Imāmate or caliphate means leadership. It has become a term for leading the Muslims after the demise of the Messenger of Allāh (ṣ), a term which nobody can deny because leadership is an instinctive need for any group of people. Muslims, Sunnis or Shī’ahs, disagreed with regard to how to appoint an imām, or a caliph, and what role he should assume.
This is one of the most serious of their disagreements, and other disagreements are no more than a natural outcome of this great difference. This is so because Imāmate, as viewed by the Shī’ahs, has to be supported by a text from the Messenger of Allāh (ṣ), and it is specifically relevant to the Twelve Imāms from among Ahlul Bayt (‘a).
Knowing the Islamic injunctions, following the departure from this world of the Messenger of Allāh (ṣ), is achieved only by referring to these Imāms (‘a) or to accurate transmissions reported about them. When their statements disagree with those of others, what Ahlul Bayt (‘a) state must be accepted, since they are the safe custodians of the Sunnah of the Chosen One (ṣ).
With regard to Imāmate, the Sunnis say that an imām is to be elected according to the principle of shūra (mutual consultation), but they do not object if such an imām is appointed through the recommendation of an outgoing caliph to the one who would be his successor, as was the case with caliph Abū Bakr who recommended ‘Umar to be his successor. Also, they permit caliphate to be taken by force, by the sword, as was the case with the Umayyad, ‘Abbāside and Ottoman caliphates.
As regarding learning the Islamic injunctions, it according to them is to be acquired by consulting what is “authentic” of what the sahābah had narrated, without making any distinction among these sahābah.
They, thus, regarded all sahābah as equitable and trustworthy despite the fact that many of them became involved in both battles of the Camel and of Siffeen, and they took part in killing each other on those and other occasions, something which places a question mark about the “equity” of many of them and raises many questions. You will review ample details about the “equity” of the sahābah in a chapter to come, by the Will of Allāh.
Since the case is as such, since there are differences between the Shī’ahs and the Sunnis, and before we issue a verdict labeling a particular sect as “invalid” or preferring one method over another, we ought to take the time to look into the proofs and arguments of each party. We have dedicated our research for this purpose. We will be summarizing the texts which the Shī’ahs regard as proofs for upholding their Imāmite sect as well as the rebuttal of the Sunnis of the same:
1) Proofs Confirming the Imāmate of Ahlul Bayt (‘a)
2) Proofs Confirming the Number of Imāms from among Ahlul Bayt (‘a)
3) Proofs Regarding the Appointment by the Prophet (ṣ) of Ali ibn Abū Tālib (‘a) [as his successor]
Texts quoted from the Messenger of Allāh (ṣ) referring to the Imāmate, after his demise, of the nation’s Ahlul Bayt (‘a) are numerous; here are the most famous among them:
According to Muslim’s Sahīh, relying on isnād which goes back to Zaid ibn Arqam, the Messenger of Allāh (ṣ), so Zaid narrated, said, “O people! I am a human upon whom the messenger of my Lord is about to call. I will surrender to the call, and I am leaving among you two weighty things: the first of them is the Book of Allāh wherein there is guidance and noor.
So, take the Book of Allāh, for in it there is guidance and there is noor. Uphold the Book of Allāh and adhere to it. And (the other are) my Ahlul Bayt (‘a). I commend to you, in the Name of Allāh, my Ahlul Bayt (‘a);I commend to you, in the Name of Allāh, my Ahlul Bayt (‘a); I commend to you, in the Name of Allāh, my Ahlul Bayt (‘a).1
In al-Tirmidhi’s Sahīh, through isnād traced to Jābir ibn Abdullāh [al-Ansāri], the latter said, “I saw the Messenger of Allāh (ṣ) on the Day of ‘Arafa when he performed his [last] pilgrimage. He was riding his she-camel Quswa. He delivered a sermon, and I heard him saying, ‘O people! I have left among you that, so long as you uphold to it, you shall never stray: The Book of Allāh and my ‘itrat, my Ahlul Bayt’.2
Had there been only this hadīth, it would have sufficed to prove the authenticity of the Shī’ah sect which obligates clinging to Ahlul Bayt (‘a) in addition to clinging to the Glorious Book of Allāh. We find in this hadīth the order of the Messenger of Allāh (ṣ), as clearly as can be, that we should uphold Ahlul Bayt (‘a) after his demise, and that such upholding, in addition to adhering to the Glorious Qur’ān, is the condition for one’s salvation versus straying.
Although Muslim and many other scholars of hadīth from among the Sunnis have included this hadīth in their Sahīh and musnad books, it is to my great amazement that I find most Sunnis not familiar with it. They deny it when they hear about it, as if it does not exist, saying that what is accurate in this regard is what Abū Hurayrah had said, that is, the Messenger of Allāh (ṣ) said, “I have left among you two things that will never let you stray so long as you adhere to them or act upon them: the Book of Allāh and my Sunnah.”3
Having investigated the source of this tradition, I found out that it was not recorded in any of the Sahīh books. Al-Bukhāri, al-Nisā’i, al-Dhahabi and others have labelled it as “weak”4. It is narrated by al-Hākim in his Mustadrak which, according to the consensus of Sunni scholars, is regarded as being less [in prestige] than the Sahīh book of Muslim who stated it in this wording: “...the Book of Allāh and my ‘itrat, my Ahlul Bayt (‘a).”
Even if we suppose there is no difference between both narratives, we have to surrender to the fact that what is meant by the phrase “my Sunnah”, as it exists in al-Hākim’s narrative, is the Sunnah derived from the venue of the Household of the Prophet (ṣ), not from that of others, as is quite obvious in Muslim’s narrative. As for sticking to the narrative of al-Hākim wherein he says, “... the Book of Allāh and my Sunnah,” rejecting Muslim’s version of “... the Book of Allāh and my ‘itrat, my Ahlul Bayt (‘a),”
This goes against not only the consensus of the Sunni scholars of hadīth, who all regard the traditions narrated by Muslim with higher regards than those narrated by al-Hākim, it is also contrary to logic and reason because the word “Sunnah” by itself as narrated by al-Hākim does not convey a specific meaning, since all Islamic sects claim they follow the Sunnah of the Prophet (ṣ).
Moreover, there are many differences among these sects, and the reasons behind such differences are rendered to the differences in how the Prophet’s Sunnah was transmitted to them, i.e. through various venues, the Sunnah which explains and complements the Holy Qur’ān, the Sunnah the accuracy of which is agreed upon by all Islamic sects.
Hence, the differences in the transmitted hadīth led also to differences in interpreting the Qur’ān. The Sunnah of the Prophet (ṣ), therefore, became many Sunnahs and the Muslims, accordingly, split into sects and groups which are said to number thirty-seven. So, which of these Sunnahs is more worthy of being followed?
This question comes naturally to the mind of anyone who deeply discerns such differences. The above-quoted hadīth came to respond to such differences so that the Muslims would not be left puzzled with regard to their Islamic faith following the departure from this world of the one who convey it to them.
This is why there have been sacred instructions by the Prophet (ṣ) mandating that the purified Sunnah of he Prophet (ṣ) must be derived from the venue of the Ahlul Bayt (‘a) of the Prophet (ṣ), those who are described by the Qur’ān as tāhir, Purified, a description which is quite clear and accepts no other meaning. Such a derivation, and only such a derivation, brings security against dissension and straying.
It is here that two questions are put forth. The picture can never be completely clear unless we answer them:
First: Who are “Ahlul Bayt (‘a)” to whom reference is made by the tradition cited above?
Second: Why did the said tradition specify the derivation [of the Islamic injunctions] only from Ahlul Bayt (‘a) rather than from all the sahābah, as the Sunnis advocate?
In his Sahīh, relying on the isnād of Safiyya daughter of Shaybah, Muslim quotes the latter saying that ‘Ā’isha said, “The Messenger of Allāh (ṣ) came out wearing an unsown garment of black [camel] hair. He brought al-Hasan ibn Ali (‘a) and let him in. Then al-Husayn (‘a) came and he let him, too, in. Then Fātima (‘a) came in and he let her, too, in. Then Ali (‘a) came. He let him, too. Then he said [i.e. quoted the following verse],
‘Surely Allāh wishes to remove all abomination from you, O People of the House [of the Prophet] and to purify you with a perfect purification’ (Qur’ān, 33:33).”5
Also in Muslim’s Sahīh we read the following:
“When this verse was revealed: ‘Say: Come! Let us gather together our sons and your sons, our women and your women, ourselves and yourselves, then let us earnestly pray and invoke Allāh’s curse on the liars’ (Qur’ān, 3:61),
the Messenger of Allāh (ṣ) called upon Ali (‘a), Fātima (‘a), al-Hasan (‘a) and al-Husayn (‘a) then said, ‘Lord! These are my Ahlul Bayt’.”6
From both of these traditions, it is quite clear that Ahlul Bayt (‘a), during the lifetime of the Prophet (ṣ), were: Ali (‘a), Fātima (‘a) and both their sons (‘a).
In his Sahīh, Muslim quotes Zaid ibn Arqam citing the Prophet (ṣ) saying, “I am leaving with you two weighty things: one of them is the Book of Allāh, the most Exalted, the most Great, and it is the Rope of Allāh; whoever adheres to it is guided and whoever abandons it strays.” In the same tradition, people inquired whether his Ahlul Bayt (‘a) included his wives. “No,” said he, “By Allāh! A woman remains with the man for a period of time, then he may divorce her, whereupon she returns to her father and people. His Ahlul Bayt (‘a) come from his loins, his nearest in kin who are prohibited from taking charity after his demise.”7
To quote al-Tirmidhi’s Sahīh, where the compiler relies on the authority of ‘Amr ibn Abū Salamah, who was raised by the Prophet (ṣ), ‘Amr said,
“When this verse was revealed: ‘Surely Allāh wishes to remove all abomination from you, O People of the House [of the Prophet] and to purify you with a perfect purification’ (Qur’ān, 33:33)’
at the house of Umm Salamah, the Prophet (ṣ) called upon Fātima (‘a), Hasan (‘a) and Husayn (‘a). He put a garment over them while Ali (‘a) was behind him.
He placed the garment over them all then supplicated thus: ‘Lord! These are my Ahlul Bayt (‘a); so, do remove abomination from them and purify them with a perfect purification.’ Umm Salamah asked him, ‘May I be included with them, O Prophet of Allāh?’ He said, ‘Stay where you are, and you are in goodness.’”8
In his Musnad, [imām] Ahmad [ibn Hanbal] quotes Umm Salamah saying, “The Messenger of Allāh (ṣ) said to Fātima (‘a): ‘Bring me your husband and both sons.’ She brought them in. He put a garment made in Fadak then put his hand on them and said, ‘Lord! These are the Progeny of Muhammad; so, let Your salutations and blessings be upon Muhammad and the Progeny of Muhammad; surely You are the Praised One, the most Glorified.’ I lifted the garment in order to join them, but he pulled it from my hand and said, ‘You are in goodness.’”9
Despite the clarity of the previous proofs in identifying who Ahlul Bayt (‘a) are, some people oppose it and base their argument on the following verses from Surat al-Ahzab (Chapter 33 of the Holy Qur’ān), claiming that the term “Ahlul Bayt (‘a)” includes the wives of the Prophet (ṣ):
O Prophet! Say to your consorts: “If you desire the life of this world, and its glitter, then come! I will provide for your enjoyment and set you free in a handsome manner. But if you seek Allāh and His Prophet, and the abode of the hereafter, truly Allāh has prepared a great reward for the well-doers from among you.” O consorts of the Prophet! If any of you were guilty of evident unseemly conduct, the punishment would be doubled to her, and that is easy for Allāh. But any of you who is devout in the service of Allāh and His Prophet, and does righteous deeds, to her We shall grant a reward twice as much and We have prepared a generous sustenance for her. O consorts of the Prophet! You are not like any (other) women: If you fear (Allāh), do not be too complaisant of speech, lest one in whose heart there is a disease should be moved with desire: But speak a speech (that is) just. And stay in your houses, do not make a dazzling display, like that in the former times of ignorance, establish regular prayer and give regular charity, and obey Allāh and His Prophet. And Allāh only wishes to remove all abomination from you, you members of the family, and to make you pure and spotless. Qur’ān, 33:28-33
As is quite clear, the argument of those who say that “Ahlul Bayt (‘a)” is a term which includes the wives of the Prophet (ṣ) is based on “... And Allāh only wishes to remove all abomination from you, you members of the family, and to make you pure and spotless” falling in the same verse a portion of which deals with the wives of the Prophet (ṣ).
This claim can be refuted from many angles; here are some of them:
1. The revelation of Qur’ānic verses in reference to threatening the wives of the Prophet (ṣ) that they could be divorced followed by the Will of Allāh to purify Ahlul Bayt (‘a) with a perfect purification does not necessarily mean that on both occasions, the wives of the Prophet (ṣ) are implied simply because there are many verses in the Holy Qur’ān of this sort containing two different issues.
The reason why they both fall in the same verse is perhaps due to their coincidently took place at the same time. One such an example is derived from these verses: “Forbidden to you (for food) are: dead meat, blood, the flesh of swine and that on which a name other than that of Allāh has been invoked, that which has been killed by strangling, or by a violent blow, or by a headlong fall, or by being gored to death, that which has been (partly) eaten by a wild animal, unless you are able to slaughter it (in due way), that which is sacrificed on stone (altars).
The division (of meat) by raffling with arrows is also (forbidden): That is impiety. This Day those who reject faith have given up all hope of your religion: Yet do not fear them, but fear Me. This Day I have perfected your religion for you, completed My favor upon you, and have chosen Islam for you as your religion” (Qur’ān, 5:3).
You find in this verse how the subject revolving round the perfecting of the creed falls in the middle of the subject dealing with prohibitive foods!
2. What underscores the fact that the wives of the Prophet (ṣ) are not included in the meaning of this verse is that the subject relevant to the wives of the Prophet (ṣ) came in an Arabic pronoun specifically relevant to a group of females, whereas when the topic shifted to the purification of Ahlul Bayt (‘a), the pronoun changed to one relevant to a group of males.
3. The previously quoted authentic traditions recorded in the Sahīh books of both Muslim and al-Tirmidhi, as well as in Ahmad’s Musnad and in others all prove unequivocally that the wives of the Prophet (ṣ) are not included among Ahlul Bayt (‘a). When Umm Salamah, may Allāh be pleased with her, asked the Prophet (ṣ), “May I be included with them, O Prophet of Allāh?,” He said to her, “Stay where you are, and you are in goodness.” In Muslim’s narrative, people inquired whether his wives were among his Ahlul Bayt (‘a), and the answer came in the negative.
4. In the tradition of the two weighty things which Muslim, Ahmad and others narrate, the Prophet (ṣ) is cited as having said, “O people! I am leaving among you two things which, so long as you uphold them [both simultaneously], you shall never stray: the Book of Allāh and my ‘itra, my Ahlul Bayt,” it is quite clear that they have to be followed [with regard to all religious and secular issues].
If we suppose, just for the sake of debating, that the wives of the Prophet (ṣ) are the ones meant, or implied, in this tradition, in what way will the Muslims uphold them after the demise of the Messenger of Allāh (ṣ), bearing in mind that they were obligated to remain in their homes? How would one answer this question, knowing that they all lived in one and the same century? If one says that upholding them means citing the traditions from them, we would respond by saying that among them are those who did not narrate one single tradition!
