37. Hadith Al-Thaqalain (The Two Valuables)
Many of the Hadiths of Al-Thaqalain (the Two Valuables) have been already put in front of the reader (in the second chapter and other places in this book)
To make it easy for the reader it would be proper to repeat what I have recorded of these hadiths before and add to them others of their kind.
Imam Abu Easa Ibn Easa Al-Thermathi in his authentic Sunan recorded that Jabir Ibn Abdullah (Al-Ansari) reported: "I witnessed the Messenger of God in his pilgrimage (in the tenth year after the Hijrah) speaking while he was riding his camel called: Al-Qaswa. I heard him saying: 'O people I have left in you that which if you adhere to you will never go astray: The Book of God and the members of my House.'"1
Ibn Jareer Ibn Asim Al-Mahamili in his Amali and Ibn Rahawaih recorded that ‘Ali reported that the Messenger of God said: "Whoever God and His Messenger are his "Mawla" (Guardian) this ‘Ali is his Mawla. I have left in you what if you adhere to you will never go astray: the Book of God His robe in His hand and in your hands and the members of my House."2
Al-Tirmidhi recorded that Zayd Ibn Arqam reported that the Messenger of God said: "I am leaving in you what if you follow you will never stray after me. One of them is bigger than the other. The Book of God a robe extended from Heaven to earth and the members of my House.
They will never part with each other until they join me at the basin (on the Day of Judgment). Beware how you shall treat them after me."3
Al-Tirmidhi said: "There are hadiths on this subject by Abu Dharr Abu Sa-eed Zayd Ibn Arqam and Huthaifah Ibn Oseid..."4 Al-Hakim recorded that Zayd Ibn Arqam reported:
"When the Messenger of God was coming from the Valedictory Pilgrimage he stood at Ghadir Khum... and said: I am about to be summoned (by God) and I will respond (to His call). I am leaving in you the Two Valuables: One of them is bigger than the other: the Book of God and the members of my House. Beware how you shall treat them after me for they shall not part from each other until they join me at the basin (on the Day of Judgment)..."5
Al-Hakim recorded also that Zayd Ibn Arqam said that the Prophet said on that day: "O people I am leaving in you two elements if you follow you shall not go astray. They are the Book of God and the members of my House."6
Muslim in his Sahih reported that Zayd Ibn Arqam said: "The Messenger of God stood at Ghadir Khum (between Mecca and Medina) delivering to us a sermon.
He praised the Almighty and preached and reminded us. Then he said: 'O people I am only human the Messenger of my Lord is about to come to me and I shall respond. I am leaving in you "Al-Thaqalain" (The Two Valuables) The first of the two is the Book of God. The guidance and the light are in it. Follow it and adhere to it. He urged people to follow the Book of God and induced them to do so.
Then he said: "And members of my House. Remember God in dealing with the members of my House. (Repeating this three times.)"7
Imam Ahmad in his Musnad reported that Zayd Ibn Thabit reported that the Messenger of God said: "I am leaving in you two caliphs: The Book of God and the members of my House. Beware how you shall treat them after me for they will never part with each other until they join me at the Basin (on the Day of Judgment)."8
Al-Samhudi Al-Shafi-i in his book Jawahir Al-Iqdain (according to Yanabee-a Al-Mawaddah page 40) reported that Om Selemah (wife of the Messenger) said: "The Messenger of God held the hand of ‘Ali at Ghadir Khum and lifted it... Then he said: 'Whoever I am his "Mawla" ‘Ali is his "Mawla" '. Then he said: 'O people I am leaving in you the Two Valuables: The Book of God and the members of my House. They will never part with each other until they join me at the Basin (on the Day of Judgment).'"9
Imam Ahmad recorded that Abu Sa-eed Al-Khidri reported that the Messenger of God said: "I am about to be summoned by God and I shall respond. I am leaving in you the Two Valuables: The Book of God and the members of my House. The Almighty informed me that they will never part with each other until they join me at the Basin (on the Day of Judgment). Beware how you shall treat them after me."10
Ibn Kuthayer in his book "Al-Bidayah and Al- Nihayah" (part 5 page 209 and part 7 page 348) recorded that Huthaifah Ibn Osaid reported that the Messenger of God said: "And I shall question you when you join me on the Day of Judgment about The Two Valuables. Beware how you shall treat them after me: The bigger Valuable is the Book of God a robe whose end is in the hand of God and the other end is in your hands. Hold it firmly. Do not go astray and do not deviate. The smaller Valuable is the members of my House. The Almighty informed me that they will not part with each other until they join me at the Basin (on the Day of Judgment)." Ibn Asakir reported this hadith through Huthaifa Ibn Ossaid.
We have mentioned that Al-Tirmidhi said in his Sahih that Hutheifah Ibn Ossaid is one of the reporters of this hadith.
