Hadith al Thaqalayn
The Messenger of Allah - may Allah bestow peace and benedictions upon him and his Progeny - said:
"Verily, I am leaving behind two precious things (thaqalayn) among you: the Book of God and my kindred (ITRAH), my household (AHLULBAYT), for indeed, the two will never separate until they come back to me by the Pond (of alKawthar on the Judgement's Day)."
Founder of the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran, Ayatollah Khomeini, began his will with the mention of this tradition of the Prophet, known as Hadith alThaqalayn. In the prologue to his wasiyyah he pointed out that whatever tragedies and disasters befell the Muslim world during the last fourteen centuries have been mainly due to its estrangement from the Thaqalayn, the twofold legacy of the Prophet in the form of the QURAN and the AHLULBAYT.
Following are four of these sahih narrations of the tradition as recorded by Muslim and alHakim alNayshaburi in their compilations:
(Muslim says:) Zuhayr ibn Harb and Shuja ibn Makhlad narrated to me from Ulayyah that he said: Zuhayr said: narrated to us Ismail ibn Ibrahim, from Abu Hayyan, from Yazid ibn Hayyan, who said: "I, Husayn ibn Sabrah and Umar ibn Muslim went to see Zayd ibn Arqam. When we sat down with him, Husayn said to him, 'O Zayd, you have been greatly fortunate. You have seen the Messenger of Allah, upon whom be Allah's peace and benedictions, heard his speech, fought with him in battles and have prayed behind him. Indeed, O Zayd, you have been enormously fortunate. Narrate to us what you have heard from the Messenger of Allah , may Allah's peace and benedictions be upon him.'
"Zayd said: 'O brother, by God, I have become aged and old and I have forgotten some of what I used to remember from the Messenger of Allah , upon whom be Allah's peace and benedictions. So accept what I narrate to you and as to what I don't, trouble me not regarding it.' Then he said: 'One day the Messenger of Allah , upon whom be Allah's peace and benedictions, addressed us near a pond called Khumm between Makkah and Madinah. He praised God and extolled Him and preached and reminded (us). Then he said, "Lo, O people, I am only a human being and I am about to respond to the messenger of my Lord [i.e. the call of death]. I am leaving behind two precious things (thaqalayn) among you. The first of the two is the Book of Allah. In it is guidance and light. So get hold of the Book of Allah and adhere to it." Then he urged and motivated (us) regarding the Book of Allah . Then he said, "And my AHLULBAYT (family). I urge you to remember God regarding my AHLULBAYT. I urge you to remember God regarding my AHLULBAYT. I urge you to remember God regarding my AHLULBAYT "'" ....
(Sahih Muslim, part 7, Kitab fada'il alSahabah [Maktabat wa Matbaat Muhammad Ali Subayh wa Awladuhu: Cairo] pp. 122-123.)
(AlHakim says:) Narrated to us Abu alHusayn Muhammad ibn Ahmad ibn Tamim alHanzali in Baghdad, from Abu Qallabah Abd alMalik ibn Muhammad alRaqqashi, from Yahya ibn Hammad; also narrated to me Abu Bakr Muhammad ibn Balawayh and Abu Bakr Ahmad ibn Jafar alBazzaz, both of them from Abd Allah ibn Ahmad ibn Hanbal, from his father, from Yahya ibn Hammad; and also narrated to us Abu Nasr Ahmad ibn Suhayl, the faqih of Bukhara, from Salih ibn Muhammad, the hafiz of Baghdad, from Khalaf ibn Salim alMakhrami, from Yahya ibn Hammad; and Yahya ibn Hammad narrated from Abu Uwwanah from Sulayman alAmash, from Habib ibn Abi Thabit, from Abu alTufayl, from Zayd ibn Arqam, may God be pleased with him, who said: "The Messenger of Allah , may God's peace and benedictions be upon him and his progeny, while returning from his last hajj (hijjat alwada') came down at Ghadir Khumm and ordered (us) towards the big trees, and (the ground) underneath them was swept.
