Abu'l-Mu'ayyid Mu'affaq Bin Ahmad Khawarizmi says in his Manaqib
that one day Umar said to Ali Bin Abi Talib with some surprise:
"How is it that if any question is asked of you, you give
its answer without the least hesitation.?"
The Holy Imam opened his hand before him and said: "How many
fingers do you see?"
Umar immediately said: "Five."
Ali said: "Why did you not ponder over it?"
Umar said: "There was no need to ponder since all five fingers
were before my eyes."
Then Ali said: "Similarly, all the problems and issues of
knowledge are clearly visible to me. I give their answers without
Now, gentlemen! Is it not due to prejudice that the teacher speaks
such nonsense and misleads the uninformed youth. Does it seem
likely that the man who possessed the deepest knowledge of all
sciences and was the "gate of knowledge" of the Holy
Prophet, would consult with Umar in order to solve his difficulties?
A hadith has just struck me. I put it before you as a further
proof of my point. Ibn Hajar Makki, a scholar known for his intolerance
writes in his Sawa'iq-e-Muhriqa, ch. II, Maqsad V, p. 110, under
verse 14, that Imam Ahmad Bin Hanbal has reported and also Mir
Seyyed Ali Hamadani in Mawaddatu'l-Qurba and Ibn Abi'l-Hadid in
Sharh-e-Nahju'l-Balagha have recorded that a man asked Mu'awiya
a question. Mu'awiya said: "Ask Ali about it since he is
the most learned man." The Arab said: "I prefer your
answer to Ali's answer."
Mu'awiya said: "You have uttered a very bad thing: you have
rejected the man whom the Holy Prophet himself trained and to
whom he said: 'You have the same relation to me as Aaron had to
Moses, except that there shall be no prophet after me. Moreover,
whenever Umar was entangled in some difficult matter, he asked
Ali about it and sought his opinion.'"
This brings to mind the saying: "Virtue is that to which
even the enemy bears witness."
In order to further support Ali's superiority to Umar, we quote
what your prominent ulema have said. Nuru'd-din Bin Sabbagh Maliki
in Fusulu'l-Muhimma; Muhammad Bin Talha Shafi'i in Matalibu's-Su'ul;
Imam Ahmad Bin Hanbal in Musnad; Khatib Khawarizmi in Manaqib;
Sulayman Balkhi Hanafi in Yanabiu'l-Mawadda, and many others have
written that on seventy occasions Umar said "If Ali had not
been there Umar would have been ruined."
Nuru'd-din Maliki in his Fusulu'l-Muhimma reports that once a
man was brought to Umar. He was asked before the assembly of people:
"How did you begin your morning?" He said: " I
got up in the morning in this condition: I loved temptation and
was averse to the right truth. I testified to the truth of the
Jews and the Christians, believed in what I had not seen and in
what had not yet been created."
Umar ordered that Ali be brought to him. When the matter was put
before Amiru'l-Mu'minin, he said, "What the man has said
is right. He says he loves temptation. He means by this wealth
and children. Allah says in the Holy Qur'an: 'And you know that
your wealth and your children are a temptation.' (8:28) By aversion
to the right he means death. The Qur'an says, 'And the stupor
of death will come in truth.'(50:19)
By testifying to the truth of the Jews and Christians, he means
what Allah says: 'The Jews said that the Christians were not on
the right path and the Christians said that the Jews were not
on the right path.' (2:113) That is, both the sects belie each
other. So the Arab says that he agrees with them both, or that
he rejects both of them.
He says that he believes in what he has not seen, meaning that
he believes in Allah Almighty.
When he says that he believes in what has not yet been created,
that is, not present, he refers to the Day of Judgement, which
has not yet come into existence."
Then Umar said: "I seek Allah's shelter from the difficult
situation in which Ali is not there to help me."
This anecdote has been narrated in a more elaborate and different
form, by others like Muhammad Bin Ganji Shafi'i in Kifayatu't-Talib,
ch.57, from Hudhaifa Bin Al-Yaman, who quoted it from Caliph Umar.
A number of similar incidents during the caliphate of Abu Bakr
and Umar, both of whom were incapable of giving a correct answer.
It was Ali who gave the reply. Particularly when the Jewish, Christian,
and natural scientists scholars came and discussed difficult problems,
it was only Ali who solved them.
According to your own ulema, like Bukhari and Muslim, each in
his Sahih; Nishapuri in his Tafsir; Ibn Maghazili Faqih Shafi'i
in Manaqib; Muhammad Bin Talha in Matalibu's-Su'ul, ch.4, pp.