The hadith of Al-Thaqalain (The Two Valuables) was reported by many companions. Therefore it is considered by many scholars to be of the "Mutawatir" (a hadith conveyed by numerous reporters) kind or at least from the well known hadiths.
Of the Two Valuables' hadiths is the hadith of the safety. Al-Hakim recorded that Abu Dharr said while he was holding the door of the Kaaba: "Whoever knows me I am the one whom he knows and whoever does not know me I am Abu Dharr. I heard the Prophet saying: The position of the members of my House among you is the position of Noah's ark and his people. Whoever embarked on it was saved and whoever failed to embark on it was drowned."11
Al-Khateeb in his history part 12 page 91 reported similar to this hadith through Anas Ibn Malik. Al-Bazzaz also reported it through Ibn Abbas and Ibn Al-Zubayr reported similar to it. Ibn Jareer through Abu Dharr and Abu Sa-eed Al-Khidri also reported similar to it. Abu Naeem Ibn Abdul-Barr Muhibb Al-Deen Al-Tabari and many others reported this hadith.12
This hadith tells us what the hadiths of "Al-Thaqalain" (The Two Valuables) told us. The two hadiths actually are declaring to the nation that security against straying cannot be obtained but through the adherence to the teaching of the Holy Qur'an and leadership of the members of the House of the Holy Prophet Muhammad.
The Hadiths of the Two Valuables and of the Safety tell us clearly that the Messenger did not leave this nation without leadership after him. He declared to the Muslims that the leadership of the nation is in the members of his House and that the adherence to the Holy Qur'an and to their teaching is a security against straying.
There is no doubt that the adherence to the Holy Qur'an is the imperative duty of every Muslim. And so is the adherence to the teaching of the members of the House of the Prophet and walking in their path.
The most important duty of the nation is to secure itself against straying. And when the adherence to the leadership of the members of the House of the Prophet is a security against straying it would be the duty of the nation to follow them. These hadiths declare clearly that when the Holy Prophet chose the members of his House for the leadership of the nation he did not do it by a human motive but through the revelation of God who chose these members for the leadership of the nation.
The Messenger says that the Book and the members of his House will never part with each other and that the Almighty informed him that the Qur'an and they will never part with each other until they join him at the Basin (on the Day of Judgment)
It is worthy to mention that these hadiths contain a clear Prophecy. The Holy Prophet was not able humanly to know that the members of his House will never part with the Holy Qur'an particularly when two of the members of the House Al-Hassan and Al-Hussein were still small children. No one could foretell the way the two children would develop later on.
The hadiths actually include all the members of the "Itrah" (the chosen relatives of the Prophet) who were born after the death of the Prophet such as the Imams: ‘Ali son of Al-Hussein Muhammad Al-Baqir Jaafar Al-Sadiq and the Imams from the progeny of Al-Sadiq.
This prophecy was fulfilled completely. Each one of these Imams was an example of purity knowledge and righteousness. None of them departed from the Holy Qur'an for one day.
It appeared to many scholars that the hadiths of the Two Valuables contradict the hadith which advises the Muslims to follow the Book of God and the "Sunnah" (the instructions of His Prophet) which we have already discussed (in chapter 33).
There we have mentioned that Ibn Hisham reported in his book Biography of the Prophet and Malik reported in his Muwatta that the Messenger said in his sermon at the Valedictory Pilgrimage: "... O people understand my word for I have delivered the Message. I have left for you what if you fortify yourselves with you will never go astray a clear instruction: The Book of God and 'Sunnah' of His Prophet..."
It is worthy to note that this hadith was attributed to the Holy Prophet without mentioning the names of the reporters through whom Ibn Hisham and Malik received the hadith.
The hadith was reported by Al-Bukhari and Muslim without mentioning the word "Sunnah." They mentioned only the word "Kitabullah" (the Book of God). (See Sahih of Muslim in the Book of Pilgrimage part 8 in the Valedictory Pilgrimage page 184 and also the Sahih of Al- Bukhari part 5 page 224.)
However let us assume that this hadith is authentic and let us try to understand its meaning. To facilitate the discussion let us call hadith "Al-Thaqalain " "The Two Valuables" (which speaks of the Book of God and the members of the House of the Prophet) Hadith no. 1 and call the Hadith of Fortification (which speaks of the Book of God and the "Sunnah" of the Prophet) hadith no. 2.
It appeared to many scholars that the Messenger's order to his followers in hadith no. 2 to fortify themselves by the Book and the "Sunnah" against deviation contradicts hadith no. 1 which orders the Muslims to follow the Book and the members of the House of the Holy Prophet as a security against deviation and straying. The fact is that the two hadiths are not contradictory to each other. They are rather complementary to each other.
