By Imamate in this chapter, we mean the general Imamate for Muslims, i.e. caliphate, rulership, leadership and Wilāyah (guardianship).
Since the main topic of my book being comparison between the school of Ahl al-Sunnah and that of the Imāmiyyah Shi‘ah, I have to expose the principle of Imamate in the perspective of both the sects, in order that the reader and researcher be acquainted with the foundations and principles upon which each sect depends, knowing consequently the convictions that led me to accept conversion and abandon my previous belief.
The Shi‘ah view Imamate as one of the principles of religion (usul al-Din), due to its great significance and seriousness, being the leadership of the best Ummah (community) that has been raised up for mankind. Beside the numerous virtues and unique characteristics upon which leadership is based, of which I refer to: knowledge, bravery, forbearance, honesty, chastity, asceticism (zuhd), piety (taqwā), and godliness...etc.
The Shi‘ah hold that Imamate being a Divine post with which Allah encharges whomever He chooses from among His upright bondmen, to undertake this critical role, being to lead and guide the world after the demise of the Prophet (God’s peace and benediction be upon him and his Progeny).
On this basis, al-’Imām ‘Ali ibn Abi Tālib was the Imam and leader for Muslims in accordance with the election of Allah, Who has revealed to His Messenger to nominate him (‘Ali) as the chief for mankind, the task that he (S) did, telling the Ummah to follow him as his successor, after returning from his last Hajj pilgrimage to Makkah (Hajjat al-Wadā‘) at Ghadir Khumm, and people swore allegiance to him "as held by the Shi‘ah."1
Ahl al-Sunnah also believe in the necessity of the Imamate for leading the Ummah, but they give the Ummah right to choose its Imam and leader. According to this, Abu Bakr ibn Abi Quhāfah became the leader for the Muslims through their electing him after the demise of the Messenger of Allah (S), who kept silent concerning the matter of successorship never declaring anything in its regard to the Ummah, leaving the issue to be determined according to the shurā (consultation) among people.
Where the Truth be?
When any researcher meditates in the sayings of the two sects, contemplating in their arguments without any fanaticism, he will undoubtedly approach the truth. Herewith I will review with you the truth I have attained as follows:
The Almighty Allah said:
“And (remember) when his Lord tried Abraham with (His) commands, and he fulfilled them, He said: Lo! I have appointed thee a leader for mankind. (Abraham) said: And of my offspring (will there be leaders)? He said: My covenant includeth not wrong-doers.” (2:124)
In this noble verse Allah tells us that Imamate being a Divine post encharged by Allah to whomever He chooses from among His bondmen, when saying: “I have appointed thee a leader for mankind”. The verse further elucidates that Imamate is a covenant from Allah never including but the pious bondmen, whom Allah has elected for this task, due to denying it for the wrong-doers, who never deserve the covenant of Allah — the Glorified and the Exalted.
The Almighty has said too:
“And We made them chiefs who guide by Our command, and We inspired in them the doing of good deeds and the right establishment of worship and the giving of alms, and they were worshippers of Us (alone).” (21:73)
In another place, Allah, the Glorified, said:
“And when they became steadfast and believed firmly in Our revelations, We appointed from among them leaders who guided to Our command.” (32:24)
He also said:
“And We desired to show favour unto those who were oppressed in the earth, and to make them examples and to make them the inheritors.” (28:5)
Some may fancy that the denotation conceived from these verses being that the meant Imamate here is prophethood and message, which is a wrong concept for Imamate in general, as every messenger is a prophet and leader (Imam) but not every Imam being a messenger or prophet!
For this reason, Allah — the Glorified and Most High — has expressed in His noble Book that His godly bondmen are entitled to ask Him to grant them this reputable appointment, to have the honour of guiding people, and gaining out of this high reward. The Most High said:
“And those who will not witness vanity, but when they pass near senseless play, pass by with dignity. And those who, when they are reminded of the revelations of their Lord, fall not deaf and blind thereat. And who say: Our Lord! Vouchsafe us comfort of our wives and of our offspring, and make us patterns for (all) those who ward off (evil).” (25:72-74)
Besides, the Holy Qur’ān has used the word Imāmah to point to the oppressive leaders and rulers, who misguide their followers and nations, leading them toward corruption and torment in the world and Hereafter. Talking about Faraoh and his troops, the Almighty Allah said in His noble Scripture:
“Therefore We seized him and his hosts, and abandoned them unto the sea. Behold the nature of the consequence for evil-doers! And We made them patterns that invite unto the Fire, and on the Day of Resurrection they will not be helped. And We made a curse to follow them in this world, and on the Day of Resurrection they will be among the hateful.” (28:40-42)
On this basis, the Shi‘ah’s claim is nearer to what the Holy Qur’ān has ordained, since Allah — the Glorified and the Mighty — has explicitly expounded with no doubt, that the Imamate being a Divine appointment Allah imparts upon whomever He wills, and it is the covenant of Allah of which He deprived the oppressors. And since the Prophet’s Companions other than ‘Ali (‘a) have ascribed partners unto Allah during the pre-Islamic era, thus they turn to be among the wrong-doers, being incompetent for Allah’s covenant encharging them with Imamate and caliphate. While the Shi‘ah’s claim stands firm that al-’Imām ‘Ali ibn Abi Tālib was the only one, from among all other Companions, having the right to Allah’s covenant of Imamah, due to the fact that he has never worshipped other than Allah, and never prostrated to any idol, the reason why Allah has granted him honour, out of the Companions. If it is said that Islam exonerates whatever is past before it, we never object, but there is a great difference between that who was a polytheist and repented afterwards, and that who used to be immaculate and pure, knowing none but Allah.
The Messenger of Allah (may God’s peace and benediction be upon him and his Household) has disclosed several utterances regarding Imamate, narrated by both the Shi‘ah and Sunnah, in their books and Masānid (Musnads). Once he referred to it with using the expression Imamah, and another time with the word successorship, and once again with the word ‘wilāyah’ (guardianship) or imārah (princedom).
About the word Imamah he (S) said: “The best of your leaders are those whom you love and they love you, and whom you pray upon and they pray upon you (after death), while the most wicked of your leaders are those whom you detest and they detest you, and whom you curse and they curse you.” They (who were present) said: O Messenger of Allah, shall we declare war against them by the sword? He replied: “No, as long as they are establishing prayer.
He also said: “After me there will be leaders that can never follow my guide, and never adopt my sunnah, among whom will rise up men having hearts of the devils inside a body of a human being.”2
And about caliphate he (S) said: “Religion remains established till the Doomsday or twelve successors rule over you, all being from Quraysh.”3
Jābir ibn Samurah is reported to have said: I heard the Messenger of Allah, may God’s peace and benediction be upon him and his Progeny, say: “Islam is still powerful as long as twelve successors are there,” saying then a word I couldn’t understand, so I asked my father: what did he say? He replied: All are from Quraysh.”4
About princedom he (S) said:
“There will be emirs whom you recognize but deny. Whoever recognizes (them) will be acquitted and whoever denies will secure (against danger), but who admits and follows, (thereat) they said: Shall we fight them? He replied: No, as long as they keep on establishing prayer.”5
Further, about the word princedom he (S) said: “Verily there will be twelve emirs, all are from Quraysh.”6
He is also reported to have warned his Companions saying: “You will covet eagerly for imārah (princedom, rule), and this will turn to be a regret on the Doomsday, so what an excellent nurse she is, and how bad the weaner is.”7
In another narration the word wilāyah is used instead of imārah.
The Messenger of Allah (S) said further: “Whoever presides over subjects of Muslims, and dies after being dishonest with them, Allah shall verily forbid him the heavens.”8
In another place he (s) uttered a hadith about wilāyah:
“The affairs of people keep on running their course as long as being presided over by twelve men, all being from Quraysh.”9
That was a brief survey about the concept of Imamate or caliphate, which I have displayed from the Holy Qur’ān and the genuine Prophetic Sunnah without exposition or interpretation. Rather I have mainly depended upon the Sihāh of Ahl al-Sunnah other than the Shi‘ah, since this affair (i.e. caliphate of twelve men from Quraysh) is regarded by them as an irreproachable intuition, about which there is no slight difference between even two of them, despite the fact that the ‘ulamā’ of Ahl al-Sunnah expressly declare that the Messenger of Allah (S) said:
“After me there will be twelve successors (ruling over you) who are all from Banu Hāshim.”10
Al-Shi’bi reports from Masruq that he said: “When we were in the house of Ibn Mas’ud offering him our codices (masāhif), a lad said to him: Did your Prophet make a covenant informing you how many successors will be after him? He replied: You are still so young, and no one other than you has ever asked me the question you have put forth... the answer is yes, our Prophet (s) has assured us that after him there will be twelve caliphs, the same number as that of the chiefs of Israel...”11
After that, we have to review the opinions of the two sects, to know the veracity of the claim of each of them through the express texts. We will also discuss the interpretation of each of them for this critical issue that created disunity among the Muslims, dividing them into creeds and sects, and theological and thought schools, after being one Ummah (nation). And any dispute erupted among the Muslims, whether in regard of fiqh (jurisprudence), or tafsir (exegesis) of the Qur’ān, or in comprehending the Prophetic Sunnah, is traced back to and caused by the caliphate.
No one is aware of the caliphate that — after the Saqifah — turned to be a factual affair due to which authentic traditions and express verses were disapproved and for whose establishment and confirmation many other traditions were composed and fabricated, that have no root or origin in the authentic Prophetic Sunnah. All this reminds me of Israel and the status quo, as the Arab Heads of State and Kings have met and reached an agreement that there should be no recognition of or compromise or peace with Israel, and whatever is taken by force can never be regained but by force. After only a few years they met again to sever, this time, their ties with Egypt due to its recognition of the Zionist Regime. After passage of some few years they resumed their relations with Egypt, never deploring its normalization of ties with Israel, though the latter had never recognized the right of the Palestinian people, and never changed its position. Rather it increased in its stubbornness and obstinacy, multiplying its repression against the Palestinian people. History is repeating itself and events are recurred, and the Arabs are used to commit themselves to surrender to the status quo.
The opinion of Ahl al-Sunnah about caliphate is known, being that the Messenger of Allah passed away without nominating anyone as a successor. But the influential magnates among the Companions have met in the Saqifah of Banu Saidah, and elected Abu Bakr al-Siddiq as their guardian (wali al-’amr) due to his position near the Messenger of Allah, and since he (S) made him his substitute in leading the congregational prayers during his illness. At that time people said. If the Messenger of Allah (S) recognizes him as a guardian of our religion affairs, so how can’t we accept him as a guardian undertaking the affairs of our life?
The recapitulation of their belief is that:
1. The Messenger has never nominated any successor.
2. Caliphate can never be determined but through shurā (council).
3. Electing Abu Bakr as a caliph was made by the magnates of Sahābah (Companions).
This was also my opinion when I was a Māliki strongly defending him with argumenting by depending on the verses about shurā, trying my best to boast that Islam being a religion based on democracy in the rule, and the prior of other religions to invite toward this humane principle on which the civilized progressive countries are priding.
I say: While the Republican system was not known by the West but only during the nineteenth century, Islam realized and outstripped other religions in getting it since the sixth century.
But, after meeting the Shiah ‘ulamā’;, reading their books and being acquainted with their convincing evidences, that can be found in our reference books, I changed my previous belief and converted when the argument (hujjah) showed itself clearly, since it is improper for the majesty of Allah— the Glorified — to forsake an Ummah without an Imam, while He says:
"Thou art a warner only, and for every folk a guide." (13:7).
It is also inappropriate for the mercy of the Messenger of Allah (S) to let his Ummah without a custodian, especially when knowing that he used to fear for his Ummah disunity, 12 turning back on their heels,13 rushing madly upon the world,14 smiting of the necks of each other,15 and lastly following the systems (sunan) of the Jews and Christians.16
When knowing that Umm al-Mu’minin ‘A’ishah, the daughter of Abu Bakr, delegated to ‘Umar ibn al-Khattāb, when he was stabbed, someone to tell him: “Nominate someone as a successor over the Ummah of Muhammad, and never leave them discarded after you, as I fear they be inflicted with sedition.”17
Also, when ‘Abd Allāh ibn ‘Umar entered upon his father, when he was stabbed, saying to him: “People have alleged that you have not designated anyone to succeed you, and if you have a camels or sheep shepherd who comes toward leaving his herd alone, verily you consider him as being neglectful of his duty, while taking care of people is much harder.”18
Further, we observed how Abu Bakr himself, who was elected by Muslims through the shurā, breached this principle, rushing to nominate ‘Umar as his successor, in order to eradicate any dispute, disunity and sedition. The fact that was foretold by al-’Imām ‘Ali (‘a), when ‘Umar exerted much pressure against him to swear allegiance to Abu Bakr, thereat he said to him:
“Prepare a scheme whose half shall be yours, and reinforce it for him today, he will reward you tomorrow.”19
While Abu Bakr was not believing in the shurā system, so how can we accept that the Messenger of Allah (S) has neglected the affair without nominating any successor, and was not aware of what was done by ‘Abu Bakr, Aishah and Abd Allah ibn ‘Umar, as known by people intuitively, including difference of opinions, scatterness of inclinations when they are encharged with the task of election, especially when it is related to headship and assuming the rostrum of caliphate. This has actually occurred even in electing Abu Bakr on the day of Saqifah, as we observed the dispute erupted between the Master of the Helpers (Ansār) Sa’d ibn ‘Ubadash and his son Qays ibn Sa’d, ‘Ali ibn Abi Tālib and al-Zubayr ibn al-‘Awwām,20 al-’Abbas ibn ‘Abd Muttalib and Banu Hāshim with some of the Companions who were of the opinion that Ali (‘a) was more entitled to caliphate, and lingered behind in his house refusing to swear allegiance (to Abu Bakr), until they were threatened with being burnt.21
On the other side, we find the Imāmi Shi‘ah prove exactly the opposite of Ahl al-Sunnah’s claim emphasizing that the Messenger of Allah has definitely nominated ‘Ali to assume caliphate, confirming this in several occasions, the most known of which being in Ghadir Khumm.
If equity necessitates of you to listen to your opponent to adduce his opinion and plea in controversial issue with you, how it would be when your opponent argues with you offering as a plea something the occurrence of which you yourself testify.22
The evidence given by the Shi‘ah is not so feeble or unsubstantial that can be easily overlooked or forgotten, but rather it is relevant to Qur’ānic verses revealed in this respect. The care and importance given to these verses by the Messenger of Allah reached an extent that was propagated by caravans, and reported by all people, far and near, till filling books of history and traditions, and being recorded by the narrators, a generation from another.
Allah, the Exalted, said:
"Your guardian can be only Allah; and His Messenger and those who believe, who establish worship and pay the poor-due while bowing down (in prayer). And whoso taketh Allah and His Messenger and those who believe for guardian (will know that), lo! The party of Allah, they are the victorious." (5:55,56)
In his al-Tafsir al-kabir, al-’Imām Abu Ishāq al-Tha‘labi23 is reported, with his isnād (chain) reaching back to Abu Dharr al-Ghifāri, to have said: "I heard the Messenger of Allah (may God’s peace and benediction be upon him and his Progeny) with my two ears, otherwise they be deaf, and saw him with my own eyes, otherwise they be blind, saying:
‘Ali is the leader of the pious, slayer of the disbelievers, victorious is that who helps him, and defeated is that who disappoints him.”
Once upon a day I was praying with the Messenger of Allah, when a beggar came to the Prophet’s mosque. No one responded to his pleas. ‘Ali (‘a) was bowing down (in prayer) at that time. He pointed his little finger, on which was a ring, towards the beggar, who came forward and took away the ring. This incident occurred in the Prophet’s presence, who raised his hands towards the Heavens and prayed My God! My brother Moses had begged of You saying: “My Lord! Relieve my mind. And ease my task for me. And loose a knot from my tongue.
That they may understand my saying. Appoint for me a henchman from my folk. Aaron, my brother. Confirm my strength with him. And let him share my task. That we may glorify Thee much. And much remember Thee. Lo! Thou art ever Seeing us.” Then you revealed to him: “Thou art granted thy request, O Moses.” O Allah! I am your bondman and prophet, relieve my mind and ease my task for me, and appoint for me a henchman from my folk, ‘Ali, and confirm my strength with him.