The “abomination” [rijs] which occurs in the verse saying, ““... And Allāh only wishes to remove all abomination from you, you members of the family, and to make you pure and spotless” means linguistically something filthy: a reference to sinning, while tahāra (cleansiness) linguistically connotes piety.
The meaning of the will of the Almighty, Praised and Glorified is He, to remove abomination from them, is to clear them of any sin and to raise their status above committing anything which points out to shortcomings in them. A sin, no matter how minor, is indicative of a flaw in the person who commits it. This means that Allāh Almighty wanted to purify Ahlul Bayt (‘a) from committing any sin, minor or major, and this is nothing but a proof of Infallibility and, hence, purification.
As regarding what is said that the meaning of “purification” in this verse is merely an indication of religious piety, that is, their own avoidance of committing what Allāh has prohibited them from committing while acting upon His Commandments, this claim is rejected because “purification” in such a sense is not relevant only to Ahlul Bayt (‘a) but to all Muslims. The Muslims are all obligated to act upon the injunctions of their creed:
“Allāh does not desire to put any hardship on you but to purify you, and so that He may complete His favor on you, perhaps you will be grateful” (Qur’ān, 5:6).
Thus, if we agree that those regarding whom this verse was revealed are infallible, we will find out that the wives of the Prophet (ṣ) are not among them because they are not infallible, let alone the fact that nobody, be he from the early generations or from the latter ones, made such a claim, knowing fully well that the Prophet (ṣ) threatened to divorce them and made other threats against some of them as you will see in a chapter to come.
1. Hadīth al-Thaqalayn: Text of the tradition of the two weighty things: “O people! I am leaving among you two things which, so long as you uphold to them [both simultaneously], you shall never stray: the Book of Allāh and my ‘itra, my Ahlul Bayt (‘a),” where there is a directive from the Prophet (ṣ) that the condition for not straying is upholding the Book of Allāh (ṣ) and his ‘itra, Progeny.
It is not rational for anyone who believes there is a possibility that there is something wrong, or any crookedness, in it can expect it to be a safe haven against straying. This proves the Infallibility of both weighty things: the Book of Allāh, i.e. the greater weight which no falsehood can approach from front or back, and Ahlul Bayt (‘a), the great weight.
2. This Qur’ānic Verse:
“And remember that Abraham was tried by his Lord with certain commands which he fulfilled. He said, ‘I will make you an Imām (guide) to the nations.’ He pleaded: ‘What about my offspring?!’ He answered, ‘My promise is not within the reach of evil-doers’” (Qur’ān, 2:124).
Besides pointing out to the lofty status of Imāmate, this verse also indicates that the “promise” of Allāh, that is, Imāmate, cannot be the lot of an oppressor. A sin, minor or major, renders one who commits it an oppressor. Hence, an Imām has to be divinely protected from committing any sin or wrongdoing.
3. Evidence in Mustadrak al-Sahīhayn: Relying on the isnād of Hanash al-Kināni, al-Hākim cites the man saying that he heard Abū Dharr saying the following as he was holding to the door of he Ka’ba: “O people! Whoever knows me, I am who I am, and whoever does not, I am Abū Dharr. I heard the Messenger of Allāh (ṣ) saying, ‘The similitude of my Ahlul Bayt (‘a) among you is like the ark of Noah: whoever boards it is safe [from drowning], and who ever lags behind it is drowned.”10 Al-Hākim adds saying that the isnād of this tradition is authentic.
4. Also in Mustadrak al-Sahīhayn: Through the isnād traced to Ibn ‘Abbās, the same reference cites Ibn ‘Abbās quoting the Messenger of Allāh (ṣ) saying, “The stars offer security for the people of the earth against drowning, while my Ahlul Bayt (‘a) are the security of my nation against dissension. If a tribe from among the Arabs opposes them, it will become the party of Eblis.”11
5. In al-Bukhāri’s Sahīh: In order to further clarify the lofty status with which Ahlul Bayt (‘a) were blessed, we would like to quote some traditions narrated in al-Bukhāri’s Sahīh and which address Ahlul Bayt (‘a) with “alaihimis-salām” (peace be upon them). They, rather than anyone else from among all the sahābah or the wives of the Prophet (ṣ), were thus addressed. Following are examples narrated by al-Bukhāri in his Sahīh:
Ali (‘a) has said, “I used to have an established portion of the war booties, and the Prophet (ṣ) gave me an established portion of the khums. When I was going to have a daughter by Fātima (‘a), peace be upon her, daughter of the Messenger of Allāh (ṣ)..., etc.”12
Al-Bukhāri also wrote saying, “... and the Prophet (ṣ) knocked at the door of Fātima (‘a) and Ali (‘a), peace be upon both of them, on a night for the prayers..., etc.”13
In another narration, the following is stated: “... He said, ‘I saw the Prophet (ṣ), and al-Hasan (‘a) son of Ali (‘a), peace be upon both of them, looked like him..., etc.’”14
Also, the following is stated in the same reference: “... from Ali (‘a) son of al-Husayn (‘a), peace be upon both of them, he told him..., etc.”15
One may argue saying that this does not prove their distinction, but the question will then be, “Why then were they, rather than anyone else, thus greeted?”
6. Evidence From Hadīth: The Messenger of Allāh (ṣ) has ordered anyone who blesses him to also bless his Progeny concurrently. In a tradition recorded by al-Bukhāri in his Sahīh, relying on the isnād of Abdul-Rahmān ibn Abū Layla, it is recorded that “... He said, ‘Ka’b ibn ‘Ajrah met me and said, ‘Grant me a gift!’ The Prophet (ṣ) came out to see us, so we said to him, ‘O Messenger of Allāh! We have already come to know how to greet you, but how should we bless you?’ He (ṣ) said, ‘You should say: O Allāh! Bless Muhammad (ṣ) and the Progeny of Muhammad (ṣ) as You blessed Ibrāhīm and the progeny of Ibrāhīm; surely You are the oft-Praised, the oft-Glorified’.”16
The point of connection in this tradition between our master Ibrāhīm, peace be upon him and upon his progeny, on one hand, and our master Muhammad (ṣ) and his Progeny on the other is that Ibrāhīm, peace be upon him, was also a prophet, and his offspring were prophets to whom people referred after his demise.
Likewise, the offspring of Muhammad (ṣ) were the custodians of the Message brought by Muhammad (ṣ). The Muslims were ordered to refer to them after the demise of the Chosen One (ṣ) except they were Imāms (‘a), not prophets, as was the case with the progeny of Ibrāhīm. In a dialogue between the Prophet (ṣ) and Ali (‘a), the Prophet (ṣ) said, “Are you not pleased that your status with me is like that of Aaron to Moses except there is no prophet after me?”17 We will later discuss this tradition.
It is concluded from all the above that Allāh, the most Sublime and the most Great, specifically granted purification and Infallibility to Ahlul Bayt (‘a) in their capacity as the ones to fill the vacuum left by the Messenger of Allāh (ṣ) with regard to transmitting the Message to future generations, to safeguard it from those who distort or cast doubt about it.
What is the benefit of the Messenger of Allāh (ṣ) conveying the Divine Sharī’a if it is not safeguarded after his death by trustworthy persons? What happened to past creeds suffices to answer this question. The followers of the latter creeds used to derive their legislation from any source after the departure from this world of those who conveyed such creeds to them.
This is why distortion afflicted them as the most Great and the most Exalted One has said:
“Can you (O men of faith!) entertain the hope that they will believe in you, seeing that a party of them heard the word of Allāh, and distorted it knowingly after having understood it?” (Qur’ān, 2:75).
It needs not mentioned that safeguarding the texts of the Qur’ān against any addition or deletion is not by itself sufficient at any rate to safeguard the Divine Sharī’a from being distorted. Imāmate, thus, is considered as an extension of prophethood with regard to its general functions except what is relevant to the wahi, which is one of the particularities of prophethood.
What is meant by the Imāmate being the extension of prophethood is the safeguarding of the Sharī’a with knowledge and application. Hence, the Infallibility of the Imāms (‘a) is a must for transmitting the divine legislation to posterity via pure and genuine venues represented by the Twelve Imāms (‘a) who all belong to the Household of the Prophet (ṣ).
The Chosen One (ṣ) has stated that the Imāms, or caliphs, after him were from Quraysh, and that their number is twelve. Relying on the authority of Jābir ibn Samrah, al-Bukhāri quotes Jābir saying that he heard the Prophet (ṣ) saying, “There shall be twelve amīrs...” He goes on to say that the Prophet (ṣ) said something which he (Jābir) did not hear, adding, “My father said to me [that what I did not hear was:] ‘All of them are from Quraysh.’”18
In Muslim’s Sahīh, one hadīth reads: “The faith shall remain standing till the time of the Hour, or you will be ruled by twelve caliphs, all from Quraysh.”19 In the same reference, the following text exists: “People’s affairs will be in effect so long as they are ruled by twelve men.”20
In Ahmad’s Musnad, where the compiler relies on the isnād of Abdullāh ibn Mas’ūd, the latter says that he once asked the Messenger of Allāh (ṣ) about those “caliphs.” The Prophet (ṣ) said to him, “They are twelve in number, as many as the tribes of the Children of Israel.”21
A text in the Torah of the People of the Book carries this meaning: “Allāh Almighty conveyed the glad tiding of [the birth of] Ishmael to Abraham and that He would multiply his progeny exceedingly and bring about from among his offspring twelve princes and a great nation.”22
The “great nation” referred to here is the nation of our master Muhammad (ṣ) whose lineage descended from Ishmael, peace be upon him. As for the twelve princes, they are the Imāms (‘a), or the caliphs, who succeeded the Messenger of Allāh (ṣ) and who also descended from him. They are the ones referred to in the authentic traditions cited above.
This issue may be regarded as the most perplexing to the Sunni scholars who could not provide one single explanation, or any convincing argument, identifying these twelve caliphs referred to by many authentic traditions recorded in their own Sahīh books, so much so that this issue has become a puzzling riddle to them. Their interpretations of it are shaky, often reaching a dead end because of the inapplicability of the number “twelve” to any group of caliphs starting from the first four and passing by the Umayyads, the ‘Abbāsides and the Ottomans, or are they to be selected from all of these?!
We would like to bring about an example portraying the extent of their confusion while interpreting this tradition: Al-Suyūti has said, “From among the twelve [caliphs] are: the [first] four caliphs, al-Hasan (‘a), Mu’āwiyah, [‘Abdullāh] ibn al-Zubayr, ‘Umar ibn ‘Abdul-Azīz. These are eight, and it is possible that the Mahdi, the ‘Abbāside [caliph] may be added to them since he is to the ‘Abbāsides what ‘Umar ibn ‘Abdul-Azīz is to the Umayyads. And al-Tāhir, the ‘Abbāside [caliph], too, [is among them] on account of his equity. Two remain; these are the awaited ones; one of them is al-Mahdi because he belongs to Ahlul Bayt.”23
When we talk about their puzzlement in solving the “riddle” of the twelve caliphs, we mean their scholars are the ones who are puzzled. As for their commoners, they most often never heard such traditions which fix the number of the successors of the Messenger of Allāh (ṣ) or the hadīth which enjoins upholding the two weighty things and many others which all point out to the merits of Ahlul Bayt (‘a) despite such occurrence in their Sahīh books.
I was quite astonished when Dr. Ahmad Nawfal, a professor at the College of Sharī’a, University of Jordan, as I debated with him, said that the tradition of the twelve caliphs is of my own invention, and that it does not exist in the Sunni books of hadīth.
Having said so, he immediately left, refusing to continue the debate. This took place after he had delivered a lecture in Manilla, answering questions raised by some attendants about the origin of Shī’ahs and Shī’ism. His answers were contrary to the truth, thus prompting me to oppose his falsification. I provided some traditions which prove that Shī’ahs follow Muhammad (ṣ), not Ibn Saba’, as he claimed.
We do not, by mentioning this incident, mean to scandalize this virtuous professor, may Allāh forgive him. We simply like to point out to the truth which has to be made clear, that is, fanaticism prompts some people to do more than that. This is really strange. How can one have the courage to answer questions about a subject while he is ignorant of the basic facts relevant to it? What if the issue deals with religious affairs? What is the judgment against one who issues verdicts without knowledge? Surely there is no power nor might except in Allāh.
So, while we see the Sunnis puzzled by the “riddle” of the twelve caliphs, while many of them are ignorant of the glittering authentic traditions leading to it, Imāmite Shī’ahs, followers of the Household of the family of the Prophet (ṣ), have already clarified the matter in this regard, explaining that those implied in the traditions cited above are the Twelve Imāms (‘a) from among the family of the Prophet (ṣ). Moreover, they derived proofs from traditions narrated through the venue of the Purified ‘itra and which exist in their books of hadīth clearly stating their names in a way which leaves no room for doubt. They are:
1. Ali ibn Abū Tālib (‘a), Ameerul-Mu’mineen (the Commander of the Faithful)
2. Al-Hasan ibn Ali (‘a), al-Sibt (the oldest grandson of the Prophet [‰])
3. Al-Husayn (‘a) ibn Ali (‘a), Sayyidul-Shuhadā’ (the master of martyrs)
4. Ali ibn al-Husayn (‘a), Zaynul-’Ābidīn (the best of worshipers)
5. Muhammad ibn Ali (‘a), al-Bāqir (the one who pierces through knowledge)
6. Ja’far ibn Muhammad (‘a), al-Sādiq (the truthful)
7. Mousa ibn Ja’far (‘a), al-Kāzim (the one who suppresses his anger)
8. Ali ibn Mousa (‘a), al-Rida (the one who accepts destiny)
9. Muhammad ibn Ali (‘a), al-Jawād (the generous one)
10. Ali ibn Muhammad (‘a), al-Hādi (the guide)
11. Al-Hasan ibn Ali (‘a), al-’Askari (the man in charge of the troops)
12. Muhammad ibn al-Hasan (‘a), al-Mahdi al-Muntazar (the awaited savior, the divinely-guided one, may Allāh hasten his holy reappearance).
We have already explained the proofs testifying to the Imāmate of Ahlul Bayt (‘a) and the number of caliphs from among them as stated by the Prophet (ṣ) who indicated that they should be his successors in his nation. Following are proofs regarding the appointment by the Prophet (ṣ) of Ali ibn Abū Tālib (‘a). In addition to the above, there are unequivocal proofs testifying to the same, especially to the hadīth of the two weighty things.
Among the most famous narratives regarding the caliphate of Ali (‘a) is the one known as the sermon of al-Ghadīr after the conclusion of the Farewell Pilgrimage (Hijjatul-Wadā’) in 11 A.H. (632 A.D.) It was there and then that the Prophet (ṣ) declared to the people stating, at its conclusion, as narrated by al-Tirmidhi who relies on the isnād traced to Zaid ibn Arqam, the following: “To whosoever I have been the master, Ali henceforth is his master, etc.”24
Ibn Majah has included in his Sahīh a portion of this detailed sermon through isnād traced to al-Barā’ ibn ‘Āzib who said, “We accompanied the Messenger of Allāh (ṣ) during his pilgrimage. He alighted at a distance of the road and ordered congregational prayers to be held.
