Hafiz: From your eloquent talk
last night, I conclude that you wanted to prove that Ali was the
immediate successor of the Prophet, though in fact this hadith
has only a specific significance. It was narrated during the journey
of Tabuk. There is no proof that it has general significance.
Well-Wisher: In this hadith
the word "Manzila" (Rank) is used in the general sense.
The word showing exception clearly proves that the reference is
of general significance. The Prophet named Ali along with the
word "prophet" and described his Manzila using the phrase
'except that there shall be no prophet after me.' Most eminent
ulema and authors have quoted the hadith from the Prophet, who
is reported to have said to Ali. "Are you not content that
you are to me as Aaron was to Moses except that there shall be
no prophet after me?"
During his absence of forty days, Moses did not leave matters
to the discretion of his followers. He appointed Aaron, the best
man among the Isra'ilis, to act as his Caliph and successor. Similarly,
the last prophet, whose religion is most perfect, had even greater
reason to protect his people from the chaos of their free will.
He preserved the code of religion so that it might not pass into
the hands of the ignorant, those who would change it according
to their whims. The ignorant people would depend on their own
conjecture and create divisions in the matter of law. So, in this
sacred hadith the Prophet says: "Ali is to me as Aaron was
to Moses," confirming that Ali held the same levels of merit
and authority as Aaron did. Ali was superior to the whole umma
(community), and therefore the Prophet appointed him his helper
and his successor.
Hafiz: What you have said about
this hadith is above question. But if you just consider the matter
carefully, you will admit that this hadith has no general significance.
Its significance is confined to the Battle of Tabuk when the Prophet
appointed Ali his Caliph for a fixed time.
Well-Wisher: You might have
been justified in your remark if this hadith had been narrated
at Tabuk only. But the Prophet repeated the same hadith on different
occasions. It was narrated when brotherhood among different individuals
among the muhajirs (refugees) was established in Mecca. It was
also narrated in Medina when brotherhood was established between
the Muhajirin and the Ansar. On each occasion the Prophet selected
Ali as his brother, saying, "You are to me as Aaron was to
Moses except that there shall be no prophet after me."
Hafiz: So far as I have observed,
the hadith of Manzila was narrated only at the Battle of Tabuk.
The Prophet left Ali in his place, which caused Ali to worry.
The Prophet consoled him with these words. I think you have been
Well-Wisher: No, I am not mistaken.
Your own authentic books have narrated it. Among them are Mas'udi
(a reliable reporter according to both sects) who writes in his
Muruju'dh-Dhahab, Volume II, page 49, Halabi in Siratu'l-Halabiyya,
Volume II, pages 26 and 120, Imam Abdu'r-Rahman Nisa'i in Khasa'isu'l-Alawiyya,
page 19, Sibt Ibn Jauzi in his Tadhkira, pages 13-14, Sulayman
Balkhi Hanafi in Yanabiu'l-Mawadda, chapter 9 and 17, and several
others have narrated this hadith. They all say that, apart from
the two occasions of establishing brotherhood, it has been narrated
on many other occasions as well. Therefore, this hadith is not
to be construed in a restricted sense or for a particular occasion
only. Its general significance is an established fact. lt was
through this hadith that the Holy Prophet declared on appropriate
occasions Ali's succession after him. One of those occasions was
the Battle of Tabuk.
Hafiz: How is it possible that
the companions of the Prophet heard this hadith in its general
sense, knowing that it meant the succession of Ali was willed
by the Prophet and yet, after the death of the Prophet, they became
hostile and accepted another man as caliph?
Well-Wisher: I have many references
in support of my answer to your question, but the best response
for this occasion is to consider the trials of Aaron in a very
similar situation. The Holy Qur'an states that when Moses appointed
Aaron his successor, he gathered round him the Bani Isra'il (according
to some reports, 70,000 people). Moses emphasized that in his
absence they should obey Aaron, his Caliph and successor. Moses
then went up the mountain to be alone with Allah. Before a month
passed, Samiri incited dissension among the Isra'ilis. He fashioned
a golden calf and the Bani Isra'il, having left Aaron, gathered
round the treacherous Samiri in large numbers. It had been only
a short time before this that the same Bani Isra'il had heard
Moses say that during his absence Aaron was to be his Caliph and
that they should obey him. Nevertheless, 70,000 people followed
Samiri. The Prophet Aaron loudly protested this action and forbade
them from indulging in such sinful acts, but no one listened to
him. The verse of Sura A'raf states that when Moses came back,
Aaron said to him: "Son of my mother! Surely the people reckoned
me weak and had well-nigh slain me..." (7:150)
The Bani Isra'il themselves heard the clear instruction from Moses,
but when Moses went up to the mountain, Samiri seized his opportunity.
