The Ahle'dh-dhikr means the people of the Remembrance, Ali and
the Holy Imams, his descendants, who are the equals of the Holy
Qur'an. Sheikh Sulayman Balkhi Hanafi-in his Yanabiu'l-Mawadda,
Chapter 39, quoting from the Tafsir-e-Kashfu'l-Bayan of Imam Tha'labi,
narrates from Jabir Ibn Abdullah Ansari, who said: "Ali said:
'We descendants of the Holy Prophet are the people of the Remembrance.'"
Since Dhikr, "Remembrance," is one of the names of the
Holy Qur'an, this family contains the people of the Qur'an. As
reported by your and our ulema, Ali said: "Ask me anything
you like before I leave you. Ask me about the Holy Book (The Qur'an)
since I know about every verse in it - whether it was revealed
in the night or during the day, on a plain field or in the steep
mountains. By Allah, no verse of the Holy Qur'an was revealed
but I know about what it was revealed, where it was revealed,
and about what person it was revealed. Allah Almighty has endowed
me with an eloquent tongue and a wise mind."
Therefore, basing arguments upon verses of the Holy Qur'an should
be in accordance with their authentic meaning and the interpretations
given by those capable of reliable commentary. Otherwise, everyone
would give his own interpretation of the verses of the Qur'an,
according to his scope of knowledge and faith, and that would
only result in differences of opinion and conflicting ideas. With
this in mind, I ask you to cite your verses.
Sheikh: Allah clearly says in
the Holy Qur'an, "Muhammad is the Apostle of Allah, and those
who are with him are strong against unbelievers, (but) compassionate
amongst each other. Thou wilt see them bow and prostrate themselves
(in prayer), seeking grace from Allah and (His) good pleasure.
On their faces are their marks, (being) the traces of their prostration."
(48:29) First, this verse proves the superiority of Abu Bakr.
Second, it vindicates the position of the four caliphs as opposed
to the claim of the Shia sect that Ali was the first caliph. This
verse unequivocally states that Ali was the fourth caliph.
Well-Wisher: Certainly this
verse does not give any obvious indication about the mode of appointment
of the caliphs or about the excellence of Abu Bakr. Therefore,
you must point out at what place of the verse this meaning is
Sheikh: In the beginning of
this verse, the phrase "those who are with him" refers
to that great man who was with the Prophet on the 'Night of the
Cave.' The order of succession in the caliphate is also apparent
from this verse. "Those who are with him" means Abu
Bakr, who accompanied the Prophet in the Cave of Thawr on the
night of Hijra. The phrase "strong against unbelievers"
means Umar Bin Khattab, who was very harsh with the unbelievers.
The phrase "compassionate to each other" refers to Uthman
Bin Affan, who was very kind. The phrase "on their faces
are their marks, the traces of their prostration" refers
to Ali. It is clear that Ali is the fourth Caliph, not the first,
since Allah mentioned him in the fourth place.
Well-Wisher: I wonder how I
should reply so that I may not be accused of self interest. No
Qur'anic commentaries, including those of your great ulema have
interpreted these words as you have. Had this verse been about
the order of the caliphate, the first day after the death of the
Prophet, when Ali, the Bani Hashim, and the distinguished companions
of the Prophet raised objections and refused to swear allegiance
to the Caliph, baseless arguments would not have been put forward.
They could have given a silencing reply by citing this holy verse
there and then. Hence, it is clear that your interpretation is
an afterthought. None of the great commentators of your sect,
like Tabari, Imam Tha'labi, Fazil Nishapuri, Jalalu'd-Din Suyuti,
Qazi Baidhawi, Jarullah Zamakhshari, Imam Fakhru'd-Din Razi, or
others have interpreted it thus. I fail to understand how you
derive this meaning. Where and by whom was such a meaning given?
This verse, from the literary and technical point of view, also
goes against what you say.
Sheikh: I never expected that
you would stand so boldly in opposition to the obvious meaning
of such a verse. Of course if you have anything to say against
this you may let us know so that the real position may be established.
Well-Wisher: Considering the
grammatical construction of the verse, if we interpret its meaning
as you have, it would either mean that Muhammad is Abu Bakr, Umar,
Uthman, and Ali or that Abu Bakr, Umar, Uthman and Ali are Muhammad!