I have mentioned in chapter 3 that the word "Sunnah" in hadith no. 2 meant what is known to be the instructions of the Holy Prophet with certainty. The hadith also tells us that the Prophet wanted us to follow the known meaning of the Holy Qur'an rather than its surmised meaning without certainty. This is because the adherence to the uncertain meaning of the Book or the unknown instructions does not represent security against deviation and straying.
Many of the recorded hadiths contradict each other. When each group of scholars takes what it thinks to be authentic and the opinions of the groups differ about the authenticity and the indications of the contradictory hadiths it would become impossible for all those groups to be right. Some of them or all of them have to be wrong.
Thus there would be no security against straying. Even when there are no contradictions (as when we have only one hadith but that hadith is not certain because it is not reported by a sufficient number of reporters) the hadith would not represent security against straying. That is because it may not have been said by the Holy Prophet and it is a well known fact that most of the hadiths are from this kind.
The Qur'anic verses are not alike. Some of them can be understood clearly and certainly and some of them are not so clear. Therefore the Qur'anic commentators offered various interpretations to such verses but none of those interpretations are certain.
Thus we find that the advocates of pre-destination cite for their opinion some of the Qur'anic verses and the ad- vocates of man's freedom also cite verses from the Holy Qur'an. The various Islamic Schools of thought argue with each other disagree with each other and each one of them cites for its opinion what appears to agree with it of Qur'anic verses or hadiths of the Prophet.
All these schools seem to be sincere in what they advocate; but with all their sincerity they differed from each other and the truth became unknown. They cannot all be right. Many of them must be wrong. Yet the Holy Prophet tells us that if we follow the Book of God and his "Sunnah " we would be immuned of error and deviation. But the security is still missing.
All these problems arise if the Messenger had commanded us to follow what we guess to be his "Sunnah" and what we guess to be the meaning of the Book.
If the Messenger had commanded us to follow what is certain to be his "Sunnah" and what is certain to be the meaning of the Holy Qur'an (and this is actually what constitutes a security against deviation and error) he would have commanded us to do what is beyond our ability. The reason: He did not leave us written or sufficient number of known "Sunnahs." What are known to be truly the "Sunnah" of the Prophet are very few.
Yet we know that the Messenger does not command us to do what is impossible. Therefore we infer that the Messenger had left his nation a clear way for knowing the real instructions of the Holy Prophet and the meanings of the Book of God.
This way is the members of his House who are one of the Two Valuables whom he left to the nation. This is what hadith no. 1 speaks of. Should this be the case then hadith no. 2 would not be in conflict with hadith no. 1 This hadith would be rather supplementing and explaining hadith no. 2 and hadith no. 2 would be commanding us to do what is within our power.
For hadith no. 1 declared to the nation that the members of the House of the Prophet are sources of the certain knowledge concerning the actual instructions of the Holy Prophet and the meaning of the Holy Book. The nation through the members of the House of the Holy Prophet can acquire what it needs of knowledge concerning the Islamic principles and laws if it desires that and this is what secures it against straying.
This is actually what the Holy Prophet declared when he said: "I am the city of knowledge and ‘Ali is its gate.
Whoever wants to enter the city should come to the gate." Thus the words of the Holy Messenger on this subject agree with each other and points to one road and aim namely: The duty of the nation is to follow the members of the House of the Holy Prophet who were the treasurers of the Prophet's knowledge.
Thus the Muslim generations who were living during the first three Islamic centuries with members of the House of the Prophet were able to learn from them the exact meaning of the Qur'an and the genuine "Sunnah" of the Prophet.
Sheikh Muhammad Abu Zuhrah in his book "Al-Imam Al-Sadiq " after mentioning hadith no. 1 and hadith no. 2 said the following: "But we say that the Sunni books which reported the hadiths and recorded the word "Sunnati" (my instructions) are more reliable than the Sunni books which recorded the word: "Itrati" (members of my House).13
Sheikh Abu Zuhrah said that though hadith no. 2 is recorded without naming the reporters who attributed it to the Messenger. On the other hand hadith no. 1 was reported by numerous companions of the Prophet. It is considered "Mutawater" and for this it is certainly authentic.
I have mentioned before that Muslim reported in the eighth part of his Sahih that the Messenger said in the Valedictory Pilgrimage: "And I have left for you what you will not go astray if you fortify yourselves with: The book of God and you shall be questioned about it."14 He did not mention the word "Sunnati." Al-Bukhari also mentioned the Book of God but he did not mention the word "Sunnati."15
Sheikh Abu Zuhra is a sample of other scholars who find it difficult to accept hadith no. 1 in spite of being reported through numerous channels which made it certainly authentic. The fear of these scholars which prevents them from accepting hadith no. 1 is due to two reasons:
1. This hadith indicates clearly that the Messenger wanted the caliphate to be in the members of his House and this is what these scholars do not like to believe.