Then he took the hand of Ali, peace be upon him, and said, ‘Do not I have more rights on the Muslims than the Muslims themselves have?’ They answered in the affirmative. Then he said, ‘Do not I have right over every believer more than he himself has?’ They answered in the affirmative. He then said, ‘This [Ali] is the master of whoever accepted me as his master. Lord! Be the friend of anyone who befriends him, and be the enemy of whoever antagonizes him.’”25
It exists in the Musnad of Ahmad ibn Hanbal who relies on the isnād of also al-Barā’ ibn ‘Āzib. The latter says, “We were in the company of the Messenger of Allāh (ṣ) on a trip. We stayed at Ghadīr Khumm. We were called upon to perform congregational prayers.
A couple of trees were swept under for the Messenger of Allāh (ṣ) who performed the noon prayers then took the hand of Ali, peace be upon him, and said, ‘Do not you know that I have more rights on the believers than the believers themselves have?’ They answered in the affirmative. He (ṣ) asked them, ‘Do not you know that I have more rights on every believer than the believer himself has?’ They answered in the affirmative.
He then took Ali, peace be upon him, by the hand and said, ‘To whomsoever I have been the master, Ali [henceforth] is his master. O Lord! Befriend whoever befriends him and be the enemy of whoever antagonizes him.’ ‘Umar ibn al-Khattāb met him thereafter and said to him, ‘Congratulations to you, O son of Abū Tālib! You have received the dawn and the sunset as the master of every believing man and woman.’”26
This hadīth is famous as the “Ghadīr hadīth” on account of this incident taking place at an area known as “Ghadīr Khumm” (Khumm swamp) which is located near Mecca. This is something the authenticity of which nobody can doubt especially since it has been narrated in many Sunni books of hadīth, so much so that some scholars have stated as many as 80 venues for it only from the Sunnis.
It becomes clear from the previous traditions that the Messenger of Allāh (ṣ) extracted the Muslims’ admission of his mastership over them when he asked them, “Do not you know that I have more rights on the believers than the believers themselves have?... Do not you know that I have more rights on every believer than the believer himself has?”
It is understood that anyone who enjoys the status of having more authority over the believers than the believers themselves have is the believers’ leader as was, indeed, the Messenger of Allāh (ṣ): a leader. When he included Ali (‘a) besides himself in such a description by saying, “To whomsoever I have been the master, Ali [henceforth] is his master,” he practically bestowed upon Ali (‘a) the leadership after his own demise.
Shī’ahs celebrate this occasion every year on the 18th of Dhul-Hijjah which they call “Eid al-Ghadīr.” As for the Sunnis, they interpret this hadīth differently, claiming it does not refer to any caliphate. They interpret the word “mawla” [which exists in the original Arabic text] as “loved one” or “friend,” not “wali amr,” person in charge.
In their view, the meaning of this tradition is: “Anyone whose friend I am, this Ali is his friend, too”!!! The fact is that the word “mawla” has many meanings in Arabic. It is said that it has seventeen meanings including “one who is emancipated” or “servant,” etc. The word “mawla” in this hadīth is to be understood, besides what is stated above through many proofs, to connote leadership. Among such proofs are the following:
1. The verse saying,
“O Messenger! Deliver what has been revealed to you from your Lord, and if you do not do it, then you will have not delivered His message (at all), and Allāh will protect you from the (evil) people” (Qur’ān, 5:67)
which was revealed, as stated in many books of tafsīr, shortly before the Ghadīr sermon. It contains the sense that there is an order from Allāh Almighty that has to be conveyed, and this order, as the wording of the verse suggests and from its very sharp tone, is of an extreme significance, point in the direction that what is meant is not mere friendship and support.
2. The verse saying
“This Day have I perfected your religion for you, completed My favor upon you, and have chosen Islam for you as your religion” (Qur’ān, 5:4)
was revealed, according to many scholars of exegesis, after the Ghadīr incident. It conveys the completion of conveying Muhammad’s message, something which could not have been completed without the appointment of Ali (‘a) and Ahlul Bayt (‘a) in general as the masters. It is far-fetched to say that the conveying became complete when the Messenger of Allāh (ṣ) was told about his friendship with and love for Ali (‘a)!
3. The circumstances during which the Prophet (ṣ) delivered the Ghadīr sermon, in a burning desert, after having ordered the Muslims, who were said to have numbered more than ninety thousand, to assemble in order to extract from them an admission that Allāh and His Messenger were their masters before ordering them to accept the mastership of Ali (‘a) proves that the matter was not relevant to merely loving and befriending Ali (‘a).
4. The previous ahādīth, especially the one about the Two Weighty Things, in addition to the following ones, point as a whole to the caliphate of Ali (‘a) without permitting any room for doubt.
In al-Tirmidhi’s Sahīh, relying on the isnād of ‘Imrān ibn Hasīn, the latter says, “The Messenger of Allāh (ṣ) dispatched an army under the command of Ali ibn Abū Tālib (‘a). The campaign was carried out, and Ali (‘a) won a female captive as his share of the booty.
Some people faulted him for doing so. Four of the companions of the Messenger of Allāh (ṣ) pledged to complain against him to the Prophet (ṣ). With signs of anger on his holy face clearly visible, the Messenger of Allāh (ṣ) said to them, “What do you want from Ali? Ali is from me, and I am from Ali, and he is the master of every believer after me.”27
And consider the following verse of the Almighty: “
Your Master is Allāh and His Messenger and the Believers who uphold prayers and pay zakat even while prostrating (Qur’ān, 5:58).”
Most Sunni scholars of exegesis have stated that it was revealed in honor of Ali (‘a) when he gave his ring by way of charity, as he was prostrating during his performance of the prayers, to a poor man.
In al-Bukhāri’s Sahīh, Mis’ab ibn Sa’d quotes his father saying, “The Messenger of Allāh (ṣ) marched out to Tabuk after having left Ali (‘a) behind. Ali (‘a) said to him, ‘Are you going to leave me with the children and the women?’ He (ṣ) said to him, ‘Are you not pleased that your status to me is like that of Aaron to Moses except there shall be no prophet after me?’”28
This tradition proves that Ali (‘a) had all the positions occupied by Aaron, peace be upon him, among the Children of Israel with the exception of prophethood and which is explained by the Almighty, Praise and Exaltation are His, in these verses: “‘And give me a minister from my family, Aaron, my brother. Add to my strength through him, and make him share my task: So that we may celebrate Your praise without stint and remember You without stint: For You are He Who (ever) regards us.’ (Allāh) said, ‘Your prayer is granted, O Moses!’” It is clear from these verses that Aaron, peace be upon him was a vizier of Moses, a special aide and a partner in leading the nation.
What emphasizes this lofty status in his appointment as the caliph of the nation is that he was the most knowledgeable among all the sahābah according to what al-Bukhāri narrates from ‘Umar ibn al-Khattāb . Ibn ‘Abbās has said, “‘Umar said, ‘The one who recites the Qur’ān the best is my father, while the most judicious among us is Ali.”29
One who is the most knowledgeable of the injunctions and the laws, as is well known, is the one who makes the best judge. Suffices to prove that he is the most knowledgeable among all the companions and the most wise is that he was the gate of the city of knowledge of the Messenger of Allāh (ṣ). In Mustadrak al-Sahīhayn, relying on the isnād of Ibn ‘Abbās, the Messenger of Allāh (ṣ) said, “I am the city of knowledge and Ali (‘a) is its gate. Whoever seek knowledge has to approach through the gate.”30
In al-Tirmidhi’s Sahīh, the Messenger of Allāh (ṣ) is quoted as having said, “I am the city of wisdom and Ali is its gate.”31 In Mustadrak al-Sahīhayn, it is stated that the Messenger of Allāh (ṣ) said to Ali (‘a), “You must explain to my nation after me anything wherein they differ.”32
The Messenger of Allāh (ṣ) even made the mark of hating Ali (‘a) as one of the indications of hypocrisy as is clear from the narrative included by Muslim in his Sahīh with its isnād to Ali (‘a) who said, “By the One Who split the seed and created the breeze, it is a covenant from the Ummi Prophet (ṣ) to me that none loves me except a believer (mu’min) and none hates me except a hypocrite.”33
Even if the Prophet (ṣ) did not appoint a successor after him, is not the nation supposed to choose the one who has the most knowledge and with the most distinctions in order to be its leader? We have already clarified that Ali (‘a) was the most knowledgeable among the companions. They used to refer to him whenever they confronted a complex theological problem.
Similar to this is included by Abū Dawud in his isnād to Ibn ‘Abbās who said, “‘Umar brought a mentally retarded woman who had committed adultery. He consulted some people in her regard. ‘Umar ordered her stoned. Ali ibn Abū Tālib (‘a) passed by her and inquired about her. He was told that she was a mad woman by so-and-so who had committed adultery, so she was ordered to be stoned. He told them to take her back.
Then he went to him [to ‘Umar] and said to him, ‘O ‘Umar! Don’t you know that judgment against three categories of people is lifted: the mad person till he recovers, the one sleeping till he wakes up and the child till he attains mental maturity?’ He said, ‘Yes.’ Ali (‘a) said, ‘Then what is the matter with this woman that she should be stoned?’ ‘Umar said, ‘Nothing.’ She was sent back. ‘Umar kept making takbeer.”34 Al-Bukhāri, too, includes part of the same incident in his own Sahīh.35
Moreover, Imām Ali (‘a) was famous as the “Imām of the ascetics” and he was also famous for his courage and extra-ordinary daring feats. He was the first commando in Islam. In every Islamic battle, he played a decisive role on the side of the Messenger of Allāh (ṣ). In the Battle of Badr, he killed with his sword, Sayf al-Fiqār, thirty Qurayshite heroes.
In the battles of Uhud and Hunayn, he undertook a historic stand, jeopardizing his own life in defense of the Messenger of Allāh (ṣ) following the flight of the vast majority of the sahābah! In the Battle of Khandaq (moat), he stood to duel the giant of the polytheists, namely ‘Amr ibn Wudd al-’Āmiri whom he killed at the time when none of the other sahābah dared to face him although the Messenger of Allāh (ṣ) had three times called upon them to do so.
He (ṣ) finally permitted Ali (‘a) to face the man although Ali (‘a) was quite young compared to most sahābah. In the battle for Khaybar, Allāh granted victory at his hands, so he was able to open the gate of the fort after the Muslims at the time could not do so. A large number of the sahābah failed collectively to open it.
Imām Ali (‘a) distinguished himself from the other sahābah by the fact that the time of jāhiliyya did not pollute him with its idols. He received his unique upbringing at the hands of the First Teacher of Humanity, Muhammad (ṣ), from whom he did not part for one moment as long as the Prophet (ṣ) lived. When the Prophet (ṣ) passed away, Ali (‘a) was tending to him. He, therefore, remained all his life receiving knowledge and wisdom from the Messenger of Allāh (ṣ).
Hence, he deserved to be the gate of the city of knowledge of the Prophet (ṣ), of his wisdom, and his brother. Al-Bukhāri narrates in his Sahīh, relying on the isnād of Abdullāh ibn ‘Umar saying, “The Prophet (ṣ) established ties of fraternity among his companions. Ali (‘a) came with tearful eyes and said, ‘O Messenger of Allāh! You have established ties of fraternity among your companions but did not establish a tie of fraternity between me and anyone else.’ The Messenger of Allāh (ṣ) said, ‘You are MY brother in the life of this world and in the Hereafter.’”36 The Prophet (ṣ) even considered Ali (‘a) as being of him as al-Bukhāri has narrated: “The Prophet (ṣ) said to Ali (‘a), ‘You are of me, and I am of you.’”37
Ali (‘a) distinguished himself from the rest of the sahābah by acquiring the most merits as we are told by al-Hākim in his Mustadrak where he quotes Ahmad ibn Hanbal saying, “None among the companions of the Messenger of Allāh (ṣ) acquired as many virtues as Ali son of Abū Talib (‘a).”38 And in Kanz al-’Ummāl, the Messenger of Allāh (ṣ) is quoted as having said, “Allāh ordered me to marry Fātimah (‘a) off to Ali.”39
This happened after having rejected the offer of marriage from a number of the sahābah who sought her hand in order to earn the great honor of marrying a lady who was “part” of the Messenger of Allāh (ṣ), the Head of the Believing Women and of the residents of Paradise, the lady because of whose anger Allāh would be angry. It is quite true what one said: “Had Ali (‘a) not been created, Fātimah (‘a) would have had no match for marriage.”40
Having stated all the above, had the selection of the caliph been truly in the hands of the people, Ali (‘a) was the most distinguished among the sahābah, hence he was the most deserving of the caliphate.
We have already explained the evidences proving that mastership is the right of Ahlul Bayt (‘a) in general, that the Twelve Imāms (‘a) from among them were to be the caliphs over the nation, starting with Imām Ali (‘a), following the departure of the Chosen One, Muhammad (ṣ), to the Most High Companion. One decisive question remains to be answered in order to remove a great deal of the ambiguity that coincided with the tale of the dispute between Ahl al-Sunnah and the Shī’ahs throughout the Islamic history. The question is: “If the previous texts truly prove the Imāmate of Ahlul Bayt (‘a), why and how did the caliphate become the lot of others? Were not the sahābah following the Prophet (ṣ) in everything in which he ordered them?”
In order to answer this question, we have to bring about some important historical events at the dawn of Islam which had the major impact in altering the direction of the Islamic history, letting the reader pass his own judgment thereafter. Among the weighty events were the following:
1. Some sahābah of the Messenger of Allāh (ṣ) prohibited him from writing his will.
2. Some sahābah lagged behind and did not join Usamah’s military campaign, casting doubts about his leadership.
3. events of the saqīfa and the swearing of allegiance to Abū Bakr
4. caliphate of ‘Umar
5. caliphate of ‘Uthmān
6. Battle of the Camel and the march of the Mother of the Faithful (‘a)
7. Battle of Siffīn and the rebellion of Mu’āwiyah
8. Martyrdom of Imām Ali (‘a)
9. reconciliation treaty and the martyrdom of Imām al-Hasan (‘a)
10. Karbalā’ Revolution and the Martyrdom of Imām al-Husayn (‘a)
We will discuss each of these events in some details as follows:
In his Sahīh, al-Bukhāri records six narratives about this incident which took place four days only before the demise of the Prophet (ṣ). Ibn ‘Abbās, may Allāh be pleased with him, is quoted as having said, “Thursday! What a Thursday it was! The pain of the Messenger of Allāh (ṣ) intensified, so he said, ‘Bring me something so I may write for you a document that will never let you stray thereafter.’
They disputed with each other, and nobody should dispute near a prophet. They said, ‘What is the matter with him?! Has he hallucinated? Inquire of him.’ They went to him, whereupon he said, ‘Leave me alone, for the pain in which I am is better than what you are attributing to me.’”41
In another narrative, Ibn ‘Abbās is quoted as having said, “When death approached the Messenger of Allāh (ṣ), and there were men in the house, the Prophet (ṣ) said, ‘Let me write for you a document after which you shall never stray.’ Some of them said, ‘The Messenger of Allāh (ṣ) has been overcome by pain, and you have with you the Qur’ān. Suffices us the Book of Allāh.’ The people of the house differed with each other and disputed.