Abu Dharr then said: By God, the Messenger of Allah (S) had not yet finished his prayers, when Gabriel descended upon him revealing the following verse:
“Your Guardian can be only Allah; and His Messenger and those who believe, who establish worship and pay the poor-due, while bowing down (in prayer). And whoso taketh Allah and His Messenger and those who believe for guardian (will know that), Lo! the party of Allah, they are the victorious. (5:55,56).24
There is no disagreement among the Shi‘ah that this verse was revealed in ‘Ali’s regard, according to the reports of Ahl al-Bayt (peace be upon them), which being among the unanimously accepted akhbār (reports), that were referred to in many considerable Shi‘ah books, like:
1. Bihar al-’anwār, by al-Majlisi.
2. Ithbāt al-hudāt, by al-Hurr al-‘Amili.
3. Tafsir al-Mizān, by al-‘Allāmah al-Tabātabā’i.
4. Tafsir al-Kāshif, by Muhammad, Jawād Maghniyyah.
5. Al-Ghadir, by al-‘Allāmah al-’Amini.
Beside numerous other books.
Its revelation in ‘Ali’s regard was reported too by a large number of Ahl al-Sunnah ‘ulamā’, among whom we refer only to the exegets:
1. Tafsir al-Kashshāf by al-Zamakhshari, vol.I, p.649
2. Tafsir al-Tabari, vol.VI,-P.288
3. Zād al-masir fi ‘ilm al-tafsir, by Ibn al-Jawzi, vol.II, p.383
4. Tafsir al-Qurtubi, vol. VI,p.219.
5. Tafsir al-Fakhr al-Rāzi, vol,. XII, p. 26
6. Tafsi Ibn Kathir, vol.II, p.71
7. Tafsir al-Nasafi, vol. I. p.289
8. Shawāhid al-tanzil, by al-Hasakāni al-Hanafi, vol. I, p.161
9. Al-Durr al-manthur fi al-tafsir bi al-ma’thur, by al-Suyuti, vol.II.p.293
10. Asbāb al-nuzul, by al-’Imām al-Wāhidi, p.148
11. Ahkām al-Qur’ān, by al-Jassās, vol.IV. p.102
12. Al-Tashil li ‘ulum al-tanzil, by al-Kalbi, Vol.I, p.181.
Beside other unmentioned Sunnah books, numbering more than those I referred to.
2) The Almighty Allah said:
“O Messenger! Make known that which hath been revealed unto thee from thy Lord, for if thou do it not, thou wilt not have conveyed His message. Allah will protect thee from mankind.” (5:67)
It is reported by some exegetes from among Ahl al-Sunnah, that this verse was revealed in the early days of Da‘wah (invitation), when the Messenger of Allah was having some bodyguards to protect him against murder and assassination. But when the verse “and Allah will protect thee from mankind,” was revealed, he (S) said: “Go away, Allah has protected me.”
Ibn Jarir and Mardawayh have reported from ‘Abd Allāh ibn Jarir that he said: “The Messenger of Allah (S) was pursued by some of his Companions, and when the words” and Allah will protect thee from mankind,” he came out and said:
“O people, go and reach your pursuants, as Allah has protected me from mankind.” 25
Ibn Hibbān and Ibn Mardawayh have reported from Abu Hurayrah that he said: When being in the company of the Messenger of Allah (S) on a journey, we used to dedicate for him the greatest and most shadowy tree to sit under. One day he sat under a tree, hanging his sword on it, when a man came and took it, saying: O Muhammad, who can protect you against me? The Prophet (s) replied: Allah protects me against you... put away the sword. So he returned it to its place. Thereat the verse “and Allah will protect thee from mankind” was revealed.26
Further, al-Tirmidhi, al-Hākim and Abu Nu’aym have reported from ‘A’ishah that she said: The Prophet (S) used to be guarded till the words "and Allah will protect thee from mankind" were revealed, whereat he brought out his head from the dome saying: O people, go away, Allah has verily protected me.
Al-jabarrāni and Abu Nu’aym in al-Dalā’il, narrates that Ibn Mardawayh and Ibn ‘Asākir have reported from Ibn ‘Abbās that he said: The Prophet (S) was having a bodyguard, and his uncle Abu jālib used to send with him every day some men from Banu Hāshim to safeguard him. One day he (S) said (to him) O uncle! Allah has protected me, so I am in no need any more for those you send.
When pondering upon these traditions and interpretations, we would realize their being incompatible with the denotation or even the context of the noble verse, as all these narrations show that they were revealed at the outset of the invitation (da‘wah) to Islam. Some of them even declare their being revealed during the lifetime of Abu jālib that is, many years before the Hijrah (migration of the Prophet), and particularly Abu Hurayrah’s narration in which he says: "When being in the company of the Messenger of Allah on a journey, we used to dedicate for him the greatest tree... etc." This narration is explicitly fabricated, since Abu Hurayrah was never acquainted with Islam or the Messenger of Allah but only in the seventh year after Hijrah, as he himself testified.27 So how can this be accepted, while all the exegetes, Sunnah and Shi'ah, unanimously concur that Surat al-Mā’idah (The Table Spread) was revealed at al-Madinah, and its being the last surah revealed of the Quran???
Ahmad and Abu ‘Ubayd in Fadā’il, al-Nahhās in his Nāsikh, and al-Nisā’i, Ibn al-Mundhir, al-Hākim, Ibn Mardawayh and al-Bayhaqi in their Sunan, have reported from Jubayr ibn Nufayr that he said: I made the pilgrimage to Makkah, and when I entered upon ‘A’ishah, she said: O Jubayr, do you read (Surat) al-Mā’idah? I said: Yes. Then she said: It is the last surah revealed (of the Qur’ān). Deem lawful whatever you find lawful in it, and deem unlawful whatever you find unlawful (harām) in it.28
Also it is reported by Ahmad and al-Tirmidhi, and was improved and revised by al-Hākim, with Ibn Mardawayh and al-Bayhaqi in their Sunan, from ‘Abd Allāh ibn ‘Umar that he said: Surat al-Mā’idah is the last surah revealed of the Qur’ān.29
It is reported by Abu ‘Ubayd, from Muhammad ibn Ka’b al-Qartani that he said: Surat al-Mā’idah was revealed unto the Messenger of Allah during Hajjat al-Wadā‘, while being on his camel between Makkah and al-Madinah, whereat it (the camel) was cracked, and then the Messenger of Allah (S) got down.30
Ibn Jarir reports from al-Rabi ‘ibn Anas that he said: Surat al-Mā’idah was revealed upon the Messenger of Allah (S) on his way back from his last pilgrimage, while being on his mount, and his mount kneeled down due to its (surah’s) heavy burden.31
Abu ‘Ubaydah reports from Damrah ibn Habib and ‘Atiyyah ibn Qays that they said: The Messenger of Allah (S) said: “Al-Ma’idah (the Table spread) is the last of the Qur’ān in revelation, so deem lawful what it considers lawful (halāl) and deem unlawful what is considered unlawful (harām) in it.32
So, how can any sane equitable man accept then, the claim of one believing in its being revealed in the early days of the Prophetic mission (al-Bi‘thah al-Nabawiyyah)? The aim of this move is clear, being to divert people from its real meaning. Added to this, the Shi'ah concur that Surat al-Mā’idah being the last surah revealed of the Qur’ān, and that the verse “O Messenger! Make known that which hath been revealed unto thee from thy Lord...”, which is called Ayat al-Balāgh (Verse of proclamation), was revealed unto the Messenger of Allah on the eighteenth of Dhu al-Hijjah, in the wake of the last pilgrimage at Ghadir Khumm, before designating al-’Imām ‘Ali as a master for people and his successor after him. This incident was on Thursday, and Gabriel (‘a) has brought it down after the elapse of five hours of the day, saying to the Prophet: O Muhammad Allah sends you His greetings and says to you.
“O Messenger! Make known that which hath been revealed unto thee from thy Lord, for if thou do it not, thou wilt not have conveyed His message. Allah will protect thee from mankind.” (5:67)
But the Almighty’s saying: “...for if thou do it not, thou wilt not have conveyed His message” explicitly indicates that the message has come to an end or was about to, though some very significant thing is left, without which religion can never be perfected. Further, the noble verse tells that the Messenger feared being belied by people, when inviting them to this serious affair. But Allah — the Glorified — has not respited him, since his hour has approached, and that was the best opportunity, of the greatest position since those who gathered around him (S) numbered more a hundred thousand, accompanying him in Hajjat al-Wadā‘, whose hearts were still vivid through the offerings consecrated to Allah, recalling to mind the Messenger’s telling them the approaching of his death hour.
Also we can refer to his saying to them: I may not meet you after this year, and imminently my Lord’s messenger (death angel) is to come, so as to summon me and I should respond. And since after this awful situation all people will separate and return to their homelands, with a very little chance to meet such a huge multitude, and as Ghadir Khumm being a crossroad, so it was not, in any way, for Muhammad (S) to miss such an opportunity. How would he do so while it was revealed for him, in a threatening-like way that the message in a whole, was dependent upon this proclamation, with Allah’s ensuring him protection from mankind, leaving no reason for him to fear his being belied by them. This was due to his awareness that many messengers before him were belied, but without being dissuaded from propagating that which was entrusted to them, since the duty of any messenger being only to convey the message. And had Allah known in advance that most of them were hateful unto the truth, and that some of them being the beliers (denying the message), He — the Glorified — would have never forsaken them without establishing an authority (hujjah) over them, that there might not remain any argument (excuse) for people against God (ref.4:165).
Whereas the Messenger of Allah (S) has a good example for his brethren the messengers who preceded him, and who were denied by their communities. Allah, the Exalted, said:
“If they deny thee (Muhammad), even so the folk of Noah, and (the tribes of) Ad and Thamud, before thee, denied (Our messengers). And the folk of Abraham and the folk of Lot. And the dwellers in Midian. And Moses was denied; but I indulged the disbelievers a long while, then I seized them, and how (terrible) was My abhorrence!” (22:42-44)
When abandoning the detested bigotry, and blind fanaticism, we would realize that this exposition being the reasonable one that keeps pace with the context of the verse and events that preceded and occurred after it.
Many of our ‘ulamā’ have confirmed its revelation at Ghadir Khumm, in regard of designating al-’Imām ‘Ali for the post of caliphate, authenticating those narrations, concurring in this respect with their brothers among the Shi'ah ‘ulamā’. As an example I refer to some of the Sunni ‘ulamā’:
1. Al-Hāfiî Abu Nu’aym in his book Nuzul al-Qur’ān.
2. Al-’Imām al-Wāhidi in his book Asbāb al-nuzul, p.150
3. Al-’Imām Abu Ishāq al-Thalabi in his al-Tafsir al-kabir.
4. Al-Hakim al-Hasakani in his book Shawāhid al-tanzil li qawā‘id al-tafdil, vol.I,p.187
5. Jalāl al-Din al-Suyuti in his book al-Durr al-manthur fi al-tafsir bi al-ma’thur, vol. III, p. 117.
6. Al-Fakhr al-Rāzi in his al-Tafsir al-kabir, Vol.XII, p.50.
7. Muhammad Rashid Ridā in Tafsir al-manār, Vol.II, p.86; Vol. VI, p.463
8. Abu Asākir al-Shāfi‘i in Ta’rikh Dimashq, Vo. II, p.86
9. Al-Shawkāni in Fath al-Qadir, vol.II, p.60
10. Ibn Talhah al-Shāfi‘i in Matālib al-Sa’ul, vol.I.p.44
11. Ibn Sabbāgh al-Māliki in al-Fusul al-Muhimmah, p.25
12. Al-Qunduzi al-Hanafi in Yanābi‘ al-mawaddah, p.120
13. Al-Shahristāni in al-Milal wa al-nihal, vol.I.p.163
14. Ibn Jarir al-jabari in Kitāb al-Wilāyah.
15. Badr al-Din al-Hanafi in ‘Umdat al-qāri fi Sharh al-Bukhāri. Vol.VIII.P.584
16. ‘Abd al-Wahhab al-Bukhāri in Tafsir al-Qur’ān.
17. Al-’Alusi in Ruh ma‘āni, Vo..II.p.384
18. Ibn Sa‘id al-Sijistāni in Kitāb al-Wilāyah.
19. Al-Hamwini in Farā’id al-simtayn, vol.I.p.185
20. Al-Sayyid Siddiq Hasan Khān in Fath al-bayān fi maqasid al-Qur’ān, Vol. III, p.63.
This is just a scanty modicum of what comes to my mind, beside a large number of other Ahl al-Sunnah ‘ulamā’ referred to by al-‘Allāmah al-’Amini in the book al-Ghadir.
I wonder what did the Messenger of Allah (S) do when he was commanded by his Lord to deliver what was revealed unto him?
The Shi'ah hold that he (S) gathered the people from all strata in that place, being Ghadir Khumm, giving a long eloquent sermon, calling them to witness against themselves and they witnessed that he(S) certainly had more right on them than they themselves had. Thereat he took ‘Ali’s hand and declared: “To whomever I am his master, this Ali also is his master (mawlā). My God befriend whoever him and be hostile to whoever is hostile to him, help whoever helps him, and forsake whoever forsakes him, and keep the haqq (truth) always with him.” 33
Then he (S) made him wear his turban, arranging a ceremony for him, commanding his Companions to congratulate him for being the leader of the believers. And so they did, at the foremost of whom being Abu Bakr and ‘Umar, who both said to ‘Ali (‘a): “Congratulation, O son of Abu Tālib, within a day and a night you became a mawlā (master) of every believing man and woman.”34
When the ceremony was over, the following verse was revealed unto him by Allah:
“This day have I perfected your religion for you and completed my favour unto you, and have chosen for you Islam (to be) the Religion.” (5-3)
This notion is held by the Shi'ah, as an indisputable fact accepted by all. Do Ahl al-Sunnah ever refer to this incident? In order not to tilt toward them, or being pleased with their opinion, Allah — the Glorified — has warned us by saying:
“And among men there is he whose talk concerning the life here marveleth thee and he taketh God to witness as to what is in his heart yet he is the most violent of adversaries.” (2:204)
We are asked then to be cautious, and to discuss this topic with much care, with looking honestly into the evidences given by the two sects, seeking only God’s pleasure in this respect.
The answer for the previous question is: yes, many of Ahl al-Sunnah ‘ulamā’ refer to this incident with all its stages. The following are some of evidences quoted from their books:
1) Al-’Imām Ahmad ibn Hanbal has reported a hadith narrated by Zayd ibn Arqam, saying: We got down with the Messenger of Allah (S) in a valley called Khumm Valley, and he ordered congregational prayer to be held, performing it in meridional heat. Then, while being shaded by a garment over a brown tree, from the sun, the Messenger of Allah addressed us saying:
“Aren’t you aware, or don’t you give witness that I have more right on every believer than he himself has? They said: Yea. Then he said: Of whomever I am his master (mawlā) ‘Ali also is his master. O God, befriend whoever befriends him and be the enemy of whoever is hostile to him...”35
2) In al-Khasā’is al—’Imām al-Nasā’i reports (from Abu al-jufayl) from Zayd ibn Arqam that he said: “When the Messenger of Allah (May God’s peace and benediction be upon him and his Progeny) returned from the last hajj pilgrimage and came down at Ghadir Khumm, he ordered (us) towards the big trees, and (the ground underneath them was swept. Then he declared: ‘I am about to answer the call (of death). Verily, I have left two precious things (thaqalayn) among you, one of which is greater than the other: the Book of Allah and my ‘Itrah, my Ahl al-Bayt. So watch out how you treat them after me. For, indeed, they will never separate until they return to me by the side of the Pond.” Then he said: ‘Verily, Allah is my master (wali) and I am the master of every believer.’ Then he took ‘Ali’s hand and declared: “To whomever I am his wali, this one is also his wAli. My God, befriend whoever befriends him and be hostile to whoever is hostile to him.” Abu al-jufayl says: “I said to Zayd: “Did you hear it from the Messenger of Allah?’ He replied, “There was no one in the caravan who did not see it with his eyes and hear it with his ears.”36
3) Al-Hākim al-Naysāburi reports from Zayd ibn Arqam, through two sahih (correct) chains according to the requirements of the Shaykhayn (al-Bukhāri and Muslim), that he said: "When the Messenger of Allah (S) returned from the last hajj and came down at Ghadir Khumm, he ordered (us) towards the big trees, and (the ground) underneath them was swept. Then he said: ‘I am about to answer the call (of death) Verily, I have left behind two precious things amongst you, one of which is greater than the other. The Book of Allah, the Exalted, and my ‘Itrah (Kindred). So watch out how you treat these two after me, for verily they will not separate from each other until they come back to me by the side of the Pond.’ Then he said: ‘Verily, Allah, the Almighty and the Glorious, is my master (mawlā) and I am the master of every believer (mu’min). Then he took Ali by the hand and said: "This (‘Ali) is the master of whomever I am his master. O God, love whoever loves him and be the enemy of his enemy’...37
4) This hadith was also narrated by Muslim in his Sahih with his sanad (chain) reaching back to Zayd ibn Arqam, in an abridged form, saying: "One day the Messenger of Allah upon whom be Allah’s peace and benediction, addressed us near a pond called Khumm between Makkah and Madinah.
