I bear witness that Ali is the Friend of Allah
There remain some other criticisms that do not deserve defaming or causing fear. These things, which are criticized unfairly by the Sunni are mentioned among the Shia in the past and present, as recommended and a cause of blessing, such as adding to the azan1 and iqamah2 the saying - “I bear witness that Ali is the saint of Allah”.
All the Shia have agreed that this is not a basic part of the azan or the iqamah and that it was available in the azan at the time of the Prophet (S). They have agreed that considering it a basic part of the azan or the iqamah invalidates both. This is the belief of the ulema and religious authorities of the Shia.
As long as the truth is our goal, the sayings of Allah and His messenger are our sayings and their contentment is our aim and intention. And as long as we face criticism from some of our (Sunni) brothers, so we have to approve of others what we approve from ourselves and find ugly in ourselves what we find ugly of others.
We have criticized Umar ibn al-Khattab in our previous studies for adding “prayer is better than sleep” to the azan and omitting “come on to the best of deeds” from it, and said that it was impermissible because it was a heresy that was not available at the time of the Prophet (S). We were not convinced by their saying that “prayer is better than sleep” was mentioned only in the azan of the Fajr (dawn) Prayer and their justifying that at dawn, man would be in the best moments of his sleep and rest; therefore, “prayer is better than sleep” would be used to encourage him to give up his rest and get ready for prayer.
It was nice speech, justifying and defending the matter, but we denied it, because the clear texts would not submit to personal opinions and desires. We said, “Whatever the Messenger of Allah (S) (S) did not do is heresy.”
On this basis, we say to the Shia the same statement and argue against them with the same argument. There should be no difference between these and those.
Therefore, we confess that “I bear witness that Ali is the saint of Allah” is extra in the azan, because the Messenger of Allah (S) did not say or order it, nor did the infallible Imams (a.s.) do it. If they really did it, we would find some proofs for it. If they did it, then it would not be permissible for the ulema of the Shia and their religious authorities to consider the azan and iqamah as null when this statement is mentioned as an actual part of them (the azan and the iqamah) as we have said before.
Fairness and justice require us to say the word of the truth and not to deny the Sunni for something while we ourselves do the like. Allah says:
What! do you enjoin men to be good and neglect your own souls while you read the Book; have you then no sense? Qur'an, 2:44
Once, one of the Shia said to me, “O my brother, do not mix between “prayer is better than sleep” and “I bear witness that Ali is the saint of Allah”!
I said, “Why? Prayer is really better than sleep, and Ali is really the saint of Allah, but they are parts added later on and the Messenger of Allah (S) did not do that.”
He said, “But the guardianship of Imam Ali (a.s.) has been revealed in the Qur'an, and you yourself have acknowledged that in your book ‘Then I was Guided’.”
I said, “So, the Messenger of Allah (S) was to be blamed, for he did not make that in the azan!!!”
Not everything that has been revealed in the Qur'an is to be added to the azan or iqamah and my acknowledgment that it has been revealed in the Qur'an does not make it necessary to be added to the azan or iqamah.
Is it right for one to recite for example, in the azan, “I bear witness that there is no God but Allah, bear witness that Adam is the choice of Allah, bear witness that Noah is the prophet of Allah, bear witness that Abraham is the friend of Allah, bear witness that Moses is the spoken to by Allah, bear witness that Jesus is the Holy Spirit of Allah, and I bear witness that Muhammad is the beloved one of Allah”? All these facts are true and they have come in the Qur'an.
However, we cannot recite that in the azan, because the Messenger of Allah (S) has taught us to recite in the azan only the two witnesses “I bear witness that there is no god but Allah, and I bear witness that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah (S)”. We must abide by the saying of Allah:
…and, whatever the Messenger gives you, accept it and from whatever he forbids you, keep back. Qur'an, 59:7
It is true that some of the Shia ulema do not mention “I bear witness that Ali is the saint of Allah” in the azan or the iqamah. I offered prayers with some of them and did not hear them say so. That they might mention it in their hearts, is something else. However, there are some Shia who doubt the loyalty and faith of whoever does not mention this in the azan or the iqamah.”
My opponent, praise be to Allah, was convinced. Still he said to me that he could not give it up, because his tongue had been used to it since his childhood.
I say this and I am certain that some of the Shia will not approve of it, because man by his nature, is an enemy to what he ignores and the satisfaction of all people is an unreachable goal.3
As I have said before in this book, I do not flatter anyone nor do I seek his satisfaction (with me) however high a position he has. I only seek the satisfaction of my conscience through the satisfaction of Allah, His messenger (S) and the infallible Imams (a.s.) - who are my Imams and masters, at the head of whom is Imam Ali (a.s.).
In the depth of my soul, I am certain that Imam Ali (a.s.) would be pleased with those, who try to guide people to the right path more than he would be with some of his Shia and lovers, who bear witness in every azan and iqamah that he is the saint of Allah, but they do not do anything to guide people towards this guardianship (of Imam Ali) or to prove the truth to them (people). In fact, they make people alienated and unknowingly keep them from reaching the truth.
