Second, Amiru'l-Mu'minin never looked to himself but was always
mindful of Allah. He was completely absorbed in Allah. He resigned
himself and his people to the will of Allah. Hence, his patience
and forbearance in gaining his right were for Allah's sake so
that there might not be discord among the Muslims and that people
might not return to their previous infidelity. When Fatima's property
was taken from her, she came home, depressed and dismayed. She
said to Ali: "You have receded like a foetus. You have retired
from the world like an accused person and have broken your hawk-like
wings. Now the weak wings of a bird do not support you. This Ibn
Qahafa (Abu Bakr) is forcibly snatching away from me my father's
gift and my children's means of subsistence. In fact these people
abused me with open ill will and railed at me." She spoke
for a long time.
The Holy Imam listened to Fatima until she was silent. Then he
gave her a short reply which satisfied her. He said: "O Fatima!
In the matter of religion and preaching truth, I have never been
inactive. Do you wish that this sacred religion remains secure
and that your holy father's name is called in mosques until eternity?"
She said: "Yes, that is my most ardent desire." Ali
said: "Then you should be patient. Your father has given
me instructions regarding this situation, and I know that I should
be forbearing. Otherwise, I have such strength that I could subdue
the enemy and take back your right from them. But you should know
that in that case the religion would be destroyed. So, for the
sake of Allah and for the security of Allah's religion, be patient.
The recompense in the hereafter for you is better than your right
which has been usurped."
It was for this reason that Amiru'l-Mu'minin made patience his
custom. He assumed forbearance and silence for the safety of Islam.
In many of his sermons he has referred to this point.
Ibrahim Bin Muhammad Saqafi, who is one of the trustworthy ulema
of the Sunnis, Ibn Abi'l-Hadid, and Ali Ibn Muhammad Hamadani
report that when Talha and Zubair broke their allegiances and
left for Basra, Ali ordered the people to assemble in the mosque.
Then after praising Allah Almighty he said: "After the death
of the Holy Prophet, we said that we were his Ahle Bait, his successors,
and the rightful people to receive his heritage. No one except
us could claim the right of rulership after him. But a group of
the hypocrites snatched away our Holy Prophet's rulership from
us and entrusted it to those who were our opponents. By Allah,
our hearts and eyes wept for it. By Allah, we were full of grief
and indignation. I swear by Allah that if there were no fear that
the Muslim community would be shattered, we would have overturned
the caliphate. They occupied the seat of power until they reached
their end. Now Allah has returned the caliphate to me. And these
two men (Talha and Zubair) also swore allegiance to me. Now they
have proceeded to Basra intending to cause dissension among the
Among your great scholars, Ibn Abi'l-Hadid and Kalbi, have reported
that at the time of his setting out for Basra Ali addressed the
people. He said: "When the Holy Prophet of Allah died, the
Quraish swooped down upon us and deprived us of the right which
we deserved more than anyone else. So I thought that it was better
to adopt patience at that time, rather than allow the Muslims
to disintegrate and their blood to be spilled, for they had embraced
Islam only recently."
Ali's silence and his abstaining from challenging the caliphate
of Abu Bakr and Umar was not due to his concurrence with them.
It was because he wanted to avoid causing bitter conflict among
the people and because he wanted to save the religion from annihilation.
So after six months of silence and disapproval, then, as stated
by your ulema, he offered allegiance and cooperated with them.
In a letter sent to the people of Egypt through Malik Ashtar,
he clearly writes that his silence was for the sake of preserving
The original text of Ali's letter, which Ibn Abi'l-Hadid has recorded
in his Sharh-e-Nahju'l-Balagha, vol.IV, p.164, is as follows:
"Allah Almighty sent Muhammad as a witness of the prophets
to warn the people. So when the Holy Prophet died the Muslims
disputed among themselves as to who should succeed him. I swear
by Allah that I never thought or believed, nor were there the
least signs of it, that the people of Arabia would take away the
right of succession from the Ahle Bait and give it to others after
him. It was unimaginable that after the death of the Holy Prophet,
in spite of his clear decree, they would deprive me of that right.
