Chapter 22: The Events Of Thaqalain And Safinah
The narration of “Thaqalain”1 is one of the most frequently reported Islamic narrations narrated from the Prophet by scholars.
Most profound documents will lead us to believe that this narration is authentic.
In order for the Sunnis to realize the authenticity of this document, we shall present here some of the Sunnite scholars’ statements related to this topic:
“Munadi” says: “more than twenty of the Prophet's close followers have reported this narration from the Prophet”2.
Ibn Hajar Asqalani writes “the narration of Thaqalain has been reported by more than twenty sources”3.
Allamah Mir Hamid Husain, the great Shiite scholar, who died in the year 1306 of the lunar calendar, has extracted this narration from 502 books, all written by the Sunnite scholars. His research on the authenticity of this narration has been published in six volumes in Isfahan. Interested readers might refer to this valuable source.
If we add up the number of the Shiite and Sunnite scholars who have dealt with this issue the narration of Thaqalain would have the most authentic value; nothing would be equal to it except for the Ghadir narration. Now let us see the text of the narration:
“إِنِّي تارِكٌ فِيكُمُ الثَقَلَيْنِ كِتاب اللهِ وَ عِتْرَتِي أَهْل بَيتي ما إِنْ تَمَّسَكْتُمْ بِهِما لَنْ تَضِلُّوا أَبَداً وَ لَنْ يَفْتَرِقا حتّی يَرِدا عَلَيَّ الْحَوض”.
I will leave you two worthy items: One is God's book and the other one is my Household. If you resort to both of these, you will not go astray; and these two shall never separate.
Ibn Hajar contends that the Prophet added the following phrase to the above narration:
“هذا عِليٌّ مَعَ القُرآنِ وَ القُرآنُ مَعَ عَليّ لا يَفْتَرقان”.
“Ali is always with the Quran and the Quran is always with Ali; these two shall never separate”4.
What we have briefly reported here has been confirmed by both Shiite and Sunnite scholars. The reason for disagreements between these two groups concerns the form of the narrations that relies on the fact that the great prophet of Islam has used different interpretations concerning the irrevocable bonds between the Holy Quran and the Prophet's Household. The Prophet has emphasized the bond between these two on different occasions such an Hajjatul Wida, Ghadir Khum, from the pulpit5 and on his death-bed, while his room was filled with his close followers6.
Despite the fact that the narration is reported in differing shapes and that the Prophet refers to his two precious remnants with the titles “Thaqalain” or “Khalyfatein” or “Amrein” but it carries one single objective and that is the inseparability between the Holy Quran and the Prophet's Household.
Deliberation on the content of the narration of Thaqalain will reveal to us that the members of the Prophet's household are immune against sin: they are infallible.
This is because something which is inseparable from the Holy Quran up to the day of resurrection should be infallible like the Holy Quran itself (whose content is everlasting). In other words from the Prophet's explicit order that the Islamic Ummah should resort to these two remnants of his, up to the day of resurrection and that they should obey these two, we can easily deduce that these two are always immune from any distortion. This is because Allah would never ask His servants to obey a wrongdoer; neither would He ever set a bond between wrong-doers and the Holy Quran. Only one group would deserve to be juxtaposed with the Holy Quran and that group, infact should be infallible.
As we have previously mentioned, one of the prerequisites for Imamate is infallibility. In the coming chapters we will show, through reasoning, the necessity of such prerequisites in the divine leaders as a whole Thus, the Thaqalain narration clearly depicts the fact that, members of the Prophet's household, like the Holy Quran, are flawless and infallible.
Ahmad Ibn Ali Ibn Abi Talib, the writer of the worthy book “Ehtejaj” reports from the book written by Solaym Ibn Qais (one of the most distinguished students of Imam Ali (as) that at the time of Othman’s caliphate there a meeting was convened at the Prophet’s mosque in which some Muhajirs and Ansars were participating. Each participant started boasting about their past glories.
Everybody was talking in that session except for Imam Ali (as), who was silent. Due to the participants’ insistence, Imam Ali started talking having recited some verses of the Holy Quran relevant to his right of Imamate Ali said: “By God, do you remember, the Prophet in the last days of his life, recited a sermon and stated the following statement?
