Eighth Session, Thursday night, 1 Sha'ban, 1345 A.H.

Sayyid Abdu'l-Hayy: Respected sir, last night you contributed to discord among the Muslims.

Well-Wisher: Tell me how I did that.

Sayyid: While explaining "ourselves", you divided Muslims into two groups: Muslims and believers. But Muslims are all one and the same. Those who say the words "There is no god but Allah, and Muhammad is His Messenger" are all brothers. They should not be separated into two groups because this is harmful to Islam. The Shi’as call themselves believers, and they call us Muslims. You must have seen in India that Shi’as are called believers and the Sunnis are called Muslims.

The fact is that 'Islam' and 'Iman' (conviction) are identical terms because Islam means acceptance of the commands of religion. This recognition is the reality of 'Iman.' The whole community has agreed that Islam is pure Iman. You have gone against the common view.

Difference between Islam (submission) and Iman (faith)

Well-Wisher: First, your reference to the common people does not mean the people of the community as a whole. It refers to the common people of a group of the Sunnis. Second, your statement about Islam and Iman is not accurate.

Not only do the Shi’as differ with the Sunnis but the Ash'aris, Mu'tazalis, Hanafis, and Shafi'is also have different views about it. Third, I frankly don't understand why learned men like you should resort to such trivial objections.

This division into two groups has been made by Allah in the Holy Qur'an. Perhaps you have forgotten the matter relating to Companions of the Right and the Companions of the Left referred to in the Holy Qur'an which says:

"The dwellers of the desert say: 'We believe.' Say: 'You do not believe but say, we submit; faith has not yet entered your hearts.'" (49:14)

Certainly you must know that this verse was revealed in condemnation of the desert tribe of the Bani Asad, who were Muslims in name only. During a year of famine, they flocked to Medina and, in order to get relief, claimed to be believers.

But at heart they were unbelievers in Allah and the Holy Prophet. This verse verifies that there are two groups of Muslims: sincere Muslims, who have acknowledged the realities of Iman, and those who make mere verbal declarations of faith.

In our social sphere the latter group is entitled to the safety and benefits of the laws meant for all Muslims. But, according to the injunction of the Holy Qur'an, they are not entitled to any reward in the hereafter. Their declarations that there is no god but Allah and that Muhammad is His messenger, and their making a display of the fact that they are Muslims, have no real significance.

Sayyid: You are right, but Islam without Iman (faith or conviction) has no meaning, just as Iman without Islam has no merit. Allah says in the Holy Qur'an:

"And do not say to anyone who offers you peace: 'You are not a believer.'" (4:94)

This verse proves that we must treat one according to one's outward semblance. If anyone says, "There is no god but Allah, and Muhammad is the messenger of Allah," we should accept his Iman. This in itself is the best proof that Islam and Iman are identical terms.

Well-Wisher: This verse was revealed about a particular person, either Usama Ibn Zaid or Muhallam Ibn Jasama al-Laisi, who, it is said, killed a man in battle who had declared "There is no god except Allah." He was killed on the assumption that he had said these words in fear. But because you think it is in the general sense, we also regard all Muslims as being pure. Unless of course, we see them denying the fundamentals of religion.

But there is a difference between Islam and Iman because there are various classes of Iman. Imam Ja'far Ibn Muhammad As-Sadiq says in the narration of ‘Umar and Zubair: "For Iman there are conditions, ranks, and stages. Some of them are defective and their defect is apparent; some are of better value and are weighty; some of them are complete and have reached perfection."

Defective Iman is the very first stage of Iman through which a person passes into Islam from infidelity. Higher degrees of Iman are possible. Reference to them has been made in some of the hadith.

Among them is a narration in Usul Kafi and in Nahju'l-Balagha from the Commander of the Faithful and Ja'far Ibn Muhammad As-Sadiq who said: "Allah has divided Iman into seven classes which consist of goodness, truthfulness, conviction of the heart, submission to the will of Allah, loyalty, knowledge, and forbearance.

These seven qualities have been unequally distributed among human beings. One who completely possesses all these qualities is a perfect believer. Hence, Islam is in the first category of Iman, in which there is only verbal declaration of belief in the prophethood of Muhammad and the unity of Allah. Iman has not entered such person's heart. The Prophet of Allah told a group of his people: 'O people! You are among those who have accepted Islam with your tongue, but not yet with your heart.'"

Obviously Islam and Iman are different. But we are not required to probe the hearts of others. I said last night that the sign of a believer is his deeds. But we have no right to make inquiries about the actions of Muslims. We are compelled, however, to indicate the characteristics of Iman, so that those who are immersed in sleep may be inspired to perform their duties.

Thus they will be aware of the reality of Iman and will know that salvation in the hereafter will come only through performing good deeds, as the hadith says: "Iman means acceptance with the tongue, conviction in the heart, and performance with our limbs." Acceptance with the tongue and conviction in the heart are the preface to action.

Of course we know that this nasty world is only a preface to the next world. The way of salvation for such a man is closed in the hereafter unless he becomes a man of good deeds here. Allah Almighty says in the Holy Qur'an:

"I swear by the declining time, surely man is in loss, Except those who believe and do good...." (103:1-3)

In short, according to the Holy Qur'an, piety is the root of Iman. And if one has no good deeds to his credit, his verbal acknowledgement or conviction at heart will still leave him far from Iman. If it is true that we should consider anyone a Muslim who says, "There is no god but Allah and Muhammad is the messenger of Allah," why do you regard the Shi’as as infidels?

Certainly Shi’as believe in the unity of Allah, the prophethood of Muhammad, one Qibla, one Book. They perform all obligatory acts, observe prescribed fasts, go on the pilgrimage, pay khums and zakat (religious taxes), believe in bodily resurrection, and the Day of Reckoning.

Isn't it you who cause disunity among Muslims? You keep millions of Muslims separated from you and call them infidels although you have not the smallest evidence to support such charges. You do not recognize that these are the devices of enemies who want to create discord among Muslims by means of such lies. The fact is that we have no differences in the fundamentals of our belief except the Imamate and vicegerency. And what if there were differences in the practices of the faith?

Such differences exist among your own four schools of law, and they are more serious than those between us. (It would not be proper now to point out the differences between Hanafis and Malikis or between Shafi'is and Hanbalis.)

In my opinion you have not the slightest evidence to establish the polytheism or infidelity of Shi’as. The only unpardonable fault of the Shi’as, according to what the Kharijis and Nasibis have propagated by means of the Umayyads, is that the Shi’as do not misinterpret the traditions.

They do not give people like Abu Huraira, Anas, and Samura a place between the Holy Prophet and ourselves. Even your own jurists and your own great Caliphs condemned them as liars.