Would Imam Ali (a.s.) be pleased when we bear witness of his guardianship and sainthood while we hold it as a big obstacle before those who search for the truth? Certainly not!
I often argued with obstinate people in the best manner, but I found in them a psychological obstacle that prevented them from keeping on with the argument in order to get to the truth. I tried to destroy that obstacle daring with a certain heart to keep on researching and getting to the sought goal. Then, I found that the obstinate ones advanced little by little with me and broke the psychological obstacles. Most of the time and about eighty percent of them acknowledged the truth and were guided to the guardianship of Ameerul Mo'minin Imam Ali (a.s.) and the guardianship of the infallible Imams (a.s.) after him.
Once, I was in Poona and Jabalpur in India. I met there with a big group of Sudanese students. In an evening gathering, I felt loyalty and true intention to know the truth in them. Most of them objected to the beliefs of the Shia concerning the matter of infallibility4 that they (the Shia) proved for their imams. They also objected to the witness that “Imam Ali is the saint of Allah” recited in the azan. They said that the Shia were excessive and extravagant in their love to the imams.
I said to them, “O my brothers in Islam, I do not try to impose on you the concept of “infallibility” and do not consider it the goal leading to the truth, although I myself believe in it, but I shall avoid it completely to prove to you that the Holy Qur’an and the Prophet’s Sunna impose on every Muslim to be a Shia following the Messenger of Allah (S) and his immaculate progeny (peace be on them).
You are not required to prove and believe in this infallibility in order to get to the sought goal, which is the adherence to the saints of Allah and His messenger (S) and to be free from the enemies of Allah and His messenger (S). You are as well, not required to bear witness to Imam Ali’s guardianship and sainthood in the azan and not required to believe in all what the Shia narrate about Ali and his progeny that you consider as excessive and extravagance.
Imam Ali (a.s.) is much greater than the need prove for him a virtue that is considered as one of miracles and say that Allah the Almighty has returned the sun to him because he missed the afternoon Prayer, or the earth was shrunk for him to travel from Medina to Mada’in in order to ritually wash Salman al-Farisi (after his death) and come back on the same day, which was a distance of some month’s travel at that time. These narrations are about miracles of the Unknown. A Muslim is free to believe or not to believe in them, for these shall neither increase nor decrease his faith.
However, we are required to believe that Imam Ali (a.s.) was the successor of the Prophet (S) and the best of all people after him and that the Prophet (S) had appointed him as his successor over the nation after his death.
We have to prove that Ameerul Mo'minin Ali (a.s.) was the gate of the city of the Prophet’s knowledge and there was no one more knowledgeable than him at all in the entire nation. We have to prove that he was most courageous of all companions and the most loyal of all of them in wars and during difficulties. It was by his sword and courage that Islam became strong and firm. We have to prove that he was the first to believe in Islam, he was the most loyal in all the battles, and that he sacrificed everything to preserve Islam after the Prophet (S) therefore, following him is obligatory on every Muslim.
We have to prove that he was the only one who spared no effort to enliven the Book of Allah and the Sunna of the Prophet when they were about to be buried. We have to prove that he was the most ascetic to the worldly life among all human beings and the nearest to Allah in all his behaviors and actions. We have to prove that he was the most just and fair of all people at all, and most pious to Allah, and that he fought the nakithin - breakers of covenant - in the battle of al-Jamal-the camel, the qasitin - the unjust - in the battle of Siffin and the mariqin - renegades - in the battle of an-Nahrawan to preserve Islam and Muslims.
We have to prove that Muhammad (S) was the first and Ali (a.s.) was the second, and they were the best of Allah’s creation at all.
Yes! We have to prove all that from the Qur'an, the true Prophetic Sunna and the true history and show clear evidences and convincing arguments that are irrefutable.
But, if we repeat that Allah had created Muhammad and Ali one hundred thousand years before He created Adam, and that all the prophets and messengers prayed to Allah the Almighty by the right of Muhammad, Ali, Fatima, al-Hasan, and al-Husayn, or that it has been written on the leg of the Throne that “Ali is the saint of Allah”, it is something else and it neither benefits nor take us to the sought goal.
We cannot convince others with these things, for which we do not have any scientific proof. If we insist on proving the miracles, the infallibility, or the guardianship of Ali (a.s.) - each side will insist on his own situation and be fanatic as the Sunni who narrate on Abu Bakr and Umar more than what the Shia narrate on Imam Ali (a.s.) and his progeny. In this case, time shall be wasted in unfruitful disputes, and the Sunni shall accuse the Shia of being extravagant in praise of their Imams, and then the Shia shall accuse the Sunni of being extravagant in praise of the three caliphs especially and to the companions in general. Thus the dispute shall remain unfruitful.
O brothers, today, we are required to show clear arguments and scientific proofs. I do not argue with you except by reasonable and traditional proofs that have been proved by history, reality and what all Muslims - Sunni and Shia - have agreed on. I pray Allah to guide us all to the truth.”
After we had spent that night until the dawn in scientific argumentation and logical discussion, most of them turned to the truth and longingly read the book ‘Then I was Guided’. Two days later, they came to say farewell to me before my travel while thanking Allah for guiding them to His Right Path and wishing to know the beliefs of the Twelver Shia and to read their books.