I was greatly distressed that the people ran to a certain person
(Abu Bakr) and swore allegiance to him. So I withdrew myself until
I saw that a group of people diverged from Islam and intended
to destroy Islam. Then I feared that if I did not help Islam and
the Muslims, Islam would suffer such destruction as would be more
painful to me than the snatching away of the caliphate. Of course
political power cannot last long. It must dissipate like the clouds.
It was under these conditions that I had to rise, so that paganism
would become weak and Islam become firm."
Ibn Abi'l-Hadid in his Sharh-e-Nahju'l-Balagha, vol.II, p.35,
reports from Kitabu'l-Gharat of Ibrahim Ibn Sa'd Bin Hilal Saqafi,
who reports from Abdu'r-Rahman Bin Jundab, who reports from his
father that when the enemy occupied Egypt and Muhammad Bin Abu
Bakr was martyred, Amiru'l-Mu'minin gave a sermon in which he
expressed his bitter feelings against the attitude the Muslims
had adopted after the death of the Holy Prophet. He wrote his
remarks in a letter to the people of Egypt. The Holy Imam said:
"A man said to me 'O son of Abu Talib! How greedy you are
for the caliphate.'"
I said to him: 'You are greedier than I and are far removed from
that position. Who is the greedier between us? Is it I, who am
demanding my right, for which Allah and His Holy Prophet have
made me the most rightful claimant, or you, who have debarred
me from that right and have created obstruction between me and
They were all dumbfounded and could not utter a word. Verily,
Allah does not help the oppressors."
This account and other sermons of Imam Ali show that the reason
the Holy Imam did not confront the enemy, but assumed silence
and (as alleged by your ulema) offered allegiance after six months,
was not that he concurred with them in their decision concerning
the caliphate. It was because he feared that Islam would perish
and that the Muslims would be divided.
If Ali had risen to secure his right, some of the people would
certainly have supported him (many had urged him to come forward)
and civil war would have started.
The Holy Prophet had only recently died. The Muslims were quite
close to the age of infidelity, and the roots of belief had not
been securely established. The Jews, the Christians, the idol
worshipers, and the hypocrites, who were the worst enemies, would
have had an opportunity to destroy the honor of the Muslims. Consequently,
Islam would have collapsed.
Amiru'l-Mu'minin understood these matters. Moreover, the Holy
Prophet had told him that the basis of Islam would not be destroyed
and that religion was like the sun, which could be concealed for
some time under the clouds of ignorance and hostility but would
eventually come out, shedding its light everywhere.
In short, he claimed his right for six months and proved the righteousness
of his cause in a number of congregations and assemblies, but
did not swear allegiance. Though he did not resort to fighting,
he continued claiming his right through arguments and protests.
The Holy Imam begins his sermon of Shiqshiqayya with the same
point. "By Allah! The son of Abu Qahafa (Abu Bakr) dressed
himself with it (caliphate) though he certainly knew that my relation
to it was the same as the position of the axis in relation to
the mill. The flood water flows down from me, and no one can reach
the height of my knowledge. I kept myself detached from the caliphate.
Then I began to consider whether I should take my right by force
or calmly endure the darkness, wherein the mature are enfeebled,
the young grow old, and the true believer acts under strain until
he meets Allah (at death). I found that endurance was a wiser
course to adopt. So I was patient although there was pricking
in the eye and suffocation in the throat. I watched the plundering
of my inheritance until the first one went his way. But he handed
over the caliphate to Ibn Khattab (Umar) after himself."
This sermon is filled with the powerful emotions of Ali. But this
much is sufficient to prove our point.
Sheikh: In the first place this
sermon does not prove the displeasure of the Imam. Second, this
sermon does not concern Ali. In fact, it is the work of Seyyed
Sharif Razi, who has included it in the sermons of Ali. In fact,
Ali has no complaint against the caliphs. Rather, he was quite
pleased with them.
