Is a prophet who was sent to guide 1,000 people equal to one who
sent to guide 30,000 people, or to one sent to guide all of humanity?
Let's take an example. Is the teacher of first-grade students
equal to a teacher of fourth-grade students? Are the teachers
of higher classes equal to professors or university teachers?
All belong to the same administration and work under the same
general program, their aim being to educate students. Yet, in
view of the teacher's knowledge, they are not equal. Each is different
from the other according to his learning, ability, and achievement.
From the point of view of the aim of prophethood, all the prophets
of Allah are equal. However, because of differences in rank and
knowledge, they are different. The Holy Qur'an says: "We
have made some of these Apostles to excel the others; among them
are they to whom Allah spoke, and some of them He exalted by (many
degrees of) rank." (2:253)
Your own Jarullah Zamakhshari says in his Tafsir-e-Kushshaf that
the above verse means that our Prophet was superior in rank to
all others because of his special merits, the most important of
which was that he was the last of the prophets.
Nawab: I am glad you solved
this problem, but I have another question, though it is somewhat
irrelevant. Please tell us briefly the main characteristics of
Well-Wisher: There are many
qualities peculiar to special prophethood, and there are innumerable
reasons proving how one prophet of all of them is the special
prophet of Allah. In fact, that stage concludes the cycle of prophethood.
But these sessions are not arranged to prove the prophethood of
Allah for Muslims. If we were to discuss this topic fully, we
would drift from the topic of the Imamate. I will, however, briefly
discuss the point.
The perfection of humanity lies in the perfection of the soul.
Moral and spiritual perfection cannot be attained without purifying
the soul. This purification is impossible unless one is guided
by the power of wisdom. One is then able to rise higher and higher
with the force of knowledge and right action until he reaches
the acme of humanity, as has been explained by Ali. He said: "Man
has been created with the power of speech, which is the essence
of humanity. If speech is adorned with knowledge and action, it
resembles the existence of the ethereal realm, which is the origin
of man's creation.When his speech reaches the place of temperance
and is cleared of all physical matter, it becomes one with the
ethereal realm. Then it leaves the animal world and reaches the
highest stage of humanity."
Man's power of articulation renders him superior to all existence.
But there is one condition attached to it: that he cleanse his
soul of all impurities with knowledge and right action. These
two factors in man are like two wings of a bird, which fly higher
according to the strength of the wings. Similarly, man's level
of human attainment rises according to his knowledge and right
action. To pass beyond the province of animality and to reach
the sphere of humanity depends upon the perfection of the soul.
The man who combines in himself the faculties of knowledge and
right action and reaches the third of three classes of men (the
common people, the elite, and the most elite), arrives at the
lowest stage of prophethood. When such a man becomes the object
of Allah's special attention, he becomes a prophet. Of course
prophethood also has different stages. A prophet may reach the
highest point in the highest of these three classes. This rank
is the highest in the sphere of possibility, which the sages call
the First Wisdom, and which is the First Effect or the First Consequence.
There is no rank higher than this in the realm of existence. This
position is occupied by the last of the prophets, who is second
to none except the First Cause. When the Prophet was raised to
this highest stage, prophethood was concluded.
The Imamate is a stage lower than the highest stage of prophethood,
but it is a stage higher than all other ranks of prophethood.
Since Ali was raised to the stage higher than prophethood and
was one in spirit with the Holy Prophet, he was endowed with the
office of the Imamate and was thus superior to all previous prophets.
Hafiz: The last part of your remarks is perplexing. First, you say that Ali was at the stage of prophethood; second, that he was one in spirit with the Prophet Muhammad; third, that he was superior to the other prophets. What are your arguments to prove the truth of your assertions?
Well-Wisher: That Ali attained
the rank of prophethood can be proven by the reference to the
Hadith of Manzila (Tradition Regarding Ranks), which has been
unanimously narrated in more or less the same words. The last
of the holy prophets repeated a number of times and in different
congregations: "Are you not content that you are to me what
Aaron was to Moses, except that there shall be no prophet after
me?" On other occasions he said to his followers: "Ali
is to me as Aaron was to Moses."
Hafiz: The authenticity of this
hadith has not been proven. Even if it were proven to be true,
it would be a single narration and therefore unacceptable.
Well-Wisher: In providing information
regarding the genuineness of this hadith, I will refer to your
books. It is not a single narration. It has been authenticated
by your own distinguished ulema, like Suyuti, Hakim Nishapuri,
and others, who have proved its reliability with unanimous sources.
Some of them are the following:
(1) Abu Abdullah Bukhari in his Sahih, Volume III, the Book of
Ghazawa, Qazwa Tabuk, p. 54, and in his book Bida'u'l-Khalq, p.
