Mahmood Abu Maryam
Trying to make sense of it all...
It is important to remember that people have always had choices. That is the reason why we hold those accountable who committed misdeeds, because they chose to do so. They were not born to play the part of villains.
It is not as if God had determined that Fadak must be usurped and that someone must be created who will do so.
It is also not the case that God had determined that a wife of the Prophet (s) must fight Imam 'Ali (a) and so she was put out there in the world of creation to fulfil that role.
Think of it this way. It was entirely possible for the first caliph and his daughter not to commit the misdeeds that they did. So why ought they have been punished before they could even be tested with that choice?
Did not Abu Bakr have another child, and Ayesha a brother, who was the most devoted Shi'a of Imam 'Ali (a) and fought against his own sister in defence of Imam 'Ali?
He was not predestined to be the good person in a pre-planned drama, like some kind of an angelic robot. He also made choices in his life. And so we remember him with affection and praise.
I believe that the nature of knowledge given by God to the Prophet (s) and the Imams (a) must be understood with the above in mind.
The Qur'an does mention Imam Ali (a) in numerous places. But it does not mention him by name. Being mentioned in the Qur’an is distinct from being mentioned by name in the Qur’an.
Let's analyse both types of mention and try and determine the style of the Qur'an in these matters.
Mention By Name
Should we believe that being mentioned by name in the Qur’an is an honour? Well, Abu Lahab is mentioned by name in a verse that reprimands him and his wife and assures of their place in hellfire.
Clearly, then, being mentioned in the Qur’an by name is not necessarily an honour.
Now, let’s turn to the virtuous people who are mentioned by name. If it was the mere incidence of them being named that was a token of superior merit, then Prophet ‘Isa (a) - Jesus - is mentioned by name more often than Prophet Muhammad (s) is referred to by his blessed name.
Clearly, then, being mentioned in the Qur’an by name does not mean anything other than that God in His infinite wisdom decided that it was appropriate in the context of the various narratives contained in the Holy Book.
This brings us to the other type of mention in the Qur’an.
Mention By Attribute
Many important people are mentioned by attributes and it is clear from the tafsir literature who those people are. With that certainty, we can say that those people are mentioned by the Qur’an.
Let’s start with two well-known Companions who were the reason why the first few verses of Surah al-Hujurat were revealed.
Abu Bakr and ‘Umar Mentioned In The Qur’an
Narrated `Abdullah bin Az-Zubair: A group of Bani Tamim came to the Prophet (and requested him to appoint a governor for them).
Abu Bakr said, "Appoint Al-Qaqa bin Mabad." `Umar said, "Appoint Al-Aqra' bin Habeas."
On that Abu Bakr said (to `Umar). "You did not want but to oppose me!" `Umar replied "I did not intend to oppose you!"
So both of them argued till their voices grew loud. So the following Verse was revealed: 'O you who believe! Be not forward......' (49.1)
Source - Sahih al-Bukhari, Book 65, Hadith 4847
The full verse that was revealed mentioning by attribute Abu Bakr and ‘Umar was
O you who have believed, do not put [yourselves] before Allah and His Messenger but fear Allah. Indeed, Allah is Hearing and Knowing. (49:1)
There are others but let’s move on.
Imam ‘Ali Mentioned In The Qur’an
In the same way, Imam ‘Ali b. Abi Talib is also mentioned in multiple places in the Qur’an but always in a favourable and praiseworthy light.
And this is by absolute consensus of all Muslims, Sunni’s and Shi’a. Nobody is able to show a mention of ‘Ali in the Qur’an that reprimanded him for anything or criticised him.
The number of verses that mention him are really a huge number. Entire books have been written that list the verses in ‘Ali’s favour and the evidence from Sunni sources that prove it.
Here is one example from the occasion of Mubahala.
Amir b. Sa'd b. Abi Waqqas reported on the authority of his father that Muawiya b. Abi Sufyan appointed Sa'd as the Governor and said:
What prevents you from abusing Abu Turab (Hadrat 'Ali), whereupon be said:
It is because of three things which I remember Allah's Messenger (s) having said about him that I would not abuse him and even if I find one of those three things for me, it would be more dear to me than the red camels.