The greatest fault ascribed to the Shi’as is that they follow the progeny of the Prophet, ‘Ali and the twelve Imams, and not the four Imams. But you have no evidence from the Prophet to show that Muslims must follow the Ash'aris or Mu'tazalis in the fundamentals and Maliki, Hanafi, Hanbali or Shafi'is in the articles of practice.

On the other hand, there are innumerable instructions from the Prophet telling us that the progeny and Ahlul Bayt of the Prophet are the equals of the Holy Qur'an, and that the community should attach themselves to them.

Among these hadith are the hadith Thaqalain, hadith al-Safina, hadith al-Bab al-Hitta. Can you quote a single hadith in which the Holy Prophet said that his people after him should follow Abu'l-Hasan Ash'ari and Wasil Ibn Ata, etc. in the fundamentals and one of the four individuals - Malik Ibn Anas, Ahmad Ibn Hanbal, Abu Hanifa, or Muhammad Ibn Idris Shafi'i?

Sheikh Sulayman Balkhi Hanafi in his Yanabiu'l-Mawadda, chapter IV, reports from Fara'id Hamwaini quoting from Ibn Abbas that the Holy Prophet said to the Commander of the Faithful: "O ‘Ali! I am the city of knowledge and you are its gate. No one can enter the city without having first entered the gate.

He is a liar who claims to love me while he is your enemy because you are from me, and I am from you. Your flesh is my flesh, your blood is my blood, your soul is my soul, your appearance is my appearance. Blessed is the man who obeys you, woe be to one who disobeys you. Your friend is fortunate, and your enemy is in loss. One who is with you is successful, and one who is aloof from you is lost. After me, you and all the Imams in your progeny are like the ark of Noah: whoever boards it will be saved and whoever refuses to board it will be drowned. Their (the Imams') likeness is like that of the stars: when a star sets, another rises. This order will continue until the day of judgement."

It has been clearly narrated in the hadith al-Thaqalain (acknowledged by both the sects) that "If you are attached to the Ahlul Bayt, never, never shall you be misled." Even the fanatical Ibn Hajar Makki records his findings in his Sawa'iq Muhriqa, chapter 2 Sub-chapter, 1, page 92, in connection with the verse of the Holy Qur'an:

"And stop them, for they shall be questioned." (37:24)

And Sheikh Sulayman Balkhi Hanafi has also quoted from Sawa'iq in his Yanabiu'l-Mawadda, chapter 95, page 296, (printed in Istanbul) saying that this hadith has been narrated in different ways. Ibn Hajar says: "Verily, the hadith of Attachment to Two Great Things (Thaqalain) has been narrated in different ways. It has been narrated by more than 25 companions of the Holy Prophet."

Ibn Hajar says regarding the above Qur'anic verse that on the Day of Judgement, the people will be questioned about the Wilaya of ‘Ali and the descendants of the Prophet.

He writes that according to some sources, this hadith was narrated on the occasion of 'Arafa, and some say it was narrated when the Prophet was on his death bed with his apartment full of his Companions. Others say that it was included in his last address after his final Hajj.

Ibn Hajar gives his opinion regarding the different occasions of this hadith: "There is no inconsistency in the possibility that the Prophet, in his desire to show the glory of Qur'an and his Holy descendants, repeated this hadith on these and other different occasions.

It is reliably reported that the Prophet said: 'I leave among you two great things: if you follow them, you will never be misled. And these two are the Book of Allah (Qur'an) and my Ahlul Bayt.'"

Tabrani has reported this hadith with this addition: "I question you about these two: the Holy Qur'an and the Ahlul Bayt, so do not try to outstrip them. Otherwise, you will be destroyed. Do not disregard them, otherwise you will be ruined. Do not try to teach them, for they know better than you."

Even the fanatical Ibn Hajar, after quoting from Tabrani and others, writes: "The Prophet called the Qur'an and his progeny, 'two great things' because these two are so weighty and dignified in every aspect." The Prophet also said: "I praise Allah who has filled the hearts of my Ahlul Bayt with wisdom." And the Prophet also said in a hadith referred to earlier: "....and never try to teach them (my progeny) anything since they are the most learned of you all. Consider them superior to all your ulama’ because Allah has created them pure and has introduced them to the Community with supernatural powers and innumerable other merits."

There is one point in the hadith which stresses attachment to the Ahlul Bayt: namely, that the successive generations of the Ahlul Bayt, will not be severed until the Day of Judgement. It is astonishing that some people admit that the members of the Ahlul Bayt possess great learning but violate the Prophet's orders and take as their religious leaders those who had no right of preference. Can you or we change the Holy Qur'an? Can we select any other book?

Sayyid: No, never. This is the Prophet's trust, a divine message, and the greatest source of guidance.

Well-Wisher: May God Bless you! You have spoken the truth. When we cannot change the Holy Qur'an and replace it with another book, the same principle must be followed regarding those who are the equals of the Holy Qur'an. So, according to which principle were those people who did not belong to the Prophet's progeny allowed to supersede his progeny?

I want a simple answer to this question so that we may know whether the three Caliphs - Abu Bakr, ‘Umar, and Uthman - belonged to the Ahlul Bayt of the Prophet, and were included in the hadith we've mentioned (Thaqalain, Safina, Bab al-Hitta). If they are included, then we must follow them, according to the orders of the Prophet.

Sayyid: No one believes that any of the Caliphs except ‘Ali was included in the Ahlul Bayt of the Prophet. Of course, the three Caliphs mentioned were good companions of the Prophet.

Well-Wisher: Did the Prophet tell us to follow a particular individual or group? If one faction says that it is expedient to follow other people, should we obey the Prophet or follow expediency as determined by the community?

Sayyid: It is obvious that obedience to the Prophet is obligatory.

Well-Wisher: After the Prophet has instructed us to follow the Holy Qur'an and his progeny, why have others been preferred? Did Abu'l-Hasan ‘Ali Ibn Isma'il Ash'ari, Wasil Ibn Ata, Malik Ibn Anas, Abu Hanifa, Muhammad Ibn Idris Shafi'i, and Ahmad Ibn Hanbal belong to the progeny of the Prophet or the Commander of the Faithful, ‘Ali and his eleven descendants?

Sayyid: Obviously, no one ever said that these people belonged to the Prophet's progeny, but they were notable jurists and pious men of the community.

Well-Wisher: But according to the consensus of the community, the twelve Imams are the direct descendants of the Prophet. Your own ulama’ agree that they are the equals of the Holy Qur'an, and that obedience to them leads to salvation. Moreover, the Prophet said that they are the most learned of men.