"Then he said, 'I am about to answer the call (of death). Verily, I have left behind two precious things amongst you, one of which is greater than the other. The Book of Allah , the Exalted, and my ITRAH (kindred). So watch out how you treat these two after me, for verily they will not separate from each other until they come back to me by the side of the Pond.' Then he said 'Verily, Allah , the Almighty and the Glorious, is my master (mawla) and I am the master of every believer (mu'min).' Then he took Ali, may God be pleased with him, by the hand and said, 'This (Ali) is the master of whomever I am his master. O God, love whoever loves him and be the enemy of his enemy.'"
(AlHakim adds:) "This hadith is sahih in accordance with the conditions of sihhah laid down by the Shaykhayn (alBukhari and Muslim), although they have not recorded it in its full length."
(AlHakim says:) The first tradition (mentioned above) is supported by this one narrated by Salamah ibn Kuhayl, from Abu alTufayl, which is also sahih according to the requirements of alBukhari and Muslim. Narrated to us Abu Bakr ibn Ishaq and Dalaj ibn Ahmad alSijzi, both of them from Muhammad ibn Ayyub, from al'Azraq ibn Ali, from Hassan ibn Ibrahim alKirmani, from Muhammad ibn Salamah ibn Kuhayl, from his father, from Abu al-Tufayl, from Ibn Wathilah that he heard Zayd ibn Arqam, may God be pleased with him, say: "The Messenger of Allah , may Allah 's peace and benedictions be upon him and his progeny, came down at a place between Makkah and Madinah near the trees with five big shades and the people swept the ground under the trees. Then the Messenger of Allah , may God's peace and benediction be upon him and his progeny, began to perform the evening prayer. After the prayer he began to address the people. He praised God and extolled Him, preaching and reminding (us), and said what God wanted him to say. Then he said, 'O people! Verily, I am leaving behind two matters (amrayn) among you if you follow them (the two) you will never go astray. These two are: the Book of God and my AHLULBAYT, my ITRAH.' Then he said thrice: 'Do you know that I have more right over the believers (Inni awla bi almu'minin) than they over themselves?' The people said, 'Yes.' Then the Messenger of Allah , may Allah's peace and benedictions be upon him and his progeny said, 'Of whomever I am his master (mawla) Ali also is his master.'"
(al'Imam al-Hafiz Abu Abd Allah alHakim alNaysaburi, alMustadrak ala al-Sahihayn [Dar alMarifah li alTibaah wa alNashr: Beirut), vol. iii, pp. 109-110).
(AlHakim says:) Narrated to us Abu Bakr Muhammad ibn alHusayn ibn Muslim, the faqih of Ray, from Muhammad ibn Ayyub, from Yahya ibn al-Mughirah alSadi, from Jarir ibn Abd alHamid, from alHasan ibn Abd Allah alNakhai, from Muslim ibn Subayh, from Zayd ibn Arqam, may God be pleased with him, who said: "The Messenger of Allah , may Allah's peace and benedictions be upon him and his progeny, said, 'Verily, I leave behind two precious things amongst you: the Book of Allah and my AHLULBAYT. Verily, the two will never separate until they come back to me by the side of the Pond.'"
(AlHakim says:) This hadith is sahih al'isnad according to the conditions laid down by the Shaykhayn (alBukhari and Muslim), though they did not record it. (alHakim, op. cit., vol. iii, p. 148)
These are four versions of the tradition narrated on the authority of Zayd ibn Arqam. Their sihhah (authenticity) is confirmed by two of the great Sunni Imams of hadith.
The Various Occasions Related to Hadith alThaqalayn:
Hadith al-Thaqalayn as recorded by various traditionists mentions four occasions on which the Prophet (S) proclaimed it publicly.
First of these is the occasion when the Prophet (S) proclaimed it during his last hajj at Arafat. On this occasion, the Prophet (S) was accompanied by more than a hundred thousand Muslims.
The second occasion relates to his proclamation at Ghadir Khumm, during the course of his return journey to Madinah.
The third occasion relates to his proclamation in the Mosque of Madinah.
