There are many examples of Ali's rejection of the world. Ibn Abi'l-Hadid
in his Sharh-e-Nahju'l-Balagha, Hafiz Abu Nu'aim Isfahani in Hilyatu'l-Auliya,
vol. I, p.84, Sheikh Abdullah Bin Amir Shabrawi Shafi'i in Kitabu'l-I'ttihad
Bin Hubbi'l-Ashraf, p.8; Muhammad Bin Talha in Matalibu's-Su'ul,
p.33; Nuru'd-din Bin Sabbagh Maliki in Fusulu'l-Muhimma, p.128;
Sheikh Sulayman Balkhi Hanafi in Yanabiu'l-Mawadda, chapter 51;
Sibt Ibn Jauzi in Tadhkira Khawasu'l-Umma at the end of chapter
5, and many others of your accredited ulema and historians have
recorded in detail the conversation between Mu'awiya and Zurar
Bin Zumra. At the end of his talk with Mu'awiya, Zurar praised
Ali in these words: "On some occasions I have seen Ali at
night when the stars were scattered over the sky, holding his
beard and writhing like one bitten by a snake, crying as in intense
pain, saying: 'O World! Deceive somebody else instead of me. Do
you fold me in your arms and are you fond of me? This can't be.
I have given you three divorces, after which union is not possible.
Your time is short lived, the fear you bring is great, and your
pleasure is very insulting. May Allah save us from the paucity
of means of travelling, the remoteness of the destination, and
the perils of the way!' Then Mu'awiya began to weep and said,
'May Allah be merciful to Abu'l-Hasan. By Allah, he was just like
that.' Mu'awiya also said, 'Women are unable to beget a man like
Ali Bin Abi Talib.'"
The Prophet himself recognized Ali's outstanding piety. Muhammad
Bin Yusuf Ganji Shafi'i in his Kifayatu't-Talib, chapter 46, reports
from Ammar Yasir, who said that he heard from the Holy Prophet
that he said to Ali: "Verily, Allah Almighty granted you
adornment the like of which He has not given to any one else whom
He loved. And that is your piety in this world. He has made you
such that you neither take benefit from the world, nor can it
make you inclined towards it. He bestowed upon you the love for
the poor and the needy. So they were pleased with your Imamate,
and I was also pleased with them on account of their following
you. Blessed is he who befriends you and acknowledges you; and
woe be to him who is hostile to you. Those who love you and acknowledge
you shall be your neighbors in Paradise and shall be your companions
in your palace. Those who have been opposed to you shall be reckoned
as liars by Allah on the Day of Judgement and shall be granted
their due chastisement."
He reached such a high stage of piety that friends and enemies
alike called him Imamu'l-Muttaqin (the Chief of the Pious). In
fact the first person to address him with this title was the Holy
Ibn Abi'l-Hadid in his Sharh-e-Nahju'l-Balagha, vol.II, p.450;
Hafiz Abu Nu'aim Ispahani in Hilyatu'l-Auliya, Mir Seyyed Ali
Hamadani in Mawaddatu'l-Qurba and Muhammad Bin Yusuf Ganji Shafi'i
in his Kifayatu't-Talib, chapter 54, report from Anas Bin Malik
that one day the Holy Prophet asked him to bring water to him
for ablution. When he had brought water, the Holy Prophet performed
his ablution and then performed two rak'ats of prayer. Then he
said to him: "O Anas! the next person to enter this door
is the chief of the pious ones, the leader of the Muslims, the
sovereign of the believers, and the seal of the successors, who
will lead people with bright faces and hands to Paradise."
Anas says: "I prayed within myself to Allah that He might
send an Ansar through the door, but I kept my invocation secret.
Suddenly, I saw Ali entering the door. The Holy Prophet asked
who he was. I replied that he was Ali Bin Abi Talib. Then the
Holy Prophet happily got up to greet Ali. He folded him in his
arms and wiped the sweat from his face. Ali said, 'O Holy Prophet!
Your are treating me today as you have never done before!' The
Holy Prophet said, 'Why shouldn't I do that when you will convey
my prophethood to the community, will make them hear my voice,
and will explain to them those things concerning which they have
differences of opinion.'"
Also Ibn Abi'l-Hadid in Sharh-e-Nahju'l-Balagha, vol,II, and Hafiz
Abu Nu'aim in Hilyatu'l-Auliya write that one day Ali came to
the Prophet. The Prophet said to him: "Welcome, leader of
the Muslims and the Chief of the Pious Ones!" Ali said: "I
praise Allah for the blessing which He has bestowed upon me, and
I implore His munificence to me." Muhammad Bin Talha Shafi'i
also narrates this hadith at the end of section IV, part I, of
his Matalibu's-Su'ul and through it proves that Ali was the Imam
of all the pious ones.
Hakim, in his Mustadrak, part III, p.38 and Bukhari and Muslim,
each in his Sahih, report that the Holy Prophet said: "Allah
sent me revelations about Ali concerning three things: (l) he
is the master and chief of Muslims; (2) he is the chief of the
pious ones; and (3) he is the guide who will lead the people with
bright faces and hands (to Paradise)."