In light of these emphatic injunctions, what reply will they give when the Prophet asks them why they violated his dictates and let others supersede his progeny? Is there any injunction from the Prophet that the Asharis or Mu'tazalis should follow their leaders or that the Malikis, Hanbalis, Hanafis, and Shafi'is should follow their leaders in the practice of the faith? Nobody so much as mentioned their names for 300 years after the death of the Prophet.

Only later, for political or other reasons which I am not aware of, they appeared on the stage. But the Imams and the descendants of the Holy Prophet were well known during the Prophet's own time. ‘Ali, Hasan, Husain and Fatima were known as Ahlul Kisa, that is "the people of the mantle."

They were the ones in whose praise "the verse of purity" was revealed. Is it proper to call those who follow ‘Ali, Hasan, Husain, and other Imams infidels? You have preferred those who did not belong to the progeny of the Prophet, to those who were ideal jurists.

What answer will you give in the divine court of justice when you will be asked as to why you misguided the poor people, why you called the followers of the Ahlul Bayt infidels and innovators?

You fault us because we are not the followers of the creeds of Hanafis, Malikis, Hanbalis, or Shafi'is. And yet you don't follow ‘Ali, despite the clear and vivid injunctions from Allah and the Holy Prophet that you should do so. Without good reason, you follow one of the four schools of law and have closed the doors of jurisprudence.

Sayyid: We rely on the four Imams in the same way as you rely on the twelve Imams.

Well-Wisher: Well done! What a good thing you have said!

The number of the twelve Imams was not specified by the Shi’as or their ulama’ many centuries after the death of the Prophet. Many hadith, narrated from both Sunni and Shi’as sources, prove that the Prophet himself specified the number of the Imams as twelve.

Among your many ulama’ who have recorded this fact is Sheikh Sulayman Qanduzi Hanafi, who writes in his Yanabiu'l-Mawadda, chapter 77, concerning the statement: "There will be twelve successors after me."

Yahya Ibn Hasan in his Kitabu'l-Umma has narrated in twenty ways that the Holy Prophet said that his successors would be twelve in number, and all of them would be from the Quraish. It has been narrated in three ways in Sahih. Bukhari, in nine ways in Sahih Muslim, in three ways in the Sunan of Abi Dawud, in one way in the Sunan of Tirmidhi, and in three ways in Hamidis Jam' al-Bainu's-Sahihain.

There are many of your ulama’, such as Hamwaini in Fara'id, Khawarizmi and Ibn Maghazili, each in his Manaqib, Imam Tha'labi in Tafsir and Ibn Abi'l-Hadid in Sharhe Nahju'l-Balagha, and Sayyid ‘Ali Hamadani Shafi'i in Mawaddatu'l-Qurba, Mawadda 10.

All have recorded 12 hadith narrated by Abdullah ibn Abbas, Ubaya ibn Rabi'i Zaid ibn Haritha, Abu Huraira and the Commander of the Faithful, ‘Ali. All of these narrate in different, but similar, words that the Prophet said that the number of his successors and Imams would be twelve, and that all of them would be from the Quraish.

Some hadith say that they would be from the Bani Hashim. In some traditions, the specific names of the twelve successors have also been given. Some give only the number. I have cited only one example out of the many hadith of your ulama’. Now can you cite a single hadith indicating that the number of his successors would be four? Even if there were one such hadith, we would accept it in preference to our own.

Regardless of the fact that you cannot quote a single hadith about your four Imams, there is a great difference between the Shi’as Imams and your Imams. Our twelve Imams are the divinely appointed successors.

Regarding your Imams, only this much can be conceded: they possessed the knowledge of fiqh (jurisprudence) and could interpret the Holy Qur'an and the hadith. Some of them, like Abu Hanifa, according to the admission of your own ulama’, were not included among narrators of hadith, jurists, or mujtahids, but were people who relied on their own opinion. This in itself is evidence of their lack of knowledge.

On the other hand, the Shi’as Imams are divinely appointed guides, ordained successors of the Holy Prophet. Of course in every age there are some highly learned jurists and scholars among the Shi’as who interpret the commands of Allah, keeping in view the Holy Qur'an, the hadith, and the consensus of opinion. We follow the verdicts of such ulama’.

Although your jurists were pupils of, and derived most of their knowledge from, the Shi’as Imams, you blindly follow your elders, those of their students who deviated from the bases of knowledge and relied on speculation.

Sayyid: How can you claim that our Imams derived benefits from your Imams?

Well-Wisher: It is an historical fact that Imam Ja'far Sadiq excelled all others in knowledge. The eminent Alim, Nuru'd-Din ibn Sabbagh Maliki acknowledges in his Fusulu'l-Muhimma that the Holy Imam was conspicuousLy known for his learning. He writes: "People derived knowledge from him in different spheres. People came from distant lands to receive instruction. He became well known in all the lands and the ulama’ narrated more hadith from him than from any other member of the Ahlul Bayt...."

A large group of the distinguished people of the community, like Yahya Ibn Sa'id Ibn Jarih, Malik Ibn Anas, Sufyan Thawri, Abu Ainiyya, Abu Ayyub Sijistani, Abu Hanifa, and Saba - all have quoted his narrations.

Kamalu'd-Din Abi Talha also writes in his Manaqib that prominent ulama’ and religious leaders have quoted hadith from the Holy Imam and have gained knowledge from him. Among them he mentions the names of those mentioned in Fusulu'l-Muhimma. Even enemies acknowledged the merits of the Holy Imam.

For instance, Maliki in his Fusulu'l- Muhimma and particularly Sheikh Abu Abdu'r-Rahman Salmi in his Tabaqatu'l-Masha'ikh write: "Verily, Imam Ja'far Sadiq excelled all his contemporaries. He had instinctive knowledge and expertise in religion, complete piety in the world, abstinence from all worldly desires, and deep wisdom."

And Muhammad Ibn Talha Shafi'i has recorded all these merits of the Holy Imam in his Matalibu's-Su'ul, chapter VI, page 81: "This learned man was of the distinguished leaders of the Ahlul Bayt. He was endowed with deep knowledge and was always in a state of remembrance of Allah. He often recited the Qur'an and gave its interpretation.

His companions gathered pearls from the sea of his knowledge. He divided his time in the day and night in different forms of devotion. A visit to him served as a reminder of the hereafter. To listen to his speech led one to adopt piety, and to follow his instructions led to the attainment of paradise. His luminous face signified that he belonged to the family of the Holy Prophet. The purity of his actions also showed that he was of the progeny of the Holy Prophet.

Many of the ulama’ have received hadith and gained knowledge from him. Among them were Yahya Ibn Sa'id Ansari, Ibn Jarih, Malik Ibn Anas, Sufyan Thawri, Ibn Ainiyya, Sha'ba and Ayyub Sijistani. All were grateful for their good fortune and privilege in learning from him."