2. These scholars thought that there is a conflict between hadith no. 1 and hadith no. 2 and this was their great error.
They did not pay attention to the fact that when the Messenger commands the Muslims to follow the "Sunnah" (his instructions) while the "Sunnah" is not recorded he would be commanding the Muslims to do the impossible if he wanted them to follow with certainty. Under this condition our adherence to the known and unrecorded "Sunnah" would be possible only if the Prophet had appointed an Imam after him to inform people about what they do not know. And this is what hadith no. 1 is about.
The Prophet however would not tell the Muslims that if they follow what they guessed to be his instructions they would be secured against deviation because guessing does not secure the truth. The Holy Qur'an declares:
"Certainly conjecture never substitutes the truth." (Chapter 53 v.28)
Sheikh Abu Zuhrah was actually unconscious of his own doing when he was writing about the subject. He viewed that hadith no. 2 is more authentic than hadith no. 1 because the books which recorded the word "Wa Sunnati" are more reliable than the books that recorded the word "Wa Itrati."
Abu Zuhrah's claim is untrue because hadith no. 1 was reported by numerous companions and recorded in highly authentic books such as the authentic Sunnan of Al- Tirmidhi and Al-Mustadrak by Al-Hakim (who along with Al-Thahabi stated that the hadith is authentic.) However I should not fail to draw the attention of the reader to a contradiction in which Abu Zuhrah fell inadvertently.
Hadith no. 2 states clearly that the adherence to the book and the "Sunnah" of the Prophet is a security against straying. If Abu Zuhrah understands from the word "Sunnati" (my Sunnah) the instructions which were attributed by the hadiths to the Holy Prophet without certainty these instructions would not be a security against straying in the subject of his argument. For he fights one hadith by another hadith.
Each of the two hadiths which he views as contradictory to each other can be taken by a Muslim School as evidence on what the followers of that School believe. One of the two Schools would be necessarily erroneous if the two hadiths are contradictory to each other and both hadiths are "Sunnah." Thus the security which hadith no. 2 promised is clearly missing.
Abu Zuhrah was erroneous when he like the rest of the scholars of his School did not view in hadith no. 1 a necessary supplement of hadith no. 2 if hadith no. 2 is authentic. This is because hadith no. 2 can be logical only if the Holy Prophet had appointed for the nation an Imam as a reliable authority for teaching the "Sunnah" of the Holy Prophet and this is what hadith no. 1 is saying.
Through this hadith the Holy Prophet informed the Muslims of the means through which they can acquire true knowledge of the meanings of the Book and the actual instructions of the Holy Prophet.
Abu Zuhrah added to his argument against hadith no. 1 other arguments: He said: "Granted that the hadith is authentic. But we say that this hadith does not stop argument. It does not identify the Imams whom the Shi’ites consider to be the caliphs after the Holy Prophet. The hadith does not specify that the Imams are to be from the children of Al-Hussein rather than the children of Al-Hassan. The hadith also does not indicate that the leadership would be by inheritance.
"The hadith does not indicate that the Prophet meant political leadership. It actually speaks of the leadership in jurisprudence and knowledge rather than administrating the affairs of the States.. There is not any correlation between the two leaderships.
"The Holy Prophet used to grant leadership to men who were less knowledgeable than some of the men whom they led only because the appointed leaders had better administrative ability. The Holy Prophet used to appoint some non-jurisprudent individuals for the leadership of Medina during the times of his absence. If leadership requires high knowledge in jurisprudence this would have to be extended to the commandment of the armies. Yet we know that the Holy Prophet made Osamah Ibn Zayd the commander of an army in which Abu Bakr and ‘Umar were included though Osamah did not have the knowledge of the two men."16
What Abu Zuhrah offers of arguments can be summarized in three things:
1. Hadith no. 1 does not speak specifically about the individual Imams from the members of the House; nor does it indicate the sequel in their leadership.
This is wrong because many of the channels of hadith no. 1 spoke specifically of the Imam ‘Ali Ibn Abu Talib and declared him to be the authority after the Messenger and that adherence to his teaching is a security against straying. As he was chosen by the Holy Prophet he would have the jurisdiction to select his own successor and his successor can select another successor who would be the most qualified to lead the nation and so on.
Furthermore the Holy Prophet announced the names of the members of the House who lived with him. We have mentioned in the second chapter that Saad Ibn Abu Waqass reported that the Holy Prophet on the day of Mubahalah (contesting prayer) said: "God these (‘Ali Fatimah Al-Hassan and Al-Hussein) are the members of my house."17 It is also reported that Om Selemah said that the Messenger made a statement similar to this.18
The second argument by Abu Zuhrah against hadith no. 1 is that it does not indicate that the caliphate is by inheritance
I agree with Abu Zuhrah that the hadith does not indicate the inheritance of leadership. But the Shi’ite School does not subscribe to the theory of inheritance of leadership. The evidence of this is that the law of inheritance in Islam makes the child rather than the brother the heir.