Some of them said, ‘Come close to him so he may write you a document after which you shall never stray,’ while others repeated what ‘Umar had said. When their fuss and dissension intensified, the Messenger of Allāh (ṣ) said, ‘Get away!’” Ubaydullāh said, “Ibn ‘Abbās used to say, ‘The real calamity, the whole calamity, is what stopped the Messenger of Allāh (ṣ) from writing that document for them because of their dissension and arguing.’”42
According to a third narrative, Ibn ‘Abbās said, “When death approached the Messenger of Allāh (ṣ), and there were men in the house including ‘Umar ibn al-Khattāb, the Prophet (ṣ) said, ‘Let me write you something after (the writing of) which you shall never stray.’ ‘Umar said, ‘The Prophet (ṣ) has been overcome by pain, and you have with you the Qur’ān. Suffices us the Book of Allāh (ṣ).’
The people at the house disputed with each other and disagreed. Some of them were saying, ‘Get close [to the Prophet (ṣ)] so the Prophet (ṣ) may write you a book after which you shall never stray,’ while others repeated what ‘Umar had said. When their fuss and dispute near the Prophet (ṣ) intensified, the Messenger of Allāh said, ‘Get away!’ Ubaydullāh said, ‘Ibn ‘Abbās used to say that the calamity, the whole calamity, is what stopped the Messenger of Allāh (ṣ) from writing them such a document because of their dispute and fuss.’”43
In Muslim’s Sahīh, their response was: “... they said that the Messenger of Allāh (ṣ) was hallucinating.”44
In another narrative, the following is stated: “... ‘Umar made a statement indicating that the pain had overcome the Messenger of Allāh (ṣ) then said, ‘We have with us the Qur’ān. Suffices us the Book of Allah.”45 As you can see, the word “hallucinating” was replaced in this latest narrative with a more polite reference to pain.
Discerning the above-quoted narratives, we become certain that the first person who ascribed hallucination to the Messenger of Allāh (ṣ) was ‘Umar ibn al-Khattāb and who was supported by some sahābah who were present there, causing the Messenger of Allāh (ṣ) to be angry and to dismiss them with “Get away from me!”
The truth is that this incident gives the impression which permits no doubt that the dignity of the Gracious Messenger of Allāh (ṣ) was harmed. This brought me a great shock when I came to know about it and, I believe, the vast majority of Sunnis are ignorant of it despite the horrors of its implications. Many individuals to whom I related this incident did not believe it because of the weight of the shock.
One of them even solemnly swore that if there was any possibility at all that such an incident is, indeed, recorded in Bukhāri’s Sahīh, he will never trust any other narrative in such Sahīh. Some of them believed this incident but, having come to know that caliph ‘Umar was the first to charge the Messenger of Allāh (ṣ) with hallucination, became extremely angry and refused to believe it. They even went as far as not trusting al-Bukhāri nor any of the books of hadīth which narrate incidents such as this that tarnish the image of the “righteous ancestors,” according to his view.
The secret behind the amazement in this incident is that all the sahābah who were then present should have given priority, without any delay, to what the Messenger of Allāh (ṣ) had ordered them to do so that he could write for them his last will, the will that carried the destiny of including what would bring the Muslims after his demise security against straying, if they upheld and obeyed, as is clear from this narrative.
Who, from among the Sunnis, could expect that the last meeting between the Prophet (ṣ) and the senior sahābah would end up in his dismissal of them after they had bidden him farewell in such a pain-inflicting word which could have only one single implication? This implication is mentioned by al-Nawawi in his Sharh [commentary] of Muslim’s Sahīh. This implication is stated there as nothing other than “hallucination”; we seek refuge with Allāh.
According to Imām Sharaf ad-Dīn, “If you contemplate on the statement of the Prophet (ṣ) wherein he says, ‘Bring me something so I may write for you a document after [the writing of] which you shall never stray’ and his statement in the Hadīth of the Two Weighty Things wherein he says, ‘I have left among you that which, if you uphold it, you shall never stray: the Book of Allāh (ṣ) and my ‘itra, my Ahlul Bayt (‘a)’, you will learn that the objective of both ahādīth is one and the same.
During his sickness, the Messenger of Allāh (ṣ) wanted to write for them the details of what the Hadīth of the Two Weighty Things obligates, but he changed his mind about writing it following their statement with which they surprised him and which forced him to change his mind lest some people should succeed in opening a gate to cast doubt about the Prophethood.
This is so because no effect for such writing remained except dissension and disagreement after him whether he “hallucinated” in what he wrote or not; we seek refuge with Allāh, since they disputed in this regard in his own presence as the previous traditions demonstrate.
They contented themselves with what they have of the Qur’ān, justifying their turning away from carrying out what the Prophet (ṣ) had told them to do as he was in a condition of sickness. It is as though they had forgotten what the Almighty had said about His Glorious Prophet (ṣ):
“... Nor does he say (anything) of (his own) desire. It is no less than inspiration sent down to him: He was taught by One mighty in power” (Qur’ān, 53:3-5)
as well as in the following verse:
“What Allāh has bestowed on His Prophet (and taken away) from the people of the towns belongs to Allāh, to His Prophet, and to kindred and orphans, the needy and the wayfarers, so that it may not be taken in turn by the rich among you. So take what the Prophet assigns to you, and abstain from what he withholds from you” (Qur’ān, 59:7)
as well as in this verse:
“Truly this is the word of a most honorable messenger, endowed with power, with rank before the Lord of the throne, with authority there, (and) faithful of his trust. And (O people!) your Companion is not possessed” (Qur’ān, 81:22).46
Ibn ‘Abbās described the latter situation very well when he said, “The calamity, the whole calamity, is what stopped the Messenger of Allāh from writing that document for them because of their disputing and fussing.”
Despite all of this, and according to what Ibn ‘Abbās had narrated and what al-Bukhāri had included in his Sahīh, the Messenger of Allāh (ṣ) did not die before making this statement: “... Leave me alone, for the pain in which I am is better than what you are attributing to me.” Then he enjoined them, by way of a will, to uphold three things: to get the polytheist people out of the Arabian Peninsula, to treat the envoy as handsomely as he [the Prophet (ṣ)] used to do, and he abstained from mentioning the third one, or he said he forgot it!”47
It is certain that the Messenger of Allāh (ṣ) had articulated these recommendations in the presence of his family and some of his relatives, including Abdullāh ibn ‘Abbās, his cousin, in one of the four days which followed the day of the calamity, the Thursday Calamity.
But what is odd is that the third item on the will, based on the integrity of al-Bukhāri, is not mentioned by Ibn ‘Abbās because he was too reluctant to do so. At any rate, the Shī’ah, according to the narratives of Ahlul Bayt (‘a), have stated that the “forgotten” issue or the one shrouded with silence is the appointment of Ali (‘a) as the caliph.
All Muslims know that the Messenger of Allāh (ṣ) tied the knot for the military expedition under the command of Usāmah son of Zayd to invade the Romans. Usāmah was then seventeen. This was the last military expedition during the life-time of the Prophet (ṣ). None from among the prominent Muhājirūn and Ansār, such as Abū Bakr, ‘Umar, Abū ‘Ubaydah, Sa’d and their likes, was excluded from being enlisted by the Prophet48. This fact is unanimously accepted by writers of biographies and of history books; it is taken for granted.
The Prophet (ṣ) ordered Usāmah to march, but they dragged their feet, and some of them cast doubts about his leadership, so much so that the Messenger of Allāh (ṣ) ascended the pulpit, as al-Bukhāri records according to his reliance on Ibn ‘Umar, to address them. The latter says, “The Messenger of Allāh (ṣ) placed Usāmah as commander of the people. They cast doubts about such an appointment, so he (ṣ) said, ‘If you cast doubts about his appointment, you did, indeed, cast doubt about the appointment of his father before him. By Allāh! He [his father] was worthy of being in charge, and he was among the people whom I loved the most, and this one [his son] is the one I love the most after him.’49
Then he (ṣ) urged them once more to march and to hurry,” but they again dragged their feet. The Messenger of Allāh (ṣ) passed away before they marched out.
From this incident, we deduct the following:
1. Some sahābah followed their own ijtihād despite the presence of a statement made by the Prophet (ṣ), objecting to his appointment of Usāmah over them on account of his young age although the Messenger of Allāh (ṣ) had tied his flag with his own hand. If we understand all of this, it will be difficult for us to understand how and why they followed their own ijtihād with regard to bigger issues such as the caliphate of Ali (‘a) and his being the Imām as you will see later.
2. The appointment by the Prophet (ṣ) of Usāmah as their military leader although he was only seventeen was a practical lesson for the sahābah in the issue of accepting the leadership of someone who is younger than them especially since signs of his extreme anger became evident when they cast doubts about his choice of the young man as their military field commander.
3. When the Messenger of Allāh (ṣ) tied the knot for Usāmah, he knew that he was about to depart to the most Exalted Companion, and undoubtedly he was contemplating on the dispute over the caliphate that would follow; therefore, his extreme wisdom dictated that senior Muhājirūn and Ansār should be placed in that detachment which he (ṣ) ordered to march out only a few days before his demise so that there would be no time to dispute over the leadership issue, let alone using ijtihād in its regard.
Ali (‘a) kept the Prophet (ṣ) company during the entire period of his sickness. After the demise of the Prophet (ṣ), Ali (‘a) remained busy giving him his burial bath while the Muhājirūn and the Ansār went to the shed of Banī Sā’idah to dispute with one another about the issue of leadership after having dragged their feet and refused to march out in the military campaign of Usāmah in which they had already been enlisted apparently out of their own ijtihād and “worry” about what would happen in their absence after the death of the Prophet (ṣ)!
Thus, it is difficult to accept or to absorb the issue of the refusal of some sahābah to accept Ali ibn Abū Tālib (‘a) as their Imām; otherwise, how can one interpret the refusal of the same folks of Usāmah as their leader and their casting doubts about it although it, too, was issued as an order by the Messenger of Allāh (ṣ)?
Since both incidents of the “Thursday Calamity” and the casting of doubt about the leadership of Usāmah took place during the life-time of the Prophet (ṣ), bearing in mind all the horrors of their implications, what would one expect to happen after his own demise (ṣ)?!
While Ali (‘a) and those in his company from among the relatives of the Messenger of Allāh (ṣ) were busy making preparations for the burial of the Prophet (ṣ) after his departure from this life, ‘Umar ibn al-Khattāb announced his rejection of the notion that the Prophet (ṣ) had already died and threatened to kill anyone who said otherwise.
He did not believe that he (ṣ) had died till Abū Bakr returned from a place outside Medīna called al-Sankh. As mentioned by al-Bukhāri in his Sahīh, relying on ‘Ā’isha , the latter said, “The Messenger of Allāh (ṣ) died when Abū Bakr was at al-Sankh.” Ismā’īl says, “She means the highland.” ‘Umar kept saying, “By Allāh! The Messenger of Allāh (ṣ) did not die!”
‘Ā’isha went on to say, “‘Umar also said, ‘By Allāh! Never did I like anything except that, and Allāh shall send him back, and he will cut off men’s hands and legs.” Abū Bakr came, uncovered the face of the Messenger of Allāh (ṣ) and kissed him.
Then he said, “By my father and mother, you are good alive and dead! By Allāh Who holds my soul in His hand, Allāh shall never permit you to taste death twice,” then he left as he said, “O one who keeps swearing [meaning ‘Umar]! Do calm down!”50
As for the Ansār, they met at their shed, that is, “the Saqīfa of Banī Sā’idah,” and nominated Sa’d ibn ‘Abādah to succeed the Messenger of Allāh (ṣ) as the man in charge. When senior Muhājirūn (i.e. Abū Bakr, ‘Umar and Abū ‘Ubaydah) came to know about it, they immediately went there and announced that they themselves were more worthy of it. An argument arose between the Muhājirūn and the Ansār wherein a dispute erupted.
Sa’d ibn ‘Abādah, leader of the Ansār, stood up and said, “We are the supporters of Islam and its regiment while you, folks of the Muhājirūn, are his kinsfolk. A drummer from among your people has beaten her drum, hence they want to reduce us from our own roots and to hold us back from the matter.”51
Abū Bakr stood up and delivered a speech in which he referred to the merits of al-Muhājirūn, deriving his argument from their descent from Quraysh in order to prove their being more worthy of the caliphate as al-Bukhāri mentions in his Sahīh. “... so Abū Bakr al-Siddiq, ‘Umar ibn al-Khattāb and Abū ‘Ubaydah ibn al-Jarrāh went to them. ‘Umar started to talk, but Abū Bakr silenced him.”52
Abū Bakr said, “... No; but we are the princes while you are the viziers. But we are the princes and you are the viziers. And they are the best among the Arabs in status and in lineage53..., and I have recommended for you one of these two men.”54 So they swore the oath of allegiance to ‘Umar ibn al-Khattāb or to Abū ‘Ubaydah ibn al-Jarrāh55. One of the prominent Ansārs, namely al-Habāb ibn al-Mundhir, responded to him by saying, ‘No by Allāh, we shall not do that! One of us shall be an amīr and one of you [too] shall be an amīr”56
In another narrative, the Ansār responded thus: “A speaker from among the Ansār said, ‘We are its cultivated stump and anticipated cluster. An amīr should be [chosen] from among us, and an amīr should be chosen from among you [too], O people of Quraysh!’ Voices of dissent rose and there was a lot of fuss, so much so that dissension was feared.”57
When the crisis reached such an extent, ‘Umar ibn al-Khattāb’s role came. Said he, “Far away it is for two to share one and the same horn! By Allāh! The Arabs shall never accept you as their amirs while their Prophet (ṣ) is not from among you. We have in this the argument against whoever dissents.”
Al-Habab ibn al-Mundhir, one of the Ansār dignitaries, responded to him by saying, “O folks of the Ansār! Unite your views; do not listen to this man’s statement or to that of his fellows, for you are more worthy of this matter.” But the Ansār, meanwhile, disagreed among themselves. Aseed ibn Hadheer, leader of the Aws tribe, who opposed Sa’d ibn ‘Abādah, leader of the Khazraj tribe, went and announced to the Muhājirūn his own support for them, promising them to swear the oath of allegiance to them.
It was then that ‘Umar stood up and said to Abū Bakr, “Stretch your hand so I may swear fealty to you.” ‘Umar swore the oath of allegiance to him and so did some Muhājirūn and Ansār. As al-Bukhāri, who relies on ‘Ā’isha, narrates, ‘Umar took the oath of allegiance for Abū Bakr through threats and intimidations.
He quotes ‘Ā’isha as having said, “Their address was rendered by Allāh as beneficial: ‘Umar scared people. There was hypocrisy among them, so Allāh responded thus to it.”58 At the time, with regard to Sa’d ibn ‘Abādah’s refusal to swear fealty, and he was an old man, al-Bukhāri states in his Sahīh saying that ‘Umar then said, “Rather, Allāh did kill him!”59
This much suffices to let the curtain fall down on the Saqīfa stage act of events which concluded with Abū Bakr being inaugurated after a publicly witnessed struggle between the Muhājirūn and the Ansār over the caliphate.