180; (2) Muslim bin Hajjaj in his Sahih, printed in Egypt, 1290
A.H., Volume II, under the heading, "The Merits of Ali;"
pages 236-7; (3) Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal in Musnad, Volume I, "Grounds
for Naming Husain," pages 98, 118, 119; and footnote of the
same book, Part 5, page 31; (4) Abu Abdu'r-Rahman Nisa'i in Khasa'isi'l-Alawiyya,
page 19; (5) Muhammad bin Sura Tirmidhi in his Jami'; (6) Hafiz
Ibn Hajar Asqalani in Isaba, Volume II, page 507; (7) Ibn Hajar
Makki in Sawa'iq Muhriqa, chapter 9, pages 30 and 34, (8) Hakim
Abu Abdullah Muhammad bin Abdullah Nishapuri in Mustadrak, Volume
III, page 109; (9) Jalalu'd-Din Suyuti in Ta'rikhu'l-Khulafa,
page 65; (10) Ibn Abd Rabbih in Iqdu'l-Farid, Volume II, page
194; (11) Ibn Abdu'l-Birr in Isti'ab, Volume 2, page 473; (12)
Muhammad bin Sa'd Katib Waqidi in Tabaqatu'l-Kubra; (13) Imam
Fakhru'd-Din Razi in Tafsir Mafatihu'l-Ghaib; (14) Muhammad bin
Jarir Tabari in his Tafsir; as well as in his Ta'rikh; (15) Seyyed
Mu'min Shablanji in Nuru'l-Absar, page 68; (16) Kamalu'd-Din Abu
Salim Muhammad bin Talha Shafi'i in Matalibu's-Su'ul, page 17;
(17) Mir Seyyed Ali bin Shahabu'd-Din Hamadani in Mawaddatu'l-Qurba,
towards the end of Mawadda 7; (18) Nuru'd-Din Ali bin Muhammad
Maliki Makki, known as Ibn Sabbagh Maliki, in Fusulu'l-Muhimma,
pages 23 and 125; (19) Ali bin Burhanu'd-Din Shafi'i in Siratu'l-Halabiyya,
Volume II, page 49; (21) Sheikh Sulayman Balkhi Hanafi in Yanabiu'l-Mawadda,
Chapter and (22) Mulla Ali Muttaqi in Kanzu'l-Ummal, Volume VI
pages 152-153; (23) Ahmad bin Ali Khatib in Ta'rikh Baghdad; (24)
Ibn Maghazili Shafi'i in Manaqib; (25) Muwaffaq bin Ahmad Khawarizmi
in Manaqib; (26) Ibn Athir Jazari Ali bin Muhammad in Usudu'l-Ghaiba;
(27) Ibn Kathir Damishqi in his Ta'rikh; (28) Ala'u'd-Daula Ahmad
bin Muhammad in Urwatu'l-Wuthqa; (29) Ibn Athir Mubarak bin Muhammad
Shaibani in Jami'u'l-Usul; (30) Ibn Hajar Asqalani in Tahdhibu't-Tahdhib;
(31) Abu'l Qasim Husain bin Muhammad Raghib Isfahani in Muhadhiratu'l-Udaba',
Volume II page 212. Many other eminent scholars of yours have
narrated this grand hadith with slight variations in words from
many of the companions of the holy Prophet, such as: (1) Umar
bin Khattab, (2) Sa'd bin Abi Waqqas, (3) Abdullah bin Abbas,
(4) Abdullah bin Mas'ud, (5) Jabir bin Abdullah Ansari, (6) Abu
Huraira, (7) Abu Sa'id Khudri, (8) Jabir bin Sumra, (9) Malik
bin Huwairi's, (10) Bara'a bin 'Azib, (11) Zaid bin Arqam, (12)
Abu Rafi', (13) Abdullah bin Ubai, (14) Abu Suraiha, (15) Hudhaifa
bin Assad, (16) Anas bin Malik, (17) Abu Huraira Aslami, (18)
Abu Ayyub Ansari, (19) Sa'id bin Musayyab, (20) Habib bin Abi
Thabit, (21) Sharhbil bin Sa'd, (22) Umme Salma (wife of the holy
Prophet), (23) Asma bint Umais (wife of Abu Bakr), (24) Aqil bin
Abi Talib, (25) Mu'awiya bin Abu Sufyan, and a host of other companions.
In short, all of them have related with slight variation of words
that the holy Prophet said: "O Ali, you are to me as Aaron
was to Moses, except that there will be no prophet after me."
Are all these great ulema - and there are many I have not mentioned
- not sufficient to prove that this hadith has been unanimously
accepted as true? Would you now confirm that you were under a
misunderstanding? Since you assume an attitude of doubt in regard
to the veracity of this hadith, you should consult Kifayatu't-Talib
fi Manaqib-e-Ali Bin Abu Talib, chapter 7, compiled by Muhammad
bin Yusuf Ganji Shafi'i, who is one of the most prominent ulema
of your sect. After quoting six hadith in praise of Ali, this
author comments (page 149) on this hadith as follows:
"This is a hadith whose authenticity has been acknowledged by all. It has been narrated by the most learned Imams and Huffaz (those who know the Qur'an by heart), like Abu Abdullah Bukhari in his Sahih, Muslim bin Hujjaj in his Sahih, Abu Dawud in his Sunan, Abu Isa Tirmidhi in his Jami', Abu Abdu'r-Rahman in his Sunan, Ibn Maja Qazwini in his Sunan. All of them have unanimously acknowledged its authenticity. Hakim Nishapuri has said that this hadith has entered the stage of continuity."