Even beginning students know that this sort of interpretation
is grammatically inaccurate. Besides, if this verse referred to
the four caliphs, there would have been the conjunction "and"
to coordinate words to give your meaning, but it is not so. All
the commentators of your own sect say that this verse refers to
all the believers. Moreover, the qualities enumerated in this
verse apparently refer to one person only, who remained with the
Prophet from the very beginning, and not to four persons. And
if we say that one person was the Commander of the Faithful, Ali,
it would be more appropriate according to common sense and hadith
than naming any others.
Sheikh: It is strange that you
claim that you do not indulge in misleading arguments, although
your views are quite perverse. Allah says in the Holy Qur'an,
"If you will not aid him, Allah certainly aided him when
those who disbelieved expelled him, he being the second of the
two, when they were both in the cave, when he said to his companion:
'Grieve not, surely Allah is with us.' So Allah sent down His
tranquility upon him and strengthened him with hosts which you
did not see..." (9:40)
First, this verse supports the previous verse and proves that
the phrase "and those who are with him," refers to Abu
Bakr who was with the Prophet in the cave on the night of the
Hijra. Second, the fact that he was with the Holy Prophet is in
itself a great proof of Abu Bakr's merit and his superiority to
the whole umma. The Prophet could foretell that Abu Bakr was his
successor, and that the existence of the Caliph after him was
necessary. Therefore, he realized that he should protect Abu Bakr
as he would his own. So, he took him with him so that Abu Bakr
might not be caught by the enemy. Such treatment was not shown
to any other Muslim. This clearly proves his right to the caliphate
in preference to others.
Well-Wisher: If you would look
at the verse more objectively, you would see that your conclusion
Sheikh: Can you advance reasons
against the conclusions that we have drawn?
Well-Wisher: I should like you
to pass over this issue at the moment because speech breeds speech.
Some biased people may interpret our comments with ill will. I
do not wish to incite hatred. One might conclude that we wish
to dishonor the caliphs, though the position of each individual
is fixed, and it is not necessary to make useless interpretations.
Sheikh: You are being evasive.
Be assured that reasonable argument does not breed contempt; it
Well-Wisher: Since you have
used the word "evasive," I am constrained to reply,
so that you may know that I am not avoiding the issue. I wanted
to maintain the propriety of our debate. I hope that you will
not find fault with me. You made a thoughtless assertion that
the Prophet knew that Abu Bakr would be his Caliph after him.
Therefore, it was necessary for him to save his life, and so he
took him with him.
Reply to your statement is simple. If Abu Bakr had been the only
Caliph after the Prophet, such a view could be possible, but you
believe in four caliphs. If this argument of yours is correct,
and if it had been necessary for the Prophet to safeguard the
life of the caliph, then the Prophet should have taken with him
all four caliphs in Mecca. Why would he leave three others there,
one of them in the perilous position of sleeping in the Prophet's
bed, which was dangerous on a night when his enemies had gathered
to murder him? According to Tabari (Part III of his History),
Abu Bakr was not aware of the Prophet's movement from Mecca. When
he went to Ali and asked him about the Prophet, he told him that
the Prophet had gone to the cave. Ali told him that if he had
any business with him, he should run up to him. Abu Bakr ran and
met the Prophet on the way. So he accompanied him. This series
of events indicates that the Prophet did not intend to take Abu
Bakr with him. The latter accompanied him from the middle of the
way without the Prophet's permission. According to other reports,
Abu Bakr was taken on the journey for fear of his causing a disturbance
and giving information to the enemy. Your own ulema have admitted
this fact. For instance, Sheikh Abu'l-Qasim Bin Sabbagh, who is
one of the well known ulema of your sect, writing in his Al-Nur
wa'l-Burhan about the life of the Prophet, narrates from Muhammad
Bin Ishaq, and he from Hasan Bin Thabit Ansari, that he went to
Mecca to perform the Umra before the emigration of the Prophet.
He saw that the Quraish unbelievers were railing at the Prophet's
companions. The Prophet ordered Ali to sleep in his bed, and,
fearing that Abu Bakr would disclose this fact to the unbelievers,
the Prophet took Abu Bakr with him.
Finally, it would have been better if you had pointed out what
evidence there is in this verse to show the superiority of Abu
Bakr or whether accompanying the Prophet on a journey is proof
that one is entitled to the caliphate.
Sheikh: The evidence is there.
First, the companionship of the Prophet and that Allah called
him the Prophet's companion is in itself a qualification. Second,
the Prophet himself said: "Verily, Allah is with us."
