as you view any of your own sects so that the Shafis, Hanafis, Malikis and Hanbalis may consider the followers of Ahlulbayt just as they consider each other. Only then can the unity of Muslims be achieved, and they will be unified in one fold. The difference among Sunni sects is not less than it is between the Sunni and Shia schools of thought as thousands of books on the principles and branches of the creed of both groups testify; therefore, why have several people among you condemned the Shias for differing from the Sunnis? Why have they not, by the same token, condemned the Sunnis for differing from the Shias, or even for differing from one another? If sects can be four, why cannot they be five? How come it is alright to have four sects but not five? How can four sects be considered as "unifying" Muslims, and when they increase to five unity is shattered and Muslims are divided unto themselves? I wish when you invited us to "sectarian unity" you also invited the followers of the four sects to the same. The latter will be a lot easier for you and for them. But why have you singled us out for your invitation anyway? Do you find the followers of Ahlulbayt breaking the unity while the followers of others unite the hearts and determination even though their sects and minds are different, their tastes and inclinations are numerous?
# The purified offspring (Etrat) are superior to all others. Their case is quite clear: they have surpassed those with qualifications and have distinguished themselves from seemingly equal peers. They have carried from the Prophet the knowledge of the prophets, and from him have they digested secular and religious jurisdictions.
1) The Prophet, hence, has made them equal only to the Glorious Book and set them models of conduct for those endowed with reason, and the ark of safety when hypocrisy with its tumultous waves overwhelms the security of the nation, safeguarding it against dissension if the tempests of division rage, the Gate of Salvation: whoever enters it is forgiven, and the strong Rope of Allah which is unbreakable.
2) Imam Ali is quoted in sermon 86 in Nahjul Balagha as saying: "`Where are you heading' and, `where are you straying', (Koran chapter 81:26, 6:95, 10:34, 35:3, 40:62); since the flags are poised up high, the Signs are clear, and the lighthouse is erected? So, where are you straying? Nay! How can you be blindfolded while you have among you the household (Etrat) of your Prophet? They are the reins of righteousness, the religion's flags, and the tongues of truth; therefore, accord them as you accord the Koran and approach them as thirsty camels approach the water. O people! Take this from the last of the Prophets: `whoever among us passes away, he is not really dead, and whoever disintegrates (after dying) from among us does not really disintegrate; therefore, do not say what you do not know, for there is the greatest truth in what you deny. Accept the argument of one against whom you have no argument and it is: `Have I not dealt with you according to the Greatest Weight (Koran)? Have I not left among you the Lesser Weight (Ahlulbayt) and laid firm among you the flags of faith?'" He said, in sermon 96 of Nahjul Balagha, "Behold the Household of your Prophet; emulate their example and follow in their footsteps, for they shall never take you out of guidance, nor shall they ever bring you back into destruction; halt when they halt, and rise when they rise, and do not go ahead of them lest you should stray, nor should you lag behind them lest you should perish." He has mentioned them once, as stated in sermon 237 of Nahjul Balagha, saying: "They are the life of knowledge and the death of ignorance; their forbearance informs you of their knowledge, and their outward appearance informs you of their conscience. Their silence indicates the wisdom of their speech. They neither differ from truth, nor do they differ among themselves about it. They are the pillars of Islam and the gateways to salvation. Through them, justice was achieved and wrongdoing was removed, and its tongue was uprooted. They comprehended the creed with care and concern, not like hearing and reporting, for the `reporters' of knowledge are many indeed, but those who safeguard it are few." He as stated in sermon 153 in Nahjul Balagha, has also said, "His offspring (Etrat) is the best, and his family is the best. His tree is the best of trees: it was planted in the sacred place (Haram), and it grew like a vine; it has long branches and its fruit is not unattainable." He is quoted in sermon 153 of Nahjul Balagha saying: "We are the banner, the companions, the trustees and the gates. Houses are not supposed to be approached except through their gates: whoever approaches them otherwise is called a thief," until he said, describing the purified offspring (Etrat), "They are the vital portions of the Koran and they are the treasures of the Merciful. They tell the truth when they speak, or when they remain silent; none can speak ahead of them. Therefore, let the forerunner speak the truth to his people, maintaining his reason." He has said in sermon 146 of Nahjul Balagha: "You should know that you will never know guidance unless you know who abandons it, nor will you abide by the Book (Koran) unless you know who contradicts it, and you will never uphold it unless you know who has discarded it; so, seek that from those who possess it, for they are the life of knowledge and the death of ignorance. They are the ones whose judgment informs you of their knowledge, their silence of their power of speech, their outer appearance of their inner selves; they neither violate the religion, nor do they differ among themselves about it, while it is among them a truthful witness and a silent speaker." There are many similarly impressive statements of his in this regard; consider this one which is excerpted from sermon 4 in Nahjul Balagha: "Through us you received guidance in the darkness, ascending the zenith of nobility, and through us you reached the light and dissipated the gloomy night. May the ears that do not listen to the summoner be deafened." He is quoted in sermon 104 of Nahjul Balagha saying: "O people! Secure your light from the flame of the lamps of a preacher who follows what he preaches, and drink from a spring cleansed from impurity." He has also said the following in sermon 108: "We are the tree of Prophethood, the place of the Message, the ones to whom the angels make a pilgrimage, the treasures of knowledge, the springs of wisdom. Our supporter and lover awaits the mercy, while our enemy or antagonist us awaits the wrath." Among what he has said in this regard is sermon 143 of Nahjul Balagha wherein he says: "Where are those who claimed to be deeply versed in knowledge other than our own selves? (See also Koran 3:7 and 4:162). It is a lie and a transgression against us, for Allah has raised us high while putting them down; He bestowed upon us while depriving them, and He permitted us to enter (in the fortress of knowledge) while turning them out. Through us, guidance is achieved and blindness is removed. Surely the Imams from Quraysh have been planted in Hashim's loins. Imamate can never fit anyone else, nor can government either." Then he stated: "But they preferred a speedy gain to a later one, forsaking a pure well to drink from an impure one," up to the end of his statement. He has also said at the conclusion of khutba (sermon) 189 of Nahjul Balagha: "Whoever among you dies on his bed knowing the rights of his Lord and knowing the rights of His Messenger and his family (Ahlulbayt) dies as a martyr, and his reward will be incumbent upon Allah, and he deserves the reward of what good deeds he has intended to do: his own intention will make up for his use of his sword (in jihad)." Also, he has said: "We are the virtuous; our descendants are the descendants of Prophets; our party is the party of Allah while the transgressing party is the devil's; whoever equates us with our enemy is certainly not of us." Imam alMujtaba Abu Muhammad Hasan, the patient, master of the youths of Paradise, has said the following in one of his sermons: "Fear Allah regarding us, for we are your rulers."
3) Whenever son of Husayn, Imam Zainulabidin, master of those who prostrate in prayer, used to recite this verse of the Almighty: "O ye who believe! Fear Allah and be with the Truthful," he would make a lengthy invocation to Allah containing his plea to be included among "the Truthful" to attain the high ranks. He would then count the calamities and innovations of the group that split from the Imams of Faith and the Tree of Prophethood. Then he would say: "Some people went as far as underestimating us, making excuses for the Koranic verses which seem to them to be alike, giving their own interpretation thereof, and casting doubts about the transmitted narrarations in our honour," until he would say: "With whom shall people in this nation seek refuge, since the pillars of this creed have been forgotten and the nation has divided upon itself with dissension, each party accusing the other of kufr, while Allah says: `Do not be like those who became divided and disagreed (with each other) even after receiving the Clear Evidences (3:104)?' Who can be trusted to convey the Divine proofs and interpret the Judgment other than the peers of the Koran and the descendants of the Imams of Guidance, the lamps amidst the darkness, those whom Allah made as His Arguments against His servants? He has never left His creation alone without a Proof. Do you know them or find them except from the branches of the Blessed Tree, the remnant of the Elite from whom Allah has removed all impurity, purifying them with a perfect purification, clearing them from sinning and decreeing their love in His Book?" That was his own speech verbatim. Look into it and into our quotations from the speech of Imam Ali; you will find them both representing the Shia School of Muslim Thought in this regard very clearly. Consider this much of their speech as a specimen for all such speeches of the Imams from Ahlulbayt. They all are unanimous in this respect, and our sahih books quoting them are mutawatir (consecutively reported).
# Take, for example, the statements of the Prophet, to which we referred whereby he struck an awe in the heart of the ignorant, calling upon the indifferent, as quoted by Tirmithi and Nisai from Jabir and they, in turn, are quoted by alMuttaqi alHindi at the beginning of his chapter on those who uphold the Book and the Sunnah in his work Kanzul Ummal, vol 1, page 44, saying: "O people! I am leaving with you the Book of Allah and my household (Etrat), my family (Ahlulbayt). As long as you uphold them, you shall never go astray." He has also said: "I have left with you that which, as long as you uphold, you shall never let you stray after me: Allah's Book, a Rope extending from heavens to earth, and my Etrat, my Ahlulbayt. These twain shall never separate from one another till they reach me by the Heavenly Fountain [Koser]; therefore, see how you succeed me in faring with them." He has also said: "I am leaving among you two successors: the Book of Allah, a rope extending from heavens to earth - or between heavens and earth - , and my household (Etrat) from my family (Ahlulbayt); they shall never separate from each other until they reach me by the Heavenly Fountain [Koser]." He also said: "I am leaving among you the Two Weighty Things: the Book of Allah and my Ahlulbayt; they shall never separate from each other till they reach me at the Heavenly Fountain [Koser]." He has said: "I think I am going to be called upon and shall answer the call, and I am leaving among you the Two Weighty Things, the Book of Allah Almighty and my offspring, my Ahlulbayt. Allah has informed me that they shall never part from each other till they reach me by the Heavenly Fountain [Koser]; so, see how you succeed me in faring with them." Having returned from the Farewell Pilgrimage, he camped at Ghadir Khumm and ordered the area underneath a few huge trees to be swept clean then said in his sermon: "It seems as if I am going to be called upon and shall answer the call, and I am leaving with you the Two Weighty Things, one of which is greater than the other: the Book of Allah Almighty, and my Household; so, see how you succeed me in faring with them, for they shall never separate from each other until they reach me at the Heavenly Fountain [Koser]." Then he added: "Allah is my Master, and I am the master of every believer." Having said so, he took Ali's hand and said: "To whomsoever I have been a master, this Ali is his master. O Allah! Befriend whosoever befriends Ali, and be the enemy of whosoever opposes him, etc." Abdullah ibn Hantab has said: "the Prophet delivered a sermon to us at Al-Juhfa wherein he asked us: 'Don't I have authority over your own selves more than you yourselves do?' Attendants there answered: 'Yes, indeed, O Prophet!' Then he said: 'I shall then question you about these two: the Koran and my Etrat.'"
4) The sahih books, which deem it mandatory to follow the Two Weighty Things, are successive through more than twenty companions who all are in consensus in this regard. The Prophet has emphasized these things on numerous occasions: on Ghadir Khumm's Day, on the Arafat day of his Farewell Pilgrimage, after leaving Taif, from his pulpit in Medina, and inside his blessed chamber during his sickness, when the room was full of his companions. He said in the latter incident: "O people! I feel I am going to die very soon, and I had previously informed you as my duty, and to leave no excuse for you, that: I am leaving with you the Book of Allah, and my Etrat, my Ahlulbayt." Having finished, he took Ali's hand and lifted it saying: "This Ali is with the Koran, and the Koran is with Ali: they shall never separate from one another till they reach me by the Heavenly Fountain [Koser]." A learned group among the majority has admitted the above. Even Ibn Hajar, quoting the tradition of the Two Weighty Things, says, "Be informed, then, that the tradition calling for upholding both of them comes through numerous ways narrated by more than twenty companions." Further he says, "Here a doubt arises about when he said so. Some traditionists say he said so at Arafat during the Farewell Pilgrimage and others that he said so in Medina when he was sick, while his room was crammed with his companions. Another group say that he made that statement at the Khumm swamp, and in yet another that he made it, by way of preaching, after having left T'aif as mentioned above." Ibn Hajar furthermore says, "There is no contradiction here, for there is no objection to his repeating it at those places, and at others, out of his own concern for the unassailable Book and the cleansed Etrat," up to the end of his statement. Suffices the Imams from the Purified Etrat the fact that their rank with Allah is similar to that of the Book which falsehood cannot approach from front or from back. This must be sufficient testimony that takes people by the neck and obligates them to abide by their sect. A true Muslim does not accept any substitute for the Book of Allah; therefore, how can he deviate from the path of those who are its own peers?
5) The gist of his saying "I am leaving unto you that which, as long as you uphold to it, shall never let you stray: the Book of Allah and my Etrat" is that anyone who does not uphold both of them spontaneously will eventually stray. This is supported by his saying in the tradition of the Two Weighty Things, as Tabrani narrates it, "Do not go ahead of them else you should perish, and do not teach them for they are more learned than you." Ibn Hajar has said: "In his statement `Do not go ahead of them else you should perish, and do not teach them for they are more learned than you,' there is proof that whoever among them is elevated to high offices and religious vocations must be preferred over all others," up to the end of his statement.
6) What makes it compulsory to follow and refer to Ahlulbayt is this hadith of the Prophet: "The similitude of my household among you is that of the ark of Noah: whoever embarks upon it is saved, and whoever lags behind it is drowned," and his statement "The similitude of my Household among you is that of the ark of Noah: whoever boards it is saved, and whoever lags behind it is drowned. And the similitude of my Household among you is the Gate of the Israelites: whoever enters it is forgiven." Also, consider his statement "The stars protect the inhabitants of earth against drowning, and my Ahlulbayt protect my nation against dissension (in religious matters). If a tribe among the Arabs differs (regarding the commandments of Allah) from them, they will all then differ and become the party of Satan." This is fully sufficient to oblige the nation to follow them and to protect it against differing from them. I do not think that there is any language of man more clear than this hadith to support my argument.
7) What is meant by his word "Ahlulbayt" (Household) here is their entirety, collectively, as being their Imams, not merely their entirety inclusively, for this status is nothing but a testimony for the Proofs of Allah - particularly those who stand for His Commandments - as reason and scholarship would rule. A learned group among the majority has admitted the same, such as Ibn Hajar in his Sawaiq Muhriqa. Some of them have said that what is probably meant by `Ahlulbayt' who are a security are their own learned men, for they are the ones who are like guiding stars; when lost, inhabitants of the earth will get what they were ominously warned against. Ibn Hajar said: "That will be during the time when alMehdi appears, and the tradition indicates that Jesus will pray behind him, and the antiChrist will be killed during his time; after that, unusual events will succeed one another," up to the end of his statement which is quoted in the exegesis of verse 7, in Chapter 11, page 91, of Sawaiq Muhriqa. Somewhere else he indicates that the Prophet was asked once: "How would people live after them?" and he answered: "They will live like an ass whose spleen has been broken."
8) You know that likening them with the ark of Noah implies that whoever resorts to them in matters related to the creed, deriving the branches and basics of religion from their virtuous Imams, will certainly be saved from the fire of hell, and whoever lags behind them is like one who seeks shelter during the flood with a mountain so that it may save him from Allah's destiny, but he will eventually be drowned in water while the first will be hurled in the inferno, may Allah protect us from it. The reason why they are compared to the Gate of Salvation is that Allah has made that Gate a symbol of humility before His Greatness and submission to His Judgment; therefore, it becomes a reason for forgiveness. This is the reason for the similitude. Ibn Hajar, in the exegesis of Chapter 7 of the Koran, in Chapter 11, page 91, of his Sawaiq Muhriqa, has accepted it while saying, after quoting these and other similar traditions, "The reason for their similitude to the ark is that whoever loves and highly respects them as means of thanking the One Who gave them honours, following the guidance of their learned men, will be saved from the darkness of dissension, and whoever lags behind it is drowned in the sea of ingratitude and will perish in the paths of tyranny." Then he adds the following: "As to the Gate of Salvation (meaning thereby their similitude thereto), Allah has made entering that gate, which probably was the gate of Shittim or of Jerusalem, in humility, seeking forgiveness, a reason for salvation, and He (likewise) has made loving Ahlulbayt a reason for this nation's salvation." The sahih books are consecutive in stating that following Ahlulbayt is mandatory especially quoting the purified Etrat.
# Both alTabrani's Al-Mujma` al-Kabir and Rafii's Musnad, quoting Ibn Abbas, state that "the Prophet has said: `Let whoever is pleased to live like me and die like me and inhabit Eden's Paradise which my Lord cultivated take Ali as his master after me, and let him obey whoever he places in charge over him, and let him follow the example of my Ahlulbayt after me, for they are my progeny: they are created of my own mould and blessed with my own comprehension and knowledge. Woe unto those who reject them and separate me from them! May Allah never permit them to enjoy my intercession.'" AlMatir, alBarudi, Ibn Jarir, Ibn Shahin, and Ibn Mundah have all quoted Ishaq citing Ziyad ibn Matraf saying: "I have heard the Prophet saying: `Whoever wishes to live my life and die my death and enter the Garden which my Lord promised me, the Garden of eternity, then let him take Ali and his progeny after him as his masters, for they shall never take you out of guidance, nor let you stray.'" Similarly, Zayd ibn Arqam is quoted in one hadith saying: "the Prophet has said: `Whoever wishes to live like me and die my death and inhabit the perpetual Garden promised to me by my Lord, let him take Ali as his master, for he shall never get you out of guidance, nor shall he let you stray.'" Also, consider this tradition narrated by Ammar ibn Yasir: "the Prophet has said: `I admonish whoever believed in me and held me truthful to accept the government of Ali ibn Abu Talib, for whoever accepts him as the ruler accepts me as such, and whoever loves him loves me too, and whoever loves me loves Allah. Whoever hates him hates me, and whoever hates me hates Allah." Ammar quotes others stating this hadith: "O Lord! Whoever believed in me and held me truthful, let him take Ali as his master, for his government is also mine, and mine is that of the Almighty Allah." He once delivered a sermon wherein he said: "O people! Favours, honours, prestige and government are for the Prophet and his progeny; therefore, let no falsehood divert you." He said: "In every generation of my nation there are members of my Household who equal only my own self and who safeguard this religion from the distortion of wrongdoers and the interpretation of the ignorant. Be informed that your Imams are your deputies to Allah; so, see who you send to Him as your deputies." He has also said: "Do not go ahead of them else you should perish, nor should you lag behind them else you should perish. Do not teach them, for they are more learned than you." He has said: "Consider my Ahlulbayt among you as you consider the head of the body, and the eyes in the head, for the head is guided by the eyes." He said: "Uphold loving us, we Ahlulbayt, for whoever faces Allah loving us shall enter Paradise through our intercession. I swear by the One in Whose Hands my soul is placed that the good deeds of a believer shall never avail him except through recognizing our rights." And he has also said: "The knowledge of the progeny of Muhammad brings salvation from the Fire, and loving Ahlulbayt is walking on the Straight Path. Allegiance to the progeny of Muhammad is a security against the torture." He has said: "The feet of any servant of Allah shall never move on the Day of Judgment unless he is asked about four things: how he spent his life, what he wore his body out for, how he made and spent his wealth, and about loving us, we Ahlulbayt." He has said: "If a man stands in prayer between the Rukn and Maqam, hating Muhammad's progeny, he shall still enter Hellfire." He has also said: "Whoever dies because of his love for the progeny of Muhammad dies a martyr. Whoever dies because of loving the progeny of Muhammad dies as a believer of a perfect faith. Whoever dies for loving Muhammad's children will be given the glad tiding of entering Paradise by the angel of death, then by Munkir and Nakir. Whoever dies for loving Muhammad's descendants will be taken to Paradise like a bride taken to her groom's house. Whoever dies loving Muhammad's progeny will have two doors in his grave overlooking Paradise. Allah will make the grave of whoever dies for loving Muhammad's children a visiting place for the angels of mercy. Whoever dies for loving Muhammad's progeny dies adhering to the Sunnah and consensus. Whoever dies hating Muhammad's progeny will come on the Day of Judgment with this inscribed between his eyes: `He should despair of Allah's mercy,'" up to the end of his unmatchable sermon, the sermon whereby he intended to divert the inclinations and whims. The implication is that all these traditions are unanimously agreed upon, especially those narrated through the authority of the purified Etrat. Their status would not have been confirmed had they not been the obvious Proofs of Allah and the fountainhead of His Jurisprudence, the obvious Proofs of Allah, the fountainhead of His Jurisprudence, the ones who represent the Prophet in bidding or forbidding, his own deputies in the most clear terms. Whoever loves them, therefore, is also a lover of Allah and His Messenger, and whoever hates them is an enemy of Allah and His Messenger. He has said: "None loves us except a Godfearing and sincere believer, and none hates us except a hypocritical wretch." It is for these reasons that alFarazdaq, the poet, has said these verses in their praise: You are ones loving whom is belief, hating an abomination; Nearness to you is indeed a rescue and a salvation. If the pious ones are counted, you will be their Imams; it is true. If one asks: "Who are the best of man?" the answer will be you. Imam Ali used to say: "I and the virtuous among my descendants are the best in manners when young, and the most learned when old. Through us does Allah obliterate lies, and through us does He turn the wild fox's teeth ineffective. Through us does Allah cure your barrenness, and through us does He emancipate you. Through us does Allah begin and conclude." Suffices us a reason for preferring them over others the fact that Allah has preferred them over all others, making sending prayers unto them part of the obligatory prayers, albeit if the one saying his prayer were a Siddiq or Faruq, with one light, or two, or with numerous lights. Nay! Everyone who worships Allah by performing His obligations also worships Him while doing so by sending blessings unto them, just as he worships Him when testifying through the two parts of the Shahadah. This, indeed, is a status before which the nation's heads were lowered, and in front of which the eyes of whoever you mentioned of the imams have submitted. Imam Shafi, may Allah be pleased with him, has said: O Household of Allah's Messenger! Loving you is an obligation Which Allah has enforced in His Honored Revelation; Suffices you a great honour if one sends no prayer unto you all, It will be as though he did not say his prayers at all. Let us now be satisfied with this much of the sacred Sunnah in testimony to the fact that following their Sunnah is compulsory; so is emulating them. In the Book of Allah there are clear verses which make that, too, compulsory. It is to such verses that we would like to attract your aware conscience and sensitive reason.
# Has there been anyone praised therein like the cleansed Etrat? Have its perfect verses described any as "purified from all uncleanness" other than them? Has the verse of Purification been revealed in honour of anyone else? Has the perfect Revelation commanded love for any others? Has Gabriel brought the verse of Mubahala in praise of anyone else? Has "Hal Ata" been revealed in praise of others? No! I swear By the Lord Who rightly used it for them, Who is right and fair. Are they not "Allah's Rope" concerning whom He has said: "Hold together to Allah's Rope and do not be divided (3:103)"? And "the truthful" concerning whom He has said: "Be ye all with the Truthful (9:119);" "Allah's path" about which He has said: "Do not follow different paths else they should divert you from Allah's path (6:153)," the ones "entrusted with authority among you (4:59)," the "custodians of Revelation" about whom He says: "Ask the custodians of Revelation when you do not know (21:7)," the believers about whom He says: "Whoever differs from the Messenger, after guidance has been made clear to him, following paths other than those of the Believers, We shall leave him in the path he has chosen and place him in Hell, what an evil refuge (4:115)," and the "guides" about whom He says: "You are a warner, and for each nation there is a guide"? Are they not among those upon whom Allah has showered His blessings and to whom He has referred in the Fatiha and the Glorious Koran saying "Guide us unto the Right Path, the Path of those whom You have blessed," and He has also said: "These are with those whom Allah has blessed from among the prophets, the truthful, the martyrs and the righteous (4:69)"? Has He not granted them the general authority? Has He not confined it only to them after the Prophet? Read: "Your Master is Allah and His Messenger and the Believers who uphold prayers and pay zakat even while prostrating; whoever takes for Master Allah and His Messenger and the Believers, then the Party of Allah are indeed the victorious (5:58)." Has He not made salvation for those who repent and do good deeds dependent upon accepting their guided authority, saying: "I am most Forgiving for those who repent, believe, do good deeds, and received guidance (20:82)"? Isn't their wilayat part of the "trust" about which the Almighty says: "We offered the trust unto the heavens, the earth, and the mountains, but they all refused to bear it out of extreme fear, then man bore it: he is most unjust, most ignorant (33:72)"? Have they not been the "peace" wherein Allah has commanded everyone to enter, saying, "O ye who believe! Enter in peace all of you, and do not follow the steps of Satan (2:208)". Are they not the "blessing" concerning whom Allah has said, "You will be questioned on that Day about the Blessing (102:8)"? Has not the Prophet been commanded to convey all of this? Has Allah not emphasized conveying it in such a language, which sounded like threatening, saying, "O Messenger! Convey that which has been revealed unto you, and if you do not do it, then you have not really conveyed His Message at all, and Allah shall protect you from (mischievous) people (5:70)"? Has not the Prophet conveyed it on the Ghadir Day, having reached its plains and delivered the Message, whereupon Allah revealed this congratulating verse: "Today have I completed your religion for you, perfected My blessing unto you, and accepted Islam as your religion (5:4)"? Have you noticed what your Lord did with the person who openly denied their authority saying, "O Allah! If this Message is truly from Thee, then let stones fall upon us like rain from the skies, or cause a severe torment to befall upon us"? Allah hurled a Sijjil stone at him as He had done with the Fellows of the Elephant. He revealed these verses on that occasion: "A person questioned about a penalty to befall the unbelievers which cannot be warded off: (a penalty) from Allah, Lord of the Ways of Ascent (70:12)." People will certainly be questioned about such authority when they are resurrected as indicated in the explanation of the verse saying: "And follow in their footsteps, for they have the authority (37:24)." There is no room to wonder any longer, then, especially when we discern the fact that their authority has been sanctioned by Allah unto people through His prophets, providing proofs and arguments for it, as indicated by the explanation of His saying: "And ask the Messengers whom We sent before thee (43:45)." Nay! Allah has even taken for it a promise on the Day of Alasto from the souls of His creatures even before creating their physical forms, as referred to in this verse: "When thy Lord drew forth from the children of Adam - from their loins - their descendants, making them promise, asking them: `Am I not your Lord?' They said: `Yes! We testify!' This is so lest you should say on the Day of Judgment: `Of this we were never mindful (7:172)'." Through their intercession has Allah granted forgiveness to Adam who learned the words of repentance referred to in Chapter 2, Verse 37, of the Koran. "Allah does not expose them to torture," for they are the security of the inhabitants of earth and mankind's means towards Him. They are the ones of whom people are jealous and about whom Allah says: "Should they feel jealous of them because Allah Has granted them His favours (4:54)"? They are the ones who are "deeply grounded in knowledge" about whom He says: "Those who are deeply grounded in knowledge say: `We believe (3:7)!'" They are the ones who will be upon the Heights and to whom Allah refers when he says, "Upon the Heights are men who know all by their marks (7:48)." They are the men of truth about whom He says: "Among the Believers are men who fulfilled their promise unto Allah; some of them have passed away, while others are waiting, and they have not changed in the least (33:23)." They are the ones who glorify Allah continuously. About them He has said: "He is Glorified in the early morning and during the night by men who are not divered, by either trade or selling, from mentioning Allah, the saying of prayers, or the paying of zakat: they fear the Day when hearts and sights are overturned (24:3637)." Their houses are the ones mentioned in Allah's verses saying: "In houses which Allah permitted to be elevated and His Name be recited therein." Allah has made their niche, in Surat An-Nur (24:35), an example for His own Light: Allah is the Light of the heavens and the earth. The parable of His Light is a niche, within it is a Lamp: the lamp is enclosed in glass; the glass is as (bright as) a brilliant star lit from a blessed tree, an olive, neither of the east nor of the west, whose oil is well-nigh luminous, though fire scarcely touches it: Light upon Light! Allah guides whom He will to His Light: Allah sets forth parables for men, and Allah knows all things. They are the foremost in accepting the faith and implementing it, and they are the nearest to Allah, as He indicates in Chapter 56, verses 10 and 11. They are those who testify to the Prophet's truthfulness (4:69). They are the martyrs and the virtuous. Regarding them and their followers has Allah said: "Among Our creation is a nation calling unto the right guidance through the truth, and they are most just therein" (7:181). Also, Allah has said the following about their party and about that of their enemies: "Inhabitants of the Fire are not equal to those of Paradise: inhabitants of Paradise are the victorious." About both parties He has also said: "Should We treat those who believe and do good deeds as We treat those who cause corruption on earth, or should We equal the virtuous to the corrupt (38:28)?" He has also said the following verse concerning both parties: "Do those who commit bad deeds surmise that We will treat them like We treat those who believe and do good deeds, in life and in death? Ill is their judgment." About them and their supporters He has said: "Those who believe and do good deeds are the best of creation (98:7)." About them and their adversaries Allah has said: "These are two opponents who differed regarding their Lord: those who disbelieve will be clothed with clothes of fire: boiling liquid shall be poured on their heads (22:19)." Regarding them and their enemy, Allah has revealed these verses: "Is this who has been a believer like unto him that who has been an evildoer? They are not equal. As for those who believe and do good deeds, their abode shall be Perpetual Gardens, a reward for their good deeds. As for those who cause corruption, their abode is Hell-fire; every time they want to get out of it, they are turned back into it and is said to them: `Taste the torment of the Fire in which you disbelieved (32:19 20).'" Concerning them and those who boasted of providing water for the pilgrims and looking after the Haram mosque, Allah has revealed this verse: "Do you count the providing of the pilgrims with water and the maintenance of the Haram mosque equal to (the value of) those who believe in Allah and the Last Day and fight in the Way of Allah? They are not equal in the eyes of Allah, and Allah does not lead the wrongdoers (9:19)." About their triumph in many trials and the magnitude of their patience, the Almighty says: "Among people is one who sells his life in return for Allah's Pleasure; Allah is Clement towards His servants (2:207)." Regarding their endeavour in the way of Allah and their toil, Allah has said: "Allah has traded the believers' lives for Paradise: they fight in the Way of Allah and they kill or get killed. It is His true Promise in the Torah, the Gospel and the Koran: who fulfils his promise better than Allah? Rejoice, therefore, for your bargain; that is the great victory. Those who turn (to Allah) in repentance, worship Him, and praise Him, wander in devotion to the Cause of Allah, bow down and prostrate in prayer, enjoin goodness and forbid evil, and observe the limits set by Allah (they do rejoice). So, proclaim the glad tidings to the Believers (9:112)." "Those who (in charity) spend of their possessions by night and by day, in secrecy and in public, have their reward with their Lord: on them there shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve (2:274)." They truly say only the truth. The Truthful Himself, blessed be His Name, has borne witness to that, saying: "Those who have brought forth the truth, believing therein, are indeed the Godfearing (39:33)." They are the faithful relatives of the Prophet his kinfolk, whom Allah Has chosen for His beautiful care and great attention, saying: "And warn your near in kin (26:214)." They are his relatives, and "Relatives have the priorities according to the Book of Allah" (8:75; see also 33:6). On Doomsday, they will ascend to his rank and join him in the perpetual gardens of felicity as witnessed by Allah's statement: Those who believe and whose families follow them in faith - to them shall We join their families: We shall never deprive them (of the fruit) of aught of their deeds, (yet) each is in pledge for his deeds. (52:21) They have the right dues as the Koran has stated: "And give the near in kin his dues (17:26)," and they have the fifth: nobody's responsibility will be cleared until he defrays it: "Know ye this: whatever ye obtain of spoils, its fifth goes to Allah, the Messenger, and the (Messenger's) kinfolk (8:41)." They are the ones upon whom Allah's favours have been bestowed as implied in this verse: "What Allah has bestowed on His Apostle - (and taken away) from them - for this ye made no expedition with either cavalry or camelry, but Allah gives power to His apostles over any He pleases, and Allah Has power over all things (59:7)." They are Ahlulbayt addressed by Allah thus: "Allah desires to remove all abomination from you, Ahlulbayt, and purify you with a perfect purification (33:33)." They are the family of Yasin whom Allah greets in the Glorious Koran thus: "Peace be unto the family of Yasin (37:130)." And they are the family of Muhammad upon whom greetings and peace have been enforced by Allah Who says: "Allah and His angels send greetings unto the Prophet: O ye who believe! Send greetings unto him and many salutations (33:56)." Some people asked "O Prophet! We know how to greet you with peace, but how can we greet you with prayers?" He answered, "Say: `O Allah! Send blessings unto Muhammad and the family of Muhammad,'" according to the hadith. It was then understood then that greeting them was part of the prayers enjoined by this verse. This is why learned men have included the verse quoted above among others in their praise. Ibn Hajar has listed it in part 11 of his Sawaiq Muhriqa among verses in their praise. A good resort for them and a good reward: Gardens of Eden with gates wide open to receive them. Who can compete with them? In the sun is meaning and heat, Parching, exerting the one who dares to compete. Allah has chosen them for His favours, and they are the ones who are faster than all others in doing good deeds; they inherit the Book of Allah; about them He has said the following therein: "Among men is one who wrongs his own self (by ignoring the Imams), and one who seeks righteousness (by following the Imams), and one who is faster than others in doing good deeds by the Will of Allah (who is the Imam himself): this indeed is Allah's great favour (35:32)." These verses, which demonstrate the Imams’ virtues and merits, must suffice. Ibn Abbas has said: "In praise of Ali alone, three hundred verses were revealed." Others say that one fourth of the Koran has been revealed in their praise. This comes as no surprise when we consider the fact that they and the Koran are twin brothers who do not separate from one another.
# I request you to reconsider what you have stated regarding those who turned away from Ahlulbayt , generalizing them about all Ahl al-Qibla. I remind you that half of Ahl al-Qibla are the Shias of Muhammad who have not turned away nor shall ever turn away from the Imams of Ahlulbaytin as far as the origins and branches of the faith are concerned. It is their view that following their sect is one of the strict commandments of the Book and the Sunnah; therefore, they worship Allah Almighty thus in every time and place. This is the way of their good ancestors as well as that of their posterity since the Prophet passed away.
3) Those who have turned away from the beliefs of Ahlulbaytin as far as the roots and branches of the creed are concerned are the nation's politicians, the ones who control its destiny, due to their turning away from the succession (to the Prophet), affecting such a succession by elections, although they knew for sure that it was assigned for the Imam Ali. They saw that the Arabs would not tolerate such a succession if restricted to one dynasty; therefore, they started interpreting its texts, assuming power through elections so that every suburb of theirs may enjoy it sooner or later. So, it was here and it was there. They sacrificed their means and might to keep it that way and support that principle, eradicating all contrary views and trends. Necessity forced them to turn away from the school of thought of Ahlulbayt . They started interpreting the texts of the Book or the Sunnah to mean the necessity of following such a concept. Had they yielded to the clear proofs, and referred the elite and the commoners to them in matters relevant to the roots and branches of religion, they would have found no alternative to adhering to their principle. They would have then become among the greatest callers to Ahlulbayt . But this did not agree with their ambition, scheme and politics. Whoever looks carefully in these matters will find out that turning away from the imams of Ahlulbaytin his sect is but turning away from their leadership, which was next only to that of the Prophet and that interpreting the arguments regarding their special leadership was adopted after interpreting the arguments regarding their general leadership; otherwise, nobody would have turned away from them.
4) Leave their texts and arguments alone, and look at them while overlooking the former; do you then find them, in their knowledge, deeds, or worship, less than Imam al-Ashari, or the other four Imams, or any others at all? And if the answer is No, then why should others be followed then? Leadership should be given to the most qualified.
5) Which just arbitrator decides that those who uphold their rope and follow into their footsteps are strayers? Sunnis are above passing such a judgment.
# Anyone who is acquainted with the biography of the holy Prophet especially researching his conduct while laying the foundations of the Islamic State and its legislative system, the establishment of its bases, the issuing of its codes and the organizing of its affairs on behalf of the Almighty Allah..., will find Ali the vizier of the Prophet his supporter against his foes, the custodian of his knowledge, the heir of his government, his vicegerent, and the one in charge after him. Whoever studies the statements and actions of the Prophet while at home or on a journey, will find his statements sequential in this regard from the beginning of his Call till his demise.
Refer to such statements at the dawn of the Call, before Islam was preached in Mecca publicly, when the Almighty revealed unto him the verse "And warn thy nearest tribe (26:214)." He invited them to the house of his uncle Abu Talib. They were forty men, more or less. Among them were his uncles Abu Talib, al-Hamzah, Abbas, and Abu Lahab. Sunnis in this regard sequentially report the hadith. At the conclusion of his statement to them, the Prophet said: "O descendants of Abdul-Muttlib! I swear by God that I know no youth among the Arabs who has brought his people something better than what I have brought you. I have brought you the best of this life and the life to come, and God has commanded me to call you towards Him. Therefore, who among you shall support me in this matter and be my brother, the executor of my will, and my successor?" All the listeners, with the exception of Ali, who was the youngest among them, kept silent. Ali responded by saying: "I, O Prophet, am willing to be your vizier in this matter." the Prophet then took Ali by the neck and said: "This is my brother, executor of my will and vizier; therefore, listen to him and obey him." Those present laughed and kept saying to Abu Talib: "Allah has commanded you to listen to your son, and to obey him!"
# The reason why both shaykhs [Bukhari and Muslim], and their likes, have not quoted this hadith is due to the fact that it did not agree with their own personal views regarding the issue of succession. This is why they have rejected a great deal of authentic texts for fear the Shias may use them as pretexts; therefore, they hid the truth knowingly. There are many Sunni shaykhs, may Allah forgive them, who have likewise hidden such texts, and they have in their method of hiding a well known history written down by al-Hafiz ibn Hajar in his Fath Al-Barari. Bukhari has assigned a special chapter for this theme at the conclusion of his chapter on "Al-`Ilm," in vol 1, page 25, of his Sahih, subtitled "A Chapter on Those Who Recognized the Knowledge of some People Rather than that of Others."
Whoever knows the way Bukhari thought, his own attitudes towards Imam Ali, and towards all Ahlulbayt , will come to know that Bukhari's pen falls short of narrating texts regarding them, and his ink dries up before recounting their attributes. He will not be surprised to see him rejecting this particular hadith as well as others similar to it.
# Sunnis rely on every correct hadith to confirm their concept of succession, be it mutawatir or not. We rely on the authenticity of this hadith in our argument against theirs simply because they themselves testify to its authenticity, thus binding themselves to what they have considered to be binding. Our own proof regarding succession from our viewpoint depends on its tawatur from our own sources, as is obvious to everyone.
# Suffices you, besides the hadith of the Household, what Ahmed bin Hanbal has indicated in vol 1 of his book Musnad, and Thahbi in his Concise, who both admit its authenticity, as well as other authors of the sunan from generally accepted avenues. They all quote Umar ibn Maymun saying: "I was sitting once in the company of Ibn Abbas when nine men came to him and said `O Ibn Abbas! Either come to debate with us, or tell these folks that you prefer a private debate.' He had not lost his eye-sight yet. He said: `I rather debate with you.' So they started talking, but I was not sure exactly what they were talking about. Then he stood up and angrily said: `They are debating about a man who has ten merits nobody else ever had. They are arguing about a man whom the holy Prophet has said, `I shall dispatch a man whom Allah shall never humiliate, one who loves Allah and His Messenger and who is loved by both,' so each one of them thought to him such an honour belonged. The holy Prophet inquired about Ali. When the latter came unto him, with his eyes swelling in ailment, he blew in his eyes, shook the standard thrice and gave it to him. Ali came back victorious with Safiyya bint Huyay [al-Akhtab] among his captives.'" Ibn Abbas proceeded to say, "Then the Prophet sent someone with surat al-Tawbah, but he had to send Ali after him to discharge the responsibility, saying: `Nobody can discharge it except a man who is of me, and I am of him.'" Ibn Abbas also said, "the Prophet with Ali sitting beside him, asked his cousins once: `Who among you elects to be my wali in this life and the life hereafter?' They all declined, but Ali said: `I would like to be your wali in this life and the life to come,' whereupon he responded by saying: `You are, indeed, my wali in this life and the life hereafter.'" Ibn Abbas continues to say that Ali was the first person to accept Islam after Khadija, and that the Prophet took his own robe and put it over Ali, Fatima, Hasan and Husayn, then recited the verse saying: "Allah wishes to remove all abomination from you, O Ahlulbayt[my household] and purify you with a perfect purification (33:33)." He has also said: "Ali bought his own soul. He put on the Prophet's garment and slept in his bed when the infidels sought to murder him," till he says: "the Prophet went on Tabuk expedition accompanied by many people. Ali asked him: `May I join you?' the Prophet refused, whereupon Ali wept. The Prophet then asked him: `Does it not please you that your status to me is similar to that of Harun's to Moses, except there is no Prophet after me? It is not proper for me to leave this place before assigning you as my vicegerent.' the Prophet has also said the following to him: `You are the wali of every believing man and woman.'" Ibn Abbas has said: "the Prophet closed down all doors leading to his mosque except that of Ali who used to enter the mosque on his way out even while in the state of sexual uncleanliness. The Prophet has also said: `Whoever accepts me as the wali, let him/her take Ali as the wali, too.'" As a matter of fact, Hakim, having counted the sources from which he quoted this hadith, comments by saying, "This is an authentic hadith according to isnad, yet both shaykhs did not narrate it this way." Thahbi has quoted it in his Talkhis and described it as an authentic hadith.