He praised God and extolled Him and preached and reminded (us). Then he said: "Lo, O people, I am only a human being and I am about to respond to the messenger of my Lord (i.e. the call of death). I am leaving behind two precious things (thaqalayn) among you. The first of the two is the Book of Allah. In it is guidance and light. So get hold of the Book of Allah and adhere to it." Then he urged and motivated (us) regarding the Book of Allah. Then he said: “And my Ahl al-Bayt (family). I urge you to remember Allah regarding my Ahl al-Bayt. I urge you to remember Allah regarding my Ahl al-Bayt I urge you to remember Allah regarding my Ahl al-Bayt.”38
Although al-’Imām Muslim has briefed the incident, never relating it completely, but it is, thanks to Allah, so sufficient and conclusive. May be the abridgement was made by Zayd ibn Arqam himself when the polotical circumstances obliged him to conceal Hadith al-Ghadir, the fact conceived from the context of the tradition when the narrator says: "I Husayn ibn Sabrah and ‘Umar ibn Muslim went to see Zayd ibn Arqam.
When we sat down with him, Husayn said to him, "O Zayd, you have been greatly fortunate. You have seen the Messenger of Allah, upon whom be Allah’s peace and benediction, heard his speech, fought with him in battles and have prayed behind him. Indeed, O Zayd, you have been enormously fortunate. Narrate to us what you have heard from the Messenger of Allah, may Allah’s peace and benedictions be upon him.’
Zayd said: O brother, by God, I have become aged and old and I have forgotten some of what I used to remember from the Messenger of Allah, upon whom be Allah’s peace and benediction. So accept what I narrate to you and as to what I don’t, trouble me not regarding it.’ Then he said: One day the Messenger of Allah, upon whom be Allah’s peace and benediction, addressed us near a pond called Khumm..."
From the hadith context, it seems that Husayn has asked Zayd ibn Arqam about the Ghadir incident, putting him thus in a critical situation before all, undoubtedly knowing that giving express reply for this question would certainly create for him troubles with the Government that used to compel people to curse ‘Ali ibn Abi Tālib. So he made apology to the inquirer with the excuse of being aged and old, and that he has forgotten some of what he used to remember, asking then the attendants to accept what he narrated to them, without troubling him regarding that he couldn’t tell them.
Despite his fear, and abridgement of the details, but Zayd ibn Arqam (may Allah reward him) has exposed many facts, hinting at Hadith al-Ghadir without mentioning it by name. That was when he said: One day the Messenger of Allah, upon whom be Allah’s peace and benediction, addressed us near a pond called Khumm between Makkah and Madinah, referring then to ‘Ali’s virtues and his being partner of the Qur’ān, as recorded in Hadith al-Thaqalayn (the Book of Allah and my Ahl al-Bayt). But he never mentioned the name of ‘Ali, letting those present there to deduce with their wittiness, as it was commonly known for all Muslims that ‘Ali being the doyen of the Prophet’s Ahl al-Bayt.
Therefore we observed that al-’Imām Muslim himself got the same meaning we got from the hadith, realizing what we realized, narrating then this hadith under the chapter of Fadā’il ‘Ali ibn Abi Tālib, though no express reference was made in it to the name of ‘Ali ibn Abi Tālib.39
5) In al-Mu‘jam al-Kabir, al-Tabarani reports, through a correct chain (sanad), from Zayd ibn Arqam, from Hudhayfah ibn Asid al-Ghifāri, that he said: The Messenger of Allah, may Allah’s peace and benediction be upon him and his Progeny, at Ghadir khumm under some trees saying: "O people, I am about to answer the call (of death).
Verily I shall be answerable and you will be answerable, what do you say? They replied: We witness that you have delivered the message, and striven (on Allah’s way) and given good advice, may Allah reward you good. Then he said: Don’t you witness that there is no god but Allah and Muhammad is His bondman and messenger, and His heaven is truth, resurrection after death is truth, and the Hour (Doomsday) is certainly to come, and Allah resurrects the dead from graves? They said: Yes, we do witness so. He said: O Allah be a witness. Then he said: O mankind, verily, Allah is my master (mawlā) and I am the master of every believer (mu’min), and I have more authority over the believers than they over themselves. Of whomever I am his master, this one also is his master — i.e. ‘Ali O God, be the friend of whoever befriends him, and be the enemy of whoever is hostile to him.
Then he said: O people, I am verily separating from you, and you are coming back to me by the side of the Pond (Hawd). A Pond that is wider than the space between my sight and San‘ā’, in which there are stars equalling two silver goblets. When you come back to me I will ask you about the Thaqalayn, how did you treat them after me. the greater thiql: the Book of Allah — the Almighty and the Glorious — which is a rope between Him and you, whose one end is in His hand and whose other end is in your hands. So get hold of it, as you shall never go astray and never be changed, and my ‘Itrah (kindred) my Ahl al-Bayt. The Subtile, the Aware informed me that the two will never part, until they come to me at the Pond (Hawd).40
6) Al-’Imām Ahmad narrates from al-Barā’ ibn ‘Azib, through two ways that he said: We were with the Messenger of Allah (S) and we came down at Ghadir Khumm, whereat a call for holding congregational prayer was made. People swept the ground under two trees for the Messenger of Allah, may Allah’s peace and benediction be upon him and his Progeny, who performed the noon prayer (salāt al-îuhr). Then he took ‘Ali’s hand, saying: Don’t you know that I have more right over every believer than he has over himself? They replied: Yes (you do). Then he declared (taking ‘Ali’s hand): ‘To whomever I am his master, ‘Ali also is his master. My God, befriend whoever befriends him and be hostile to whoever is hostile to him.” Then the narrator said: After that ‘Umar met him (‘a), and said to him: ‘Congratulation, O son of Abt Tālib, within a day and a night you became the mawlā (master) of every believing man and woman.”41
In brief, Hadith al-Ghadir was narrated by numerous ‘ulamā’ of Ahl al-Sunnah, more than those we have mentioned. Among them are: al-Tirmidhi, Ibn Mājah, Ibn ‘Asākir, Abt Nu’aym, Ibn al-’Athir, al-Khwarazmi, al-Suytti, Ibn Hajar, al-Haythami, Ibn al-Sabbāgh al-Māliki, al-Qundtzi al-Hanafi, Ibn al-Maghāzili, Ibn Kathir, al-Hamwini, al-Hasakani, al-Ghazzāli, and al-Bukhāri in his Ta’rikh.
Further, al-‘Allāmah al-’Amini, the author of the book al-Ghadir, has enumerated a large number of non Shi’i ‘ulamā’, who narrated Hadith al-Ghadir and recorded it in their books, from different classes and schools of law, since the first till the fourteenth Hijrah century, numbering more than sixty-three. Whoever wants to investigate and be more assured, can refer to the book al-Ghadir.42
After all this, is it possible for anyone to claim that Hadith al-Ghadir was fabricated by the Shi‘ah?
The surprising and strange fact is that, when Hadith al-Ghadir is mentioned to most of the Muslims, they claim being unaware of it, or say, never hearing it. And even more surprising is that after this unanimously accepted hadith how is it feasible for the Sunni ‘ulamā’ to claim that the Messenger of Allah (S) has never designated anyone as his successor, leaving this matter to be determined through shtrā (council) among Muslims.
O people! Is there any hadith more declarative and expressive than this one regarding caliphate?? I may refer to a conversation held between me and one of al-Zayttnah ‘ulamā’ in my country. When I mentioned for him Hadith al-Ghadir as an evidence proving the successorship of al-’Imām ‘Ali, he admitted its veracity. He rather added to fuel to the fire when making me acquainted with the interpretation he invented for the Qur’ān, with which he mentioned and rectified Hadith al-Ghadir, saying afterwards:
“The Shi‘ah claim that this hadith is a text establishing the caliphate of our master ‘Ali (may Allah grant him honour), while it is invalid in the perspective of Ahl al-Sunnah wa al-Jamā‘ah, since it contradicts the caliphate of our master Abt Bakr al-Siddiq and our master ‘Umar al-Faruq, and ‘Uthmān Dhu al-Nurayn. So it is inevitable to interpret the word mawlā cited in the hadith to mean lover and helper, as referred to in the Holy Qur’ān. This being the same meaning conceived by the rightly-Guided Caliphs (al-Khulafā’ al-Rāshidtn) and honourable Companions (may Allah be pleased with them all), from whom the Tābi‘tn (followers) and Muslim ‘ulamā’ have taken. So no sense is to be given to the interpretation given by the Rāfidah for this hadith, as they never recognize the successorship of the caliphs, speaking ill of the Messenger’s Sahābah. This being a sufficient proof to refute their lies and invalidate their allegations.” (His speech in the book is over).
I asked him: Did the incident actually occur at Ghadir Khumm?
He replied: Had it not occurred, the ‘ulamā’ and muhaddithtn (traditionists) would have never related it!
I said: Is it appropriate for the Messenger of Allah (S) to gather his Companions under scorching sun’s heat, addressing them with a protracted sermon, just to tell them that ‘Ali was their lover and helper? Do you accept such an interpretation?
He replied: A number of the Companions have complained against ‘Ali (to the Prophet), among whom there were some harbouring vindictive feelings against ‘Ali and detesting ‘him.
There after the Messenger, intending to eliminate their grudge, said to them: Ali is your lover and helper, so as to make them love him and never detest him.
I said: This never requires of him to make them all stop, and lead them in prayer, initiating his sermon by saying: Don’t I have more right over you than you have over your own selves, for the sake of elucidating the meaning of mawlā. Had the case been as you claim, it was feasible for him to tell those complaining against ‘Ali: "He is your lover and helper," and finished with it without any need to detain under the sun all those enormous multitudes, numbering more than a hundred thousand, among whom were old men and women. Any man having reason can never be content with this!
He then said: Does any sane man believe that a hundred thousand Companions have never apprehended what you and the Shi‘ah apprehended??
I said: First of all, only very few of them were living in al-Madinah. Secondly: They apprehended exactly the same meaning I and the Shi‘ah got. So it was narrated by the ‘ulamā’ that Abu Bakr and ‘Umar were among those congratulating ‘Ali by saying: "Congratulations, O Ibn Abi Tālib, within a night and a day you became the mawlā of every believing man (and woman)."
He said: Why didn’t they swear allegiance to him then, after the Prophet’s demise? Do you think that they have disobeyed and contradicted the Prophet’s commandment? I seek Allah’s forgiveness for such claim.
I said: If Ahl al-Sunnah ‘ulamā’ testify in their books that some of them — i.e. of the Sahābah — used to contradict the orders of the Prophet (S) during his lifetime and in his presence,43 so it would be no wonder to see them forsaking his orders after his demise. And when most of them vilify and disapprove of his appointment of Usāmah ibn Zayd as the commander of the army, due to his youngness, despite the battalion being limited and for a short time, so how would they accept to be under the leadership of the young man ‘Ali, and for life long absolute caliphate? And you yourself have testified that some of them were detesting and harbouring grudge against ‘Ali!!
Feeling, upset, he replied: It was improper for al-’Imām ‘Ali, may (Allah grant him honour) and be pleased with him, to keep silent of his right, if being aware that the Messenger of Allah designated him as his successor, while being that brave man fearing no one and of whom all the Sahābah feeling awe.
I said: O Sayyid, this is another subject out of the scope of my discussion, since you were not convinced by the authentic (sahih) Prophetic traditions, trying to interpolate them and divert them from their true meanings with the aim of respecting the dignity of the good ancestors (al-Salaf al-Sālih). So how can I convince you with ‘Ali’s keeping silent or his arguing with them by his right to caliphate?
He smiled and said: By God, I am among those who consider our master ‘Ali, may Allah grant him honour, superior to others. Had it been in my hand, I would have never preferred anyone of the Sahābah to him, as he is the gate of the city of knowledge and Allah’s conquering lion, but it is the will of Allah, Who brings forward whoever He wills and keeps behind whoever He wills. He will not be questioned as to that which he does, but they will be questioned.
I, in turn, smiled and said: This is too another topic dragging us toward discussing the subject of qadā’ and qadar (fate and destiny) that we have discussed earlier, with every one of us preserving his own viewpoint. I wonder, sir, why is that whenever I debate with any of Ahl al-Sunnah ‘ulamā’, presenting him a convincing strong argument (hujjah), he immediately tries to find outlet to change the course of discussion to another one irrelevant to the subject of debate. He said: I am still steadfast on my view, with no little change. So I bade him farewell and departed him. I remained contemplating attentively, about the reason behind the absence of anyone among our ‘ulamā’, to complete the task and confirm the debate with strong argumentation that settles the dispute.
There are some who commence the discussion, but when seeing themselves unable to establish any proof confirming their claims, they try to shirk the situation by saying: Those are people who have passed away. Theirs is that which they earned, and yours is that which ye earn. Some others say: Keep us away from agitating seditions and grudges, as this is not our business. The important point is that the Sunnah and the Shi‘ah believe in one God and one messenger, and that is enough. Some say, in brief: O brother, beware of Allah in regard of the Sahābah. After all that, is there any room for holding any scientific debate with such people, for the sake of enlightening them and illuminating the way for returning to the truth other than which only deviation is there? And how far are those from the style of the Qur’ān which invites mankind to present their evidences:
Say: Bring your proof (of what ye state) if ye are truthful. (2:111)
This, despite the fact that if they abstain from their vilification and criticism campaign against the Shi‘ah, we have never resorted to dispute and controversy with them even by that which is good.
The Shi‘ah unanimously agree that the saying of the Glorious and the Almighty: “This day have I perfected your religion for you and completed My favour unto you, and have chosen for you Islam as a religion,” was revealed at Ghadir Khumm after the Messenger of Allah (S) had designated al-’Imām ‘Ali as his successor over the Muslims, as reported from the Pure ‘Itrah Imams. That is why they consider Imamah (Imamate) as one of the principles of religion (ustl al-Din).
Many of’ our ‘ulamā’ report its revelation at Ghadir Khumm, after the appointment of al-’Imām ‘Ali, of whom I may mention, as an example:
1. Ibn ‘Asākir, in Ta’rikh Dimashq, Vol.II,p.75.
2. Ibn al-Maghāzili al-Shāfi‘i, in Manāqib ‘Ali ibn Abi Tālib, p.19
3. Al-Khatib al-Baghdādi, in Ta’rikh Baghdād, Vol.VIII P.290.
4. Al-Suytti, in al-’Itqān, Vol.I,p.31.
5. Al-Khwārazmi al-Hanafi, in al-Manāqib, P.80
6. Al-Sibt ibn al-Jawzi, in Tadhkirat al-Khawāss, p.30.
7. Ibn Kathir, in his Tafsir, Vo.lII, p.14.
8. Al-’Altsi, in Rth al-ma‘āni, vol.VI, p.55
9. Ibn Kathir al-Dimashqi, in al-Bidāyah wa al-nihāyah, vol.V, P.213
10. Al-Suytti, in al-Durr al-manthtr fi al-tafsir bi al-ma’thtr vol.III, p.19.
11. Al-Qundtzi al-Hanafi, in Yanābi‘ al-mawaddah, p.115.
12. Al-Hasakāni al-Hanafi, in Shawāhid al-tanzil, vol.I.p.157.
I say, despite this fact, the Ahl al-Sunnah ‘ulamā’ have no choice but to interpolate this verse to denote another occasion, in order to safeguard the dignity of good ancestors among the Sahābah. Because, had they admitted its revelation to be at Ghadir Khumm, this would have meant their tacit recognition that Allah has perfected the religion and completed His favour upon the Muslims, through the wilāyah (mastership) of ‘Ali ibn Abi Tālib. Besides, this would have meant the abolition of the successorship of the three precedent Caliphs, with causing disruption for the Companions justice (‘adālah), and dissolution of many well-known traditions like the dissolution of salt inside water. This being an impossible thing and blatant misfortune since it is relevant to the creed (‘aqidah) of a huge coommunity (Ummah) having its known history, and ‘ulamā’ and glories. As it is infeasible for us to deny ‘ulamā’ like al-Bukhāri and Muslim, who report that this verse was revealed at the night of ‘Arafāt on Friday.