The fourth one relates to his pronouncement of Hadith alThaqalayn in his chamber during his last illness. All these occasions lie within a period of ninety days and pertain to the Prophet's last days.
1. At Arafat
AlTirmidhi in his Sunan (v, 662, no. 3786) records the following tradition
....Jabir ibn Abd Allah said: "I saw the Messenger of Allah - upon whom be God's peace and benedictions - in the course of his hajj pilgrimage on the day of Arafah. The Prophet was seated on his camel, alQaswa', and was delivering a sermon. I heard him say: 'O people, I am leaving among you that which if you hold on to you shall never go astray: the Book of Allah and my kindred, my household."
AlTirmidhi states that the same tradition has been narrated by Abu Dharr, Abu Said, Zayd ibn Arqam and Hudhayfah ibn Usayd.
2. At Ghadir Khumm:
AlNasa'i in his alSunan alkubra, 96, No. 79, records the following tradition in the chapter "Khasa'is Ali":
AlNasa'i narrates from Muhammad ibn alMuthanna, he from Yahya ibn Hammad, from Abu 'Uwwanah, from Sulayman, from Habib ibn Abi Thabit, from Abu alTufayl, from Zayd ibn Arqam, who said, "When the Messenger of Allah returned from the last hajj and came down at Ghadir Khumm....
"Then he declared: 'I am about to answer the call (of death). Verily, I have left two precious things (thaqalayn) among you, one of which is greater than the other: the Book of God and my ITRAH, my AHLULBAYT. So watch out how you treat them after me. For, indeed, they will never separate until they return to me by the side of the Pond.' Then he said, 'Verily, God is my master (mawlaya) and I am the wali of every believer.' Then he took Ali's hand and declared, 'To whomever I am his wali, this one is also his wali. My God, befriend whoever befriends him and be hostile to whoever is hostile to him.'" Abu alTufayl says: "I said to Zayd, 'Did you hear it from the Prophet?' He replied, 'There was no one in the caravan who did not see it with his eyes and hear it with his ears,'"
3. In the Mosque of Madinah:
Ibn Atiyyah in the introduction of his tafsir, alMuharrar alwajiz, i, 34 records the following narration:
...It is narrated that he (i.e. the Prophet) - upon whom be peace - said in the last sermon that he delivered during his illness: "O people, I leave behind two precious things (thaqalayn) amongst you...: the Book of God - which is a rope between Him and you, whose one end is in His hand and whose other end is in your hands so act according to its muhkamat and believe in its mutashabihat; consider as lawful that which it regards as lawful and consider as forbidden that which it regards as unlawful - and my ITRAH and my AHLULBAYT, who are the second thaql. So don't outstrip them (fa la tasbiquhum ), for then you shall perish."
4. In the Prophet's Chamber During His Last Illness:
Ibn Abi Shaybah, as cited by AlIsami in Simt alnujum al'awali, ii, 502, no. 136, has narrated the following tradition:
The Messenger of Allah said during his last illness: "Soon I am going to pass away and I have extended to you my plea of excuse. Lo, verily I leave behind amongst you two precious things: the Book of Allah , the Almighty and the Glorious, and my kindred (ITRAH)." Then he took Ali's hand and raised it, saying, "This Ali is with the QURAN and the QURAN is with Ali. The two will not separate until they return to me by the Pond. Then I will ask the two as to how they were treated after me."
Since the Prophet has placed the AHLULBAYT by the side of the QURAN, it means that the AHLULBAYT have to be followed, like the QURAN, as the living guides of the Ummah in matters of doctrine, ritual and law.
The words 'thaqalayn' and the command to hold on to them (al-itisam, al-akhdh or alittiba in accordance with the different wordings) unambiguously imply that in the same way as it is obligatory to follow the QURAN, so also it is equally obligatory to follow the AHLULBAYT in the matters of Islamic teachings. Moreover, the inseparability of the QURAN and the AHLULBAYT, as well as the repeated emphasis on holding on to the two and the specific emphasis on adherence to the AHLULBAYT and the observance of their rights clearly establish the obligation to follow the AHLULBAYT as the religious leaders, authorities and guides of the Ummah.