2) Clear and irrefutable proofs highlight the fact that Ali was the Prophet's vicegerent. Have you noticed how the Prophet has named him wali in this life and the life to come, thus favouring him over all his kin, and how he regarded his status to himself as similar to that of Harun to Moses, without any exception other than Prophethood, and exception which reflects generality? You also know that what distinguished Harun from Moses was mostly his being the vizier of his brother, his de facto participation in his brother's Message, his vicegerency, and the enforcement by Moses of people's obedience to Harun as his statement, to which references is included in the Koran (20:29-32), and which clearly says: "And let my brother Harun, from among my household, be my vizier, to support me and take part in my affair," and his statement: "Be my own representative among my people; reform them, and do not follow the path of corrupters (7:142)," and the Almighty's response: "O Moses! Granted is your prayer (20:36)." According to this text, Ali is the Prophet's vicegerent among his people, his vizier among his kin, his partner in his undertaking - not in Prophethood - his successor, the best among his people, and the most worthy of their leadership alive or dead. They owed him obedience during the Prophet's lifetime as the Prophet's vizier, just as Harun's people had to obey Harun during the lifetime of Moses. Whoever becomes familiar with the status hadith will immediately consider its deep implications without casting any doubt at the gist of its context. The Prophet has made this very clear when he said: "It is not proper for me to leave this place before assigning you as my vicegerent." It is a clear text regarding his succession; nay, it even suggests that had the Prophet left without doing so, he would have done something he was not supposed to have done. This is so only because he was commanded by the Almighty to assign him as his own successor according to the meaning of the verse saying "O Messenger! Convey that which has been revealed unto you from your Lord, and if you do not do it, then you have not conveyed His Message at all (5:67)." Anyone who examines the phrase "then you have not conveyed His Message at all," then examines the Prophet's statement: "It is not proper for me to leave this place before assigning you as my vicegerent," will find them both aiming at the same conclusion, as is quite obvious. We should also not forget the Prophet's hadith saying: "You are the wali of every believer after me." It is a clear reference to the fact that he is the Prophet's wali and the one who takes his place, as al-Kumait, may Allah have mercy on his soul, has implied when he said: "A great Vicegerent, a fountain-head of piety, an educator!"
# One of its sources is the discourse of the Prophet with Umm Salim, a woman of lengthy achievements, a woman of wisdom who enjoyed a special prestigious status with the Prophet due to being among the foremost in accepting Islam, and because of her sincerity, contributions, and sacrifices in the cause of Islam. The Prophet used to visit her and talk to her at her own house. One day, he said to her: "O Umm Salim (mother of Salim)! Ali's flesh is of mine, and his blood is of my own; he is to me like Harun to Moses." It is obvious that this hadith is only an excerpt of his lengthy hadith which is stated for the purpose of conveying the truth and providing advice for the sake of Allah in order to highlight the status of his vicegerent, the one who would take his own place (of responsibility) once he is gone, and it cannot be confined to the Battle of Tabuk.
2) A similar hadith was made in the case of Hamzah's daughter in whose regard Ali, Jafar and Zayd disputed. The Prophet said then: "O Ali! You are to me like Harun to Moses, etc."
3) Another incident occurred when Abu Bakr, Umar, and Abu Ubayda ibn al-Jarrah were in the company of the Prophet who was leaning on Ali. The Prophet patted Ali's shoulder and said: "O Ali! You are the strongest among the believers in faith, the first (man) to embrace Islam, and your status to me is similar to that of Harun to Moses."
4) The ahadith narrated during the First Fraternity also include this text. These were made in Mecca prior to the migration, when the Prophet consummated brotherhood among the emigrants in particular.
5) On the occasion of the Second Fraternity, while in Medina, five months after the migration, the Prophet made fraternity between the emigrants (Muhajirun) and the supporters (Ansar). In both events, he chose Ali as his brother, thus preferring him over all others, saying to him: "You are to me like Harun to Moses except there will be no Prophet after me." Narrations in this regard are consecutively reported. Refer to what others state about the First Fraternity such as the hadith narrated by Zayd ibn Abu Awfah. Ahmed bin Hanbal has included it in his book Manaqib Ali, Ibn `Asakir in his Tarikh, Baghwi and Tabrani in their Mujma`s, Barudi in his Al-Ma`rifa, by Ibn Adi and others. The hadith under discussion is quite lengthy, and it contains guidelines about how to establish brotherhood. It ends with: "Ali said: `O Prophet! My soul has expired, and my spine has been broken, having seen what you have done for your companions while leaving me alone. If this is a sign of your anger with me, then I complain only to you and beg your pardon.' the Prophet said: `I swear by the One Who sent me to convey the truth about Him, I have not spared you except for my own self. You are to me like Harun to Moses, except there will be no Prophet after me. You are my Brother, heir and companion.' Ali asked him: `What shall I inherit from you?' He answered: `Whatever Prophets before me left for those who inherited them: the Book of their Lord, and the Sunnah of their Prophet. You will be my companion in my house in Paradise together with my daughter Fatima. You are my Brother and Companion.' Then he recited the verse: `They are brethren seated conveniently facing each other,'" referring to the brethren whose hearts Allah has joined in affection who look at each other with sincere compassion. Refer also to the events of the Second Fraternity. Tabrani, in his Al-Tafsir Al-Kabir, quotes Ibn Abbas reporting one hadith stating that the Prophet said to Ali: "Are you angry because I have established brotherhood between the Ansar and the Muhajirun and have not selected a brother for you from among them? Are you not pleased that your status to me is like that of Harun to Moses, except there will be no Prophet after me?"
6) The same hadith was also said when the companions' doors overlooking the Prophet's mosque in Medina were ordered closed except that of Ali. Jabir ibn Abdullah quotes the Prophet saying: "O Ali! It is permissible for you to do at this mosque whatever is permissible for me, and you are to me like Harun to Moses, except there will be no Prophet after me." Huthayfah ibn `Asid al-Ghifari has said that the Prophet once delivered a khutba on the occasion of closing those doors in which he said: "There are some men who have disliked that I got them out of the mosque while keeping Ali. Allah inspired to Moses and his brother to reside with their people in Egypt and make their homes a qibla and say their prayers," till he said: "Ali to me is like Harun to Moses. He is my Brother, and none of you is allowed to cohabit therein other than he." The sources of this hadith are numerous, and they cannot all be counted in a brief reply like this, yet I hope that what I have stated here suffices to falsify the claim that the status hadith is confined only to the Battle of Tabuk. How much can such a claim weigh in the light of abundance of sources of this hadith?
7) Anyone who is familiar with the biography of the Prophet will find him describing Ali and Harun as the two bright stars arranged alike, neither one differing from the other.
# You will find Prophet describing Ali and Harun as two bright stars in the heart of the skies, the eyes positioned in the face, neither of them is distinguished in his nation from the other.
1) Have you noticed how he had insisted that Ali should name his sons just like Harun did, calling them Hasan, Husayn, and Muhsin? He has said: "I have named them after Harun's sons, Shabar, Shubayr, and Mushbir," intending thereby to emphasize the similarity between himself and Harun, and generalizing such a similarity in all areas and aspects.
2) For the same reason, Ali has cherished his brother and favoured him over all others, thus achieving the goal of generalizing the similarity of both Haruns to their respective brothers, making sure that there must be no difference between them. He created brotherhood among his companions, as stated above, making, in the first incident, Abu Bakr brother of Umar, and Uthman brother of Abdul-Rahman ibn Awf. In the Second Fraternity, Abu Bakr became brother of Kharijah ibn Zayd, and Umar was made brother of Atban ibn Malik. Yet on both occasions, Ali was made brother of the Prophet as you have come to know. There is no room here to quote all verified texts citing Ibn Abbas, Ibn Umar, Zayd ibn Arqam, Zayd ibn Abu Awfah, Anas ibn Malik, Huthayfah ibn al-Yemani, Makhduj ibn Yazid, Umar ibn al-Khattab, al-Bara' ibn Azib, Ali ibn Abu Talib, and others narrating this hadith as such. The Prophet has also said to Ali: "You are my Brother in this life and the life hereafter." In one reply, we stated how he took Ali by the neck, saying: "This is my Brother, vicegerent and successor among you; therefore, listen to him and obey him." He came out to meet his companions with a broad smile on his face. Abdul-Rahman ibn Awf asked him what pleased him so much. He answered: "It is due to a piece of good news which I have just received from my Lord regarding my brother and cousin, and also regarding my daughter. The Almighty has chosen Ali a husband fot Fatima." When the Mistress of all women of the world was wed to the master of the Prophet's progeny, the Prophet said: "O Umm Ayman! Bring me my brother." Umm Ayman asked: "He is your brother, and you still marry him to your daughter?!" He said: "Yes, indeed, Umm Ayman." She called Ali in. Quite often, the Prophet used to point to Ali and say: "This is my brother, cousin, son-in-law, and father of my descendants." Once he spoke to him and said: "You are my brother and companion." In another occasion, he said to him: "You are my brother, friend, and companion in Paradise." He once addressed him in a matter that was between him, his brother Jafar, and Zayd ibn Harithah, saying: "O Ali! You are, indeed, my brother and the father of my descendants. You are of me and for me." He made a covenant with him once saying: "You are my brother and vizier; you complete my religion, fulfill my promise, pay my debts on my behlf, and clear my conscience." When death approached him, may both my parents be sacrificed for him, he said: "Fetch me my brother." They called Ali in. He said to him: "Come close to me." Ali did. He kept whispering in his ears till his pure soul departed from his body. Ali even caught some of the Prophet's saliva. the Prophet has also said: "It is written on the gate of Paradise: `There is no god but Allah, Muhammad is the Prophet, Ali is the Brother of the Prophet.'" The Almighty, when the Prophet left Ali sleeping in his bed while the enemies were outside plotting to murder him, addressed Gabriel and Michael thus: "I have created brotherhood between both of you and let the life-span of one of you be longer than that of the other. Which one of you wishes to have the life of the other be longer than his own?" Each held his own life dearer. The Almighty said: "Why can't you be like Ali ibn Abu Talib between whom and Muhammad I have created brotherhood, and he has chosen to sleep in Muhammad's bed, offering to sacrifice his own life for his brother? Go down to earth and protect him from his foes." They both came down. Gabriel stood at Ali's head while Michael stood at his feet. Gabriel cried: "Congratulations! Congratulations! Who can be like you, O son of Abu Talib? Even Allah brags about you to His angels!" Regarding that incident, the verse "And there are among men those who trade their own lives for the Pleasure of Allah (2:207)" was revealed. Ali himself is quoted saying: "I am the servant of Allah and the Brother of His Messenger. I am the strongest in believing in the Prophet. Nobody else can say so except a liar." He has also said: "By Allah! I am his Brother and wali, his cousin and the inheritor of his knowledge; who else is more worthy of it than me?" On the Day of Shura, he said to Uthman, Abdul-Rahman, Saad, and al-Zubayr: "Do you know of anyone among the Muslims other than myself with whom the Prophet established Brotherhood?" They answered: "We bear witness, no." When Ali stood to duel with al-Walid during the Battle of Badr, the latter asked him: "Who are you?" Ali answered: "I am the servant of Allah and the brother of His Messenger." When Umar was caliph, Ali asked him: "Suppose some Israelites come to you and one of them told you that he was cousin of Moses, would he receive a preferred treatment than the others?" Umar answered: "Yes, indeed." Ali said: "I, by Allah, am the brother of the Prophet and his cousin." Umar took off his mantle and spread it for Ali to sit on, saying: "By Allah, you will sit nowhere else other than on my own mantle till each one of us goes his way." Ali did so while Umar was pleased by that gesture of respect for the brother and cousin of the Prophet as long as he was in his company.
3) Well, I seem to have lost control over my pen. The Prophet ordered the doors of his companions' houses overlooking the mosque to be closed for good, as a measure to protect the mosque's sanctity against sexual uncleanliness or impuritiy, but he allowed Ali's door to remain open, permitting him to cross the mosque's courtyard even while being in the state of sexual uncleanliness, just as Harun was permitted to do, thus providing another proof for the similarity of positions of both men in their respective creeds and nations. Ibn Abbas has said: "the Prophet ordered all the doors of his companions closed except that of Ali who used to enter even while in the state of sexual uncleanliness, having no other way out." Umar ibn al-Khattab has narrated an authentic hadith which has been reproduced in both sahih books wherein he says: "Ali ibn Abu Talib was granted three tokens of prestige; had I had one of them, it would have been dearer to me than all red camels: his wife Fatima daughter of the Prophet, his residence at the mosque neighbouring the Prophet and feeling at home therein, and the standard during the Battle of Khaibar." Saeed ibn Malik, as quoted in an authentic hadith, once mentioned a few unique merits of Ali and said: "the Prophet turned out everyone from the mosque, including his uncle Abbas and others. Abbas asked him: `Why do you turn us out and keep Ali?' He answered: `It is not I who has turned you out and kept Ali. It is Allah who has turned you out while keeping him.'" Zayd ibn Arqam has said: "A few companions of the Prophet used to have the doors of their houses overlooking the mosque. The Prophet then said: `Close down all these doors except Ali's.' Some people did not like it, and they talked about it. So, the Prophet stood one day, praised the Almighty then said: `I have ordered these doors to be closed save Ali's, and some of you have disliked that. I have not closed down a door nor opened it, nor gave any order, except after being commanded by my Lord to do so.'" Quoting Ibn Abbas, Tabrani has said that the Prophet stood up once and said: "I have not turned you out acting on my own personal desire, nor have I left a door open out of my own personal preference. I only follow whatever inspiration I receive from my Lord." And the Prophet said once to Ali: "O Ali! It is not permissible for anybody other than your own self to be present [in the mosque] while being in the state of sexual uncleanliness." Saad ibn Abu Waqqas, al-Bara' ibn `Azib, Ibn Abbas, Ibn Umar, and Huthayfah ibn al-Yemani, have all said: "the Prophet came out to the mosque once and said: `Allah inspired to his Prophet Moses to build Him a pure mosque in which nobody other than Moses and Harun would live. Allah has inspired to me to build a sanctified mosque wherein only I and my brother Ali are permitted to sleep.'" There is no room here to state all the ascertained texts narrated by Ibn Abbas, Abu Saeed al-Khudri, Zayd ibn Arqam, a companion from the tribe of Khath`am, Asma' bint `Amis, Ume Salma, Huthayfah ibn Asid, Saad ibn Abu Waqqas, al-Bara' ibn `Azib, Ali ibn Abu Talib, Umar, Abdullah ibn Umar, Abu Zar al-Ghifari, Abul Tufail, Buraydah al-Aslami, Abu Rafi, freed slave of the Prophet, Jabir ibn Abdullah al-Ansari, and others have all narrated the same hadith. It is also well known that the Prophet invoked the Almighty once saying: "O Lord! The my brother Moses had prayed you saying: `Lord! Remove depression from my chest, untie my tongue's knot so that people may understand my speech, and let my brother Harun be my vizier from among my household to support me in my undertaking and participate therein,' and you, Lord, responded with: `We shall support you through your brother and bestow upon you a great authority (28:35).' Lord! I am your servant Muhammad; therefore, I invoke you to remove depression from my chest, to make my undertaking easier to carry out, and to let Ali be my brother from among my household." Bazzaz has likewise indicated that the Prophet took Ali's hand and said: "Moses had prayed his Lord to purify His mosque through Harun, and I have prayed my Lord to purify mine through you." He then sent a messenger to Abu Bakr ordering him to close down his door which overlooked the mosque, and Abu Bakr responded expressing his desire to honour the Prophet's command. Then he sent another messenger to Umar to do likewise, and another to Abbas for the same purpose. Then he said: "It is not I who has closed down your doors, nor have I kept Ali's door open out of my own accord; rather, it is Allah Who has opened his door and closed yours."
# Refer to what Abu Dawud al-Tayalisi has reported, as stated in a chapter discussing Ali in Isti`ab through the authority of Ibn Abbas who is quoted saying: "the Prophet has said to Ali ibn Abu Talib: `You are next to me alone as the wali of every believer.'"
2) Another authentic hadith is narrated by `Umran ibn Hasin who says: "the Prophet deployed an army division under the command of Ali ibn Abu Talib who chose, as his share of the khums, a slave-girl for himself, and people criticized him. Four men vowed to complain against him to the Prophet. When they came to the Prophet, one of them stood up and said: `O Prophet! Have you seen how Ali has done such and such?' The Prophet turned his face away from him. The second stood up and spoke likewise, and the Prophet ignored him, too. The third stood up and repeated what his fellows had previously stated, and he, too, was ignored. The fourth one stood up and stated exactly as had been stated by his fellows. It was then that the Prophet turned to them with anger in his eyes and said: `What do you want of Ali? Ali is of me and I am of him, and only after me is he the mawla of all believers.'"
3) Also refer to Buraydah's hadith quoted verbatim on page 356 of vol 5 of Ahmed's Musnad. He says: "the Prophet sent two armies to Yemen. One of them was led by Ali ibn Abu Talib, and the other by Khalid bin Walid. He instructed them thus: `When you combine your forces, let Ali be the ovrall leader. But if you disperse, then each one of you is the leader over his own troops.' We then battled Banu Zubayda, and Ali selected one of the captives, a slave-girl, for himself; so, Khalid and I wrote to the Prophet to inform him of the incident. When I came to the Prophet and the reply was read for him, I noticed anger in his eyes; therefore, I pleaded to him by saying: `This is the place for those who seek refuge; you have sent me with a commander and ordered me to obey him, and I have done just that.' the Prophet said: `Do not ever plot against Ali, for he is of me and I am of him, and he is your wali after me.'" Nisai has quoted the following words of the Prophet verbatim on page 17 of his Khasais al Alawiyyah: "O Buraydah! Do not try to make me dislike Ali, for Ali is of me, and I am of him, and he is your wali after me." Jarir, too, quotes Buraydah's statement verbatim thus: "The Prophet's face became red with anger, and he said: `To whomsoever I have been mawla, Ali is his mawla;' therefore, I forgot my own anger against Ali and said that I would never speak ill of Ali again." Tabrani, too, has quoted this hadith in detail. Among what he narrates is that when Buraydah came from Yemen and entered the mosque, he found a crowd standing by the room of the Prophet. Upon seeing him, they stood up to greet him and ask him what news he had brought them. He said: "Good news. Allah has rendered victory upon the Muslims." They asked him: "Then what brought you here?" He answered: "An incident regarding a slave-girl whom Ali chose as his share of the khums, and I have come here to inform the Prophet about it." They said: "Inform him of it, do inform him, so that he may change his heart about Ali," while the Prophet was standing overhearing their conversation from within. He, thereupon, came out angrily and said: "What is the matter with those who bear grudge against Ali? Whoever hates Ali hates me, too, and whoever abandons Ali abandons me. Ali is of me and I am of him; he has been created of my own mould, and my own mould is Ibrahim's (Abraham's), and I am even superior to Ibrahim, one progeny descending from another, and Allah is all-Hearing, all-Knowing. O Buraydah! Have you not come to know that Ali's share is a lot more than the slave-girl he took, and that he is your wali after me?" - There is no doubt about the authenticity of this hadith, and its narrators are quite numerous, and they are all reliable.
4) Similar to this narration is what Hakim has narrated from Ibn Abbas who cites a particular hadith of weight and significance. In it he counts ten exclusive attributes of Ali, and he quotes the Prophet addressing Ali thus: "You are the wali of every believer after me."
5) Likewise, in another hadith, he has said, "O Ali! I have prayed Allah to grant me five wishes concerning you, and He granted me four and denied the fifth." He continues to say: "He has granted me that you are the wali of the believers after me."
6) A similar hadith is transmitted by Ibn al-Sakan from Wahab ibn Hamzah and is quoted in Wahab's biography in Isti`ab thus: "I travelled once with Ali and found him to be cold towards me; therefore, I decided to complain bout him to the Prophet upon returning. So I mentioned him to the Prophet and I spoke ill of him, whereupon he said: `Do not say so about Ali, for he is your wali after me.'" Tabrani, in his book Al-Mujma` al-Kabir, cites Wahab's statement with a minor alteration in its wording thus: "Do not say this about Ali, for he is the most worthy of being your leader after me."
7) Ibn Abu `Asim has quoted Ali's hadith from the Prophet through a chain of narrators thus: "Do I not have more authority over the believers than they themselves have?" People answered in the affirmative. The Prophet then said: "To whomsoever I have been wali, Ali is his wali;" and our sahih books in this regard are mutawatir from the Imams of the Purified Progeny.
This much should suffice to prove our point, although ayat al-wilayat alone suffices to support our claim, and praise be to Allah, Lord of the Worlds.
Letter # 2 - Shias often use the word "wali" as mentioned in the Koran. To Sunnis, the word "wali" means supporter and friend, the loved one, the follower, the ally, and the neighbour. Whoever takes charge of a matter is its "wali." The ahadith you have qouted may simply mean: Ali is your supporter, or friend, or loved one, after the Prophet.
Reply # 2:
# You have indicated, while explicating the meanings of "wali," that whoever takes charge of anyone becomes the latter's wali. This, indeed, is the connotation of "wali" in as far as those ahadith are concerned. It is the same that comes to mind. Its meaning is similar to saying "The minor has had for his wali both his father and his paternal grandfather, then he was put in the custody of either of them, then in the custody of the legal administrator." This implies that these persons are the ones who are in charge of looking after him and administer his affairs on his own behalf.
2) The proofs testifying to the meaning connoted in the word concealed from the discreet. His statement "And he is your wali after me" clearly restricts "wilayat" to him and only him. This mandates that we should underscore the meaning which we have just attached to this word, a meaning which does not agree with that of any other interpretation. Support, love, friendship, and the like are not confined to one single person, and the believers, men and women, are walis of one another. What merit, other than what we have just indicated, could the Prophet have emphasized in this hadith regarding his brother and wali if we say that the meaning of the word wali is something else that differs from what we have indicated above? What a hidden matter has the Prophet decided to unveil through the medium of such ahadith had the meaning of "wali" been the supporter, the loved one, or the like? the Prophet is above clarifying what is already clear, or pointing out what is already taken for granted. His wisdom is vast, his infallibility is incumbent, his Message is conclusive and is more than what some people think. Yet these ahadith are quite clear in stating that wilayat is assigned for Ali after the Prophet. This, too, requires applying the same meaning which we have suggested. It simply is not conducive to the meanings of supporter, loved one, etc., since there is no doubt that Ali is known to have been supported, loved, and befriended by Muslims due to his being raised in the lap of prophethood, to his contributions to the promotion of its message, till he passed away. Supporting, loving and befriending the Muslims, therefore, are not confined to Ali alone after the Prophet as is quite obvious. Suffices you for a testimony to this meaning what Ahmed bin Hanbal has stated on page 347 of vol 5 of his Musnad through the correct path of narrators who cite Saeed ibn Jubayr quoting Ibn Abbas citing Buraydah saying: "I participated in Ali's invasion of Yemen, and I found him to be cool to me; so, when I came to the Prophet I mentioned Ali and belittled him; thereupon, I saw the Messenger's face changing colour, and he asked me: `O Buraydah! Do I not have more authority over the believers than the believers have over their own selves?' I answered: `Yes, indeed, O Prophet'. He then said: `To whomsoever I have been mawla, Ali, too, is his mawla." This hadith is also quoted by Hakim on page 110, vol 3, of his Mustadrak, where he considers it authentic relying on the authority of Muslim. Thahbi has quoted it in his Talkhis, taking its authenticity for granted for the same reason thatbe Muslim, too, considers it authentic. You yourself know the implication the introductory question "Do I not have more authority over the believers than they themselves have?"
# I would like to recite unto you one of the perfect verses of Allah in His great Book which distinguishes right from wrong. It is one of the verses of Surat al Maida (Table of Viands): Only Allah is your wali and His Messenger and those who believe, those who say their prayers and offer zakat (even) while prostrating (in prayers). And whoever takes for wali Allah, His Messenger, and the believers, they, indeed, are the party of Allah; they are the ones who shall achieve victory. (5:55-56) Nobody doubts the fact that these verses were revealed in honour of Ali who offered his own ring in the way of Allah while engaged in performing the prayers.
2) The sahih books consecutively report, through the authority of the Imams from among the Purified Progeny, stating that it was revealed in honour of Ali when he, out of charity, offered his ring while prostrating in prayers. Refer to what has been said in this regard by others such as Ibn Salam who quotes hadith from the Prophet. Refer to it as published in Nisai's Sahih, or in Al-Jami Bayna al-Sihah al-Sittah, in a chapter dealing with the interpretation of Surat al Maida. Likewise, refer to the hadith of Ibn Abbas who explains the meanings of these verses in imam al-Wahidi's book Asbab al-Nuzul. Al-Khatib has included it in Al-Muttafaq. Also refer to Ali's hadith in the musnads of Ibn Mardawayh and Abul-Shaykh. If you wish, refer to it in Kanz al-Ummal. Its revelation to honour Ali is a matter of consensus among scholars of the exegesis of the Koran. Such consensus is attested to by many Sunni scholars like Imam al-Qawshaji in his chapter on imamate in Sharh al Tajrid. Chapter 18 of Ghayat al-Maram includes one hadith narrated through the Sunnis testifying to our claim. Had I not aspired to be brief, in addition to the fact that this issue is as clear as the sun in midday, I would have quoted for you many comments thereupon in authentic chronicles, but, praise to Allah, it is a matter which does not entertain any doubt. Despite that, we do not like to let reply be without a few ahadith narrated by the majority of Muslims. Suffices us what Thalabi has stated in his Al-Tafsir al-Kabir. When the writer comes to this verse, he quotes Abu Zar al-Ghifari saying:
"I have heard the Prophet with these ears - may I be deaf if I tell a lie - and saw him with these eyes - may I be blinded if I lie - saying: Ali is the leader of the pious, the annihilator of infidels; whoever supports him is supported by Allah, and whoever abandons him is abandoned by Allah.' I have, indeed, said my prayers once in the company of the Prophet when a beggar came to the mosque and nobody gave him anything. Ali was in the state of ceremonial prostration when he beckoned to him to take his ring. The beggar came and took it from Ali's finger, whereupon the Prophet invoked Allah and prayed Him on behalf of Ali saying: `Lord! My Brother Moses had prayed to you saying: Lord! Remove the distress from my bosom, render my mission easy for me, and untie my tongue's knot so that people may understand me, and let me have a vizier from my own kin, my brother Harun, to support my endeavour and participate in my undertaking, so that we may both praise you a great deal and mention your Name a great deal; You have been most Kind unto us (20:25-35);-thereupon, You inspired to him: Verily, your prayer has been granted, O Moses! (20:36). Lord! I am Your servant and Prophet; therefore, remove my distress, render my mission easy for me, and grant me a vizier from my kin, Ali, to support my endeavour'. By Allah, the Prophet had hardly finished his supplication before Gabriel the truthful brought him this verse: `Only Allah is your wali and His Messenger and those who believe, those who say their prayers and offer zakat (even) while prostrating (in prayers). And whoever takes for wali Allah, His Messenger, and the believers, they, indeed, are the party of Allah; they are the ones who shall achieve victory (5:55-56).'"
3) You, may Allah support righteousness through your own person, know that the meaning of the word "wali" in such a context is "one who has the top priority in faring with one's affairs." We say "Such and such is the minor's wali." Lexicographers have made it clear that whoever takes charge of someone's affairs is the latter's wali. The meaning of the verse, therefore, is as though Allah says that "the ones who take charge of your affairs and have priority even over your own lives in faring with the latter are: Allah, His Messenger, and Ali," for in Ali alone have all these qualities been combined: faith, saying the prayers, and offering zakat even while prostrating in prayers, and for whom these verses were thus revealed. The Almighty has in these verses reserved wilayat for Himself and for both His Messenger and wasi in the same manner. The wilayat of Allah is general and inclusive. So is the wilayat of the Prophet as well as his wali; it carries the same meaning. It is not possible to apply to it in this context the meanings of "supporter, loved one, etc.," since such a restriction is groundless, as is quite obvious.
# Arabs apply the plural expression while addressing an individual due to the nice effect it produces.
2) A testimony to this fact is what the Almighty says in Surat Ale Imran: Those to whom some people said: "A large army has been raised against you; so, fear them," yet it only increased their faith, and they said: "Allah suffices us, and He is the One upon Whom we depend most." (3:173) The person implied in these verses of Ale Imran is none other than Naim ibn Mas`ud al-Ashja`i, according to the consensus of scholars of exegesis, traditionists, and chroniclers. Yet Allah Almighty has applied to him, the singular person that he is, the plural form just to express respect for those who did not listen to his statements nor heeded his dissuading calls. Abu Sufyan had given him ten camels in order to demoralize and frighten the Muslims regarding the strength of the polytheists, and he did just that. Among his statements then was: "People have gathered a mighty force to attack you; so, fear for your own lives." Many Muslims disliked the idea of fighting that force just because of his statement, but the Prophet came out accompanied by seventy cavaliers to meet them, and they all returned from the battle-field safely, whereupon this verse was revealed praising the seventy believers who came out with the Prophet heedless to the dissuasion of those who wished to demoralize them. In applying the word "people" for just one individual, a nice and divine point is made which is complimenting the seventy men who came out with the Prophet. This surely sounds more eloquent when used as such; it is better than saying: "Those to whom a man said that a large army had been raised..., etc.," as is obvious. There are numerous verses in the Koran similar to this one, as well as in the Arabic language as a whole. The Almighty Allah says: "O you who believe! Remember Allah's blessing unto you when some folks intended to lay their (evil) hands upon you, and He protected you against their harm." In fact, the person who intended to lay his evil hands upon them and hurt them was a man from the tribe of Muharib named Ghawrath - others say it was Amr ibn Jahsh of Banu al Nadir - who unsheathed his sword and shook it intending to strike the Holy Prophet but Allah foiled his attempt, according to the narration of the incident as recorded by traditionists, authors of chronicles, and scholars of exegesis, and as transmitted by Ibn Hisham in the campaign of That al Riqa' in vol 3 of his book titled Sirah. Allah has applied the collective plural "people" for this lone man just to express His blessings upon the Muslim masses manifested in the safety of the Prophet. In the Mubahala verse, He has applied both the singular and the plural forms to the "sons," "women," and "selves" to both the Hasanain, Fatima, and Ali in particular, just to honour to their lofty status, may Allah be pleased with them. Examples for the application of the plural form for the individual wherever necessary are innumerable and beyond recounting, and they all prove the license to use the plural form while talking about one individual whenever there is a nice eloquent effect thereto.
3) In his interpretation of this verse, in Mujma`ul Bayan fi Tafsir al-Koran, Imam al-Tibrisi comments on the usage of the plural form to refer to Imam Ali as a token of respect and veneration, stating that lexicographers describe the singular using the plural form to show respect and veneration. He says: "Sucn an application is too well known in their language to require proofs."
4) In his Kashshaf, al-Zamakhshari mentions another nice point when he says: "If you wonder how it can be accurate to use the plural with Ali, may Allah be pleased with him, I will tell you that he is addressed in the plural form, although he is only one man, so that people may follow his example and earn rewards like his, and so that Allah may point out the fact that a believer's attitude should be like Ali's, that is, being eager to do deeds of righteousness and goodwill by looking after the poor, so much so that even the performance of something which does not permit any delay, such as saying the prayers, should not make them postpone it till they are through."
5) I personally have a nice and more precise point. When the Almighty applied the plural rather than the singular form, as many do, then those who hated Ali as well as all those who were envious of and in competition with Banu Hashim would not be able to tolerate hearing it in the singular form, for they would then be unable to hide the truth or water it down. Because of their desperation, they might even do something quite harmful to Islam. It is quite possible that it was for this reason that the verse was revealed in the plural form though applied to the singular: in order to avoid the harm resulting from disgracing those folks. The verses after that particular one vary in form and status, gradually preparing them for wilayat, till Allah perfected His religion and completed His blessing, as was his usual habit and that of the wise in attaining what otherwise is quite difficult to attain. Had the verse come in the singular form, those folks would have then put their fingers in their ears, covered themselves with their own clothes and become stubborn, arrogant, and naughty. This is a sublime wisdom manifested in all the verses of the Koran which were revealed to highlight the attributes of Imam Ali and those among his purified household, as is quite obvious. We have explained these statements and brought irrefutable proofs and obvious testimonies in our books Sabil al-Muminin and Tanzil al-Ayat.
Letter # 3 - The Koranic context denotes the prohibition of taking the infidels for walis. The verses which precede and succeed it testify to this fact, and this supports the claim that the connotation of the word "wali" in this verse is the supporter, loved one, friend, or the like.
Reply # 3:
# Here is my answer: This verse, if one were to scrutinize it, overlooking the verses which precede it and which prohibit taking the infidels for walis, does not connote praising Imam Ali or recommending him for leadership and imamate by threatening dissidents with his might or by warning them against being punished by him. This is so because in the preceding verse, if and when scrutinized independently, Allah Almighty states: "O ye who believe! If anyone of you relinquishes his religion, then Allah will raise a people whom He loves and who love Him, soft-hearted with the believers, mighty against the unbelievers, struggling in His Path, not fearing anyone while doing so. This, indeed, is Allah's favour; He grants it to whomsoever He pleases, and Allah is vast in knowledge (5:54)." This verse is revealed on behalf of Imam Ali, warning others of his might and that of his followers, as Imam Ali has himself stated on the Battle of the Camel and is stated by Imams al-Baqir and al-Sadiq. The same meaning is applied by al-Thalabi in his Tafsir al-Koran. The author of Muj’maul Bayan fi Tafsir al-Koran from Ammar, Huthayfah, and Ibn Abbas also narrates it. It is interpreted in this way according to the consensus of Shias who narrate it consecutively from the Imams of the Purified Progeny. The verse of the wilayat will thus come after hinting to his wilayat and referring to the necessity of accepting his imamate. Its context would then be an explanation of that hint, and an elaboration on the hint that preceded it which suggests his government; so, how can it be said that this verse was revealed in the context of prohibiting taking the infidels for walis?
The Prophet has himself equated the status of the Imams among his descendants to that of the Koran, indicating that they both shall never separate from each other, and that they are equal in significance to the Book (Koran) itself; through them can right be distinguished from wrong. To them, taking this verse as a proof is consecutively reported. The meaning they have always applied to the word "wali" in such a context is identical to the one which I have applied above; therefore, context does not bear any weight if you take it to contradict their texts, for all Muslims are in consensus regarding the application of context as a proper argument. When context and proof collide with one another, they abandon the connotation of the context and yield to the judgement of the proof. This is so due to the fact that the connotation of this verse's context is not relied upon, since the Glorious Book itself is not arranged in the order of its compilation, according to the consensus of all Muslim scholars, but according to the sequence of the revelation of its verses. As such, there are quite a few verses which give a meaning that contradicts their context. Take, for example, the Verse of Purification. The fact that the chapter where it exists deals with women is quite clear in restricting its connotation to the five individuals who were covered with the mantle. Generally speaking, to interpret a verse in a way which contradicts its context does not in any way violate its miraculous aspect, it does not harm its eloquence, and it does not hurt to resort to it whenever irrefutable proofs demand it.
Letter # 4 - To cast doubts about the soundness of the caliphate of the Righteous Caliphs [Abu Bakr, Umar, Uthman and Ali], is out of the question. Therefore, resorting to interpretation is unavoidable, since we have believed in them as well as in those who swore the oath of allegiance to them.
Reply # 4
# The three righteous caliphs, may Allah be pleased with them, are, indeed, the subject of the study and debate; to use such caliphate, however, to rebut our arguments is totally rejected.
1) To believe in those caliphs, as well as in those who swore allegiance to them, does not require interpreting the arguments. In justifying their caliphate, you yourselves resort to interpretation, as we will clarify if necessary.
2) Interpreting the texts which we have stated to you is impossible; so is the case with what we have not stated yet, such as the Ghadir's hadith and that of the Will, particularly when backed by irrefutable traditions which support one another, the latter being sufficient by themselves to require reference to manifest texts. Whoever acquaints himself with the latter will find them irrefutable testimonials and unequivocable verdicts.
# Consider the statement of the Prophet while holding Ali's neck, "This is the Imam of the righteous, the slayer of the debauchees; victorious is whoever supports him, forsaken (by Allah) is whoever abandons him." He raised his voice while saying the last phrase. This is included by Hakim as narrated by Jabir on page 129, vol 3, of Mustadrak, where the author comments saying: "This is one hadith the authenticity of which is attested to by its own chain of narrators, though both authors (of sahih books) did not record it."
2) Consider his statement "It has been revealed to me that Ali has three exclusive merits: that he is the chief of the Muslims, the Imam of the righteous, and the leader of those whose foreheads radiate with the mark of faith." It is included by Hakim at the beginning of page 138, vol 3, of his Mustadrak where the author comments: "This is one hadith the accuracy of which is attested to by its own chain of narrators, though both authors (of the sahih books) did not record it."
3) Consider his statement "It has been revealed to me that Ali is the chief of the Muslims, the wali of the pious, and the leader of those whose foreheads radiate with the mark of faith." It is recorded by Ibn al-Najjar] and many other authors of books of traditions.
4) Consider his statement to Ali: "Welcome, chief of the Muslims, Imam of the pious!" Abu Naim in Hilyatul Awliya includes it.
5) Consider his statement "The first to enter through this door is the Imam of the pious, the chief of Muslims, the head of the religion, the seal of the wasis, and the leader of those whose foreheads radiate with the mark of faith," whereupon Ali entered and he stood up happily excited, hugged him and wiped his sweat saying: "You shall fulfill my covenant, convey my message, and after me clarify whatever seems to be ambiguous."
6) Consider his statement "Allah has promised me that Ali is the standard of guidance, the Imam of whoever accepts my wilayat, the light for whoever obeys me, and the word which I have mandanted unto the pious." As you see, these six ahadith contain obvious texts regarding his imamate and the obligation to obey him.
7) Consider his statement pointing to Ali, "This is the first to have believed in me, the first to shake hands with me on the Day of Resurrection; he is the foremost friend, and he is the faruq of this nation who distinguishes between right and wrong; he is the chief of the believers."
8) Consider his statement "O you group of the Ansars! Shall I lead you to that which, as long as you adhere to it, you shall never go astray? It is Ali; love him as you love me, and respect him as you respect me, for Gabriel has commanded me to say so to you on behalf of Allah."
9) Consider his statement "I am the city of knowledge, and Ali is its gate; whoever aspires to attain knowledge, let him approach through the gate."
10) Consider his statement "I am the house of wisdom and Ali is its gate."
11) Consider his statement "Ali is the gateway of my knowledge, the one who is to explain to my nation after me what I have been sent with; loving him is a mark of genuine faith, and hating him is hypocrisy."
12) Consider his statement to Ali: "You shall clarify to my nation all matters wherein they differ." This is recorded by Hakim on page 122, vol 3, of his Mustadrak as reported by Anas. The author then comments: "This is an authentic hadith according to the endorsement of both Shaykhs [Bukhari and Muslim], although they did not quote it themselves." In fact, whoever scrutinizes this hadith and others similar to it will come to know that Ali's status with relevence to the Prophet is similar to that of the Prophet to the Almighty Himself, for Allah says to His Messenger: "We have sent you Our revelations only so that you may clarify for them all the matters in which they dispute, and as guidance and mercy unto those who believe;" while in this hadith the Prophet tells Ali: "You shall clarify to my nation all matters wherein they differ after me."
13) Consider his statement as recorded by Ibn al-Sammak from Abu Bakr, "Ali's status to me is similar unto that of mine to my Lord."