“يا أَيُّهَا الناس إِنِّي تاركٌ فِيكُمُ الثقلين كتاب الله و عترتي أهل بيتي فتمسكوا بهما لا تضلوا”.
“I have left for you two precious items: God's book and my Household; there fore resort to these two and you will not be misled”7.
Definitely by “Household” is not meant all the relatives of the Prophet because not all of them were flawless; rather by this word is meant only a selected group who are believed by Shiites to be their genuine leaders.
In other words if we accept the documents of Thaqalain then we have to accept the true and genuine members of the Household. This is because out of the Household members only a selected group is the true referent of this narration. The selected group is well known among the Ummah for their purity, their virtues their ethical values, and their vast and immense knowledge.
We have so far presented the text of the Thaqalain narration. As we have seen the Prophet always refer to “ كتاب الله وعترتي” “The book and the Household” as two precious items which shall never separate.
However, at times the phrase “كتاب الله وعترتي” is replaced with “كتاب الله وسنتي” “The Book and my tradition” in the Sunnite books as an insignificant narration.
In his book 8 Ibn Hajar Asqalani has narrated the narration with the latter expression. He then adds: The Prophet's tradition refers to the book itself; so obedience towards both of them is compulsory.
We are not concerned with the validity of such a narration what we are concerned with is the fact that the content of the Thaqalain narration is what we have dealt with so far and if a narration is reported from the great prophet of Islam with the expression “كتاب الله وسنتي” “God's Book and my tradition” that would be another issue which would not contradict the genuine Thaqalain narration.
If we add up the Safinah [Noah’s ark] narration to the Thaqalain narration we would come up with a world of virtues for the Prophet's Household.
Salim Ibn Qais says: while I was present at a Hajj ceremony, I saw Abu Zar Ghaffari holding the door of the Kaaba, shouting.
O people, some of you know me well, but I introduce myself to those who do not know me: I am Jandab Ibn Jenadah, or Abu Zar. O people, I have heard your prophet say:
“إِنَّ مَثَلَ أَهْل بَيْتي في أُمَّتي كَمَثَلِ سَفِينَةِ نُوْحٍ في قَومِهِ مَنْ رَكِبَها نَجا وَ مَنْ تَرَكَها غَرق”.
“My presence among you seems like Noah’s Ark among his people: Those who got onto the arc were rescued, but those who refused to do so were drowned”9.
The Safinah narration like Ghadir and Thaqalain narrations is among the frequently narrated ones.
From the Safinah narration, in which the Household of the Prophet is likened to that of Noah’s Ark, it is understood that following the Prophet's Household in our lives would lead to one's salvation and opposing it causes one's destruction. The question that needs to be answered here: shall we follow the chosen household only in permitted and forbidden actions or in the political and social issues as well?
Those who believe they only need to follow the first category of orders have unnecessarily narrowed down the domain of our obedience towards the members of the household.
But such conditions are not stipulated in the narration itself.
Thus, like other narrations, the Safinah narration is another proof of the capability of the household members to lead the Islamic nation.
Furthermore the above-mentioned narration is the clearest indication of the infallibility of the Household members. This is because a person on the verge of collapse could never save others from pitfalls.
The reasons for the capability of Ali (as) and his followers to lead the Islamic Ummah are too numerous to be included in this book however we shall deal with the issue of infallibility, which is essential for leadership.
- 1. . If pronounced this word as Thaqal, it means worthy thing and if it is pronounced "Theqi" it means a heavy material.
- 2. . Feizol Ghadir, vol. 3, p. 14.
- 3. . Al-Sava’eq Muhraqah Asqalani, narration no. 135.
- 4. . Yanabia Al-Muwaddah, PP. 32-40.
- 5. . Biharul Anwar, vol. 22, p. 76 (reported from Majalis Mufid)
- 6. . Sava’eq Muhraqah Asqalani, p. 75.
- 7. . Al-Ehtejaj, vol. 1, p. 210.
- 8. . Al-Sawaeq Al-Moharaqe, p. 89.
- 9. . Al-Ehtejaj Tabarsi, p. 228.
- 10. . Refer to the second section of the twelfth volume, p 914.
- 11. . Such as Mustadrak Hakem, vol 3/p. 343; Kanz al-‘Ummal, vol 1/p. 250; As-Sawa’eq, p 75: Feizol Ghadir, vol 4/p. 356.