Association of Shi’as'ism with Imam Ja'far Sadiq

Nawab: Shi’as believe in the twelve Imams. Why is Shi’as’ism associated with the name of Imam Ja'far Sadiq and called the Ja'farite sect?

Well-Wisher: Every prophet, in accordance with the divine command, appoints his successor. Muhammad declared ‘Ali to be his successor and ordered the community to obey him. But after the death of the Prophet, the caliphate was seized by Abu Bakr, ‘Umar, and Uthman.

During their caliphate, except during the earlier days, Abu Bakr and ‘Umar consulted ‘Ali on all matters and acted upon his counsel. Moreover, the great ulama’ and eminent scholars of other religions who came to Medina in search of religious knowledge were completely satisfied with their discussions with ‘Ali.

Throughout his life, ‘Ali continued to serve Islam in many ways. After his martyrdom, when the Bani Umayya became rulers, the imamate was cruelly suppressed. Imam Hasan Mujtaba, Imam Husain, Imam Zainu'l-Abidin, and Imam Muhammad Baqir were victims of the extreme cruelty of the Umayyads. All roads of approach to them were closed and except for a few of their followers, others could not benefit from their knowledge. Every one of them was murdered.

In the beginning of the second century after the hijra, however, under the heavy pressure of the atrocities of the Umayyads, the people rose up against them. Bloody fighting ensued between the Bani Abbas and Bani Umayya. While the Bani Umayya were busy defending their own ruler, they could not continue their oppression of the Ahlul Bayt. Accordingly, Imam Ja'far Sadiq emerged from the seclusion imposed by the Umayyads. He instructed people concerning religious laws.

Four thousand lovers of knowledge gathered around his pulpit and quenched their thirst from the Holy Imam's limitless ocean of knowledge. Some of his chief companions have recorded four hundred doctrines which are known as Usul al-Arba'mi'atin - meaning "The 400 Verdicts."

Yafi'iy Yamani wrote that Imam Ja'far excelled all others in his knowledge. Jabir Ibn Hayyan Sufi, wrote a thousand-page compilation, listing nearly 500 booklets based on the teachings of Imam Ja'far.

Some of the great Sunni jurists were also his students. Abu Hanifa, Malik Ibn Anas, Yahya Ibn Sa'id Ansari, Ibn Jarih, Muhammad Ibn Ishaq, Yahya Ibn Satid Qattan, Sufyan Ibn 'Uyayna, Sufyan Thawri - all benefitted from his immense learning. This great flowering of learning occurred at this time because the Bani Umayya obstructed the way of his ancestors, and unfortunately the Bani Abbas would restrain his descendants from speaking freely.

The reality of Shi’as'ism was unveiled and the merits of the Ahlul Muhammad were proclaimed by Ja'far Sadiq. Accordingly, this sect became known as "Ja'fari," but there is no difference between Imam Sadiq and any of the four Imams among his ancestors and the four Imams who preceded him or the six who came after him. All were divinely commissioned spiritual guides.

Although both friends and enemies recognized his excellence in knowledge and perfection in all merits, your predecessors refused to treat him as the most learned theologian and perfect man of his age. They refused to recognize his school of law along with the other four schools, even though he held the most exalted rank in learning and devotion, as admitted by your own ulama’. Since he belonged to the Ahlul Bayt of the Holy Prophet, he had a right to receive preference over others.

In spite of these factors, your fanatical ulama’ have shown such callous disregard for the progeny of their Prophet that your high-ranking theologians, like Bukhari and Muslim, would not even record hadith from this faqih (jurist) or the Ahlul Bayt.

Moreover, they did not quote hadith from any of the Imams or Sa'dat of the Holy progeny: Alawi, Husaini, Abidi, Musawi, Rizawi or from such ulama’ and jurists, like Zaid Ibn ‘Ali Ibn Husain, the Martyr, Yahya Ibn Zaid, Muhammad Ibn Abdullah, Husain Ibn ‘Ali, Yahya Ibn Abdullah Ibn Hasan and his brother Idris, Muhammad Ibn Ja'far Sadiq, Muhammad Ibn Ibrahim, Muhammad Ibn Zaid, Abdullah Ibn Hasan, ‘Ali Ibn Ja'far (Arizi), and others, all of whom were outstanding ulama’ and jurists and who belonged to the family of the Prophet.

On the other hand, they have quoted hadith from people Like Abu Huraira, whose character is known to you all, and from the great liar and forger, Akrama, the Kharijite. Your own ulama’ have confirmed that these men were liars and yet, they accept their hadith with all their hearts. Ibn Bayyit writes that Bukhari has quoted as many as 1,200 hadith from the Kharijis and Nasibis, like Imam Ibn Hattan, the admirer of Ibn Muljim, the murderer of the Commander of the Faithful.

The followers of Imam al-Azam (Abu Hanifa), Imam Malik, Imam Shafi'i and Imam Hanbal consider them pure Muslims though none of them belonged to the Ahlul Bayt of the Prophet, and every one of those sects is free to adopt his own ways though there are great differences in fundamentals as well as practices among them. How regrettable it is that they call the followers of Ja'far Ibn Muhammad As-Sadiq infidels!

And in all places dominated by Sunnis, including Mecca, about which Allah says, "Whoever enters it is free," they are not free to express their faith or to perform their prayers. So you good people should know that we Shi’as are not the cause of differences in Islam; we have not brought about disunity among Muslims. As a matter of fact, much of the disruption appears from your side. It is you who call 100 million Muslims infidels, although they are faithful believers along with you.

Hafiz: It is true, as you said, that I am not an unjust man. I admit that there have been outrages due to fanaticism. I would like to say without any pretension or flattery, that I have benefitted greatly from your talk and have learned a great deal.

But with your permission, let me say one thing, which is a complaint, as well as a defense of the worthy Sunni Sect. Can you tell me why Shi’as preachers and ulama’ like you do not check your common people from making statements which lead to unbelief?

The result is that others get a chance to use the word unbelief against them. A man may become the target of attacks because he has made an improper assertion. So you people should also not make the Sunnis the target of your attacks. The Shi’as utter things which affect the hearts of the Sunnis, who in turn ascribe unbelief to the Shi’as.

Well-Wisher: May I know which statements or actions lead to unbelief?