13 and 18; Hafiz Ibn Hajar Asqalani (d.852 A.H.) in Tahdhibu't-Tahdhib
(printed in Hyderabad Daccan), p.338; Qazi Fazlullah Ruzbahan
Shirazi in Ibta'lu'l-Batil; Muhibu'd-din Tabari in Riyazu'n-Nazara,
vol.II, p.39; Ibn Kathir in his Ta'rikh, vol. VII, p.369; Ibn
Qutayba Dinawari (d.276 A.H.) in Ta'wil-e-Mukhtalafu'l-Hadith
(printed in Egypt), pp.201-202; Muhammad Bin Yusuf Ganji Shafi'i
(d. 658 A.H.) in Kifayatu't-Talib, ch. 57; Jalalu'd-din Suyuti
in Ta'rikhu'l-Khulafa, p.66; Seyyed Mu'min Shablanji in Nuru'l-Absar,
p.73; Nuru'd-din Ali Bin Abdullah Samhudi (d.911 A.H.) in Jawahiru'l-Iqdain;
Al-Hajj Ahmad Afindi in Hidayatu'l-Murtab, pp.146 and 153; Muhammad
Bin Ali As-Sabban in Ishafu'r-Raghibin, p.52; Yusuf Sibt Ibn Jauzi
in Tadhkira Khawasu'l-Ummal, ch.6, p.37; Ibn Abi'l-Hadid (d.655
A.H.) in Sharh-e-Nahju'l-Balagha, vol.I; Mulla Ali Qushachi in
Sharh-e-Tajrid, p.407; Akhtabu'l-Khutaba Khawarizmi in Manaqib,
pp.48 and 60; even the intolerant Ibn Hajar Makki (d.973 A.H.)
in Sawa'iq Muhriqa, p.78; Ibn Hajar Asqalani in Isaba, vol.II,
p. 509 and Allama Ibn Qayyim Jauzia in Turuqu'l-Hikmiyya, pp.47
and 53 have recorded numerous cases showing that Umar referred
intricate and complex problems, particularly the difficult problems
of the King of Rome, to Amiru'l-Mu'minin.
Umar time and again referred cases to Ali for solution, and when
he heard the decision, he repeatedly said: "I seek Allah's
protection from that difficult situation in which Ali is not there
to help me." Sometimes he said: "If Ali had not been
there, Umar would have been ruined."
Ibn Maghazili Shafi'i in his Manaqib and Hamidi in his Jam'-e-Bainu's-Sahihain
write that the caliphs took counsel with Ali in all matters and
that he was the central figure who decided difficult religious
and worldly questions. The caliphs carefully listened to his remarks
and instructions and acted upon them.
Knowledge is the best criterion for preference. The Holy Qur'an
clearly states: "Is he then who guides to the truth more
worthy to be followed, or he who himself does not go aright unless
he is guided? What then is the matter with you; how do you judge?"
That is, one who possesses the best qualities of guidance must
be the supreme leader of the people, not the one who is ignorant
of the way of guidance and himself seeks guidance from others.
This verse is the most valid proof that a superior man cannot
be made subordinate to the inferior one. The question of the caliphate,
imamate, and the succession to the Holy Prophet come under the
same principle. This is borne out by another verse which says:
"Say: Are those who know and those who do not know alike?"
Sheikh: We certainly agree that
Ali possessed all the outstanding qualities you have mentioned.
No one except the fanatical Kharijis has ever denied this fact.
But this much also is acknowledged: Seyyed Ali himself voluntarily
and gladly accepted the caliphate of the (first three) caliphs
and admitted their superiority and their right to precede him.
So what is the use of our worrying, after 1300 years, about their
decision and fighting among ourselves as to why the community
elected Abu Bakr, Umar, and Uthman.
So what is the harm if we are at peace and friendly with one another
and admit what history has recorded and what your own ulema have
also generally accepted: after the Holy Prophet, Abu Bakr, Umar,
and Uthman successively occupied the caliphate. We should live
together as brothers and jointly acknowledge Ali's superiority
in knowledge and actions and his special relationship with the
Holy Prophet. In the same way that our four schools of law are
united, the Shias too should cooperate with us.