14) Consider his statement as recorded by al-Dar Qutni in Al-Afrad where the author quotes Ibn Abbas citing the Prophet saying: "Ali ibn Abu Talib is (like) the gate of salvation to the Israelites; whoever enters through it becomes a true believer [mumin], and whoever gets out of it becomes infidel."
15) Consider his statement on the day of Arafat during Hijjatul Wada [the farewell pilgrimage]: "Ali is of me, and I am of Ali, and nobody pays my debts other than I or Ali." "It is the statement of a glorious Messenger empowered by the One Who manifests the Throne, Able, Obeyed: how trustworthy He is! Nay! Your fellow is not possessed at all." (81:19-22) "He does not speak out of his own personal inclination; it is but a revealed inspiration." (53:3-4) So, whither are you going? And what shall you say about these clear arguments and explicit texts? If you carefully scrutinize this much, examine the wisdom behind making such an announcement during the supreme pilgrimage in front of the witnesses, truth will then appear to you most manifestly. And if you examine his words how few, and their meaning how encompassing, you will then have a great reverence for him, for he has learned a great deal and digested and researched what he has learned. None other than Ali remains to be worthy of discharing any responsiblity. No wonder, then, that he, and only he, executes the Prophet's own will, taking his own position of leadership as vicegerent and vizier; praise be to Allah Who has guided us to all this, for without Allah's guidance, we would not have been thus guided.
16) Consider his statement "Whoever obeys me obeys Allah, and whoever disobeys me disobeys Him; and whoever obeys Ali obeys me, too; and whoever disobeys Ali also disobeys me." This is recorded by Hakim on page 121, vol 3, of his Mustadrak, and by Thahbi in his Talkhis. Both authors have relied on the authority of both Shaykhs to endorse this hadith.
17) Consider his statement "O Ali! Whoever abandons me abandons Allah; and whoever abandons you abandons me, too." This is recorded by Hakim on page 124, vol 3, of his Sahih, where he comments saying: "This hadith is authentic through isnad, though the Shaykhs did not record it."
18) Consider his statement as quoted by Ume Salma, "Whoever denounces Ali denounces me, too," which is recorded by Hakim at the beginning of page 121, vol 3, of Mustadrak as ascertained by both Shaykhs, and it is narrated by Thahbi in his Talkhis where the author testifies to its authenticity. Ahmed records it among the ahadith narrated by Ume Salma on page 323, vol 6, of his Musnad, and by Nisai on page 17 of Khasais al-Alawiyya, in addition to many other traditionists. So does Amr ibn Shash as included among the ahadith narrate the statement of the Prophet thus: "Whoever harms Ali harms me, too."
19) Consider his statement "Whoever loves Ali loves me, too; and whoever despises Ali despises me, too." This hadith is recorded by Hakim who describes it as authentic on page 130, vol 3, of Mustadrak, and it is narrated by Thahbi in his Talkhis where he admits reference to its authenticity for the same reason. Such is the case of Ali's statement: "I swear by the One Who has cleft the seed [so that a plant may grow therefrom] and created the breeze from nothing, the Ummi Prophet has promised me that nobody loves me except a true believer (mumin), and nobody hates me except a hypocrite."
20) Consider his statement "O Ali ! You are a leader in this life and the life hereafter; whoever loves you loves me, too, and whoever loves me is loved by Allah; your foe is my foe, and my foe is Allah's foe; woe unto whoever despises you after me." This is recorded by Hakim at the beginning of page 128, vol 3, of Mustadrak, and both Shaykhs ascertain its authenticity.
21) Consider his statement "O Ali ! Glad tidings to whoever loves and believes in you, and woe unto whoever hates you and tells lies about you." This is recorded by Hakim on page 135, vol 3, of his Mustadrak, where he comments saying: "This hadith is authentic by way of its being consecutively reported (through isnad, consecutive reporting). Neither shaykh records it."
22) Consider his statement "Whoever wishes to live the way that I have lived and die the way that I shall die and reside in the Eternal Garden, which is promised to me by my Lord, let him accept Ali as his/her wali, for surely he never gets you out of guidance, nor will he ever hurl you into misguidance."
23) Consider his statement "I enjoin whoever believes and trusts in me to be mindful of the wilayat of Ali ibn Abu Talib, for whoever accepts him as the wali accepts me as such, and whoever accepts me as the wali has indeed accepted Allah as such; and whoever loves him loves me, and whoever loves me loves Allah; and whoever hates him hates me, too, and whoever hates me hates Allah."
24) Consider his statement "Whoever is pleased to live my life and die my death, and then reside in the Garden of Eden, planted for me by my Lord, then let him take Ali as the wali after me, and let him accept the authority of whoever Ali places in charge, and let him follow the examples of my progeny after me, for they are my offspring: they are created out of my own mould and blessed with my understanding and knowledge; therefore, woe unto those who deny their favours from among my nation, who cut their ties with them; may Allah never grant them my intercession."
25) Consider his statement "Whoever loves to live my life and die my death and enter the Garden my Lord has promised me, the Garden of Eternity, then let him take Ali and his descendants after him as his walis, for they shall never take you out of guidance, nor shall they ever drag you into misguidance."
26) At the beginning of page 156, vol 6, of Kanz al-Ummal, al-Daylami quotes Ammar citing the Prophet telling Ammar the following: "O Ammar! If you see Ali walking on one path while other people walk on another, walk with Ali and leave the people, for he shall never lead you to destruction, nor shall he ever take you out of right guidance."
27) Consider his statement according to one hadith narrated by Abu Bakr, "My hand and Ali's are equal when it comes to justice." This is hadith 2539 recorded on page 153, vol 6, of Kanz al-Ummal.
28) Consider his statement "O Fatima! Are you not pleased that Allah has looked unto the inhabitants of the earth and chose from among them two men: one of them is your father and the other is your husband?"
29) Consider his statement "I am the Warner, and Ali is the Guide; through you, O Ali, shall guidance be attained after me." This is recorded by al-Daylami who quotes Ibn Abbas, and it is hadith 2631 on page 157, vol 6, of Kanz al-Ummal.
30) Consider his statement "O Ali ! Nobody is permitted to remain in the state of sexual uncleanliness other than I and you." Likewise is the hadith recorded by Tabrani as quoted by Ibn Hajar in his Sawaiq Muhriqa as narrated by Ume Salma, al-Bazzar, and Saad; so, refer to hadith 13 of Al-Arba`in al-Nawawiyya which he quotes in Chapter 9. The latter quotes the Prophet saying: "Nobody is permitted to be in the state of sexual uncleanliness in this mosque except I and Ali."
31) Consider his statement "I and this (meaning Ali) are the Proofs unto my nation on the Day of Judgement." This is recorded by al-Khatib as narrated by Anas. How could the father of al-Hassan be Proof just like the Prophet was, had he not been his vicegerent and successor?
32) Consider his statement "It is written on the gate of Paradise: `There is no god but Allah, Muhammad is the Prophet, Ali is the Brother of the Prophet.'"
33) Consider his statement "It is written on the Throne's leg: `There is no god but Allah, Muhammad is the Prophet, I (God) have supported him (Muhammad) through Ali, and I have aided him through Ali."
34) Consider his statement "Whoever wishes to discern Noah's determination, Adam's knowledge, Ibrahim's clemency, Moses' discretion, Christ's asceticism, then let him look unto Ali." This is recorded by al-Bayhaqi in his Sahih and by Ahmed bin Hanbal in his Musnad.
35) Consider his statement "O Ali ! There is a resemblance in you to Jesus who was hated by the Jews to the extent that the latter even cast doubts about his mother's honour, and loved by the Christians to the extent that they attributed to him a status which is not his."
36) Consider his statement "The foremost (among believers) are three: Joshua son of Nun who was the foremost to believe in Moses, the believer implied in Surat Yasin who was the foremost to believe in Jesus, and Ali ibn Abu Talib who was the foremost in believing in Muhammad."
37) Consider his statement "The foremost in testifying (to the Prophets' truth) are three: Habib al-Najjar, the believer implied in Surat Yasin, who said: `O my people! Follow the Messengers (of God);' Ezekiel ['strength of God'], the believer from the family of Pharaoh, who said: `Do you intend to kill a man just for saying that his Lord is Allah?,' and Ali ibn Abu Talib, who is superior to all of them."
38) Consider his statement to Ali: "The nation will turn treacherous to you; you shall live adhering to my faith and will be murdered for safeguarding it; whoever loves you loves me, too, and whoever hates you hates me, too, and this (Ali's beard) will be drenched with blood from this (Ali's head)." Ali himself has said: "One of the Prophet's predictions is that the nation will be treacherous to me after his demise." Ibn Abbas has quoted the Prophet telling Ali, "You will certainly encounter a great deal of hardship after me;" Ali inquired: "Shall I be able to keep my faith intact?" and the Prophet answered him in the affirmative.
39) Consider his statement "Among you is one who will fight for its (Koran's) interpretation just as I fought for its revelation." The audience was very excited. Among them were Abu Bakr and Umar. Abu Bakr asked: "Am I the one?" and the Prophet's answer was negative. Umar inquired: "Is it I?" and the Prophet answered: "No; but it is the one who is mending the shoes," meaning thereby Ali; therefore, we visited Ali to convey the good news to him, but he did not even raise his head, as if he had already heard it from the Prophet." Similar narrative is the hadith narrated by Abu Ayyub al-Ansari during Umar's caliphate. According to Hakim, who relies on two references which he indicates on page 139 and the page that follows it, vol 3, of his Mustadrak, Umar has said that the Prophet ordered those who reneged from their faith, and who dissented, to be fought. Ibn `Asakir, as indicated in hadith 2588 on page 155, vol 6 of Kanz al-Ummal, states that Ammar ibn Yasir has said that the Prophet has said, "O Ali ! The oppressive gang will fight you; but you are on the right track; whoever refrains from supporting you is not of me." Abu Zar al-Ghifari, as al-Daylami is quoted at the close of page 155, vol 6, of Kanz al-Ummal, has quoted the Prophet saying: "I swear by the One in whose hands my life is placed that among you is a man who shall fight after me for the interpretation of the Koran just as I fought the polytheists for its revelation." Muhammad ibn `Ubaydullah ibn Abu Rafi`, as indicated by Tabrani in his Mujma` al-Kabir and indicated on page 155, vol 6, of Kanz al-Ummal, has quoted his father and grandfather Abu Rafi saying that the Prophet has addressed him thus: "O Abu Rafi! A group of people shall fight Ali after me; Allah has made mandated that they should be fought. Whoever is unable to fight them with his hands, let him fight them with his tongue; if he still is unable to do so, then by his heart." Al-Akhdar al-Ansari has quoted the Prophet saying: "I fight for the revelation of the Koran, while Ali fights for its interpretation."
40) He has said: "O Ali ! I am superior to you due to my being a Prophet, while you are superior to all other people due to seven merits: You are the foremost among them to believe in Allah, the most just in fulfilling Allah's Promise, the most obedient to the Commandments of Allah, the most equitable, the most fair in dealing with the public, the most far-sighted in all issues, and the one who enjoys the highest status in the sight of Allah." Abu Saeed al-Khudri quotes the Prophet saying: "O Ali ! You possess seven qualities about which nobody can dispute with you: You are the first to truly believe in Allah, the most just in fulfilling Allah's Promise, the most obedient to Allah's Commandments, the most compassionate to the public, the most informed of all issues, and the highest among them in status." There is no room here to quote all such traditions which, as a whole, support one another and are all indicative of one meaning, and that is: Ali is second only to the Prophet in faring with this nation, and that he is next only to the Prophet in leading it. These traditions convey such a meaning, even if their texts are not consecutively reported, and this much should suffice as an irrefutable proof.
Letter # 5 - Sunnis accept greateness of Ali. There is no argument about this. Yet Sunni dispute your claim that the Prophet during his lifetime, had promised Ali the caliphate. All these hadith are not bound proofs to support such a claim. They simply enumerate Ali's attributes and virtues. We believe that Ali, may Allah glorify his countenance, was worthy of all of them and of even more. Yet a nomination is not akin to a binding pledge for caliphate, as you know.
Reply # 5:
# Anyone like you, who is deep in thinking, gifted with a far insight, an authority on linguistic sources and derivatives, aware of its meanings and connotations, deriving guidance from the Prophet believing in his wisdom and conclusive prophethood, appreciative of his deeds and statements ("He does not speak of his own inclinations (53:3)," certainly cannot miss the gist of such texts, nor do their conclusions, which are derived from logic and common sense, remain secret to him. It is not possible that you, the recognized authority on Arabic (i.e. athbat) that you are, fail to perceive that these texts have all granted Ali a very sublime status, one which Allah Almighty and His Prophets do not grant except to the successors of such Prophets, to the ones they trust most to take charge of their religion, to the custodians of such religion. If they do not explicitly indicate the caliphate for Ali, they undoubtedly hint to it, leading to such conclusion by necessity. Such an obligation is quite obvious from their precise meaning. The Master of Prophets is above granting such a lofty status to anyone other than his successor, his vicegerent. Yet whoever deeply scrutinizes the texts concerning Ali and very carefully and fairly digests their implications will find their vast majority aiming at endorsing his imamate, indicative of it either through explicit announcements, such as the previously quoted ones, and such as the Covenant of al-Ghadir, or by virtue of necessity, such as the ones stated. Take, for example, his statement "Ali is with the Koran and the Koran is with Ali; they both shall never separate from each other till they meet me by the Heavenly Fountain [Koser]," and his statement "Ali to me is like the head to the body," and his statement according to a tradition narrated by Abdul Rahman ibn Awf, "I swear by the One in Who hold my life, you will have to uphold the prayers, pay the zakat, or else I shall send you a man of my own self, or like my own self," then the Prophet took Ali's hand and said: "This is he;" up to the end of countless such texts. This is an obvious benefit to which I attract the attention of all seekers of the truth, one which unveils what is ambiguous, delves deeply in independent research. He has only followed what he himself comprehends of the moral obligations of such sacred texts, without being overtaken by his own personal emotions or inclinations.
Letter # 6 - Sunnis refute your claim by citing texts which enumerate the virtues of Abu Bakr, Umar, Uthman, and by citing other texts praising the posterity from the Muhajirun (Meccan Immigrants) and the Ansar (supporters from Medina).
Reply # 6:
# We believe in the virtues of all posterity since the time of the Muhajirun and the Ansar, may Allah be pleased with them and they with Him, and these are beyond count or reckoning. Certain verses of the Book (Koran), in addition to a few Sunni sahih books, must suffice you for a testimony in this regard. We have scrutinized these, too. We have not found them at all, and Allah knows best, to be in contradiction to the texts that praise Ali, or even in any way eligible to disqualify him [from caliphate]. Yes, our opponents may stand alone in narrating the ahadith which are not authentic according to our sources. Their use of such ahadith to disprove our views is rejected and is not expected from any unbiased arbitrator. We by no means can take them into serious consideration. Do you not see how we do not argue by quoting the texts narrated only by our own sources? On the contrary, we base our arguments on their own narrations regarding events such as the Ghadir incident or the like. But we have scrutinized the texts pertaining to these virtues recorded by their sources, and we could not find any clues in them opposing such caliphate, nor do they contain anything suggesting it; therefore, they have not been relied upon by anyone to prove the legitimacy of the caliphate of the three righteous caliphs.
Letter # 7 - Shia mention Ghadir incident but it is not in authentic Sunnis books. And, believing in the truthfulness of the sahabah requires interpreting hadith al Ghadir. Word "mawla" bears various meanings all of which have been applied in the Koran. It may mean "the deserving," as God says when He addresses the infidels: "Your resort is the Fire; it is your mawla," meaning "You deserve the punishment of the Fire." Another meaning is "the supporter," as God says: "It is so because Allah is the mawla of those who believe, and the infidels have no mawla." It also means "the heir," as in the Koran: "For each We have assigned mawali [mawlas] from the inheritance of the parents and the relatives," meaning heirs. It also means "relatives," as is clearly understood from the Koran: "I fear the mawali after me," meaning relatives. It also means "friend," as the verse suggests: "On that Day, no mawla will be able to do any good to his mawla." "Wali" also connotes the person who is most qualified to fare with someone else's affairs, as we may say: "Mr. so and so is the wali of the minor." It also means "the supporter" and "the loved one." Some have said: "The gist of the hadith could be "whoever I have supported, befriended, or loved"; for Ali was as such, and this meaning agrees with the prestige enjoyed by the good ancestors, and with the imamate of the three righteous caliphs Abu Bakr, Umar, Uthman. Also, It is also possible that some people regarded this hadith to refer to Ali simply because one of Ali's companions in Yemen noticed his uncompromising policy in executing the commandments of Allah; therefore, he spoke ill of him; for this reason, the Prophet did not appreciate their attitude and stood up on the Ghadir Day, praised the Imam and lauded his contributions, attracting the attention to his prestige and defending his name against those who intended to chew it. The pretext used by such a group of advocates is that in his sermon, the Prophet praised Ali in particular, saying: "Whoever I have been his wali, Ali is his wali," and his Ahlulbayt in general, saying: "I am leaving with you the Two Weighty Things: the Book of Allah and my progeny, my Ahlulbayt;" so, he simply recommended that they should cherish Ali in particular and his kin in general. They claim that such a statement neither commits Ali to be his successor, nor does it connote imamate for him.
Reply # 7:
# Relying on the consensus of narrators of hadith, Tabrani and many others have quoted Zayd ibn Arqam saying:
"The Prophet once delivered a sermon at Ghadir Khumm under the shade of a few trees saying, `O people! It seems to me that soon I will be called upon and will respond to the call. I have my responsibility and you have yours; so, what do you say?' They said: `We bear witness that you have conveyed the Message, struggled and advised [the nation]; therefore, may Allah reward you with the best of His rewards.' He asked them: `Do not you also bear witness that there is no god but Allah and that Muhammad is His Servant and Messenger, that His Paradise is just and that His Fire is just, that death is just, that the life after death is just, that the Hour will undoubtedly approach, and that Allah shall bring the dead to life from their graves?' They said: `Yes, indeed, we do bear witness to all of that.' He said: `O Mighty Lord! Bear witness that they have.' Then he said: `O people! Allah is my Master, and I am the mawla (master) of the believers. I have more authority over their lives then they themselves have; therefore, to whomsoever I have been a mawla, this (Ali) is his mawla; O Lord! Befriend whoever befriends him, and be an enemy of whoever sets himself as his enemy.' Then he said: `O people! I am to precede you, and you shall join me, at the Heavenly Fountain [Koser] which is wider than the distance from Basra to San`a; it contains as many silver cups as the stars; and I shall ask you when you join me about the Two Weighty Things, how you shall succeed me in faring with them; the Greatest Weighty Thing is the Book of Allah, one end of which is in Allah's hand and the other in yours; so, uphold it so that you may not go astray, and your faith shall not suffer any alteration; and the other are my Ahlulbayt , for the most Gracious and Knowing has informed me that they both shall never part from each other till they join me at the Heavenly Fountain [Koser].'"
In a section dealing with Ali's virtues in Mustadrak, the author indicates that Zayd ibn Arqam is quoted through two sources both of which are held reliable by both Shaykhs: Hakim [one of such sources] says that when the Prophet returned from his Farewell Pilgrimage, he camped at Ghadir Khumm and ordered the believers to sweep the area under a few huge trees where a pulpit of camel litters was made for him. He stood and said: "It seems as if I have been called upon and responded to the call, and I enjoin you to look after both the Book of Allah and my Progeny; see how you fare with them after me, for they shall never part from each other till they join me at the Heavenly Fountain [Koser]." Then he added: "Allah is my Master, and I am the master of every believer," then he took Ali by the hand and said: "To whomsoever I have been a master, this Ali is [henceforth] his master; O Lord! Befriend whoever befriends him, and be the enemy to whoever antagonizes him." The author quotes this lengthy hadith in its entirity. In his Talkhis, Thahbi quotes it without commenting on it. Hakim, too, quotes it as narrated by Zayd ibn Arqam in his Mustadrak, admitting its authenticity. In spite of his intolerance, Thahbi admits the same in his Talkhis, to which you may refer. Ahmed bin Hanbal has quoted the same hadith as narrated by Zayd ibn Arqam thus:
"We were in the company of the Prophet when he camped in a valley called Wadi Khumm, and he ordered everyone to gather for prayers in midday heat. He then delivered a sermon to us under the shade of a robe over a rush tree [Juncus spinosus] to protect him from the heat of the sun. He said: `Do you know - or do you bear witness - that I have more authority over a believer's life than the believer himself has?' They answered: `Yes, indeed, you do.' He said: `Whosoever accepts me as his mawla, Ali is his mawla; O Lord! Befriend whosoever befriends Ali and be the enemy of whomsoever opposes Ali.'"
Nisai quotes Zayd ibn Arqam saying that when the Prophet returned from the Farewell Pilgrimage, and having reached Ghadir Khumm, he ordered the ground under a few huge trees to be swept clean. He announced: "It looks like I have been invited [to my Lord's presence] and I have accepted the invitation, and I am leaving with you the Two Weighty Things, one of them is bigger than the other: the Book of Allah and my Progeny, my Household; so, see how you succeed me in faring with both of them, for they shall never part from each other till they join me at the Heavenly Fountain [Koser]." Then he added: "Allah is my Master, and I am the master (mawla) of every believer." Taking Ali's hand, he added saying, "To whomsoever I have been a master, this Ali is his master; O Lord! Befriend those who befriend him, and be the enemy of all those who antagonize him." Abul-Tufail says: "I asked Zayd: `Have you heard these words of the Prophet yourself?" He answered that all those who were there under the huge trees had seen the Prophet with their own eyes and heard him with their own ears. This hadith is recorded by Muslim in a chapter on the attributes of Ali in his Sahih from several different narrators ending with Zayd ibn Arqam, but he abridged it and cut it short - and so do some people behave. Ahmed bin Hanbal has recorded this hadith from al-Bara' ibn `Azib from two avenues saying; it reads: "We were in the company of the Prophet when we camped at Ghadir Khumm. The call for congregational prayers was made. The site of two trees was chosen, and it was swept clean. He performed the noon-time prayers then took Ali by the hand and asked the crowd: `Do you not know that I have more authority over the believers than the believers themselves have?' They answered: `Yes, we do.' He asked: `Do you know that I have more authority over every believer than the believer himself has?' They answered in the affirmative; then he took Ali's hand and said: `Whoever has accepted me as his master, this Ali is his master; O Lord! Befriend whoever befriends him and be the enemy of whoever chooses to be his enemy.' Umar met him immediately following that and said to him: `Congratulations to you, son of Abu Talib! You have become, at dawn and at sunset, the master of every believing man and woman.'" Nisai has quoted `Ayisha daughter of Saad saying that she heard her father saying: "I have heard the Prophet on the Day of Juhfa, when he took Ali's hand and delivered a sermon, praised and adored Allah, then said: `O people! I am your wali.' They said: `You have said the truth.' Then he raised Ali's hand and said: `This is my wali unto you to discharge the responsibilities of my religion on my own behalf, and I support whoever supports him and am the enemy of whosoever chooses to be his enemy.'" Saad is also quoted saying: "We were in the company of the Prophet. When he arrived at Ghadir Khumm, those who went ahead of him returned to join him, while he waited for those who lagged behind, till all people assembled. Then he said: `O people! Who is your wali?' They answered: `Allah and His Messenger.' Then he took Ali's hand, made him rise and said: `Whoever has taken Allah and His Messenger as his wali, this is his wali; O Lord! Befriend whoever befriends him and be the enemy of whoever chooses to be his enemy.'" The books of traditons recording this incident are numerous and cannot be all cited here. They all contain explicit texts indicating that Ali is the Prophet's vicegerent and successor, just as al-Fadl ibn al-Abbas Abu Lahab has said: The one to be recognized as the Vicegeret, generation after generation, After Muhammad, is Ali; for he was his companion in every occasion.
# The consecutive reporting of the Ghadir hadith is necessitated by the natural laws which Allah has created. Its similitude is like that of any great historical step undertaken by the most important man of a nation who announces, in the presence of thousands of his nationals, the undertaking of a major step, so that they may convey its news to various lands and nations, especially if such an undertaking enjoys the concern of his own family and their supporters in all generations to come, so that such an announcement might receive the widest possible publicity. Can such an announcement, as significant as it is, be transmitted by, say, just one single person? Certainly not. Its news would spread as widely as the early morning sun rays, encompassing the plains as well as the oceans; "And you shall never find any alteration to Allah's order (33:62)."
2) Hadith al-Ghadir has won the divine concern of Allah Who inspired to His Messenger including it in His Koran which is recited by Muslims even during the late hours of the night or the early hours of the day, in public and in private, in their supplications and ceremonial prayers, from the top of their pulpits and the heights of their minarets, stating: "O Messenger! Convey that which has been revealed unto you from your Lord, and if you do not do so, then you have not conveyed His Message at all, and Allah will protect you from (evil) men." (5:67) When he conveyed the divine Message (implied in this verse), appointing Ali as the Imam and entrusting him with the caliphate, Allah Almighty revealed the following verse: "Today have I perfected your religion (Islam) for you, completed my blessing unto you, and accepted Islam as your religion." (5:3) So, congratulations upon congratulations to Ali; this is Allah's favour; He grants it to whomsoever He pleases. Anyone who looks into these verses will be profoundly impressed by such divine favours.
3) If divine concern is as such, no wonder, then, that the Prophet expressed such a profound concern when death approached him, may my life be sacrificed for his sake. It was then that, according to the order which he received from Allah Almighty, he set to announce Ali's wilayat during his supreme pilgrimage, in the presence of so many witnesses, without being satisfied with similar previous announcements such as his warning in Mecca, or on other occasions with some of which you have by now become familiar. He, therefore, invited the believers to participate in his very last pilgrimage, known as the Farewell Pilgrimage. People from far and wide responded to his invitation, and no less than one hundred thousand pilgrims left Medina with him. On the standing day at Arafat, he informed the attendants that: "Ali is of me, and I am of Ali, and nobody discharges the responsibility [of my religion] on my behalf except I and Ali." And when he came back from the pilgrimage and arrived at the valley of Khumm, trusted Gabriel descended upon him with "ayat al-tabligh," verse of conveying the Message, from the Lord of the Worlds. Immediately thereupon, he alighted there till those who lagged behind him, as well as those who went ahead of him, joined him. When they all assembled, he conducted the obligatory prayers then delivered a sermon about Allah emphasizing the significance of Ali's wilayat. You have already heard a glittering report of its news, and what you have not heard is even more exact and more explicit; yet what you have heard should suffice you. Its news was carried on behalf of the Prophet by all those masses who were present with him there and then and who are estimated to have been over one hundred thousand pilgrims from various lands. The order of Allah which does not suffer any alteration in His creation, necessitates the consecutive reporting of this hadith in spite of all obstacles in conveying it. Yet the Imams of Ahlulbaytfollow their own wise methods of disseminating it and publicizing for it.
4) Referring to the latter, I suggest that you may consider the measure taken by Imam Ali, then Caliph, in gathering people in the spacious meeting place, the Rahba plain. He then said: "I ask in the Name of Allah each Muslim who heard what the Prophet said on the Ghadir Day to stand and testify to what he heard. Nobody should stand except those who saw the Prophet with their own eyes and heard him with their own ears." Thirty sahabis, twelve of whom had particiated in the Battle of Badr, stood and testified that the Prophet took Ali by the hand and asked people: "Do you know that I have more authority over the believers than the believers themselves have?" They answered in the affirmative. He then said: "To whomsoever I have been mawla, this (Ali) is his mawla; O Lord! Befriend whoever befriends him, and be the enemy of whosoever chooses to be his enemy." You know that accusing thirty sahabis of being liars is rejected by reason; therefore, the achievement of consecutive reporting through their testimony is an irrefutable and undeniable proof. The same hadith was transmitted from those thirty sahabis by all those crowds who were then present at the Rahba, and who disseminated it after their dispersal throughout the land, thus providing it with extremely wide publicity. Obviously, the Rahba incident took place during the caliphate of Imam Ali who received the oath of allegiance in the year 35 hijri The Ghadir event took place during the Farewell Pilgrimage, 10 hijri The time period separating the first date from the second is twenty-five years during which many events took place such as a devastating plague, wars, the opening of new countries, and the invasions contemporary to the three righteous caliphs. This time period, one fourth of a century, merely due to its duration, wars and invasions, in addition to a sweeping and devastating plague, had ended the lives of many of those who had witnessed the Ghadir event, especially the elderly among the sahabah as well as their youths who were eager to meet their Lord through conducting jihad in His way, and in the way of His Messenger so much so that their dead outnumbered their survivors. Some of them were scattered throughout the land, and many of those were not present at the Rahba except those who kept company with Imam Ali in Iraq, and these were only males. In spite of all this, thirty sahabah, twelve of whom were participants in the Battle of Badr, had heard hadith al-Ghadir from the Prophet. There may have been others who hated to testify, such as Anas ibn Malik and others who received their due punishment in lieu of the prayers of Imam Ali to Allah to punish those who hid the truth while knowing it. Had he been able to gather all sahabis who were alive then, males and females, and address them in the same way which he employed at Rahba, several times that many would have testified; so, what if he had asked people in Hijaz before the passage of such a long time after the incident of the Ghadir? Contemplate upon this fact and you will find it a very strong proof testifying to the consecutive reporting of hadith al-Ghadir. The books of tradition should suffice you in their documentation of hadith al-Ghadir. Take, for example, what Ahmed bin Hanbal has quoted on page 370, Vol 4, of his Musnad from Abul Tufayl who has said: "Ali gathered people at the Rahba, then he said to them: `I adjure in the name of Allah every Muslim who heard what the Prophet had said on the Ghadir Day to state his testimony.' Thirty persons stood up." Abu Naim has said: "Many stood up and testified how the Prophet took Ali by the hand and asked people: `Do you know that I have more authority over the believers than the believers themselves have?' They answered: `We do, O Prophet!' Then he said: `To whomsoever I have been a mawla, this Ali is his mawla; O Lord! Befriend whoever befriends him and be the enemy of whoever sets himself as his enemy.'" Abul-Tufail continues to say: "I left the place dismayed (disgusted with many people's ignorance of this hadith), and I met Zayd ibn Arqam and said to him: `I have heard Ali say such and such.' Zayd said: `Then do not deny that you have heard the Prophet say so about him.'" Zayd's testimony stated above, and Ali's statement in this regard, may be added to the testimony of the thirty sahabis, thus bringing the number of narrators of this hadith to thirty-two sahabis. Ahmed bin Hanbal has recorded Ali's hadith on page 119, vol 1, of his Musnad as transmitted by Abdul-Rahman ibn Abu Layla. The latter says: "I saw Ali at the Rahba abjuring people to testify, emphasizing that only those who had seen and heard the Prophet should stand and testify. Twelve participants in the Battle of Badr, whom I remember so well as if I am looking at them right now, did so." Abdul-Rahman quotes the latter testifying that they had all heard the Prophet asking people on the Ghadir Day: "Do not I have more authority over the believers' lives than they themselves do, and my wives are their mothers?" The audience responded: "Yes, indeed, O Prophet!" Then he said, as Abdul-Rahman quotes him, "Then whosoever takes me as his mawla must take Ali as his mawla; O Mighty Lord! Befriend whoever befriends him and be the enemy of whoever bears animosity towards him!" Another narration is recorded by Ahmed bin Hanbal on the same page. It quotes the Prophet saying: "O Lord! Befriend whoever takes him as his wali and be the enemy of whoever antagonizes him; support whoever supports him, and abandon whoever abandons him." The narrative goes on to state that with the exception of three men, the witnesses stood to testify. Ali invoked Allah to curse those who hid the truth, and his invocation was heeded. If you add Ali and Zayd ibn Arqam to the afore-mentioned twelve participants in the Battle of Badr, then fourteen is obviously the number of witnesses. By tracing the traditions regarding the Rahba incident, Ali's wisdom becomes manifest in disseminating hadith al-Ghadir and publicizing for it. The Master of Martyrs, Abu Abdullah al-Husain has left us a legacy of a very memorable stand which he took during the reign of Muaweya. It was then that truth became manifest. It was similar to the stand taken by Ali at the Rahba. During the pilgrimage season, al-Husain, surrounded by throngs of pilgrims, praised his grandfather, father, mother and brother, and delivered an unprecedented, wise and eloquent speech that captivated his audience and won their hearts and minds. His sermon was inclusive, one wherein he reawakened the masses, traced and researched history, and paid the Ghadir incident its fair and just dues. His great stand, therefore, produced great results, and it became equivalent to hadith al-Ghadir in its fame and wide publicity.
6) His nine descendants, all sinless Imams, applied their own methods to publicizing and propagating the same hadith. Their methods reflect their wisdom which is comprehended by by all those who possess sound senses. They used the eighteenth of Thul-Hijjah as a special annual feast to congratulate and congratulate one another, merrily and humbly seeking nearness to Allah through fasting, prayers and supplications. They go beyond limits in their deeds of goodness and acts of righteousness, thanking Allah for the blessings which He bestowed upon them on that Day by virtue of the text that nominated Imam Ali as Caliph, and His divine promise for him to be the Imam. They used to visit their kin, give more generously to their families, visit their brethren, look after their neighbours, and enjoin their followers to do likewise.
7) For this reason, the eighteenth of Thul-Hijjah of every year is celebrated as a feast by the Shias of all times and climes. It is then that they rush to their mosques to offer obligatory and supererogatory prayers, recite the Glorious Koran, and read the most celebrated supplications as a token of thanking Allah Almighty for perfecting His religion and completing His blessings upon them by nominating Ali as the Imam [in the theological as well as the secular sense]. It is then that they exchange visits and happily wish each other the best, seeking nearness to Allah through righteousnes and goodness, and through pleasing their kin and neighbours. On that day, every year, they visit the mausoleum of Imam Ali, where no less than a hundred thousand pilgrims come from far and wide. There, they worship Allah on that day in the same way their purified Imams used to worship Him: through fasting, prayers, and remembrance of Allah. They seek nearness to Him through acts of righteousness and the payment of sadaqat. They do not disperse before addressing the sacred shrine with a highly commended address authored by some of their Imams. It includes testifying to the glorious stand taken by Imam Ali, honouring his feats and struggle to lay the foundations of the principles of the faith, his service of the Master of Prophets and Messengers and his virtues and merits, among which was the honour which he had received from the Prophet on the Ghadir Day. This is the custom of the Shias every year. Their orators have always been referring to hadith al-Ghadir, quoting its traditon or even without reference to them, and their poets are accustomed to compose poems in its commemoration in old as well as modern times; therefore, there is no way to cast doubts about its being consecutively reported from the sources of Ahlulbaytand their Shias. Their motives to memorize it by heart, their efforts to maintain its pristine text, safeguard its authenticity, publicize and disseminate it.., all have indeed resulted in the achievement of their most aspired objectives. Refer to all the four major Shia Musnads, as well as other Shia references, containing well-documented and supported traditions, and you will find each one of them reverberating with the same meaning, and each tradition supporting the other. Whoever acquaints himself with these traditions will find out that this hadith is mutawatir through their precious sources.
8) There is no doubt about its being consecutively reported through Sunni sources, according to natural laws, as you have come to know; "Allah's creation suffers no alteration; this is the Right Guidance, but most people do not know." (30:30) The author of Al-Fatawa alHamidiyya, in spite of his stubbornness, admits the consecutive reporting of this hadith in his abridged dissertation titled Al-Salawat al-Fakhira fil Ahadith al-Mutawatira." Al-Sayyuti and other scholars of exegesis all admit the same. Refer to Muhammad ibn Jarir al-Tabari, author of the famous works titled "Tafsir" and "Tarikh," Ahmed ibn Muhammad ibn Saeed ibn Aqdah, Muhammad ibn Ahmed ibn Uthman Thahbi, have all written critiques of the sources of this hadith. Each one of them has written an entire book on this subject. Ibn Jarir includes in his own book as many as one hundred and five sources for this hadith alone. Thahbi, in spite of his fanaticism, has testified to the truth of many of its sources. In chapter sixteen of Ghayat al-Maram, as many as eighty ahadith transmitted by Sunnis testify to the authenticity of the Ghadir hadith. Yet he did not quote al-Tirmithi, al-Nisai, Tabrani, al-Bazzar, Abu Yala, or quite a few other reporters who transmit this hadith. Al-Sayyuti quotes this hadith while discussing Ali in his book Tarikh al-Khulafa' transmitted by al-Tirmithi, adding, "This hadith is also recorded by Ahmed as transmitted by Ali, and also by Ayub Ansari, Zayd ibn Arqam, Umar [inb al-Khattab], and Thu Murr. Abu Yala quotes it from Abu Hurayrah, Tabrani from Ibn Umar and from Ibn Abbas as transmitted by Malik ibn al-Huwayrith, Habshi ibn Janadah, and Jarir, and also by Ammarah and Buraydah." A proof of the fame of this hadith is evident from the fact that Ahmed bin Hanbal records it in his Musnad from Riyah ibn al-Harish as transmitted by two sources. It states that a group of men once came to Ali and said: "Assalamu Alaikum, our mawla." The Imam asked who they were, and they answered him by saying that they were his subjects. The Imam asked them: "How can I be your mawla, while you are [stranger] bedouin Arabs?" They said: "We have heard the Prophet on the Ghadir Day saying: `Whoever I have been his mawla, Ali is his mawla.'" Riyah says that when they left, he followed them and asked them who they were, and that they said to him: "We are a group of the Ansar (supporters from Medina) in the company of Abu Ayub Ansari." Another proof of its fame is what has been recorded by Abu Ishaq al-Thalabi while explaining Surat al-Ma`arij in his book Al-Tafsir al-Kabir, relying on two very highly respected sources, and stating the following: the Prophet ordered people on the Ghadir Day to assemble, then he took Ali's hand and said: "Whoever accepts me as his mawla, Ali is his mawla." The news of this announcement spread throughout the land, and al-Nu`man al-Fahri came to know about this hadith. Riding his she-camel, he came to meet the Prophet. Having alighted, he said the following to the Prophet: "O Muhammad! You ordered us to bear witness that there is no deity except Allah and that you are the Prophet, and we obeyed; then you ordered us to offer prayers five times a day, and we agreed; then you ordered us to pay zakat, and we agreed; then you ordered us to fast during the month of Ramadan and we agreed; then you ordered us to perform the pilgrimage and we agreed; then, as if all of this is not sufficient, you favoured your cousin to all of us and said `Whoever accepts me as his mawla, Ali is his mawla;' is this one of your own orders, or is it Allah's?" He answered: "I swear by the One and only God that this is the command of Allah", whereupon al-Harith left heading towards his animal murmuring softly to himself: "O Lord! If what Muhammad says is true, then let it rain stones, or let a severe torment descend upon us." He hardly reached his animal before Allah caused a stone to cleave his head, penatrate his body and come out of his anus, leaving him dead on the spot. It is in reference to that incident that Allah Almighty revealed the following verse: "A man who brought a question (to the Prophet) asked for a sure penalty - which cannot be warded off by those who reject the truth - from Allah, Lord of the Ways of Ascent." (70:1-3) This is how the tradition, quoted verbatim, concludes.