I heard Allah's Messenger (s) say about 'Ali as he left him behind in one of his campaigns (that was Tabuk). 'Ali said to him: Allah's Messenger, you leave me behind along with women and children. Thereupon Allah's Messenger (s) said to him: Aren't you satisfied with being unto me what Aaron was unto Moses but with this exception that there is no prophethood after me.
And I (also) heard him say on the Day of Khaibar: I would certainly give this standard to a person who loves Allah and his Messenger, and Allah and his Messenger love him too. He (the narrator) said: We had been anxiously waiting for it, when he (the Holy Prophet) said: Call 'Ali. He was called and his eyes were inflamed. He applied saliva to his eyes and handed over the standard to him, and Allah gave him victory.
(The third occasion is this) when the (following) verse was revealed: "Let us summon our children and your children." Allah's Messenger (s) called 'Ali, Fatima, Hasan and Husain and said: O Allah, they are my family.
Source - Sahih Muslim, Book 031, Number 5915
Here is the full Qur’anic verse that mentions - as confirmed by Sahih Muslim - not just Imam ‘Ali but also Lady Fatima and Imams al-Hasan and al-Husayn.
The truth is from your Lord, so do not be among the doubters. Then whoever argues with you about it after [this] knowledge has come to you - say, "Come, let us call our sons and your sons, our women and your women, ourselves and yourselves, then supplicate earnestly [together] and invoke the curse of Allah upon the liars [among us]." (3:60–1)
Th Qur’an not only mentioned Imam ‘Ali (a) but called him the self of the Prophet Muhammad (s). And it also confirmed that they were all on the position of utmost truthfulness and piety.
And those against them are the liars and the curse of God is upon them!
It is widely known that the Qur'an as recorded in writing is not in the order of its revelation. However, a common misunderstanding is that any single numbered verse would have been revealed at the same time as a single unit. That has not always been the case.
Before looking at 33:33 we can examine the famous verse of 5:3 to see an example of this phenomenon.
- You are prohibited carrion, blood, the flesh of swine, and what has been offered to other than Allah, and the animal strangled or beaten to death, and that which dies by falling or is gored to death, and that which is mangled by a beast of prey—barring that which you may purify —and what is sacrificed on stone altars [to idols], and that you should divide by raffling with arrows. All that is transgression. Today the faithless have despaired of your religion. So do not fear them, but fear Me. Today I have perfected your religion for you, and I have completed My blessing upon you, and I have approved Islam as your religion. But should anyone be compelled by hunger, without inclining to sin, then Allah is indeed all-forgiving, all-merciful.
The first and last parts of this verse, discussing food law, were revealed a year or so earlier to the highlighted portion that was revealed in 10 AH. It is commonly called the Ikmal verse, which, as you can see, is actually a part of the Qur'anic verse 5:3 rather than the entirety of it.
So in a similar manner 33:33 is also made up of parts that were not all revealed together.
- Stay in your houses and do not flaunt your finery like the former [days of pagan] ignorance. Maintain the prayer and pay the zakat, and obey Allah and His Apostle. Indeed Allah desires to repel all impurity from you, O People of the Household, and purify you with a thorough purification.
The Qur'anic commentaries from all schools of thought in Islam demonstrate that the second part, famously called Ayat al-Tathir, was revealed separately and distinctly from the previous portion of 33:33 and also the subsequent verses.
Just like the mention of food law in 5:3 shows the continuity of the food law theme before and after the completion of religion theme, so also here the use of the all-feminine gender in the grammar of the part of 33:33 before the Ayat al-Tathir and afterwards in 33:34 onwards shows that those sentences were on the theme addressing the wives of the Prophet (s).
The Ayat al-Tathir part, on the other hand, uses the masculine gender that is grammatically appropriate when addressing a set of people that contains at least one male.
The reference to the Ahl al-Bayt in 33:33, therefore, is not a continuation of the address towards the wives of the Prophet (s), but an independent theme addressing 'Ali, Fatima, Hasan, and Husayn, on them all be peace, as the chosen Family of the Prophet Muhammad (s).
As the respected Sayyid al-Musawi has explained, the person who banned Mut'a was 'Umar b. al-Khattab and not the Prophet (s). However, it is true that many of our Sunni brothers and sisters believe that the practice was abrogated by the Prophet (s) himself. This view is based on some hadith narrations that seem to suggest so.