I'm sure that I needn't present further evidence to show that
this hadith is genuine.
Hafiz: I am not an irreligious
man, so I will not reject your sensible reasoning, but I draw
your attention to the statement of the great scholar and theologian,
Abu'l-Hasan Amadi, who has rejected this hadith.
Well-Wisher: I wonder why a
learned man like you, after hearing the views of your own distinguished
ulema, would give any credence to the statement of a wicked man,
who did not even perform the ritual prayers.
Sheikh: Man is free to express
his faith. If someone expresses his views, we should not slander
him. It is unbecoming of you to malign him instead of giving a
logical reply to his remarks.
Well-Wisher: You misunderstood
me. I do not unjustly censure anyone. I was not alive during the
time of Amadi. Your own ulema have reported that he was an irreligious
Sheikh: Where have our ulema
said that he was irreligious man?
Well-Wisher: Ibn Hajar Asqalani
has written in Lisanu'l-Mizan: "Saif Amadi Mutakallim Ali
Bin Abi Ali, the author, was banished from Damascus because of
his irreligious views, and it is true that he did not offer prayers."
And Dhahabi, who is also one of your prominent ulema, reported
the same thing in his Mizanu'l-I'tidal. He said that Amadi was
an innovator. If Amadi had not been a wicked and irreligious innovator,
he would not have made slanderous remarks about all the companions
of the holy Prophet, including your own Caliph, Umar Bin Khattab
(one of the reporters of the hadith). It's not quite fair that
you fault the Shias for not accepting hadith recorded in Siha.
If a hadith comes from authentic sources, it is acceptable even
if it is in the Siha. But if an established hadith, which is recorded
by Bukhari, Muslim, and other authors of Siha, is rejected by
Amadi, you find no fault with that.
If you wish to know the complete arguments regarding the authenticity
and sources of this hadith from the recordings of your own ulema,
and if you are prepared to condemn people like Amadi, you may
consult the volumes of Abaqatu'l-Anwar, written by the great scholar
and commentator, Allama Mir Seyyed Hamid Husain Dihlawi. In particular,
you should consider the hadith of Manzila so that you may know
how this great Shia Allama has collected sources from your own
legal scholars and established the hadith's reliability.
Hafiz: You said that one of
the reporters of this hadith was Umar Bin Khattab. I'd like to
know more about that.
Well-Wisher: Abu Bakr Muhammad
Bin Ja'afaru'l-Mutiri and Abu'l-Laith Nasr Bin Muhammad Samarqandi
Hanafi, in their books, Majalis, Muhammad Bin Abdu'r-Rahman Dhahabi
in his Riadhu'n-Nazara, Mulla Ali Muttaqi in his Kanzu'l-Ummal,
and others have reported from Ibn Abbas as saying that one day
Umar Bin Khattab said: "Leave the name of Ali (that is, do
not speak so much ill of Ali) because I have heard the holy Prophet
saying that Ali had three qualities. If I had any one of these
qualities, I would have treasured it more than anything on which
the sun shines. Once I, Abu Bakr, Abu Ubaida, Jarra and some other
companions were present, and the holy Prophet was resting against
Ali Bin Abu Talib. He patted Ali's shoulders and said, 'Ali! so
far as faith is concerned, you are the first of all the believers
and so far as Islam is concerned, you have taken the lead.' Then
he said, 'Ali! You are to me as Aaron was to Moses. And he is
a liar who thinks he is my friend if he is your enemy.'"
Is it permissible in your belief to reject the statement of Caliph
Umar? If it is not permissible, why do you pay attention to the
absurd statements of a man like Amadi?
I have yet to reply to one of your remarks. You said that this
hadith is a single narration, and hence it is not acceptable.
If we say such a thing according to the pattern of the men which
we have in view, we would be justified. But it surprises me to
hear such a thing from you because in your sect even a single
narration is sufficient to establish the truth of a matter. If
someone refuses to admit the authenticity of a single narration,
he is, according to your ulema, an unbeliever. Maliku'l-Ulema
Shahabu'd-Din Daulatabadi said in Hidayatu's-Sa'da': "If
someone refuses to accept a lone report or conjecture and says
that it is not acceptable, he is an infidel. If he says that this
single narration is not correct, and this conjecture is not proved,
he is a sinner, not an infidel."
Hafiz: We have drifted from
our main topic. Please let us know how you can prove through this
hadith of Manzila that Ali occupied the rank of a prophet.