One of them came alone with me and I think he was the emir of the group as they called him, and said after thanking me and offering compliments, “I met with the Shia in Egypt, Sudan, and in India here, but no one of them could convince me like what you did.”
I said, “The book ‘Then I was Guided’ convinced many researchers and this is a favor of Allah to me, so I often praise and thank Him.”
He said, “I did not yet read your book, because I am busy with examinations, and I do not read any book except when I am tranquil.”
I said, “Then, how were you convinced when you did not read the book?”
He said, “On that night when you began your talking by putting aside the “infallibility”, “Ali is the saint of Allah”, and many other concepts that the Shia adopt, I admired your talks, because you talked to people with what they understood. If you kept to those concepts, the arguments would be unfruitful and that night’s discussion would be in vain. However, you knew the truth and could guide us to it. If you give a lecture in Sudan before the university students, you will make them all turn Shia by this way and method.”
I thanked him for his kind feelings and asked him to read the book (‘Then I was Guided’) and send me his notes on it. We embraced each other, while our hearts were beating with the love and loyalty to the Ahlul Bayt (a.s.).
- 1. The azan in Islam is a means of announcing to people about the time of prayer. It has no certain, inviolable text as the texts of the Holy Qur'an, which cannot accept a decrease or increase even for one letter.
As for azan, the books of the Sunni sometimes mention that the azan was not available and that Abdullah ibn Zayd al-Ansari heard it in sleep and told it to the Prophet (S) who acknowledged and confirmed it. Perhaps, this is what made the Caliph Umar, when he was sleeping and the muezzin awaked him saying, “Prayer is better than sleep”, approved the statement and ordered to add it to the azan.
Bilal al-Habashi, the Prophet’s muezzin, pronounced [sh] as [s] and he said “ass-hadu” instead of “ash-hadu”. When some Muslims criticized this, the Prophet (S) said, “The [s] of Bilal is [sh] near Allah.”
Once, when I was in Sham (Syria), I passed by the Umayyad Mosque at the time of the Isha’ Prayer and I heard a collective azan recited in tones like oration. So, why all these reactions when Ameerul Mo'minin Ali ibn Abi Talib is mentioned?!
Let us say it is a good heresy or bad heresy (as the Sunni believe), then what for are all these reactions? However, they (the Sunni) are excessive in this concern. They have fixed “prayer is better than sleep” and considered it a part from the azan, but we (the Shia) do not say it is a part from the azan, but only recommended. Azan is a means that announces the prescribed time of prayer. As long as it is within the required limits that have no excess and do not harm Islam and Muslims, there shall be no serious problem.
- 2. Iqamah is a recommended (not obligatory) part before the prayer. It has the same wordings of the azan, but with a little difference.
- 3. Heresy, as we have said before, is a thing, which is not from religion. It is fixed and added to religion. “Prayer is better than sleep” was added and considered as a part of the very azan, but as for recommended things mentioned before or even through the azan, such as “Say: praise be to Allah Who has not taken a wife nor a child” or “blessing and peace be on you O Messenger of Allah (S)” besides “I bear witness that Ali is the saint of Allah, or is the commander of the believers” are mentioned as recommended. According to general evidence the little statements of ordinary people (neither Allah nor the Prophet) do not annul the azan, on condition that these things are not considered as parts of the azan or the iqamah.
- 4. Why do they (the Sunni) deny the infallibility of the Ahlul Bayt (a.s.), whereas they themselves believe in the infallibility of all the nation as to the matter of consensus, or the infallibility of all the Prophet’s companions, and of the men of authority? Al-Fakhr ar-Razi says in his Tafsir, “…and it has been proved that all those, whom Allah has ordered to obey, must be infallible, and thus, it has been definitely proved that “the men of authority” mentioned in this verse must be infallible.
Then we say: that the infallible ones are either entire nation or some of the nation… those infallible ones meant by Allah’s saying ‘men in authority’ must be the men in power from the imams (rulers), and this makes it necessary that the consensus of the nation is evident.” The interpretation of the Sura of an-Nisa’, verse 59, p. 144 in ar-Razi’a Tafsir
It is not unknown that those men in power were themselves who gave Mo’awiya ibn Abi Sufyan the authority (and considered him a legal Wali) and his son Yazid the drunkard and the killer of Imam Husayn son of Imam Ali (a.s.) and (killer of) seventeen men from the Ahlul Bayt (a.s.)…and the results were all Mo’awiya and his son’s crimes and vices, the rule of al-Waleed and other criminals from the Umayyad dynasty, and then the allegiance to the Abbasids among whom were Abul Abbas as-Saffah (slaughterer), Abu Ja’far al-Mansur (the tyrant), and others. As for those in power who were pious, they were either exiled, or forced to be neuter, though keeping silent at that time would be a heavy burden.
Then, why do they find the infallibility of the Ahlul Bayt (a.s.) odd and unacceptable, whereas their infallibility has been confirmed by many Qur’anic verses, Prophetic traditions? On many occasions and situations, the Prophet (S) proved this virtue for them and they were preferred to the whole nation after the Prophet (S).