He fashioned a golden calf and misguided the Bani Isra'il.
Similarly, after the death of the Prophet, some people who had
heard him say that Ali was his successor, turned against Ali.
Imam Ghazali referred to this fact in the beginning of his fourth
treatise in Sirru'l-'Alamin. He states that some people returned
to the state of their former ignorance. In this respect, there
is great similarity between the situation of Aaron and that of
Ali. Like many of your own great scholars and historians, Abu
Muhammad Abdullah Bin Muslim Bin Qutayba Bahili Dinawari, the
well-known Qazi of Dinawar, in his Al-Imama Wa Siyasa, Volume
I, page 14, narrates in detail the events of Saqifa. He says that
they threatened to burn down Ali's house and they forcibly took
him to the mosque and threatened to kill him unless he swore allegiance
to them. Ali went to the sacred grave of the Prophet and repeated
the same words of the Holy Qur'an which Aaron spoke to Moses:
"He (Aaron) said: Son of my mother! Surely the people reckoned
me weak and had well-nigh slain me..." (7:150)
Nawab: When the succession of
Ali had been established, why did the Prophet use words which
only implied that sense? Why didn't he clearly announce that Ali
was his successor, so that no objection could have been raised
Well-Wisher: I told you that
the Prophet expressed the truth in both ways. This is evident
from your own books, which have recorded numerous hadith in this
regard. Literary people know that allusion is more impressive
than a mere statement, particularly when the allusion is so deep-rooted
that it contains in it a world of meaning.
Nawab: You say that there are
many clear hadith recorded by your ulema concerning the succession
of Ali. Will you please tell us more about this? We are told that
there is no hadith which proves Ali's succession.
Well-Wisher: There are many
hadith concerning the caliphate in your own authentic books.
Of all the hadith concerning the vicegerency of Ali, the hadith
of Invitation is the most important. On the day the Prophet proclaimed
his prophethood, he also proclaimed that Ali was his successor.
The ulema of your sect, including Imam Ahmad Bin Hanbal, Muwaffaq
Bin Ahmad Khawarizmi, Abu Ja'far Muhammad Bin Jarir Tabari, Ibn
Abi'l-Hadid Mu'tazali and a host of others have reported that
when verse 214 of the Chapter Shu'ara: "And warn your nearest
relations," (26:214) was revealed, the Prophet invited forty
of the Quraish, to Abu Talib's house. He put before them a leg
of goat, some bread, and a cup of milk. They laughed and said:
"O Muhammad! you have not served enough food for even one
man." The holy Prophet said: "Begin eating in the name
of Allah." When they had eaten and were fully satisfied,
they said to each other: "Muhammad has bewitched you with
this food." The Prophet stood up among them and said: "O
descendants of Abdu'l-Muttalib! Allah Almighty has sent me as
a messenger to the whole of creation in general and to you in
particular. I invite you to make two statements which are light
and easy for the tongue, but on the scale of action they are heavy.
If you make the two statements, you will be masters of the lands
of the Arabs and the non-Arabs. Through them you will go to Paradise
and will obtain immunity from Hell. These two expressions are:
first, to bear witness to Allah's Oneness, and second, to bear
witness to my prophethood. The one who first of all acknowledges
my call and helps me in my mission is my brother, my helper, my
heir, and my successor after me."
The Prophet repeated the last sentence three times, and each time
none except Ali responded to him, saying, "I will aid and
help you, O Prophet of Allah!" So the Prophet declared: "This
Ali is my brother, and he is my successor and Caliph among you."