Hafiz: The Shi’as find fault with the chief companions and some of the pure wives of the Prophet; this is obviously an act of unbelief. Since the companions fought for years with the Prophet against the infidels, it is obvious that their services were free from all moral imperfection. They certainly deserve Paradise, particularly those who gained divine blessings. According to the Holy Qur'an:

"Certainly Allah was well pleased with the believers when they swore allegiance to you under the tree." (48:18)

There is no doubt that the Holy Prophet respected them. One who denies their excellence is certainly misled. The Qur'an says:

"Nor does he speak out of desire. It is naught but revelation that is revealed." (53:3-4)

Such a person denies the Holy Prophet and the Holy Qur'an, and one who denies them is undoubtedly an infidel.

Well-Wisher: I hoped that such topics would not be raised in this public meeting. My reply might reach the uninformed people, and they might spread adverse propaganda. It would be better if we discussed these matters privately. I will call on you some day, and we will solve this problem in private.

Hafiz: I am sorry, but many of our people for the past several nights have insisted that this topic be discussed. Your discussion is always reasonable. If you make a convincing reply, there will be no unpleasant repercussions. Otherwise, you concede the point to us.

Nawab: It is right. We all want the issue to be resolved here and now.

Well-Wisher: I only comply with your wish. I did not expect that an able man like you, after the complete explanations that I have given during previous nights on the question of infidelity would attribute infidelity to the Shi’as sect. I have already submitted complete proof that the Shi’as Ithna Asharis are the followers of Muhammad and his Holy descendants. You have raised several issues. I will reply to each of them separately.

Criticizing the companions does not mean infidelity

First, you said that Shi’as criticism of the Companions (sahaba) and some of the wives of the Prophet leads to infidelity. I don't understand the basis of this statement. If criticism is supported by evidence, it may be allowed. And even if one makes a false charge, this doesn't make him an infidel. He would be called a sinner, like one who drinks wine or commits fornication. And certainly every sin against divine law is pardonable.

Ibn Hazm Zahiri Andalusi (born 456 A.H.) says in his book Al-Fasl fi'l-milal wa'n-Nihal Part III, page 227: "If one abuses the companions of the Prophet ignorantly, he is not to blame. If he does it with knowledge, he is a sinner like other sinners who commit fornication, theft, etc. Of course if he curses them intentionally since they are the companions of the Prophet, he is an infidel because such behavior' amounts to enmity against Allah and His Prophet. Otherwise, simply abusing the companions does not amount to infidelity."

Accordingly, Caliph ‘Umar asked the Prophet to permit him to behead Hatib, the hypocrite, although he was one of the great companions, a muhajir (emigre), and one who took part in the Battle of Badr. For his abusing and attributing hypocrisy to him, ‘Umar was not called an infidel. So how is it possible that the Shi’as should be called infidels for abusing some of the companions, supposing for the moment that what you say is correct.

Moreover, the great ulama’ of your sect have rejected your point. Among them is Qazi Abdu'r-Rahman Shafi'i, who in his Muwafiq has rejected the reasoning of your fanatic ulama’ about the infidelity of the Shi’as. And Muhammad Ghazali writes that cursing and abusing the companions is never an infidelity; even cursing the two sheikhs does not constitute infidelity.

Mulla Sa'd Taftazani writes in Sharhe Aqa'id al-Nas'i that "Some intolerant people say that those who curse the Sahaba are infidels. It is difficult to accept that view. Their infidelity is not proved because some of the ulama’ favored them, overlooked their evil deeds, and made foolish pleas in their support. They said that the companions of the Prophet were free from all sin, although this assertion was contrary to facts. Sometimes they fought among themselves.

Jealously and love for power often moved them to commit evil actions. Even some of the prominent sahaba were not free from sinful actions. So if, on the basis of some evidence, one criticizes them, he should not be condemned for it. Some people, because they favored the sahaba, covered up their evil actions. But some did record their evil actions and censured them."

Apart from this, Ibn Athir Jazari, the author of Jam'u'l-Usul, has included the Shi’as in Islamic sects, so how can you call them infidels? During the period of the first caliphs, some people cursed the sahaba for their evil deeds. Nevertheless, the caliphs did not order them to be put to death for their infidelity.

Accordingly, Hakim Nishapuri in his Mustadrak, Part IV, pages 335, 354, Imam Ahmad Hanbal in his Musnad Part 1, Page 9, Dhahabi in his Talkhise Mustadrak, Qazi Ayaz in his Kitab al-Shifa, Part IV, chapter 1 and Imam Ghazali in his Ihya'u'l-Ulum, Volume II, report that during the caliphate of Abu Bakr, a man came to him and uttered such filthy language and curses against him that those present there were moved to indignation. Abu Barza Salmi asked the Caliph if he would permit him to kill the man because he had become an infidel. Abu Bakr said that it could not be since no one except the Prophet could pass such a judgement.

Caliphs themselves did not regard cursing them as infidelity

In fact, the Sunni gentlemen surpass even those whom they support. The Caliphs themselves heard abuses and charged people with infidelity or ordered them to be killed. Moreover, if cursing the sahaba is a cause of infidelity, why don't you call Mu'awiya and his followers, infidels. They cursed and abused the most perfect of the sahaba, ‘Ali Ibn Abu Talib. Being selective in this matter only shows that your aim is something else.

You wish to fight against the Ahlul Bayt and their followers! If cursing the sahaba is infidelity, why don't you charge Ummu'l-Mu'minin A’ysha with infidelity? All your historians have said that she frequently abused Caliph Uthman and openly declared: "Kill this old idiot, for truly he has become an infidel." If, however, a Shi’as says that it was good that Uthman was murdered because he was an infidel, you will instantly rise up against him.

But when A’ysha told Uthman to his face that he was na'thal and an infidel, neither the Caliph forbade her to do so nor did the sahaba reproach her. Nor do you find fault with her.

Nawab: Respected sir, what do you mean by the term na'thal?

Well-Wisher: Firuzabadi, who is one of your high-ranking ulama’, gives its meaning in his Qamusu'l-Lughat as "an old idiot." Also there was a Jew with a long beard in Medina with this name, with whom Uthman was compared. The commentator on Qamus, Allama Qazwini, also giving the same meaning, says that Ibn Hajar in his Tabsiratu'l-Muntaha, writes, "Na'thal, the Jew with a long beard, lived in Medina; he resembled Uthman very much."

Caliph Abu Bakr abused ‘Ali

Finally, if one who abuses the sahaba is an infidel, why did Caliph Abu Bakr, in the presence of sahaba and a gathering of Muslims, abuse the most exalted sahabi, ‘Ali Ibn Abi Talib? You praise the merits of Abu Bakr although you should condemn him.

Hafiz: Why do you falsely accuse him of this charge? When did Caliph Abu Bakr abuse Caliph ‘Ali?