Yet the Shi’ites believe that the Imam after Al-Hassan was his brother Al-Hussein rather than any of his sons. The Shi- ites say that the Islamic leadership is in the members of the House of the Holy Prophet not because of inheritance but because the Prophet selected ‘Ali and his two sons for being the most qualified people for leadership. The fourth Imam who was born after the Prophet was to be selected by his father Al-Hussein on the basis of his qualifications rather than the basis of being his child or his first child.
It seems that it was too difficult for Abu Zuhrah and many other scholars of his School to think that the members of the House of the Holy Prophet were more qualified for leadership than the rest of the Muslims. Therefore they thought that the Shi’ites believe in their leadership because of inheritance.
Abu Zuhrah's rejection of hadith no. 1 in spite of its numerous reporters is probably due to this error. He could not believe that the members of that righteous family were more qualified than others; therefore he thought that the hadith meant inheritance of leadership.
He failed to pay attention to the reason which the Holy Prophet clearly declared stating that the Almighty informed him that the members of his House will not part with the Holy Qur'an until they join him at the Basin (on the Day of Judgment)
Had Abu Zuhrah paid attention to a number of verses from the third chapter of the Holy Qur'an he could have been able to understand the distinctions and high qualifications of the members of the House of the Holy Prophet. In that chapter we read the following verses:
"Certainly God has chosen Adam and Noah the family of Abraham and the family of Imran above all people. Offsprings one is from the other. And God hears and knows all things." The Holy Qur'an chapter 3 verses: 33-34.
In the same chapter we read the following:
"There did Zakariya pray to his Lord saying:O my Lord grant unto me from Thee a progeny that is pure; for Thou art He that hears prayer. While he was standing in prayer in the chamber the angels called unto him: God does give thee glad tidings of Yehya witnessing the truth of a word from God and he will be (besides) noble chaste and a Prophet of the goodly (company of the righteous)." The Holy Qur'an chapter 3 verses: 38-39.
And so many other verses in this chapter and other chapters indicate that the Almighty created from the progenies of Prophets and their relatives individuals who were of the highest among people in knowledge and obedience to God.
Therefore He chose them above others. This was a reward to those Prophets for their efforts in leading people or it was in response to the prayers of those prophets as the above verses indicate because they contain the phrase "For Thou art the Hearer and the Knower of all things " or "Thou art He that hears prayer."
Muhammad is the final of the prophets and most outstanding among them. He is also most deserving of the Divine reward for his unique efforts in leading mankind to the right road and he is the most deserving to have his prayer answered.
The Holy Prophet repeatedly prayed to the Almighty to purify the members of his House. Om Selemah wife of the Messenger reported that when the following verse: "Certainly God wants only to remove all abominations from you ye members of the House and to make you pure and spotless" was revealed and ‘Ali Fatima Hassan and Hussein were with him he took the surplus of his cloak and covered them with it. Then he stuck his hand out and turned it towards the sky and said: "God these are the members of my House and the closest to me. I ask Thee to remove all abomination from them and to make them pure and spotless..."19
He also prayed for the members of his House in his daily prayers and he taught the Muslims to say when they pray for him: "God I ask Thee to honor Muhammad and the members of his House as Thou have honored the members of the House of Abraham. Certainly Thou art The Praised the Glorious." 20
Al-Hakim recorded that Abdullah Ibn Jaafar Ibn Abu Talib reported that his father said: "When the Messenger of God witnessed the mercy of God coming down he said: 'Call for me call for me.' Safiyah said: 'Whom should we call for you Messenger of God?' He said: 'Members of my House: ‘Ali Fatima Hassan and Hussein.'
They were brought to him. He then covered them with his garment then raised his two hands and said: 'God these are the members of my House. I ask Thee to honor Muhammad and the members of the House of Muhammad.' God revealed the following verse: 'Certainly God wants to remove the abomination from you members of the House and to purify you and make you spotless." 21 Al-Hakim said: "This is an authentic hadith."22
What the aforementioned substantiates is that the followers of the House of the Prophet do not believe in the leadership of its members because of inheritance as Abu Zuhrah and other scholars from his school thought. They rather believe in their leadership because the Prophet chose them. He did that because of what they had of distinctions in righteousness knowledge purity and wisdom and because they do not part with the Holy Qur'an in deed or word.
I have mentioned in the sixteenth chapter that the Sunnite School advocates though inadvertently the idea of caliphate by inheritance. They reported many authentic hadiths which indicate that the caliphs are only Qureshites aud that the caliphs are only twelve and that the caliphate shall stay in Quraish as long as two persons live on this earth.
When the Messenger made Qureshiteness a requirement in caliphate he did that by a commandment from God. If this requirement were made only because the Qureshites were related closely or remotely to the Messenger (because the Messenger and all the Qureshites are descendants of one great-grandfather: Fihr Ibn Malik) this would be an advocation of the idea of caliphate by inheritance. Such an extremely extended inheritance cannot be supported by the Islamic Law of inheritance which makes the close relatives bar the remote ones.