# You [Sunnis] revere the Prophet and cherish his pristine wisdom, infallibility, conclusive Prophethood, believing that he is the master of the wise, and the seal of the prophets: "He does not speak of his own inclination; it is but a revealed inspiration; he has been taught by one mighty in power (53:3-5)." Suppose a philosopher from another faith asks you about the Ghadir Day saying: "Why did he stop all those thousands of companions from proceeding, confining them in midday heat in such a sunbaked plain? Why did he make sure to call back whoever advanced, and wait for whoever lagged behind? Why did he camp with them in such a desolate place where neither water nor vegetation was available? Then why did he preach to them about Allah Almighty in that place and enjoined those who were present there to convey, upon dispersing, what they had heard to those who had not, and why did he start with a selfeulogizing sermon, saying: `It looks like my Lord's Messenger [Angel of death] is about to come to call me, and I will respond to the call; I am responsible, and so are you,' and what message was the Prophet enjoined to convey and which the nation was enjoined to heed? Why did he ask them: `Do not you believe that there is no god but Allah and that Muhammad is His Servant and Messenger, that His Paradise is just and His Fire is just, that death is just and the life after death is just, that the Hour is undoubtedly approaching, that Allah will bring to life all those who are lying in their graves?' and they responded in the affirmative? Why did he immediately take Ali's hand, lift it till the white hair in his armpit became visible, saying: `O people! Allah is my mawla, and I am the mawla of the believers;' then why did he explain his statement `I am the mawla of the believers' by asking them: `Do not I have more authority over your lives than you yourselves have?' Then why did he say, having made such an explanation, `Whoever has accepted me as his mawla, this (Ali) is his mawla; O Lord! Befriend whosoever befriends him and be the enemy of whosoever antagonizes him; support whosoever supports him and betray whosoever betrays him,' and why did he specifically choose him and pray for him in such a manner which is worthy only of just Imams and truthful successors? And why did he require them to testify by asking them: `Do I not have more authority over you than you yourselves have?' and they answered in the affirmative; then he said: `To whomsoever I have been a mawla, Ali is his mawla,' or `To whomsoever I have been a wali, Ali is his wali, and why did he link the Koran to his progeny, thus making them the examples for the wise to follow till the day of Judgment? Why so much concern from such a wise Prophet? What was the mission that necessitated all these introductions, and what was the aspired objective from such a memorable stand? What was the message which Allah Almighty ordered him to convey when He said: `O Messenger! Convey what has just been revealed unto you from your Lord, and if you do not do so, then you have not conveyed His Message (at all), and Allah will protect you from (evil) men (5:67),' and what mission required so much emphasis from Allah Who demanded, in a tone so close to threatening, to be conveyed? What was the affair regarding which the Prophet feared dissension if not conveyed by him, one the announcement of which required a profound protection from Allah against the harm of the hypocrites...?" I ask you, in the name of your grandfather, if you are asked all these questions, will you answer them by saying that Allah simply wanted to explain to the Muslims how Ali had been supporting them, and how friendly he was to them? I do not think that you would give such an answer, and I do not think that you would interpret Allah's words, or the words of the master of the wise, the seal of messengers and prophets, as such. You are above thinking that he would exhaust his means and resources in explaining something too clear, according to reason and common sense, to require such an explanation. There is no doubt that you look at the actions and statements of the Prophet in a better light, one which is not derided by the discreet, nor criticized by philosophers or sages. There is no doubt that you appreciate the value of his statements and actions and render them to wisdom and infallibility. Allah has said: "He is a blessed Messenger endowed with strength from the One with the Throne, obeyed, able, and trustworthy; certainly your fellow is not possessed (81:19-22)." You are above accusing him of clarifying what is already clear, or expounding upon what is already common knowledge, or bringing unusual introductions for such clarifications, or introductions having no bearing over nor corelation thereto. Allah and His Messenger are above that. You, may Allah support the truth through your person, know that what suits such measures, undertaken in the midday heat of that place, ones that are conducive to his actions and statements on the Ghadir Day, is nothing less than the conveying of the divine Message, and the appointment of his vicegerent. Logical proofs and rational explanations unequivocally prove that what he intended to do on that day was nothing other than the appointment of Ali as his vicegerent and successor. This hadith, supported by proofs, is an explicit text regarding Ali's caliphate, one which does not even require an interpretation, and there is no way to understand it otherwise. This is quite clear for anyone who is "... with a sound mind, attentive, and a witness (50:37)."
2) As regarding the pretext they claim, it is nothing but a speculation and an adulteration. It is the sophistry of confusion and embellishment. The Prophet dispatched Ali to Yemen twice, the first took place in 8 hijri It was then that scandalmongers spread rumours about him, and some people complained about him to the Prophet upon their return to Medina. It was then that he resented their complaints, and they saw the sparkle of anger on his face; yet they did not refrain from trying again. The second time took place in 10 hijri It was then that the Prophet tied a knot on Ali's standard, fixed his headwear with his own hands, and said: "Proceed, and do not be distracted;" whereupon Ali proceeded to his destination as the divinely guided leader of the rest till he discharged the responsibility entrusted to him by the Prophet. Then he participated in the Prophet's Farewell Pilgrimage. It was then that the Prophet welcomed him very warmly and even shared with him his own offering. It was then that no scandalmonger dared to open his mouth, nor did any unfair person charge him with anything; so, how can this hadith be necessitated by the objections of those in the opposition party? Or how could it be only an answer to their charges, as some people claim? Yet mere antagonism to Ali is not sufficient for the Prophet to pile praises on him in the way which he has done from a pulpit of camel saddles on the Ghadir Day except, Allah forbid, that he risks his own deeds and statements, responsibilities and mission, just to please Ali. His divine wisdom is way above that, for Allah says: "It is the saying of a glorious Messenger; it is not the speech of a poet; little do you believe; nor is it the speech of a monk; little do you remember; it is but revelation from the Lord of the Worlds." (69:40-43) Had he desired to just show Ali's contributions, and to rebut those who bore grudge against him, he would simply have said: "This is my cousin, my soninlaw, the father of my descendants, the master of my household; therefore, do not harm him," or something like this to show mere admission of status and dignity. But the way this hadith is worded gives no impression other than what we have suggested. It points out rational and deductive proofs. Let the reason be whatever it may be, the statements quite obviously bear explicit meanings which demand no inquiry into their causes. As regarding his reference to his household in hadith alGhadir, it is only to support the same meaning which we have suggested, since he correlated them to the Glorious Book of Allah, setting them as examples for all the wise, saying: "I am leaving with you these which, as long as you adhere to, shall never let you stray: the Book of Allah, and my progeny, my household." He did not do that only so that the nation might realize that it had none to refer to, nor rely upon, after the Prophet, other than both of them. Suffices you for a testimony regarding the Imams from the Prophet's purified progeny is that they are correlated to Allah's Book which no wrong can approach from front nor from back. Just as it is not possible to refer to any book which differs in its judgment from the Book of Allah, it is not possible likewise to refer to an Imam who opposes in his judgment the Imams from the purified progeny. Consider his statement "They shall never separate till they join me at the Heavenly Fountain [Koser];" it is a proof that the earth shall never be without an Imam from his loins who is equivalent to the Book. Anyone who scrutinizes this hadith will find it restricting the caliphate to the Imams from the purified progeny of the Prophet. This is supported by the hadith reported by Zayd ibn Thabit and quoted by Ahmed in his Musnad at the beginning of page 122, vol 5. It states that the Prophet has said: "I am leaving you with two successors: the Book of Allah, like a rope extending from heavens to earth, and my household, for they both shall never part from each other till they join me at the Heavenly Fountain [Koser]." Such a statement is indeed indicative of assigning the caliphate to the Imams from the purified progeny. You know that the text which emphasizes following the Prophet's progeny implies following Ali's leadership, since Ali, after the Prophet is the undisputed master, and the obeyed Imam of his household. On one hand, hadith alGhadir and others like it imply that Ali is the Imam of the Prophet's household whose status, according to Allah and His Messenger, is equal to that of the Koran. On the other hand, it gives credit to his own great personality because of which he became the wali of all those whose wali is none other than the Prophet.
Letter # 8 - I wish you agree to our interpretation of the said hadith which is endorsed by a group of learned ulema, including imam Ibn Hajar in his Sawaiq Muhriqa, and Halabi in his Sirat. They argue that even if we agree that he (Ali) is the most worthy of imamate, the [Prophet's] intention here is futuristic; otherwise, he would have become the Imam in spite of the presence of the Prophet, who did not mind the forthcoming of an Imam after him. It is as though the Prophet had said: "Ali shall be the Imam as soon as he receives the oath of allegiance;" so, such a situation will not collide with the precedence of the three Imams; it thus safeguards the honour of the good ancestors, may Allah Almighty be pleased with them all.
Reply # 8:
# The gist of hadith alGhadir is that Ali is the most worthy of imamate when and if the Muslims choose him as such and swear the oath of allegiance to him, hence his priority to which the hadith hints is futuristic, rather than immediate. In other words, such a priority will take place when and if it is forcibly taken, rather than being actual, so that it does not clash with the caliphate of the three Imams who preceded him [in ruling the Muslims]. We ask you in the light of the truth, the dignity of justice, the honour of fairness, and the logic of fair play, if you yourself are convinced of it so that we may follow suit and follow in your footsteps. Do you agree to give such an explanation yourself, or can it be attributed to you, so that we may follow in your footsteps and do as you do? I do not think that you are convinced or pleased with a view such as this. I am convinced that you yourself wonder about anyone who would accept to derive such a meaning for this hadith when the text does not at all suggest it, nor can anyone conceive it as such; nay, it even challenges the wisdom and discretion of the Prophet...God forbid! It neither agrees with his great deeds nor very serious statements made on the Ghadir Day, nor with the irrefutable proofs which we brought forth above, nor with what Harith ibn Numan al Fahri understood, and what is emphasized by Allah and His Messenger, as well as all the companions. Yet even the pending priority does not actually agree with the general meaning of this hadith, for it obviously does not necessitate that Ali should not have been the mawla of the three caliphs, nor the mawla of anyone who died while being contemporary to any of them. This is exactly the opposite of the conclusion driven home by the Prophet who asked: "Do I not have more authority over the believers than the believers themselves have?" and people answered him in the affirmative; then he said: "To whomsoever I have been the mawla (master of each and every Muslim individual, without any exception), Ali is his mawla." So, as you see, nobody is made the exception implied in this statement; Ali is indeed the mawla without any argument. Both Abu Bakr and Umar, having heard the words of the Prophet on the Ghadir Day, said to Ali: "You have, O son of Abu Talib, become the mawla of every believing man and woman,"thus admitting that he had become the master of every believing man and woman, generalizing the application to all believing men and women since the sun set on the Day of the Ghadir. Once Umar was asked: "Your conduct with Ali is quite different from that of any other companion of the Prophet." Umar responded by saying: "Why, he is my mawla," as stated by Dar Qutni on page 36 of Sawaiq Muhriqa. He thus admitted that Ali was his master, and he (Ali) had not been chosen to be a caliph yet, nor had he yet received the oath of allegiance from anyone. Consider how his (Umar's) statement proved that Ali was his mawla and the mawla of every believing man and woman right then, not by virtue of futurity, since the Prophet on behalf of the Almighty Allah, conveyed the same on the Ghadir Day. Umar once asked Ali to arbitrate in a case brought forth before him involving two bedouins disputants. One of them asked: "Is this man (Ali) to judge between us?" Umar immediately leaped in rage, took the man by the neck and said to him: "Woe unto you! Do you know who this man is? He is your mawla, my mawla, and the mawla of all believers; whoever rejects him as the mawla is certainly not a Muslim," as stated near the conclusion of Chapter 11 of Ibn Hajar's Sawaiq Muhriqa. Those who have recorded this incident are quite a few. You, may Allah support the truth through your person, are aware of the fact that had the philosophy of Ibn Hajar and his supporters regarding the Ghadir hadith been accepted, the Prophet would have been proven to be tampering with his own mission and responsibility - we seek refuge with Allah against thinking in such a manner - hallucinating in his speeches and deeds - Allah is above letting His Messenger do that - without having, according to such a philosophy, any purpose in that awesome situation other than making an announcement that after Ali had been elected as caliph, he would be most fit for it, and that, the theory goes on, nobody should monopolize it, for Ali and all other companions, and Muslims in general, are in that respect equal. What characteristic did the Prophet intend then and there to attribute to Ali, and Ali alone, from among all others who are wellknown for their history in serving Islam, if such philosophy, O Muslims, is proven accurate? As regarding their claim that had Ali's priority regarding the Imamate not been futuristic, he would have become then the Imam in spite of the presence of the Prophet we say that such a claim is indeed quite odd; it is the watering down of the truth, an unmatched misrepresentation which ignores the covenants of all prophets, caliphs, kings and princes to their successors. It overlooks the meaning of the hadith: "You to me are like Harun to Moses except there will be no prophet after me." It is an attempt to forget his statement in the hadith relevant to his kin when he warned them saying, "Therefore, listen to him [to Ali] and obey him," and to other numerous texts in this meaning. Even if we suppose that due to the presence of the Prophet Ali's priority of the imamate could not be effective immediately, then obviously it had to be effective after his demise, following the unanimously accepted rule of interpreting a statement the absolute truth of which is unattainable by its closest meanings. As regarding the honour of the good ancestors, it is safeguarded without forcing such an interpretation as we will explain if necessary
# We will narrate to you consecutively reported ahadith with which the Sunnis are not familiar. These are narrated by members of the purified progeny of Muhammad of which we relate forty:
1) Saduq Muhammad ibn Ali ibn Husayn ibn Babawayh alQummi has included in his book Ikmal adDin wa Itmam alNi`mah, as transmitted by AbdulRahman ibn Samrah, one particular hadith in which the Prophet addresses AbdulRahman thus: "O Abu Samrah! If views differ and opinions vary, then refer to Ali ibn Abu Talib, for he is my nation's Imam, and my successor over them after me."
2) In the same reference, i.e. the Ikmal, Saduq quotes Ibn Abbas narrating one hadith in which the Prophet says: "Allah cast a scrutinizing look at the inhabitants of the earth and chose me from among them to be the Prophet, then he cast another look and chose Ali as the Imam and commanded me to take him as my brother, and appoint him as the wali and vizier."
3) Saduq, also in the Ikmal, traces one hadith to Imam alSadiq who quotes his father and ancestors citing the Prophet saying: "Gabriel has told me that the Lord of Power has said: `Whoever comes to know that I am the Lord without any partner, and that Muhammad is my Servant and Messenger, that Ali ibn Abu Talib is Muhammad's successor, and that the Imams from his descendants are My Arguments, then I would let him enter Paradise through My Mercy.'"
4) Saduq, also in his Ikmal, traces another hadith to Imam alSadiq who quotes his father and grandfather citing the Prophet saying: "The Imams after me are twelve: The first is Ali and the last is alQa'im [alMahdi]; they are my successors and the executors of my will."
5) Saduq, also in his Ikmal, traces yet another hadith to alAsbagh ibn Nabatah who says that Imam Ali once approached, his hand in the hand of his son Hasan, and said: "the Prophet once came to us and his hand was in mine like this, saying: `The best of creation after me, and their master, is this brother of mine who is the Imam of every Muslim, the prince of every believer after me.'"
6) Saduq, also in his Ikmal, tracing one hadith to Imam alRida who quotes his forefathers citing the Prophet saying: "Whoever likes to uphold my religion and embark upon the Ark of Salvation after me, let him follow the example of Ali ibn Abu Talib, for he is the executor of my will, and my vicegerent over my nation during my lifetime and after my demise."
7) Saduq, also in his Ikmal, attributes another hadith by the Prophet to Imam alRida who quotes his ancestors stating that the Prophet once said: "I and Ali are the fathers of this nation; whoever knows us very well also knows Allah, and whoever denies us also denies Allah. And from Ali's descendants are my grandsons Hasan and Husayn, who are the masters of the youths of Paradise, and from Husayn's descendants shall be nine: whoever obeys them obeys me, and whoever disobeys them also disobeys me; the ninth among them is their Qa'im and Mahdi."
8) Saduq, also in his Ikmal, traces another hadith through isnad to Imam Hasan al`Askari who quotes his ancestors up to the Prophet addressing Ibn Mas`ud thus: "O Ibn Mas`ud! Ali ibn Abu Talib is your Imam after me; he is my successor over you."
9) Quoting one hadith related by Salman, Saduq, also in his Ikmal, says that once Salman visited the Prophet and found Husayn ibn Ali sitting on his lap, and the prophet was kissing him and saying: "You are a master, son of a master, an Imam and son of an Imam, brother of an Imam, father of Imams, and you are Allah's Argument, the son of His Argument (Hujjah), and father of nine Arguments from your loins, the ninth of them is their Qa'im."
10) Saduq, also in his Ikmal, quotes another hadith traced also to Salman who quotes a lengthy hadith by the Prophet in which he says: "O Fatima! Have you not come to know that we are Ahlulbayt? Allah has made the Hereafter dearer to us than this life, and Allah cast a look at the inhabitants of the earth and chose me from among His creation; then he cast a second look and chose your husband and inspired me to marry you to him and take him as wali and vizier, and to make him my successor over my nation. So, your father is the best of prophets, your husband is the best of wasis, and you are the first to join me."
11) Saduq, also in his Ikmal, quotes a lengthy hadith and mentions in it that a meeting of over two hundred men from the Muhajirun (Meccan Immigrants) and the Ansar (supporters from Medina) were seeking knowledge and studying jurisprudence, and that each one of them started bragging about himself, while Ali remained silent. They asked him: "O father of Hasan, what stops you from saying something?" In response to their question, he only reminded them of a statement made by the Prophet in which he said: "Ali is my brother, vizier, heir, executor of my will, successor over my nation, and the wali of every believer after me; so, admit all of this about him."
12) Saduq, also in his Ikmal, quotes a lengthy hadith narrated by Abdullah ibn Jafar, Hasan, Husayn, Abdulllah Ibn Abbas, Umar ibn Abu Salamah, Usamah ibn Ziyad, Salman, Abu Zar al-Ghifari, and alMiqdad who all say that they heard the Prophet saying: "I have more authority over the believers than the believers themselves have; my brother Ali has after me more authority over the believers than the believers themselves have."
13) Saduq, also in his Ikmal ad-Din wa Itmam al-Ni`mah, quotes alAsbagh ibn Nabatah who cites Ibn Abbas saying that he heard the Prophet saying, "I, Ali, Hasan, Husayn, and nine from the progeny of Husayn are Purified." 14) Saduq has also quoted in his Ikmal Ibn Abayah ibn Rab`i citing Ibn Abbas saying that the Prophet has said: "I am the master of the Prophets, while Ali is the master of the wasis."
15) Saduq has also quoted in his Ikmal one hadith transmitted by Imam alSadiq through isnad stating that the Prophet has said: "Allah favoured me over all other prophets, and favoured Ali over all other wasis, and favoured from Ali's descendants Hasan and Husayn, and chose from Husayn's progeny the wasis who safeguard the faith against the distortion of extermists, the adulteration of liars, and the misinterpretations of those who have strayed."
16) Saduq, also in his Ikmal, has quoted Ali citing the Prophet saying: "The Imams after me are twelve: the first of them is Ali, and the last is alQa'im through whom Allah shall open the east of the earth as well as the west."
17) Saduq has also quoted in his Amali a lengthy hadith narrated by Ali in which the Prophet says, "Ali is of me, and I am of Ali who is created of my own mould; he solves people's disputes regarding my Sunnah; he is Imam Ali, the leader of the foremost among all men, and the best of wasis."
18) Saduq, also in his Amali, has quoted another lengthy hadith reported by Ali in which the Prophet says: "Ali is the Leader of the Believers according to the Wilayat of Allah which He tied in a knot upon His Throne and required the angels to witness; Ali is Allah's Vicegerent and Proof [Hujjatullah]; he is the Imam of the Muslims."
19) Saduq, also in his Amali, has quoted Ibn Abbas relating that the Prophet has said: "O Ali ! You are the Imam of the Muslims, the Chief of the Believers, the leader of the foremost renown of all men, Allah's Proof after me, and the master of all wasis."
20) Saduq, also in his Amali, has cited Ibn Abbas quoting the Prophet saying: "O Ali ! You are my successor over my nation, and you are to me like Seth to Adam."
21) Saduq, also in his Amali, has quoted Abu Zar alGhifari saying, ""We were once in the company of the Prophet at his mosque when he said: `A man will enter through this door who is Leader of the Believers and the Imam of the Muslims,' whereupon Ali ibn Abu Talib came in, and the Prophet welcomed him, turned his glorious face to us and said: `This is your Imam after me.'"
22) In his Amali, Saduq has cited Jabir ibn Abdullah alAnsari quoting the Prophet saying: "Ali ibn Abu Talib is the foremost among them in accepting Islam, and he is the most learned... He is the Imam and successor after me."
23) In his Amali, Saduq has also quoted one hadith correct through isnad related by Ibn Abbas who quotes the Prophet saying: "O people! Whose words are better than Allah's? Your Lord, Mighty is His Grace, has commanded me to assign Ali over you as the most outstanding Imam, as my own successor and executor of my will, and that you should regard him as my brother and vizier."
24) In his Amali, Saduq also quotes one hadith correct through isnad narrated by Abu `Ayyash who says: "the Prophet once ascended the pulpit and delivered a sermon in which he said: `My cousin Ali is also my brother, vizier, successor, and the one who pays my dues on my own behalf.'"
25) In his Amali, Saduq has also quoted one hadith correct through isnad reported by Imam Ali who says: "Once, the Prophet delivered a sermon in which he said: `O people! The month of Allah has approached,' and he continued his sermon recounting the attributes of the month of Ramadan. I asked: `O Prophet! What is the best of deeds in this month?' He replied: `It is staying away from whatever Allah has forbidden you,' then he burst weeping, so I inquired: `What grieves you, O Prophet?' and he answered: `O Ali ! I am grieving at what horrible forbidden things that will happen to you in the same month,' adding, `You are my wasi, the father of my descendants, and my successor over my nation during my lifetime and after my death; your bidding is as good as mine, and so is your forbidding.'"
26) In his Amali, Saduq has quoted another hadith narrated by Ali thus: "the Prophet has said: `O Ali ! You are my brother and I am yours; I have been chosen to be the Prophet while you have been chosen to be the Imam; I take charge of the revelation [of the Koran] while you take charge of its implementation; you are the father of this nation. O Ali ! You are my wasi and vicegerent, my vizier and heir, and the father of my offspring.'"
27) In his Amali, Saduq has also quoted one hadith the isnad of which is authentic as transmitted by Ibn Abbas who says: "While the Ansar were assembling at Quba' Mosque, the Prophet said: `O Ali ! You are my brother and I am yours; you are the executor of my will and my own successor, and the Imam of my nation after me: Allah will assist whoever assists you, and He will be the enemy of whoever antagonizes you.'"
28) In his Amali, Saduq has also quoted a lengthy hadith narrated by Ume Salma in which the Prophet addresses her thus: "O Ome Salma! Listen and bear witness: This Ali ibn Abu Tlib is the executor of my will; he is my successor, the one who tries my enemies, and the one who safeguards my Heavenly Fountain [of Al-Koser]."
29) In his Amali, Saduq has also quoted Salman al-Farisi saying, "I have heard the Prophet saying: `O Muhajirun and Ansar! Shall I lead you to that which, as long as you adhere to, shall never let you stray after me?' They said: `O yes, Prophet!' He said: `This Ali is my brother and the executor of my will, my vizier, heir and successor; he is your Imam; therefore, love him as much as I love him, and respect him as much as I respect him, for Gabriel has enjoined me to say so to you.'"
30) In his Amali, Saduq has also quoted through isnad one hadith related by Zayd ibn Arqam in which the Prophet is quoted saying: "Shall I lead you to that which, as long as you adhere to, will protect you against annihilation and straying? Your Imam and wali is Ali ibn Abu Talib; therefore, do support him, listen to his counsel, and believe in him, for Gabriel has ordered me to say so to you."
31) In his Amali, Saduq has quoted Ibn Abbas relating one hadith in which the Prophet says: "Allah has inspired to me: `I have selected from your nation a brother and heir for you, a successor and executor of your will.' I inquired: `O Lord! Who is he?' He replied: `It is he who loves me and I love him...,' till He said in His divine statement: `It is Ali ibn Abu Talib.'"
32) In his Amali, Saduq has quoted Ibn Abbas citing another hadith related by his ancestors in which the Prophet says: "During my isra' (night journey), my Lord promised me that Ali is the Imam of the pious, the leader of the foremost among renown men, the religion's chief."
34) In his Amali, Saduq has quoted one hadith through isnad to Imam alRida who quotes his ancestors citing the Prophet saying: "Ali is of me, and I am of Ali; may Allah wage war against those who fight Ali; Ali, indeed, is the Imam of creation after me."
35) Abu Jafar Muhammad ibn Hasan Tusi, the sect's shaykh, in his Amal quotes one hadith narrated by Ammar ibn Yasir in which the Prophet is quoted telling Ali, "Allah has decorated you in a way that is most dear to Him: through asceticism to the extent that you do not feel deprived of any of this life's pleasures, and none of them feels deprived of you, and He has endowed you with the love for the destitute, making their fellowship welcomed by you, and they welcome you as their Imam; therefore, congratulations to whoever loves you and believes in you, and woe unto whoever hates you and tells lies about you."
36) In his Amali, Shaykh Saduq has also quoted one hadith through isnad to Ali who has said while preaching from Kufa's pulpit: "O people! the Prophet granted me ten attributes that are dearer to me than anything upon which the sun shines: He has said to me: `O Ali ! You are my brother in this life and the life hereafter, and you are the closest to me among all creation on the Day of Resurrection; your residence in Paradise faces mine; you are my heir, the executor of my will after me, faring with both my foes and family; you protect my family on my own behalf during my absence; you are my nation's Imam; you execute justice among my followers; you are my friend, and my friend is the friend of Allah; your enemy is my enemy, and my enemy is surely the enemy of Allah.'"
37) In Saduq's book titled Al-Nusus `ala al-A'Imma, which contains texts relevant to the Imams, Hasan ibn Ali is quoted saying: "I have heard the Prophet say the following to my father: `And you are the inheritor of my knowledge, the substance of my own judgment, and the Imam after me.'"
38) Also in his work containing texts about the Imams, Saduq quotes `Umran ibn Hasin saying: "I have heard the Prophet say to Ali, `You are the Imam and successor after me.'"
39) Also in his same work, Saduq quotes Ali citing the Prophet saying to him: "O Ali ! You are the wasi over those who have died among my household, and the caliph of those who are alive among my nation."
40) Also in the same reference cited above, Saduq quotes Husayn ibn Ali saying: "When Allah revealed the verse: `And those who are kin of each other are more worthy of each other in the Book of Allah,' I asked the Prophet to interpret it, and he said: `You are the kin; when I die, your father Ali is the most worthy of me and my station; when your father dies, your brother Hasan is most worthy of it; and if Hasan dies, then you are most worthy of his station.'" This is the conclusion of what we wanted to quote in such a hurry. Its ratio to the remainder of the texts is like that of one bouquet to the remainder of all flowers, or the drop of water to the ocean; yet a portion should suffice; praise be to the Lord of the worlds.
# Our own testimonial against your argument is what we have already quoted from your own sahihs.
3) The reason why those texts were not included is due to the prejudice, with which we are familiar, of those who concealed their grudge, and hid their animosity, from the party of Pharaoh during the early epoch of Islam, worshippers of authority and domination who spent everything they possessed of might and means to hide the contributions of Ahlulbayt and put out their light in every land. They forced people to deny their feats and attributes through means and methods of both tempting and terrorizing, through their wealth once, and through their positions and political stature another. They bestowed their favours upon those who denied these merits, dismissing, banishing or even murdering those who believed in them. You know that the texts related to the imamate, and the promises of caliphate, are held with apprehension by those who fear that such texts may jeopardize their thrones or undermine the very foundations of their governments. The safety of these texts against the tampering of such people, of that of their followers and flatterers, and their ability to reach us through many sources and methods, is, indeed, a miracle testifying to their own truth. This is so due to the fact that those who denied the status of Ahlulbayt, usurped the positions rightly and divinely assigned to them, used to incur the worst punishment upon anyone who showed love for Ahlulbayt. They would shave his beard, convey him on the back of a donkey and tour the marketplaces, humiliating him, beating him and depriving him of even the most simple and basic human right, till he would lose all hope for justice from those rulers and despond of having friends in the community. So, if anyone spoke well of Ali, he would be disowned, and retribution would fall upon him; therefore, his possessions would be confiscated, and he would be executed. How many tongues praising Ali were cut off? How many eyes which looked at him with respect were gouged? How many hands which pointed out to him were amputated? How many feet which walked towards him affectionately were sawed? How many homes of his followers were burnt? And how many of their families were banished...? Among the narrators of hadith and "protectors of the legacy" were people who worshipped those monarchs and tyrants as well as their rulers other than worshipping Allah and they sought nearness to them with all their resources of scholarship, thus distorting, testifying for the authenticity of this or against the authenticity of that, just like many whom we see these days of flatterers among shaykhs, hired scholars, bad judges who race to please the rulers by endorsing their policies, be they just or unjust, calling their edicts correct, be they truly correct or corrupt; so, the ruler does not even have to ask them for a verdict in support of his regime or to indict his opponents, for they do so according to his own wish and according to the requirements of his policy, even if this means opposing the Book and the Sunnah, thus violating the nation's consensus, out of their own eagerness to safeguard their positions, or due to their coveting of a position they aspire to acquire. What a distance separates these from those! The latter did not value their governments, while the others needed their monarchs so badly, since they would use them to fight Allah and His Messenger. For this reason, they enjoyed with the monarchs and rulers a special lofty status, and their word was heeded; therefore, they commanded authority and prestige, and they were fanatical against the accurate ahadith if the latter pointed out to an attribute of Ali or of other members of the household of Prophethood; so, they would reject it strongly, dropping it violently, attributing to its narrators Rafidism - and Rafidism is the worst vice according in their judgment. This is their policy towards the traditions lauding Ali, especially if they are held in high esteem by the Shias. As regarding the flatterers, these have had friends in the specially high class in every land; they would speak highly of them, and they have for followers secular scholars who would publicize their views, from among those who make a show of asceticism and piety, among the leaders and tribal chiefs. When the latter hear what they say regarding rejecting those authentic ahadith, they would hold their statements as gospelrevealed and would publicize them among the commoners and the ignorant, thus making them wellknown in every land and using them as principles upheld in every time. There is another group of people who were custodians of hadith in those days, and who were forced by fear to overlook the ahadith praising Ali and Ahlulbayt. If those poor folks were asked about what those flatterers were saying regarding rejecting the accurate sunan containing Ali's contributions and those of Ahlulbayt, they would fear, if they told the general public of what they knew, that a blind, deaf and dumb dissension might occur. They were, therefore, forced out of fear to seek shelter by sidetracking the subject for fear of being rebuked by the flatterers and those who publicize for them, and for fear of those who repeat their words like parrots from among the populace and ignorant commoners. Kings and rulers ordered people to denounce Imam Ali. They pressured them to do so once by tempting them with money, and once by threatening them with their armies and dreadful promises of retribution, thus forcing them to belittle him and his lineage, so much so that they painted a disgusting picture of him in their books and narrated ahadith whereby ears feel offended, making the cursing of his name from the pulpits a tradition followed by the Muslims during both `Iids and on Fridays. The Light of Allah cannot be put out, and the contributions of His walis cannot be hidden; otherwise, those traditions would not have reached us through the sources of both groups, accurately and explicitly implying his caliphate. No texts are more consecutively reported than the texts in his praise, and I, by Allah, wonder about the favours which He has bestowed upon Ali ibn Abu Talib, His servant and the brother of His Messenger, how his light pierced through the clouds, the pitch of darkness, and survived the tumultuous waves, letting its ray shine on the world like midday sun!
4) You may refer, in addition to all the irrefutable proofs you have heard, to the text of inheritance, for it by itself is an irrefutable proof.
# There is no doubt that the Prophet has left Ali with a legacy of knowledge and wisdom as much as the Almighty permitted His prophets and wasis to inherit, so much so that the Prophet has said: "I am the city of knowledge and Ali is its gate; therefore, whoever wishes to attain knowledge, let him approach through the gate." He has said: "I am the storehouse of wisdom, and Ali is its door... Ali is the gateway of my knowledge, the one who explains after me the Message with which I have been sent; loving him is indicative of genuine faith, and hating him is hypocrisy." According to Zayd ibn Abu Awfah, he has addressed Ali thus: "You are my brother and heir;" whereupon Ali inquired: "And what will you bequeath unto me?" He answered: "Whatever Prophets before me used to bequeath." In another hadith, he according to Buraydah, has said: "The heir of my knowledge is Ali." Refer also to the hadith on the day of warning. During the lifetime of the Prophet Ali used to say: "By Allah, I am his brother, successor and cousin, and the heir of his knowledge; so, who is more worthy of all this other than myself?" Once Ali was asked: "How did you come to inherit your cousin rather than your uncle?" He answered: "the Prophet gathered the descendants of Abdul Muttalib, who were quite a few, and each one of them had such an appetite that would consider tree trunks edible and would drink water though not potable, and he prepared for them a mudd of food (a dry measure approximately Tangier 46.61, about one and threequarters of a pound); yet they all ate till they were satisfied, while the food looked as if it was not touched. Then he said: `O descendants of AbdulMuttalib! I have been sent to you in particular, and to all people in general; so, who among you pledges to be my brother, friend and heir?' Nobody stood; so, I stood, though the youngest among the attendants, but he told me to sit. He repeated his statement twice, and each time, I was the only one who stood up, and every time he would tell me to sit. On the third time, he shook hands with me; thus did I come to inherit my cousin instead of my uncle.'" According to alHakim's Mustadrak, and to alThahbi's Talkhis, who both testify to its authenticity, Qatham ibn Abbas was asked once: "How did Ali come to inherit the Prophet rather than your own selves?" He answered: "It is so due to his being the foremost among us in following him, and in keeping company with him more than anyone of us." It was wellknown that Ali, rather than his uncle Abbas or any descendant of Hashim, was the heir of the Prophet. They accepted that as a fact, though they were informed of the reason why such inheritance was confined to Ali alone, who was the Prophet's cousin, rather than to Abbas, his uncle, or to any other uncle or relative of the Prophet. For this reason, they used to ask Ali once and once Qatham, and the latter used to answer them as stated above in a way that is satisfactory to the understanding of those inquirers. Otherwise, the answer would be that Allah looked upon the people of the earth and chose from among them Muhammad and elevated him to be the Prophet, then He cast another look and selected Ali and inspired to His Messenger to take him as his heir and successor. On page 125, vol 3, of Mustadrak, alHakim, having quoted Qatham stating the above, says: "The judge of judges [supreme judge, or grand mufti], Abul-Hasan Muhammad ibn Salih alHashimi, has told me that he once heard Abu Umar the judge saying: `I heard Isma`il ibn Ishaq the judge, having been informed of what Qatham had said, saying that a man inherits another through either a blood relationship or sincere loyalty, and men of knowledge do not dispute the fact that [under normal circumstances] a cousin does not become the heir while the uncle [his father] is still alive.' According to such consensus, Ali inherited the Prophet's knowledge rather than they." As a matter of fact, chroniclers are sequential in narrating such a fact, especially through the sources of the purified progeny, and suffices us for proof is the Will and its clear texts.
Letter # 9 - Shias say Prophet left a Will regarding Ali's sucession. Sunnis are not familiar with any Will left for Ali [by the Prophet], nor are they acquainted with any of its contents. Also, we deny this Will, simply because of what Bukhari has narrated in his Sahih where he quotes alAswad saying, "It was said once to Aisha, may Allah be pleased with her, that the Prophet had made a Will regarding Ali, and she responded: `Who said so? I have seen the Prophet, while I was reclining him to my chest, when he ordered a washbowl to be brought to him; I hardly noticed how fast he collapsed and died; so, how could he have made a Will to Ali?" In the same reference, the author quotes other sources citing Aisha saying, "the Prophet breathed his last while being between my stomach and under my chin," and she is often quoted saying, "He died reclining on my chest," and she may have said: "He died while his head was on my thigh." So, had there been any Will, she would have come to know about it. In Muslim's Sahih, in a treatise on the subject of Wills on page 14, volume 2, the author quotes Aisha saying, "the Prophet left neither a dinar nor a dirham, nor a male nor a female camel, nor did he leave any Will." In both sahihs, in a treatise on Wills, Talhah ibn Masrif is quoted saying, "I asked Abdullah ibn Abu Awfah: `Did the Prophet leave any Will at all?' He answered: `No.' I asked him: `How did he enjoin people to write their Wills while he himself did not do so?' He answered: `His Will is the Book of Allah.'" Since these ahadith are more authentic than the ones which you have cited, and are included in both sahihs, while the ones you have cited are not, they can be brought forth as irrefutable arguments, Wassalam.
Reply # 9:
# The texts regarding the Will are consecutively reported through the Imams of the purified progeny; so, refer to what has been stated in this regard by others as mentioned that quotes the statements of the Prophet who took Ali by the neck and said: "This is my brother and successor; he shall succeed me in faring with you; therefore, listen to him and obey him." Muhammad ibn Hamid alRazi quotes Salamah alAbrash, Ibn Ishaq, Abu Rabi`ah alAyadi, Ibn Buraydah, ending with the latter's father Buraydah citing the Prophet saying: "For every Prophet there is a successor and an heir; my successor and heir is Ali ibn Abu Talib." In his Kabir, and through isnad to Salman al-Farisi, alTabrani quotes the latter citing the Prophet saying: "My successor, my confidant, the best man I leave behind me to fulfill my promise and implement my religion, is Ali ibn Abu Talib." This is a clear text proving that he is the successor, and an obvious testimony that he is the best of people after the Prophet. It contains an obligatory instruction that he should succeed him, and that people should obey him, as is clear to the wise. Abu Naim in his Hilyatul Awliya, quotes Anas saying that the Prophet said to him: "O Anas! The first to enter this door is the Imam of the pious, the leader of Muslims, the chief of religion, the seal of successors of prophets, and the leader of the most pious among renown men." Anas says that Ali came in, and the Prophet stood up with excitement, hugged Ali and said to him: "You will discharge my responsibility, convey my instructions, and explain all that in which they will dispute after me." AlTabrani, in his AlKabir, quotes Abu Ayyub alAnsari citing the Prophet saying that the Prophet addressed Fatima once thus: "O Fatima! Have you not come to know that Allah cast a look at the inhabitants of the earth and chose your father from among them and sent him as His Messenger, then He cast a second look and selected your husband and inspired me to marry him to you and appoint him as my successor?" Notice how Allah selected Ali from among all other inhabitants of the earth, immediately after selecting from among them the Seal of His Prophets and see how the selection of the successor is conducted in the same sequence to the selection of the Prophet. Also see how Allah inspired His Prophet to solemnize his marriage and appoint him as his successor. See if successors of prophets were any other than the latter's own wasis. Is it fitting to push aside [when it comes to selecting a caliph] one who is the best among Allah's servants, the wasi of the master of His Prophets, and prefer someone else over him? Is it fitting if someone else, other than he, should rule the Muslims and make him simply one of his own commoners and subjects? Is it possible, by virtue of reason, that one elected by people should be obeyed by that who was selected by Allah, just as He selected His Prophet? How is it possible that both Allah Himself and His Messenger choose him while we elect someone else? "No believing man nor woman, after Allah and His Messenger have decreed an edict, should practice free will regarding their affairs; and whoever disobeys Allah and His Messenger surely strays manifestly (33:36)." Narratives abound that state that as soon as those who were hypocritical, envious, and interestseeking came to know that the Prophet was going to marry his daughter Fatima al Zahra, mistress of the women of paradise and equal only to Mary, to Ali, they envied Ali and were extremely concerned, especially after many of them had unsuccessfully sought her hand. They said that that was indicative of Ali's status; so, nobody had any hope of being his peer, and they even plotted and schemed. They sent their women to the Mistress of the Women of the World trying to turn her against Ali. Among what they said to her was that Ali was poor and did not have much of this world's possessions, but she was quite aware of their scheming and ill intentions as well as those of their men. In spite of all this, she did not offend them in any way, till the Will of Allah and of His Messenger was carried out. It was then that she desired to show those women the status enjoyed by Imam Ali whereby Allah will shame his enemies, and she said: "O Prophet! Why did you marry me to a poor man who has no money?" He answered her in the way stated above. When Allah wishes to publicize A virtue hidden from the eyes, He facilitates to it one very well known To covet and envy everyone. AlKhatib quotes one author whose isnad is unanimously agreed upon, and who is very highly respected, namely Ibn Abbas, saying: "When the Prophet solemnized the marriage of Fatima and Ali, Fatima said: `O Prophet! You have married me to a poor man who does not have anything.' The Prophet said to her: `Are you not pleased that Allah has chosen from among the inhabitants of the earth two men one of whom is your father and the other is your husband?'" Recounting the attributes of Ali, alHakim, on page 129, vol 3, of his Mustadrak, quotes Sarij ibn Yunus citing Abu Hafs alAbar, alA`mash, Abu Salih, and ending with Abu Hurayrah who quotes Fatima saying: "O Prophet! Why have you married me to a poor man with no money?" He answered: "O Fatima! Are you not pleased that Allah cast a look at the inhabitants of the earth and chose two men one of whom is your father and the other is your husband?" Ibn Abbas is also quoted saying that the Prophet has said the following to Fatima: "Are you not pleased that I have married you to the one who is the foremost among Muslims in accepting Islam and the one endowed with more knowledge? You are the Mistress of the women of my nation, just as Mary was the mistress of the women of her nation; are you not pleased, O Fatima, that Allah cast a look at the people of the earth and chose two men from among them: one of them is your father and the other is your husband?" the Prophet whenever the Mistress of the women of the world suffered any hardship, would remind her of Allah's favour and that of His Messenger unto her, since he married her to the best of his nation, thus solacing her and removing from her chest whatever pain time had brought her. Suffices you for a testimonial on this subject what Ahmed bin Hanbal has stated on page 26, vol 5, of his Musnad where he quotes one particular hadith narrated by Ma`qil ibn Yasar in which the Prophet is reported to have visited Fatima when she fell sick and said to her: "How do you feel?" She answered: "By Allah, my grief has intensified, my want has worsened, and my sickness has lasted for too long." He said to her: "Yet are you not satisfied that I have married you to the one who is the foremost among my nation in accepting Islam, the one endowed with more knowledge, and the greatest in clemency?" Narratives relating this issue are numerous.