This struggle was tinted by a jāhili attitude as clearly appears from discerning the nature of the arguments between both parties and the arguments which each party used against the other. Caliph ‘Umar ibn al-Khattāb admitted near the end of his life that swearing the oath of allegiance to Abū Bakr was “a slip, but Allāh protected us from its evil,” according to his own view.60
Everyone knows that Imām Ali (‘a) and all his supporters from among Banū Hāshim and other sahābah, such as al-Zubair, Talhah, ‘Ammār, Salmān, Miqdād, Abū Dharr, Khuzaymah (the man with the two testimonies), Khālid ibn Sa’eed, Ubayy ibn Ka’b, Abū Ayyūb al-Ansāri and others, were not present at all during such a swearing, nor did they enter the Saqīfa that day at all because they were all entirely preoccupied with the great calamity: the demise of the Prophet (ṣ) and their performance of the obligation to prepare his corpse for burial and to lay his pure body to rest.
The fellows of the Saqīfa sealed that deal with Abū Bakr; therefore, Ali (‘a) and his followers had no choice except to express their dissent and to refuse to swear fealty as appears from the following narrative by ‘Umar ibn al-Khattāb: “... We were fully aware of the event when Allāh caused His Prophet (ṣ) to die, but the Ansār disagreed with us, and they assembled in their entirety at the Saqīfa of Banī Sā’idah. Among those who dissented were: Ali and al-Zubair and those with them.”61
Imām Ali ibn Abū Tālib (‘a) saw no result for protesting against them except dissension. He preferred to lose his own right rather than see such a dissension during such circumstances because of the serious perils that surrounded Islam from all directions. There was a danger against Islam from the hypocrites of Medīna and those around them from among the bedouins who felt emboldened after the departure of the Chosen One (ṣ).
Add to this the danger of Musaylamah the Liar, Tulayhah the mischief-maker and Sajāh, the woman of trickery, in addition to the Kaisers and Caesars and others who were lying in ambush against the Muslims.
There were other dangers threatening the very existence of Islam. It was only natural that Imām Ali ibn Abū Tālib (‘a) should sacrifice his right but not obliterating the argument of his being already nominated [by the Messenger of Allāh (ṣ)] for it. He wanted to keep his right for the caliphate and the ability to argue against those who followed their own way of thinking.
He wanted to do all of this in order not to cause the dissension the opportunity for which the enemies of Islam wished to take advantage of. He, therefore, sat at home and did not go to participate in the inauguration. And so did those with him. This lasted for six whole months.62
Al-Bukhāri narrates another incident. It, too, proves that had Ali (‘a) had the sufficient force to extract his right by force at that time without dissension taking place, he would have done just that. ‘Ā’isha is quoted as having said, “She [Fātima (‘a)] survived the Prophet (ṣ) for only six months. When she died, her husband Ali (‘a) buried her at night. Abū Bakr neither called the adhān nor performed the funeral prayers for her. Ali (‘a) enjoyed prestige among the people during the life-time of Fātima (‘a). When she died, people turned their faces away from him, so he sought to reconcile with Abū Bakr and swear fealty to him.
During those months, he was never willing to do so. He sent a message to Abū Bakr saying, ‘You may come to visit us, provided nobody accompanies you,’ out of his concern that ‘Umar might be present. ‘Umar said, ‘No, by Allāh! You should not enter their house alone.’ Abū Bakr said, ‘Why not?! What do you think they might do to me?! By Allāh! I shall go to visit them.’”63
Imām Sharaf ad-Dīn [Sadr ad-Dīn al-Mūsawi] has interpreted this conduct of Imām Ali (‘a) by saying, “Had Ali (‘a) hastened to swear fealty to them at the time, he would not have driven his argument home, nor would have the argument of his followers, but he combined, in his action, both safeguarding the creed and keeping his own right for the caliphate.
The circumstances then did not permit resistance by the sword, nor debating one argument against another.”64 This fact appears quite clearly when Abū Sufyān tried more than once to persuade him to uphold his right to the caliphate. He said to Imām Ali (‘a), “If you wish, I shall fill the land with cavalry and with infantry to confront them, and I shall block their exit therefrom.”65
But Imām Ali (‘a) refused such type of “assistance” every time because he knew what Abū Sufyān had in mind: igniting the fire of dissension and waging a war after which Islam would never stand on its feet.
Fātima (‘a) passed away while being angry with Abū Bakr because he had deprived her of the inheritance left for her by her father, the Prophet (ṣ). Relying on the authority of ‘Ā’isha, al-Bukhāri quotes the latter as saying, “... Fātima (‘a) daughter of the Messenger of Allāh (ṣ) was to receive the inheritance left for her from the fay’ [property gained as a peace offering from a hostile party] which Allāh had bestowed upon His Messenger (ṣ).
Abū Bakr said to her, ‘The Messenger of Allāh (ṣ) had said, ‘We [prophets] leave no inheritance; what we leave behind is charity;’ therefore, Fātima (‘a) daughter of the Messenger of Allāh (ṣ) became angry. She dissociated herself from Abū Bakr till she died.
She lived for only six months after the death of the Messenger of Allāh (ṣ).” ‘Ā’isha adds saying, “And Fātima (‘a) demanded that Abū Bakr give her the share to which she was entitled of the inheritance of the Messenger of Allāh (ṣ) from Khaybar, namely Fadak, and the Medīna charity, but Abū Bakr refused saying, ‘I shall not leave out anything which the Messenger of Allāh (ṣ) used to do.’”66
Her anger with Abū Bakr was so great that it prompted her to go as far as leaving a will with Ali (‘a) that Abū Bakr should not perform the funeral prayers for her after her demise, nor to even walk behind her coffin. Imām Ali (‘a) buried her pure body secretly at night as al-Bukhāri states in his Sahīh, relying on ‘Ā’isha who said, “... Abū Bakr refused that anything should be paid to Fātima (‘a).
Fātima (‘a), therefore, was extremely angry with him, so much so that she dissociated herself from him and never spoke to him till she died. She lived after the demise of the Prophet (ṣ) for six months. When she died, her husband buried her at night. Abū Bakr never called the adhān [to announce her death], nor did he perform the funeral prayers for her.”67
The land of Fadak which Fātima (‘a) demanded is a village in Hijāz which used to be inhabited by some Jews. When the Messenger of Allāh (ṣ) commenced the conquest of Khayber, Allāh cast fear in the hearts of those Jews; therefore, they reconciled with the Messenger of Allāh (ṣ) in exchange for Fadak.
Thus, Fadak became the property of the Messenger of Allāh (ṣ) because neither cavalry nor infantry was ever involved in its conquest. Then he gave it to his daughter Fātima (‘a) in addition to what the Messenger of Allāh (ṣ) had owned out of the levy of the khums from Khayber and his own charities. All of these used to be the personal property of the Messenger of Allāh; nobody else had any right in it besides him.
Fātima (‘a), then, according to Abū Bakr’s view, was demanding to get what was not hers. She, according to this view, had to be doing either one of two things without any third possibility:
First: She was ignorant and did not know the rulings applicable to the inheritance of the Messenger of Allāh (ṣ) (while Abū Bakr knew), or
Second: She was a liar who coveted to take what did not belong to her.
The fact is that both are impossible to attribute to al-Zahra (‘a) for whose anger Allāh used to become angry, the Head of the Believing Women and of the people of Paradise that she was, the lady who was purified by Allāh Almighty from any sin or impurity as has already been stated above. According to what is recorded by al-Bukhāri in his Sahīh, the Messenger of Allāh (ṣ) said, “O Fātima! Are you not pleased with being the Head of the believing women or the Head of the women of this nation?!”68 “Fātima (‘a) is part of me; whoever makes her angry makes me angry”69 “Fātima (‘a) is the Head of the women of Paradise.”70
Even if we submit that Fātima (‘a) was like any other woman and did not have all such distinctions, as the narratives above indicate, her being the daughter of the teacher of humanity and the wife of the Commander of the Faithful Ali (‘a) for whom they testified that he was the most judicious of all, the most knowledgeable, it negates from her any possibility of being ignorant.
This is so because had Fātima (‘a) been demanding what did not belong to her, and that the Messenger of Allāh (ṣ) was not to leave any inheritance, according to the view of Abū Bakr, either her father (ṣ) or her husband (‘a) was supposed to inform her, especially since her anger with Abū Bakr lasted for six months. This was the entire period which Fātima (‘a) lived after the departure of the Chosen One (ṣ) from this world.
But far it is for Fātima (‘a) to be as such. We seek refuge with Allāh against thinking like that of her. When she came to know that Abū Bakr deprived her of her right of ownership of Fadak and the property which Allāh had bestowed upon His Prophet (ṣ) in Medīna, in addition to the khums of Khayber, she (‘a) went to meet him, and he was among a crowd of the Muhājirūn and the Ansār. She delivered a speech which caused the people to burst in tears, a speech from which we would like to quote the following:
... while you claim that we have neither inheritance nor any share; do you wish to implement the judgment of the days of jāhiliyya? Whose judgment is better than that of Allāh for people who have conviction? O folks of Islam! Does the Book of Allāh say that you can get your inheritance from your father while I have no inheritance at all? You will truly then bring about falsehood.
Then she recited the verse saying,
“Muhammad is no more than a Prophet: Many prophets passed away before him. If he died or were killed, would you then turn back on your heels? If any did turn back on his heels, he would not harm Allāh in the least, but Allāh (on the other hand) will swiftly reward those who (serve Him) with gratitude” (Qur’ān, 3:144).
Then she went on to say, “O people of Qayla! Should I thus complain about the injustice of being deprived of inheritance from my father while you see and hear me?” up to the end of that speech.71
Moreover, the meaning of the statement “We [prophets] leave no inheritance” which the Messenger of Allāh (ṣ) made does not convey the inapplicability of the laws of inheritance to prophets according to the ijtihād of Abū Bakr. The Holy Qur’ān states the following:
“And Solomon was David’s heir” (Qur’ān, 27:16).
Zakariyya [Zacharias] pleaded to the Almighty to grant him someone who would be his heir, so Allāh granted him Yahya [John the Baptist]:
“... ‘(one who) will (truly) inherit me, and represent the posterity of Jacob, and make him, O Lord, one with whom You are well pleased!’ (His prayer was answered:) ‘O Zakariyya! We give you glad tidings of a son: His name shall be Yahya (John): We have never conferred distinction on any by that name before’” (Qur’ān, 19:6-7).
Hence, the meaning of “... inherit me” in the previous verse does not convey the sense of inheriting his [Zakariyya’s] status as a prophet, for prophethood is not hereditary. Thus, the meaning of “We [prophets] leave no inheritance” in the statement of the Prophet (ṣ) means that prophets do not hoard gold and silver so it may be their legacy after them as do kings and those who seek the life of this world.
With Abū Bakr thus depriving Fātima (‘a) of inheriting the Prophet (ṣ) gave the opportunity to some people to claim that this was the real reason why Ali (‘a) was reluctant to swear fealty to Abū Bakr, not because he (‘a) saw himself as the legitimate claimant to the post of caliph. Had the matter been as such, how do you explain the reluctance of a large number of the sahābah to swear fealty to Abū Bakr while granting their support to Ali (‘a)?
And how do you explain this statement of ‘Ā’isha: “Ali (‘a) sent a message to Abū Bakr saying, ‘You may come to visit us, provided nobody accompanies you,’ out of his concern that ‘Umar might be present”? ‘Umar ibn al-Khattāb had nothing to do with the issue of contention regarding the inheritance of the Prophet (ṣ), whereas he played a decisive role in ending the dispute at the Saqīfa in Abū Bakr’s favor.
Moreover, the issue of the inheritance is not considered a stumbling block or a justification under any condition for the refusal of Ali (‘a) and Fātima (‘a) to swear fealty to Abū Bakr or even for their reluctance to do so.
Relying on the authority of [Abdullāh] ibn Abbās, al-Bukhāri has quoted the latter saying that the Messenger of Allāh (ṣ) said, “One who detests something which his amīr does must be patient, for anyone who deviates the distance of a span from authority dies the death of the days of ignorance [jāhiliyya].”72 And in his Sahīh, Muslim cites the Messenger of Allāh (ṣ) saying, “One who dies without the responsibility of a fealty dies the days of jāhiliyya.”73
And in Ahmad’s Musnad, the Messenger of Allāh (ṣ) is quoted as having said, “Whoever dies without an Imām dies the death of jahiliyya.”74 These three traditions prove decisively that anyone who dies without swearing fealty to an amīr or an Imām dies the death of jāhiliyya. There is no doubt that what is meant here is the Imām obedience to whom is obligatory according to the divine Sharī’ah and nobody else.
Fātima al-Zahrā’ (‘a) passed away without swearing fealty to Abū Bakr. Furthermore, she died while being angry with him, leaving a will that he should not perform the funeral prayers for her nor even walk behind her coffin according to what al-Bukhāri states in his Sahīh, citing ‘Ā’isha relating about how Abū Bakr had deprived Fātima (‘a) of her inheritance from the Messenger of Allāh (ṣ):
“Fātima (‘a), therefore, was extremely angry with him, so much so that she dissociated herself from him and never spoke to him till she died. She lived after the demise of the Prophet (ṣ) for six months. When she died, her husband buried her at night. Abū Bakr never called the adhān [to announce her death], nor did he perform the funeral prayers for her.”75
How, then, can anyone say that al-Zahrā’ (‘a) did not follow the Prophetic instructions in the previous traditions? Rather, she demonstrated her patience about what she saw and hated of caliph Abū Bakr’s action. She did not obey him. She objected to his caliphate. She was angry with him. And she left a will that he should not perform the funeral prayers for her, nor should he even walk in her funeral procession, something which pointed to the fact that not only did she distance herself from the authority of Abū Bakr for one span but rather many miles!
How can one say, therefore, that Fātima al-Zahrā’ (‘a) died the death of jāhiliyya? But Fātima (‘a), according to the consensus of all Islamic sects, was the Head of believing women, the Head of the women of Paradise, as al-Bukhāri confirmed in his Sahīh, citing the Prophet (ṣ) saying, “O Fātima! Are you not pleased with being the Head of the believing women or the Head of the women of this nation?!”76
Moreover, the Messenger of Allāh (ṣ) used to be angry whenever she was angry. This undoubtedly means that Allāh Almighty would become angry whenever she was angry according to this tradition: “The Prophet (ṣ) said, ‘Fātima is part of me. Whoever angers her angers me (too)’.”77 The Imām (or amīr) obedience to whom is obligatory, and one who does not swear the oath of allegiance to him dies the death of jāhiliyya, is surely neither Abū Bakr, nor Mu’āwiyah the blood-shedder, nor their likes.
When Abū Bakr became sick, he called ‘Uthmān ibn ‘Affān to his presence and said to him, “Write the following: In the Name of Allāh, the most Gracious, the most Merciful. This is a covenant from Abū Bakr son of Abū Quhāfah to the Muslims.” It was then that he became unconscious. ‘Uthmān, therefore, went on to write the following: “I leave as my successor over you ‘Umar ibn al-Khattāb, and I do not hide from you anything good.”