Should Qureshiteness be made a requirement by God not because of relation to the Holy Prophet but only because being from Quraish is a distinction by itself this would be an invitation to a belief in a tribal superiority and aristocracy alien to the teachings of the Faith of Islam. The Faith of Islam invites us to believe in equality among the Muslims regardless of family nationality race or regional relationship and declares that the noblest in the eyes of God is the most righteous.
Since the two interpretations are not logical it would be necessary to understand the hadiths as follows: The Almighty made the caliphate in Quraish because He knew that there were or shall be among the Qureshites twelve men superior in knowledge righteousness and other qualifications for leadership.
He made these twelve men caliphs whether they come to power or people prevent them from coming to power. The twelve men are caliphs not because they are related to the Messenger closely; nor because they are Qureshites though it happened that they were from Quraish and close relatives to the Messenger.
The Holy Prophet himself was chosen by God not because he was from Quraish or from the Hashimites though it happened that he was from Quraish and a Hashimite. He was chosen because of his personal qualifications and he was the Prophet even if people did not believe in his prophethood.
If this is what was meant by the hadiths which made Qureshiteness a requirement in the caliphate this would not be an advocation of leadership by inheritance. This logical interpretation agrees only with the Shi’ite School The Sunnite scholars do not agree with this interpretation They are rather inclined to agree with the first or the second interpretation.
Yet the first interpretation means caliphate by inheritance which the Sunnites deny and attribute it to the Shi’ites though the Shi’ites are clear of it. The second interpretation as you have already seen is opposed to the Islamic principles.
Abu Zuhrah raised a third argument against hadith no. 1. His argument was that the hadith does not indicate that the Prophet meant political leadership of his House.
He may have meant only their leadership in jurisprudence and religion. This is invalid for the following reasons: The intention of the Messenger which he stated in hadith no. 1 was to make the leadership of the members of his House a security against straying.
The leadership in jurisprudence does not constitute a security against straying when the power is in other hands. The leadership in jurisprudence cannot usually communicate its instructions and information to all Muslims.
Communication of this kind of instruction requires a positive atmosphere which enables the Imam to announce to the nation his instructions as it requires the power which directs the nation to follow his instructions and believe in their soundness. As long as the power is in the hands of other than the Imam that positive atmosphere and the facility of directing the nation would be missing.
When the caliphs are other than the Imams whom the Messenger wanted the nation to follow those caliphs would be inclined by their human nature to keep the Imams in obscurity. They do not like to publicize their instructions. They may attempt to publicize the opinions and the verdicts of others from their own followers whom they do not consider potential competitors for the authority.
They would try to publicize the opinions of individuals of this kind though they are inferior to the true Imams in knowledge. Al-Abbasi Al-Mansour asked Imam Malik to write a book about the "Sunnahs" of the Prophet and he promised to publicize that book and make it the main source in the hadiths among the Muslims. He did not ask the Imam Jaafar Al-Sadiq to do that though Malik was a student of Al-Sadiq.23
The majority of the Muslims took from Abdullah Ibn Masud Zayd Ibn Thabit Abdullah Ibn ‘Umar and Ibn Abbas much more than they took from the Imam ‘Ali Ibn Abu Talib in spite of the great difference between ‘Ali and these companions in knowledge.
Abu Zuhrah himself recorded in his book Al-Imam Al-Sadiq the following: "It would be necessary to say that the jurisprudence of the Imam ‘Ali his verdicts and his rules as the highest magistrate of the nation were not reported in the books of the Sunnites in proportion with the times of his caliphate and the time in which he was engaged in the study of the Faith and issuing verdicts during the time of the Three Caliphs before him.
"The life of Imam ‘Ali was dedicated entirely to jurisprudence and the knowledge of religion. He was the closest to the Messenger from among the companions. He accompanied the Messenger while he was a boy before the Messenger was commissioned by God and he continued with him until God summoned His Messenger to Himself.
Therefore it was expected that the books of the Sunnites contain much more than it contained of ‘Ali's teaching.
"If we want to know the reason for which the instructions and the reports of the Imam ‘Ali disappeared and remained unknown to most of the Muslims we say that the Umayyad authority was behind the disappearance of ‘Ali's jurisprudence and rules. It would be improbable that the Umayyads would curse the Imam ‘Ali on the pulpits of the Muslims then allow the scholars to report his knowledge his verdicts and his instructions to the people especially in matters which deal with the basis of the Islamic rule."24
Any reader of the books of the hadiths of the Sunnites can see clearly that what those books contained of the reports of Abu Hurairah and others like him is incomparably more numerous than what is reported or recorded for ‘Ali and the rest of the members of the House of the Holy Prophet. Yet Abu Hurairah embraced Islam in the 6th year after the Hijrah while ‘Ali was with the Messenger before the Messenger was commissioned by God until the hour of his death.