Well-Wisher: Excuse me! We do not report anything until we have made complete inquiries. Perhaps you should consult Sharhe Nahju'l-Balagha, Volume IV, page 80, where it is recorded that Abu Bakr, taunting ‘Ali from the pulpit of the mosque, said: "He (‘Ali) is a fox, the evidence of which is its tail. He creates disturbances, minimizes the importance of big disturbances, and incites people to make uproar.

He seeks help from the weak and accepts assistance from women. He is like Ummi't-Tahal (an adulteress in the days of ignorance, as explained by Ibn Abi'l-Hadid) with whom the men of his family were fond of committing adultery."

Now you may compare Abu Bakr's abuse of ‘Ali with the criticism made by Shi’as against the sahaba. If abusing any of the sahaba amounts to infidelity, then Abu Bakr, his daughter, A’ysha, Mu'awiya and his followers should be labelled infidels. If it does not constitute infidelity, then you cannot call the Shi’as infidels on that score.

Caliph ‘Umar held that cursing a Muslim is not infidelity

Moreover, according to the verdicts of your own great jurists and Caliphs, those who curse the Caliphs are not infidels. Imam Ahmad Hanbal in his Musnad, Volume III, Ibn Sa'd Katib in his Kitab al-Tabaqat, Qazi Ayaz in his Shifa, part IV of chapter 1, report that the governor of Caliph ‘Umar, Ibn Abdu'l-Aziz, wrote from Kufa that a man had reviled and abused ‘Umar Ibn Khattab, the second Caliph. The governor sought permission to execute the man. ‘Umar Ibn Khattab replied that it was not permissible to take the life of a Muslim for abusing or cursing any Muslim excepting one who abuses the Prophet.

According to Abu'l-Hasan Ash'ari even calling Allah or Holy Prophet by evil names is not infidelity

Some of your prominent ulama’, like, Abu'l-Hasan Ash'ari and his followers, believe that if a man has faith in his heart and yet displays infidelity (by practicing Judaism or Christianity, for example) or rises up to fight against the Prophet, or calls Allah or the Prophet evil names, even then he is not an infidel. Faith means belief in the heart and since no one can be aware of another's heart, it cannot be said whether the apparent infidelity was from the heart or not.

The Ash'ari ulama’ have also discussed these issues in their books. Ibn Hazm Andalusi has written in detail about these points in his Kitabu'l-Fazl (Part IV, page 204, 206). In light of these facts what right have you to charge the Shi’as with infidelity?

Most companions abused one another but not regarded as infidels

In your authentic books, like Musnad of Ahmad Hanbal, Volume II, page 236; Sirat al-Halabiyya, Volume II, page 107, Sahih Bukhari, Volume II, page 74, Sahih Muslim, Kitab al-Jihad wa Asbabu'n-Nuzul Wahidi, page 118, there are many hadith indicating that most of the companions abused each other in the presence of the Holy Prophet.

But the Prophet didn't call these men infidels. He admonished them. (The narrations about these quarrels and mutual enmity are recorded only in the books of the Sunnis, not in Shi’as books).

In view of these remarks, I hope that you are satisfied that cursing or abusing any companion does not constitute infidelity. If we curse someone without any reason, we will be sinners, not infidels. And every sin is forgivable.

Holy Prophet of Islam knew all good and bad actions of sahaba

Second, you said that the Prophet respected and honored his companions. This is correct. In addition, all Muslims and men of learning agree that the Holy Prophet knew the good and bad actions of the people. He appreciated their good deeds.

Accordingly, he esteemed Nushirwan's justice and Hatim Ta'i's munificence. If he respected someone, it was for his good deeds. But appreciation shown to one for doing a good deed does not prove that his end will be fortunate.

Perhaps he will commit evil deeds in the future. If he does, upbraiding him beforehand is unjustified, even though it may be known that he will commit the sin in the future. ‘Ali knew of the sin and damned end of Abdu'r-Rahman Ibn Muljim Muradi and repeatedly told him that he was his assassin.

At one point he explicitly said: "I want him to live, but he is bent upon killing me, and this treacherous friend belongs to the clan of the Murad." This statement has been recorded by Ibn Hajar Makki towards the end of Part I of Sawa'iq, page 72.

Yet ‘Ali did not intend to punish him. Hence the hadith, which indicates that the merit of some particular action or statement, is not necessarily influential for all time to come.

Merit of being a party to Bai'at al-Rizwan

Third, you said that since the sahaba were at the Bai'at al-Rizwan and pledged their fealty to the Prophet, they were not subject to condemnation, but deserved praise because they are the referents of the Holy verse you cited [48:18].

Research scholars and ulama’ have commented extensively on this topic, saying that the divine pleasure of this verse refers only to the particular action, Bai'at (allegiance), and that it does not extend indefinitely.

You are aware yourselves that on the occasion of the Bai'at in Hudaibiyya, there were 1,500 people of the community present, of whom afterwards a number of people were included in the 'verses of hypocrisy'. Allah promised them Hell for ever.

Is it possible that Allah and the Prophet might be pleased with some people and that some of them might remain in hell forever? It follows that the divine pleasure was not due to the Bai'at al-Shajara (allegiance under the tree) alone, but was based on sincere faith and good deeds.

Those who believed in divine unity and Prophethood and pledged fealty deserved divine pleasure. They were declared to be the people of Paradise. But those who paid allegiance without faith, or who did not pay allegiance, deserved His wrath.

Obviously, the Sahaba performed commendable actions, and for their good actions (like allegiance under the tree) they should be praised. And even if a believer, whether he be a sahabi or not, commits a fault, he may be criticized.

Shi’as do acknowledge merits of sahaba

The Shi’as sect has always reported the good performances of the sahaba.

Moreover, it acknowledges the good performance even of those who have been the targets of sharp criticisms. For instance, it appreciates their allegiance under the tree, their migration with the Holy Prophet, taking part in battles, but it also criticizes and condemns their bad actions.

Hafiz: I'm surprised to hear you say that the Prophet's companions committed misdeeds. The Prophet declared each of them the guide and leader of the community. He said in a well known hadith: "Verily, my companions are like stars; if you follow any one of them, you will be guided." Your faith is distinctly unconventional, and we do not accept unconventional faith.

Hadith of "following companions" examined

Well-Wisher: I am constrained to discuss some aspects of this hadith before I venture to reply. Of course we will not talk about the source, correctness, or weakness of the hadith by way of criticism, for we would drift from the main point. Our discussion will focus on its meaning.

Those who were blessed with the honor of seeing the Holy Prophet, or who had narrated hadith from him, are called sahaba and ashab (companions) whether they were emigres (muhajir) from Mecca or those who helped them (ansars) in Medina or others.