In this way, all the early narrations would turn to be only Shi’i baseless superstitions, and vilifying the Shi‘ah would become more proper than speaking ill of the Sahābah who being (as regarded by Ahl al-Sunnah) immune against error (ma‘stmtn),44 and it is impermissible for anyone to cirticize their acts or sayings. While the Shi‘ah being only Majus (Magians), infidels, Zanadiqah and idolaters, and the founder of their school of thought (madhhab) being ‘Abd Allāh ibn Saba’,45 who was a jew that embraced Islam during the reign of ‘Uthmān, with the aim of conspiring against the Muslims and Islam. This being a much easier means to misguide the Ummah, that was brought up on glorifying and venerating the Sahābah (anyone of them even that who saw the Prophet only once).
How can we be able to persuade them that those narrations are not Shi’i superstitions, but in fact traditions of the Twelve Imams, upon whose Imamate there are authentic texts. The Imams who, the Islamic governments managed in the first century to grow the love and respect towards the Sahābah inside the hearts of people versus creating hatred and grudge against ‘Ali and his sons, to the extent of cursing them from over pulpits, prosecuting their Shi‘ah (followers) and subjecting them to massacres and scatterness and homelessness. Out of this, strong destation and hatred against all the Shi‘ah grew inside hearts of people, as a result of the rumours, superstitions and corrupt beliefs propagated by the mass media against the Shi‘ah during the reign of Mu‘āwiyah, as they were considered the opposition party, as called nowadays, in order to seclude and exterminate them.
Therefore, many writers and historians of those ages even call them al-Rawafid (Rafidites), charging them with impiety, deeming their blood (killing them) as lawful for the sake of showing sycophancy for the rulers. After the disintegration of the Umayyad State and coming of the ‘Abbāsid State, some of the historians followed their suit, white some others realized the reality of Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) 46, trying to make compromise and equity through adding the name of "Ali to the Rightly-guided Caliphs, without daring to express his right and superiority. Therefore they don’t report in their Sihāh but only very few of ‘Ali’s virtues that never contradict the caliphate of those who preceded him. Some of them have even composed traditions in the honour of Abt Bakr, ‘Umar and ‘Uthmān ascribing them to ‘Ali himself, in order to close the door (as they claim) before the Shi‘ah believing in his superiority.
Through researching and investigation, I found out that men’s fame and greatness being evaluated according to their hatred against ‘Ali ibn Abi Tālib, so the Umayyads and ‘Abbāsids used to bring near and glorify whoever fought or stood against al-’Imām ‘Ali by sword or tongue. Thus they were imparting high positions upon some Companions and belittling some others, expending much fortune on some poets, slaying others. ‘A’ishah Umm al- Muminin might have not enjoyed such good status among them, hadn’t she harboured such detestation and animosity against ‘Ali.47
Further, we see too the ‘Abbāsids sublimate the position of al-Bukhāri, Muslim and al-’Imām Mālik, since they have not recorded of ‘Ali’s virtues but only very few, or rather their books expressly state that ‘Ali ibn Abi Tālib had no honour or merit at all. Al-Bukhāri in his Sahih, under the chapter “Manaqib ‘Uthmān” (Excellences of ‘Uthmān), reported from Ibn ‘Umar who said: “During the lifetime of the Prophet, may Allah’s peace and benediction be upon him and his progeny, we were never regarding anyone equal to Abt Bakr, and after him ‘Umar and then ‘Uthmān, leaving afterwards the Prophet’s Companions with no preferentiability among them,48
That is, he considered ‘Ali like all other common people (How astonishing is this)!!
Besides, there are other cults within the Ummah, such as the Mu’tazilah and Khawārij and others, who do not hold the same belief of the Shi‘ah, due to the fact that the Imamate of ‘Ali and his sons after him, would verily curb them from attaining to caliphate, seizing the affairs of people and making of their fate, and properties as a plaything in their hands, as done by Banu Umayyah and Banu al-’Abbas during the era of the Sahābah and Tābi‘tn, to the present time. The reason behind this being that the time rulers who attained to power whether through heredity like kings and sovereigns, or even the presidents elected by their peoples, are averse to this dogma, i.e. the faithful’s believing in the caliphate of Ahl al-Bayt. They even deride this theocratic notion, which is only held by the Shi‘ah, especially when those Shi‘ah having weak-mindedness and stupidity to the extent that they believe in the Imamate of the Awaited al-Mahdi, who will fill the earth with equity and justice after being filled with oppression and tyranny.
We return to discuss, calmly and unfanatically, the ideas held by the two parties, to realize the occasion and purpose of the revelation of the verse of perfection of religion, so that truth be quite clear for us to follow. After that we have nothing to do with pleasure of these or displeasure of those ones, as long as we seek Allah’s pleasure in the first hand, and deliverance from His chastisement on the way
“when wealth and sons avail not (any man), save him who brings unto Allah a whole heart” (26:88,89).
On the Day when (some) faces will be whitened and (some) faces will be blackened, and as for those whose faces have been blackened, it will be said unto them;
“Disbelieved ye after your (profession of) belief? Then taste the punishment for that ye disbelieved. And as for those whose faces have been whitened, in the mercy of Allah they dwell for ever. (3.106,107).
Al-Bukhāri is reported to have said in his Sahih.49 Narrated to us Muhammad ibn Yusuf, from Sufyān, from Qays ibn Muslim, from Tāriq ibn Shahāb, who said: Some of the Jews said: Had this verse been revealed unto us we would have taken that day as a feast. ‘Umar asked them: Which verse you mean? They replied: “This day have I perfected your religion for you and completed My favour unto you, and have chosen for you Islam as a religion.”
‘Umar said: I know the place where it was revealed. It was revealed while the Messenger of Allah, upon whom be Allah’s peace and benediction, was halting at ‘Arafāt.
Ibn Jarir reports from ‘Isā ibn Hārithah al-’Ansāri, that he said: We were sitting in the diwān when a Christian man said: O followers of Islam, there is a verse revealed unto you, had it been revealed unto us we would have taken that day and that hour as a feast even only two of us survived, which is: "This day have I perfected your religion for you." There at no one of us replied. Then I met Muhammad ibn Ka’b al-Qartani, and asked him about that, and he said: Couldn’t you answer him? ‘Umar ibn al- Khattāb then said: It was revealed unto the Prophet when he was halting on the Mount on the Day of ‘Arafāt, and that day is still considered as a feast for Muslims as long as they live.50
First: Out of these narrations we observe that Muslims were unaware of the date of that memorable day, never celebrating it, the fact making the Jews once and the Christians another time to say to them: Had this verse been revealed unto us we would have celebrated that day as a feast. This prompted ‘Umar to question: Which verse? When they said: “This day have I perfected your religion for you”, he said: I know where it was revealed, that was when the Messenger of Allah, upon whom be Allah’s peace and benediction, was making a halt on (the Mount of) ‘Arafāt.
From this episode we can sense the smell of intrigue and opaqueness, realizing that those who forged this hadith and ascribed it to ‘Umar ibn al-Khattāb during al-Bukhāri’s lifetime, intended in fact to compromise between the belief of the Jews and Christians in the greatness of the day and necessity of regarding it as a feast, and their status quo of not celebrating that day and never remembering it at all till forgetting it. Whereas it is supposed to be held as the greatest of Muslims’ feasts, as in it Allah, the Glorified, has perfected for them their religion, and completed His favour unto them and have chosen for them Islam as a religion.
Therefore, in the second narration, you find the narrator’s saying when hearing the Christian’s exclamation: O followers of Islam, there is a verse revealed unto you, had it been revealed unto us we would have taken that day as a feast, even only two of us survived. The narrator said that no one of them responded to him, due to their unawareness of the date, position and greatness of that day. The narrator, seemingly, is amazed as to how could the Muslims ignore celebrating such a day. So we observed that when he met Muhammad ibn Ka’b al-Qartani,, he would question him about that matter, whereat the latter would reply that ‘Umar ibn al-Khattāb reported its being revealed unto the Prophet (S) while he was making a halt on the Mount on the day of Arafāt.
Had that day been known among all Muslims to be a feast (‘Id), it would have never been ignored by those narrators, whether being of the Sahābah or Tābi‘un, as it is known and established amongst them that the Muslims have two feasts (‘idayn), which are: ‘Id al-Fitr (lesser Bairam) and ‘Id al-’Adhā (greater Bairam). This fact was so common that even the ‘ulamā’ and traditionists, like al-Bukhāri and Muslim and others, mention in their books Kitāb al-‘idayn", Salāt al-‘idayn and Khutbat al-‘idayn, with other similar idioms that are unanimously accepted among all people — far and near — with no existence for a third ‘Id.
It is widely thought that those believing in the principle of shurā in determining the caliphate, and the founders of this theory, being the same ones who diverted the revelation of the verse from its reality on the day of Ghadir Khumm, after designating al-’Imām Ali as a master. Because diverting its revelation to the Day of ‘Arafāt was much easier for those believing in it, since the Day of Ghadir could gather a hundred thousand pilgrims or more, and no occasion was there during Hajjat al-Wadā‘ nearer to Ghadir than the Day of ‘Arafāt in comparison, as only during them the pilgrims would gather in that huge multitude. It is widely known that people be scattered in groups here and there during all hajj days, never meeting together in one halt but at (mount of) ‘Arafāt. That is why we notice those believing in the revelation of the verse on the day of Arafāt, hold that it was revelation directly after the well-known Prophet’s sermon, which was reported by many traditionists.
And when witnessing how they have diverted the text of designating ‘Ali ibn Abi Tālib to caliphate, far from its true sense, surprising people (including ‘Ali himself and those who were busy preparing the messenger for burial) by swearing allegiance to Abu Bakr in the Saqifah of Banu Sa’idah all of a sudden, disregarding the texts of Ghadir totally, can anyone then argue with the revelation of the verse being on the Ghadir Day?
The concept of the verse is not more declarative than the hadith al-wilāyah, but rather it implies perfection of religion, and completion of favour, and the Lord’s pleasure, besides its containing a notification to the occurrence of an incident that day for them leading to religion perfection.
Our certainty in the veracity of this belief is even increased, when going through what is reported by Ibn Jarir, on the authority of Qubaysah ibn Abi Dhu’ayb that he said: Ka’b said: “Had this verse been revealed on other than this community, they would have taken the day of its revelation as a feast in which they meet.”! Then ‘Umar said: O Ka’b, which verse you mean? He replied: “This day have I perfected your religion for you.” ‘Umar said: I know the day and place in which it was revealed... that was on Friday, on ‘Arafāt Day, and both of them are celebrated by us as a feast, thanks to Allah.51
Second: To believe that the verse “This day have I perfected your religion for you” was revealed on ‘Arafāt Day, is contradictory with the verse of proclamation (āyāt al-balāgh): “O Messenger! Make known that which hath been revealed unto thee from thy Lord,” which commands the Messenger (S) to deliver a significant matter without which the Message is incomplete. The verse which we have discussed earlier, whose revelation was recorded to be in a place between Makkah and Madinah after the last hajj pilgrimage (hajjat al-wadā‘), the event that was reported by more than a hundred and twenty Companions, and three hundred and sixty of Ahl al-Sunnah ‘ulamā’. So how can it be sensible that Allah perfects the religion and completes the favour on Arafāt Day, and after only one week He orders His Prophet (S), on his way back to al-Madinah to communicate a thing without which the Message is incomplete?? O men of understanding! how can this be correct and reasonable???
Third: If every investigating researcher ponders over the Messenger’s sermon on ‘Arafāt Day, he will never see in it anything new of which Muslims are unaware, or that can be regarded a significant matter with which Allah perfected the religion and completed the favour. It has nothing but an ample of precepts that are cited by the Holy Qur’ān and the Prophet (may Allah’s peace and benediction be upon him and his Progeny), during several occasions, emphasizing on them on ‘Arafāt Day. The following are the precepts stated in the sermon as recorded by all narrators;
• Allah has made inviolable for you your blood and properties as the inviolability of this month and this day you are in.
• Observe your duty toward Allah and wrong not mankind in their goods, and do not act corruptly, making mischief in the earth. Whoever has a trust (amānah) should restore it to its owner.
• People in Islam are equal, no favour is there for an Arab over a non-Arab but only through piety.
• Every blood consgnauinity that was in the Islamic era (Jahiliyyah) is under my foot, and every usury that was made in the Jahiliyyah is under my foot.
• O Mankind, know that selling on credit is increasement in ingratitude... know that time is changed, returning to its first shape when Allah created the heavens and earth.
• Verily, the number of the months with Allah is twelve months by Allah’s ordinance, four of them are sacred.
• I recommend you to treat women kindly, you have taken them as wives under Allah’s trusteeship, and made their wombs lawful according to the Book of Allah.
• I recommend you to be kind to those whom your right hands possess, feed them of what you eat and make them wear of what you wear.
• The Muslim is the brother to the Muslim, he never cheats, betrays or backbites him; unlawful for him is his blood or anything of his properties.
• The Satan has been hopeless to be worshipped any more, but to be obeyed in other than the acts of you that you despise.
• The worst enemy for Allah is the one who avenges from other than his killer, and the beater of other than that who beat him. Whoever be ungrateful to the favour of his masters, is ungrateful to what Allah has revealed unto Muhammad. And whoever belongs to other than his (real) father, upon him will be the curse of Allah and the angels and all people.
• I am commanded to fight with people till they say: No god is there but Allah and I am the Messenger of Allah. And when they utter it (the witness), their blood and properties shall be protected from me except when it serves them right, and their reckoning is with Allah.
• Don’t return after me as infidels, and misguided, smiting the neck of each other of you.
Those were all the points mentioned in the sermon of ‘Arafāt during the hajjat al-wadā‘, the chapters of which are collected from all the authentic sources so as not to leave any of his (S) precepts reported by the muhaddithun. Do they have anything new in relation to the Sahābah? Nay, whatever it contained is stated in the Qur’ān, and its verdict (hukm) is demonstrated in the Prophetic Sunnah. And the Messenger of Allah (S) has spent his whole life explaining for people whatever was revealed for them, teaching them all the minute details of affairs and necessities in life.
So no sense then in the revelation of the verse of “perfection of religion, completion of favour, and ‘Allah’s approval”, after these precepts (wasāyā) that are known by all Muslims, but reiterated by him (S) for the sake of emphasis, since this was the first time people could meet around him in that huge multitude, besides his informing them before going out to perform the hajj, that it was his last hajj pilgrimage, the fact obligating him to give them those precepts.
But when approving of the second notion, i.e. the revelation of the verse on the day of Ghadir Khumm, after designating al-’Imām ‘Ali as a successor to the Prophet (S) and lord of the faithful, the meaning will be more appropriate and congruous. Because to succeed the Prophet (S) being the most important affair, and it is improper for Allah to leave His bondmen aimless, and for the Prophet (s) to depart people without appointing a successor, leaving his Ummah without a custodian. This is more affirmed while knowing that he never used to depart al-Madinah but after designating someone as his successor, from among his Companions over it, so how can we believe that he passes away without thinking of the matter of caliphate??
And when the contemporary atheists believe in this rule, hastening to designate a successor to the President even before his death, to administer the people affairs, never forsaking them without a president! So how can it be reasoned that Islam, which is the most perfect and complete religion, with which Allah sealed all the legislations, may neglect such a critical issue?!
We have previously recognized that ‘A’ishah and Ibn ‘Umar, and before them Abu Bakr and ‘Umar, altogether realized the necessity of designating a caliph or “otherwise a sedition might take place”. This fact was realized by the caliphs who succeeded them, as all of them designated successors after them, so how is it possible that such a sagacity be ignored by Allah and His Messenger??!
To hold that Allah, the Glorified, has revealed to His Messenger in the first verse (verse of proclamation), when he was returning from hajjat al-wadā‘, to designate ‘Ali as his successor saying: “O Messenger! Deliver that which hath been revealed unto thee from thy Lord, for if thou do it not, thou wilt not have conveyed His message. Allah will protect thee from mankind.” That is: O Muhammad, if you don’t deliver what I have ordered you, that ‘Ali is the master of the faithful after you, it will be as if you have never completed the mission with which you were delegated, since to perfect the religion with Imamate being something essential for all men of reason.
Seemingly the Prophet (may Allah’s peace and benediction be upon him and his Progeny) was afraid of their objection against him or denying him. In some narrations the Prophet (S) is reported to have said: Gabriel has brought me the commandment of my Lord to stand in this place and inform every white and black that: "‘Ali ibn Abi Tālib is my brother, executor (wasi), successor and the Imam (leader) after me. I asked Gabriel to seek my Lord’s exempting me of this task, due to my awareness of the scarcity of the pious and multiplicity of those vexing and blaming me due to my long association to ‘Ali and strong likeness to him, to the extent that they called me a hearer, whereat the Almighty revealed: "And of them are those who vex the Prophet and say: He is only a hearer. Say: A hearer of good for you..." (9:61). If I wish to mention their names I could do, but I had kindness through choosing to conceal them. But Allah never accepted save to proclaim the order regarding him. So be informed O multitudes of people, that Allah has designated him as a guardian (wali) and Imam for you, making obedience to him incumbent upon everyone...(the sermon).52
When the words “and Allah will protect thee from mankind” were revealed unto him, he immediately hastened to comply to the commandment of his Lord, when he appointed ‘Ali as a vicegerent after him, commanding his Companions to congratulate him for attaining the leadership of the believers, and so did they. Then this verse was revealed unto them: “This day have I perfected your religion for you and completed My favour unto you, and have chosen for you Islam as a religon.”