The notable scholar and Marja' Sayyid al-Khu'i has covered these narrations from the Sunni sources and debunked them in his work Al-Bayan while discussing the topic of abrogation of Qur'anic verses.
You can read the chapter here, the relevant section is to be found after some scrolling, or you can simply search for '4:24'. Hope this helps.
You can start by exploring this link, and the sub-sections from it, that will lead you to many relevant books and articles.
If you are looking for short Fact Sheets on various topics related to Shi'a belief and practice, then check this out:
If you would like to sample the words of the Imams of the Ahl al-Bayt (a) when they speak of God, or address Him in supplications, then these two resources may be of interest:
Hope this helps!
The event of Mubahala took place on 24th Dhu'l hijja 9 AH and the event of Ghadir Khumm took place almost a year later on 18th Dhu'l hijja 10 AH.
The Prophet (s) passed away within a few months of Ghadir Khumm. At the first anniversary of that event Abu Bakr was in power and unlikely to celebrate an event that would undermine his own rule.
These four quotations from historical sources should help answer this question.
Al-Hakim, in his al-Mustadrak, states that the Prophet kept confiding in 'Ali till the time of his death. Then he breathed his last.
When the body of the Prophet (s) was being given ghusl, according to Tarikh al-Khamis, al-’Abbas, Fadhl and Qutham turned the body of the Prophet (s) from one side to the other as Usamah and Shaqran poured water over it. All of them were blind-folded.
Ibn Sa'd narrates in his al-Tabaqat from Imam 'Ali that the Prophet had so enjoined that if anyone except himself ('Ali) had given him the funeral bath, he would have gone blind.
Ibn ‘Abd al-Barr, in his al-Isti'ab, quotes 'Abdullah ibn 'Abbas as saying that 'Ali had four such exceptional honours to his credit as none of us had, and he listed them all, the fourth being that he was the only person who gave the Prophet his funeral bath and lowered him in his grave.
A practical way to get such counts is to use specialist hadith software or websites. It will need a good command over Arabic as such advanced and comprehensive search tools are not available in English.
With such questions, it sometimes helps to think about our own selves and how we behave in this world. That can give useful insights on the Divine. There is a narration along the same lines that states that "Whoever knows himself knows his Lord".
So in that vein, let's think about a few realities of this world. We are on a rock that is spinning at a certain speed and revolving around the sun at a certain pace, while keeping a certain distance from it. We are alive, as biological creatures, because of these facts. Everything we do, even the atmosphere we breathe, exists because of such uncontrollable facts.
The fact that we can even drive a car on a motorway is a function of these and other uncontrollable facts, such as the various laws of physics and chemistry. Think speed, inertia, the combustion of fuel.
We didn't get asked about these laws and rules, and we don't seem to complain about them. We just accept them as, quite simply, laws of nature.
However, in such a world, we find we do have some choices.
So now let's go for a drive on this motorway. Imagine you pick up pace in your car and get to a nice comfortable speed suitable for a motorway. You are probably cruising along, chatting to others in your car, listening to a nasheed. Happy and content.
Now imagine what would happen if you suddenly, for no reason whatsoever, decided from your own free will to twist that steering wheel around!
Death, destruction, both of your own vehicle and several others who are unable to avoid collision with the maniac who did that.
The impact of that crash is a result of the laws of physics, obviously. And chemistry - the fuel tank blows up. And biology - the fragile human bodies cannot survive the impact.
At this point, do you feel the laws of physics, chemistry and biology that govern your lives are unfair and should have been different?
Isn't it true that we take those uncontrollable facts as a given, unchallenged, and would place total blame on the terrible exercise of free will of the driver?
Why don't we feel the same way when we think of Divine laws? The horrific punishments are simply laws having their consequences when the driver on the motorway of life decides to do crazy things despite being warned not to do so by the Creator who set the rules.
Remember that there was no fear when you were on that motorway. Just a clear and constant awareness of the rules and the boundaries.
And just as the laws of nature in this world are there to nurture life here, the Divine laws of religion are there to keep us in the correct lane so we reach the right destination in the afterlife.