Well-Wisher: This statement
of yours is based on extreme prejudice. What Ali stated and complained
of has already been narrated earlier. The Holy Imam's grievances
are not confined to this sermon. Your allegation that the author
of this sermon was the pious and distinguished scholar, Seyyed
Raziu'd-din, is inaccurate. Your eminent scholars, like Izzu'd-din
Abdu'l-Hamid Ibn Abi'l-Hadid, Sheikh Muhammad Abduh, Mufti of
Egypt, and Sheikh Muhammad Khizari (in Muhazirat-e-Ta'rikhu'l-Uma'imu'l-Islamiyya,
page 127, have declared that this sermon is Ali's. Your own scholars
have written commentaries on it. Some of your fanatical ulema
of the later age made passionate efforts to create doubts about
its authenticity, but none of the more than forty prominent Sunni
and Shia ulema, who have written commentaries on Nahju'l-Balagha,
has said such a fantastic thing.
Of course the piety of the great scholar, Seyyed Raziu'd-din,
would preclude his attributing one of his own sermon's to Ali.
Moreover, experts in the Arabic language and its literature, who
have studied the sermons of Nahju'l-Balagha, have decided that,
in view of the excellent style and profound thoughts, the work
Your distinguished ulema, like Izzu'd-din Abdu'l-Hamid Bin Abi'l-Hadid
Mu'tazali and Sheikh Muhammad Abduh, have admitted that the beauty
and deep knowledge of the sermons of Ali prove that this work
is inferior in merit only to the words of Allah and the Holy Prophet.
Ibn Abi'l-Hadid reports Musaddiq Bin Shabbib as saying that the
famous Ibn Khashshab said: "It is impossible for Razi or
for anyone else to produce such a composition. We have gone through
Razi's works; they stand no comparison to these writings and holy
Ignoring all other aspects of the question, many scholars, traditionists,
and historians (both Shias and Sunnis) have recorded the existence
of this sermon before the births of the great scholar Seyyed Razi
and his father Abu Ahmad Naqibu't-Talibin.
Ibn Abi'l-Hadid in his Sharh-e-Nahju'l-Balagha writes that he
found this sermon in the books of his Sheikh, Abu'l-Qasim Balkhi
Imam-e-Mu'tazila, who lived in the time of Muqtadir B'illah Abbasi.
Obviously, Seyyed Razi was born long after him. He also writes
that he has seen this sermon in the Kitabu'l-Insaf, of the well
known preacher, Abu Ja'far Bin Qubba, who was one of the pupils
of Sheikh Abu'l-Qasim Balkhi, and who died before the birth of
Also Sheikh Abu Abdullah Bin Ahmad, commonly known as Ibn Khashshab,
is reported to have said: " I have seen this sermon in books
written 200 years before Seyyed Razi was born. I have also seen
this sermon in the works of literary scholars who wrote them before
the birth of Seyyed Razi's father, Ahmad Naqibu't-Talibin."
As for your claim that Ali was pleased with his opponents. This
of course ignores countless statements to the contrary made by
your ulema, which I have cited previously. I will cite still another
Ibn Abi'l-Hadid in his Sharh-e-Nahju'l-Balagha, vol.II, p.561,
records Ali as having said: "I remained with the Holy Prophet
from the beginning until his death. The Holy Prophet breathed
his last on my chest. It was I who washed his body with the help
of the angels, performed his funeral prayers, and buried him.
So there was no one nearer, or a more rightful successor, to him
Towards the end of his sermon he refers to his opponents in these
words: "I swear by Allah, the One, that I am on the right
path and that my opponents are on the wrong path."
But you claim that Ali considered his opponents on the right path.
I wish you could seriously look into the verse of the Holy Qur'an,
which says: "They desire to put out the light of Allah with
their mouths, and Allah will not permit aught but the perfection
of His light, though the unbelievers are averse." (9:32)