The greatest misunderstanding among you is that, on account of your good will towards the companions, you consider all of them free from all faults although the fact is otherwise. Among the companions of the Holy Prophet, there were both good and bad people, of whom Allah and His Prophet were fully aware.

This can well be proved by the chapter Munafiqun (Hypocrites) and verses of some other chapters, like Tauba also known as Al-Bara'a (The Immunity) and Ahzab (The Clans), which were revealed in condemnation of companions who were hypocrites and sinners.

Your own prominent ulama’ have recorded some of the companions' faults and misdeeds in their authentic books. Hisham Ibn Muhammad Sa'yib Kalbi, one of the illustrious ulama’ of your sect has compiled a book on the faults and defects of the sahaba.

The hypocrites, whom Allah Almighty (in the Holy Qur'an) and the Holy Prophet have condemned, were two-faced people, who were Muslims in appearance only. Their hearts were stained with corruption and misguidance; and all of them were included in the companions.

So how can we have goodwill towards all the companions? And how can we be sure that following any of them will ensure salvation? Is it not a fact that in the affair of Aqaba there were companions who appeared to be faithful but were determined to kill the Holy Prophet?

Aqaba affair and design to kill Holy Prophet

Hafiz: Some ulama’ consider the Aqaba affair the invention of the Shi’as.

Well-Wisher: It is unkind of you to rely on the beliefs of some who have the mentality of the Kharijis and Nasibis. This affair is so clearly known to all that your own ulama’ have acknowledged it.

Please refer to Dala'ilu'n-Nabuwat compiled by Hafiz Abu Bakr Ahmad Ibn Husain Baihaqi Shafi'i, who is one of your eminent scholars and jurists. He has recorded the story of Batn al-Aqaba with an authentic chain of narrators; and also Imam Ahmad Ibn Hanbal, towards the end of v. V of his Musnad, reports from Abu Tufail, and Ibn Abi'l-Hadid writes in his Sharhe Nahju'l-Balagha, and it is known to all the ulama’, that the Holy Prophet on that night cursed a group of the companions.

Nawab: What was the matter, and who were those who wanted to kill the Holy Prophet?

Well-Wisher: The great ulama’ of both sects have written that on Muhammad's way back from the Tabuk expedition; fourteen hypocrites conspired to kill him. The plan was to push him from his camel into a precipice as he rode by night over al-Aqaba, a narrow passage through which only one man could pass. When they tried to execute their design, the Angel Gabriel informed the Holy Prophet of it. The Holy Prophet sent Hudhaifa Nakha'i to hide behind a hill.

When the conspirators arrived and talked together, he recognized them all. Of them seven belonged to the Umayyads. Hudhaifa came to the Holy Prophet and named all of them. The Holy Prophet ordered him to keep the plot secret and said that Allah was their guard. In the early part of the night, the Holy Prophet began the journey, followed by his army. Ammar al-Yasir led the camel from the front and Hudhaifa drove it from behind.

When they reached the narrow passage, the hypocrites threw their leather bags full of sand (or their oil-cans) before the camel making a huge noise, hoping that the frightened animal would throw the Holy Prophet down the steep cliff. But Allah Almighty protected him and the conspirators fled away in the crowd.

Were these people not included among the companions? Is it true that to follow them means the path of guidance?

When we talk of the companions of the Holy Prophet of Allah why should we shut our eyes to their faults?

The Prophet never bade us follow liars

I have referred in past nights to Abu Huraira's character, telling you that Caliph ‘Umar had lashed him because he used to quote false hadith from the Prophet. Was he not among the companions? Had he not falsely narrated a large number of hadith? Similarly, were not the other companions, like Sumra Ibn Junda, included among them? Can the Holy Prophet of Allah order the community to follow liars and forgers?

If this hadith is correct, that is, that if we follow any one of the companions, we will be guided, then please let us know whom we should follow, if two companions go in opposite directions. Or if there are two groups of them, each fighting against the other, or each contrary to the other, whom should we support?

Hafiz: First, the revered companions of the Prophet of Allah were never hostile to each other. And even if one opposed the other, we should assess the facts properly. The one who is purer and whose statement is more logical should be followed.

Well-Wisher: If, according to your statement, we made careful inquiries and found one of them pure and on the right side, then the opposite group of the ashab must be impure and on the wrong side. Then this hadith basically loses credence because it is impossible that disagreeing companions can both be sources of guidance.

Opposition of companions at saqifa

If this hadith is genuine why do you raise objection against the Shi’as because they followed a group of the companions like Salman, Abu Dharr, Miqdad, Ammar al-Yasir Abu Ayyub Ansari, Hudhaifa Nakha'i and Khuzaima Dhu'sh-Shahadatain, etc., to whom I have referred in past nights?

These men certainly did not pledge fealty to Abu Bakr. Therefore, of the companions who opposed each other, who was on the right side? Decidedly one was on the wrong side though the hadith you have quoted tells us that we may follow any of the companions and be guided.

Sa'd ibn ubaida's opposition to Abu bakr and ‘Umar

Was Sa'd Ibn Ubaida not one of the companions who did not pay allegiance to Abu Bakr and ‘Umar? All the Shi’as and Sunni historians unanimously hold that he went to Syria and lived there until in the middle of the caliphate of ‘Umar, he was murdered. So following him and opposing Abu Bakr and ‘Umar, according to this hadith is the path of guidance.

Talha and Zubair confront ‘Ali at Basra

Were Talha and Zubair not among the companions who pledged allegiance under the tree? Did they not oppose the rightful successor of the Holy Prophet, the acknowledged fourth caliph according to your own belief. Were not these companions responsible for the bloodshed of innumerable Muslims?

Now please let us know which of these two groups of companions who fought with each other was the truly guided one. If you say that, since both groups were obedient both were on the right side, you will be wrong. It is impossible to claim that opposing factions are both guided.

It therefore follows that the companions who were on the side of ‘Ali were definitely the guided ones. The group on the opposite side took the wrong way; and this is another proof to refute your statement that all those companions who were present in Bai'at al-Rizwan, under the tree, were rightly guided.

Among those who pledged fealty under the tree were these two, Talha and Zubair, who also fought against the rightful caliph. They actually fought against the one about whom the Holy Prophet had said:

"O ‘Ali, fighting against thee is fighting against me." Doesn't it amount to fighting against the Holy Prophet of Allah? So how can you say that the word Ashab or presence under the tree of allegiance is a guarantee for salvation?

Mu'awiya and 'Amr as used to curse and abuse ‘Ali

Mu'awiya and 'Amr As were companions and yet they fought against the successor of the Holy Prophet and cursed and abused ‘Ali at public meetings and even in the addresses given after Jum'a (Friday) prayers. They did so despite the fact, as reported by prominent ulama’ of your sect in their authentic books, that the Holy Prophet had repeatedly said, "He who abuses or curses ‘Ali, abuses me. He who abuses me, abuses Allah."