Then Abū Bakr regained his consciousness, so ‘Uthmān said to him, “I see that you feared lest the Muslims would dispute if I passed away during my unconsciousness; is that so?” Abū Bakr answered in the affirmative, whereupon ‘Uthmān said, “May Allāh reward you with goodness on behalf of Islam and Muslims.” The writing was kept where it had been.78
It is also narrated that ‘Umar was holding in his hand the sheet on which Abū Bakr named him as his successor on the day of the Saqīfa when he scared people and thus took from them the oath of allegiance for Abū Bakr through his coercion as has already been proven above, taking advantage of the split in the ranks of the Ansār and in the presence of those who held in their hands the legitimate right to be the caliphs and who were busy preparing for the funeral of the Messenger of Allāh (ṣ).
Abū Bakr also played the same role by installing ‘Umar as the caliph after him. It cost him nothing but a little ink. Despite the extreme pain of Abū Bakr’s ailment during the writing of that will, even during his unconsciousness at the time, nobody at all said that Abū Bakr was hallucinating regarding what was written.
Contrariwise, caliph ‘Umar and those who supported him did not hesitate to accuse the Prophet (ṣ) with such a painful word [“yahjur, hallucinating”] when the Prophet (ṣ) asked them to get him some writing material so that a statement would be written for them after the writing of which they would never stray.
Abū Bakr claimed that the reason why he named ‘Umar as the caliph after him was his fear lest dissension should take place after his death. Thus did the Sunnis accept his excuse after he had violated the principle of shūra which they claim should be the principle according to which the Muslims should elect their caliph. You will see later how they also accepted the caliphate of Mu’āwiyah and his son Yazīd after his death although these ascended to power through intimidation and the force of the sword, killing many Muslims in the process, especially the descendants of the pure ‘itra of Ahlul Bayt (‘a).
But the question which we wished to put forth here is this: “Why did the Sunnis refuse the notion that the Prophet (ṣ) did, indeed, name the caliph who was to succeed him as they did accept it from Abū Bakr especially since the dispute about the caliphate at the time of the death of the Prophet (ṣ) was much greater than those when Abū Bakr died, in addition to the clear texts about the importance of referring to Ahlul Bayt (‘a) whenever the Muslims disputed with each other after the departure of the Chosen One (ṣ)? And the caliphate of Ali (‘a)?!”
When caliph ‘Umar was stabbed, he was told that his successor had already been named, so he said, “Had Abū ‘Ubaydah ibn al-Jarrāh been alive, I would have named him as my successor. And had Sālim, slave of Abū Hudhayfah, been alive, I would have named him as my successor.” Then he said to them, “Some men say that the swearing of fealty to Abū Bakr was a slip from the evil of which Allāh protected us, and that the fealty to ‘Umar lacked consultation, and the issue after me is to be resolved through shūra.”79
Said he, “I have determined your issue to be resolved by a number of early Muhājirūn” whom he named saying, “Call to me Ali (‘a), ‘Uthmān, Talhah, al-Zubayr, Abd al-Rahmān ibn ‘Awf and Sa’d ibn Abū Waqqās. If four persons agree [to choose the same person], the remaining two must follow the view of the [first] four. And if the views are split between three and three, you should follow the view of Abd al-Rahmān ibn ‘Awf; therefore, listen [to him] and obey...”80
From the above narrative it becomes obvious that caliph ‘Umar arranged for the candidate to be named by Abd al-Rahmān ibn ‘Awf. This is a third portrait of the type of shūra which they [Sunnis] advocate... Caliph ‘Umar ordered Abd al-Rahmān ibn ‘Awf to require a condition in the candidate for whom fealty would be sworn. This condition is that he should act upon the line of both senior sahābis (Abū Bakr and ‘Umar) in addition to acting upon the Book of Allāh and the Sunnah of His Prophet (ṣ).
As was expected, the six persons split into two parties: three persons and two candidates. The first three were: Ali (‘a), Talhah and al-Zubayr, and their candidate was Ali (‘a). As for the three in the other party, they were: Sa’d, ‘Uthmān and Talhah, and their candidate was ‘Uthmān. Imām Ali (‘a) rejected the condition of acting upon the line of both senior sahābis saying, “I shall follow the Book of Allāh (ṣ) and the Sunnah of His Prophet (ṣ) and my own ijtihād,”81 whereas ‘Uthmān accepted the condition, becoming a caliph accordingly.
Al-Bukhāri records a portion of this incident in his own Sahīh. He cites al-Hasūr ibn Makhramah saying, “Abd al-Rahmān [ibn ‘Awf] knocked at my door after a good portion of the night had already lapsed till I woke up. He said, ‘I see that you are asleep. By Allāh, my eyes have not tasted much sleep. Come, call al-Zubayr and Sa’d to my presence.’ I told them to meet him, so he consulted with them.
Then he called upon me and said, ‘Call Ali (‘a) to my presence.’ I invited him [Ali (‘a)] to meet with him. He talked privately with him till the night’s color started to fade. Then Ali (‘a) left him optimistically. Then he said to me, ‘Call ‘Uthmān to my presence.’ I did. He talked privately with him till the call of the mu’athin to the fajr prayers separated them from each other.
Having led the people for the morning prayers, and once the same individuals assembled near the pulpit [of the Prophet (ṣ)], he called to his presence those of the Muhājirūn and the Ansār who were present and also sent messages for the commanders of the troops to meet there, and these were all loyal to ‘Umar. Once they all gathered together, Abd al-Rahmān recited both testimonies [that “There is God except Allāh and Muhammad (ṣ) is the Messenger of Allāh], Abd al-Rahmān said, ‘O Ali! I have looked into the affairs of the people and found no peer among them for ‘Uthmān; so, do not put your own safety to jeopardy.’
To ‘Uthmān he said, ‘I swear allegiance to you according to the Sunnah of Allāh (ṣ) and His Messenger and [the line] of both caliphs [Abū Bakr and ‘Umar] after him.’ Thus did Abd al-Rahmān swear the oath of allegiance to him [to ‘Uthmān], and so did the people.”82
Thus it becomes obvious that when caliph ‘Umar preconditioned for the one to whom people must swear the oath of allegiance to act upon the way of both senior sahābis, in addition to acting upon the Book of Allāh (ṣ) and the Sunnah of His Prophet (ṣ), he had already determined the caliphate for ‘Uthmān right then because he knew the attitude of Imām Ali (‘a) vis-a-vis this condition in addition to his knowledge that Talhah and al-Zubayr would both side with Ali (‘a) because he had already noticed their stand, which was supportive of Ali (‘a), on the day of the Saqīfa. Add to all the above the fact that ‘Umar had already granted the right to make a preference in favor of Abd al-Rahmān ibn ‘Awf, thus it becomes quite clear to you what sort of shūra they claim...
A great deal was said about how ‘Uthmān was assassinated. Many statements and narratives clashed with each other in this regard especially with reference to the group which used to urge others to kill him, the reasons which prompted them to do so and such events reaching their climax with his murder. The most rational explanations are embedded in the practices on the government level, the appointment of provincial rulers who were relatives of ‘Uthmān and the money these used to be given from the State’s treasury. All this prompted critics and rebels to turn against ‘Uthmān.
The famous writer, Khālid Muhammad Khālid, says, “We do not doubt that ‘Uthmān, too, used to realize that most of those who welcomed his appointment for the caliphate, rather than Ali, Allāh glorifies his countenance, wanted to be freed from life’s strictness and stringency from which people suffered for a long period of time and which could have added to their burdens had Ali (‘a) received the matters in his own hands. Through his strict system, exact justice, asceticism and piety, he (‘a) represented an extension of the strictness, justice, stringency and piety of ‘Umar...”83
The hands of the relatives of caliph ‘Uthmān from among Banū Umayyah played havoc with the State treasury to the extent that some people think that the Umayyad government started ruling since choosing ‘Uthmān as the caliph and swearing the oath of allegiance to him.
Here is Abū Sufyān supports this view when he says the following to caliph ‘Uthmān after the latter had received the oath of allegiance: “O Banū Umayyah! Receive it as a ball is received, for by the One by Whom Abū Sufyān swears, I remain optimistic that you (too) will receive it, and it shall be received by your children by way of inheritance.”84 According to another narrative of the same statement, he said, “Receive it as a ball is received, for there is neither Paradise nor Hell...”85
Among those who opposed caliph ‘Uthmān were some of the best sahābah. The most famous of these are: Abū Dharr, may Allāh be pleased with him, Abdullāh ibn Mas’ūd and ‘Ammār ibn Yāsir. The said caliph took a very fanatical stand against them, punishing them severely. As for Abū Dharr, he met his death in the [desert of] al-Rabatha as his punishment for opposing [the appointment of] Mu’āwiyah as the provincial governor [then self-declared absolute ruler] of Syria. Abū Dharr resented how Mu’āwiyah was hoarding gold and squandering money at the expense of the Muslims’ wealth. Zayd ibn Wahbah has said, “I passed by al-Rabathah and saw Abū Dharr, may Allāh be pleased with him, so I said to him, ‘What brought you [to such a pathetic condition of banishment] here?’
He said, ‘I was in Syria and had a dispute with Mu’āwiyah regarding the verse saying,
And there are those who hoard up gold and silver and do not spend in the way of Allāh (Qur’ān, 9:34).
Mu’āwiyah said that it was revealed about the People of the Book. I said that it was revealed about us and about them; therefore, this was the source of disagreement between him and myself.
He wrote ‘Uthmān, may Allāh be pleased with him, complaining about me. ‘Uthmān wrote me ordering me to go to Medīna. I went there. Many people came to see me as if they never saw me before, so I mentioned this to ‘Uthmān. He [‘Uthmān] said to me, ‘If you wish, you may stay away nearby.’ This caused my present condition. Had they assigned an Ethiopian as an amīr, I would have listened to him and obeyed.’”86
As regarding Abdullāh ibn Mas’ūd, the man in charge of Kūfa’s bayt al-māl, his ribs were broken as a result of being beaten by ‘Uthmān’s slave as his punishment because of his objection to the conduct of al-Walīd ibn Mu’eet, caliph ‘Uthmān’s brother by his mother and his wāli over Kūfa following the deposition of Sa’d ibn Abū Waqqās. This son of Abū Mu’eet took money from the Muslims’ bayt al-māl and never returned it.87
As for ‘Ammār ibn Yāsir, he became sick with hernia as a result of being severely beaten by ‘Uthmān’s slave as his punishment for having performed the funeral prayers for Ibn Mas’ūd without informing the caliph of it. Actually, ‘Ammār did so in honor of the will of Ibn Mas’ūd so that the caliph might not perform the said prayers service for him instead.88
Others are many among those who objected to the extravagance of the caliph’s relatives from among Banū Umayyah of the common wealth of the State. Marwān ibn al-Hakam, for example, took a fifth of the khirāj tax of Africa. Refer to more stories about caliph ‘Uthmān in the book titled Khilāfah wa Milookiyyah (caliphate and monarchy) by ‘allāma Mawdoodi.
A profound effect resulted from the anger of the Mother of the Faithful ‘Ā’isha and her objection to caliph ‘Uthmān, even to her instigation that he should be killed such as when she said, “Kill Naathal for he has committed apostasy.”89 She did so after accusing him of altering the Sunnah of the Prophet (ṣ). This aggravated the revolution against him. Many citizens of Medīna, as well as people who came from Egypt, Syria and Kūfa, gathered and collectively killed him.
After ‘Uthmān had been killed, people went in drones to Imām Ali (‘a) seeking to swear the oath of allegiance to him (as the caliph). They said to him, “This man [‘Uthmān] has been killed, and people have to have an Imām. Nowadays, we find none worthy of such an undertaking besides you.” The swearing of allegiance was completed.
Imām Ali (‘a) wanted to implement justice among the people, establishing equity between those who were weak and those who were mighty. He wanted to establish the rulings which Allāh revealed in His Book. Some of them objected. They enticed dissension and gathered troops, publically announcing their rebellion and mutiny against him. This let to many battles the most significant of which were those of the Camel and of Siffīn.
When Mother of the Believers ‘Ā’isha came to know that ‘Uthmān had been killed and that people swore the oath of allegiance to Ali (‘a), she said to ‘Ubaydullāh ibn Kilāb, who informed her of it, “By Allāh! I wish this [heavens] had crashed with this [earth] if, indeed, the matter has been concluded to the advantage of your friend. Woe unto you! Look into what you are saying!” ‘Ubaydullāh said to her, “It is just as I have told you, O Mother of the Faithful!”
She pronounced statements expressing her frustration, whereupon he said to her, “Why should it concern you [so much], O Mother of the Faithful?! By Allāh, I know nobody more worthy of it [caliphate] than him [than Ali (‘a)]; so, why do you hate for him to be the caliph?” The Mother of the Faithful cried out, “Take me back! Take me back!” She returned to Medīna saying, “‘Uthmān, by Allāh, was killed unjustly. By Allāh! I shall seek revenge for the shedding of his blood!”
‘Ubaydullāh said to her, “Why?! By Allāh, the first person to legitimize the shedding of his blood is your own self! You used to say, ‘Kill Naathal for he has committed apostasy’.” She said, “They got him to regret, then they killed him. I have said what I said, and so have they, and my last statement is better than my first.” She went to Mecca and alighted at the Mosque’s door where many people gathered around her. She said to them, “O people! ‘Uthmān has been unjustly killed. By Allāh! I shall seek revenge for his murder.”90
The anger of Mother of the Faithful ‘Ā’isha agreed with the anger of Talhah and al-Zubayr after Imām Ali (‘a) had deposed them from their posts as the wālis of Yemen and Bahrain respectively; therefore, they both reneged from their oath of allegiance to Imām Ali (‘a) and went to Mecca to urge the same Mother of the Faithful to fight Ali (‘a).
They went out accompanied by a huge army under the military command of the Mother of the Faithful in the direction of Basra where a crushing war, known as the Battle of the Camel (harb al-jamal), took place. Victory was on the side of the army led by Imām Ali (‘a), and in it both Talhah and al-Zubayr were killed as well as thirteen thousand Muslims.
All these were the victims of the call ushered by the Mother of the Faithful to avenge the killing of ‘Uthmān. She claimed that the killers had found their way to the Imām’s army. No matter what, was she not supposed to let such issues be decided by wali al-amr especially since Allāh Almighty had ordered her to
“... stay in your houses” (Qur’ān, 33:33)?
And why should she have anything to do with that since ‘Uthmān is a man from Banū Umayyah while she is from [the tribe of] Taym except when there is another reason for her thus marching out?! Although the reality of this incident answers this question clearly, add to it the prophecy of the Messenger of Allāh (ṣ) about this dissension and his making a reference to those behind it.
For example, Abdullāh [ibn Abbās] has said, “The Prophet (ṣ) stood up to deliver a sermon. He pointed in the direction of the residence of ‘Ā’isha and said, ‘Dissension is right there,’ repeating his statement three times. He went on to say, ‘It is from there that Satan’s horn shall come out.’”91
‘Ammār ibn Yāsir considered obedience to ‘Ā’isha in such a deed as being at the expense of obedience to Allāh, the most Great, the most Exalted One. Ibn Ziyād al-Asadi has said, “... so I heard ‘Ammār saying, ‘‘Ā’isha marched out to Basra. By Allāh! She is the wife of your Prophet (ṣ) in the life of this world and in the Hereafter, but Allāh, the most Praised, the most Exalted One, has tested you in order to see whether you obey Him or you obey her.’”92
Long before this incident, ‘Ā’isha was very well known of being extremely spiteful of Ali (‘a). She could not even bear hearing his name mentioned. Abdullāh ibn ‘Utbah is quoted as having said, “‘Ā’isha said, ‘When heaviness covered the Prophet (ṣ) and his pain intensified, he sought permission of his wives to be treated at my chamber, and they granted him permission.