Third, the sending down of tranquility upon him from Allah, as
mentioned in this verse, is the most compelling proof of Abu Bakr's
excellence. Therefore, all of these points taken together indicate
his superiority to others regarding the caliphate.
Well-Wisher: No one hesitates
to acknowledge the position of Abu Bakr, an elderly Muslim, one
of the distinguished companions and the father of the wife of
the Prophet. However, these reasons do not prove his superiority
of the caliphate. If you try to prove your point with such statements
before impartial men, you will be courting strong criticism. They
will say that companionship with virtuous people is no proof of
merit or superiority. For example, we often see that bad people
accompany good ones, and hosts of infidels accompany Muslims on
journeys. Perhaps you have forgotten what the Holy Qur'an says
about the Prophet Yusuf (Joseph), who said: "O my two companions
of the prison (I ask you): are many lords differing among themselves
better, or Allah, the One, the Supreme?" (12:39)
Regarding this verse, commentators have said that when Joseph
was taken to the prison, on the same day the King's cook and the
wine bearer, both of whom were unbelievers, were also put into
the prison with him. For five years these three men (both believers
and unbelievers) lived together as companions. When preaching
to them Joseph, called them his companions. Was this companionship
of the Prophet ever made grounds for regarding the two infidels
as virtuous or dignified? Did their companionship with the Prophet
effect a change in their faith? The writings of the commentators
and historians tell us that after five years of companionship,
they were separated from each other in the same condition.
Another verse of the Qur'an states, "His companion said to
him while disputing with him: 'Do you disbelieve in Him who created
you from dust, then from a small seed, then He made you a perfect
man?'" (18:37) Commentators agree that this verse refers
to two brothers: one was a believer, whose name was Yahuda. The
other was an unbeliever whose name was Bara'tus. This fact has
also been reported in the Tafsir-e-Kabir by Imam Fakhru'd-Din
Razi, who is one of your ulema. These two talked to each other,
the details of which cannot be given here. Allah has, however,
called both of them (believer and unbeliever) "companions."
Did the unbeliever derive benefit from his companionship with
the believer? Obviously not. Thus, companionship alone is no basis
for claiming one's excellence. There are many examples in support
of this view.
You also said that since the Prophet said to Abu Bakr, "Allah
is with us," that this is proof of Abu Bakr's excellence
and his right to the caliphate! You might reconsider your views.
People might ask, for example, "Does Allah remain with the
believers and saints only, and not with the unbelievers?"
Do you know any place where Allah does not exist? Isn't Allah
with everyone? Suppose a believer and an unbeliever are together
in a congregation. The Qur'an says: "See you not that Allah
knows whatever is in the heavens and whatever is in the earth?
Nowhere is there a secret counsel between three (persons) but
He is fourth of them, nor (between) five, but He is the sixth,
nor less than that, nor more but He is with them wheresoever they
may be." (58:7) According to this verse and according to
common sense, Allah is with everyone.
Sheikh: The expression "Allah
is with us" meant that they were Allah's dearly loved ones
because they traveled in the way of Allah for the purpose of preserving
His religion. Allah's blessings were with them.
Well-Wisher: But surely this
expression does not prove that one possesses an eternal blessing.
Allah Almighty looks at people's deeds. It has often happened
that at one time, people performed good deeds and were recipients
of mercy from Allah. Later they disobeyed Allah and were subjected
to divine wrath. Satan, as you know, worshiped Allah for thousands
of years and received kindness from Him. However, as soon as he
disobeyed His Command, he was damned. The Holy Qur'an says: "He
said: 'Then get out of it, for surely you are driven away. And
surely upon you is a curse until the Day of Judgement.'"
Excuse me, there is no harm in citing examples. My purpose is
to clarify the point. History contains many examples of those
who were close to Allah but who, after being tested, were cursed.
Bal'am Bin Ba'ur, for example, a contemporary of Moses, became
so close to Allah that Allah revealed to him the Ism-e-A'zam (the
greatest name of Allah, through which anything sought for is immediately
granted by Allah). He invoked Allah by means of the Ism-e-A'zam
and caused Moses to suffer in the valley of Tia! But at the time
of trial, Bal'am was overpowered by his love for the material
world. He followed Satan and was condemned. Commentators have
given detailed accounts of this event. Imam Fakhru'd-Din Razi
in his Commentary, Part IV, page 463, has reported this matter
from Ibn Abbas, Ibn Mas'ud, and Mujahid. Allah in the Holy Qur'an
tells us: "And recite to them the narrative of him to whom
We give Our revelations, but he withdraws himself from them; so
Satan overtakes him, and he is of those who go astray." (7:175)
Or consider the case of Barsisa Abid, who originally worshipped
Allah so much that he became Mustajabu'd-da'wa (one whose invocations
are granted). However, when the time of trial came, he failed.