Hadith alThaqalayn also affirms the freedom of the Imams of the AHLULBAYT from sin and error (ismah) because: the hadith commands adherence to them and the QURAN together and since the QURAN is free from every trace of falsehood and error, so is the guidance of the AHLULBAYT; adherence to the two of them is considered as a guarantee against misguidance for the Ummah, which is only possible if the Imams of the AHLULBAYT are free from error and sin.
Hadith al-Thaqalayn implies the preeminence of the AHLULBAYT within the Ummah from the viewpoint of knowledge (alamiyyah) and excellence (afdaliyyah).
Hadith al-Thaqalayn and Hadith al-Ghadir were proclaimed by the Prophet in the course of a single sermon at Ghadir Khumm.
Some say Hadith alThaqalayn, Hadith al-Ghadir and Hadith al-Manzilah were mentioned in the course of the same sermon at Ghadir Khumm as mentioned by Ibn Hajar.
Some versions of the tradition, such as the one narrated by alQunduzi in Yanabi al-mawaddah, 20, from al-Hasan ibn Ali, contain the following statement of the Prophet which signifies the perpetuity of the Imamate:
O God, You don't let the earth remain devoid of Your Proof over Your creation so that Your proofs should not become invalid or that Your friends should go astray after You have guided them. They (the Proofs of God) are few in number but great in worth near God, Almighty and Glorious. Indeed, I had prayed to God, Exalted and Blessed, to place knowledge and wisdom in my descent and the descent of my descendants, and in my seed and the seed of my seed, until the Day of Resurrection, and my prayer was granted.
Ali also said to his pupil Kumayl ibn Ziyad:
...But the earth is never devoid of him who stands for God with a proof (qa'im li'Ilah bi hujjatin). He is either manifest and well-known or afraid and concealed, so that God's proofs and His clear signs should not become invalid. How many are they and where are they? By God, they are few in number, but great in esteem before God. Through them God maintains His proofs and signs till they entrust them to others like themselves and plant them in the hearts of their likes. Knowledge has led them to the reality of understanding and they have attained the spirit of certitude. That which is hard upon the seekers of comforts comes easy to them. They endear what the ignorant regard with aversion. They live in the world with their bodies, but their spirits are in a higher realm. They are the vicegerents (khulafa') of God in His earth and His callers to His Din. Oh, how much I yearn to see them! (H: 147)
All these references affirm the preeminence of Ali ibn Abi Talib and the Ahl al-Bayt in the Ummah and their claim to the comprehensive leadership of the Ummah after the Holy Prophet.
However, as will be obvious to anyone who studies the history of the Imams of the AHLULBAYT, they were isolated from the Muslim masses by despots and left without support in their struggle against the [terrorism of ] tyrannical regimes. The result was that the most authentic exponents and defenders of the QURAN were put under severe surveillance, exiled, imprisoned, poisoned and martyred, and the masses were deprived of their guidance and leadership.
Having removed the AHLULBAYT from their way, the road was opened by the selfseeking tyrants for making the Holy QURAN itself an instrument for the justification of their ANTIQURAN rule. "They forced," as Imam Khumayni says, "the true exponents of the QURAN... off the stage with various ploys and systematic plans. In this way, they in fact, eliminated the QURAN itself, the QURAN which was the greatest programme for organizing man's material and spiritual life, and rejected its plan of government based on Divine justice, which was and remains one of the ideals of this sacred scripture. Thus they laid the foundations of deviation from the Din and the Book of God, bringing things ultimately to an indescribable extreme."
If today the custodians of American Islam with their petrodollars conspire against the aspirations of the Muslim masses inspired by the genuine Islam, so did once the Umayyad and Abbasid tyrants stand in the way of Islam and seek to isolate and destroy its exponents, the Imams of the AHLULBAYT, and promote a counterfeit version of Islam. But no matter how much they tried they could not extirpate the Prophet's exhortations regarding the AHLULBAYT and conceal the unbreakable link between the Book of God and the Prophet's ITRAH, in the form of Hadith alThaqalayn and scores of other traditions similar to it.