# The Prophet's Will regarding Ali cannot be repudiated, for there is no doubt that he entrusted him, having bequeathed to him his knowledge and wisdom, to wash his corpse, enshroud it and bury it, and to pay his dues, fulfill his promise on his behalf, defray his outstanding debts, and explain to people after him whatever matters in which they differed regarding the commandments and injunctions of Allah. He also entrusted the nation to take Ali as his successor, brother, the father of his descendants, his vizier, confidant, the executor of his Will, his vicegerent, the gateway of his knowledge, according to hadith, the gateway of his wisdom, according to hadith, the Gate of Salvation of his nation, according to hadith, its security and the ark of its salvation, as testified by the traditions. Obeying Ali is as important as obeying the Prophet himself: disobedience to him is a sin equal to that of disobeying the Prophet according to hadith and according to others. Following him is equal to following the Prophet; abandoning him is abandoning the Prophet, according to hadith, that he [Prophet] is on peaceful terms with whoever is peaceful with him, and he is an enemy of whoever bears animosity towards him, the friend of whoever befriends him and the enemy of whoever antagonizes him; whoever loves him is loved by Allah and His Messenger, and whoever hates him does in turn hate Allah and His Messenger, according to ahadith. Whoever befriends him befriends them both, and whoever antagonizes him in fact antagonizes them both, according to hadith 23 cited in the same reply; whoever harms him harms them too; whoever denounces him does in fact denounce both Allah and His Messenger according to hadith. He is the Imam of the righteous and the annihilator of the debauchees; whoever supports is in fact divinely supported, and whoever betrays him is betrayed by the Almighty, according to the first hadith cited in the same reply and according to others; he is the master of Muslims and the Imam of the righteous, the leader of the pious among the most renown men, according to ahadith; he is the banner of guidance, the Imam of Allah's servants, the lighthouse of whoever obeys Allah's commandments, the Word which Allah has enjoined upon the pious, according to hadith 6 in the same reply and according to others; he is the supreme Siddiq, the nation's Faruq, and the believers' chief, according to hadith 7 in the same reply and according to others. His status is like that of the Great Furqan (Koran) and the Wise Remembrance. He is to the Prophet in the same position which Harun held in comparison to Moses, and to the Prophet's status with his Lord, according to hadith 13 of in our reply, and according to others, and like the position of the Prophet's head to his body, according to the hadith, suggesting that you may observe our comment. He is like unto his own self according to the verse of Mubahala and to the hadith quoted by Ibn Awf. Allah cast a look at the inhabitants of the earth and chose him from among them as is clear from the traditions which we have quoted in our [other] reply. Suffices you his covenant on the standing day at Arafat during the Farewell Pilgrimage, and that nobody discharges the Prophet's responsibility other than the Prophet himself or Ali, up to the end of so many such attributes which nobody else can claim other than a wasi, and those who enjoy a special status with the Prophet; so, how can any wise person deny the Prophet's Will, or overlook it, other than an interestseeker? What is a Will other than entrusting a person with some such matters? 2) As regarding the followers of the four sects, whoever denies it from among them does so thinking that accepting it will jeopardize the legitimacy of the caliphate of the three Imams.
3) We cannot accept their argument just because it is based upon what Bukhari and others have said. They quote Talhah ibn Masrif saying: "I asked Abdullah ibn Abu Awfah: `Did the Prophet leave any Will at all?' He answered: `No.' I asked: `How did he enjoin people to write their Wills while he himself did not do so?' He answered: `His Will is the Book of Allah.'" This hadith is not confirmed through our sources; it is but a fabrication necessitated by certain politicians. Regardless of that, the sahihs of the purified progeny are mutawatir regarding the issue of the Will; so, let all texts which disagree with them be discarded.
4) Yet the issue of the Will does not even require any argument due to the dictates of reason and common sense. If something elongates, it stands by itself - in form and hue; For surely the sun dissipates all that seems to be untrue. As regarding Bukhari's narrative from Ibn Abu Awfah who claims that the Prophet has left the Book of Allah as his Will, it is a statement the tail of which is cut off, for he had recommended to his nation to uphold both Weighty Things spontaneously, warning it of the danger of straying if it did not do so, informing it that they both would never part from each other till they reached him at the Heavenly Fountain [Koser]. Our sahihs in this regard are consecutively reported from the sources of the purified progeny; so, you may refer to other sahihs as quoted.
Letter # 10 - Why do you [Shias] - may Allah forgive you - turn away from the mother of believers and the best of the Prophet's consorts [Aisha] and discarded her hadith, leaving it to oblivion, while her statement is the final and just judgment?
Reply # 10:
# The mother of the believers Aisha enjoys a special status, and she has her own contribution standing to her credit, but she is not the best of the Prophet's wives. How can she be the best since one authentic hadith quotes her saying, "the Prophet once mentioned Khadija, and I objected by saying: `She was an old woman, and such and such, and Allah has granted you someone better than her [meaning herself].' He said: `Not at all; Allah has not granted me better than her; she believed in me when people denounced me, and she believed in me when people called me a liar; she shared her wealth with me when people deprived me, and Allah blessed me with children by her while depriving me of the children of all others'"? Aisha is also reported as having said, "the Prophet never left home before mentioning Khadija and praising her. One day, he mentioned her, and I felt jealous. I said: `Was she but an old woman, while Allah has blessed you with someone better than her?' He became so offended that his front hair shook in anger, then he said: `No, by Allah! Allah did not bless me with anyone better than her! She believed in me when people disbelieved; she held me truthful when people called me a liar; she gave me an equal share of her wealth when people deprived me, and Allah blessed me with children by her while depriving me the children of other women.'"
2) The best of the Prophet's consorts, therefore, is Khadija al-Kubra, the truthful of this nation, the foremost in believing in Allah and His Book, and in solacing His Prophet. Allah has inspired His Messenger to convey the good news to her that she had in Paradise a house built of stalks of gold and silver, and that she had been a favourite of Allah. The Almighty said of her: "The best of the women of Paradise are Khadija daughter of Khuaylid, Fatima daughter of Muhammad, Asiya daughter of Muzahim, and Mary daughter of `Umran (Amram)." He has said: "Among all the women of the world, commended are Khadija daughter of Khuaylid, Fatima daughter of Muhammad, Asiya daughter of Muzahim, and Mary daughter of `Umran." There are other ahadith which are among the most authentic and reliable emphasizing the same. It cannot also be said that Aisha was the best among the mothers of believers save Khadija. Reliable traditions and recorded events refuse to favour her over the others, as is obvious to the wise. She probably thought of herself as being superior to all others, and the Prophet did not agree with her selfassessment. The same happened with Safiyya daughter of Huyay when the Prophet entered her room once and found her weeping. He asked her: "What grieves you?" She answered: "I have come to know that both Aisha and Hafsa speak ill of me and say that they are better than me." He said: "Couldn't you have told them: `How can you be better than me, since my father is Harun, my uncle is Moses, and my husband is Muhammad?'" Whoever traces the mother of the believers Aisha in her deeds and statements will find her as we indicate here.
3) The reason why we have discarded her hadith regarding the Will is due to the fact that it does not constitute an argument.
# Due to the wealth of your knowledge, you know where we come from. Here lies the fountainhead of the Will; here lies the battle-ground of explicit texts; here lies the annihilation of the khums, inheritance, and creed; here lies the cause of sedition; here lies the reason of discord; here lies the root of dissension... While fighting Imam Ali, she toured the lands, leading a huge army in order to usurp his government and put an end to his rule.
"What happened has happened; I am no narrator of that;
So have good thoughts, and do not ask who, when or what."
To argue in support of denying the Will to Ali using her own statement, the most bitter of his enemies that she was, is an attempt not expected at all from any fairminded person. And that was not the only incident that demonstrated her animosity towards Ali. Denying the Will to Ali is much less significant than the Lesser Camel Battle and the Greater Camel Battle in which evil intentions surfaced and the curtain removed. Likewise, her attitude was manifest even before going out to fight him, the man who was her own wali, and her Prophet's wasi, till the news of his death reached her, whereupon she prostrated to thank God (for his martyrdom) and composed these lines:
She laid down her rod, happy and pleased,
Her heart joyful, her mind eased;
As a traveller arrives home, of burdens relieved;
Never say Aisha, by Ali's death, was grieved.
If you desire, I may quote for you of her hadith what proves to you that she was in remote error. She has said: "When the Prophet became seriously sick, he went out dragging his feet, reclining on two persons; one of them was Abbas ibn AbdulMuttalib and another man." The narrator of this hadith comments adding: "I informed Abdullah Ibn Abbas about what Aisha had said, and he responded to me saying, `Do you know the name of the man whom Aisha did not name?' I said: `no.' Ibn Abbas said: `He was Ali ibn Abu Talib.'" The narrator continues to say that Aisha does not wish Ali any good. If she did not wish any good to a man with whom the Prophet walked, how could she then be expected to feel good about mentioning the Will which contains a great deal of good for Ali? On page 113, vol 6, of his Musnad, Ahmed bin Hanbal quotes `Ata' ibn Yasar saying: "A man came and spoke ill of both Ali and Ammar to Aisha who responded by saying, `As regarding Ali, I have nothing to say to defend him; but concerning Ammar, I have heard the Prophet say that whenever Ammar had to opt between two options, he always chose the most reasonable of them.'" Have you noticed that?! The mother of the believers warns about plotting against Ammar due to the saying of the Prophet "Whenever Ammar had to opt between two options, he always chose the most reasonable of them," while refraining from warning against plotting to harm Ali who is the brother and successor of the Prophet, his Harun and confidant, the most just among his nation, the foremost to believe in his message, the one whose merits are the most...! As if she is not aware of his status in the eyes of Allah, or his position in the heart of the Prophet or his status in Islam, his great efforts for its promotion, and his handsome contributions. As if she never heard anything in the Book of Allah nor the Sunnah of His Messenger in his praise, so that she would place him at par with Ammar! By Allah, my mind is perplexed when I consider her statement: "I have seen the Prophet while on my chest, ordering a wash-bowl to be brought to him; I hardly noticed how fast he collapsed and died; so, how could he have made a Will to Ali?" I do not know which aspect of her statement I should criticize, being scrutinized as a whole from various angles. I wonder how anyone can presume that since his death took place the way she described, he could not have left a Will. Did she think that a Will is valid only at the time of death?! No, but it is the excuse of one who is fighting the irrefutable truth, whoever he or she may be, while Allah has said in His Glorious Book, addressing His revered Messenger "It is prescribed unto you when death approaches someone to leave something good, a Will (2:180 and 5:106)." Did the mother of the believers ever see him going against the instructions of the Book of Allah or ignoring its injunctions? God forbid. She saw him following its guidance, adhering to its verses, rushing to obey its bidding and forbidding, reaching the ultimate end of adherence to all its injunctions. There is no doubt in my mind that she must have heard him saying: "No believer who knows that he is leaving something behind him should sleep even two nights without having his Will written," or something in this meaning, for his instructions regarding the writing of Wills have undoubtedly come from him. It does not fit him or any other Prophet to bid something without doing it himself, or forbid something while doing the opposite thereof; Allah is above selecting such individuals for conveying His message. As regarding what Muslim and others have quoted Aisha saying: "the Prophet left neither a dinar nor a dirham, neither a male nor a female camel, nor did he leave any Will," it is just like its previous "hadith." Yet it is not correct to assume that what she meant was that he did not leave any Will at all, but rather that he did not have possessions which required a Will, for, indeed, he did not leave much of this world's wares, the most ascetic person that he was. He joined his Lord leaving a few outstanding debts, and a few items, in addition to things entrusted to him by other people which required a Will [regarding who they belonged to. He also left of his own possessions something that would help defray his debts, and the fulfillment of his promises, with a remnant that required being handed over to his heir. The proof for that is what Fatima alZahra rightfully demanded of her father's inheritance.
2) the Prophet left things which demanded a Will, things which no other human being ever left. Suffices you that he left the upright religion of Allah, while still at the beginning of its growth and early inception, and that by itself demanded an heir more than did gold or silver, a house or a real estate, lands or cattle. The entire nation became his orphans and widows, seeking refuge with his successor to take his place to fare with them and manage their religious and secular affairs. It is impossible that the Prophet should have entrusted Allah's religion, while still in its cradle, to inclinations and presumptions, or left the protection of its legislation to personal motives and interests, without a successor to look after religious as well as secular affairs, someone upon whom he could rely to represent him before the public. He is above leaving his orphans, who inhabited spacious lands, like frightened cattle in a rainy winter night, without anyone to look after them. He is above abandoning the Will especially after having received instructions in its regard from his Lord and thus strongly commanded his nation to do so. Reason does not listen to the claim that no Will was made, even if such a claim comes from a highly respected person. At the dawn of the Islamic era, the Prophet made a Will to Ali even before his mission was publicized in Mecca, immediately following the revelation of the verse saying: "And warn your near kin (26:214)," as we explained. He continued repeating his Will, time and over again, emphasizing it through many covenants to which we had referred. When he finally wished, while in his last hours, may I sacrifice my parents for his own sake, to write his Will to Ali to emphasize his previous verbal covenants, and to back his previous verbal statements in this regard, he said: "Bring me some writing material so that I may write for you something to protect you against straying," but they disputed, while no dispute is permitted in the presence of a Prophet, and said: "the Prophet is delirious." It was then that he realized, after they had made such a statement, that no trace would remain of his intended order, if implemented, other than dissension; therefore, he told them to clear his room, feeling satisfied with the verbal covenants which he had made to Ali. In spite of all this, however, he made three recommendations at the time of his death: that they should select Ali as his successor; that they should turn the polytheists out of the Arabian peninsula; and that they should reward the envoys in the same way he used to reward them. But the dictates of politics at that time did not permit the traditionists to narrate his first Will, claiming that they had forgotten it. Bukhari, at the conclusion of the hadith containing the charge that the Prophet was delirious, said verbatim: "And his Will at the time of his death contained three instructions: to turn the polytheists out of the Arabian peninsula, to reward the envoys in the same way which he used to reward them..., and the third one was forgotten." This is how Muslim puts it in his Sahih, and so do all other authors of sunan and musnads.
3) The claim of the mothers of believers that the Prophet joined his Lord while being on her chest is opposed by the authenticated tradition stating that he joined the Supreme Companion while being on the chest of his brother and friend (wali) Ali ibn Abu Talib, according to all consecutively reported sahihs from the Imams of the purified progeny which are supported by Sunni sahihs, as is well known to researchers.
Letter # 11 - [To the Shia] allegation that Aisha's biased indisposition against the Imam bids her to deny the Will; we say that those who are familiar with her lifestyle deny the allegation that she yields to emotion while narrating hadith about the Prophet or that she seeks a special interest; so, she cannot be accused while quoting the Prophet's hadith, albeit if the subject matter of such hadith is someone she likes or someone she does not. God forbid that interests dominate her mind to the extent that she lies while quoting hadith from the Prophet preferring to promote her own interest rather than telling the truth. The other is, that reason alone refuses your claim that this hadith is authentic, for it is neither logical nor permissible to conclude that the Prophet would leave the religion of Allah in its cradle, while Allah's servants are following a new creed, without having made a Will instructing them regarding their affairs. The answer to your claim is that this matter is based on rational goodness and ugliness, and the Sunnis disclaim it, for reason according to their judgment does not at all determine whether something is pleasant or ugly; rather, they believe that jurisdiction is the one that determines it. They believe that whatever the jurisdiction labels as good, they accept it as good, and whatever the jurisdiction describes as bad, they consider it as such, and reason cannot be relied upon at all in such matters. As regarding what you have mentioned at the conclusion of your reply, concerning your rejection of the claim of the mother of believers that the Prophet died on her chest, we are not familiar with any hadith narrated by Sunnis which disproves it; so, if you are aware of any such hadith.
Reply # 11:
# Sunnis claim that it is well known from Aisha's lifestyle that she does not yield to emotion, and that she does not seek any special interest. Please free your own self from the shackles of convention and sentimentality and carefully and studiously research her method of dealing with those whom she liked, as well as with those whom she did not like, for there you will see sentimentality most manifestly. Do not forget her dealing with Uthman ibn `Affan by word and deed, her secret and public schemes against Ali, Fatima, Hasan and Husayn, and her behaviour towards other mothers of the believers; nay, even with the Prophet himself; for in these there is a great deal of manifestations of her sentiments and interestseeking. Suffices you for a proof what we, proving how sentimentality tempts some people into misbehaving, have cited regarding the masters of conspiracy and purgery, out of animosity towards Lady Mary [the Copt, consort of the Prophet] and her son Ibrahim, till Allah cleared them of such unjust accusations at the hands of Imam Ali, in a manner that is tangible and clear: "And Allah turned the spiteful disbelievers back emptyhanded (33:25)." If you desire, I may recount more proofs and state the fact that, following her own sentiments, she once said to the Prophet "It seems as if you reek of the odor of maghafir [odorous tiny flowers]," so that he might not taste some honey at the house of the mother of believers Zainab bint Jahsh, may Allah be pleased with her. If a trivial reason like this permits her to address the Prophet in such a manner, how can she be relied upon when she denies that he left a Will for Ali? Do not also forget her yielding to sentiment when Asma' bint alNu`man was wedded to the Prophet. She said to her: "When the Prophet weds a woman, he likes to hear her say: `I seek refuge with Allah against you,'" aiming thereby to turn the Prophet against his wedding altogether and make him hate the poor woman, as if she allowed herself to attribute statements to the Prophet as long as such statements served her own purpose, even when her purpose was petty or prohibitive. Once he asked her to see how a particular woman was doing, and she informed him of the opposite of what she had observed, seeking her own selfinterest. Once she complained about him to her father, succumbing again to her sentiments, saying, "Do not now be biased," whereupon her father slapped her so hard that her clothes became soaked with her blood. Once, having felt angry with him she said: "... and you claim to be Allah's Messenger...," in addition to many such incidents the narrative of which would require a much larger space, and what we have quoted here must suffice.
2) You have said, while commenting on the second point, that Sunnis do not subscribe to what is called rationally pleasant or unpleasant, etc. I think of you as being above making such a statement which is reminiscent of sophists who deny even concrete facts. Among our deeds are those of whose goodness we are quite sure, and they are praiseworthy and rewardable due to their own merits, such as charity and fairness, since we know what they are, while there are others with whose ugliness we also are familiar, and they demand repudiation and punishment because of their own evil, such as injustice and aggression, since they are what they are. The wise know that there is a need that necessitates such judgments, and the wise are as certain regarding these matters as they are certain that the single is half the pair. Simple common sense always determines the distinction between your treatment of someone who is good to you and of someone who is not. Reason determines the goodness of the first person's treatment to you and its being praiseworthy by you, as well as the ugliness of the second and its being worthy of renunciation and punishment. Whoever doubts this is a rebel against his own reason. Had the goodness or the evil of what we have mentioned here been matters of the legislative code, then they would not have been adopted and implemented by those who denied all divine codes such as atheists and secular rulers. In spite of their denial of religion, the latter still condone equity and goodness, determining thereupon their praise and rewards, without doubting at all the ugliness of injustice or aggression, nor the necessity to denounce such deeds and to punish their doers. Their criterion in their judgment is nothing other than reason; so, talk no more about those who belittle reason and conscience, nor of those who deny what all wise men know, ruling in the contrary of what the human nature dictates, the nature which Allah has created and embedded within His servants. He has enabled them thereby to realize facts that are discernable by their faculty of reason, just as He made them able to recognize matters through their senses and feelings. Their nature, then, demands that they should be able to rationally judge equity and the like as good, and injustice and its peers as ugly, just as being able to distinguish through the sense of taste between the sweetness of honey and the bitterness of colocynth [citrullus colocynthis], and through their sense of smell can they distinguish between the fragrance of musk [chenopodium botrys] and the stink of cadaver, and through their sense of touch can they distinguish between what is soft and what is rough, and through their faculty of seeing can they tell the difference between a pleasant and an ugly view, and through their faculty of hearing can they tell the difference between the music of the pipe and the braying of a donkey. Such is the nature which Allah has created: "He created people in such a way; indeed, there is no way anyone can change His creation; this is the straight religion, though most people do not know (30:30)." The Asharis desired to exaggerate the power of faith in the legislative system and the attitude towards a total submission to its judgment; therefore, they denied the judgment of the wise, saying that there is no judgment other than what is legislated. Thus did they become oblivious of the absolute rational theory stating that "Whatever a wise person decides should be the decision of the legislator," and heedless of the fact that they by doing so in fact left no excuse for their own selves, thus discarding any criterion whereby they might ascertain a legislative code or discard it altogether. This is so due to the fact that to arrive at such a conclusion through legislative proofs is like running in a circle, and no pretext can be applied therewith. Had there been no authority for reason, implementing tradition or consecutively reported hadith would have been rejected. Nay! Had there been no intellect, nobody would have worshipped Allah nor come to know Him. Expounding in this subject has been recorded in a library containing works of our renown scholars.
3) As regarding the claim of the mother of the believers that the Prophet died on her chest, it is a claim which we reject based upon sahihs sequentially reported by members of the purified progeny. Refer to what others have stated as quoted by Ibn Saad. He quotes Ali saying: "the Prophet during his ailment [preceding his demise], said: `Fetch me my brother,' so I came to him and he asked me to come closer, and so did I; thereupon, he reclined on me. He continued reclining on me thus and talking to me, so much so that some of his saliva fell on me, then the Prophet breathed his last;" as stated on page 51, Part Two, vol 2, of the author's Tabaqat, in a section about those who said that the Prophet died in Ali's lap.
It is hadith number 1107 on page 55, vol 4, of Kanz al-Ummal. Abu Naim in his Hilyatul Awliya, Abu Ahmed alFardi in his Naskh, and many other authors of books of traditions have all quoted Ali saying: "the Prophet taught me," meaning during that sickness, "a thousand doors each one of which leads to a thousand others." It is hadith number 6009 quoted at the end of page 392, vol 6, of Kanz al-Ummal. Whenever Umar ibn Khattab was asked about anything regarding these matters, he would say nothing other than: "Ask Ali, since he is the one who can handle it." Jabir ibn Abdullah Ansari is quoted saying that Ka`b alAhbar once asked Umar: "What were the last words of the Prophet?" Umar answered: "Ask Ali." Ka`b did so, and Ali said: "I let the Prophet recline his head on my flanks till he finally uttered: `Prayers! [i.e. uphold prayers] Prayers!" Ka`b said: "This, indeed, is the call of all prophets, and for this purpose are they sent." Then Ka`b asked Umar who gave the ceremonial funeral bath to the Prophet's corpse, and his answer was again: "Ask Ali." When Ka`b asked Ali, Ali answered that it was he who did so, as stated by Ibn Saad on page 51, Part Two, vol 2, of Tabaqat, and it is hadith 1106 in Kanz al-Ummal quoted on page 55, vol 4. Ibn Abbas was asked once: "Have you seen when the Prophet died, if his head was on anyone's lap?" He answered: "He died reclining on Ali's chest." It was said to him that `Urwah narrates a tradition from Aisha saying that he died reclining on her chest, and Ibn Abbas denied it, asking the person who put the question forth: "Do you believe it?! By Allah, the Prophet died reclining his head on Ali's chest, and Ali is the one who gave him his bath," as quoted by Ibn Saad on the same page mentioned above, and it is hadith number 1108 of the ones enumerated in Kanz al-Ummal, page 55, vol 4. Ibn Saad cites Imam Zainulabidin saying: "the Prophet breathed his last while his head was in Ali's lap," as quoted by Ibn Saad on page 51. Traditions documenting this subject are consecutively reported from all Imams of the purified progeny. Many of those who opted to deviate from their path admit that, too, so much so that Ibn Saad has quoted al Shabi saying: "the Prophet passed away while his head was in Ali's lap; and it was Ali who gave him his [funeral] bath," as mentioned on the page referred to above in Tabaqat. Imam Ali used to declare the same publicly; therefore, you may refer to his statement in one of his sermons where he says: "Custodians of the hadith among the companions of the Prophet know very well that I never hesitated to implement the commandments of Allah, nor lagged in discharging the orders of His Messenger, not even for one hour. I, by the Grace of Allah, on many occasions risked my own life defending his, when even heroes retreated and feet slowed down, and he breathed his last while his head rested on my chest, and even his saliva fell on my hand, whereupon I rubbed it on my face. I took care of washing his corpse, the angels assisting me, and the house and its courtyards became full of the noise of angels descending and ascending, and I never ceased hearing their prayers unto him, till we buried him; so, who is more worthy of him alive or dead than I?" as stated at the conclusion of page 196, vol 2, of Nahjul Balagha, and on page 590, vol 2, of Ibn Hadid's Sharh Nahjul Balagha. So is his soliloquy when he was burying the Leader of all Women, peace be upon her. He said:
"Peace be upon you, O Prophet, from me and from your daughter who has come now to be your neighbour, rushing to reunite with you... My patience, O Prophet, about the death of your chosen one has run out, and my consolation has waned and withered. Deep, indeed, is my grief for being separated from you, and great is the calamity, while the extent of your grief is a source for consolation, for I laid you to sleep in the tomb of your grave, after your soul had parted from your body that was resting on my chest; therefore, we are God's, and unto Him is our return,"
up to the end of his statement which is stated at the end of page 207, vol 2, of Nahjul Balagha, and on page 590, vol 2, of Sharh Nahjul Balagha by Ibn Abul Hadid. Ume Salma has also narrated an authentic hadith saying: "By the One by Whom alone do I swear, Ali was the closest to the Prophet upon his death. We [she and Ali] visited him one afternoon, and he happily and repeatedly said: Ali has come! Ali has come!' Fatima inquired whether Ali had been sent on an errand. Later on, Ali came again, and I thought that probably he needed to have some privacy with the Prophet; so, we came out and sat at the door. I was closer to the door. The Prophet bent his head over Ali and started talking to him confidentially, addressing him affectionately, till he passed away; so, Ali was the last person to be with him before his death." Abdullah ibn Umar narrates the following: "During his sickness, the Prophet asked that his brother be fetched; so, Abu Bakr came in, but he turned away from him and reiterated his request. This time Uthman was brought in, but he turned away from him, too. Then Ali was called in his presence. The Prophet covered him with his own robe and reclined on him. When he came out of his room, people asked him what the Prophet had said, and he answered: `He taught me a thousand subjects each one of which leads to a thousand others.'" You know that this hadith portrays a behaviour typical of prophets, while the other one portrays a man ruled by his lust. If a shepherd dies on his wife's chest, between her chin and navel, or on her thigh..., having laxed in looking after his herd, he would surely be labelled as wreckless and irresponsible. May Allah forgive the mother of the believers. I wish that she, while denying Ali such a Will, had attributed the denial to her father, whom she thinks is more worthy of such a Will, but her father was already in the army raised by the Prophet under his own honourable patronage; he was in Usamah's army which was then camping at Jurf. Anyhow, the claim that he died in her lap is attributed to nobody other than Aisha, whereas the claim of his demise, may I sacrifice my parents for his sake, is narrated through Ali, Ibn Abbas, Ume Salma, Abdullah ibn Umar, al Shabi, Ali ibn Husayn, and all Imams of the progeny of Muhammad, thus making it more reliable and more fit of the personality of the Messenger of God.
4) Had Aisha's hadith been disproved by Ume Salma alone, the latter's hadith would have been preferred over hers for many reasons besides the ones mentioned above.
# Not only did Lady Ume Salma believe wholeheartedly in the great Book of Allah, which distinguishes between right and wrong and enjoins repentance to Allah Almighty, as the Koran testifies, she is not rebuked in the Koran for insubordination to the Prophet nor because of her supporting the enemies of his wasi, nor did Allah, Gabriel, the true believers, and the angels, all side by His Prophet against her, nor did Allah threaten to divorce her and compensate His Prophet with a better wife than her, nor did He bring the example of the wives of Nuhh and Lut as being in her own category, nor did she try to instigate the Prophet to make unlawful unto himself that which Allah has made lawful unto him, nor did the Prophet preach once and point to her residence saying: "Right there is the dissension, disunity, and discord...; from there will the devil's horn come out," nor did her manners permit her to stretch her legs before the Prophet while performing the rite of prayers, thus showing disrespect to him and to the rite of prayers, without removing them from the place of his prostration till he beckoned her to do so, then when he beckoned her, she lifted her leg till he stood up, then she put it down again...! This is how she was. As if she did not scandalize and arouse people against Uthman, calling him "Na`thal," saying, verbatim, "Uqtulu Na`thal faqad kafar!" ("Kill Na`thal, for he has turned kafir [disbeliever]." As if she did not go out of her house, after having been commanded by Allah Almighty to settle therein, ride her camel `Askar and lead an army, descending a hill or ascending a mountain. Yet she did not yield to advice but insisted on leading the army which she had raised to fight the Imam. Her statement that the Prophet died on her chest, therefore, is as good as her statement claiming that the Prophet saw a few Sudanese men playing at their mosque with their shields and spears, and he supposedly asked her if she liked to have a look at them, to which invitation she responded in the affirmative. Aisha goes on to say: "He let me stand behind him, my cheek on his, and said: `O Sons of Arfada, keep on!'" supposedly encouraging them to play so that the lady mighty be entertained, till he asked her if she saw enough. Upon saying "Yes," he told her to leave. And it is similar to her other story in which she claims: "the Prophet came in once when I had two concubines singing for me excitingly. He lay down on the bed. Abu Bakr entered and rebuked me saying: `Do I hear Satan's pipe being played in the presence of the Prophet?!' the Prophet approached him and told him to leave them alone." Yet similar to it is another story. She says: "The Prophet raced with me once and I outran him. We kept doing so for years during which I gained weight, and when he outran me, he said: `This [game] cancels that!'" as quoted by Ahmed bin Hanbal in Aisha's hadith on page 39, vol 6, of his Musnad. Or like her statement: "I used to play with girls, and some of my friends would come to play with me, and the Prophet used to let them in so that I would play with them," which is quoted by Ahmed bin Hanbal who discusses Aisha on page 75, vol 6, of his Musnad. Or like yet another story of hers quoted by Ibn Abu Shaybah, and it is hadith number 1017 of the ahadith narrated by Ibn Abu Shaybah in Vol 7 of Kanz al-Ummal: "I have acquired seven merits no woman, other than Mary daughter of `Umran, was endowed with: The angel of revelation descended in my own form; the Prophet married me as a virgin whom no man ever touched before; the revelation descended upon him while we were having intercourse; he loved me more than any other woman; several verses of the Koran were revealed on my behalf that almost caused the nation to perish; I saw Gabriel while none of the other wives of the Prophet saw him besides me; and he breathed his last in my house while nobody was there except I and the angel of death." Other "ahadith" which she has narrated go in more details about her "merits," all falling in the same pattern. As regarding Ume Salma, suffices her for a merit her loyalty to her wali and her Prophet's wasi. She was well-known for her terse opinion and great intellect, her strong faith, her suggestion on the Day of Hudaybiya which testified to her intellectual prowess, her wise judgment, and her lofty status; may Allah have mercy and blessings upon her.
Letter # 12 - If the covenant and the Will is true then what about Ummah's consensus to nominate [Abu Bakr] al-Siddiq? Prophet said: "My nation's consensus shall never occur regarding anything wrong." And: "My nation's word shall never be misleading." Sunnis say that the caliphate was finally vested upon Abu Bakr who was accepted by everyone as the Imam; dispute dissipated, hostilities halted, and everyone became determined to support al-Siddiq and provide him with counsel in secrecy and in public; therefore, they fought in his wars, they supported him when he concluded a peace treaty, and they carried out his orders. Nobody at all differed in that regard, thus a total consensus was finally reached, and the consignment of caliphate was accomplished; praise be to Allah for having united their word after their dissension, and for unifying their hearts after their discord.
Reply # 12:
# We say that the meaning of [Prophet's] statements: "My nation's consensus shall never occur regarding anything wrong," and "My nation's word shall never be misleading," is that he negates the error, or the misguidance, of the issue regarding which the nation arbitrates; thus, the nation will be reaching a unanimous endorsement in that issue's regard. This is the meaning of such traditions, and nothing else. As regarding the matter which is considered by a group of individuals of the nation who decided to carry it out, successfully forcing it even on those who had a say, their carrying it out does not prove its validity. The pledge of allegiance taken at the saqifa was not an issue regarding consultation; rather, it was something which was undertaken by the second caliph and by Abu Ubayda and a group of their friends, then they took by surprise those who actually had the authority to do and undo, assisted by contemporary circumstances. Thus did they finally achieve what they had aspired. Abu Bakr himself declared that the oath of allegiance, which he had received, was conducted neither in accordance with consultation nor wisdom. He did so when he delivered a sermon at the dawn of his caliphate in which he apologized to the public saying: "The allegiance which I have received is a rash slip from the evil of which Allah has protected us, and there was a presentiment regarding dissension." Umar testified to the same fact in front of many eye-witnesses when he delivered a sermon from the pulpit of the Prophet's Mosque one Friday shortly before the conclusion of his reign, a sermon the news of which became widely publicized. Al-Bukhari has included it in his Sahih, and I would like to quote it for you here verbatim:
"It has come to my knowledge that someone has said that if Umar dies, he will swear the oath of allegiance to so-and-so; therefore, let nobody hesitate from saying that the oath of allegiance to Abu Bakr was a slip that was driven home, for it was exactly so, yet Allah protected us from the evil of its consequences... Whoever swears the oath of allegiance to someone prior to consulting others, doing so only out of fear of being killed if he did not, then he should not do it at all [and accept death instead]... One of the rumours circulated about us when Allah took His Messenger away from us is that the Ansar differed from us in their views; they all assembled at the saqifa [shed] of Bani Saidah; besides them, Ali and al-Zubayr, and their followers, differed, too..."
He continued to point out what had happened at the shed, the disputes and differences of opinion, the voices that rose out of concern for the safety of the religion, etc. It was under those circumstances that Umar swore allegiance to Abu Bakr. It is a fact well-known by those who research the events that prevented the members of the Prophet's household, the custodians of the Message, from attending the allegiance [inauguration] ceremony. They were detained at Ali's house together with Salman, Abu Zar al-Ghifari, al-Miqdad ibn al-Aswad al-Kindi, Ammar ibn Yasir, al-Zubayr ibn al-Awwam, Khuzaymah ibn Thabit, Abu ibn Ka`b, Farwah ibn Amr ibn Wadqah al-Ansari, al-Bara' ibn `Azib, Khalid Ibn Saad ibn al-`As al-Amawi, and many others. So, how can it be said that there was a consensus in spite of the fact that all these men, including Muhammad's progeny, who are to the nation like the head to the body, the eyes to the face, the descendants of the Prophet and the custodians of his knowledge, the ones who are peers only to and the companions of the Book of Allah, the arks of the nation's redemption, and the gates of its salvation, the nation's protection against straying, and the standard-bearers of its guidance, as we have proven above..., did not attend? But their dealing requires no proof if conscientiously discerned. Both Bukhari and Muslim, in their sahihs, in addition to many other renown traditionists and historians, have all proven the fact that Ali did not participate in the allegiance process, and that he did not reconcile and make peace except after the Leader of the ladies of the world had joined her father [in Paradise], six months thereafter, compelled by the general Islamic interest during those very critical circumstances. The testimony to these facts comes from Aisha herself who says: "Al-Zahra' boycotted Abu Bakr and did not speak to him after the demise of the Prophet till she died, and when Ali made peace with them, he accused them of depriving him of his place in the caliphate." This hadith, as you can see, does not mention anything about his swearing the oath of allegiance to them. How thought-provoking his statement is when he addresses Abu Bakr thus:
If you had argued with them, kinship claiming, Then others are closer to the Prophet and more deserving; And if through consultation you took control, How so when those with counsel were not there at all?!
Abbas ibn Abdul-Muttalib had used the same argument with Abu Bakr, as Ibn Qutaybah discusses him on page 16 of his book Al-Imama wal Siyasa, telling him once: "If you demanded what you demanded through kinship to the Prophet then you had confiscated our own. If you had demanded it due to your position among Muslims, then ours is a more prestigious than yours. If this affair is accomplished when the believers are pleased with it, then it cannot be so as long as we are displeased therewith." So; tell me where is the consensus you are talking about, having heard what the uncle of the Prophet the one who was his father's peer, stated, in addition to the statement of his cousin, brother and executor of his Will, as well as the statements of all his household and kin?