The Prophet (ṣ) went out assisted by two men, dragging his feet on the ground. He was between Abbās and another man.’” ‘Ubaydullāh went on to say, “I related this to [Abdullāh] ibn Abbās who asked me, ‘Do you know who the other man was?’ I said, ‘No.’ He said, ‘That was Ali.’”93
Perhaps what ‘Ā’isha had heard was what Ali (‘a) said to the Messenger of Allāh (ṣ) in her regard in the incident wherein she was charged. This was the reason for such spite and hatred. ‘Ubaydullāh ibn Mas’ūd has said, “... As for Ali ibn Abū Tālib (‘a), he said, ‘O Messenger of Allāh! Allāh has not placed any pressure on you, and women besides her are numerous, indeed.’”94
The “prince of poets,” Ahmad Shawqi, has described ‘Ā’isha’s spite [towards Ali (‘a)] in poetic verses wherein he addresses Imām Ali (‘a) as follows: “O mountain! The weight that you carry is rejected by other mountains; what load did the Owner of the Camel [‘Ā’isha] throw on you? Was it the effect of ‘Uthmān causing her to grieve? Or was it choking the grief which was never extracted? Such was a rift none ever expected. Women’s schemes weaken mountains, and the Mother of the Faithful was only a woman. What got that pure and exonerated woman out of her chamber and Sunnah was the same spite that remains all the time.”
The summary of this myth is: “A man named Abdullāh ibn Saba’, a Jew from Yemen, pretended to be a follower of Islam during the reign of ‘Uthmān in order to cause mischief to the Muslims. He moved about the main Islamic metropolises in Egypt, Syria, Basra and Kūfa, spreading the “glad tiding” that the Prophet (ṣ) would return to life, that Ali (‘a) was his wasi, and that ‘Uthmān was the usurper of the right of this wasi. Groups from among senior sahābah and tābi’īn such as ‘Ammār ibn Yāsir, Abū Dharr, Muhammad ibn al-Hanafiyyah and others. He was able to raise armies to kill caliph ‘Uthmān at his own house.”
Thus does the series of events of this fabricated myth continue till it ends with the Battle of the Camel when Abdullāh ibn Saba’ orders his followers to sneak into the army of Ali (‘a) and of ‘Ā’isha without their knowledge in order to stir a war, and “thus did the Battle of the Camel take place.”95 Sayyid Murtadha al-’Askari96, who stood to expose the fallacy of this imagined myth, states that “The person who fabricated this personality [Abdullāh ibn Saba’] is Sayf ibn ‘Amr al-Tamīmi al-Barjami al-Kūfi, who died in A.H. 170 (A.D. 786), and from him all other historians quoted it.
Then this fabricated incident gained fame and spread in history books acrossx the centuries and till our time, so much so that it has become one of the famous incidents the authenticity of which nobody doubts. The vast majority of writers and historians in the East as well as Orientalists have been blinded to the fact that this incident was the brainchild of one single narrator, a lone individual who acted on his own, and that this narrator, namely Sayf ibn ‘Amr, is very well known by ancient scholars of hadīth as a fabricator and is even accused of being an unbeliever.
Ibn Dāwūd says the following about him: “He is nothing; he is a liar.” Ibn Abd al-Birr says, “Sayf is rejected. We have cited his tradition only to inform you of it.” Al-Nisā’i says this about him: “His traditions are weak. He is not trusted, and nobody has any faith in him.”Yet this same lying narrator is quoted by al-Tabari, Ibn ‘Asākir, Ibn Abū Bakr, etc., and al-Tabari has been and is being quoted by all other writers and historians till our time.97
It is well known that incidents narrated by one single person do not satisfy the scientific thinking, nor can they be used as evidence. How is it, then, when this same narrator is not trusted and was famous for being a liar and an unbeliever? Can his narrative be accepted? How can one accept to pass a judgment against a large segment of the Muslims by simply relying on incidents related by lone individuals who have been proven to be liars while there are ahadīth that are consecutively reported [mutawātir] from the Messenger of Allāh (ṣ) which prove the opposite?
One of the greatest historical farces is to attribute Shī’ism to a mythical man, namely Abdullāh ibn Saba’, claiming he was the one who disseminated the concept of “Ali (‘a) the wasi” despite the existence of a huge number of authentic texts proving that Shī’ism has always been to follow Muhammad (ṣ) and nobody else.
Refer to the Imāmate texts on the previous pages to see where this Abdullāh ibn Saba’ fits. Is Abdullāh ibn Saba’ the one who said, “I am leaving among you that which, if you uphold them, you shall never stray: the Book of Allāh and my ‘itrat, my Ahlul Bayt”? Or is he the one who said, “Anyone who has accepted me as his master, Ali is his master”? Or is he the one who said that the Imāms are twelve in number?
What a ridiculous tale it is that says that a Jew has come from Yemen to hypocritically declare his acceptance of Islam then carries out all these extra-ordinary deeds which reach the limit of getting Muslim armies to battle each other without anyone discovering his true identity?! Is it reasonable to accept that Imām Ali (‘a), about whom the Messenger of Allāh (ṣ) said, “I am the city of wisdom and Ali is its gate,” fall a victim to the trickery of this Jew? Surely one who says so has strayed far, far away from the right track.
Having achieved victory in the Battle of the Camel, the Imām (‘a) concentrated the effort of his army to eliminate the opposition led by Mu’āwiyah ibn Abū Sufyān in Syria. Both armies stood face to face near the Euphrates. The Imām (‘a) tried to correct the situation through peaceful means, but the answer given by Mu’āwiyah to the deputation sent to him by the Imam (‘a) was this: “Get away from me, for I have nothing for you except the sword.”98
Thus, both armies were engaged in battle. When signs of victory for the army led by the Imām (‘a) became clear, Mu’āwiyah staged the “trick of the copies of the Qur’ān”. Mu’āwiyah ordered his soldiers to raise the copies of the Qur’ān on the tips of their lances and swords.
Although the Imām (‘a) stood to expose this plot which was intended to put hurdles in the path of the victory which dawned quite near the army of Imām Ali (‘a), those fighters in his army who were demanding a cease-fire did not respond to his repeated calls, forcing him to accept arbitration.
And the Imām (‘a) strongly protested the choice of Abū Mūsa al-Ash’ari as the representative of his army during the arbitration process due to this man’s weakness and the feebleness of his views. Imām Ali (‘a) had said, “I do not see that you should grant Abū Mūsa such an official task, for he is too weak to confront the trickery of ‘Amr [ibn al-’Ās].”99 Ali (‘a) had already deposed Abū Mūsa al-Ash’ari from his post as the wāli of Kūfa.
There was a prior plan to raise the copies of the Qur’ān and to coordinate it with a movement supportive of Mu’āwiyah that had sneaked into the Imām’s army and which demanded the acceptance of the arbitration and the choice of Abū Mūsa al-Ash’ari [as the negotiator during the arbitration process]. The results of the arbitration, as the Imām (‘a) had expected, came in favor of Mu’āwiyah.
For the latter, the situation started to gradually stabilize in his own interest following this major rebellion and when the caliph of the Muslims was thus disobeyed, hoping he would earn a worldly pleasure of which he always dreamed.
In the past, I used to wonder about this incident in which more than ninety-thousand Muslims from both sides were killed. Whenever I asked [the Sunnis about it], the answer came as a cliche as follows: “It was merely a dissension between two great sahābis. Each of them followed his own ijtihād. The one whose ijtihād was right earned two rewards, while the one whose ijtihād proved wrong earned one. Nobody ought to think about it.
That was a nation that passed by; for it are the rewards of the good deeds which it earned, and for you are your own rewards.” They have other such answers whereby they close any door that may uncover the causes of this “dissension”, as they call it.
Thus does this issue remain according to Ahl al-Sunnah suspended like a mysterious riddle without a solution. This opened the door wide for Orientalist scholars to state their own views about our religion, so much so that some of them claimed that there is contradiction in Islam, pointing out to the tradition of the Messenger of Allāh (ṣ) wherein he said, “If two Muslims face each other with their swords in hand, both the killer and the killed shall be lodged in hell.”
This tradition contradicts the claim of the Sunnis that both parties during the Battle of Siffīn were Muslim, and their commanders were great sahābis! So, why such insistence on refusing to distinguish between what is right and what is wrong? Why should the truth not be said? Is it really that ambiguous?
Anyhow, anyone who is confused about the truth regarding Mu’āwiyah must carefully discern the following proofs, and let the reader issue his own judgment after that:
In his Sahīh, Muslim cites the following statement of Ali (‘a): “I swear by the One Who created the seed and initiated the breeze that the Ummi Prophet (ṣ) pledged that nobody except a believer loves me, and nobody except a hypocrite hates me.”100 So, what would you say about one who raises armies to fight him (‘a)?! And what is the judgment of Ahl al-Sunnah regarding one who disobeys the Imām of the Muslims obedience to whom is obligatory?
In al-Bukhāri’s Sahīh, there are references pointing to the oppression committed by Mu’āwiyah. Abū Sa’eed al-Khudri is quoted as having said, “We were once carrying the Mosque’s blocks one by one while ‘Ammār was carrying them two at a time. The Prophet (ṣ) passed by him, rubbed the dust from his head and said, ‘What a pity for ‘Ammār! He shall be killed by the oppressive party; ‘Ammār invites them to Allāh while they invite him to the Fire.”101 This prediction of the Messenger of Allāh (ṣ) proved true when ‘Ammār was martyred as he was fighting under the flag of Imām Ali (‘a) during the Battle of Siffīn.
In Al-Mustadrak ‘Alal Sahīhayn, relying on the authority of Khālid al-’Arabi, the author quotes the latter as having said, “I and Abū Sa’īd al-Khudri met Hudhayfah [al-Yamāni] and said, ‘O Abū Abdullāh! Relate to us what you have heard the Messenger of Allāh (ṣ) say about the dissension.’ Hudhayfah said, ‘The Messenger of Allāh (ṣ) said, ‘Stick to the Book [of Allāh, i.e. the Holy Qur’ān] wherever it goes.’
We said, ‘If people differ with each other, with whom should we be?’ He (ṣ) said, ‘Look up to the group wherein the son of Sumayya [i.e. ‘Ammār ibn Yāsir] is and hold on to it, for he goes where the Book of Allāh goes.’ I heard the Messenger of Allāh (ṣ) say to ‘Ammār, ‘O son of al-Yaqdhān! You shall not die till the oppressive group that lies in ambush kills you.’”102
The oppression and rebellion of Mu’āwiyah were all expected. Since he became the wāli of Syria during the reign of ‘Umar, wealth, authority and mansions which he had built for him followed, and he expanded such affluence during the reign of caliph ‘Uthmān. It was not easy for a man like him to give all of this up. He knew for sure that if Imām Ali (‘a) did not remove him from office, he would at least strip him off all what he had acquired at the expense of the Muslims’ bayt al-māl and that he would treat him on equal footing as he would any other Muslim.
What went on between him and the highly revered sahābi, Abū Dharr al-Ghifāri, during the caliphate of ‘Uthmān also proves what we have stated, that is, he was running after the wares of the life in this world and his squandering of the State’s public funds. The objection of Abū Dharr to Mu’āwiyah’s conduct resulted in caliph ‘Uthmān banishing him to al-Rabathah after having him brought to him in Medīna. Zayd ibn Wahab is quoted as having said, “I passed by Abū Dharr in al-Rabathah and asked him, ‘What brought you to this [desolate] land?’ He said, ‘We were in Syria.
The verse saying
‘And there are those who hoard up gold and silver and do not spend in God’s way: Announce a most grievous penalty to them’ (Qur’ān, 9:34)
was revealed. Mu’āwiyah said that it was not revealed about the Muslims but rather about the People of the Book. I said that it was about us and about them as well.’”103
Thus was Abū Dharr punished with banishment despite the testimony of the Messenger of Allāh (ṣ) for him that he was truthful. The Prophet (ṣ) said, “No tree has shaded nor the desert has seen a man more truthful than Abū Dharr”104 This incident makes it clear how Mu’āwiyah tampered with the meaning of the Qur’ān in order to cover his squandering of the nation’s funds, the funds with which he had no right to deal according to his own personal desires. The problem is that al-Bukhāri has stated in his Sahīh what “qualifies” Mu’āwiyah to be a faqīh!
Abū Maleeka has said, “Mu’āwiyah prayed one single rek’a for the witr prayers after the evening prayers, and a slave of Ibn Abbās was in his company. Ibn Abbās came and said [to his slave], ‘Leave him, for he was a companion of the Messenger of Allah’!”105 In another version in the narration of this same incident, he [Ibn Abbās] said that Mu’āwiyah was a “faqih”!106
If you come to know that Mu’āwiyah spent twenty years as “caliph” of the Muslims, and before that he was wāli [provincial governor] over Syria, the reader may imagine the extent to which Mu’āwiyah exercised his own influence on the fabrication and transmission of ahādīth attributed to the Prophet (ṣ) in order to justify his actions. Despite all the efforts which he exerted to cover them up, they have become quite clear in the books of hadīth and history in a way which leaves no room for confusion in getting to know the truth about this “caliph” whom they [Sunnis] also regard as the “commander of the faithful”!
The conduct of Mu’āwiyah with regard to his government and authority has its own roots in his Sufyāni family. His father [Abū Sufyān] said to ‘Uthmān after the latter had received the oath of allegiance, “Receive it as a ball is received, for by the One by Whom Abū Sufyān swears, I remain optimistic that you [Umayyads], too, will receive it, and it shall be received by your children by way of inheritance.”107
According to another narrative of the same statement, he said, “Receive it as a ball is received, for there is neither Paradise nor Hell,” thus pointing out to the true reason why this family pretended to have accepted Islam following the conquest of Mecca and when all Meccans embraced Islam. Look into the following incident to realize what sort of Islam they quite reluctantly embraced:
Abdullāh ibn Abbās has said, “Abū Sufyān said, ‘By Allāh! I remained in humiliation, feeling sure that his [Prophet’s] call would gain the upper hand till Allāh caused Islam to enter my heart against my wish.”108 If Abū Sufyān’s tongue thus admits, imagine what his heart would say had it been enabled to speak about what it contains!