We never deny the excellence of Ali's knowledge and character,
but you should admit that in regard to the questions of age, political
astuteness, patience and calm, in the face of the enemy Abu Bakr
was definitely superior to Ali. It was for this reason that, through
the unanimous verdict of the community, he occupied the seat of
the caliphate. Ali was young at that time and had not the capacity
to shoulder the responsibilities of the caliphate. Even 25 years
later, when he assumed the caliphate, many disturbances took place
only because he was not an able politician.
Well-Wisher: First, you have
said that Amiru'l-Mu'minin voluntarily offered allegiance to the
three caliphs. A story comes to mind which is appropriate for
this discussion. In the old days the highways of Iran were hazardous,
and pilgrims to the holy shrines faced hardships during their
journeys. A certain caravan fell into the clutches of robbers,
who stole the people's property. When they were dividing the booty
among themselves, the shroud of a pilgrim fell into the hands
of an old robber. He said: "Gentlemen pilgrims! Whose shroud
is this?" A pilgrim said: "It is mine." The robber
said: "I have no shroud with me, so please give it to me
so that it may be lawful to me." The pilgrim said: "All
my property is yours, but return this shroud to me, since I am
at the last stage of my life and have taken great pains for the
preparation of this dress for me for the Hereafter. This is my
The robber emphatically insisted on his demand, but the pilgrim
repeated the same thing, that he would not give up that right
of his to anyone. The robber, drawing his sword, began to strike
the pilgrim about his head and face and said that he would go
on hitting him until he surrendered the shroud to him and said:
"It is lawful."
The poor old pilgrim was so beaten that he began shouting: "Sir!
Lawful! Lawful! Lawful! more lawful than one's mother's milk!"
I hope you will forgive me. But I wanted to draw your attention
to what I wish to explain. Perhaps you have forgotten what I have
proved on previous nights. I cited authentic historical records,
which Ibn Abi'l-Hadid, Jauhari, Tabari, Baladhuri, Ibn Qutayba,
Mas'udi, and others of your ulema have verified, that they threatened
to burn down Ali's House, he was dragged to the mosque and was
ordered with a sword at his throat: "Swear allegiance, otherwise
you will be beheaded."
Is this an example of voluntary allegiance?
Second, I have said earlier that we should not have "blind
faith" in the fundamentals of religion. You say that since
history tells us that the four caliphs became rulers, we should
follow our elders and have faith in them. But common sense and
hadith tell us that faith in principle should be based on reason.
I repeat again that your and our historians have written that
after the death of the Holy Prophet, the community was divided
into two sects. One sect said that Abu Bakr should be followed
and the other sect believed that Ali should be followed. The Holy
Prophet said: "To obey Ali is to obey me; and to disobey
Ali is to disobey me." Therefore obedience to Ali was, according
to the order of the Holy Prophet, compulsory. So it was the duty
of every individual of our two sects to listen to the arguments
of the two sides and to choose the right course.
My faith in Allah is based on wisdom. I have studied books of
various sects and religions. I accept the fact that Muhammad was
the last Prophet based on reasoning and not on blindly following
my elders. Similarly, I have deeply studied hundreds of books
of both the sects, particularly those of the Sunni sect in which
there are clear arguments to prove the Imamate and Caliphate of
Amiru'l-Mu'minin. You people cast only a cursory glance at the
verses and hadith in praise of Ali and then make ridiculous interpretations
Third, you say that we should accept the historical order of the
caliphs: Abu Bakr, Umar, Uthman, and Hazrat Ali. But this is absurd.
Man's superiority to animals is due to his knowledge and wisdom.
So we cannot blindly follow our elders.
According to your own prominent ulema, Ali's superiority in knowledge
has been fully established. Therefore, the right of his priority
as caliph must also be acknowledged. Since he was the "Gate
of Knowledge" of the Holy Prophet, deviation from his is
deviation from guidance.
We admit that after the death of the Holy Prophet, Abu Bakr was
caliph for two years and three months, followed by Umar for ten
years, and Uthman for twelve years. But these facts do not eliminate
the proper place of reason and hadith. History cannot deprive
the "Gate of Knowledge" of the Holy Prophet of his right.
Firdaus Dailami, Abu Nu'aim Ispahani, Muhammad Bin Ishaq Muttalabi,
author of the book Maghazi, Hakim, Hamwaini, Khatib Khawarizmi
and Ibn Maghazili report either from Ibn Abbas, or Sa'id Khadiri,
or Ibn Mas'ud, all of whom quote the Holy Prophet as saying: "They
shall be questioned about the wilaya (vicegerency) of Ali Bin