# Companions' consolidation in supporting al-Siddiq, and their providing him with counsel in secrecy and in public, is one thing; the validity of the consignment of the caliphate through consensus is quite another. They are not correlated judged by reason or tradition, for Ali and all the infallible Imams from his descendants have a well-known policy in supporting the Islamic authority; it is the same whereby we worship Allah. I mention it here in answer to what you have stated. It may be summed up thus: They believe that the Muslim nation can never rise to glory except through a state that unites its populace, mends any crack in its structure, protects its borders, and safeguards its undertakings. Such a state cannot be established except by subjects who support it with their lives and possessions. If it is possible for such a state to be led by a legitimate statesman who represents in the true sense of the word the government of the Prophet, then he is the one to be assigned for such a responsibility rather than anyone else. But if this becomes impossible, and someone else usurps the government, then the nation has to support him in every issue upon which the dignity and fortitude of Islam hinges, and so do the protection of the borders of the Islamic state, and the safeguarding of its national security. It is not permissible to divide the Muslims or create discord among them by opposing him; rather, the nation has to treat him, albeit if he is a slave with amputated limbs, the treatment meted to rightful caliphs, entrusting him with the land's khiraj tax and his share thereof, the zakat of cattle and other items, etc. It has the right to take the same from him through the sale and purchase, as well as all means of property transfers, such as by way of awards, gifts, and the like. There is no doubt about the clearing of conscience of one who pays him liabilities, as though he is paying them to the Imam of truth, and the rightful caliph. This is the path of Ali and the purified Imams from his descendants. The Prophet has said: "There will be after me favouritism, and unpleasant matters," as stated in one hadith narrated by Abdullah ibn Mas`ud which is quoted by Muslim on page 118, vol 2, of his Sahih, and by many authors of sahihs and sunan. People asked him: "O Prophet! What do you enjoin one of us who witnesses them to do?" He answered: "Perform your obligations, and pray Allah for the attainment of what rightfully belongs to you." Abu Zar al-Ghifari, may Allah be pleased with him, is also quoted by Muslim in vol 2 of his Sahih as saying, "My friend the Prophet advised me to listen and to obey even [a ruler who is] a slave whose limbs are amputated." Salamah al-Jufi is quoted, by Muslim and others, asking the Prophet: "O Prophet! Suppose we are ruled by those who require us to discharge our duties towards them while they themselves decline to grant us our rights, what do you advise us to do then?" He answered him saying, "Listen and obey, for they will bear the burden of their sins, and you will bear yours." In one particular hadith quoted by Muslim on page 120, vol 2, of his Sahih, which is narrated by all authors of books of traditions, Huthayfah al-Yemani, may Allah be pleased with him, quotes the Prophet saying: "There will be rulers after me who will neither guide according to my guidance, nor follow my Sunnah; and there will be among them men whose hearts are like those of the devils' clad in human form." Huthayfah asked him: "What shall I do then, O Prophet, if I happen to witness that?" He answered: "You shall listen to the ruler and obey him; if he whips your back and confiscates your property, you will still have [no choice but] to listen and obey." Similar to this hadith is one narrated by Ume Salma thus: "There will be [unjust] rulers over you, and you will either acknowledge [their being unjust] or deny it. Those who acknowledge shall be considered innocent, while those who deny it will be saved from chastisement." They asked him: "Are we not supposed to fight them?" He answered: "No, as long as they uphold their prayers." Sahihs are consecutively reported in narrating the above quoted traditions, especially through the purified progeny. For this reason, the latter remained persevering as they saw eye-sores, and they kept tongue-tied, acting upon these sacred commandments and upon others whereby they were bound. They were enjoined to persevere while suffering as they felt forced to overlook eye-sores, safeguarding the unity of the nation, and keeping it intact. They abided by the gist of these texts while dealing with those who were entrusted with faring with the affairs of the Muslims. While being aware of the fact that they themselves were more worthy of being in their shoes, they tasted the bitterness of colocynth, hoping they might be able one day to lead them to the Right Path. The ascension of those individuals to power was more painful to them than the blows of sharp swords, yet they tolerated it only to fulfill the covenant, discharge the commitment, and carry out their duties as far as the Shari`a is concerned, favouring - while opposing such rulers - to prefer what is most important over what is more important. For this reason, Imam Ali tried his best to provide counsel to all three caliphs, exerting himself in providing them with advice. Whoever acquaints himself with his policy during their epoch will come to know that he, having lost all hope to get his indisputable right to succeed the Prophet willingly took to reclusion, preferring to make asylum with those in authority. He did not fight them while seeing his promised throne in their grip, nor did he oppose them openly. He did so only in order to maintain the solidification of the nation and safeguard the creed, always keeping the religion's interest in mind, preferring the life hereafter to this one. He suffered from agonies which nobody else suffered. He was agonized by two calamities: the caliphate in its texts and commandments was earnestly pleading to him in a heart-rending voice on one hand, and, on the other hand, oppressive discord was warning him against a possible mutiny in the peninsula. There was a possible danger of bedouin Arabs renouncing their religion, thus annihilating the Islamic creed. The faith was being threatened by the hypocrites of Medina in whose nature hypocrisy was immersed, and who were aided by the hypocritical bedouins around them, according to the text of the Book (Koran). Nay, the latter party was even worse in disbelief and hypocrisy than the first, so much so that it was better they did not know the limits of what Allah had revealed to His Messenger. The loss of the Prophet emboldened the latter, and Muslims became in the aftermath like frightened cattle in a winter night, surrounded by wolves and ferocious brutes. While their fellows were quite active in their attempts to wipe out the religion of Islam and crush the Muslims, the Romans, the Kisras and others were waiting in anticipation, to the end of the list of such thronging elements that bore grudge against Muhammad, the progeny of Muhammad, and the companions of Muhammad. These parties bore animosity towards and felt jealous of the message of Islam; they desired to demolish its foundations, and undermining its might. In such endeavour, they would be very quick, seeing that they had their golden opportunity in the departure of the Prophet to his Supreme Companion. The chance had ripened then for them to make use of the chaos before Islam had recovered its strength and organization. It was then that Imam Ali realized both dangers, and it was only natural that he would sacrifice his own right in order to sustain the religion of Islam, thus preferring the general interest to that of his own. This is how such confusion ended, and the dispute between him and Abu Bakr was suspended, for he dreaded nothing save the disunity of Muslims and was concerned only that the Muslims should have the upper hand. So, he, all members of his household, their supporters from the Immigrants and Ansar, remained patiently tongue-tied even as they saw eye-sores. His speech after the Prophet had departed is very frank in reflecting this attitude, and relevant reports are consecutive through the Imams of the purified progeny. But the head of the Ansar, Saad ibn `Abadah, never made asylum with the first two caliphs, and he was never seen in public accompanying either of them during an `Id celebration or on a Friday, and he never subscribed to their views, nor did he ever yield to their orders, till he was assassinated in Huran during the reign of the second caliph, and his assassins claimed that he was killed by the jinns. He made a memorable statement during the saqifa incident, but we see no need to quote it here. As regarding his friends such as Haban ibn al-Munthir and other Ansaris, these succumbed unwillingly, yielding to pressure; so, do you consider the actions dictated by the fear of the sword or the burning by the fire as a belief in the consignment of the allegiance? Or is it a testimony to such "consensus" implied in the statement of the Prophet saying "My nation shall never commit an error in its consensus of opinion"? Please state your verdict.
Letter # 13 - Sunnis regard the companions as being above doing anything contrary to the wish of the Prophet in whatever he bids or forbids, neither do they permit anything other than such a policy. Therefore, they could not have heard the text regarding the Imam once, twice or thrice, then deviated therefrom. And how can you describe such companions to be truthful had they heard the text about him then refrained from following it? I do not think that you are able to compromise both [contradictory] situations.
Reply # 13:
# Our legacy of traditions, which has been left to us by those companions, indicates that the latter adhered to all texts as long as they were relevant to the faith, concerned about the matters related to the Hereafter, such as his hadith regarding the obligatory fast during the month of Ramadan rather than any other month, facing only the qibla while performing the obligatory prayers, the number of obligatory prayers during the day or the night, the number of rak`at [prostrations] in each, as well as how to perform them, his hadith that the ceremonial tawaf around the House [Kaba] is seven times, and such ahadith aiming at the achievement of divine rewards in the life to come. As regarding his texts that deal with political matters such as succession, government, administration, legislation, invasions, etc., they did not see that they had to follow or adhere to them in all circumstances; rather, they allowed themselves to practice a measure of research, discretion, and ijtihad. If they saw in opposing such texts a promotion of their cause, or an advantage to their power, they would oppose them. They may even seek to please the Prophet by doing just so. They were convinced that the Arabs would neither accept Ali's rule nor follow a text in such a matter, since he pressured them a great deal while enforcing the Will of Allah in their regard, spilling their blood with his sword in while promoting the Word of Allah, dismantling all their masks while defending the truth, till Allah's Will became dominant in spite of every infidel. So, they would not obey him willingly, nor would they follow such texts except by force, having attributed to him the spilling of all blood in the way of Islam during the life-time of the Prophet according to their custom of retaliation in such circumstances, for they saw him as the only candidate upon whom they would seek revenge, especially since seeking revenge is usually done to the best among the foe's tribesmen, and the choicest of its clans. They knew that he was the best among the Hashimites, after the Prophet without any doubt or dispute. For this reason, the Arabs waited for a chance to annihilate him; they sought means to deal with him, and they bore a great deal of grudge against him and his descendants, till they leaped over them in a way that became well-known everywhere, and its shame filled the earth and the skies. There is another reason: Quraysh in particular and the Arabs in general used to criticize Ali's might in dealing with the enemies of Allah, the forcefulness of his method of dealing with those who trespass the limits of Allah or permit what He prohibited. They feared his enjoining right and forbidding wrong; they dreaded his justice in dealing with the subjects and his equity in every public issue. Nobody hoped for his concession nor dreamed of his compromise. The mighty and powerful are weak till he executes justice on them, and the weak and downtrodden are strong and dignified when he grants them what is rightfully theirs. So, how can the Arabs willingly submit to a man like that while "They are the foremost in disbelief and hypocrisy, so much so that they ought not know the limits of what Allah has revealed unto His Messenger ( Koran, 9:97)," and "Among the people of Medina are those who are stubborn in hypocrisy; you [O Our Prophet Muhammad] do not know them; We know them (9:101), and among them are those who do not hesitate to commit anything insane. There is still another reason. Quraysh in particular and Arabs in general used to envy him for the favours Allah bestowed upon him. He has been uplifted by Allah, His Messenger and the wise, to a sublime status due to his knowledge and feats; peers fall short of their attainment; those qualified hesitated to attempt to compete with him. He has, through his feats and attributes, won a status from Allah and His Messenger coveted by the hopeful, and a prestige unattainable by the most ambitious. For these reasons, jealousy filled the hearts of the hypocrites. The spiteful, ungrateful, and unequitable hypocrites, in addition to opportunists, all agreed not to discharge their responsibility towards him; therefore, they left these texts behind their backs, entrusting them to oblivion.
"It was what it was, I shall never discuss the views;
So, entertain good thoughts; do not ask about the news."
Also, Quraysh and all other Arabs had by then coveted political dominance for their own respective tribes, and their ambition extended thereto. For this reason, they decided to discard the covenant and were determined to ignore the will. So, they all collaborated to forget the text, pledging not to mention it at all. They all agreed to divert the caliphate, since its inception, from its rightful candidate, who was assigned to it by their Prophet, and make it through election and choice, so that each one of their quarters might have a justification for hoping to attain it, though after a while. Had they followed the text and advanced Ali to succeed the Prophet such caliphate would never have left his purified progeny, since he had equated his progeny on the Ghadir Day, as well as on other occasions, to the perfect Book of Allah, describing them as models for the wise till the Day of Judgment. The Arabs would not have been able to tolerate the confinement of caliphate to one particular dynasty, especially when all their tribes coveted it, and all those who wanted it for their own camps sought it. It has, indeed, withered, weakened, and waned: A skeleton unwanted even by one whose funds drained. Also, whoever knows the history of Quraysh and the Arabs at the dawn of Islam would come to know that they did not yield to the Hashimite Prophethood except after being annihilated, being powerless; so, how could they have agreed that Hashim's descendants should monopolize both prophethood and caliphate? Umar ibn al-Khattab once said to Ibn Abbas in a dialogue between them: "Quraysh hated that both prophethood and caliphate should be confined to your household for fear you might oppress other people."
2) The good ancestors then could not force those folks to implement the spirit of the text for fear they might rebel if they did, and in apprehension of the dire consequences of disputing regarding such an issue. Hypocrisy surfaced immediately after the demise of the Prophet and the might of the hypocrites increased by such a loss. The dark souls of the infidels grew darker, the foundations of the faith weakened, and the hearts of the Muslims waned, so much so that they became like frightened cattle in a winter night, surrounded by wolves and ferocious beasts. One group among the Arabs reneged, while another contemplated doing so. Under such circumstances, Ali feared dire consequences resulting from rushing matters if he took upon himself to take charge, knowing how people's hearts were, as we have described, with the hypocrites being what they were, biting their fingers in rage, and the renegades as we have clarified, while the polytheist nations were just as we have previously indicated. The Ansars had differed and deviated from the Muhajirun, saying, "Let us choose our ruler and you choose yours, etc." His concern about the faith prompted him to refrain from demanding the caliphate for himself and overlooking certain matters, knowing that demanding the caliphate under such circumstances would endanger the nation and jeopardize the safety of the faith; so, he opted to refrain just in preference of the interest of Islam and that of the common welfare, of the good of the future to that of the present. He, therefore, remained at home, refusing to give his allegiance till he was forced to leave, just to silently enforce his own right, silently defying those who forsook him. Had he rushed to give his allegiance, he would have had neither argument nor pretext, but he, by doing so, safeguarded both religion and his own right to rule the believers, thus proving the originality of his mind, his overwhelming clemency, his patience and preference of the public interest to that of his own. Any soul that gives so much while facing so much affliction is sure to be rewarded by Allah with divine rewards. His objective was indeed to seek the pleasure of Allah in that epoch as well as in the epochs to come. As regarding the three caliphs and their supporters, these have interpreted the text regarding his succession in the manner which we have indicated above. This should not surprise us at all once we come to know how they interpret and personally comprehend other texts of the Prophet regarding issues such as succession, government, administration, legislation, etc. They probably did not consider them to be religious issues; so, it was easy for them to practically oppose them. When they finally took charge, they stuck to a policy of overlooking such texts, promising to punish those who would mention or even allude to them. When they succeeded in enforcing order, the dissemination of the religion of Islam, the invasion of nations, and the acquisition of wealth and power, they did not become corrupt in their own personal desires, and that elevated them and caused them to win people's respect, confidence, and love. People followed suit in forgetting about that text, and when Banu Omayyah succeeded them, the latter's main objective became the extinction and annihilation of the Prophet's household. In spite of all this, a few correct texts have reached us and have been protected in authentic books of traditions; these suffice for proof; praise be to Allah.
# The incidents in which they did not follow the texts of hadith are innumerable. Take, for example, the calamity on Thursday, which is the most famous of such incidents and the most abominable among them. It is narrated by all authors of sahihs and sunan, and it was documented by all traditionists and historians. Suffices you what al-Bukhari, in his section dealing with the statement of the ailing Messenger: "Get away from me," on page 5, vol 4, of his Sahih, where the author relies on the authority of `Ubaydullah ibn Abdullah ibn `Utbah ibn Mas`ud who quotes Ibn Abbas saying that when death approached the Prophet his house was full of men including Umar ibn al-Khattab. The Prophet said: "Let me write you something that will forever protect you against straying after me." Umar said: "The Prophet is under the influence of pain, and you have with you the Koran; so, the Book of Allah suffices us." Those who were present there argued among themselves, and their argument developed into a dispute. Some of them said: "Come close to the Prophet so that he may write something for you that will safeguard you against straying after him," while others repeated what Umar had said. When the argument and dispute intensified in the presence of the Prophet, the Prophet said to them: "Get away from me." Ibn Abbas used to say: "The calamity, the real calamity, is what caused the Prophet to desist from writing what he wished to write, due to their argument and dispute." There is no dispute regarding the authenticity of this hadith nor the occasion whereupon it was invoked. Al-Bukhari quotes it in his treatise on knowledge on page 22, vol 1, of his work, and it exists in many other places with which the researchers are familiar. He quotes it in several places of his Sahih. Muslim, too, quotes it at the conclusion of the Prophet's will in his Sahih on page 14, vol 2. Ahmed narrates Ibn Abbas's hadith in his own Musnad. Refer to page 325 of its first volume. All authors of traditions and books of history narrate it. Each writer editing it yet retaining its gist, reiterating the fact that the Prophet was described as “hallucinating,” or “delirious”. But they also mentioned that Umar had said: "The Prophet has been overcome by pain" just to sanitize the statement and undermine the sentiments of those who found it abominable. Supporting this fact is what Abu Bakr Ahmed ibn Abdul-`Aziz al-Jawhari has said in his book titled Al-Saqifah, relying on the authority of Ibn Abbas and quoting him saying, "When death approached the Prophet, there were men present at his house among whom Umar ibn al-Khattab was one. The Prophet said: `Bring me ink and a tablet so that I may write you something that will safeguard you against straying after me.' Those present at his house differed among themselves and disputed, some saying `Come close and watch the Prophet write you something,' while others repeated what Umar had said. When the argument and dispute increased, the Prophet became angry and said: `Get away from me," as stated on page 20, vol 2, of Sharh Nahjul Balagha by the Mu`azilite scholar [Ibn Abul Hadid]. As you notice from this narrative, it is explicit in indicating that some individuals reported Umar's opposition in meaning, not verbatim. This also proves that the traditionists who did not wish to state the name of the person who opposed had nontheless quoted his statement verbatim. In a chapter on rewarding the envoys, in his book Al-Jihad wal Siyar, page 118, vol 2, al-Bukhari states: "Qabsah narrated a tradition to us from Ibn `Ayinah, Salman al-Ahwal, and Saeed ibn Jubayr, all consecutively quoting Ibn Abbas saying: `On a Thursday - what a day that Thursday was...,' and he burst sobbing till his tears drenched the stones, then he went on to say, "...the pain of the Prophet intensified on a Thursday; so, he ordered us to bring him some writing material so that he might write us something whereby we would be protected against straying after him, but people disputed, knowing that nobody should dispute in the presence of any Prophet, and they said: `the Prophet is delirious.' He then said: `Leave me, for the pain which I am suffering is more tolerable than what you are attributing to me,' and he left in his will prior to his demise three items: to get the polytheists out of the Arab land, to reward the envoys the same way he used to reward them,' and I forgot the third one." The same hadith is narrated also by Muslim at the conclusion of a chapter dealing with the will in his Sahih, and by Ahmed in Ibn Abbas's ahadith on page 222, vol 1, of his work, and by all other traditionists. In his chapter on the will, in his Sahih, Muslim quotes Saeed ibn Jubayr in one place, and Ibn Abbas in another, saying, "That Thursday, O what a day that Thursday was...," and his tears kept pouring down till they looked like pearls arrayed in a formation, then he continued to say: "the Prophet said: `Bring me a tablet and an ink-pot,' or a plate and some ink, `so that I may write you something whereby you shall never be misguided;' so, some people said: `the Prophet is delirious.'" Anyone who researches this abominable incident in the sahihs will soon come to find out that the first person who said that the Prophet was delirious was indeed Umar, and some of those who were present there and then followed suit. In the first hadith, you have heard Ibn Abbas saying: "Those present at his house differed among themselves and disputed, some saying `Come close and watch the Prophet writing you something,' while others repeated what Umar had said," i.e. "the Prophet is delirious." In another tradition narrated by Tabrani, in his Awsat, and on page 138, vol 3, of Kanz al-Ummal, Umar is quoted saying: "When the Prophet became sick, he said: `Bring me a tablet and an ink-pot, so that I may write you something after which you shall never stray;' so, the women behind the curtain said: `Have you not heard what the Prophet is saying?'" Umar goes on to say: "I said to them: `You are like the women who admired Joseph; when the Prophet falls sick, you squeeze your eyes, and when he is healthy, you ride his neck!" He also continues to say: "the Prophet then said: `Leave them, for they are better than you.'" You can see that they never implemented the spirit of this hadith. Had they done so, they would have been protected against misguidance. We wish they had stopped at just being insubordinate and not answering him by saying: "The Book of Allah suffices us," as if he did not know the status of Allah's Book among them, or that they were more knowledgeable than him about its characteristics and merits. We wish they had been satisfied with all of that rather than surprising him with their rude statement: "the Prophet is delirious," just when he was suffering the agony of death. What a farewell statement to the Prophet! They did not follow the Prophet's command due to their being satisfied with the Book of Allah as they claimed, as if they never read the verse: "Whatever the Messenger hands over to you, take it, and whatever he forbids you therefrom, obey him (59:7)." They said: "the Prophet is delirious," as if they never read the verse: "It is the speech of an eminent Messenger, empowered by the One with the Throne, peaceful to those who obey Him; verily, your fellow is not possessed (81:19-22)," and His statement: "It is the speech of an eminent Messenger, not of a poet; little do you believe; nor is it the speech of a priest; little do you remember; it is but the Revelation from the Lord of the Worlds (69:40-43)," and His statement, "Your fellow has neither strayed, nor has he yielded to temptation; he utters nothing out of his own inclination; it is but what is revealed unto him of the Revelation; he is taught by One mighty in powers (53:2-5)," in addition to many such verses laden with divine wisdom, all testifying to his being divinely protected from delirium. Yet even reason by itself testifies to the same, but they were aware of the fact that he, the Prophet wished to strengthen the covenant of caliphate, and emphasize its being the monopoly of Ali in particular, and the Imams among his purified progeny in general; so, they stood as a stumbling block in his way to do so, as admitted by none other than the second caliph himself in a private conversation which he held with Ibn Abbas...! It exists in line 27, page 114, vol 3, of Sharh Nahjul Balagha by Ibn Abul Hadid. If you consider his statement "Bring me a tablet and an ink-pot, so that I may write you something whereby you shall never stray after me," and his statement in the hadith of the Two Weighty Things: "I am leaving with you that which, as long as you uphold, will never let you stray: the Book of Allah and my progeny, my Ahlulbayt ," you will come to know then that the purpose of both traditions is the same, and that he wished, even while being sick, to write for them the details of the injunctions implied in the hadith of the Two Weighty Things [al thaqalain].
2) He repealed his order to them due to their statement with which they surprised him, forcing him to change his mind, since after uttering it there would be no effect for his writing them anything other than dissension and dispute, leading them to argue be he really delirious - God forbid - or not, just as they did even in his own presence and while he could still see things, so much so that he could not tell them more than to get away, as you have heard. Had he insisted on writing it, they would have resorted to their claim that he had written it in delirium, and many of their followers would have gone to extremes in their attempts to prove that he did so while being delirious - God forbid - and fill their books with such allegations, only to reject his writing and use it as a pretext for not implementing it. For these reasons, his marvellous wisdom decreed that he should forget about such writing for fear those opposing his wish and their followers might open a door to casting doubts about Prophethood itself; we seek refuge with Allah, and we pray for His protection. He saw how Ali and his followers submitted to the spirit of such writing, whether he had written it down or not, while others would not act upon it anyway even if he had written it. Wisdom, therefore, necessitated abandoning it since it would have no effect at all over the opposition that arose other than dissension, as is obvious.
Letter # 14 - When Prophet ordered them to bring him a blank sheet of paper and an ink-pot, he did not really intend to write anything in particular; he intended only to test them, that's all. Therefore, Allah guided al-Faruq, from among all other companions, to forbid them from bringing them to him. Such an opposition, therefore, must be considered to be in agreement with his Sublime Lord, and be counted among his divinely-endowed spiritual powers, may Allah be pleased with him. This is the argument of many renown personalities. But his statement "... you shall never stray," rejects such an argument if the principle of fairness is to be implemented, for it is a supplementary command which means "If you bring me the blank sheet and the ink-pot, and if I write you something, then you shall never stray after it." It is obvious that interpreting such an order as being indicative of a test is a sort of flagrant lying from which Prophets are immune, especially where bringing the blank sheet and the ink-pot is more fit for the one who receives the order than his seeking such an excuse; therefore, another alibi is needed. All that can be said is that the issue is not an invitation to a party, so that whoever refuses may simply be blamed, but it is an issue of consultation. They used to consult him [Umar] in a few matters. And Umar knew that he deep down in his heart was successful in choosing what is best for the interest of Muslims, and that itself was inspired by Allah Almighty. He simply desired not to let the Prophet burden himself with the pain resulting from writing something in the state of sickness and agony, and he thought that it would be better not to bring the blank sheet and the ink-pot. He may also have feared that the Prophet might write things that would be quite impossible for people to carry out, thus making them liable for punishment, since such things would be texts for which the principle of ijtihad is not possible. Or he may have feared that the hypocrites might cast doubts about the authenticity of such writing due to its being done under the influence of sickness, thus becoming a cause of dissension; therefore, he said: "The Book of Allah suffices us," supporting the verse of the Almighty: "We have not left aught (without explaining it) in the Book (6:38)" and also "Today have I completed your religion for you (5:4)," out of his own concern for this nation against straying after Allah had completed His religion for it and complemented His blessing unto it. Such was their answer. His saying "... you shall never stray" indicates determination and a positive attitude. The endeavour to bring about security against straying, whenever possible and without any doubt, is a must. His disappointment with them and his telling them to leave him since they did not carry out his order is another proof that the matter was simply a response to a consultation. So, if you say that had it been a must, the Prophet would not have repealed it simply because they disobeyed him, just like he did not stop preaching due to the opposition of the unbelievers..., if you say all this, then we would say that the case is so had the order been carried out, for it indicates that the writing of that matter was not obligatory on the Prophet. This of course does not imply that they should not have brought him the sheet and the ink-pot when he ordered them to, explaining to them that its benefits would include security for them against straying and a source of continuous guidance. The main point is that those receiving his order should have obeyed it, especially when the benefit was for the one receiving the order, and it is the reason for the statement, not for its enforcement. Yet it is also possible that it was obligatory on him, too, and such an obligation was removed due to their insubordination and their saying that he was speaking in delirium, for the fate of such writing was then reduced to dissension, as you yourself have wisely stated. It is also possible that some people may say that Umar, may Allah be pleased with him, did not take the meaning of the Prophet's statement to imply that such writing would result in protecting each and every member of the nation from straying, so much so that none of them at all would be misguided. Rather, he understood "... you shall never stray" to mean "... you shall never agree all of you to walk the path of misguidance, nor will misguidance, after such writing, would inflict anyone among you." Rather, he, may Allah be pleased with him, was convinced that they would never all concede to tread the path of misguidance. This is why he found no reason why the Prophet should write anything else, thinking that the intention of the Prophet was simply an additional precaution in the matter, since he was so well-known to be overflowing with kindness and compassion. This is all that has been said in the manner of finding an excuse for that initiation. Whoever scrutinizes it will be positive in thinking that it is far from being rational, for the simple fact that his statement "... you shall never stray" indicates that the matter required proper attention, as we have said, and his disappointment with them is a proof that they became derelict regarding one of their obligations. It is, therefore, more fitting to say that such an incident took place when they, indeed, behaved contrarily to their custom, just like their previous slip, and it is one mistake that is not at all typical of them, and we do not really know how accurate the whole story is. Allah is the Guide to the Straight Path, Wassalamo Alaikom.
Reply # 14:
# Any fair-minded person ought to yield to the truth and utter what is right. There are other views regarding the rejection of these arguments which I desired to put forth to you, so that the final judgment will be left entirely to you. Their first pretext states that he having ordered them to bring the ink-pot, did not really intend to write something but rather desired to test them, that's all. We say, in addition to what you yourself have stated, that this incident took place shortly before his demise, as the tradition itself suggests; there was simply no time for testing, but there was time for a last minute warning and justifying, time for a will containing a very significant matter, a piece of complete advice for the nation. Anyone who is dying is certainly far from testing or jesting; he would be concerned about his affairs and those of his own kin, especially if he is a Prophet. If he, as long as he lived, did not have enough time to test them, how could he have found time to do so when he was about to die? His statement telling them to get away from him when they fussed and argued in his presence, is surely indicative of his disappointment with them. Had those who opposed him been right, he would have appreciated their opposition and expressed his pleasure therewith. Anyone who studies this tradition, especially their saying that the Prophet was delirious, will be positively sure that they were aware of his intention to do something they hated; so, they surprised him with such a statement, and they persisted fussing, arguing, and disputing, as is quite obvious. Ibn Abbas's tears, and his labelling the incident a catastrophe disprove this argument. Those who seek excuses by arguing that Umar was divinely inspired in assessing the public interest of Muslims, that he was inspired by Allah, are talking nonsense, and their argument is dismissed in such a discussion since it suggests that he, not the Prophet was on the right track in this incident, and that his so-called "inspiration" was more accurate than the revelation which he the truthful and trustworthy that he was, uttered. They say that it was intended to relieve the Prophet from the burden of writing while feeling sick. You, may Allah support the truth through your person, know that writing such matters would only bring the Prophet peace of mind, tranquility, and the pleasure of his eyes. He would feel happy for ensuring a security for his nation against misguidance. The commands to be obeyed, the divine will, and the physical presence were all his. He, being more precious than my parents, wished to have access to a sheet of paper and an ink-pot; he issued an order and nobody was supposed to oppose his wish; "Neither a believing man nor a believing woman has any right, when Allah and His Messenger decree a matter, to follow their own views, and whoever disobeys Allah and His Messenger is surely in manifest misguidance (33:36)." Yet their insubordination in such an extremely significant matter, and their fussing, arguing, and disputing in his presence, were to him more painful than writing what he wished to write in order to protect his nation against misguidance. How can anyone who feels pity for him because of the pain of writing something oppose him and surprise him by saying that he was speaking in delirium? They say that Umar thought that not to bring the sheet and the ink-pot was wiser. This is a most odd statement. How can it be wiser while the Prophet himself had ordered that they should be brought forth? Did Umar think that the Prophet would order something which would be better left out? Yet even more strange is their argument that Umar feared that the Prophet might write things which would be impossible to implement and whose abandoning would require chastisement. How can it thus be feared in spite of the Prophet's statement "... you shall never stray"? Do people who thus argue think that Umar assesses the consequences more correctly than the Prophet himself, and that he is more cautious about and compassionate to his nation than the Prophet? Certainly not. They also say that it is possible that Umar feared the hypocrites might cast doubts about the authenticity of such writing, since it would be written during the Prophet's sickness, and that it would be a cause for dissension. You, may Allah support the truth through your person, know that such an insinuation is impossible since the Prophet has stated: "... you shall never stray," thus clearly stating that such writing would bring them security against straying; so, how can it be a reason for dissension just because the hypocrites might cast doubts about its authenticity? Had he [Umar] feared such hypocrites and their casting doubts about the authenticity of what the Prophet wished to write, why did he then plant the seed of such doubts himself when he opposed and objected and even said that the Prophet was delirious? As regarding their interpretation of verses cited in support of Umar's statement: "The Book of Allah suffices us," such as the verse: "We have left nothing unexplained in the Book (6:38)," and "Today have I completed for you your religion (5:4)," it is erroneous, for neither verse suggests a security against misguidance, nor do both verses guarantee guidance for people; so, how can relying on these verses justify abandoning the implementation of the texts whose writing the Prophet wished to record? Had the presence of the dear Koran been to bring security against misguidance, then neither misguidance nor dissension, the removal of which is as hopeless as can be, would have ever taken place. In their final argument, they say that Umar did not understand the tradition to imply that such writing would be a cause for protecting each and every member of his nation from misguidance; and that rather he understood that it would, after its writing, safeguard them against erring in their consensus. They claim that Umar, may Allah be pleased with him, knew that the error in their consensus would never occur, albeit if such writing had taken place or not, and that for this reason he opposed its writing thus. Besides what you have said, we may add that Umar did not lack such a degree of understanding, and he was not blind to the implication of the tradition which became obvious to all people. Urban residents as well as bedouins understood the intention of the Prophet that it would be a complete prescription for the protection of every individual against misguidance... only had it been written. This is the meaning which anyone can comprehend of this tradition. Umar knew for sure that the Prophet was not worried about his nation making an error in its consensus views, since he, may Allah be pleased with him, had heard him saying: "The consensus of my nation shall never be in misguidance nor in error," and his statement: "One group from my nation shall always stand opposing what is just," and he was aware of the verse saying: "Allah has promised those who believe among you and do good deeds that He will let them inherit the earth just as He let those before them be the successors, and He will firmly set the roots of the faith which He has approved, and He will exchange their fear with security; they shall worship Me, without associating anything with Me (24:55)," in addition to many such texts in both the Book and the Sunnah. They all are clear in implying that NOT the entire nation shall err in its consensus views; so, it is not feasible, in spite of all this, that Umar or anyone else would conceive that when the Prophet asked for a blank sheet of paper and an ink-pot, was worried about his nation erring in its consensus views. What Umar is liable to have understood of this hadith is what anyone else would, not what is contrary to the authentic Sunnah, nor to the perfect verses of the Koran. But the disappointment of the Prophet was obvious when he told them to get away from him, and it proved that what they had shunned was indeed a sacred obligation. Had Umar's objection been due to his misunderstanding of this hadith, as they claim, then the Prophet would have helped him remove his misunderstanding, and he would have clarified his objective to him. Nay, even if the Prophet was convinced that he would be able to convince them to carry out his order, he would not have ordered them out. Again, Ibn Abbas's tears and genuine agony provide the greatest rebuttal to such claims. Justice refuses to find an excuse for those who had permitted such a calamity to take place. Had it been, as you described, a simple slip like another one before it, and a rare occurrence, the matter would have been a lot more tolerable, but it was the catastrophe of the century that split the nation's spine; so, we are Allah's, and to Him is our return.
# If you have truly submitted to the truth, without fearing any blame, then you are the ultimate goal and the true objective. You are above getting confused about what is right and what is not, and you are above hiding the truth. You are even more than that, more honourable, and more virtuous. You have, may Allah raise your status of honour, asked me to narrate for you all other incidents in which they preferred to follow their own views rather than submitting to divine orders; therefore, consider the incident of the regiment of Usamah ibn Zayd ibn Harithah dispatched to invade the Romans. It was the last regiment contemporary to the Prophet who paid it a great concern, ordering his companions to prepare for it, earnestly urging them to do so. He raised the army in his own pure person in order to give those enlisted in it a great deal of moral encouragement and address their conscience. He did not spare any dignitary from among the Muhajirün nor the Ansar, such as Abu Bakr, Umar, Abu Ubayda, Saad, and their peers, from enlisting. It took place on Safar 26, 11 hijri The next day, he called upon Usamah and said: "Go to the place where your father had been murdered and let your cavalry roam it, for I have vested upon you the leadership of these troops; therefore, invade Ubna in the morning, burn their homes and come back faster than the tidings of your deeds. If Allah grants you the upper hand over them, do not stay there too long. Take road guides with you; dispatch others to collect information for you, and let the scouts escort you." On Safar 38, his death fever intensified, and he started suffering from headaches. On Safar 29, he found them reluctant to leave; therefore, he went out to urge them to expedite the campaign. He tied the flag for Usamah with his own eminent hands in order to stir their conscience and manipulate their determination. Then he said: "Go in the Name of Allah, in the Path of Allah, and fight those who disbelieve in Allah." Usamah took the tied flag and handed it to Buraydah, then he camped at Jurf. Even there, they slackened and did not leave, in spite of all the clear statements of the Prophet urging them to expedite the campaign, such as: "... invade Ubna in the morning," and "... come back faster than the tidings of your deeds," in addition to many such orders which they never followed in reference to that regiment. Moreover, even some of them started questioning the wisdom of selecting Usamah for its leadership, just as they had questioned that of his father's, making several remarks to that effect, in spite of their witnessing the Prophet vesting upon him such a responsibility, and their hearing the Prophet saying to him: "I have vested upon you the leadership of these troops," and their seeing him tying the flag for him, which is the symbol of authority, with his own eminent hands, and all of that he did in spite of his fever. All of the above did not stop them from casting doubts about the wisdom of selecting him as the regiment's commander, so much so that their grumbling angered the Prophet who went out one day, his head bandaged, wrapped in a blanket, suffering the pain of fever, on a Saturday, the 10th of Rabi`ul-Awwal, only two days before his demise, and ascended the pulpit. Having seated himself on the pulpit, he praised Allah and glorified Him, then, according to the consensus of historians and scholars, he said: "O people! It has come to my knowledge that some of you have felt uneasy about my appointment of Usamah [as the commander]. If you cast doubts about his appointment, you had done so before when I appointed his father who, by Allah, was worthy of such authority, and so is his son after him." He urged them to start marching, and they in fact did start bidding him farewell and leaving to join the troops stationed at al-Jurf, while he was still urging them to rush. Then his sickness worsened, yet he kept saying: "Usamah's army! Complete the mission of Usamah's army! Dispatch Usamah's troops!" He kept repeating these orders even while they were still reluctant to respond. On the 12th of Rabi`ul-Awwal, Usamah left his temporary quarters at al-Jurf and visited the Prophet who ordered him to start his mission immediately, saying: "Tomorrow, by the blessing of Allah leave early in the morning," so he bade him farewell and left for the camp. Accompanied by Umar and Abu Ubayda, he went back again to see the Prophet. The three men reached the Prophet who was breathing his last. He died, may my life and those of the world be sacrificed for his sake, on the same day, and the army returned to Medina and considered cancelling the campaign altogether. They discussed this matter with Abu Bakr, pressuring him a great deal to endorse their idea of cancellation, in spite of witnessing all the emphasis the Prophet had placed on rushing the mission, having heard his statement stressing that they should expedite sending the troops in a way too fast to allow the enemy to know about it, spending so much effort raising the army personally, appointing Usamah to take charge of it, and tying its flag with his own hands, saying: "Tomorrow, by the blessing of Allah leave early in the morning," till he died, as you have come to know. Had it not been for the newly appointed successor of the Prophet they would have all decided to cancel the campaign and untie the flag's knot, but the caliph [Abu Bakr] refused to do so, and when they saw him determined to carry on the mission, Umar approached him and requested him on behalf of the Ansar to depose Usamah from the post of the army's leader and appoint someone else. It was not long since they had angered the Prophet and annoyed him by their displeasure with his appointment of Usamah as the commander of the regiment, nor since his going out of his house for the same reason, painfully feverish, bandaged, wrapped in a blanket, unable to walk steadily, his legs hardly carrying him due to the pain from which he was suffering; having ascended the pulpit, breathing heavily, fighting his pain, he said: "O people! It has come to my knowledge that some of you have felt uneasy about my appointment of Usamah [as the commander]. If you cast doubts about his appointment, you had done so before when I appointed his father who, by Allah, was worthy of such an authority, and so is his son after him." Thus did he emphasize, by swearing by Allah, that they should submit to what he had decreed. They did not. The new caliph [Abu Bakr] refused to yield to their pressure to remove Usamah from his post. He leaped and took Umar by the beard saying: "May your mother lose you, and may she be deprived of you as a son! He has been appointed by the Prophet and you still ask me to depose him?!" They reluctantly dispatched Usamah's regiment. The total number of his troops was no more than three thousand, including one thousand cavaliers. It was dodged by many of those who had been drafted by the Prophet himself. According to Shahristani's fourth Introduction to his book Al-Milal wal Nihal, the Prophet is quoted saying: "Draft in Usamah's army; may Allah curse its draft dodgers." You may also know that initially they were reluctant to go with the regiment; then they finally dodged, just to firmly lay the foundations of their political structure and set its bases, preferring it to the carrying out of the orders of the Prophet. They saw that such a political structure was more worthy of their concern and attention, since their reluctance to draft would not cancel the dispatching of the troops, nor would the draft dodgers either. As regarding the caliphate, they would certainly miss it had they participated in the campaign before the Prophet's demise. He had desired that they should leave the capital in order to clear the way for the establishment of the caliphate for Imam Ali peacefully and quietly. So, when they would come back, such caliphate would have already been established and settled down for Ali, and there would have been no chance for them to dispute or question it. The Prophet had selected Usamah, who was seventeen years old, to be their commander simply in order to subdue the stiff necks of some of them, and out of his own desire to contain the ambition of others, and also as a safeguard for protecting the peace in the future against the dispute of those who were obviously ambitious and hopeful, had he chosen one of them instead. But they were intelligent enough to be aware of what he was planning; so, they questioned the appointment of Usamah, reluctantly refused to accompany him, and did not leave Jurf till the soul of the Prophet returned to its Lord. It was then that they decided to cancel the campaign and untie the flag's knot on one hand, and to depose Usamah on the other. Moreover, many of them became draft dodgers, as you have come to know. These are five reasons why they did not act upon the Prophet's hadith, preferring their own political interests, and following their own judgment rather than implementing the spirit of his hadith.
Letter # 15 - Yes, the Prophet had urged them to rush to participate in Usamah's campaign, ordering them to expedite, as you have mentioned, emphasizing his order till he told Usamah to invade Ubna in the morning, not allowing him to wait till the evening, telling him to go and emphasizing his order once more by telling him to rush. But he according to all narrations, fell sick and started breathing very heavily, so much so that they started worrying about him and feeling too upset to leave him in such condition. They remained at Jurf waiting to know the condition of his health out of their own fear for his life and due to their attachment to him. They, therefore, are excused for having waited, and they should not be blamed. As regarding their questioning the Prophet's appointment of Usamah after his death, in spite of what they remembered of his statements and his emphasis by word and by action, with which they were familiar, it was nothing more than their objection to his being too young, to his being a youth among middle-aged and old men. The latter naturally find it very difficult to receive orders from the young, and they by nature feel resentful towards submitting to their judgment. Their hatred of his appointment was not an innovation but simply due to the human nature; so, consider that. As regarding their demand after the demise of the Messenger to depose Usamah, this is justified by some scholars among those who expected the Siddiq [Abu Bakr] to agree with them. These persons thought that such deposition would, in their view, serve the public interest. Yet, for the sake of fairness, I personally cannot rationalize their request to depose him after seeing how angry the Prophet was when they requested the same, and his going out, feverish, bandaged and wrapped in a blanket, to denounce such a notion in his sermon from the pulpit. They knew that such an incident was, indeed, a historical milestone; so, only Allah does know their real motive. As regarding their determination to cancel the campaign, and their pressuring al-Siddiq to do so, in spite of seeing how much emphasis the Prophet had placed on its dispatch, his concern about expediting its departure, as well as his repeated statements to this effect, is but their own caution about the capital of Islam else it should be assaulted by the polytheists around it once vacated from a protecting force, while the army was far away from it, especially since hypocrisy surfaced as soon as the Prophet died, and the hopes of the Jews and Christians were revived, and a group among the Arabs renegated, while other groups refused to pay zakat. The companions of the Prophet, therefore, spoke to our master al-Siddiq and requested him to forbid Usamah from leaving, but he refused and said: "It is better for me that birds snatch my flesh away rather than start my rule by overruling the command of the Prophet." This is what our fellows have said regarding al-Siddiq. As regarding others, they are not to be blamed for trying to stop the campaign since their objective was nothing other than a genuine concern about the safety of the religion of Islam. As regarding the question why Abu Bakr, Umar, and others who were drafted in the regiment, lagged behind when Usamah proceeded, it was only to lay the firm foundations of the Islamic government, support the law of Muhammad and protect the caliphate, which was the only protector of both faith and the faithful. As regarding what you have quoted of Shahristani's book Al-Milal wal Nihal, we have found it to be narrated without the name of its narrator. Both Halabi and Sayyid al-Dahlani, in their respective books of traditions, have said that in fact there was no such hadith at all in that meaning.