Besides the Shia and Sunni ulema of Islam, many impartial historians
of other nations have given the details of this feast. They had
no religious bias, being neither Shias nor Sunnis. One of these
writers is the nineteenth-century British historian and philosopher,
Thomas Carlyle. In his "Heroes and Hero-worship" he
described the details of the feast at Abu Talib's house. After
the Prophet's statements, Ali stood and proclaimed his faith in
the Prophet. Therefore, the caliphate was bestowed on him. Other
European writers have confirmed this fact, including George Sale
of England and Hashim, a Christian of Syria, in his Maqalatu'l-Islam,
and Mr. John Davenport in his Muhammad and the Qur'an. All agree
that the Prophet, immediately after the proclamation of his prophethood,
called Ali his brother, helper, successor, and Caliph. Moreover,
several hadith confirm that the Prophet emphasized this fact on
many other occasions.
(1) Imam Ahmad Ibn Hanbal in his Musnad and Mir Seyyed Ali Hamadani
Shafi'i in Mawaddati'l-Qurba towards the end of the fourth Mawadda,
have recorded that the Holy Prophet said, "O Ali! You shall
discharge responsibilities on my behalf, and you are my Vicegerent
over my following."
(2) Imam Ahmad Ibn Hanbal in Musnad, Ibn Maghazili Faqih Shafi'i in Manaqib and Tha'labi in his Tafsir (commentary) have reported that the Holy Prophet said to Ali: "O Ali! You are my brother, successor, vicegerent, and the payer of my debt."
(3) Abu Qasim Husain Bin Muhammad (Raghib Ispahani) in Mahadhiratu'l-Udaba
wa Muhawaratu'sh-Shu'ara wa'l-Balagha (printed in Amira-e-Shazafiyya,
Seyyed Husain Afandi, 1326 A.H.), part II, page 213, quotes from
Ibn Malik that the Prophet said: "Verily, my friend, helper,
Vicegerent, and the choicest of men whom I am leaving behind,
who will pay my debt and fulfill my promise, is Ali Bin Abu Talib."
(4) Mir Seyyed Ali Hamadani in Mawaddatu'l-Qurba, at the beginning
of the sixth Mawadda, narrates from the second Caliph, Umar Bin
Khattab, that when the Prophet established the relationship of
brotherhood among the companions, he said: "This Ali is my
brother in this world and in the Hereafter; he is my successor
from among my kin and my Vicegerent among my umma; he is the heir
of my knowledge and the payer of my debt; whatever he owes to
me, I owe to him. His profit is my profit, and his loss is my
loss; one who is his friend is my friend; one who is his enemy
is my enemy."
(5) In the same Mawadda, he quotes a hadith from Anas bin Malik,
which I have mentioned earlier. Toward its end he says that the
Holy Prophet said, "He (Ali) is my Vicegerent and helper."
(6) Muhammad Bin Ganji Shafi'i quotes a hadith from Abu Dharr
Ghifari in his book, Kifayatu't-Talib, that the Prophet said,
"The flag of Ali, the commander of the believers, the leader
of the bright-faced people, and my Vicegerent, will come to me
at the Fountain of Kauthar."
(7) Baihaqi, Khatib Khawarizmi, and Ibn Maghazili Shafi'i write
in their Manaqib that the Prophet said to Ali: "It is not
proper that I depart from the people without you becoming my successor
since you are the choicest of the believers after me."
(8) Imam Abu Abdu'r-Rahman Nisa'i, one of the Imams of the Six
Books of Traditions, narrates in detail from Ibn Abbas the virtues
of Ali in connection with hadith 23 in Khasa'isu'l-Alawi. After
describing the rank of the prophet Aaron, the Holy Prophet said
to Ali: "You are my Vicegerent after me for every believer."
This hadith and others in which the Holy Prophet used the phrase
"after me" clearly prove that Ali was his immediate
(9) There is the "Hadith of Creation," which has been
narrated in different ways. Imam Bin Ahmad Ibn Hanbal in his Musnad,
Mir Seyyed Ali Hamadani in Mawaddatu'l-Qurba, Ibn Maghazili Shafi'i
in Manaqib, and Dailami in Firdaus have quoted the Prophet as
saying: "I and Ali were created of the same Divine Light
14,000 years before Adam was created. From the loins of the Prophet
Adam and through his holy progeny, the Light was inherited by
Abdu'l-Muttalib, and from him it was divided and inherited by
Abdullah, (father of the Prophet) and Abu Talib, (father of Ali).
I was granted prophethood, and Ali was granted the caliphate."