Muhammad Bin Yusuf Ganji Shafi'i reports in his Kifayatu't-Talib,
chapter 45, on the authority of Abdullah Bin Asad Bin Zurara that
the Prophet said: "On the night of Mi'raj (ascension), when
I was taken to the heavens, I was allowed to enter a palace of
pearls, whose floor was of sparkling gold. Then revelation was
sent to me, and I was told three things about Ali: (1) that he
is certainly the master and chief of the Muslims; (2) that he
is the Imam and chief of the pious ones; and (3) that he is the
guide who will lead people with bright faces and hands (to Paradise)."
Imam Ahmad Bin Hanbal writes in his Musnad that one day the Holy
Prophet addressed Ali thus: "O Ali! to cast a look at your
face is worship; verily you are the chief of the pious ones and
leader of the believers. He who is a friend of yours is a friend
of mine, and he who is a friend of mine is surely a friend of
Allah. He who has ill will against you, has ill will against me,
and he who has ill will against me, certainly has ill will against
So it is sufficient for the exalted rank of Ali that the Holy
Prophet insisted that Ali surpassed all the companions in piety.
He alone had been given the title of Imamu'l-Muttaqin (chief of
the pious ones) and the Holy Prophet repeatedly referred to him
Sheikh: One cannot say too much
in praise of Ali. Of course, Mu'awiya said the right thing: the
women of the world are unable to give birth to a man like Ali.
Well-Wisher: Now it is clear
that among the venerable companions Ali was the chief of the pious
ones. An idea has just struck me. If you permit, I will ask you
Sheikh: Yes, please do.
Well-Wisher: After acknowledging
that among the distinguished companions Ali had the exclusive
merit of being the chief of the pious ones, would you assume that
he had any inclination for self-indulgence or power?
Sheikh: It is impossible to
assume such a thing about him. You have pointed out the well known
fact that Ali gave three divorces to the world. Having proved
his aloofness from the world how could he be inclined to it. Besides
this, his rank is so exalted that it is impossible to entertain
such a false notion of him.
Well-Wisher: So it follows that
all the actions of such an embodiment of piety were definitely
for Allah. He never swerved an inch from the right path.
Sheikh: It is obvious that we
don't deny these things about Ali.
Well-Wisher: When the Holy Prophet
died, Ali, according to the will of the Holy Prophet, performed
the burial rituals. Some people, assembling at Saqifa-e-Bani Sa'ida,
swore allegiance to Abu Bakr. Later, when Ali was called, why
did he refuse allegiance?
If the manner in which Abu Bakr was elected caliph was right and
the question of Ijma' (consensus) was proved to be just, then
Ali, being so pious should not have deviated from the truth. You
will recall the hadith which I mentioned on previous nights, in
which the Holy Prophet said: "Ali is with the truth and truth
is with Ali." If the proceedings at the Saqifa were based
on justice and the appointment of Abu Bakr as Caliph were valid,
the Imam should have welcomed them and acknowledged Abu Bakr as
the rightful caliph. But in fact he firmly opposed the election.
The opposition of Ali must have been based on one of two things.
Either Ali was going against the right path, and he violated the
order of the Holy Prophet, or he considered the consensus to be
As for the first possibility, it is out of the question to assume
that Ali could deny the truth. According to the Holy Prophet "Ali
is with the truth and the truth revolves around Ali." Moreover,
no one has ever claimed that he was interested in worldly power.
He divorced the world three times. He had no wish to gain political
ascendancy. It was the second condition which prompted him to
refuse to acknowledge the caliphate of Abu Bakr. He knew it contradicted
the will of Allah and the Holy Prophet.
Sheikh: It is strange of you
to say that Ali did not swear allegiance to Abu Bakr. References
in your and our books of history prove that Ali did pay allegiance
to Caliph Abu Bakr and did not oppose the consensus.
Well-Wisher: Have you forgotten
all our previous discussions in which I gave full details of the
statements of your prominent ulema? Even Bukhari and Muslim have
written each in his Sahih that Ali did not offer allegiance at
that time. Your ulema have generally admitted that on the first
day, when the Holy Imam was forcibly and insultingly dragged from
his house to the mosque (as has been state earlier) he did not
swear allegiance but returned home. Ibrahim Bin Sa'd Saqafi (died
283 A.H.), Ibn Abi'l-Hadid Tabari, and others have written that
Ali offered allegiance after six months (that is, after the death
of Fatima). Even if we admit, by way of supposition, that the
Imam offered allegiance, why did he wait for six months before
Sheikh: Certainly there must
have been some reason for that. He alone knew it. But why should
we worry about the mutual discord of our elders? Why should we
pry into their differences after 1300 years? (Loud laughter from
Well-Wisher: When you cannot
find a reasonable answer to prove your point, you depend upon
such a reply. But before all fair minded people, the matter is
too clear to require any elucidation or proof.
As for your assertion that we need not interfere in the differences
of our predecessors, of course you are right, insofar as their
affairs have no bearing on us. But in the present case you are
mistaken because it is the duty of every sensible muslim to have
faith based on reason, not on blind following. In making inquiries
regarding religion, we study the common history of the Muslims.