Added to this, some of Ahl al-Sunnah ‘ulama’ expressly admit that the verse of proclamation (āyāt al-balāgh) was revealed in regard of ‘Ali’s Imamate. They have reported on the authority of Ibn Mardawayh, from Ibn Mas’ud that he said: During the lifetime of the Messenger of Allah (S), we used to read: "O Messenger, Deliver that which hath been revealed unto you from thy Lord—that ‘Ali is guardian of the faithful—for if thou do it not, thou wilt not have conveyed His message. Allah will protect thee from mankind.53
When adding to this research the narrations of the Shi‘ah, reported from the Pure Imams, the fact be made clear will be that Allah has perfected His religion by Imamate. That is why Imamate is regarded in the perspective of the Shi‘ah as one of the principles of religion (usul al-Din).
With the Imamate of ‘Ali ibn Abi Tālib, Allah has completed His favour unto the Muslims, so as not to be left neglected, allured and affeted by desires, scattered by seditions, or be dispersed like sheep without a shepherd.
He approved Islam as a religion for them, as He chose for them Imams, far from whom He removed uncleanness and cleansed a thorough cleansing, bestowing upon them wisdom, and causing them to inherit the knowledge of the Scripture, to be the executors of Muhammad (S). So it is incumbent upon Muslims to consent to Allah’s judgement and choise, submitting with full submission, since the general concept of Islam being full submission to Allah as said by the Almighty Allah "And thy Lord createth whatever He willeth and chooseth too; it is not theirs to choose; Glorified be Allah and Exalted High is He (far) above what they join (with Him).
“And thy Lord knoweth what concealeth their breasts and what they declare. And He is God, there is no god but He! His is all praise, in the first and (in) the last, and His is the authority, and unto Him (only) ye shall be returned”. (28:68-70)
From all this, it can be concluded that the Day of Ghadir was chosen by the Messenger of Allah (S) as a feast, as after designating al-’Imām ‘Ali, and revelation of the verse “This day have I perfected your religion for you...” unto him, he declared: All praise is Allah’s for perfecting the religion, and completing the favour, and the Lord’s approval of my message and the wilāyah (mastership) of ‘Ali ibn Abi Tālib after me.54 Then he arranged for him a congratulation meeting, sitting (S) inside a tent, making Ali to sit beside him, commanding all Muslims, including his wives, the mothers of the faithful, to enter upon him in crowds and congratulate him for his post, and greet him for receiving the leadership of the faithful. And so did people whatever they were commanded to, with Abu Bakr and ‘Umar being among those congratulating Amir al-Mu’minin ‘Ali ibn Abi Tālib on that occasion. They came to him exclaiming: Congratulations! O son of Abu Tālib, within a day and night you became our master, and mawlā of every believing man and woman.55
When Hassan ibn Thābit, the poet of the Messenger (may Allah’s peace and benediction be upon him and his Progeny), came to know of the Prophet’s gladness and delightness (of the good tidings) at that day, he said to him: Would you permit me, O Messenger of Allah, to recite on this occasion some (poetic) lines that you hear? He (S) said: Say, with Allah’s blessing. You are still, O Hassan, supported by the sacred Essence as long as you keep on succouring us with your tongue.
Then he chanted, saying:
On Ghadir Day their Prophet calls them
At Khumm, so listen to the Messenger as he calls, ...
up to the other lines of the poem mentioned by the historians.56
But, despite this, Quraysh has chosen for itself (a caliph), disapproving that Prophethood and caliphate to be inside Banu Hāshim alone, so as they do injustice to their people by boasting and showing delightness, as was expressed by ‘Umar ibn al-Khattāb during a conversation held between him and ‘Abd Allāh ibn ‘Abbās.57
No one tolerated to celebrate that feast (‘Id) after its first anniversary, which was celebrated by the Prophet (S). And when the text on caliphate be forgotten and ignored by people after lapse of only two months, with no one referring to it, so how about the anniversary of al-Ghadir that took place one year ago. But this ‘Id (feast) is related to that text regarding the caliphate (of ‘Ali), in a way that when the text becomes oblivious and the cause vanishes, no trace of that feast will be left that can be mentioned.
This fact continued for long years, till right was restored to its owners after twenty-five years, when it was revived by al-’Imām ‘Ali anew after it was about to be obliterated totally. This was at Rahbah when he appealed to the Prophet’s Companions, particularly those attending ‘Id al-Ghadir, to stand up and witness before people concerning the bay‘ah (swearing allegiance) of caliphate. Thereat thirty Companions, including sixteen Badris (those who participated in the Battle of Badr), stood up and gave testimony.58 But whoever concealed the testimony and claimed forgetfulness—like Anas ibn Mālik who was inflict.ed by the prayer of ‘Ali ibn Abi Tālib—could never leave his place but affected with leprosy, weeping and saying: I am befallen by the prayer of the upright bondman (al-‘abd al-sālih) because I have concealed his witness.59
In this way Abu al-Hasan established the proof upon this Ummah. Ever since to the present time, and upto the Doomsday, the Shi‘ah celebrate the anniversary of the Ghadir Day, which they hold as the greatest feast (al-‘id al-akbar). True, it is so, since it being the day in which Allah has perfected for us the religion, and completed unto us the favour, and chosen for us Islam to be the religion, being a day of great position with Allah, and His Messenger, and the faithful. Some of Ahl al-Sunnah ‘ulamā’ are reported to have said on the authority of Abu Hurayrah that he said: When the Messenger of Allah (S) took ‘Ali by the hand and said: Of whomever I am his master, ‘Ali also is his master...up to the end of the sermon, Allah—the Almighty and the Glorious—revealed this verse: "This day have I perfected for you, your religion, and have completed My favour on you, and chosen for you Islam (to be) the religion", whereat Abu Hurayrah said: It is the Day of Ghadir Khumm; whoever fasts on the day of 18th of Dhu al-Hijjah, it will be recorded for him as if he fasted sixty months.60
Concerning the narrations of the Shi‘ah reported from Ahl al-Bayt Imams (peace be upon them), in regard of the excellences of that day, you can say what you like. And all praise is Allah’s for bestowing guidance upon us, when making us among those adhering to the guardianship (wilāyah) of Amir al-Mu’minin and celebrating the Feast of Ghadir (‘Id al-Ghadir).
To sum up, the Hadith al-Ghadir (of Whomever I am his master [mawlā], ‘Ali also is his master. O Allah, befriend whoever befriends him and be the enemy of his enemy, and help whoever helps him and forsake whoever forsakes him, and keep the haqq (truth) always with him) is a tradition, or rather a great historical event upon whose reporting all the Islamic Ummah has unanimously agreed. We have previously referred to three hundred and sixty of Ahl al-Sunnah ‘ulamā’ with a far larger number from among the Shi‘ah ‘ulamā’.
Whoever desires to get more details, is asked to refer to the book al-Ghadir of al-‘Allāmah al-’Amini. After this exposition, it is no wonder to see the Islamic Ummah divided into two sects: Sunnah and Shi‘ah. The former adhering to the principle of shurā in the Saqifah of Banu Sa’idah, interpolating the express texts, contradicting thus the unanimously accepted Hadith al-Ghadir, and other texts.
Whereas the second sect adhered to those texts, never accepting any other alternative, and swore allegiance to the Twelve Imams, never desiring to be removed from thence. True it is, as when I investigate into the school of Ahl al-Sunnah, especially the issue of caliphate, I see the questions being based on surmise and exertion of opinion (ijtihād). All this is due to the fact that the rule of election is devoid of any definite evidence that the person we elect today being superior to others, since we are unaware of the traitor of the eyes, and that which the bosoms hide, And since we are combined in fact of emotions and partisanships and egoism harboured inside our hearts, which will play their effective role, when we are intrusted with the task of choosing one person from among many.
This thesis is not an imagination or an exaggeration, as anyone following up the idea of electing a caliph, will realize that this principle for which he propagates, has not managed and will never succeed at all.
The example is clear in Abu Bakr, the head of shurā, who, despite attaining the post of caliphate (through choosing and shurā), rushed to appoint ‘Umar ibn al-Khattāb as his successor, while being on deathbed, without resorting to the principle of shurā. Another example is ‘Umar ibn al-Khattāb, who participated in founding the caliphate of Abu Bakr, announcing publicly, after Abu Bakr’s demise, that swearing allegiance to Abu Bakr was a slip may Allah protect the Muslims against its evil.61
Then when ‘Umar was stabbed, and was sure of his approaching hour, he hastened to nominate six persons to elect, in their turn, one from among them to the post of caliphate. He was certain that a dispute was to erupt among them despite their small number, companionship, precedence in embracing Islam, and extent of godliness and piety (taqwā) they had. Despite all this, it was evident that the act would arouse in them the human emotions against which no one being immune but the ma‘sum (infallible). Therefore, for settling the dispute, he preferred ‘Abd al-Rahmān ibn ‘Awf (over ‘Ali) saying: When you differ, you should take the side of ‘Abd al-Rahmān ibn ‘Awf. But we observed afterwards that they chose al-’Imām ‘Ali to be a caliph over them, stipulating on him to rule according to the Book of Allah and the Sunnah of His Messenger and that of the Shaykhayn (Abu Bakr and ‘Umar).
Thereat ‘Ali accepted the first condition, the Book of Allah and His Messenger’s Sunnah, refusing the sunnah of the Shaykhayn62 while both the conditions were accepted by ‘Uthmān to whom they swore allegiance as a caliph. About this ‘Ali said:
“...But good Heavens! What I to do with this ‘Consultation’? Where was any doubt about me with regard to the first of them that I was now considered akin to these ones? But I remained low when they were low and flew high when they flew high. One of them turned against me because of his hatred and the other got inclined the other way due to his in-law relationship and this thing and that thing...”63
When these, though being the elect of Muslims and the upper class, are so affected by sentiments in a way they harbour grudge and partisanship between this thing and that thing, (in exposing this statement Muhammad ‘Abduh says: Al-’Imām ‘Ali refers to other purposes disdaining from mentioning them), say farewell to the world then.
But ‘Abd al-Rahmān ibn ‘Awf regretted later on his choice, being angry with ‘Uthmān, charging him with breaking the promise, when noticing the bad consequences of his covenant. He was visited by the distinguished companions, then, who said to him: O ‘Abd al-Rahmān, this is the making of your hands. He said to them: I have never thought him to be so, but I swear by Allah that I shall never talk to him at all. then ‘Abd al-Rahmān died while being at odds with ‘Uthmān, to the extent that it is reported that when ‘Uthmān entered upon him to visit him in his illness, he (‘Abd al-Rahmān) turned his face towards the wall, without talking to him.64
Then the known developments took place, which ended with the revolt against ‘Uthmān that resulted in his murder, after which the Ummah returned again to elect another Caliph, when they chose ‘Ali for this post. But what a pity for bondmen as the Islamic State faced a great turmoil, turning to be a stage for the hypocrites, and his (‘Ali’s) opposing and tyrannical foes who were covetous for assuming the rostrum of caliphate at any cost, and through any means, even by putting the innocent souls to death.
Throughout those twenty-five years (when ‘Ali was deprived his right), the rules (ahkām) of Allah and His Messenger were changed, with al-’Imām ‘Ali finding himself in the midst of a tumultuous sea, clashing waves, pitchy darkness and overwhelming caprices. He spent the years of his caliphate in bloody wars imposed on him by the Nakithin (breakers of oath of allegiance), Qasitin (iniquitous) and Mariqin (renegades) that ended in his martyrdom. This while he was, feeling pity for the Ummah of Muhammad (S), for whom covetted the divorced (taliq) and son of the divorced, Mu‘āwiyah ibn Abi Sufyān, and his likes such as ‘Amr ibn al-‘As, al-Mughirah ibn Shubah and Marwan ibn al-Hakam beside many others. The only thing that emboldened these people was the idea of consultation (shurā) and selection.
Thereat the Ummah of Muhammad (S) plunged into a sea of blood, with their insolents and wicked ones seizing their affairs, and the shurā turning to the mordacious king, and to Caesarism and Chosroism.
Then that era, which was called by them al-Khilāfah al-Rāshidah (the Rightly-guided Caliphate), and its four caliphs were called al-Rashidun (the Righty-guided) while in fact even those four did not become caliphs through election and consultation (shurā), except Abu Bakr and ‘Ali. Excluding Abu Bakr, since the oath of allegiance to him was a sudden lapse, without the presence of the opposition party as said nowadays, which was represented by ‘Ali and the rest of Banu Hāshim, with those sharing their beliefs, no one to whom the oath of allegiance was sworn in the shurā and election, will be left but ‘Ali ibn Abi Tālib, who was unwillingly acknowledged by Muslims, with some Sahābah remaining behind, but he neither imposed the allegiance upon them nor, threatened them.
It was Allah’s will that ‘Ali ibn Abi Tālib be the successor of the Messenger of Allah by a determination from Allah — the Glorified — and election by the Muslims, with the whole Islamic Ummah — Sunnah and Shi‘ah-unanimously admitting his caliphate, with their disagreement concerning the caliphate of others as was commonly known. Alas, for people, had they accepted that which was chosen by Allah for them, they would have eaten from above their heads, and underneath their feet (ground), with Allah’s bestowing over them blessings from the sky, and the Muslims’ being the masters and leaders of the world, as willed by Allah if they follow Him:
"...for ye will overcome them if ye are (indeed) believers." (3:139)
But our manifest enemy, the accursed Iblis, addressed the Lord of Glory, by saying:
"Now, because Thou hast sent me astray, verily I shall lurk in ambush for them on Thy Right Path. Then I shall come upon them from before them and from behind them and from their right hands and from their left hands, and Thou wilt not find most of them beholden (unto Thee)". (7:16-17).
Any sane man observing nowadays the situation of Muslims all over the world, being obsequrious, unable to do anything, running after other countries, recognizing Israel which never recognizes them, nor even allowing them to enter Quds, that turned to be a capital for it. Making a glance at the homeland of Muslims today, we can see them being at the mercy of America and Russia, with their peoples being inflicted with poverty, starving to death, whereas the European dogs eating different kinds of meat and fish. There is neither might nor power but in Allah, the Most High, the Great.
The lady of women, Fātimah al-Zahrā’ (may Allah’s peace be upon her), when being at odds with Abu Bakr, delivering her famous sermon to the women of the Muhāirun (immigrants) and Ansār (helpers), prophesied at the end of her sermon about the fate of the Ummah, saying:
“By my life! Time is fecundated, so wait till it gives fruit, then milk pure blood and deadly poison, as much as that which fills up the vessel, and the followers of vanity will then be lost, and the latter shall recognize the consequence of what befell the earlier ones. Then renounce your world, and be undismayed for sedition, awaiting a sharp sword, and authority of a tyrannical aggressor, and an all-inclusive uproar, with despotism befalling you from the oppressors, rendering your shade so trivial, and your assemblage cut down. Alas for you, and where are you to go, while it has been made obscure to you, can we compel you to accept it when you are averse thereto.”65
The lady of all women said the truth through her prophecy, as she is the offspring of Prophethood and source of message. Her words came true regarding the life of the Ummah, and it is not known that the destiny awaiting the Ummah may be uglier than the past, that is because they are averse to that which Allah has revealed, therefore made their actions fruitless.
The important element to complement the research, that is worth mentioning and investigation, may be the sole objection that most often be raised when the obstinates being dumbfounded by irrefutable arguments, whereat they resort to wondering and denying that a hundred thousand Companions attended the event of nominating al-’Imām ‘Ali (as a caliph). They all conspired to oppose and turn away from him, though some of them were the best of Companions, and most honourable of the Ummah!
I was encountered with such an event in particular when launching my research, as I couldn’t believe, nor does anyone, that the issue being laid in this way. But when studying the issue with all its dimensions, no wonder will remain in the minds, as the issue is not the way we imagine or as presented by Ahl al-Sunnah, as it is far from one hundred thousand Companions to contradict the Messenger’s commandment, so how did the event befall?