In spite of all that and in spite of the fact that the Messenger said that he is the city of knowledge and that ‘Ali is the gate of that city and that whoever wants to enter the city should come to the gate we find the majority of the Muslims did not come to the gate very often. They took other sources of information about the Islamic teaching and left the gate of the city of knowledge out.
Thus Abu Zuhrah acknowledged the rarity of what was recorded in the books of the Sunnites from the knowledge of ‘Ali and that the reason for that was political. As he acknowledged this he should have inferred from hadith no. 1 that it indicates that the Messenger wanted his nation to follow the members of his House not only academically in jurisprudence but also in political rule.
The Holy Prophet declared to the nation that its adherence to the Holy Qur'an and the members of his House is a security against straying. If he limited the function of the members of his House to the academic function and allows the nation to elect others for the caliphate he would have destroyed the purpose for which he was speaking in hadith no. 1 namely: The security against straying.
When people elect a caliph from outside the members of the House they would see in that caliph their religious and secular ruler whom they should obey even if his opinion in religion were in disagreement with the way of the members of the House of the Prophet. The elected caliph himself would see that people are duty-bound to obey him.
He may think that the Holy Qur'an supports that:
"O you who believe obey God and obey the Messenger and the people of authority from among you..." The Holy Qur'an chapter 4 verse 59.
The elected caliphs and the Muslims also may see that the duty of the Imam from the members of the House of the Prophet is to obey that caliph.
Thus the Messenger would have pushed people to confusion instead of securing them against straying by telling them to follow the members of his House aid allowing them to elect and obey a caliph whose words and deeds do not agree with their words and deeds.
The Islamic history witnessed a good caliph following the opinion of Marwan Ibn Al- Hakam the exiled of the Prophet and kaab Al- Ahbaar (an Arab Jew who adopted Islam) and he did not follow opinions and advices of the Imam ‘Ali Ibn Abu Talib.
The fact is that the interpretation which Abu Zuhrah offered disagrees with the clear and logical meaning of hadith no. 1. The Messenger in this hadith declared clearly that his purpose is the unity of the leadership when he said that the Book of God and the members of his House do not part with each other. He did not want the Muslims to follow the members of his House because they were his relatives but because they will not part with the Holy Qur'an.
The meaning of this is that the leadership of the Holy Qur'an and the members of the House is one and that they do not disagree with each other. One of them the members of the House explains the other (the Holy Qur'an) and informs the Muslims about its actual meaning.
For this the adherence to both of them was the security against straying. Had the members of the House been in disagreement with the Holy Qur'an occasionally their obedience would not be a security against straying. But the Almighty informed the Messenger that the Holy Qur'an and the members of his House would never part with each other.
Thus the security of the nation against straying according to the Messenger is in the unity of the leadership without dualism. Should the Messenger allow the Muslims to elect a leadership which does not agree with the House of the Prophet the unity of the leadership and the security against straying would not exist because dualism would have replaced the unity.
Before I end the refutation of Abu Zuhrah's arguments I would like to discuss matters he mentioned of which are the following:
(1) The Holy Prophet chose to appoint for high positions some individuals who were less knowledgeable than others in jurisprudence. He appointed them because they had administrative capabilities.
(2) He appointed for the leadership of Medina during his absence some individuals who were not known to be jurisprudent.
(3) Should the appointment by the Holy Prophet of some individuals for high positions require a profound knowledge in jurisprudence it should be extended to the military leadership. Yet we know that the Holy Prophet appointed Osamah commander of the army that included Abu Bakr and ‘Umar while Osamah did not have what they had of religious knowledge.
What made Abu Zuhrah say all that is that he forgot that the purpose which the Holy Prophet declared in hadith no. 1 is the security of the Muslims against straying. Had Abu Zuhrah paid attention to this he would have differentiated between a limited authority such as succeeding the Prophet in ruling Medina during his absence or appointing a man to lead an army and the leadership of the whole nation.
To give the command of an army to a man with a limited knowledge in religion and to appoint a companion to rule Medina during the absence of the Messenger would not damage the security of the nation against straying as long as the Prophet is the highest authority in the nation and the army. The Prophet can and would correct the errors of his appointee and bring him back to the right road.
The leadership of the whole nation which the Prophet wanted to be a substantial means of security against straying does not realize his purpose if it is given to a man with a limited knowledge in interpretation of the Holy Qur'an and the instructions of the Holy Prophet. Should such a leader stray there would be no authority above him to supervise him and bring him back to the right road because he is the highest authority.
If he goes wrong in his opinion the whole nation goes wrong with him. Should a religious leader advise him to retreat and go back to the right road and he refuses to take his advice the religious leader regardless of his extensive knowledge would have no authority over that caliph.