We find that, after the death of the Holy Prophet, two sects appeared.
Therefore, we should make thorough inquiries in order to understand
which of the two sects is rightly guided. Obviously we should
not blindly follow our predecessors.
Sheikh: Certainly your point
is that Abu Bakr's caliphate was not just. But if Abu Bakr was
not the rightful Caliph, and if it was the right of Ali to occupy
that position, why did he not use his special strength and courage
to establish justice? He used to attend the prayers also and often
gave useful advice to the distinguished caliphs in important matters.
Well-Wisher: First, the Prophets
and their successors acted according to the will of Allah Almighty.
Accordingly we cannot raise any objection as to why they did not
wage war, or why they adopted silence before the enemy, or why
they suffered defeat.
If you study the historical facts regarding the lives of the holy
prophets and their successors, you will find many similar instances
of acquiescence. The Holy Qur'an has narrated some of those events.
In the sura of Qamar (The Moon), the Holy Qur'an relates what
the Prophet Noah said when his people rejected him: "Verily,
I am overcome (by these people), so give help." (54:11)
In the sura of Maryam (Mary), the Qur'an tells us of the silence
of Abraham when he sought his uncle Azar's help and received a
disappointing reply: "And I will withdraw from you and what
you call upon besides Allah, and I will call upon my Lord."
So just as Abraham withdrew from the people when he did not receive
support from his uncle Azar, Ali also must have withdrawn from
the people and gone into seclusion.
Sheikh: I think this isolation
signifies withdrawal of the heart. That is, he withdrew and kept
aloof from them but did not assume physical seclusion.
Well-Wisher: If you study the
commentaries of both sects, you will find that his withdrawal
from people was physical, not merely psychological. I recall that
Imam Fakhru'd-din Razi says in his Tafsir-e-Kabir, vol.V, p.809:
"Isolation from something means keeping aloof from it. What
Abraham meant was that he wanted to keep aloof from them, both
from the physical and religious point of view."
The chronicles report that after this rejection Abraham migrated
from Babylon to Kuhistan in Fars and lived a solitary life in
those mountainous surroundings for seven years. He then returned
to Babylon and again publicly proclaimed Allah's message and broke
the people's idols. At this the people flung him into the fire.
Allah Almighty made the fire cool and safe for him, and so his
prophethood was firmly established. In the sura of Qasas (The
Narratives), the story about Moses running away in fear of his
life has been narrated in this way: "So he went forth, fearing,
awaiting, (and) he said: My Lord, deliver me from the unjust people."(28:21)
In the sura of A'raf (The Elevated Places), the Holy Qur'an tells
us of Aaron's plight when Moses had left him in charge of the
Bani Israel. The people immediately began to worship the golden
calf and, because Aaron had no one to support him;, he remained
silent. The Qur'an says: "And he (Moses) seized his brother
by the head, dragging him towards him. He (Aaron) said: Son of
my mother! Surely the people reckoned me weak and had well nigh
slain me." (7:150)
So according to the Holy Qur'an Aaron did not draw the sword against
the people. He assumed silence when they adopted Samiri's Golden
Calf as the object of worship because he (Aaron) recognized that
he was outnumbered. Similarly, Ali, whom the Holy Prophet pronounced
to be the counterpart of Aaron (as we have discussed in detail
earlier), was also perfectly justified in assuming patience and
forbearance when he had been left alone. The Holy Imam was forcibly
brought to the mosque and an open sword was put on his head to
force him to swear allegiance. Later he went to the tomb of the
Holy Prophet and repeated the same words which Allah Almighty
has related through the tongue of Aaron. Aaron had said to Moses:
"Surely the people had reckoned me weak and had well nigh
The Prophet Muhammad's example regarding this point is of course
most instructive. We should consider why he maintained complete
silence for thirteen years in the face of hostile activities of
the enemy in Mecca until finally he had to abandon his native
city in the darkness of the night. The reason was that he had
no helpers. In fact, even during the days of his authority, he
could not do away with some innovations.
Sheikh: How can it be you say
that the Holy Prophet failed to do away with innovations?
Well-Wisher: It has been reported
by Hamidi in his Jam'i Bainu's-Sahihain and by Imam Ahmad Bin
Hanbal in Musnad from Ummu'l-Mu'minin A'yesha that the Holy Prophet
said to her: "Had these people not been near the age of infidelity
and ignorance, and had I not the fear that it would destroy their
faith, I would have ordered the House of the Ka'ba to be demolished
and whatever had been taken out of it to be restored. Having levelled
it, I would have erected two doors towards its east and west as
it was in the days of the Prophet Abraham, and I would have rebuilt
it on the foundations set up by Abraham."
Certainly if the Holy Prophet himself was unable to oppose major
innovations, Ali was justified in observing the same principle
when he faced a similar challenge.
The great jurist, Wasiti Ibn Maghazili Shafi'i, and Khatib Khawarizmi
report in their Manaqib that the Holy Prophet said to Ali: "The
community has a strong grudge against you. Shortly after my death
they will deceive you and reveal what they have in their hearts.
I order you to be patient and control yourself at that time so
that Allah may give you its reward and a good recompense."