There is no need to be fearful of God in the meaning of being terrified and scared. But rather being in a state of awareness of the Divine rules and boundaries. And that is called Taqwa.
And there is no contradiction with God's Love or Mercy. The fact that He created us with free will so we can navigate His path, and then sent Books and Messengers, is a sign that He loves us and wants us to succeed.
I wish you a safe and pleasant journey, but do drive carefully :)
I wish to add some more names and details to complement the respected Sayyid al-Musawi's clear response to this question.
Overall, a good book one can refer to for names of the nawasib - enemies of the Ahl al-bayt (a) - who appear in Sunni hadith is Hashim Ma`ruf al-Hasani's Dirasat fi’l hadith wa’l muhaddithin published in Beirut.
Here are some more examples of such ignoble people appearing in Sunni hadith sources.
1. `Umar b. Sa`d
`Umar b. Sa`d needs no introduction for those aware of the details of the tragedy of Karbala. This son of Sa`d b. Abi Waqqas, the companion of the Prophet (s), led the troops on the ground against Imam al-Husayn (a).
Al-Tabari quotes Ibn Sa`d, after the Imam (a) had been mercilessly killed:
Then `Umar b. Sa’d called out among his followers, "Who will volunteer [to go] to al-Husayn and make his horse trample on al-Husayn’s body?" Ten volunteered. Among them was Ishaq b. Haywah al-Hadrami, who was the one who stole al-Husayn’s shirt and later got leprosy, and Ahbash b. Marthad b. ‘Alqamah b. Salamah al-Hadrami. They trampled on the body of al-Husayn with their horses until they had crushed his back and his chest. I learned that some time later an arrow from an unknown direction hit Ahbash b. Marthad as he was standing in a battle. It split his heart, and he died. (Al-Tabari, al-Ta’rikh, translated into English as ‘History of al-Tabari – The Caliphate of Yazid b. Mu’awiyah’, Howard, pp. 163)
Some example of the Prophet’s (s) hadith quoted by Sunni scholars on the authority of `Umar b. Sa`d!
- Al-Tirmidhi, Sunan, kitab sifat al-janna `an rasulillah, volume 4, page 678
- Al-Nasa’i, al-Sunan al-mujtaba, kitab tahrim al-dam, volume 7, page 121
- Al-Nasa’i, al-Sunan al-kubra’, volume 6, page 263
- Al-Bayhaqi, al-Sunan al-kubra, volume 3, page 375
- Ahmad b. Hanbal, al-Tabarani, and others.
2. `Abd al-Rahman b. `Abza
`Abd al-Rahman b. `Abza (or `Abzi) al-Khuza`i was a companion of the Prophet (s). He was present with the troops of Ibn Ziyad who fought and killed Imam al-Husayn (a). (See al-Dinawari, al-Akhbar al-Tiwal, page 298).
See some of the narrations by him in:
- Al-Bukhari, Sahih, kitab al-tayammum, volume 1, page 129
- Muslim, Sahih, kitab al-hayd, volume 1, page 280
- Al-Tirmidhi, Abu Dawud, Ibn Maja, and many others
3. al-Harith b. Yazid al-Kufi
Al-Harith b. Yazid al-`Akali al-Taymi al-Kufi seems to the al-Harith b. Yazid b. Ruwaym on whose services Ibn Ziyad called upon by sending him from his own base in Kufa to join `Umar b. Sa`d’s army (See al-Dinawari, al-Akhbar al-Tiwal, page 254). No other ‘al-Harith b. Yazid’s in rijal lexicons seem to hail from Kufa.
See his narrations in:
- Al-Bukhari, Sahih, kitab al-`itq, volume 2, page 898
- Muslim, Sahih, kitab fada’il al-sahaba, volume 4, page 1957
- Al-Nasa’i, Ibn Maja, and others.
4. Shabath b. Rib`i
Abu `Abd al-Quddus Shabath b. Rib`i al-Tamimi al-Yarbu`i was a man with a checkered background. A companion of the Prophet (s), he used to be once on the side of Imam ‘Ali (a), then joined the Khawarij and later was part of Ibn Ziyad’s troops in Karbala fighting Imam al-Husayn (a)!
