It should be remembered that though the insulting of the holy progeny began from the Caliphate affair, it preceded in action with the words of “We have the book of Allah with us” (Hasbona Kitabullah) of Umar. It was because the effect of these words created problems, which were never even imagined before and which confronted Islam thereafter.
Of course, the Holy Prophet (S) had already said before his demise that, “I am leaving behind me two weighty things; if you cling to them, you will never deviate from the right path and these two are the Quran and my household.” Yet strangely, these words could not create even one-tenth of effect of what Umar’s words of, “We have the book of Allah with us” (Hasbona Kitabullah) did.
No doubt, these words of the Prophet, which are authentic, both in the view of Shias and Sunnis viz. “I leave among you…(Innee Taarikun…)1 are the words of the one about whom Allah Himself says:
“Nor does he speak out of desire. It is naught but revelation that is revealed.”2
So all his words were in accordance with divine revelation. Knowledgeable people very well know that it is about this tradition that Shah Abdul Aziz, in his Tohfa, writes: “Verily, the command of the Holy Prophet (S) indeed was such that the nation (Ummah) of Muhammad must cling to these two things viz. Quran and Ahlul Bayt.”3 But the author will now show to what extent did the Ummah do so.
Here, I don’t want to examine whether the words were proper or not, but theaim of this book is to look at the effect of these words of Umar. Apparently, it seems that had the clinging to the holy Ahlul Bayt also been considered as absolutely necessary along with the clinging to the holy book, the history of Islam would certainly have taken a very different turn from both, the religious and political angle. But these three or four words of Umar created a new Islamic world, which still exists in full form.
Though the words of the Prophet give a stern warning, Umar’s words did not allow the Prophet’s words to be acted upon and its scope remained limited to oration (without being acted upon). Had the words of the Prophet been acted upon, neither the event of Saqifah would have taken place nor Bani Hashim would have had to suffer various oppressions, nor would have its respect decreased among the Ummah nor any sects against the beliefs of Bani Hashim would have appeared. So also no events would have ever taken place, which concluded in the martyrdoms of Ali, Hasan, Husayn (a.s.) and many other family members and friends of the Holy Prophet (S).
Apparently, it seems the words of, “We have the book of Allah with us” (Hasbona Kitabullah) freed the common Sunni Muslims from clinging to the holy family of the Holy Prophet (S) and even though, the tradition of Two Heavy Things is, according to the words of the author of Tohfa, a popular tradition among both Sunnis and Shias; Sunnis did not act upon it either in the past nor are they doing so today. This tradition has remained almost like a dead letter in books and nothing more than that. So it is known to all the knowledgeable people that none, except the Bani Hashim and their friends ever cling to Muhammad’s Progeny. If for Sunnis, Muhammad’s Progeny means Lady Fatima, Imam Ali, Imams Hasan and Husayn (a.s.), I could not find from any book what Sunni do about clinging to these four persons.
The Holy Prophet (S) was not yet buried when Saqifah was held with a great hue and cry. No right-thinking person can call it ‘clinging to the Progeny’. Rather, this event appears to be a direct consequence of Umar’s words. Immediately thereafter, was the hue and cry about taking allegiance from Ali (a.s.), rushing of people to the house of Lady Fatima to burn it down, ugly actions regarding the Fadak property and disrespectful addresses to Ali and Fatima (s.a.) etc. They are all such barbarous deeds, which to a truthful man, look very far from ‘clinging to the holy progeny’!
Similarly, all actions taken during the Caliphates of the three Caliphs (according to followers of the three Caliphs) have nothing to do with the clinging to the Ahlul Bayt. What clinging to Ali was done at the time of the collection of Quran by the first Caliph? How did the second Caliph cling to Progeny in his personal exertions (Ijtihaadaat)? How did the third Caliph follow the Progeny? How did Muslims cling to Imam Hasan’s Imamate? What kind of clinging was observed in the affairs of Muawiyah, when he was the Caliph of the time? How did his successor, Yazeed follow the said tradition? Likewise, what was the manner of following of this tradition upto the time of Imam Askari (a.s.) in obedience of the command of the Holy Prophet (S)? What is apparent is that no one ever cared even to remember the subject of clinging to the holy family.