Reply # 15:
# You have, may Allah Almighty protect you, admitted that they lagged behind Usamah's regiment and were at Jurf reluctant to proceed in spite of being ordered by the Prophet to rush and expedite. You also admit that they did, indeed, raise questions about the [Prophet's] wisdom in appointing Usamah in spite of what they had seen and heard of deeds and words regarding his appointment. You have further admitted that they did, indeed, request Abu Bakr to depose him even after seeing how angry the Prophet was when he noticed their questioning his appointment, his going out to them, feverish, bandaged, wrapped in a blanket, to deliver a sermon from the pulpit in which he repudiated their grumbling, a sermon you yourself have described as one of the significant historical events, one wherein he described Usamah as being worthy of such a post. You have accepted the fact that they requested the caliph to cancel the regiment dispatched by the Prophet and untie the knot he, with his own eminent hands, had tied, in spite of seeing his concern about dispatching it and his complete care about expediting it, in addition to several statements he made regarding the necessity of doing so. You have, moreover, admitted that some of those who had been drafted in that army by the Prophet himself who ordered them to enlist under Usamah's leadership had lagged behind. You have admitted all these facts which are written down in the books of history and are matters of consensus among the traditionists and historians, saying that they were not to be blamed for all what they had done. The summary of their pretext, as you have put it, is that they had preferred in those matters the interest of Islam according to their own views, not according to the Prophet's statements in their regard. We did not intend in this matter to state anything more than that. In other words, the topic of our discussion is whether they used to follow all the Prophet's statements or not. You have chosen the first, while we have chosen the second, and now your admission that they did not follow such statements proves our own viewpoint. Their being excused or not is obviously besides the point. Since it has been proved according to your views that they preferred, in the incident of Usamah's regiment, the interest of Islam, following their own views rather than those of the Prophet as embedded in his statements, then why don't you likewise say that they preferred in the issue of caliphate to follow their own views regarding what is good for Islam to those of the Prophet as stated in his Ghadir hadith and the like? You have found excuses for those who cast doubts about Usamah's appointment, saying that they did so only because of his young age and their being middle-aged and old, and that old folks are naturally made to resent taking orders from the young; so, why don't you apply the same argument to those who did not follow the Ghadir texts appointing Ali, who was a young man, to take charge of middle-aged and elderly companions, who considered him young at the time when the Prophet died just as they considered Usamah young when the Prophet appointed him as their commander in that regiment? What a big difference between caliphate and the leadership of a regiment! If their nature refused to accept the leadership of a youth in commanding one regiment, they were more liable to refuse the lifetime leadership of a youth in all religious and secular matters. But your argument that middle-aged and elderly folks naturally resent receiving orders from the young is rejected if you apply it to all matters, since those whose faith is strong among elderly believers certainly do not resent being commanded by Allah and His Messenger to take orders from a youth, or in any other matter. "Nay! By thy Lord, they shall never truly believe till they totally accept your judgment in all their disputes, then they do not feel any hardship in accepting your judgment, submitting thereto wholeheartedly (4:65)." "Whatever the Messenger grants you, take it, and abstain from whatever he forbids you (59:7)."
2) As regarding al-Shahristani who discusses those who dodged the draft in Usamah's army, narrating their story as a generally accepted fact, it has been narrated in one hadith documented by Abu Bakr Ahmed ibn Abdul-Aziz al-Jawhari in his book Al-Saqifa, from which I quote here this much for you verbatim:
"Ahmed ibn Ishaq ibn Salih has narrated a tradition to us from Ahmed ibn Siyar from Saad ibn Kathir al-Ansari whose men quote Abdullah ibn Abdul-Rahman saying that when the Prophet fell sick shortly before his death, he appointed Usamah ibn Zayd ibn Harithah to take charge in leading an army most of which were men from the Muhajirün and the Ansar. Among them were: Abu Bakr, Umar, Abu Ubayda ibn al-Jarrah, Abdul-Rahmn ibn Awf, Talhah, and al-Zubayr, and ordered him to invade Mu'ta, where his father Zayd had been murdered, and to invade the valley of Palestine. Usamah slackened, and so did the rest of the army, and the Prophet though sick, kept emphasizing that the army must rush there, till Usamah said to him: `O Prophet! Would you permit me to stay for a few days till Allah Almighty heals you?' He answered: `Go and proceed, supported by the blessings of Allah.' He said: `O Prophet! If I proceed while you are sick like that, I will be going with a heart swollen with pain.' He said: `Proceed towards victory in good health.' Usamah persisted: `But I hate to keep asking the travellers about your condition.' He said: `Proceed to carry out my orders,' then he fainted. Usamah left and prepared to proceed. When the Prophet regained his consciousness, he immediately inquired about Usamah, and he was told that he and his men were preparing to proceed, whereupon he kept repeating: `Carry out Usamah's mission; the curse of Allah be upon whoever dodges its draft.' Usamah finally left the city, the flag above his head, surrounded by the companions, till he reached Jurf. In his company were Abu Bakr, Umar, and most of the Muhajirün and the Ansar such as Asid ibn Hadr, Bashir Ibn Saad, and many other dignitaries. Then he received a messenger sent by Umm Ayman who informed him to go ahead and enter the city because the Prophet was dying. He immediately left for Medina with the standard still in his hand. Having reached the Prophet's residence, he planted it at the door just when the Prophet had died."
This has been written down by a group of historians such as the Mu`tazilite scholar Ibn Abul-Hadid at the conclusion of page 20 and the succeeding page in vol 2 of his Sharh Nahjul Balagha.
# Suffices what is recorded by a group of the nation's scholars and the imams of narrators, such as Ahmed bin Hanbal who writes on page 15, vol 3, of his musnad, quoting Abu Saeed al-Khudri saying that Abu Bakr once came to the Prophet and said: "O Prophet! I was passing through a valley when I saw a man, solemn and properly attired, saying his prayers." The Prophet said to him: "Go and kill him." So Abu Bakr went there, and when he saw the man like that, he hated to kill him; therefore, he returned to the Prophet without carrying out his order. The Prophet said to Umar: "Go and kill him," and Umar went there and saw him in the same way Abu Bakr had described, and he, too, came back without killing the man and said: "O Prophet! I have seen him saying his prayers very solemnly; so, I hated to kill him." The Prophet then said to Ali: "Ali, you go and kill him," whereupon Ali went to the place and returned only to say: "O Prophet! I could not find the man." The Prophet then said: "This man and his friends read the Koran only pronouncing its words [just to impress people]; they depart from the faith as swiftly as the arrow departs from the bow, and they do not go back till the arrow goes back to the bow anew. Kill them, for they are the worst among the living." In his Musnad, Abu Yala, as stated in the biography of Thul-Thadya by Ibn Hajar in his Isaba, quotes Anas ibn Malik saying: "We used to admire the piety and ijtihad of a man who was contemporary to the Prophet and we mentioned him by name to the Prophet but he did not know him. We described him to the Prophet but he still did not recognize him. While we were talking about him, he came into sight and we said that it was he. He said: `Are you talking to me about a man on whose face Satan has placed his mark?' The man approached till he stood before them without greeting them. The Prophet asked him: `I ask you in the Name of Allah if you have told yourself when you approached that there is nobody among us better than or superior to you?' The man answered: `Indeed, I have,' and he came in to say his prayers. The Prophet asked who would be willing to kill the man, and Abu Bakr said he would. When Abu Bakr entered, he found the man engaged in saying his prayers; so, he wondered how he could kill a man who was saying his prayers. When the Prophet asked him what he did, he answered: `I hated to kill him while he was saying his prayers, and you yourself had ordered us not to kill those who pray.' The Prophet asked for a volunteer, and this time Umar responded. Umar entered and found the man prostrating and said to himself that Abu Bakr was better than him; therefore, he went out. When the Prophet asked him if he did what he had promised to do, he told him that he had found the man placing his forehead on the ground prostrating to God. The Prophet once more asked: `Who can kill this man?' Ali answered in the affirmative, and when he entered looking for him, he found out that he had already left; so, he went back to the Prophet and told him that the man had already left. It was then that the Prophet said: `Had this man been killed, no couple among my nation would have disputed with one another.'" This incident has been recorded by al-Hafiz Muhammad ibn Müsa al-Shirazi in his book wherein he combines the tafasir of Y`aqüb ibn Hayyan, Ali ibn Harb, al-Sadi, Mujahid, Qatadah, Waki`, and Ibn Jurayh. Its authenticity is considered common knowledge by trustworthy traditionists such as Imam Shihabud-Din Ahmed, who is better known as Ibn `Abd Rabbih al-Andalusi, who quotes it at the conclusion of his chapter on those who follow their own inclinations in the first volume of his book Al-`Iqd al-Farid. At the conclusion of this incident as he narrates it, he says that the Prophet has said: "This is the first horn [of the devil] coming out in my nation. Had you killed him, no two men would have disputed with each other. The children of Isra'il split into seventy-two groups, and this nation shall split into seventy-three groups all of which, except one, will go to Hell." Another almost similar narration of this incident is recorded by authors of books of traditions who cite Ali saying: "Some people from Quraysh came once to the Prophet and said: `O Muhammad! We are your neighbours and allies, and some of our slaves had come to you without a genuine desire to learn your religion or jurisprudence; they simply escaped from our possession; so, return them to us.' He asked Abu Bakr his opinion, and Abu Bakr said: `They are right in saying that they are your neighbours;' whereupon the Prophet's face changed colour [i.e. became red with anger], and he asked Umar what he thought. Umar repeated Abu Bakr's words, and again his face changed colour and said: `O people of Quraysh! By Allah! Allah will send you a man the faith of whose heart is tested by Allah, and he will fight you in order to safeguard the faith.' Abu Bakr inquired if he meant him, and his answer was negative. Then Umar inquired if it was he about whom the Prophet was talking, and his answer was: `No, it is the man who is mending the sandal;' the Prophet had given me his sandal to mend."
# The order was one that required its execution as such; so, nobody would understand it any other way; therefore, calling it a recommendation is not proved by any argument at all. On the contrary, proofs emphasize its real meaning, i.e. as an order; so, look carefully into those traditions and you will find out that what we say here is the truth. Suffices you his statement: "This man and his men read the Koran only pronouncing its words [just to impress people]; they depart from the faith as swiftly as the arrow departs from the bow, and they do not go back till the arrow goes back to the bow anew. Kill them, for they are the worst among the living," and also his statement "Had he been killed, no two men of my nation will have ever disputed with one another." Such statements were not said except when there was a serious command greatly emphasizing that the man be killed. If you refer to Ahmed's Musnad, you will find the order to kill the man was directed to Abu Bakr in particular, then to Umar in particular; so, how can the obligation be ruled out? Yet traditions are indeed explicit in indicating that those companions refrained from killing the man only because they hated to do so for no reason other than the fact that he was engaged in prayer and supplication. They did not feel well even though the Prophet himself felt well about getting rid of him. They did not abide by the order which they had received from the Prophet to kill the man. This incident, therefore, is just another proof testifying to the fact that they used to prefer to follow their own opinions rather than the instructions of the Prophet.
# Consider the Hudaybiya Treaty, Hunayn's booties, the taking of ransom from the captives of the Battle of Badr, his order to slaughter a few camels when they had a severe shortage of food rations during the Battle of Tabük, some of their own affairs on Uhud and its valley, the incident when Abu Hurayrah started conveying glad tidings to all those who believed in the Unity of Allah, the incident of performing ritual prayers for a hypocrite, the incident of their questioning the sadaqat and their inquiries about debauchery, their interpretation of the verses dealing with the khums and zakat, the two verses dealing with the mut`a [temporary] marriage, the verse dealing with the divorce thrice, their interpretation of the traditions regarding the extra prayers during the month of Ramadan, the latter's methods and numbers, the method of calling the athan, the number of takbirs during funeral prayers..., to the end of the list that is too lengthy to be dealt with in detail here. Add to this their opposition regarding the matter pertaining to Hatib ibn Balta`ah, their opposition to what the Prophet did at Ibrahim's maqam, the addition of the houses of some Muslims to the building of the mosque, the enforcement of the blood money of Abu Khirash al-Hathli to be paid by the people of Yemen, the banishment of Nasr ibn al-Hajjaj al-Salami, the penalty enforced on Ja`dah ibn Salam, the method to regulate the jizya, the covenant to conduct the shüra in the well-known manner, roaming at night and spying during day-time, the compensation in performing the rituals..., to the end of the list of innumerable issues in which they aspired to achieve power and control, as well as special interests. We have dedicated in our book Sabil al-Muminin a lengthy chapter to deal with them.
2) Yet there are other texts dealing particularly with Ali and the purified progeny besides the ones related to the caliphate which they did not honour either; rather, they acted to the contrary of the latter, as researchers know very well. So, no wonder to see how they used their own judgment to interpret the texts related to his caliphate; after all, isn't it just another text which they subjected to their own views and preferred their own thinking rather than acting upon it?
# You have admitted their conduct regarding those well-known instances, and you have believed what we had said first; so, all praise is due to Allah. As regarding their good intentions and their preference of the common interest, their seeking of what is best for the nation, its faith and unity, this is a departure from our main topic, as you yourself know.
2) In your latest reply, you have requested the details of the authentic ahadith regarding Ali in matters other than the imamate which they did not follow; nay, they did not even pay them any attention. You are the imam of traditions of our time; you are well acquainted with them; you have spent a great deal of effort in tackling the details of what we have summed up, and who else is more knowledgeable than you of the details of what we have referred to? Is there anyone else who equals you or is able to compete with you regarding the Sunnah? Certainly not; yet, the matter is just what the axiom says: "How often do people ask about things with which they are familiar?" You know very well that there are quite a few companions who hated Ali and were his enemies. They deserted him, hurt him, cursed and wronged him, opposed him, fought him, struck his face and the faces of his Ahlulbaytas well as those of their followers with their swords, as is well-known by necessity from the history of the ancestors. The Prophet has said:
- "Whoever obeys me obeys Allah, and whoever disobeyes me disobeyes Allah; whoever obeys Ali obeys me, and whoever disobeyes Ali disobeys me too."
- "Whoever deserts me deserts Allah, and whoever deserts you, O Ali, deserts me, too."
- "O Ali ! You are a leader in this life and a leader in the life hereafter; I love whoever loves you, and the one I love is loved by Allah; your enemy is my enemy, and my enemy is the enemy of Allah; woe unto whoever hates you after me."
- "Whoever denounces Ali denounces me, too, and whoever denounces me denounces Allah."
- "Whoever hurts Ali hurts me, too, and whoever hurts me hurts Allah."
- "Whoever loves Ali loves me, and whoever hates Ali hates me."
- "Nobody loves you, O Ali, except a true believer, and nobody hates you except a hypocrite."
- "O Allah! Befriend whoever befriends him, and be the enemy of whoever sets himself as his enemy; support whoever supports him, and forsake whoever forsakes him."
One day, he looked at Ali, Fatima, al-Hasan and al-Husayn and said: "I fight whoever fights you, and I am peaceful unto whoever is peaceful to you." Having covered them with a blanket, he said: "I fight whoever fights you, and grant asylum to whoever seeks peace with you; I am an enemy of your enemy." There are many such traditions which quite a few companions did not implement; nay, the latter's actions contradicted their injunctions in preference of their own desires since they sought their own self-interest. Those whose insight is keen know that all the very well-known traditions in honour of Ali - which are several hundreds, such as the ones enjoining acceptance of his taking charge, forbidding everyone from becoming his enemy - are all proofs testifying to his great status and prestige, and to his lofty position in the eyes of Allah and His Messenger. We have narrated quite a few of them in these replies, and what we have not narrated is many times more. You are, by the Grace of God, among those who are very well familiar with traditions and their meanings. Have you found any tradition which enjoins opposition and enmity towards him, or any particular one indicative of harming him, hating him, or bearing animosity towards him, or anything like hurting him and wronging him, denouncing him from the Muslims' pulpits, or making that a tradition followed by the preachers who preach during Fridays and eids? Certainly not. But those who did all of these things never paid any attention to such traditions in spite of their abundance and sequential narration. They did not hinder them from behaving in any way that would best serve their political interests. They knew that he was the brother and friend of the Prophet his heir and confidant, the chief of his progeny, his Harun over his nation, his son-in-law in his own right, the father of his descendants, the foremost to accept Islam, the most sincere in faith, the most knowledgeable, the most diligent in doing good deeds, the most clement, the strongest in conviction, the hardest worker in the cause of God, the most courageous, the most virtuous, the one possessing the most feats, the most cautious about the interest of Islam, the nearest to the Prophet, the closest to him in guidance, manners, and loftiness, the most exemplary in his deed, speech, or silence... But personal interests were to them above any other argument or consideration; so, why then the amazement at their preference to follow their own personal views regarding the imamate to following the spirit of the Ghadir hadith, for example? Yet isn't the Ghadir hadith but just one of several hundred others which they saw only through their own glasses, preferring their own views and considering their own interests? the Prophet has also said: "The similitude of my Ahlulbaytamong you is like that of Noah's ark; whoever boards it is saved, and whoever lags behind it is drowned," and "The similitude of my Ahlulbaytamong you is like the Gate of Salvation to the children of Isra'il: forgiven are the sins of whoever enters through it." He has also said: "The stars are the security of the inhabitants of the earth against drowning, and my Ahlulbaytare the nation's security against dissension; so, if any Arab tribe opposes them, they will all dispute with each other and become the party of Iblis (Eblis)," in addition to many such traditions all of which were ignored completely by them.
Letter # 16 - Ali during the incident of the saqifa did not cite any of the texts regarding the caliphate and wisyat, to which you give so much attention, to al-Siddiq and the allegiance to him; so, are you more familiar with such texts than he is?
Reply # 16:
# Everybody knows that neither the Imam nor any of his supporters among the descendants of Hashim and others witnessed such an allegiance, nor did they enter that saqifa then. They were distracted from it and whatever went on inside it. They were totally preoccupied by their tremendous calamity: the demise of the Prophet, and their conducting of the appropriate funeral preparations for him paying no attention to anything else. As soon as they finished burying him in his sacred resting place, those at the saqifa had already commenced their act, conducted the allegiance, and tightly tied their knot, being extremely careful in forbidding any speech or deed that would weaken their allegiance, affect their deal, or annoy their commoners; so, where were the Imam during the events of the saqifa, the giving or the taking of allegiance to al-Siddiq so that he might argue with them? How can he or anyone else be expected to argue after the allegiance had already been taken, and those who had a say had taken such measures? Can any one person in our present time face the authorities, uproot their power, and abolish their government? Would they leave such a person alone if he attempted to do so? Impossible. So, compare the past with the present, for neither people nor times have changed much. Yet Ali did not expect his arguments with them then to cause anything other than dissension. He preferred to lose what was his over its attainment under such circumstances. He feared that such dissension might harm Islam and its kalima, as we have previously explained, saying that he was inflicted in those days more than anyone else by two major catastropes: On one hand, caliphate, in its texts and wills, cried unto him and invoked him in a complaint that would make the heart bleed, and the oppressive dissension on the other warned him of an uprising in the peninsula, a possible rebellion of the Arabs that would sweep Islam away, threatening it with the hypocrites among the residents of Medina who were accustomed to hypocrisy, supported by the bedouins who, according to the text of the Book of Allah (9:101), are hypocrites, nay, even worse in disbelief and hypocrisy, so much so, that it would be better for them not to know the limits of what Allah has revealed unto His Messenger (9:97). These have become stronger by the loss of the Prophet, and Muslims became like frightened cattle in a winter night, surrounded by assaulting jackels and wild beasts. Musaylamah the Liar, conspirator Talhah ibn Khuwaylid, and sorceress Sajah daughter of al-Harath, in addition to their rogues and hoodlums, were all trying their best to wipe Islam out and crush the Muslims. Add to this the fact that the Romans, the followers of Kisra and Caesar, besides many others, were plotting against the Muslims. Still add to these other elements full of grudge against Muhammad, his progeny and companions, and full of hatred towards the message of Islam. All these parties desired to uproot Islam's foundations. These were active in doing so, rushing their steps, seeing that the wind was finally blowing in their direction, and the opportunity because of the departure of the Prophet to the Sublime Companion had come; so, they wished to make use of that opportunity before Islam regained its strength and resumed order. Ali was aware of both dangers, and it was only natural that he would offer his own right on the altar of sacrifice for the sake of the Muslims. But he also wanted to maintain his right for the caliphate and argue with those who departed from it in a way that would neither harm the Muslims, nor cause dissension among them, nor encourage their enemy to take advantage thereof. He, therefore, remained at home till he felt obligated, not forced, to leave it. Had he rushed to them, he would not have had any argument, nor would his followers have had any proof, but he secured, by taking such a stand, both the protection of the faith, and the maintaining of his own right to rule the Muslims. When he saw that preserving Islam and responding to the plots of its enemies depended during those days on calm and peace, he paved in person the way for calmness, preferring to make peace with those who had a say just to protect the nation and out of his concern about the faith, being concerned about religion and in preference of the good to come to the present one, implementing his jurisdic as well as moral obligation to prefer, while still opposing, what was most important to what was more important, since the circumstances then permitted neither the use of the sword, nor the response through one argument against another.
2) In spite of all this, he and his descendants, in addition to the learned among his followers, used to follow wisdom when mentioning the will, publicizing for its clear texts, as is obvious to those who research.
# The Imam used to be quiet in publicizing the texts pertaining to him, without using them for personal gains against his opponents out of his own concern about the safety of Islam and to safeguard the strength of Muslims. He often used to defend his silence and reluctance to demand it, in such circumstance, by saying: "A man is not blamed if he takes his time in obtaining what is his; the blame is on that who takes what does not belong to him." He used to apply certain methods crowned with manifest wisdom in disseminating the texts in his honour. Have you noticed what he did in the incident of the Rahba, when he gathered people during his caliphate to celebrate the Ghadir Day? He said to them: "I ask each Muslim of you who heard the Prophet say on the Ghadir Day what he said to stand and testify to what he had heard, and nobody should stand except those who have seen him;" thirty companions, including twelve participants in the battle of Badr, testified to what they had heard of the Ghadir hadith. This is the maximum that he could do under such critical circumstances due to Uthman's murder, and the mutiny in Basra and Syria. It is, indeed, the peak of wisdom in such publicity in those days, and what a praiseworthy effort that revived the Ghadir tradition from its tomb and brought it to life after it was almost buried for good! The crowds at the Rahba were reminiscent of those who witnessed the Prophet on Ghadir Khumm day taking Ali in his own eminent hand and addressing a hundred thousand or more of his nation to convey to them the message that he would be his successor. Thus, the Ghadir tradition is one of the most reliable among consecutive traditions; so, observe the Prophet's wisdom when he exhorted him in front of such thronging crowds, and be mindful of the wisdom of the wasi on that Friday when he asked them to testify, thus highlighting the truth in a quiet manner dictated by circumstances, and by a peaceful method the Imam preferred. Thus was his method in disseminating the covenant and publicizing for the tradition. He was the type of person who would attract the attention of the unaware through means which did not require making a lot of noise or creating bad feelings among people. Consider what the authors of books of traditions have quoted of his own hadith during the incident of the feast arranged by the Prophet at the house of his uncle, the most dignified man among the people of Mecca, when he warned his near in kin. It is a lengthy and sacred tradition people have always considered as one of the proofs of Prophethood and the miracles of Islam due to its inclusion of the Prophetic miracle of feeding a large number of people with very little food. We have already quoted it. It concludes by stating that the Prophet took Ali by the neck and said: "This is my brother, the executor of my will, and my own successor; so, listen to him and obey him." He used quite often to tell how the Prophet said to him: "You are the wali of every believer after me," and he also quite often used to narrate this statement of the Prophet: "Your status to me is like that of Harun to Moses, except there will be no Prophet after me," and, reminescing of Ghadir Khumm, "Do not I have more authority over the believers than the believers themselves have?" They said: "Yes, indeed." He then said: "To whomsoever I have been a wali, this (Ali) is his wali," in the words of Ibn Abu Qasim, in addition to many such irrefutable texts. The most trustworthy and reliable traditionists have publicized them. This is all that he was able to do during those circumstances. ["Purposeful wisdom; so, how can the nuthur be of any use?"] On the Day of Shüra, he discharged his responsibility and warned others, sparing none of his own attributes or feats without using it as an argument. During the days of his caliphate, he often complained about the gross injustice done to him, painfully announcing his complaint from the pulpit, saying: "By God, that person vested it upon himself, knowing that my place from it was like the axle from the quern: From me does the stream of knowledge flow, and birds do not soar higher; so, I lowered against it my curtain and kept aloof therefrom. I had to opt between either fighting with an amputated arm, or be patient about a blind calamity in which the grown-ups become elderly and the youngsters grow gray hair, one wherein a mumin sweats till he meets his Lord. I decided that to be patient was wiser; so I became patient while seeing eye sores, tongue-tied, witnessing my inheritance being plundered," to the end of his shaqshaqi sermon, which is khutba 3 in Nahjul Balagha, page 25, vol 1. He often said: "O Lord! I seek Thy assistance against Quraysh and those who support them, for they have cut my flesh, demeaned my status, and disputed with me about what is mine, then they said: `It is only right that we take it, and that you should abandon it.'" Refer to either khutba 167 or page 103, vol 2, of Nahjul Balagha. In the same khutba, someone said to him: "You seem to be so much concerned about this matter." The Imam answered: "No; by God you are more concerned about it than I am. I have demanded one of my own rights, while you have stood between it and my attaining thereof." He has also said: "By Allah, since the time when Allah took the life of his Messenger till today, I have always been pushed away from my right, while others are preferred over me," as in khutba 5, page 36, vol 1, of Nahjul Balagha. He said once: "We have a right; if we do not attain it, we will have to mount old camels even if the journey is lengthy." He said in a reply he wrote to his brother `Aqil: "May the One who affects justice retaliate on my behalf against Quraysh who have separated me from my own kin and deprived me the support of my own maternal brother," as stated in epistle 36, page 67, vol 3, in Nahjul Balagha. He quite often used to say: "I looked around and found no supporter other than my Ahlulbaytwhom I preferred to protect against death, overlook against my wish, and I remained patient, containing my anger though it is more bitter than colocynth [Citrullus Colocynthis]," as in khutba 25, page 62, vol 1, of Nahjul Balagha. Some of his friends asked him once: "How did you keep your folk away from that post knowing that you have more right to it than anyone else?" He, as stated on page 79, vol 2, of Nahjul Balagha, statement 157, answered: "O fellow of Banu Asad! Such a mysterious matter disturbs you to the extent that you ask your question awkwardly. Yet we are obligated to you due to our kinship, and you have the right to ask such a question. You have asked, so be informed that as regarding some people oppressing us in this regard, while they know that we are superior in lineage to them, and stronger in blood ties to the Prophet this came due to the selfishness of certain people who were supported by others. The government is only to Allah, and the return is unto Him on the Day of Judgment; so, do not ask me about the usurpation called for even inside his [Prophet's] own chambers..." He has also said: "Where are those who claim that they are more deeply rooted in knowledge than we are? They tell lies about us and flagrantly oppress us though Allah has raised our status and lowered theirs, granted us and deprived them, and permitted us to enter while ordering them out, and through us has He taken them out of the darkness of blindness into the light of guidance. The seeds of imamate have been planted in the wombs of the descendants of Hashim of Quraysh; it suits nobody else, and caliphate is appropriate for nobody other than them...," to the conclusion of statement 140, on page 36 and the succeeding pages, vol 2, of Nahjul Balagha. Consider his statement in one of his sermons: "When the Prophet passed away, some people turned back [in their covenant to him], aiming to take various paths [rather than just one Right Path], relying on treachery, favouring those who were not his kin, abandoning the path they were ordered to take in order to please him, thus moving the foundation stones of Islam from their places, using other sinful substances in the building of its structure. They have entered into Islam through the doors of those who follow their own inclinations, going to extremes in their bewilderment, distracted like drunkards, following the sunnah of the descendants of Pharaoh, worshippers of this life, those who have deliberately abandoned their religion." Refer to this statement, which is cited at the beginning of page 25; it concludes sermon 2, vol 1, of Nahjul Balagha, which he delivered after receiving the oath of allegiance, for it is one of the greatest. In it, he says: "Nobody can be compared with the progeny of Muhammad from all the members of this nation, and nobody can be the peer of those who have received His blessing. They are the corner-stones of the faith, the pillars of conviction; through them does the extremist return to moderation, and through them does the one who has left knowledge behind him retracts; they possess the characteristics of those who deserve to rule, and in them lie the covenant and the legacy. Now right has returned to its people and transferred back to its appropriate place." Add to this his statement cited in the context of sermon 84, page 145, vol 1, of Nahjul Balagha in which he wonders about those who oppose him: "How amazed I am to see the error of these groups, disputing in their arguments about their religion, neither following in the footsteps of the Prophet nor the example of his wasi...!"
2) Al-Zahra delivered very wise arguments in this regard. Two of her own statements were in wide circulation among Ahlulbayt , so much so that they used to require their children to memorize them just as they required them to memorize the entire text of the Koran. They deal with those who "moved the foundation stones of the faith from their bases" and built them somewhere else. She said: "How dare they? Where have they moved it [caliphate] to, building it somewhere else other than at the haven of the Message, the foundations of Prophethood, the place where the faithful spirit [Gabriel] descends, the one who is the authority about secular as well as religious matters? This, indeed, is the manifest loss. Why do they hate al-Hasan's father so much? By Allah, they hate the strength of his sword, his might and astounding deeds, and his extra-ordinary effort in supporting the religion of Allah. By Allah, had they all yielded to his leadership, he would have taken them to the easy path, without harming anyone. He would have brought them to an overflowing fountain of goodness, advised them in secrecy and in public, neither filling his belly with their own sustenance, nor satisfying his thirst nor hunger out of their own toil. The gates of mercy of the heavens and the earth would have been widely opened for them. Allah will punish them for the sins they were committing; so, come and listen to the story, and so long as you live, be amazed, and when you are amazed, the incident bemuses you... Where have they gone, and which nitche have they clung to? What an evil guardian they have taken, and what an evil bunch! How evil is the end of the oppressors who traded the tails for the hoofs, and the rumps for the chests! So, dusted are the noses of those who think that they have done well; they are the ones who fill the world with corruption without knowing it. Woe unto them! `Isn't that who guides to the truth more worthy of being followed than the one who does not guide? What is the matter with you? How do you judge?'" up to the conclusion of her sermon which is a specimen of the speech of the purified progeny in this regard, and you may judge the rest by this one.
# May I invite your attention to the dialogue between Ibn Abbas and Umar in which the latter, in a lengthy conversation between both men, asked: "O Ibn Abbas! Do you know what stopped your folks [from demanding the caliphate] after Muhammad?" Ibn Abbas narrates saying: "I hated to answer Umar's question, so I said to him: `If I do not know, chief [Umar] knows.'" Umar said: "[Some people simply] hated that both prophethood and caliphate be confined to your House; so, they were happy about their scheme. Quraysh sought it for thmselves, and were able to obtain it." I said: "O chief, do you permit me to say something and promise to control your anger?" He answered in the affirmative; therefore, Ibn Abbas said: "As regarding your statement, O chief, that Quraysh sought it for themselves and were successful in obtaining it, I say that had Quraysh sought what Allah had chosen for them, their choice would have been unobjectionable and unblamed. As regarding your statement that they hated to see both prophethood and caliphate in our House, I say that Allah has described some people to be malicious, saying, `... that is so because they hated what Allah has revealed, so He rendered their deeds vain.'" Umar then said: "Impossible, O Ibn Abbas, for I heard things about you which I hate to believe else your status in my eyes should be reduced." I asked: `What are they, O chief? If they are true, they should not lower my status in your esteem, and if they are not, I am capable of defending myself against false charges.' Umar then said: `It has come to my knowledge that you say that they have deprived you of it [caliphate] out of envy, oppression and injustice.' I said: `As regarding your statement, O chief, that it was oppression, then that has become quite obvious to those who are ignorant as well as to those who are clement. As regarding your statement about envy, then Adam was envied, and we are his descendants who also are envious.' Umar then said: `Impossible, impossible; your hearts, O descendants of Hashim, have become filled with envy that can never dissipate.' I therefore said: `Wait, O chief, do not attribute this to the hearts of those whom Allah has purified with a perfect purification.'" He argued with him in another incident, asking: "How did you leave your cousin?" Ibn Abbas said he thought Umar meant Abdullah ibn Jafar; so, he answered: "I left him in the company of his friends." He said: "I did not mean him; I meant the greatest among you, Ahlulbayt ." Ibn Abbas said: "I left him exiled, irrigating while reciting the Koran." Umar said: "O Abdullah! I implore you not to be shy but tell me if he is still concerned about the issue of caliphate." He answered in the affirmative. Then Umar asked: "Does he claim that the Prophet has selected him for it?" Ibn Abbas answered: "Yes, indeed; moreover, I even asked my father if there was any statement made by the Prophet regarding selecting him for the caliphate, and my father informed me that that was the truth." Umar then said: "the Prophet held him in very high esteem through his speeches and actions in a way that left no argument nor excuse for anyone, and he kept testing the nation regarding him for some time; nay, even when he was sick [prior to his demise], he wished to nominate him for it, but it was I who stopped him." In a third dialogue between both men, Umar said: "O Ibn Abbas! I can see how wronged your friend [Ali] is." Ibn Abbas said: "O chief, then affect justice on his behalf." Ibn Abbas said: "But Umar pulled his hand from mine and went away whispering to himself for a good while. Then he stopped; so, I rejoined him, and he said to me: `O Ibn Abbas! I do not think that his people denied him [the caliphate] for any reason other than his being too young for it.' I said to him: `By Allah, neither Allah nor His Messenger regarded him as too young when they both ordered him to take Sürat Bara'a (Chapter 9) from him [from Abu Bakr].' Having heard this, he turned away from me and started walking fast; so, I left him alone." How often has Abdullah Ibn Abbas, who is the scribe of the Muslim nation, the spokesman of the Hashimites, and cousin of the Prophet encountered such stances? Above, you have come to see how he argues with the oppressive party by citing a tradition that counts ten exclusive merits of Ali. It is a lengthy and eminent tradition in which he quotes the Prophet asking his cousins: "Who among you would be my supporter in [matters related to] this life and the life hereafter?" They declined, but Ali said: "I support you in this life as well as the life to come." The Prophet then said to Ali: "You are my wali in this life and the life to come." In another tradition, Ibn Abbas narrates that during the Tabuk raid, the Prophet went out, accompanied by many people, and Ali asked him: "Shall I accompany you?" the Prophet denied his request; so, Ali wept; whereupon the Prophet said to him: "Are you not pleased that your status to me is like that of Harun to Moses, except there is no Prophet after me? I ought not leave except after you represent me in my absence." the Prophet has also told him: "You are the wali of every believer after me," and "Whoever accepts me as his wali, Ali [henceforth] is his mawla."
2) The dignitaries among the descendants of Hashim often argued likewise. Once al-Hasan ibn Ali came to Abu Bakr who had seated himself on the pulpit of the Prophet and told him to get down from a place his father was more worthy of. Al-Husayn is reported to have said similarly to Umar who was also seated on the same pulpit.
3) Books written by imamites who dealt with this topic cite many incidents wherein the Hashimites and their followers among the sahabah and tabi`in argued likewise, and they ought to be reviewed by those who are interested in their contents. Suffices here to cite the book of arguments by imam al-Tibrisi in which he quotes statements made by the Omayyad Khalid ibn Saeed ibn al-`?s, Salman al-Farisi, Abu Zar al-Ghifari, Ammar ibn Yasir, al-Miqdad, Buraydah al-Aslami, Abul-Haytham ibn al-Tihan, Sahl and Uthman sons of Hanif, Khuzaymah ibn Thabit of the two Shahadas, Ubayy ibn Ka`b, Abu Ayyüb al-Ansari, and many others among those who researched the history of Ahl al Bayt and of their followers. Yet they never missed any opportunity to prove their point by citing explicit or implicit references, strongly or smoothly worded, speeches and writings, poetry and prose, according to whatever their circumstances, though critical, permitted.
4) They repeatedly referred to the will, using it as an argument, as is well-known by researchers.