First: Not all those who attended the oath of allegiance at al-Ghadir, were living in al-Madinah, but only, as was supposed, three or four thousand of them. And when knowing that a large number among them were bondmen, slaves and the oppressed (mustad‘fun) who came to the Messenger of Allah (S) from numerous regions, having no tribe or clan in al-Madinah, like Ahl al-Siffah, only half of them, i.e. only two thousand are left, who themselves were committed to the chieftains and system of the clan to which they belonged. The Messenger of Allah took their recognizance on this, that whenever visited by any delegation he would entrust their head and master with their leadership. Thus a new term in Islam was found when they were called Ahl al-Hall wa al-‘Aqd (men of resolution and decision).
Considering the meeting of al-Saqifah which was held immediately after the demise of the Messenger, we will come to know that those attending it who took the decision of electing Abu Bakr as a caliph, were, at the most, less than one hundred in total. That was because none of the Ansār, people of al-Madinah, attended there except their masters and leaders. And this was true also in regard of the Muhājirun, the Meccans: who migrated with the Messenger (S), of whom only three or four persons attended, as representatives for Quraysh.
Sufficient be for us as a proof, is to imagine the size of al-Saqifah, as all of us are aware of the truth about al-Saqifah, that was present in every and each house, as it was not a hall for (holding) parties or a palace for convening conferences. We exaggerate when telling about the presence of a hundred persons at the Saqifah of Banu Sa’idah, in order that the researcher may apprehend that the hundred thousand were neither present nor having knowledge of what happened in the Saqifah, but only after quite long time, since there were neither telecommunications, nor wireless sets, nor satellites.
Thus these chiefs concurred on nominating Abu Bakr, despite the objection of the Master of Ansār Sa’d ibn ‘Ubādah, the head of Tribe of Khazraj, and his son Qays. But the overwhelming majority (as said nowadays) made. covenant and agreed on acknwoeldging him, though most of the Muslims were absent of the Saqifah, with some of them being engaged in making preparations for the burial of the Messenger (S), or distracted at the news of his death, beside being threatened by ‘Umar ibn al-Khattāb against announcing about his death.66
Added to this, the Messenger of Allah has mobilized most of the Companions within the army of Usāmah, those who stationed at Jurf, neither attending the burial ceremonies of the Prophet (S) nor the gathering of al-Saqifah.
After all those events, is it reasonable that clan members dare to object their chieftain, especially that to him belongs the virtue and great honour in regard of the covenant he made, for which every tribe was striving and longing. Who knows, it is probable that they, one day, be honoured with the post of mastership over all Muslims, all over the world, since its legitimate owner was excluded of it, with the issue turning to be a shurā, of which they were making use frequently. So why wouldn’t they be delighted at that or supporting it?
Second: When the men of resolution and decision, the Madinah dwellers, would confirm any matter, it would be infeasible for the distant far away people living on the outskirts of the Peninsula to declare any objection, while being unaware of what was going on during their absence, since the means of transportation in that era were primitive. Besides, they would imagine that since the Madinah-dwellers living during the lifetime of the Messenger of Allah, so they should be better aware of the new rulings and precepts that may be revealed at any hour and day. Then the chieftain who was far away of the capital had nothing to do with the caliphate, as for him it made no difference who the caliph, would be whether Abu Bakr or ‘Ali or anyone else, since the people of Makkah are better aware of its mountain passes. And that which mattered him more was preserving his post as the chieftain of his clan with no rival.
It is uncertain, whether someone of them has questioned about the matter looking up to the information but was silenced by the ruling devices, either through temptation or intimidation. The episode of Mālik ibn Nuwayrah, who refused to pay the zakāt (alms-due). to Abu Bakr, can be the best evidence proving this.
Anyone pursuing those events that took place in fighting the deniers of zakāt, during the caliphate of Abu Bakr, will verily see many contradictions, never being convinced with what is reported by the historians, for the sake of safeguarding the dignity of the Sahābah, particularly the rulers among them.
Third: The element of surprise in the issue played a great role in admitting what is called today the “matter of act” or “status quo”. We noticed how the meeting of al-Saqifah was held all of a sudden, away of the attention of the Companions who were busy arranging for the burial of the Messenger (S), among whom being al-’Imām ‘Ali, al-’Abbas with the rest of Banu Hāshim, al-Miqdād, Salmān, Abu Dharr, Ammār and al-Zubayr, beside many others. When those who attended the Saqifah went out accompanying Abu Bakr to the mosque, calling for public oath of allegiance to him, and people were coming forward in groups and flocks voluntarily and forcibly, al-’Imām ‘Ali and his followers had not yet finished their Holy duty as prescribed by their sublime morals. It was improper for them to leave the Messenger of Allah without washing, shrouding and burial, hastening to the Saqifah to struggle about the caliphate.
As soon as they completed their obligation, the allegiance was already acknowledged for Abu Bakr, with whoever lingering behind being counted among those seditious renegading against the Muslims, that should be opposed or even killed by Muslims if necessary. Consequently, it is reported that ‘Umar threatened to kill anyone refusing to swear allegiance to Abu Bakr, declaring: Kill him, he is seditious.67 Then he threatened those who lingered in ‘Ali’s house to burn the house with whoever was inside it. Further, when we know the opinion of ‘Umar ibn al-Khattāb regarding the oath of allegiance (bay‘ah), we will come to recognize the solutions of many bewildering enigmas.
He holds that the validity of allegiance could be established only when any of the Muslims manages to attain to it, whereat all the others should follow and obey him, and anyone lingering behind was considered out of the pale of Islam, that should be slain.
Herein his words about himself, when referring to bay‘ah (allegiance), as reported by al-Bukhāri in his Sahih.68 He said: It is reported concerning what happened at the Saqifah.
“There was much clamour, and confused sounds were raised to the extent that it was impossible to distinguish them, when I said: O Abu Bakr, open your hand... and so did he. Thereat I swore allegiance to him, and so did the Muhajirun69 and Ansār, and we allied Sa’d ibn ‘Ubādah, when someone of them said: You have killed Sa’d ibn ‘Ubādah. I said: May Allah kill Sa’d ibn ‘Ubādah. Thereat we (‘Umar says): couldn’t see any matter stronger than swearing allegiance to Abu Bakr. That which made us worried was that people may depart us with no allegiance being sworn, so as to swear allegiance to a man from among them after that, whereat there could be only two alternatives before us: either to acknowledge unwillingly the one they acknowledged (as a caliph), or to contradict them and cause corruption to prevail. Since anyone swearing allegiance to any man without consulting the Muslims, neither he nor the one who swore allegiance to him will be followed, lest that they both should be slain.”
Thus, the issue according to ‘Umar’s view is not election or nomination or consultation (shurā), but it suffices that one from among the Muslims hastens towards allegiance so as to be a proof for the others. So he said to Abu Bakr. Open your hand O Abu Bakr. Then he (Abu Bakr) extended his hand and ‘Umar swore allegiance to him without any consultation or meditation, for fear of that another one might hasten towards it. ‘Umar has expressed this opinion by saying: That which made us worried was that people may depart us with no allegiance being sworn, so as to swear allegiance to a man from among them after that (‘Umar feared that the Ansār [Helpers] might outstrip him and acknowledge someone from among them). This fact becomes even more explicit when he says: Thereat only two alternatives were left before us: either to acknowledge unwillingly the one they acknowledged (as a caliph), or to contradict them and cause corruption to prevail.70
To be equitable in our judgement and precise in investigation, we have to admit that ‘Umar ibn al-Khattāb has changed his viewpoint concerning the oath of allegiance (bay‘ah) in the last days of his life. That was when a man entered upon him, during his last hajj pilgrimage, with the presence of ‘Abd al-Rahmān ibn ‘Awf, and said: O Amir al-Muminin, have you heard so and so say: Had ‘Umar died, I would have sworn allegiance to so and so. By Allah the oath of allegiance to Abu Bakr was but a slip that was done. This aroused ‘Umar’s anger who stood and addressed people, after returning to Madinah, saying in particular:
“I was informed that so and so among you says: By Allah had ‘Umar died I would have acknowledged so and so. No one should be self-conceited to say that the acknowledgement to Abu Bakr was but a slip that was done, as even it was truly so but Allah safeguarded (us) against its evil...71 Then he says: Whoever swears allegiance to anyone without consultation with other Muslims, neither be nor the one to whom he sworn allegiance will be acknowledged lest they should be killed...”72
Would that ‘Umar ibn al-Khattāb was of this opinion on the Saqifah Day, never overruling the Muslims by his swear of allegiance to Abu Bakr, that was a slip against whose evil Allah has protected us, as he himself testified. But far it be for ‘Umar to have such a new opinion, since he issued a death sentence against himself and his comrade, when disclosing in his novel nviewpoint: "Anyone swearing allegiance to some man without consulting the Muslims, neither he nor the one to whom he swore allegiance shall be acknowledged, lest they should be killed both."
That which we should know more, being the reason why had ‘Umar, in the last days of his life, changed his opinion though he was aware, more than others, that his new opinion had blasted the acknowledgement to Abu Bakr outright. Since it is him who hastened to swear allegiance to him with no consultation with Muslims so as to be a slip, and he himself overturned his own acknowledgement, as he attained to caliphate through determination by Abu Bakr on his deathbed, without consulting other Muslims. This act made some Companions enter upon Abu Bakr disapproving his decision in appointing a stern and rude man as a ruler over them.73 And when ‘Umar went out to read for the people the letter of Abu Bakr, a man questioned him: O Abu Hafs, what does the letter contain? He replied: I know not, but I shall be the first to listen and obey. The man said: But, by Allah, I know what it does contain: You have made him a ruler in the first year, and he appointed you a ruler this year.74
This exactly resembles al-Imam ‘Ali’s saying to ‘Umar (when observing him compel people by duress to swear allegiance to Abu Bakr):
“Prepare a scheme whose half shall be yours, and reinforce it for him today, he will recompense you tomorrow.”75
Of significance is to know the reason why ‘Umar changed his opinion regarding allegiance! I think that he came to know that some of the Sahābah intending to swear allegiance to ‘Ali ibn Abi Tālib after the death of ‘Umar, the fact that was never to be accepted by ‘Umar, who contradicted the express texts, opposing the Messenger’s writing them that book.76 As he came to know its content, till be accused him (S) of hallucination, threatening people against disclosing his death 77 lest that people should rush to swear allegiance to ‘Ali. Then he arranged for acknowledging allegiance to Abu Bakr, forcing people to it by duress, threatening to kill whoever renouncing this allegiance,78 all this for the only reason being excluding ‘Ali from caliphate.
So how would be accept someone to say that he would acknowledge so and so after the death of ‘Umar, especially that this one (whose name was kept secret, and he might be among the great companions) might argue with what ‘Umar did in swearing allegiance to Abu Bakr, when saying: By Allah, the swear of Allegiance to Abu Bakr was but a slip and was done with. That is, despite its occurrence all of a sudden, without awareness of the Muslims or consulting them, but it was done and came true. That is why ‘Umar allowed himself to do it with Abu Bakr, so how wouldn’t it be permissible for him to do it in the same way with so and so. It is noticed here that Ibn ‘Abbās, ‘Abd al-Rahmān ibn ‘Awf and ‘Umar ibn al-Khattāb abstain from disclosing the name of that utterer with the name of the one he intended to swear allegiance to.
And since these two were of great importance for the Muslims, so we observed how ‘Umar got angry for this saying, embarking on the next Friday to address the people, by pointing out the issue of caliphate, surprising them with his new opinion, to close the door before that who wanted to repeat the same slip as this would be for the good of his foe. But out of this discussion, we understood that this statement being not only the opinion of so and so, but also of so many Companions. That is why al-Bukhāri is reported to have said: So ‘Umar got angry and said: God-willing, I shall address people tonight, to warn those intending to usurp them their affairs...79
Then, ‘Umar’s changing his opinion concerning the oath of allegiance, was only a sign of objection against those intending to seize the people’s affairs and swear allegiance to ‘Ali, the fact that could never be accepted by ‘Umar, since he was of the opinion that caliphate being one of people’s affairs, and not a right for ‘Ali ibn Abi Tālib. Had this belief been correct, why would he have allowed himself to usurp people of their affairs after the demise of the Prophet (S), rushing to swear allegiance to Abu Bakr without consulting the Muslims?
The stand of Abu Hafs toward Abu al-Hasan is widely known, being excluding him away from power. We have reached this conclusion not only through his previous sermon, but anyone following up the course of history can realize that ‘Umar ibn al-Khattāb was the actual ‘ruler even during Abu Bakr’s caliphate. So we noticed how Abu Bakr sought permission of Usāmah ibn Zayd to let ‘Umar ibn al-Khattāb stay with him to help him undertake the caliphate affair.127 80Nevertheless, ‘Ali ibn Abi Tālib was kept away from any responsibility, as they have neither charged him with any post, or governorship, nor given him commandment of any army, nor entrusted him any treasure, throughout the caliphate of Abu Bakr, ‘Umar and ‘Uthmān, and all of us know who ‘Ali ibn Abi Tālib was stranger than this, we are told by history books that ‘Umar, on his death bed, regretted the death of Abu ‘Ubaydah ibn al-Jarrāh or Sālim the master of Abu Hudhayfah, and their non-being present so as to nominate them to succeed him.
But, undoubtedly, on remembering that he changed his opinion regarding this bay‘ah (oath of allegiance), considering it a slip and an usurpation of the Muslims’ affairs, he would have no choice but to invent a new method for swearing allegiance, to be an intermediate compromise. So that no one would take the initiative and swear allegiance to whomever he considers competent for it, compelling people to follow his guide. That is, exactly as was done by him for Abu Bakr, and by Abu Bakr for him, or as intended to be done by so and so who was expecting ‘Umar’s death to swear allegiance to his favorite, but all this being impossible after it (bay‘ah) was considered by ‘Umar as a slip and usurpation. Also, it is infeasible for him to leave the affair to be determined through shurā among the Muslims, while he attended the meeting of al-Saqifah after the demise of the Prophet (S), witnessing by his own eyes the dispute which could result in taking away of lives and shedding of blood.
At last he contrived the idea of Ashab al-Shurā or the six men, who were entitled alone to elect the caliph, with no room for anyone to share them in this right. ‘Umar was well aware that dispute would surely erupt among these six men, the fact prompting him to recommend them to be, in case of difference, on the side of ‘Abd al-Rahmān ibn ‘Awf even if this could lead to slaying of those three
opposing ‘Abd al-Rahmān. This be in case of occurrence of split and the six being divided into two parts, which could never happen, since ‘Umar knew well that Sa’d ibn Abi Waqqās being the cousin of ‘Abd al-Rahmān, and both belong to Banu Zuhrah, and that Sa’d would never love ‘Ali, harbouring grudge against him as ‘Ali killed his uncles from ‘Abd Shams. Further, ‘Umar was quite aware that ‘Abd al-Rahmān ibn ‘Awf, being the brother-in-law of ‘Uthmān, as his wife Umm Kulthum was ‘Uthmān’s sister, and that Talhah having inclination toward ‘Uthmān due to relations between them as reported by some narrators.
The evidence proving his inclination toward ‘Uthmān can be sought in his turning away from ‘Ali, due to his belonging to the Tribe of Taym, and it was known that many disputes were there between Banu Hāshim and Banu Taym, due to Abu Bakr’s ambition to attain caliphate.81 ‘Umar was aware of all this, the reason for which he chose these people in particular.
All these six people who were selected by ‘Umar, were from Quraysh, and from among Muhājirun (Emigrants) with no one from the Ansār (Helpers), and each one of them represents and heads a tribe of great importance and influence. They are:
1. ‘Ali ibn Abi Tālib, chief of Banu Hāshim.
2. ‘Uthmān ibn ‘Affān, chief of Banu Umayyah.
3. ‘Abd al-Rahmān ibn ‘Awf, chief of Banu Zuhrah.
4. Sa’d ibn Abi Waqqās, from Banu Zuhrah and his uncles belong to Banu Ummayyah.
5. Talhah ibn ‘Ubayd Allāh, the master of Banu Taym
6. Al-Zubayr ibn al-‘Awwām, the son of Safiyyah— the Messenger’s aunt — and he was the husband of Asmā’ the daughter of Abu Bakr.
These were the men of resolution and determination with their judgement being obligatory upon all Muslims, whether being inhabitants of the metropolis (centre of caliphate) or others from all over the Islamic world. Then all Muslims have no choice but to adhere and obey, without any disputation, and death will be the fate of anyone refusing or contradicting the commandment. This, exactly, the point we wanted the reader to be aware of, beforehand, in regard of concealing the news about the text of al-Ghadir.