The following is stated by Muslim in his Sahīh: “The Prophet (ṣ) one day sent him [Mu’āwiyah] Ibn Abbās inviting him to come to write something for him. Ibn Abbās found him eating. The Prophet (ṣ) sent him [Ibn Abbās] again to Mu’āwiyah, and Ibn Abbās again found him eating. This took place a third time. The Prophet (ṣ) said, ‘May Allāh never cause his [Mu’āwiyah’s] stomach to feel satisfied.’”109
Also in Muslim’s Sahīh is the following text: “The Messenger of Allāh (ṣ) said, ‘... As for Mu’āwiyah, he is a penniless and spiritless person.”110 In Ahmad’s Musnad, the Messenger of Allāh (ṣ) is quoted as having said the following about Mu’āwiyah and ‘Amr ibn al-Ās: “O Lord! Hurl them into dissension headlong, and lodge them into hell,” in addition to many other narratives exposing the truth about “commander of the faithful” Mu’āwiyah, son of the liver-eater, who sealed his deeds in the life of this world by installing his son, the drunkard and the debauchee Yazīd, as “caliph” over the Muslims after him.
Yazīd was then no more than twenty years old. Thus, Mu’āwiyah violated the reconciliation treaty which he had signed with Imām al-Hasan (‘a), actually going against the Commandments of Allāh (ṣ) and of His Messenger (ṣ) as well as violating the “sunnah” of both Shaykhs [Abū Bakr and ‘Umar] and all other traditions discussed by the “Ahl al-Sunnah”.
The last battle waged by Imām Ali (‘a) was that of al-Nahrawan. He fought in it the group which forced him to accept the arbitration in Siffīn but then regretted it a few days later, reneging from its covenant and violating the oath of allegiance to the Imām. Later on, these were called the “Khawāraj” [or Khārijites] or the “Māriqīn”.
He (‘a) scored a victory over them and was getting ready to fight the rebels in Syria following the failure of the arbitration talks, but the Imām (‘a) was martyred at the hands of a member of the Khawārijis named Abd al-Rahmān ibn Muljim who stabbed the Imām (‘a) as he was prostrating during his Fajr prayers at the Grand Kūfa Mosque in the morning of the 19th of the month of Ramadan, 40 A.H. (January 26, 661 A.D.), five years after having taken charge. The Imām (‘a) remained suffering from the attack for three days during which he handed over the Imāmate to his son al-Hasan (‘a), older grandson of the Prophet (ṣ), so that he might carry out after his own demise the duties in leading the nation.
This assignment of the caliphate was not based on the mere fact that al-Hasan (‘a) was a son of Ali (‘a) or on his being the most fit for it, in his own personal view, to be the caliph. Rather, it was done in obedience to the Command of Allāh Almighty Who chose the twelve successors of His Messenger (ṣ), as we have already stated, with Imām al-Hasan (‘a) being the second on the list.
After the martyrdom of Imām Ali (‘a), Imām al-Hasan (‘a) ascended the pulpit and the people of Kūfa swore the oath of allegiance to him as the successor of the Prophet (ṣ) and the Imām of the nation. But this did not last for more than six months.
When the news reached Syria that Imām Ali (‘a) had been martyred, Mu’āwiyah led a large army towards Kūfa in order to personally take charge of the leadership of the Muslims and to force Imām al-Hasan (‘a) son of Imām Ali (‘a) to surrender to him. Imām al-Hasan (‘a) found no alternative to reconciling and signing a treaty with Mu’āwiyah.
As regarding the reasons which forced him to sign such a reconciliation agreement, these were: the disintegration of his army, the internal and unstable domestic situation in Iraq, and the Roman Empire which was looking for an opportunity to attack Islam, having stood ready with a huge army to fight the Muslims.
Had a war been waged between Mu’āwiyah and Imām al-Hasan (‘a) under such circumstances, the winner would have been the Roman Empire, neither Imām al-Hasan (‘a) nor Mu’āwiyah. Thus, Imām al-Hasan (‘a), having opted for peace, removed a very serious danger against Islam. As for the terms of the Reconciliation Treaty, these were:
1. Al-Hasan (‘a) was to hand over the government and the management of affairs to Mu’āwiyah provided the latter should adhere to the Qur’ān and to the Sunnah of the Messenger of Allāh (ṣ).
2. Caliphate after the death of Mu’āwiyah should be a right specifically belonging to Imām al-Hasan (‘a). If something happened to him, caliphate would then go to his brother, Imām al-Husayn (‘a).
3. All condemnations and insults against Imām Ali (‘a) should be prohibited, be they launched from the pulpit or from anywhere else.
4. Five million dirhams, which were then present at bayt al-māl in Kūfa, would be put under the supervision of Imām al-Hasan (‘a) and Mu’āwiyah was to send one million dirhams a year from the khirāj tax to Imām al-Hasan (‘a) for distribution to the families of those who were martyred in the battles of the Camel and of Siffīn on the side of Imām Ali (‘a).
5. Mu’āwiyah was to pledge that he would leave all people, regardless of their race or ethnic origin, and not chase or harm them, and he should also pledge to carry out the terms of this Agreement with precision and make the public his witnesses.
But Imām al-Hasan (‘a) was martyred in 50 A.H. (670 A.D.) as a result of his wife, Ju’da daughter of al-Ash’ath ibn Qays, having laced something which she had given him with poison. This wife belonged to a family which followed a course of living and believing contrary to that of the descendants of Imām Ali (‘a). Mu’āwiyah had instigated her to commit this terrible crime by sending her one hundred thousand dirhams and by promising her to marry her off to his son, Yazīd, if she poisoned her husband, Imām al-Hasan (‘a). Mu’āwiyah was elated when he heard about the martyrdom of Imām al-Hasan (‘a).
He saw in it the removal of the greatest hurdle in his way to achieve his objectives, thus firming the foundations of the Umayyad dynasty’s rule. Thus, Mu’āwiyah achieved all of that thereafter and was able to install his pornographic teenage son, Yazīd, over the nation by force. So, where does this fit in the Sunnis’ belief that caliphate must take place through consultation? Did they not reject the texts which mandate the caliphate of the Imāms from among Ahlul Bayt (‘a) in the pretext that such Imāmate must be through consultation?
Does this not prove that caliphate, according to their view, is not legitimate if not done through consultation? But why did they consider the “caliphate” of Yazīd as legitimate?! And how did they agree to call him “commander of the faithful”?!
Consider the following so you may view some black pages of our Islamic history. Consider a narrative of glittering glimpses of the life of “commander of the faithful Yazīd son of Abū Sufyān”!
After the demise of Imām al-Hasan (‘a) in 50 A.H.(670 A.D.), the Shī’ahs of Iraq started writing al-Husayn (‘a) to request him to remove Mu’āwiyah from his self-installed post of ruling over the Muslims. But al-Husayn (‘a) stated in his answer to them that he had with Mu’āwiyah a treaty, an agreement, and that he could not violate it.
As for Mu’āwiyah, for the period of twenty years of his rule, he used to prepare to firm the foundations of the rule of his debauchee son, Yazīd, in order to make him a “commander of the faithful”, thus violating his treaty with Imām al-Hasan (‘a) to which he had agreed and, moreover, rejecting and violating what the Sunis had agreed upon, that is, their belief that the selection of a caliph is done through consultation with the condition that he must be righteous and pious.
If you consider all of this, you will see the extent of the crime committed by Mu’āwiyah against Islam and Muslims. His line of action was followed by the rest of Umayyad, Abbāside and Ottoman caliphs most of whom could not be distinguished from the Muslims’ debauchee and corrupt rulers of our time.
After the death of Mu’āwiyah in 60 A.H. (680 A.D.), Yazīd seated himself as the ruler. His palace was a nucleus of corruption and sin. He, according to the admission of all Islamic groups, used to publicly drink wine during his crowded night parties. Among his well recorded statements are shallow poetic verses from which we would like to quote the following:
Musical tones distracted me from the sound of the adhān,
Instead of the hūris, I took to myself an old hag in the chambers.
This does not surprise us. Yazīd was brought up by a Christian governess. He, as described by historians, was a reckless youth, a licentious, extravagant, immoral, short-sighted, off-guard young man who surrounded himself with luxury. He is always reported as having led the Friday congregational prayer service on a Wednesday [rather than Friday] and led the fajr prayers in four rek’ats [instead of two] because he was quite drunk. Other such incidents are reported about him the narration of which does not serve our purpose.
We have mentioned his violations in order to shed a light on the circumstances during which Imām al-Husayn (‘a) saw that an uprising and a revolution were necessary to resurrect Islam and the religious sunan after they had become threatened with distortion and extinction. The objective of Imām al-Husayn (‘a) behind his revolution was not to take control of the caliphate or run after authority, for he knew that the Umayyads were more prepared to secure it for themselves especially after the people of Iraq had reneged, fearing the Umayyads.
In one of his sermons near Karbalā’, Imām al-Husayn (‘a) states the reason behind his uprising as follows: “O people! Whoever sees an oppressive imām permitting what Allāh prohibits, violating Allāh’s covenant after confirming it, behaving contrarily to the Sunnah of His Prophet (ṣ), ruling among the servants of Allāh (ṣ) with sin and oppression, Allāh will hurl him together with the same person into the Fire.” In another statement, he said, “O people! They [Umayyads] obeyed Satan, disobeyed the most Merciful One, caused corruption in the land, suspended the implementation of the sunan, took to themselves what belonged to the Muslims, permitted what Allāh prohibits, forbade what Allāh permits, and I, more than anyone else, am more worthy of opposing them.”
When Imām al-Husayn (‘a) came to know about the reneging and violation of the covenant with him which took place in Kūfa, he gathered his companions and family members, who were in his company, and frankly said the following to them: “Our Shī’ahs have betrayed us. Anyone who likes to go away may do so; he is not obligated to us.” They dispersed from him right and left, so much so that only those who had come with him from Mecca and Medīna stayed. But Imām al-Husayn (‘a) kept upholding his decision and in the same determination whereby he set out from Mecca the Venerable.
As described by a poet, his condition was: “If the religion of Muhammad (ṣ) cannot stay straight except if I am killed, then take me, O swords!” He met with ‘Umar ibn Sa’d, commander of the army sent to fight him by the provincial governor of Kūfa,’Ubaydullāh ibn Ziyād, who was appointed by the Umayyad “caliph”, Yazīd, which was made up of thirty-two thousand strong, according to some narratives.
It was only natural for the force of the army of Yazīd son of Mu’āwiyah to be able to kill such a small numbered band. On that day, the tragedy of Ahlul Bayt (‘a) was personified, how they were wronged, in the most clear way. Yazīd son of Mu’āwiyah, in this massacre, was paying the “reward” which the Messenger of Allāh (ṣ) had required him:
“Say: ‘I ask no reward of you for this [Islamic creed] except love for my near in kin’” (Qur’ān, 42:23)
... History narrates tragic scenes too difficult for anyone to describe as they were in reality.
One of them is the tragedy of the infant son of Imām Husayn (‘a), namely Abdullāh, whom the Imām carried to the battlefield asking for a drink of water for him after a blockade was enforced on Imām Husayn (‘a)’s camp, depriving him of any access to the Euphrates. Thirst, hence, took its heavy toll on them. The Imām carried Abdullāh asking for some water for him and to stir their conscience and human feeling. But they shot the infant with an arrow, killing him instantly. Martyrs from among the followers of Imām Husayn (‘a) and from his Ahlul Bayt (‘a) fell one after the other.
Al-Husayn (‘a) was the last to be martyred in that decisive battle. Yet they were not satisfied with killing the Master of the Youths of Paradise but severed his head from his body then carried it together with the heads of his companions as gifts to the killers, raising them on their spears on their way to Yazīd son of Mu’āwiyah in Syria. Some Muslims keep insisting on calling him “commander of the faithful”...; so, there is no will nor might except in Allāh...!
Having narrated these events, which clearly show the lofty objectives for which al-Husayn (‘a) started his revolution, a revolution which was described by a great Islamist, namely Dr. ‘Amr Abd al-Rahmān, thus, “The martyrdom of al-Husayn (‘a) is a thousand times greater than his staying alive.” But there are those who minimize the value of this great revolution because of their falling victim to the misleading Umayyad propaganda.
Such a propaganda has tried very hard to distort history. And they fell victim to contemptible sectarian fanaticism. They, thus, are forced to adopt such a shameful distortion of the facts such as the statement of so-called “shaikh al-Islam” Ibn Taymiyyah in this sense: “Imām al-Husayn (‘a), in his revolution, caused a dissension in the Islamic nation when he disobeyed the one who was in charge of the affairs of the Muslims”...!!!
If we ask this so-called “shaikh al-Islam” about Mu’āwiyah who disobeyed Imām Ali (‘a) (who was then in charge of the affairs of the Muslims), he will not see in it any dissension, nor will he see any sin in it for them. The same applies to ‘Ā’isha who disobeyed Imām Ali (‘a)... This is nothing but a norm of attempts to openly falsify our Islamic history; otherwise, how can we explain how most Sunnis ignore this historic tragedy in which the descendants of the Messenger of Allāh (ṣ) were killed in the most horrible and painful way?
All the descendants of Mu’āwiyah and his son, Yazīd, followed in the footsteps of the Umayyads and of the Abbasides. They crushed any opposition to their authority, especially when it came from the Members of the Household of the Prophet (ṣ) who were always pursued with discrimination, banishment, killing and torture.
Such oppression was not confined to the Members of the Household of the Prophet (ṣ) alone. Among the victims of the Umayyad oppression from among those who did not belong to Ahlul Bayt (‘a) was, for example, Abdullāh ibn al-Zubayr. History has recorded the tragic scene inside the precinct of Mecca where Abdullāh ibn al-Zubayr was slaughtered and skinned.
The sanctity of that place which even people during the jāhiliyya period held as sacred and holy and did not permit the slaughter of animals, let alone of humans, inside it. And the Venerable Ka’ba could not help him against the Umayyad rulers when he clung to its curtains.
This same Ka’ba was bombarded with catapults during the time of Abd al-Malik ibn Marwān who gave a free hand to his tyrant, al-Hajjāj, to kill people without a just cause. About both men, al-Hasan al-Basri said, “Had Abd al-Malik committed only the sin of [giving a free hand to] al-Hajjāj, it would have sufficed him [i.e. was sufficient for his condemnation].” And ‘Umar ibn Abd al-Azīz said, “Had each nation brought forth its oppressor, and had we [Umayyads] brought forth al-Hajjāj, we would have out-weighed them [in the measure of oppressiveness].”
So, do these deeds qualify their doer to be a Muslim, let alone to being the caliph of the Muslims or the “commander of the faithful”??! Undoubtedly, we nowadays need to take a second look at our history111 and to discern many of its events then ask to speak to us due to their strong ties to sketching the outlines of the Islamic sects to which the Muslims nowadays adhere.
They have in them what helps truly get to know this sect or that away from oppression and injustice. Because of those incidents, the Muslims slipped away from the original Islamic line of Muhammad (ṣ), becoming diverse sects and groups each one of which claims it is the one that will receive salvation. None of us needs to wait for Divine Wahi to tell him the name of this sect. Allāh, the most Great and the most Exalted One, has granted us the mind whereby we can distinguish what is foul from what is good, making it an argument against His servants, prohibiting us from blindly imitating others, saying,
“What! Even though their fathers were void of wisdom and guidance?!” (Qur’ān, 2:170).
He has also said,
“We have sent them admonishment, but most of them hate admonishment” (Qur’ān, 23:71).
He has required us to investigate and research before believing each and every one, saying,
“O you who believe! If a wicked person comes to you with any news, ascertain the truth, lest you should harm people unwittingly and afterwards become full of repentance for what you have done” (Qur’ān, 49:6).