- al-Dinawari, al-Akhbar al-Tiwal, page 254;
- al-`Asqalani, al-‘Isaba, volume 3, page 376
- al-`Asqalani, Tahdhib al-tahdhib, volume 4, page 266.
From al-Tabari, from the scene of the battle of Karbala:
He (i.e.`Umar b. Sa`d) put `Azrah b. Qays al-Ahmasi in command of the cavalry and Shabath b. Rib`i al-Yarbu`i in command of the footsoldiers. (Al-Tabari, al-Ta’rikh, translated into English as ‘History of al-Tabari – The Caliphate of Yazid b. Mu’awiyah’, Howard, pp. 121)
Some narrations from Shabath in:
- Abu Dawud, Sunan, kitab al-‘adab, volume 4, page 315.
- Al-Nasa’i, al-Sunan al-kubra’, volume 6, page 204.
5. Qadi Shurayh
Abu Umayyah Shurayh b. al-Harith b. Qays al-Kindi was a judge in Kufa. He connived with the Umayyad authorities in Kufa in suppressing the Shi’a and supporters of Imam al-Husayn (a) from rallying to the call of Muslim b. `Aqil and Hani’ b. `Urwa shortly before the onset of the battle of Karbala. He had a share in the responsibility for the murder of Hani’ by Ibn Ziyad (See al-Dinawari, al-Akhbar al-Tiwal, page 238).
Shurayh narrates traditions in:
- Al-Nasa’i, Sunan, kitab al-`umra, volume 6, page 277
- Ahmad b. Hanbal’s al-Musnad, and other books.
There are many other narrators who cursed and hated Imam ‘Ali (a), as confirmed by Sunni books of rijal, and are yet present in major Sunni books narrating Prophetic hadith.
Here is a list that has been gathered from several sources, particularly al-Hasani’s work mentioned above. The list is in no particular order and there are quite likely to be more such narrators that could not be identified and included.
- Hurayz (or Hariz) b. ‘Uthman
- Busr b. Artat
- `Urwah b. al-Zubayr
- Abu Bardah b. Abu Musa al-Ash`ari
- Ishaq b. Suwayd b. Hubayrah
- Husayn b. Numayr al-Wasiti
- Dawud b. al-Husayn al-Madani
- Muhammad b. Ziyad al-Alhani, Abu Sufyan al-Himsi
- al-Mughirah b. Muqsim, Abu Hisham
- `Abdullah b. Salim al-Ash`ari al-Himsi
- Qays b. Abi Hazim al-Bajali
- Thawr b. Zayd al-Daylami
- al-Walid b. Kathir bar Yahya al-Madani
- Walid b. `Uqba
- `Abdullah b. Abi Sarh
- Ash’ath b. Qays
- Marwan b. al-Hakam
- Abu Bakra Nafee` al-Thaqafi
- Ahmad b. Abdah Musa Janabi
- Ishaq b. Suwayd b. Hubayrah al-`Adwi al-Taymi
- Isma`il b. Samee` al-Hanafi
- Thawr b. Yazid Kala’i al-Himsi, Abu Khalid
- Jarir b. `Abdullah al-Bajali
- Habib b. Maslama
- Khalid b. Salamah al-Kufi
- Khalid b. Abdullah al-Qasri
- Rashid b. Sa`d Maqrahi
- Rafi` b. Khadeej
- Ziyad b. `Alaqah
- Sa`id b. al-`As al-Umawi
- Sa`id b. al-Musayyab
- Samurah b. Jundab
- Shaqeeq b. Salamah al-Asadi
- `Abd al-Rahman b. Habib (Abu Abd al-Rahman al-Aslami)
- `Abdullah b. al-Zubayr
- `Abdullah b. Zayd Abu Qalaba
- `Abdullah b. Salim
- `Abd al-`Aziz b. Marwan
- `Abd al-Malik b. Marwan al-‘Umawi
- `Uthman b. `Asim
- `Umar b. Thabit al-Ansari al-Khazraji
- `Imran b. Husayn
- `Amr b. `Abdullah, Abu Ishaq al-Sabi’I
- Masruq b. Ajdah
- Nafi` b. ‘Amr, Abu Sa`ud al-Ansari
- Hisham b. Isma`il