# Imam Ali mentioned it [the will] while preaching from the pulpit. Anyone who quotes the tradition of the Household on the day of warning has done so, quoting Ali. We have also quoted it. It contains the explicit text recommending him for the caliphate. Imam Abu Muhammad al-Hasan, grandson of the Prophet and master of all the the young of Paradise, delivered a sermon when his father Imam Ali was assassinated in which he said: "I am the descendant of the Prophet and the son of his vicegerent," as quoted by Hakim on page 172, vol 3, of his authentic Mustadrak. Imam Jafar al-Sadiq, as on page 254, vol 3, of Sharh Nahjul Balagha, at the end of the commentary on the qasi`a sermon, has said: "Even before the [Islamic] Message became public, Ali, while in the company of the Prophet used to see the light and hear the voice [of angels]." He also quotes him saying: "Had I not been the seal of Prophets, you [Ali] would have been made a partner in my Prophethood; yet since you cannot be a prophet, you certainly are the wasi and the heir of a Prophet ," according to Buraydah. Such usage is common among all the Imams of Ahlulbayt , and it is a necessity among them and their followers from the time of the sahabah till now. Salman al-Farisi is reported saying that he heard the Prophet saying: "The one who is my wasi, confidant, the best I leave behind me to execute my will and cancel my debts, is Ali ibn Abu Talib." Abu Ayyüb al-Ansari has reported a tradition in which he says that he heard the Prophet saying to Fatima: "Have you not come to know that Allah cast a look at the inhabitants of the earth and chose your father for His Messenger, then He cast a second look and chose your husband, then He inspired me to marry you to him and take him as my vicegerent?" Buraydah has narrated a tradition in which he says that he heard the Prophet saying: "For every Prophet there is a vicegerent and heir, and my vicegerent and heir is Ali ibn Abu Talib," and both ahadith of Abu Ayyüb and Salman have already been quoted above. Whenever Jabir ibn Yazid al-Ju`fi narrated a tradition from Imam al-Baqir, he used to say, as stated in Jabir's biography in Thahbi's Al-Mizan, "The wasi of wasis has narrated a tradition to me..., etc." Umm al-Khayr daughter of al-Harish al-Bariqi delivered an eloquent speech in Siffin urging the Kufians to fight Muaweya in which she said: "Hurry, may Allah be merciful unto you, to support the just Imam, the faithful wasi, the greatest truthful," as quoted by Imam Abul-Fadl Ahmed ibn Abu Tahir al-Baghdadi on page 41 of his work Balaghat al-Nisa' stating his source to be al-Shabi. This is what some ancestors have quoted while lauding the recommendation in their sermons and speeches, and whoever researches their biographies will find them applying the title "wasi" to Imam Ali as freely as they would call anything by its name, so much so that the author of Taj al-`Arüs says on page 392, vol 10, while explaining the term "wasi": "[Pronounced] like ghani, wasi is the title of Ali, may Allah be pleased with him." As regarding dealing with this theme in their poetry, this cannot all be cited here due to its abundance, but we quote of it what serves the purpose to make a point. Abdullah Ibn Abbas ibn Abdul-Muttalib has described him as: The Messenger's wasi, chosen from his Household; His valiant knight when a challenge is posed. Al-Mughirah ibn al-Harith ibn Abdul-Muttalib has said these verses in which he encourages the people of Iraq to fight Muaweya in Siffin: The wasi of the Prophet is your chief, His son-in-law, promoted Allah's Mushaf Sharif. Abdullah ibn Abu Sufyan ibn al-Harth ibn Abdul-Muttalib has said: Among us is Ali, hero of Khaibar, now in ruin, The hero of Badr, too, when troops retreated; He is wasi of the Chosen Prophet and his cousin, So, who can attain his lofty status, only to him meted? Abul-Haytham ibn al-Tihan, one of the heroes of Badr, composed verses to recite during the Battle of the Camel in which he said: The wasi is our Imam and wali in word and deed, No secret left; what was hidden is now revealed. Khuzaymah ibn Thabit, of the two Shahadas, a hero of Badr, recited verses which he, too, composed during the Battle of the Camel in which he said: O wasi of the Prophet! The battle has shaken the foes, And caravans have been dispatched to deal blows. He, may Allah be pleased with him, has also said: O Aisha! Leave Ali and the names you call him, too, For what you call him is certainly not true; He is but the wasi from the Prophet's clan, The one to testify to that is but you, says everyone. Abdullah ibn Badil ibn Warqa' al-Khuza`i, a hero among the sahabah, who was martyred in Siffin together with his brother Abdul-Rahman, said the following on the incident of the Battle of the Camel: O my people! What a great calamity Satan brought, Battle the enemy, for the wasi of the Prophet is fought. Among the verses said by Imam Ali himself in Siffin were these: If Ahmed were told that his wasi is indeed Equalled to a wretch, he would surely be displeased. Jarir ibn Abdullah al-Bijli, a sahabi, sent verses to Shurhabil ibn al-Samt in which he mentioned Ali saying: Among all other members of the Prophet's clan, He is wasi of the Messenger of ar-Rahman, His Messenger's protecting knight, A man proverbial in courage and might. Umar ibn Harithah al-Ansari, in a poem lauding Muhammad son of Imam Ali, better known as Ibn al-Hanafiyya, said: Like the wasi, and after the Messenger named, The colour of his standard is crimson red. When people swore the oath of allegiance to Ali after Uthman, Abdul-Rahman ibn Ja`il said these verses: I swear you have allied yourselves to one Whose concern about the faith is well-known, Supported by the Almighty: virtuous, with no sin, Ali, wasi of the Chosen one and his cousin, The first to offer ritual prayers, One endowed with piety and honours. A man of the Azd tribe said the following during the Battle of the Camel: This is Ali; The Prophet's wasi On the Day of Salvation; The Prophet told the nation: "This is a brother of mine! "And successor when my sun ceases to shine." The wise heeded and kept it in mind, The wretch forgot and left it behind. During the Battle of the Camel, a young man from the tribe of Zabbah, who was trained in Aisha's camp, came out and said: We are children of Zabbah, enemies of Ali, The one who is known for long as the wasi, A brave knight during the time of our Nabi, I am not blind about the virtues of Ali, I only mourn the murder of the son of Uthman, the taqi. Saeed ibn Qays al-Hamadani, who fought in Ali's camp, said the following on the Battle of the Camel: What a battle that has kindled a fire! Breaking the spears of every knight, Tell the wasi: Qahtan approaches in desire, Call upon them to aid Hamadan with their might, They are their kin, They are their children. Ziyad ibn Labid al-Ansari, one of Ali's companions, composed these verses during the Battle of the Camel: How do you see the Ansar in a fierce battle faring? We are people never afraid to die; In supporing the wasi, we attack with daring, The Ansar are serious, their spirits high. Ali son of Abdul-Muttalib do we support Against those who, about him, lied in their import. Tell the liars, whose conscience is cheap, A miserable harvest shall they forever reap. Hajar ibn Adi al-Kindi said on the same occasion: Lord! Protect Ali whose deeds You bless, The pious believer, the caller for Your Oneness. This is the view not of a depraved nor a deceiver, He is but a divinely inspired and guided leader, Protect him, Lord, and protect Your Prophet's Call Through his wali and the wasi of each and all. Umar ibn Ahjiyah composed a poem lauding the address of al-Hasan, delivered after that of Ibn al-Zubayr, during the Battle of the Camel saying: Hasan of goodness, like your father in virtue and grace, Among us you have taken a lofty, exemplary place. You have delivered a speech whereby Allah exposed The lies of the enemies of your father who posed Prattling, like Ibn al-Zubayr, the man of shame. Ask even skeptics, and they will tell you his name. Allah has insisted to lower in infamy his head, And raise that of the clement son of al-wasi instead. Thou hast undoubtedly chosen Thy own Nabi, And Thou also appointed his honourable wasi. Zajr ibn Qays al-Ju`fi composed these verses also during the Battle of the Camel: The Lord salutes Ahmed, Messenger of the King Who grants him many a blessing, After the Messenger of the King our Caliph will succeed, A man worthy of authority-a knight true in word and deed: Ali I meant, the Prophet's wasi, bringing to the Path All the depraved and strayers who incurred the divine Wrath. Al-Ash`ath ibn Qays al-Kindi has said: The messenger of the Imam has come to us, so be it That every Muslim in Ali's army speedily enlist, He is messenger of the wasi, the wasi of the Messenger, Foremost in feats, virtues, piety of every believer. ... and Also: A message from the Imam we have received From Ali the virtuous, Ali of Hashim, Son-in-law of the Prophet his vizier indeed, The best in the nation and in every realm. Al-Nu`man ibn al-`Ajlan al-Zarqi al-Ansari said the following during the Battle of Siffin: Since the wasi is our leader, how can there be division? Nay! No bewilderment, no confusion, do not slacken; So, leave the depraved Muaweya and follow the religion Of the wasi, and praise the Lord of man and jinn. Abdul-Rahman ibn Thu'ayb al-Aslami has said the following in a poem threatening Muaweya with the Iraqi troops: They are led by none other than the wasi To rid you of misguidance and uncertainty. Abdullah ibn Abu Saufyan ibn al-Harith ibn Abdul-Muttalib has said: The one in charge after Muhammad is Ali who On all occasions did defend, support and stand. He is the wasi of the Messenger, nothing is new; His peer, the first to pray with him and lend him hand. Khuzaymah ibn Thabit, of the two shahadas, has said: He is wasi of the Messenger out of all his clan His defending knight since the very beginning, The first to pray, preceded by no man Save the Lady chosen by the One Who Grants blessing. Zafar ibn Huthayfah al-Asdi has said: Surround Ali, O men, and support him, For he is the wasi and the first Muslim. Abul-Aswad al-Du'ali has said: I love Muhammad passionately, and to me Very dear are: Abbas, Hamzah, and the wasi. Al-Nu`man ibn `Ajlan, an Ansar poet and dignitary, said these verses in a poem addressed to Ibn al-`?s narrated by al-Zubayr ibn Bakkar in his Muwaffaqiyyat. It is transmitted by the Mu`tazilite scholar on page 13, vol 3, of his Sharh Nahjul Balagha, but Ibn `Abd al-Birr quotes this poem stating the biography of al-Nu`man in his Isti`ab, omitting the name of the witness from it ("... and thus do they behave (27:34)": You underestimated Ali who is the most fit, Albeit if you knew, or did not know it; For he, assisted by Allah, guides unto Him and indeed Forbids debauchery, oppression and every wrongful deed; The wasi of the Chosen Prophet and his cousin Killer of knights who are misguided, unbelieving. Al-Fadl ibn Abbas has said these verses which are quoted by Ibn al-Athir at the end of the latter's discussion of Uthman, on page 43, vol 3, of his work Al-Tarikh al-Kamil, commenting that Uthman is "the best of people besides the three men of the [Prophet's] house." The best of people and of every believer After the one chosen to be Messenger Is the wasi according to people who remember. And he is first to perform the rite of prayer And the like of the Messenger; The first at Badr to deal a deadly blow To those who broke the divine Law. Hassan ibn Thabit has said these verses in which he praises Ali on behalf of all the Ansar. They are quoted by al-Zubayr ibn Bakkar in his Muwaffaqiyyat, and recorded by Ibn Abul-Hadid on page 15, vol 2, of his work Sharh Nahjul Balagha: You are the most faithful to the Prophet among us Worthy of his recommendation; for who else surapss You in it, who else? Aren't you his brother In true guidance, and his wasi, The best scholar of the Koran and all other Ahadith of the blessed Nabi? Some poets said these verses addressing al-Hasan ibn Ali as quoted by Shaykh Muhammad Ali Hashshu al-Hanafi al-Saydawi in the footnote to page 65 of his book A'thar Thawat al-Siwar, when he discussed both Ghanima daughter of `?mir, and Muaweya, saying that she recited this verse before Muaweya in a statement she made responding to his own: The most dignified of men, son of the wasi, Grandson of the Prophet, son of Ali. Umm Sinan daughter of Khayth`amah ibn Kharsha'ah al-Mathhaji has said the following verses addressing and lauding Ali; they are mentioned by Imam Abul-Fadl Ahmed ibn Abu Tahir al-Baghdadi when he discusses Umm Sinan on page 67 of Balaghat al-Nisa'. They are also quoted from Umm Sinan by Shaykh Muhammad Ali Hashshu al-Hanafi al-Saydawi at the end of page 78 of his ?thar Thawat al-Siwar. You were among us, after Muhammad, his trusted successor He selected you, and of his trust you proved a protector. This much of the poetry contemporary to Imam Ali is what we have been able to quote in such a short reply. If we review the poetry composed after him, then we will be authoring a voluminous book beyond the writing of which we would still apologize for our work being incomplete. Yet to quote all such poetry may become boring, and it may cause us to digress from the main subject-matter. So, let us be satisfied with quoting only the most famous poets, and let us judge the rest according to what is quoted here. In his celebrated poem, al-Kumait ibn Ziyad has thus lauded the descendants of Hashim: He is the wasi protecting the throne of the nation Against collapse and disintegration, The embodiment of virtue, glory and goodness, Solving the problems with order and firmness. The wasi, the wali, the knight Courageous, brave: his star was bright, The wasi of the wasi, determined and wise In battle-fields, you hear his enemy's agony cries. Kuthayyir ibn Abdul-Rahman ibn al-Aswad ibn `?mir al-Khuza`i, better known as Kuthayyir `Azza, has said: The wasi of the Chosen Prophet and his cousin; he Emancipates those in bondage, and judges with equity. Abu Tammam al-Ta'i has said the following in one of his poems the rhyme of which rhymes with "r's": You plotted against his wasi and deceived before; You cooked it, unprecedented, unmatched in lore, Against the Prophet's brother, son-in-law, who bore Feats of valour, while your plots opened the door To mischief: peerless in brother, son-in-law...; say no more; To the Prophet he was like Harun to Moses of yore... Du`bal ibn Ali al-Khuza`i has said the following in his euology of the Master of Martyrs [Imam Husayn]: The head of the son of Muhammad's daughter and his wasi, O men, is being raised atop a spear for all to see...! Abul-Tayyib al-Mutanabbi, when rebuked for stopping his praise of Ahlulbayt , as recorded in his diwan (collection of poems) said: I have no pretext for leaving the praise of the wasi His light dominates, his shade expands unto you and me: For when something elongates, it stands on its own, Attributes of the sun's light are never gone. He also said the following verses in his praise of Abul-Qasim Tahir ibn al-Husayn ibn Tahir al-`Alawi, as also recorded in his diwan: He is son of the Prophet and of his wasi, Alike unto them when I diligently compare and see. Verses such as these are innumerable, uncountable.
Letters # 17 - Some Sunnis question the derivation of your school of thought, in its roots and branches of religion, from the Imams of Ahlulbayt.
Reply # 17:
# All those endowed with wisdom and discretion know by necessity that the derivation of the roots and branches of the Shia imamite faith is from their forefathers and ancestors ending with the purified progeny. Their views, therefore, are conducive to those of the Imams of the purified progeny in the roots and branches of the faith, as well as all deductions arrived at from studying the Book and the Sunnah, or in any matter related to them or to all branches of theological science. They do not rely in their understanding of the latter except upon such progeny, and they refer to none other than them. They worship Allah and seek nearness to Him through the faith of the Imams of Ahlulbayt , without seeing any deviation therefrom, nor desiring any substitute. This has been the policy of their good ancestors since the time of Imam Ali, al-Hasan, al-Husayn, and the nine Imams from the progeny of al-Husayn till our time. Those who have learned the roots and branches of the faith from Ahlulbaytare quite a few reliable Shias, and the number of those who learned from the latter is much larger. The number of those known for piety, verification and correction is more than sequential. They have narrated all this to those who succeeded them through tawatur, and after them it was thus narrated to others, and so on. This has been the case with each and every generation, till it reached us as clear as mid-day sun, without any cloud obstructing it. We now, in understanding the roots and branches, are followers of the Imams from the progeny of the Messenger. We have quoted our forefathers who all quote them. This has been the case in all generations till the time of the Naqis, `Askaris, Rizas, Jawads, Kazims, Sadiqs, `Abidins, Baqirs, both grandsons of the Prophet, and finally Imam Ali, not counting Shia ancestors who kept company with the Imams of Ahlulbayt , learning the religious injunctions from them, quoting them while discussing Islamic knowledge. There is no room here to count all of them and read their roll call. Suffices you what the pens of their renown scholars have written of interesting works a list of which does not fit in this narration. They derived all that from the light of the Imams of guidance, the progeny of Muhammad, quoting it from their own oceans of knowledge, hearing it directly from them. They are the scribes of their knowledge and wisdom. Their works were authored during the life-time of those purified ones, and such works became references for all Shias who succeeded them. Through them, the superiority of the sect of Ahlulbayt manifested itself over all other Islamic sects. We do not know any follower of the four Sunni Imams, for example, who authored a book during the life-time of their Imams. Rather, people authored works in abundance dealing with their faith after those Imams had left this world, when it was decided that taqlid should be confined to their sects alone. During their life-time, they were just like any other contemporary jurist or traditionist, not enjoying any distinction over others of their class; therefore, nobody among their contemporaries was interested in exerting an effort to record their speeches like that exerted by Shias in recording the statements of the Infallible Imams. Ever since the inception of the Shia sect, nobody was permitted to refer in the religious matters to anyone other than their Imams. For this reason, such an effort was unavoidable, and they became the sole source of religious scholarship. A great deal of effort and resources were spent in recording their verbal statements, and many exhausted their resources in doing so in a manner that is unmatched so that they might preserve the knowledge which, according to such sect, is the only one accepted by Allah. The books authored during the life-time of Imam al-Sadiq alone numbered four hundred dealing with four hundred different topics containing the religious verdicts [fatwas] issued by al-Sadiq during his life-time. The disciples of al-Sadiq have written many, many times this number, as you will hear in detail shortly, Insha-Allah. As regarding the four Sunni imams, nobody looks at them in the eyes Shias look at the Imams of Ahlulbayt . Nay; they did not even have followers during their own life-time! They did not live to enjoy the status given to them after they had died, as stated by Ibn Khaldün al-`Arabi in a chapter he dedicated to the science of fiqh in his famous Introduction, and it is a fact admitted by many of their renown scholars. In spite of all this, we do not doubt that their followers followed anyone other than them, for theirs are, indeed, the views of the followers of those Imams, the ones held reliable in dealing with their affairs by every generation. They recorded them in their books because their followers knew their sects best, just as Shias best know the sect of their Imams, those who worship Allah accordingly, believing that it is the only way to seek nearness to Him.
2) Researchers unhesitatingly accept the fact that Shias were the pioneers in recording the branches of knowledge, more so than anyone else. As a matter of fact, nobody in the first century of Islam besides Ali and those endowed with the gift of knowledge among his Shias did so. The reason for this could be attributed to the differences of opinion among the companions in permitting or forbidding the writing of knowledge. According to al-`Asqalani in his Introduction to Fath al-Malik al-Ali Bisihhati Babil `Ilm Ali, and according to others, Umar ibn al-Khattab and a few others disliked the idea for fear hadith might be mixed with the Book, versus the permission granted by Ali, and after him al-Hasan al-Mujtaba, grandson of the Prophet and a group of other companions, to such writing. During that time, Ibn Jurayh authored in Mecca the first book dealing with the legacies in which he quotes Mujahid and `Ata'. Al-Ghazali says that it is the first book authored in Islam. The truth of the matter is that it is the first book authored by a non-Shia in Islam. After it, Muammar ibn Rashid, of San`a, Yemen, wrote his, then Malik authored his Mawti'. The Introduction of Fath al-Malik al-Ali Bisihhati Babil Ilm Ali states that al-Rabi` ibn Sabih was the first to compile information, and that he lived at the sunset of the time of the tabi`in. Anyhow, the consensus of opinion is that Sunnis did not author a single book during the first Islamic century. As regarding Ali and his Shias, these spent a great deal of effort and time to attain that end during the first century of Islam. The first writing of Imam Ali was the Book of Allah. Having finished the rituals pertaining to the preparation for the departure of the Prophet from this world, Ali decided not to dress except to either say the prayers or compile the Koran. He, therefore, compiled it arranged in the order of its revelation. He pointed out its general and specific meanings, absolute and restrictive, perfect and those that seem to be alike, revocation and what revokes it, emphasis and relaxation, injunctions and instructions, pointing out the occasions which necessitated the revelation of its perfect verses, explaining what might be confusing to other people. Ibn Sirin used to always say: "If you are lucky enough to obtain that book, then you will find in it abundant knowledge." This is cited by Ibn Hajar in his Sawaiq Muhriqa, and by many other renown writers. Several companions who could read took pains to compile the Koran, but they could not compile it in the order of its revelation, nor could they mark it the way explained above, leaving Ali's compilation more than just a compilation - rather an exegesis. Having finished working on the Book of the Dear One, he authored a book which he dedicated to the Leader of the Women of Mankind. It came to be known to her purified sons as "Mushaf Fatima," Fatima's book, which contained axioms, pieces of wisdom and counsel, morals, historical events and unique occurrences, written as a solace for her after being bereaved by the loss of her father the Prophet. After that, he authored a book dealing with blood monies which he titled Al-Sahifa. It is referred to by Ibn Saad at the end of his work titled Al-Jami` giving the credit of authorship to Imam Ali. Both Bukhari and Muslim mention this work and quote it in several places of their Sahih. Among their narrative is what they have quoted from al-A`mash from Ibrahim al-Taymi who quotes his father saying: "Ali, may Allah be pleased with him, told me once: `We have no book for you to read, besides Allah's Book, other than this Sahifa.' Then he brought it to me. It contained matters related to wounds and camel teeth. Also among its contents is a statement reading: `Medina is a sanctuary from cIr to Thawr; anyone who desecrates it, or shelters a desecrator, will incur the curse of Allah, the angels, and man.'" This is the wording of Bukhari in his section dealing with the sins of those who disown their mawali, in his chapter on ordinances, page 111, vol 4, of his Sahih, and it is referred to in the chapter on Medina's sanctity, when the pilgrimage is discussed on page 523, vol 1, of Muslim's Sahih. Ahmed bin Hanbal repeatedly refers to the narrative regarding this Sahifa in his musnad. He quotes Ali on page 100, vol 1, of his Musnad, transmitted by Tariq ibn Shihab who says: "I have witnessed Ali telling people from the pulpit: `By Allah! We have nothing to recite for you other than the Book of Allah and this Sahifa,' which he was attaching to his sword, `I have learned its contents from the Prophet.'" Quoting Abdul-Malik, al-Saffar narrates: "Abu Jafar asked to have Ali's book brought to him, and his son Jafar brought something bulky shaped like a thigh. Among its contents was a sentence reading: `If a man dies, his women will not inherit any of his estates.' Abu Jafar said: `This, by Allah, is the hand writing of Ali and the dictation of the Prophet!'" A group of Shias who were contemporary to the Imam followed in the footsteps of Imam Ali and authored a number of books. Among those authors were: Salman al-Farisi and Abu Zar al-Ghifari, as stated by Ibn Shahr ?shüb who says: "The first to author in Islam is Ali ibn Abu Talib, then Salman al-Farisi, then Abu Zar." Among the latter is Abu Rafi, freed slave of the Prophet and treasurer of baytul-mal [state treasury] during the rule of Imam Ali. He was among the elite of his followers who sought his guidance. He wrote a book dealing with traditions, ordinances and other matters which he compiled mostly from Ali's hadith. It enjoyed a prestigious status among our ancestors who used it as a source of quotations and narrations. Among them is Ali ibn Abu Rafi who, according to his biography in Isaba, was born during the life-time of the Prophet who named him Ali. He authored a book on the science of fiqh according to the teachings of Ahlulbaytwho used to cherish that book and refer their Shias to it. Musa ibn Abdullah ibn al-Hasan has said: "A man inquired about tashahhud from my father. My father told me to fetch the book written by Abu Rafi. He took it and dictated to us from it." The author of Rawdat al-Jannat concludes his discussion by stating that the latter was the first book dealing with fiqh written by Shias, but he, may Allah have mercy on him, has certainly erred. Among them is `Ubaydullah ibn Abu Rafi, a scribe and a follower of Ali, who learned from the Prophet and narrated to Jafar his saying: "Your form and manners are similar to mine." This is quoted by a group of scholars including Ahmed bin Hanbal in his Musnad. Ibn Hajar has mentioned it in Part 1 of his Isaba under the heading "`Ubaydullah ibn Aslam." The name of the father of Rabi' is Aslam. This `Ubaydullah authored a book dealing with the sahaba who fought the Battle of Siffin on Ali's side, from which Ibn Hajar quotes extensively in his own Isaba; so, you may refer to it. Also among them is Rabi`ah ibn Sam` who wrote a book dealing with zakat on cattle herds derived from the hadith of the Prophet which is narrated by Ali. They include Abdullah ibn al-Hurr al-Farisi who narrates a glitter of ahadith all reported by Ali from the Prophet. And among them is al-Asbagh ibn Nabatah, a friend and disciple of Imam Ali who quotes the Imam's instructive epistle to Malik al-Ashtar and his will to his son Muhammad. Both are recorded by our fellows in their authentic books of traditions directly from him. Among them is Salim ibn Qays al-Hilali, a companion of Ali, who quotes his hadith and that of Salman. He wrote a book dealing with imamate which is mentioned by Imam Muhammad ibn Ibrahim al-Nu`mani in his book Al-Ghayba, saying: "Nobody among all Shia scholars and narrators of the hadith of the Imams disputes the fact that the book written by Salim ibn Qays al-Hilali is a major bibliography of works dealing with usul [basics of jurisprudence] narrated by scholars and traditionists from Ahlulbayt , and one of the pioneers in its subject-matter. It is one of the major sources to which Shias refer and upon which they rely." Our fellows have also recorded the names and works of those of the same caliber among their good ancestors who authored books, in addition to the indices and biographies to whose authors everyone is referred.
3) As regarding the authors among our ancestors who belong to the second generation, i.e. that of the tabi`in, this reply falls short of elaborating on them, and the best to do in getting to know them, their works and sources in detail, is to refer to the bibliographies and biographies compiled by our scholars. Upon that class did the light of Ahlulbayt brightly shine, whereas the clouds of the oppression of oppressors earlier obstructed it. The calamity of the Taff disclosed the enemies of the progeny of Muhammad and made them lose face before the wise. It also drew attention to the atrocities meted to Ahlulbaytsince losing the Prophet. Their horrible implications forced people to look for the reasons and obligated them to research the causes. Thus did they come to know the seeds and roots of the calamity. Those among them who were blessed with a conscience rose to protect the status of Ahlulbaytand support them [both Imams], for the human nature is made to assist the wronged and dislike wrong-doing. Muslims, in the aftermath of that catastrophic incident, entered a new era in which they rushed to support Imam Ali ibn al-Husayn Zaynulabidin, refer to him in their quest for answers regarding the roots and branches of the faith, and to all Islamic sciences derived from the Book and the Sunnah. After his death, they started referring to his son Imam Abu Jafar al-Baqir. Followers of both Imams, i.e. Zaynulabidin and al-Baqir, among ancient Imamis, wrote innumerable books, but those scholars whose names and biographies were recorded in biography books were about four thousand heroes, and their works numbered approximately ten thousand or more which are narrated by our friends in every generation quoting them from reliable sources. A group among the elite of those heroes won the honour of serving them, while the rest served Imam al-Sadiq and luck had it that a large number of them reached their ultimate objective of attaining authentic knowledge. Among the latter is Abu Saeed Aban ibn Taghlib ibn Rabah al-Jariri, the famous reciter of the Koran, the traditionist, lexicographer, and linguist who was one of the most reliable among scholars. He was contemporary to three Imams from whom he transmitted a great deal of knowledge and a large number of traditions. Suffices you the fact that he narrates from al-Sadiq alone thirty thousand ahadith, as stated by al-Mirza Muhammad in his biography of Aban in his work Manhaj al-Maqal wherein he quotes Aban ibn Uthman citing al-Sadiq. He enjoyed their respect and high esteem. Al-Baqir said to him, while they were both at the sacred city of Medina, "Take your place at the mosque, and issue your verdicts to people, for I love people to observe a man of my own Shias like you." Al-Sadiq said to him once: "Debate with the people of Medina, for I love to see men like you among my narrators and friends." Whenever he came to Medina, people came to him in large numbers and arranged for him to sit where the Prophet used to sit. Al-Sadiq said to Salim ibn Abu Habbah: "Visit Aban ibn Taghlib, for he has learned a large number of ahadith from me, and whatever he narrates to you, you should narrate, too." He has said to Aban ibn Uthman: "Aban ibn Taghlib has narrated thirty thousand ahadith from me; so, quote the same from him." Whenever Aban ibn Taghlib visited al-Sadiq, the Imam would hug him, shake his hand, and order a couch to be given to him to lean on, and he would lend him his full attention. When the news of his death was brought to him, he said: "By Allah! My heart is aching because of the death of Aban." He died in 141 hijri Aban has narrated traditions from Anas ibn Malik, al-A`mash, Muhammad ibn al-Munkadir, Sammak ibn Harb, Ibrahim al-Nakh`i, Fudayl ibn Umar, and al-Hakam. Muslim and all authors of the four books of traditions rely him upon, as we explained. Aban is not harmed by Bukhari's reluctance to rely on his authority, for his solace is that the man does not rely on the authority of the Imams of Ahlulbaytsuch as al-Sadiq, al-Kazim, al-Rida, al-Jawad, al-Taqi, and al-Hasan al-Askari al-Zaki either. Bukhari does not consider these men reliable; nay, he even does not rely on the authority of the elder grandson of the Prophet and the master of the the young of paradise! On the other hand, he relies on men like Marwan ibn al-Hakam, `Umran ibn Hattan, `Ikremah al-Barbari and their likes; so, we are Allah's, and to Him is our return. Aban has written very interesting books. One of them is Tafsir Gharib al-Koran [exegesis of what is unusual in the Koran], whose contents are mostly Arabic verses of poetry cited to testify to the truth contained in the Perfect Revelation. Later, Abdul-Rahman ibn Muhammad al-Azdi al-Küfi combined the contents of Aban's book with those of Muhammad ibn al-Sa'ib al-Kalbi and Ibn Rawaq `Atiyyah ibn al-Harith and published them in one volume, highlighting the views in which they differed among themselves as well as those they agreed upon. He once quotes Aban independently, and once he quotes what agrees with Abdul-Rahman's views. Our friends have quoted both books through various reliable sources. Aban has authored a book dealing with moral excellences, and one dealing with the Battle of Siffin, and he has authored one of the major reference books on which the Imamites rely in their derivation of jurisdic injunctions. All his books have been reported with reference to his authorship thereof. Their details are in bibliography books. Among them is Abu Hamzah al-Thamali ibn Dinar, a trustworthy authority and a dignitary among our ancestors. He derived his knowledge from three Imams: al-Sadiq, al-Baqir, and Zaynulabidin. He remained in close contact with them, and won their respect. Al-Sadiq lauded him saying: "In his age, Abu Hamzah is like Luqman in his own time." He has written a book on the exegesis of the Koran, and I noticed imam al-Tibrisi quoting him in his tafsir titled Mujma`ul Bayan fi Tafsir al-Koran. He has also written a book on rare ahadith, another on asceticism, and a dissertation on rights narrated from Imam Zaynulabidin Ali ibn al-Husayn from whom he narrates his own invocation recited at early dawn which shines brighter than the sun and the moon. He also narrates from Anas and al-Shabi. He in turn is quoted by Waki`, Abu Naim, and a group of their class who are our own friends, and from others, as we stated in his biography. There are other valiant men who did not live to meet Imam Zaynulabidin, but they won the honour of serving both al-Baqirs. Among these are: Abul-Qasim Bard ibn Muaweya al-`Ajli, Abu Basir al-Asghar Layth ibn Murad al-Bakhtari al-Muradi, Abul Hassan Zararah ibn `Ayan, Abu Jafar Muhammad ibn Muslim ibn Rabah al-Küfi al-Ta'ifi al-Thaqafi, and many other standards of guidance and lighthouses that shone in the dark. To elaborate on them is not possible here. As regarding these four men, they have, indeed, achieved a special status and won the coveted prize and a lofty station. When Imam al-Sadiq mentioned them once, he said: "I find nobody who kept our name alive like Zararah, Abu Basir Layth, Muhammad ibn Muslim, and Burayd; without them, nobody would have learned as much." Then he added: "These are the custodians of the faith who were trusted by my father to safeguard what Allah has decreed as permissible or forbidden. They are the ones who are foremost in seeking our company in this life, and they will be the foremost in joining us in the Hereafter." Once, he recited: "Convey the glad tidings to those who pray for attaining Our Paradise (22:34)," and he followed his recitation by naming these four persons, adding, in a lengthy statement lauding them, "My father is said to have trusted them to safeguard Allah's permissible and forbidden matters, and they were the custodians of his knowledge; today, they are my faithful confidants and the true friends of my father; they are the stars of my Shias alive or dead; through them does Allah dispel every innovation. They protect this religion from the lies of the innovators, and the interpretations of the extremists," in addition to other eminent statements he made in which he credited them for their contributions, honour, dignity, and true service in a way which we cannot describe. In spite of all this, the enemies of Ahlulbayt charged them with every possible false charge, as we have explained in our work Mukhtasar al-Kalam fi Mu'allifi al-Shia min Sadr al-Islam. This does not undermine their lofty status and great significance in the eyes of Allah, His Messenger, and the believers. Those who envied the Prophet only increased the loftiness of those Prophets' status, without affecting their canons other than their promotion thereof among those who recognize and follow the truth, making them acceptable to those endowed with wisdom. During the lifetime of al-Sadiq knowledge was disseminated like never before, and the Shias of his forefathers rushed to him from far and wide. He approached them with a pleasant countenance, making them feel at home, sparing no effort to educate them and acquaint them with the secrets of knowledge, the particulars of wisdom, and the nature of matters, as admitted by Abul-Fath al-Shahristani in his book Al-Milal wal Nihal. When he mentions al-Sadiq, he comments: "He was a man very much informed of the religion, endowed with perfect manners in wisdom, extreme renunciation of this world, and a complete abstinance from temptations." He has also said of him: "He stayed in Medina for some time instructing the Shias belonging to his faith, lavishing the secrets of knowledge upon those who were loyal to him. Then he went to Iraq and stayed there for a period of time during which he did not publicly criticize nor covet authority... Whoever drowns in the oceans of knowledge never desires to see the shore, and whoever ascends to the peak of reality never fears descending," up to the end of his statement; "And truth makes itself manifest to the fair-minded, and to the obstinant." A large number of the companions of al-Sadiq achieved ultimate wisdom, and they became leaders to righteousness, lanterns in the dark, oceans of knowledge, stars of guidance. Among those whose names and biographies are stated in biography books are four thousand men from Iraq, Hijaz, Iran, and Syria. They are authors of works very well known by Imamite scholars. Among them are the four hundred books of basics of jurisprudence mentioned above which deal with four hundred subjects, all written during the time and derived from the verdicts of al-Sadiq. They were rendered indispensable for both theoretical and practical knowledge, so much so that a group of the nation's scholars and emissaries of the Imams summarized their contents in special books to facilitate their comprehension by students and make them more accessible. The best among such compilations are the four books which are the major sources for the Imamites in referring to the roots and branches of their faith. They have been referring to them since the first century of Islam, and these are: Al-Kafi, Al-Tahthib, Al-Istibsar, and Man la Yahdaruhul Faqih. All are sequentially narrated, and the authenticity of their contents is never doubted. Al-Kafi is the oldest among them, the greatest, the best, and the most authentic. It contains sixteen thousand one hundred and ninety-nine ahadith which include all what now exists in the six sahih books [Sahi Sitta], as admitted by al-Shahid in his Al-Thikra, and by many other renown scholars. Husham ibn al-Hakam, one of the companions of al-Sadiq and al-Kazim, authored several books ninety-nine of which became quite famous. Our friends who quote him narrate them, and their details exist in our book Mukhtasar al-Kalam fi Muallifi al-Shia min Sadr al-Islam. They all are very interesting books, dazzling in the clarity of their contents and the glitter of their arguments. They deal with both roots and branches of the faith, and with tawhid and rational philosophy; they rebut the atheists, heretics, pantheists, predestinarians, determinists, and those who are extremist in their beliefs regarding Ali and Ahlulbayt . They also rebut the Kharijites and Nasibis, those who denied that a will [by the Prophet] was made regarding Ali, those who obstructed his way to attain the caliphate, and those who preached that someone else should be elected as caliph before Ali, in addition to other topics. In the second century, Husham was the most knowledgeable person in the science of speech, divine wisdom, and all rational and deductive sciences. He was distinguished in fiqh and hadith, surpassing everyone else in tafsr and all other sciences and arts. He is the one who discussed the concept of imamate and cultivated the sect through observation. He quotes al-Sadiq and al-Kazim, and he enjoys a special status in their eyes which cannot be described. He won such praise from them that elevated his status to high heaven. He was first a Jehmi, then he met al-Sadiq and came to see the light of guidance through him, so, he joined his party, then he followed al-Kazim and surpassed all the disciples of both Imams. Those who desire to put out Allah's light, out of envy of Ahlulbayt , and out of malice, accused him of saying that the Almighty has a physical form, and of other serious charges. We are most knowledgeable of his sect. We have within our reach reports of his life-style and norm of speech. He has written works defending our sect as referred to above; so, nothing of his speech can be known to others and not to us, since he is among our ancestors and descendants, while his critics are far from his sect and taste. What al-Shahristani has quoted in his Al-Milal wal-Nihal of Husham's speech does not imply his belief in a physical form for Allah. Let me quote for you what he has quoted him: "Husham ibn al-Hakam has studied usül in depth. We must not forget his arguments with the Mu`tazilites, for the man is above what his opponent charges, and beneath what similitude he strikes, for he argued with al-`Allaf saying: `You claim that the Creator is the One Who knows, and His knowledge is His own essence; so, He then becomes a knowledgeable person who is different from the world [His creation]; why then don't you say that He has a form unlike all other forms?'" It is no secret that this statement, if true, proves only that he opposes al-`Allaf's views. Not everyone who argues about something is a believer therein, since it is possible that his purpose is to test al-`Allaf's beliefs and sift his knowledge, as al-Shahristani suggests, saying: "The man is above what his opponent accuses him and beneath what similitude he strikes." If we suppose that it is proved that Husham believes as such, this could be before his going back to the true guidance [through Imam al-Sadiq]. You have come to know that he used to believe like the Jehmis, then he saw the light of guidance through Muhammad's progeny, and became an Imam of those who followed their Imams. Nobody among our ancestors has found any proof of what the opponent attributes to him, yet we find some traces of what they have attributed to Zararah ibn Ayan, Muhammad ibn Muslim, Mumin al-Taq, and their peers. This comes in spite of the fact that we spared no effort to research the accusation and found its bases nothing more than injustice and animosity, intrigue and false allegation; "Do not think that Allah is unmindful of what the oppressors do." As regarding what al-Shahristani has alleged of Husham's belief in Ali as Allah, this is a joke that causes even a bereaved woman whose child has just died to burst in laughter. Husham is above such nonsense and superstition. Husham's statements dealing with tawhid call for the glorification of Allah above being reduced to a physical form of any nature, and His sublimity above what the ignorant allege. His statements dealing with imamate and wisayat reflect his preference of the Prophet over Ali. He declares that Ali is just a member of the Prophet's nation and a subject, his vicegerent and successor, and that he is a servant of Allah who has been wronged and overcome and was unable to secure what is rightfully his, being forced to succumb to the power of his opponents, continuously afraid about his safety, having neither supporter nor helper; so, how can al-Shahristani say: "Husham ibn al-Hakam has studied usül in depth. We must not forget his arguments with the Mu`tazilites, for the man is above what his opponent charges, and beneath what similitude he strikes, for he argued with al-`Allaf saying: `You claim that the Creator is the One Who knows, and His knowledge is His own essence; so, He then becomes a knowledgeable person Who is different from the world [His creation]; why then don't you say that He has a form unlike all other forms?'" He then attributes to Ali the allegation that he is Allah Almighty! Isn't this a clear self-contradiction? Is it proper for Husham, in spite of his abundant knowledge and contributions, that such nonsense is attributed to him? Certainly not. But these people have insisted on piling charges out of their own envy and animosity towards Ahlulbaytand those who follow their views; so, we are Allah's, and unto Him is our return. Authorship flourished during the lifetime of Imams al-Kazim, al-Rida, al-Jawad, al-Hadi, al-Hasan al-Zaki al-Askari in a way that was never preceded, and traditionists quoting them and other Imams spread far and wide throughout the land, trying their best reasoning to attain knowledge, in pursuit of it and of its secrets, enumerating its issues, verifying its facts, saving no effort to record the arts and collect particles of knowledge. Al-Muhaqqiq, in his Al-Mu`tabar, says: "Among the students of al-Jawad were virtuous men like al-Husayn ibn Saeed and his brother al-Hasan, and also Ahmed ibn Muhammad ibn Abu Nasr al-Bazanti, Ahmed ibn Muhammad ibn Khalid al-Barqi, Shathan, Abul-Fadl al-`Ami, Ayyüb ibn Nüh, Ahmed ibn Muhammad ibn `gsa and others whose list is quite lengthy... Their books till today are in current circulation among the companions reflecting their abundant knowledge." Suffices you the fact that al-Barqi's books outnumber a hundred, and al-Bazanti has authored his renown work titled Jami` al Bazanti, while al-Husayn ibn Saeed has written thirty books. It is not possible in such a reply to count what has been written by the students of the six Imams who descended from Imam al-Sadiq but I refer you to the available biographies and bibliographies; so, read about the biography of Muhammad ibn Sinan, Ali ibn Mahziyar, al-Hasan ibn Mahbüb, al-Hasan ibn Muhammad ibn Samah, Safwan ibn Yahya, Ali ibn Yaqtin, Ali ibn Fadal, Abdul-Rahman ibn Najran, al-Fadl ibn Shathan (who authored two hundred books), Muhammad ibn Masüd al-Ayyashi (who wrote more than two hundred titles), Muhammad ibn Umayr, Ahmed ibn Muhammad ibn Isa (who quoted one hundred companions of al-Sadiq), Muhammad ibn Ali ibn Mahbüb, Talhah ibn Talhah ibn Zayd, Ammar ibn Musa al-Sabati, Ali ibn al-Numan, al-Husayn ibn Abdullah, Ahmed ibn Abdullah ibn Mahran who is better known as Ibn Khaniba, Sadfah ibn al-Munthir al-Qummi, Ubaydulla ibn Ali al-Halabi who brought his book to al-Sadiq to edit and verify, which he appreciated and said: "Do you see these folks having a book like this one?!" Add to them Abu Amr the physician, Abdullah ibn Saeed who brought his book to Abul-Hasan al-Rida for the same purpose, and Unus ibn Abdul-Rahman who brought his book to Imam Abu Muhammad al-Hasan al-Zaki al-Askari. Anyone who researches the biographies of the followers of the progeny of Muhammad, and researches those who kept company with the nine Imams from the descendants of al-Husayn, counting their works contemporary to their respective Imams and reviewed by those they quoted, disseminating the hadith of Muhammad's progeny in every branch and root of religion..., will come across thousands of such men. Then if he gets acquainted with these sciences in every class as handed down from the time of the nine Infallible Imams till our time, he will certainly be convinced then that the sect of these Imams is mutawatir (consecutively reported), dispelling any doubt he might have about the fact that our worship of the Almighty Allah in the roots and branches of the faith is derived from the Messenger's Household. Nobody doubts this fact except one who is arrogant and prejudiced or dumb ignorant; so, praise be to Allah Who has guided us to this, for without His guidance, we would not have been thus guided.
# Letter from Shiekh Salim Al Bashiri :
Before knowing you, I used to be confused about your beliefs due to what I hear of allegations from scandal-mongers; now I have found it to be a lantern that dispels the darkness, and I am leaving you victorious, successful; so, how great is the blessing which Allah has bestowed upon me, and how great your benefit unto me! Praise to Allah, Lord of the Worlds, Wassalamo Alaikom. Sincerely, Salim.
Reply from Sayyed Sharafuddin : #
I bear witness that now you are acquainted with the matter, capable of handling it. You have surpassed all others in comprehending it and researching it minutely, scrutinizing it carefully, turning it to all sides, discerning its inner implications, seeking its essence and nature, without being swayed by nationalistic biases, nor motivated by personal interests. So, the attributes of your clemency cannot be harmed, nor can your mind be dominated. You have dealt in depth researching it with a clemency that is more than pleasing, and with a mind more spacious than this world, minutely verifying, without minding the view of kith or kin, till what is hidden has surfaced; truth has manifested itself, and morning rays have appeared to all those who can see; so, all praise is due to Allah for guiding us to His religion, and for being successful to attain what He has enjoined us to attain of His Path - The Right Path - and may He send blessings unto Muhammad and the progeny of Muhammad, and many salutations. Sincerely, Sharafuddin.
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