Knowing the mentalities, emotions and ambitions of these six men, ‘Umar has in fact nominated ‘Uthmān ibn ‘Affān for caliphate, or he was aware that the majority of them were averse to acknowledging ‘Ali. Otherwise, why and according to which right he preferred ‘Abd al-Rahmān ibn ‘Awf to ‘Ali ibn Abi Tālib, while the Muslims have ever since been disputing about the superiority of ‘Ali and Abu Bakr, with no one daring to make contrast between ‘Ali and ‘Abd al-Rahmān ibn ‘Awf.
At this point I should make a halt, to question Ahl a-Sunnah who believe in the Shurā principle, and all free-thinking men thus: How do you reconcile betwen the shurā (consultation) in its Islamic sense and this notion that indicates nothing but stubborness since it was him who chose those people not the Muslims? And if his attaining to caliphate be a slip, how would he permit himself to impose those six men upon Muslims?
It seems that ‘Umar believes the caliphate to be a right for the Muhājirun (Emigrants) alone, without being disputed by others regarding this right. Moreover, ‘Umar holds, like Abu Bakr, that caliphate being a right owned by Quraysh alone, as among the Muhājirun some are found who don’t belong to Quraysh, or rather who are non-Arabs. So neither Salmān al-Fārsi, nor ‘Ammār ibn Yāsir, nor Bilal al-Habashi, nor Suhayb al-Rumi, nor Abu Dharr al-Ghifāri, nor thousands of the Sahābah not belonging to Quraysh, were entitled to attain the post of caliphate.
This not being just a claim! Never and far from that, but it is their belief as recorded in history books and reported by narrators from them directly. Let’s refer to the very sermon reported by al-Bukhāri and Muslim in their Sahihs:
‘Umar ibn al-Khattāb is reported to have said: I intended to speak, when forging an article I wanted to lay before Abu Bakr, with showing some cajolery. As I intended to begin my speech, Abu Bakr said: Take it easy, so I didn’t like to arouse his anger, and kept silent. Then Abu Bakr spoke, showing more clemency and solemnity than me. By Allah, he never spared any word I liked in my falsification but mentioning the like of or better than it through his intuition, till he paused for a while and then said: You truly deserve all the good traits I did mention to be owned by you (addressing the Ansār), and this matter is never realized but to belong to this locale of Quraysh.82
Thus, it becomes explicit that Abu Bakr and ‘Umar were never believing in the principle of shurā and election. Some historians are reported to have said that Abu Bakr argued with the Ansār (Helpers) by the Messenger’s hadith: "Verily caliphate is in Quraysh", which being a sahih (correct) tradition whereof there is no doubt, whose real text (as reported by al-Bukhāri and Muslim and all Sihāh of the Sunnah, with the Shi‘ah) being thus:
The Messenger of Allah (S) said: “The successors after me are twelve ones, all being from Quraysh.” More explicit than this hadith, is the following saying uttered by the Messenger (S):
“This matter (caliphate) will verily continue to be in Quraysh as long as only two men survive,”83 and his saying: “Mankind being only followers of Quraysh in good and evil.”84
If all Muslims totally believe in these traditions, how would anyone dare to claim that he (S) has left the issue to be determined through consultation (shurā) among Muslims, to choose whoever they will?
There is no way to get rid of this contradiction but through adherence to the sayings of Ahl al-Bayt Imams and their followers (Shi‘ah), with some of Ahl al-Sunnah ‘ulamā’ who affirm that the Messenger of Allah (S) has determined the caliphs, defining them by number and names. Henceforth we can also conceive the position of ‘Umar and his endeavour to confine caliphate within Quraysh, as ‘Umar was known of exerting his opinion (ijtihād) against the texts, even during the lifetime of the Prophet (S). The best evidences that prove our claim can be sought in the Peace Treaty of Hudaybiyyah,85 performing prayer (salāt al-mayyit) on hypocrites,86 the Thursday misfortune,87 and his forbidding to announce the good tidings of Paradise.88
So no wonder to see him exert his opinion, after the demise of the Prophet (S), regarding the hadith text of the caliphate, seeing no obligation in accepting the determination of ‘Ali ibn Abi Tālib who was the youngest of Quraysh, and restricting the right to successorship in Quraysh alone. This fact prompted ‘Umar to choose, before his death, six men from among the magnates of Quraysh to reconcile between the Prophet’s traditions and his viewpoint regarding the right of Quraysh alone to caliphate. Inserting ‘Ali among the other men, with pre-knowledge that they would never elect him, was a plan contrived by ‘Umar to force ‘Ali to share, them the political trickery, as called nowadays, and so that no argument (hujjah) would be left for his (‘Ali’s) followers and supporters believing in his superiority and priority.
But all this was elucidated by al-’Imām ‘Ali (‘a) through a sermon before the public, saying in this regard:
“...Nevertheless, I remained patient despite length of period and stiffness of trial, till when he went away (of death) he put matter (of caliphate) in a group and regarded me to be one of them. But good Heavens! What had I to do with this consultation”? Where was any doubt about me with regard to the first of them that I was now considered akin to these ones? But I remained low when they were low and flew high when they flew high. One of them turned against me because of his hatred and the other got inclined the other way due to his in-law relationship and this thing and that things...”89
Fourth: A-’Imam ‘Ali (peace be upon him) has argued and reasoned with them by everything, but all was in vain. Should ‘Ali beg allegiance from the people who turned their faces away from him, and whose hearts inclined toward other than him. Either out of envy for the favour Allah has bestowed upon him, or out of grudge against him because he killed their valiants, shattered their heroes, coercing them to kneel down, subduing them and destroying their pride through his sword and bravery till making them surrender and embrace Islam. Nevertheless he remained lofty, defending his cousin, fearing no censure, on Allah’s way, from those who censure, never being frustrated by any of the vanities of the world. The Messenger of Allah (S) was fully aware of all this, extolling, throughout opportune times, the virtues of his brother and cousin, so as to make them love him, saying in this respect:
To love “‘Ali is faith and hating him is hypocrisy”90
And: “Ali is from me and I am from him.”91
He also said: “Ali is the wali (guardian) of every believer after me.”92
Further: “‘Ali is the gate of the city of my knowledge and the father of my children.”93
He said too: ‘Ali is the master of the Muslims and Imam of the pious, and leader of the immaculate pure ones.94
But all these traditions have, unfortunately, increased them in jealously and rancour, the fact prompting the Messenger of Allah (S) to summon him, before his death, embracing him and weeping, with saying: “O ‘Ali, I know that there are vindictive feelings harboured inside the bosoms of people which they will divulge for you after me. If they swear allegiance to you, accept it, otherwise you should forbear till you meet me while being wronged.”95
So Abu al-Hasan’s keeping patient, after acknowledging Abu Bakr (as a caliph), was only in response and submission to the Messenger’s testament to him, the fact implying unconcealed wisdom.
Fifth: Added to all this, any Muslim, when reading the Holy Qur’ān, contemplating in its verses, will verily recognize, out of its stories dealing with the earlier nations and peoples, that they were inflicted with more calamites than us. He can witness how Qābil killed Hābil out of injustice and maltreat; with Noah, the grandfather of prophets, could never find from among his folk but a very few, after a total of a thousand years of struggle and strival, with his wife and son being among the disbelievers. Besides, in the village of Lot only one family of believers could be found, and the folk of Pharaoh who were haughty in the land and enslaved mankind, when one believer among them is found, he would conceal his faith, and the brothers of Joseph, the sons of Jacob, though being many, conspire to kill their younger brother not due to any sin he perpetrated but out of jealousy since he was dearer to their father than them. Moreover, another example is in the children of Israel, whom Allah has delivered through Moses, cleaving for them the sea and causing their enemies — Pharaoh and his hosts — to drown, without charging them the pains of fighting. As soon as going out of the sea and before their feet being dried, they came toward some people devoted unto idols, worshipping them, saying to them: O Moses! Make for us a god even as they have gods. He said: Lo! You are a folk who know not.
On his going to the appointed tryst of his Lord, making his brother as a successor over them, they contrived a plot against him intending to slay him, declaring disbelief in Allah and worshipping the calf, killing after that Allah’s prophets, whereat Allah the Exalted said:
"What! (and yet) whenever (thereafter) an apostle came unto you with that which yourselves desired not, swelled ye with pride, some (of the apostles) ye belied (as imposters) and some ye slew." (2:87)
Also we witness our master Yahyā ibn Zakariyyā, despite his being a prophet (of Allah) and a chaste from among the virtuous ones, being slain and his head being gifted to one of the strumpets of Banu Israel.
And again, the Jews and Christians conspire to slaughter and crucify our master Jesus, and the Ummah of Muhammad (S) mobilize an army of thirty thousand to kill al-Husayn, the basil (rayhānah) of the Messenger of Allah and master of the youth of Heavens, who was accompanied with only seventy of his companions. Then they slew them all, including even his suckling children.
So what causes wonder after all this? Is there any wonder after the Prophet’s saying to his Companions:.“You shall verily follow the sunan (conducts) of those who were before you span-by-span and cubit-by-cubit, and even if they enter the lizard hole you will certainly go inside it. They asked: Do you mean the Jews and Christians? He replied: But who would be then (other than them)??”96
Where from to come the wonder while we read what is reported by al-Bukhāri and Muslim from the Messenger of Allah (S):
“On the Doomsday my Companions will be brought unto the left, whereat I would inquire: Whereto (are they brought)? The reply will come: To the Hellfire, and I will say: O my lord, these are my Companions, then it will be said to me. You are unaware of what they have done after you. Thereat I will say: Remote be whoever changed after me, and I can’t see anyone delivered from among them except as few as the forsaken cattle.”97
What wonder when listening to the hadith uttered by the Prophet (s): “My Ummah will be divided, after me, into seventy-three parties, all will go to Fire except only one.”98
And the Most High, the Lord of Glory, and Exaltness, Who knows what is kept in bosoms, disclosed the truth when saying:
“And most believe (it) not, though thou desire it.” (12:103)
“Nay! he hath brought unto them the Truth, but most of them hate the Truth.” (23:70)
“Indeed have We brought unto you with the truth but most of you unto the truth were hateful.” (43:78)
“Be it known verily God’s is what is in the heavens and the earth; Be it (also) known, verily, God’s promise is true, but most of them know not.” (10:55)
“...They allure you with (the sweet words of) their mouths while their hearts are averse (from you), and most of them are transgressors.” (9:8)
“...Verily, God is the Lord of grace for mankind, but most of them thank not.” (10:60)
“They recognize the bounties of God, and yet they deny them, and most of them are infidels.” (16:83)
“And indeed We distribute it (water) to them that may be (thankfully) mindful, but content not the great number of the people but to be thankless.” (25:50)
“And believe not most of them, in God, except as polytheists.” (12:106)
“...Nay! most of them know not the truth, so they turn aside.” (21:24)
“What Wonder ye then at this statement? And laugh ye and not weep? And yet sport ye (negligently)?” (53:59-61)
How shouldn’t I be grieved? Or rather why shoulnd’t every Muslim sigh when looking into these realities, demonstrating the losses that befell the Muslims as a result of excluding al-’Imām ‘Ali from the post of caliphate, for which the Messenger of Allah has designated, depriving the Ummah from his sagacious leadership and abundant sciences.
When any Muslim considers the matter without any fanaticism or prejudice, he will see him (‘Ali) to be the most knowledgeable man after the Messenger (s). History records and testifies that all the Sahābah ‘ulamā’ have asked him the solution of the judicial questions for which they couldn’t find answers, and it is reported that ‘Umar ibn al-Khattāb said more than seventy times: “Had ‘Ali not been there, ‘Umar would have perished,”99 whereas he (‘a) has never asked anyone of them, at all.
Further, history admits that ‘Ali ibn Abi Tālib was the bravest and strongest among the Sahābah, and in many times the valorous among the Companions fled the fighting and battle-fields, while he resisted and took a firm stand throughout all the incidents and wars. A sufficient evidence would be the badge of honour granted to him by the Messenger of Allah (S) saying: “Verily I shall give my standard to a man who loves Allah and His Messenger and is loved by Allah and His Messenger, bearing down upon the enemy, not runaway, whose faith was put to test by Allah,”100 Each one of the Companions longed and desired to be the one meant by this tradition, but he (S) handed it to ‘Ali ibn Abi Tālib.
To sum up, the traits of knowledge, power and bravery distinguishing al-’Imām ‘Ali, being a fact known by all people, near and far, with no any dispute. Regardless of all the texts indicating his Imamah, expressly and allusively, the Holy Qur’ān recognizes no one to be competent for leadership and Imamah except the bold, strong scholar (‘alim), Regarding the obligation of following the ‘ulamā’, Allah the Glorified and Exalted, said:
"...Is then He Who guideth unto truth more worthy to be followed or he who himself goeth not aright unless he is guided? What then hath befallen you? How (ill) ye judge?" (10:35)
And as regards the obligation of the leadership of the valiant powerful scholar, the Almighty said:
"...They said, "How can the kingdom be his, over us, whereas we are more rightful for it than he while he is not gifted with abundance of wealth." he said" "Verily, God hath chosen him over you and hath increased him abundantly in knowledge and physique; and verily, God granteth His kingdom unto whomso He pleaseth; God is Omniscient and All-Knowing." (2:247)
Allah — the Glorified — has increased al-’Imām ‘Ali, other than all the Sahābah, abundantly in knowledge, making him truly ‘the gate of the city of knowledge,’ and the sole reference for the Sahābah after the demise of the Messenger of Allah (may Allah’s peace and benediction be upon him and his Progeny). And whenever the Companions felt unable to find a solution for any questin, they used to say: “No problem is there but to be solved by Abu al-Hasan.”101
He increased him abundantly in physique, in a way he was the conquerring lion of Allah, and that his might and bravery became an example to be followed by all generations. This fact reached an extent that historians reported miracle-like stories, such as pulling out Khybar Gate, which twenty Companions failed to move later on102 and extracting the great Idol of Hubal,103 from over the roof of the Ka’bah, and shifting the huge rock which all the army stood unable to displace,104 beside other well-known narrations.
The Prophet (S) has, time and again, extalted his cousin ‘Ali manifesting his honour and virtues throughout all occasions, referring to his traits and merits. Once he said:
“This man (‘Ali) is my brother, and executor and successor after me; so you should adhere to and obey him.”105 Once again he said:
“Your position to me is exactly like that of Aaron to Moses, except that there is no prophet after me.”106
Another time he said:
“Whoever desires to live my life, and to die my death, and dwell the Land of the Leal (Paradise) with which my Lord promised me, he should follow the guide of ‘Ali ibn Abi Tālib, as he would either take you out of guidance nor bring you into misguidance (dalālah).”107
Anyone following out the conduct (sirah) of the Holy Messenger (may Allah’s peace and benediction be upon him and his Progeny), will verily realize that he was not satisfied with only disclosing sayings and traditions, but also his words were incarnated in his acts and deeds. This is evident through the fact that he never made anyone of the Sahābah a commander over ‘Ali, though investing with authority some of them over others, as in the case of giving commandment to Abu Bakr and ‘Umar over ‘Amr ibn al-‘Aæ during the Battle of Dhāt al-Salāsil.108
Another example also, is when he made the young man, Usāmah ibn Zayd, a commander over all of them, within the battalion of Usāmah before his (S) death.
But concerning ‘Ali ibn Abi Tālib, he was never sent in a mission but only as a leader and commander. Once upon a time he (S) delegated two armies, giving the commandment of one of them to ‘Ali and the other to Khalid ibn al-Walid, saying to them: When being separated each one of you can undertake the commandment of his army, but when meeting together ‘Ali should be the commander of the whole army.
From the aforementioned, we conclude that ‘Ali being the wali (guardian) of the believers after the Prophet (S), and no one is entitled to outstrip him or be preferred over him. But unfortunately and with much regret, the Muslims have undergone a heavy loss, suffering much to the present time reaping the fruits of what they have sown. The latters have recognized the (ill) consequences of what was founded by the earliers.
Can anyone imagine a rightly-guided caliphate as that of ‘Ali ibn Abi Tālib, had the Ummah followed the one chosen by Allah and His Messenger. ‘Ali was quite competent to lead the Ummah so symmetrically throughout thirty years, exactly in the same way as the Messenger of Allah led it with no little change. Whilst we see on the other hand that Abu Bakr and ‘Umar have changed everything, exerting their opinions against the texts in a way that their acts turned to be a sunnah to be followed. And when ‘Uthmān came to power, he perverted more and more to the extent that he contradicted the Book of Allah and Sunnah of His Messenger and that of Abu Bakr and ‘Umar. This practice was disapproved by the Companions, and a violent people revolt was launched against him, taking away his life, and creating a great sedition amongst the Ummah, whose bad consequences could never grow sound till nowadays.