All the actions after the demise of the Holy Prophet (S) have nothing to do with the command of the Holy Prophet (S) at all. What was done was that the members of the holy family were unjustly imprisoned and their blood was mercilessly shed in different periods. In spite of the Ahlul Bayt’s being fully knowledgeable and wise, the non-Imamiyah scholars remained aloof from the orders of the Imams of Ahlul Bayt and are still doing so, details of which will come up hereafter.
O lovers of truth! Can these deeds be called ‘clinging to Progeny’? The fact is that the subject of clinging (Tamassuk) has been only a dead letter in the eyes of non-Imamiyah Muslims. Books show that the non-Imamiyah Muslim have, ever since the first Caliphate until today, clung to the phrase of “We have the Book of Allah…” This is the phrase, which has left no stone unturned to destroy the holy Ahlul Bayt. It also founded, after disassociating with the Ahlul Bayt, a particular sect which involves all non-Imamiyah and these non- Imamiyah have many different groups which are separately named by Abdul Qadir Jilani in Ghaniyatu Talibeen.
This phrase has created a big difference in belief between the Imamiyah and the non-Imamiyah regarding Imamate. It is a part of main belief in the view of Imamiyah, while it is secondary in the opinion of non-Imamiyah. The cause for this difference in belief, it seems, is that being the followers of the tradition of Two Heavy Things (Thaqalayn), the Imamiyah are of the opinion that Imamate is a divine command, on the basis of an argument that when the Holy Prophet (S) passed away from this world, in view of the said tradition, his progeny’s succession is also from Allah and it cannot be otherwise.
The fact of the matter too appears to be so that when his Progeny is included in Thaqalayn there can be no dispute about their being assigned by Allah. In accordance with this tradition (Thaqalayn) the Holy Prophet’s Progeny is either at par with Quran or only a little lower than it. Even if it is lower in rank than the Holy Quran, it certainly is one of the two great things. Despite this lower rank, the holy Progeny is surely not worth total abandonment and so may not be clung to along with the Holy Quran.
The truth is that the Holy Quran and the holy Ahlul Bayt can never be separated from one another. In my opinion, Progeny is higher than Quran because Quran is the argument of Quran whereas Progeny is talking Quran (Quran Natiq). That Ali (a.s.) has said that he is Quran Natiq is a profound evidence for a faithful man to appreciate Progeny as very graceful. Only one who is an opponent or enemy of Ali (a.s.) can deny this.
In short, the tradition of Two Heavy Things (Hadith Thaqalayn) shows that Imamate is a divine affair. The reason why non-Imamiyah consider it a branch of belief (secondary) seems to be that by the phrase of “We have the Book of Allah…” (Hasbona…) the subject of Imamate, which is based on the tradition of Two Heavy Things (Thaqalayn) has been removed altogether. So no wonder if Imamate (which is from Allah) is considered as a dead issue because of the said phrase.
Obviously, when Imamate is not regarded to be from Allah, according to the belief of non-Imamiyah sect, there remains no superiority of rank for the twelve Imams over the four Sunni Imams. Rather, the value of the four is greater than that of the twelve, because all the jurisprudential needs of non-Imamiyah are solely related to those four Imams and they have neither a basic nor a secondary relationship with the twelve Imams. So in their view, the Imamates of twelve Imams cannot be considered higher than the Imamates of Ghazzali and Fakhruddin Razi.
Briefly speaking, the Imamate based on the phrase of “We have the Book of Allah…” (Hasbona…) can only be an Imamate, which is from people (as it is in Sunni circles). No doubt, these words of Umar bin Khattab succeeded in their aim and this phrase has virtually negated the tradition of Two Heavy Things (Hadith Thaqalayn) in practice.
Therefore, the claim of non-Imamiyah, if at all, about clinging to Ahlul Bayt, by the Muslims of the time of Umar or thereafter, or even today is only on lips. This is not astonishing because when the phrase of “We have the Book of Allah…” (Hasbona…) makes it essential to cling only to Quran, it would naturally result in aloofness from Ahlul Bayt.
Quite opposite is the state of those Muslims in whose belief, clinging to Ahlul Bayt is as binding as clinging to Quran. Obviously, they cannot give up the holy family. Such Muslims, till today, cling to Ahlul Bayt in every matter and they are ever eager to obey the commands of the Holy Prophet (S) fully. But the number of such Muslims was small in the beginning and it is not large even today.