Misled by Satan, he committed fornication with a girl, was sent
to the gallows, and died an unbeliever. The Holy Qur'an refers
to him in these words: "Like Satan when he says to man: 'Disbelieve,'
but when he disbelieves, he says; 'I am surely quit of you; surely
I fear Allah, the Lord of the worlds.' Therefore, the end of both
of them is that they are both in the fire to abide therein, and
that is the reward of the unjust." (59:16-17)
So if man has done good deeds at one time, it does not follow
that his end will be good. It is for this reason that we are instructed
to say in our invocation: "Let all our actions end in good."
Sheikh: I really didn't expect
an honorable man like you to cite the examples of Satan, Bal'am-e-Ba'ur,
Well-Wisher: Excuse me, I have
already stated that there is no harm in citing examples. In fact,
we must cite them in learned debates to prove facts. Let Allah
be my witness: I never intended to defame anyone by citing these
examples. My purpose is to prove my point.
Sheikh: This verse clearly proves
Abu Bakr's excellence because it says: "So Allah sent down
His tranquility upon him..." (9:40) The pronoun here refers
to Abu Bakr, which proves his superiority.
WELL-Wisher: You have misunderstood it. The pronoun used after
Sakina (peace) refers to the Prophet. Peace was sent to him and
not to Abu Bakr, as is evident from the later sentence in which
Allah says: "...and strengthened him with hosts which you
did not see." (9:40) The fact is that the hosts of unseen
angels were to aid the Prophet, not Abu Bakr.
Sheikh: I admit that the divine
help was for the Prophet, but Abu Bakr, being in company of the
Prophet, was not without blessings.
Well-Wisher: If the bestowal
of divine blessings referred to two people, Arabic grammar would
require that pronouns be used designating two people in all the
phrases of this verse. But the pronouns refer to one person, the
Prophet, and Allah's blessings were for him. If through him the
bestowal had been intended for others as well, their names would
have been mentioned. Hence, the sending down of peace in this
verse is for the Prophet alone.
Sheikh: The Prophet of Allah
was independent of the divine bestowal of peace. He did not need
it because he was assured of divine blessings. Hence, the bestowal
of peace was for Abu Bakr.
Well-Wisher: On what grounds
do you say that the Prophet was independent of divine blessings?
No person - Prophet, Imam, or saint - is independent of divine
blessings. Perhaps you have forgotten what the Holy Qur'an says
about the incident of Hunain. "Then Allah sent down His tranquility
upon His Apostle and upon the believers." The same thing
has been said in chapter 48 (Fath) verse 26, of the Holy Qur'an.
The believers are included after the Prophet in this verse, just
as in the "verse of the cave." If Abu Bakr had been
a believer who deserved the bestowal of peace, either the pronoun
for two persons would have been used, or his name would have been
mentioned separately. This matter is so clear that your own ulema
admit that the pronoun connected with peace does not refer to
Abu Bakr. You might consult Naqzu'l-Uthmaniyya, compiled by Sheikh
Abu Ja'far Muhammad Bin Abdullah Iskafi, who is one of the prominent
ulema and Sheikhs of the Mu'tazilites. That scholar completely
refutes the absurdities of Abu Uthman Jahiz. Ibn Abi'l-Hadid also
recorded some of those replies in his Sharh Nahju'l-Balagha, Volume
III, pages 253-281. In addition, there is a phrase in this verse,
the implication of which is contrary to your point. The Prophet
said to Abu Bakr: "Fear you not." The phrase indicates
that Abu Bakr was frightened. Was this fear praiseworthy or not?
If it was, the Prophet would not prohibit anyone from doing a
good deed. A vicegerent of Allah possesses certain qualities.
The most important of them, as pointed out in the Holy Qur'an,
is that he never fears the vicissitudes of life. He exercises
patience and fortitude. The Holy Qur'an says: "Now surely
the friends of Allah - they shall have no fear nor shall they