(10) Hafiz Abu Ja'far Muhammad Bin Jarir Tabari (d.310 A.H.) writes
in his Kitabu'l-Wilaya that the Prophet said in the beginning
of his renowned address at Ghadir-e-Khum: "The angel Gabriel
has conveyed Allah's command to me that I stop at this place and
inform the people that Ali Bin Abu Talib is my brother, my successor,
my Caliph (Vicegerent) after me. O men! Allah has made Ali your
Wali (guardian), and Imam (guide). Obedience to him is obligatory
on each one of you; his command is supreme; his utterance is truth;
curse be on him who opposes him; Allah's mercy be on him who befriends
(11) Sheikh Sulayman Balkhi in Yanabiu'l-Mawadda reports from
the Manaqib of Ahmad, and he from Ibn Abbas, a hadith which describes
many of Ali's merits. I quote all of it. Ibn Abbas reports that
the Prophet said: "O Ali, you are the bearer of my knowledge,
my Wali and friend, my successor, the heir of my knowledge, and
my Caliph. You are the trustee of the heritage of all the preceding
prophets. You are the confidant of Allah on this earth and Allah's
proof for the whole of creation. You are a pillar of Iman (faith)
and the guardian of Islam. You are a lamp in darkness, a light
of guidance, and for the people of the world you are a raised
standard. O Ali! He who follows you is delivered; he who disobeys
you will perish; you are the luminous way, and a straight path;
you are the leader of pure men, and the head of the believers;
to whomsoever I am Master (Maula), you are also his Master (Maula),
and I am the Master of every believer (man or woman). Only he
is your friend who is born of lawful wedlock. Allah did not transport
me to the heavens to speak with me without telling me, 'O Muhammad!
Convey my salutation to Ali and tell him that he is the Imam of
my friends and the Light of worshippers.' Congratulations to you,
O Ali, on this marvelous excellence."
(12) Abu Mu'ayyid Muwafiqu'd-Din, the best orator of Khawarizm,
in his Faza'il of the Commander of the Faithful, printed in 1313
A.H., Chapter XIX, page 240, quotes the sources who reported that
the Prophet said: "When I reached Sidratu'l-Muntaha ('the
farthest Lote Tree,' the highest station during the Mi'raj), I
was addressed thus: 'O Muhammad! When you tested the people, whom
did you find the most obedient?' I said 'Ali.' Allah then said,
'You have told the truth, Muhammad!' Further, He said, 'Have you
selected a Vicegerent who will convey your knowledge to the people,
and teach my servants from My Book those things which they do
not know?' I said, 'O Allah! Whomever you select, I will select.'
He said, 'I have selected Ali for you. I make him your Vicegerent
and successor.' And He furnished Ali with His knowledge and forbearance.
He is the Commander of the Faithful whom no one can equal in rank
among his predecessors or successors."
There are many such hadith in your authentic books. Some of your
just ulema, like Nizzam Basri, have acknowledged this fact. Salahu'd-Din
Safdi in his Wafa Bi'l-Wafiyya, in connection with the account
of Ibrahim Bin Sayyar Bin Hani Basri, known as Nizzam Mu'tazali,
says: "The Prophet of Allah confirmed the Imamate of Ali
and appointed him the Imam (Guide). The companions of the Prophet
were also fully aware of it, but Umar, for the sake of Abu Bakr,
covered the Imamate of Ali with a curtain."
It is clear from your own books, hadith, and Qur'anic commentaries
that Ali occupied the highest position of virtue. Khatib Khawarizmi
reports from Ibn Abbas in Manaqib, Muhammad Bin Yusuf Ganji Shafi'i
in his Kifayatu't-Talib, Sibt Ibn Jauzi in his Tadhkira, Ibn Sabbagh
Maliki in Fusulu'l-Mawadda, Sulayman Balkhi Hanafi in Yanabiu'l-Mawadda
and Mir Seyyed Ali Hamadani in Mawaddatu'l-Qurba, Mawadda V, quotation
from the second Caliph, Umar Bin Khattab - all confirming with
slight variations of words - that the Prophet said: "If all
the trees were pens, if the seas were ink, if all the jinn and
men were recorders - even then the virtues of Ali Bin Abu Talib
could not be enumerated."