It happened during the caliphate of Uthman that ‘Ali and good companions tried to bring him back to the right road and the caliph chose not to listen to their advice.
They did not succeed and the nation fell into insane crises whose effect has continued until today.
It would have been expected from Abu Zuhrah to be more prudent than he was. The Messenger informed us that the Almighty informed him that the members of his House would never part with the Holy Qur'an and that the Holy Qur'an and they represent an indispensible means of security against straying.
Bestowing such a high honor on them testifies that they were more gifted than others in knowledge wisdom and understanding. If they were so they would have high administrative capability; otherwise the Prophet would not have recommended them.
It may be said that the outcome is the same and that it would not be any different whether the Prophet had appointed members of his House to lead the nation only in jurisprudence or appointed them to lead the nation in administration and jurisprudence. For the Muslims did not allow them to come to power and did not follow them as the Holy Prophet wanted.
Our answer to this is that the duty of the Messenger is to leave no excuse for the nation. Had he made the members of his House leaders in jurisprudence only and allowed the nation to elect others as religious and secular leaders the nation would have a good excuse for not taking its religious information from the House of the Prophet. The confusion and bewilderment would have been caused by the Messenger's permission to the nation to have dual leadership.
On the other hand if he declares to the nation the leadership of his House the nation will be responsible for its own error. This would be like the refusal of a community to believe in a Messenger sent by God with clear evidence. God would have done what He is expected to do and the community would have no excuse.
The indication of hadith no. 1 that the leadership of the House of the Prophet in all religious and worldly affairs does not need much explanation. What Abu Zuhrah offered of interpretation is an obvious attempt to give the hadith other than its meaning and purpose.
What the Holy Prophet meant is that the obedience of the nation to the Book of God and the House of the Prophet is commanded by God and that the Revelation had informed the Prophet that the two important elements will not part with each other. This means that the leadership of his House is like his own leadership in being general extensive and clear of any dualism because the members of the House of the Prophet like the Prophet never part with the Book of God.
The Faith of Islam does not separate religion from the State. The leadership of the Messenger was not only religious it was both religious and secular. He was the Prophet and the head of the State and he had the right to administer the affairs of the Muslims more than they had of right to administer their own affairs.
The Holy Prophet declared that the nation should live under the leadership of the Holy Qur'an and the members of his House. As the nation has to obey the Qur'an in its religious and worldly affairs it has to give equal obedience to the members of the House of Prophet.
This concludes the discussion of the Two Valuables.
Let us turn our attention to the second part of the Prophet's declaration at Ghadir Khum the Hadith of the Wilayah (Authority).
- 1. Al-Tirmidhi his authentic Sunan part 5 p. 328.
- 2. Al-Muttaqi recorded this in Kanz Al- Ummal part 5 p. 23 (hadith no.356)
- 3. Al-Tirmidhi his authentic Sunan part 5 p. 329 (hadith no. 387b)
- 4. Al-Tirmidhi his authentic Sunan part 5 p. 329 (hadith no. 387b)
- 5. Al-Hakim Al-Mustadrak part 3 p. 109.
- 6. Al-Hakim Al-Mustadrak part 3 p. 109.
- 7. Muslim his Sahih part 15 p. 180. Imam Ahmad also reported it in his Musnad part 4 p. 367.
- 8. Imam Ahmad Al-Musnad part 5 p. 181.
- 9. Al-Amini conveyed it in his book Al-Ghadir part 2 p. 17.
- 10. Imam Ahmad Al-Musnad part 3 p. 17.
- 11. Al-Hakim Al-Mustadrak part 3 p. 151.
- 12. Al-Khateeb History of Baghdad part 12 p. 91 (conveyed by Al-Amini Al-Ghadir part 2 p. 301)
- 13. Sheikh Muhammad Abu Zuhrah Al-Imam Al-Sadiq pp. 199-200.
- 14. Muslim his Sahih part 8 Book of Pilgrimage (Valedictory Pilgrimage) p. 184.
- 15. Al-Bukhari his Sahih part 5 p. 224.
- 16. Sheikh Muhammad Abu Zuhrah Al-Imam Al-Sadiq pp. 199-200.
- 17. Muslim his Sahih part 15 p. 176.
- 18. Imam Ahmad Al-Musnad part 6 p. 292.
- 19. Al-Hakim-Mustadrak part3 p. 128.
- 20. Al-Bukhari his Sahih part 6 p. 101 and Muslim in his Sahih part4 p. 136.
- 21. Al-Hakim Al-Mustadrak part 3 p. 128.
- 22. Al-Hakim Al-Mustadrak part 3 p. 128.
- 23. Abu Zuhrah Al-Imam Al-Sadiq p. 27.
- 24. Abu Zuhrah Al-Imam Al-Sadiq p. 162