But on the other hand, ‘Ali ibn Abi Tālib used to adhere to the Book of Allah and Sunnah of His Messenger, without a bit deviation from them. The best evidence for this being his refusing the post of caliphate when they stipulated that he should rule according to the Book of Allah and Sunnah of His Messenger, and sunnah of the Two Caliphs (Abu Bakr and ‘Umar).
One may wonder: Why should ‘Ali abide by the Book of Allah and Sunnah of His Messenger, while Abu Bakr and ‘Umar and ‘Uthmān were obliged to exert their opinions (ijtihād) and interpolation?
The reply for this being that the knowledge owned by ‘Ali was not possessed by any of them, and also the Messenger of Allah distinguished him with a thousand gates of knowledge, for every gate a thousand gates open,109 saying to him:
“O ‘Ali, you will verily demonstrate for my Ummah all that which they differed regarding it after me.”110
Whereas the caliphs were ignorant of a large number of the apparent precepts and rules of the Qur’ān, beside being unable to interpret it. Al-Bukhāri and Muslim are reported to have said in their Sahihs, in the chapter on Tayammum, that: A man questioned ‘Umar ibn al-Khattāb when he was a caliph, saying: O Amir al-Mu’minin, I found myself ritually impure and couldn’t find water (for bathing), so what should I do? ‘Umar said to him: Do not perform prayers!! Furthermore, he was unaware of the judgement concerning Kalālah till the time of his death, keeping on saying: I wished I had asked the Messenger of Allah about its judgement, while it is stated in the Holy Qur’ān. When ‘Umar, whom the Ahl al-Sunnah used to consider among the inspired men, be at this level of knowledge, so what about the others who added many a heresy into the religion of Allah with no knowledge, or guidance or illuminative book, but out of personal ijtihādāt (exertions of opinion).
A question may be raised that: If this be the case why hasn’t al-’Imām ‘Ali demonstrated for the Ummah the points of difference and dispute among them after the demise of the Messenger (S)?
The answer would be: Al-’Imām ‘Ali has spared no effort in exposing and clarifying the problematic matters, with being the reference for the Sahābah regarding whatever they couldn’t find a solution for. He used to come to them, elucidating and giving counsels, of which they would take that which be appropriate for them and not contradictory to their policy, neglecting whatever be other than this, and history be the best witness for our claim.
The truth lies in that: Had ‘Ali ibn Abi Tālib and the Imams among his sons not been there, it would have been impossible for people to realize whatever is related to their religion. But people, as the Qur’ān informed us, never like truth, so they followed their desires inventing new madhāhib (schools of thought) versus the Ahl al-Bayt Imams, who were kept under strict surveillance by the time governments, which would never grant them freedom of movement and direct contact with people.
‘Ali used to assume the pulpit and address the people: Ask me before you loose me. Sufficient be for him is the valuable book Nahj al-balāghah that ‘Ali left for us, and the knowledge left by Ahl al-Bayt Imams (‘a) which filled the East and the West, the fact testified by Sunni and Shi’i leaders (imāms) of Muslims.
Returning to the topic, I would say: Based on this, had it been destined for ‘Ali to have the lead of the Ummah for thirty years in accordance with the sirah (conduct) of the Messenger (S), Islam would have prevailed everywhere, and creed (‘aqidah) would have penetrated hearts of people much more and in a deeper way, and no minor or major sedition, nor Karbala and Ashura’ would have been there. Further, if we imagine the Ummah being led by the Eleven Imams after ‘Ali, who were determined by Allah from the Messenger of Allah (S), and whose lives extended for three centuries, no homeland would be left on the earth for other than Muslims, and the world today would be different of what it actually is, and our life would be humane in its true sense, but Allah, the Exalted, said:
"Alif Lam Meem. What! Do people imagine that they will be left off on (their) saying: "We believe!" and they will not be tried?" (29:1,2)
And verily the Islamic Ummah failed the trial as did the previous nations, as emphasized by the Messenger of Allah,111 through many occasions, and confirmed by the Holy Qur’ān through numerous verses.112
All evidences indicate that it was Allah’s will that ‘Ali’s guardianship be the trial for the Muslims, as it was the reason behind every dispute and controversy erupted. And since Allah is subtile toward His bondmen, never taking the latters to task for what the earliers did, therefore He made His wisdom apparent and encompassed that incident (of Ghadir Khumm) with other splendid miracles-like events, so as to be an incentive for the Ummah, and the contemporary people would convey them and the followers would take an example of them, hoping that they might be guided to truth through searching and investigation.
It is related to punishing whoever denying ‘Ali’s guardianship, after the prevalence of the news of Ghadir Khumm, and designation of al-’Imām ‘Ali as a caliph over the Muslims, with the Messenger’s telling the people: The attendant should inform the absent.
When this news reached al-Hārith ibn al-Nu‘mān al-Fahri, it displeased him.113 So he rushed toward the Messenger of Allah, made his camel kneel down before the Mosque door, and entered upon the Prophet (S). After saluting him, he said: O MuHammad! You ordered us to witness that no god is there but Allah and you are the Messenger of Allah, and we accepted this from you.
You also commanded us to perform five prayers day and night, fast the Month of Ramadān, perform pilgrimage to Allah’s House, and pay the alms-due out of our money and properties and so we did. But you were not satisfied with all this, till you one day surprised us with raising the hand of your cousin; preferring him over other people, and said: "Of whomever I am a master, ‘Ali also is his master." Is this from you or ordained by Allah? The Messenger of Allah (S), whose eyes turned red, replied: By Allah, Who no god is there but He. It is ordained by Allah, and not from me (repeating it three times)
On standing up, al-Hārith said: "O Allah, if what is uttered by MuHammad being true, send against us stones from the sky or bring us a painful doom."
Then he (S) said: By Allah, before reaching his camel, Allah pelted him with a stone from the heaven, which fell upon the top of his head and went out from his posterior, causing his death. Thereat these verses were revealed by Allah the Almighty:
"Demanded, a demander, the chastisement inevitable. For, the disbelievers against it, there is no repeller." (70:1-2)
This episode is reported by a large number of Ahl al-Sunnah ‘ulamā’, other than those we referred to.114 Whoever desires to go through more references, can refer to the book al-Ghadir of al-‘Allāmah al-’Amini.
It is related to the punishment of anyone concealing the witness regarding the incident of al-Ghadir, and was inflicted by the imprecation uttered by al-’Imām ‘Ali. That was when al-’Imām ‘Ali, during a memorable day, rose up, and gathered people at al-Rahabah, proclaiming from over the minbar:
I appeal to every Muslim who heard the Messenger of Allah (S), saying on the day of Ghadir Khumm. "‘Ali is the master of whomever I am his master", to stand up and give witness of what he heard, provided that he saw him by his own eyes and heard him by his own ears."
Thereat thirty Companions, among whom sixteen Badrites (those who attended Battle of Badr), stood up and witnessed that he(S) took him by hand and addressed people, saying: "Do you know that I have more authority over the believers than they have over themselves? They said: Yes, you do. He said: Of whomever I am his master, this one (‘Ali) is also his master. O Allah, befriend whoever befriends him, and be the enemy of his enemy..."
But jealousy and hatred harboured inside the hearts of some Companions who attended the Incident of al-Ghadir, withheld them from standing and giving witness. Among them being Anas ibn Mālik, toward whom al-’Imām ‘Ali descended the minbar (pulpit) and said to him: O Anas, what is the matter with you? Why don’t you rise up together with the Messenger’s Companions and give witness of what you heard on that day as they did? He replied: O Amir al-Mu’minin! I became old and forgot (that incident). Then al-’Imām ‘Ali said: If you are proved to be a liar I invoke Allah to afflict you with leprosy in a way that no turban can cover. Then as soon as he stood up, his face turned white out of leprosy, after which he began to lament himself, weeping and saying: I am inflicted with the curse of the upright man because I concealed the witness to his benefit.
This episode is widely known, and was reported by Ibn Qutaybah in the book al-Ma‘ārif,115 in which he counted Anas among the cripple persons under bāb al-baras (leprosy), and also by al-Imam AHmad ibn Hanbal in his Musnad,116when he said: They all stood up except three, who didn’t rise up, so they were afflicted with his imprecation.
It is noteworthy to mention here that these three men were referred to by al-’Imām AHmad as reported by al-Baladhuri,117 when saying: After citing al-’Imām ‘Ali’s appeal to witness, Anas ibn Mālik, al-Barā’ ibn ‘Azib and Jarir ibn ‘Abd Allāh al-Bajali were sitting near the pulpit. Al-’Imām repeated his appeal, but received no response from any of them, whereat he(‘a) said: My Lord, whoever hides this witness while knowing it. You should never let him die and leave the world without branding him with a sign distinguishing him for all people. After that, Anas ibn Mālik was affected with leprosy, al-Barā’ ibn ‘Azib turned blind, and Jarir was converted to a bedouin after his migration, and on coming al-Shurāt he died inside his mother’s house.
This story is famous, reported by a large number of historians.118
“So Learn a Lesson, O ye who have eyes.”
Any truth-seeker can recognize, out of this incident,119 that was revived by al-’Imām ‘Ali after elapse of twenty-five years and was about to be obliterated, the real value, greatness, sublimity and self serenity of al-’Imām ‘Ali (‘a). While he showed extreme forbearance, being true counseller to Abu Bakr, ‘Umar and ‘Uthmān as long as knowing that advising them being for the interest of Islam and Muslims, nevertheless he kept on holding in mind the Incident of al-Ghadir with all its denotations, besides its being remembered in his conscience throughout all of his life moments. As soon as finding an opportune time to resurrecting and reviving it, he would immediately embark on compelling others to give witness with it publicly and before all people.
Anyone can contemplate in the way of reviving this blessed memory and its implied extreme wisdom for establishing the proof against all Muslims, whether those attended the incident and others. If al-’Imām said: "O people, the Messenger of Allah has committed caliphate to me at Ghadir Khumm", this wouldn’t have that influence and impression upon the hearts and minds of the attendants, and they would have surely disputed with him due to the silence he kept throughout all that period.
But when he said: I appeal to every Muslim, who heard what the Messenger of Allah (S) declared on the day of Ghadir Khumm, to stand up and give witness, so as to make the incident reported through a tradition from the Messenger of Allah (S), by thirty Companions among whom were sixteen men attending Badr (Battle). In this way al-’Imām closed the door before the deniers and skeptics, and those protesting against his keeping silence all that period, since keeping silence by these thirty men, who being the magnates among the shaābah, would be a strong evidence indicating the perilousness of the situation, and that silence implying the interest of Islam as known by all.
Out of what is mentioned, it became clear for us that caliphate, in the perspective of the Shi‘ah, being according to Allah’s will and choice, and determination by the Messenger of Allah (S) through a revelation revealed to him. this claim is quitely in line with the philosophy of Islam in all its rulings and legislations, as Allah, the Glorified, is He Who
"...createth whatever He willeth and (also) chooseth too; it is not theirs to choose."...(28:68)
And since Allah, the Glorified, willed that the Ummah of Muhammad to be the best community that has been raised up for mankind, so it should have a leader who being wise, sagacious, knowledgeable, powerful, valiant, pious, ascetic, and having the highest level of faith. All these traits can never be enjoyed but by that who being chosen by Allah, the Glorious and the Mighty, distinguishing him with special characteristics qualifying him for the post of leadership and headship. The Almighty Allah said:
"Allah chooseth from the angels messengers, and (also) from mankind. Lo! Allah is Hearer, Seer." (22:75)
The executors have been chosen by Allah exactly as in the case of the prophets. The Messenger of Allah (S) said in this respect:
"For every prophet there is an executor (wasi), and my executor is ‘Ali ibn Abi Tālib.120
In another haadith, he (S) said:
“I am the seal of the prophets and ‘Ali is the seal of the executors.”121
On this basis, the Shi‘ah submitted totally to Allah and His Messenger, with no one left among them claiming caliphate for himself or covetting to it, neither through text (nass) nor through election: first, because the nass negates the election and shurā (council), and secondly due to the fact that the nass was made by the Messenger of Allah (may Allah’s peace and benediction be upon him and his Progeny) upon particular and specific persons122 by their names, so as no transgressor could lift a hand against it, and otherwise he would be considered a debauchee and an apostate.
While caliphate in the perspective of Ahl al-Sunnah being through election (ikhtiyār) and council (shurā). In this way they opened a door that couldn’t be closed before anyone, arousing the greediness of all, far and near, and bad and good for it, till it was handed over from Quraysh to the mawāli and slaves, then to the Mamalik and lastly to the Turkish and Moguls.
Thereat, all the values and conditions they stipulated to be possessed by the caliph, have been neglected since anyone other than the Infallible was merely a human being full of passions and instincts, who as soon as attaining to power, feels uncertain of being converted and turned to be worse than he was. And the Islamic history is replete with many evidences confirming our claim.
Some readers may think that I am exaggerating, and I ask them to go through the history of the Umayyads with the ‘Abbāsids and others, to realize that who called himself ‘Amir al-Mu’minin’ used to show openly the habit of imbibing wine, frolic with the apes, clothing them with gold. And that the so-called (Amir al-Mu’minin) used to clothe his bondmaid his clothes to lead Muslims in prayers, turning mad due to the death of his slave-girl Habbabah, being delighted at a poet whereat he kisses his penis. Why do we occupy our minds in talking about those whom the Muslims judged to be representing only the mordacious kings, not the (real) caliphate, as referred to by the Hhadith narrated by them, which is the utterance of the Messenger (S).
"Verily successorship after me shall last for thirty years, after which it will be only a mordacious rule."
This point is out of scope of our discussion, and anyone desiring to have information about that is asked to refer to Ta’rikh al-Tabari, Ta’rikh Ibn al-’Athir, Ta’rikh Abi al-Fidā’ and Ta’rikh Ibn Qutaybah, and others.
What I intended to say was to demonstrate the disadvantages of election, and futility of the theory from its foundation, as against the one whom we elect today we may harbour malice, and it, will be manifested for us that we were mistaken and have gone wrong in election. This is exactly like the case of ‘Abd al-RaHmān ibn ‘Awf when he chose ‘Uthmān ibn ‘Affān for the post of caliphate, after which he felt so regretful, but that was of no use for the ‘Ummah after putting it in trouble. When a reputable Companion belonging to the first vanguard like ‘Uthmān, breaches the covenant he gave to ‘Abd al-RaHmān ibn ‘Awf, and when the latter, though being a companion of fame among the predecessors, being unable to choose properly, it would be impossible then to any sane man to be satisfied with this barren theory that produced nothing but turmoil, instability and bloodshed.
And while swearing allegiance to Abu Bakr being a slip Allah protected Muslims against its evil, as described by ‘Umar ibn al-Khattāb, with a large number of Companions opposing and renouncing it, and when allegiance to ‘Ali ibn Abi Tālib being sworn publicly with presence of some Companions violating the allegiance, leading to eruption of the Battles of al-Jamal, Siffin and al-Nahrawan, in which innocent people were killed, how would wisemen be pleased then, with that rule which was put to test and exorbitantly failed from the beginning, being a mischief for the Muslims. This fact is more ascertained when knowing that those who believe in the principle of shurā, elect the caliph having no authorization after that to substitute or depose him. The Muslims tried their best to depose ‘Uthmān, but he disdained, saying: "I never take off a garment Allah has clothed me with."
That which increases even our aversion to this theory, being what is seen nowadays in the civilized democracy-claiming Western countries, in regard of electing the Head of State, with various parties struggling, bargaining and competing for attaining to power at any cost, spending for this purpose billions of money allocated for publicity in all its means. Further huge potentials and resources being squandered on the cost of the oppressed among the people who badly needing them.
As soon as any of them assumes the headship, sympathy overwhelms him, making him designate his supporters, party members, friends and relatives in the posts of ministers, high-ranking responsibilities, and significant positions in administration, leaving the others busy in the activities of the opposition throughout his reign period, upon which it is agreed too. In this way, they would create problems and obstacles for him, doing their utmost to disgrace and topple him, entailing thus a heavy loss for the downtrodden people. Consequently, many humane values were devoluted and numerous Satanic depravitives were elevated with the titles of freedom and democracy, and under bombastic slogans, in a way that sodomy was practised as a lawful and legitimate act, and adultery turned to be a progress and advancement as a substitute for marriage, about which you can say what you like.
How great the Shi‘ah’s belief in holding that successorship (khilāfah) being one of principles of religion, and what sublime is their belief that this post be according to the Will and choice of Allah, the Exalted. It is really on apposite saying and sensible opinion, admitted by reason ('Aql) and with which the conscience is pleased, being supported by texts from the Qur’ān and (Prophetic) Sunnah, coercing the tyrants, dominants, kings and sovereigns, imparting upon the society tranquillity and stability.