The learned Taftazani has elaborately dealt with this topic in his Sharhe Maqasid. He writes that since the companions were inimical to one another, some of them had deviated from the right path. Some of them, on account of envy and worldly aspirations, perpetrated all kinds of cruelty. It is evident that most of the companions who were not ma'sum (infallible) committed heinous acts. But some ulama’ because they favored them, have tried to cover up their faults.

There are many clear arguments to reject the hadith in question. There is no doubt that this hadith is forged. Many of your ulama’ have expressed their doubts about the authenticity of its sources.

Sources of hadith "My companions are like stars." are weak

After quoting this hadith in his Sharhu'sh-Shifa, v.II, p.91, Qazi Ayaz says that Darqutni in his Faza'il and Ibn Abdu'l-Birr say that this hadith is not authentic.

It is also narrated from Abd Ibn Hamid in his Musnad who quotes from Abdullah Ibn ‘Umar that Bazar refused to acknowledge the authenticity of this hadith. Also he says that Ibn Adi quotes in his Kamil with his own references from Nafi, and he from Abdullah Ibn ‘Umar, that the sources of this hadith are very weak. Baihaqi is also reported to have written that the matter of this hadith is commonly known but its sources are weak.

Among the sources of this hadith are Harith Ibn Ghazin, whose character is unknown, and Hamza Ibn Abi Hamza Nussairi, who was charged with lying. The weakness of the hadith is evident. Ibn Hazm also says that this hadith is a fabricated one and is to be rejected.

So in our argument we cannot rely on a hadith with such a weak chain of sources. Even assuming, however, that the hadith were correct, it could not be applied in the general sense; it would refer only to the devoted and pious companions who, in accordance with the command of the Holy Prophet followed the book of Allah and the Holy progeny of the Prophet.

Companions were not infallible

Having said this, if I criticize some of the companions, you shouldn't consider me unjust. They were after all, human beings and were likely to err.

Hafiz: We also believe that the companions were not infallible, but at the same time it is an accepted fact that all of them were righteous people. No fault was committed by them.

Well-Wisher: You claim too much if you insist that they were all just and free from faults since in the authentic books written by your own ulama’ they argue against it. They tell us that even some of the chief companions sometimes committed faults.

Hafiz: We are not aware of such records. Please let us know about them if you can.

Well-Wisher: Ignoring what they did during the days of ignorance (i.e. before the advent of Islam), they committed many sins after they had embraced Islam. It is enough to mention only one event by way of example.

Your own prominent ulama’ write in their authentic books that in the year of the conquest of Mecca (8 A.H.) some of the leading companions indulged in festive amusements and gaiety and secretly took wine.

Hafiz: This is definitely a concocted story. When drinking was announced to be unlawful, the respected companions did not so much as attend such parties, not to mention drinking wine.

Well-Wisher: It was never concocted by opponents. If it was concocted at all, it was done by your own ulama’.

Nawab: If there were such a party, the names of the host and the guests also must have been mentioned. Can you explain that point?

Well-Wisher: Yes, your own ulama’ have explained it.

Taking wine by ten companions in a secret meeting

Ibn Hajar writes in his Fathu'l-Bari, v.X, p.30, that Abu Talha Zaid Ibn Sahl arranged a wine party at his house and invited ten people. All of them drank wine and Abu Bakr recited some couplets commemorating some infidels who were killed in the battle of Badr.

Nawab: Have the names of the guests also been mentioned? If so, please let us know.

Well-Wisher: (1) Abu Bakr Ibn Abi Qahafa, (2) ‘Umar Ibn Khattab, (3) Abu Ubaida Garra, (4) Ubai Ibn Ka'b, (5) Sahl Ibn Baiza, (6) Abu Ayyub Ansari, (7) Abu Talha (the host), (8) Abu Dajjana Samak Ibn Kharsa, (9) Abu Bakr Ibn Shaghuls, (10) Anas Ibn Malik, who was 18 years old at that time and who served the wine. Baihaqi in his Sunan, v. VIII, p.29, has also narrated from Anas him self that he said that he was the youngest of them at that time and was serving the wine. (At this there was great commotion in the meeting.)

Sheikh: I swear by Allah that this story has been concocted by the enemy!

Well-Wisher: You are too much agitated and you have made a profane oath! But you are not totally at fault. Your studies are limited. If you had read more widely, you would know that your own ulama’ have written all this. Now you should seek Allah's pardon.

I am now constrained to explain facts according to the statements of your own ulama’. Muhammad Ibn Isma'il Bukhari in Sahih (commenting on Ayat al-Khamr, "verse concerning wine", in the chapter Ma'ida of the Qur'an); Muslim Ibn Hajar in his Sahih (Kitab al-Ashraba Bab al-Tahrimu'l-Khamr); Imam Ahmad Ibn Hanbal in his Musnad, v.XXX, p.181 and 227; Ibn Kathir in his Tafsir, v.XI, p.93; Jalalu'd-din Suyuti in his Durru'l-Mansur, v.II, p.321; Tabari in his Tafsir, v.VII, p.24; Ibn Hajar Asqalani in his Isaba, v.IV, p.22 and Fathu'l-Bari, v.X,p.30; Badru'd-din Hanafi in his Umdatu'l-Qari, V.X, p.84; Baihaqi in his Sunan, pp.286 and 290; and others have recorded these facts with detailed explanations.

Sheikh: Perhaps these things took place before wine was made unlawful.

Well-Wisher: What we gather from the commentary and history shows that even after the prohibitory verses some Muslims and companions continued taking forbidden wine.

Muhammad Ibn Jarir Tabari reports in Tafsir al-Kabir, v.II, p.203, on the authority of Abil Qamus Zaid Ibn ‘Ali, who said that Allah had revealed three times the verses prohibiting the use of wine. In the first verse He says,

"They ask you about intoxicants and games of chance. Say: In both of them there is a great sin and means of profit for men, and their sin is greater than their profit." (2:219)

But the Muslims did not immediately give up wine. When two men, being intoxicated, offered their prayers and talked nonsense, another verse was revealed, saying:

"O you who believe! do not go near prayer when you are intoxicated until you know (well) what you say." (4:43)

Even after this, the drinking of wine continued, but people did not offer prayers while intoxicated. One day a man took wine (according to the report of Bazar, Ibn Hajar, and Ibn Mardawiyya the man was Abu Bakr) and composed an elegy for the pagans who were killed in the battle of Badr.

When the Holy Prophet heard of this, he became angry. He went to the party and wanted to beat him. The man said, "I seek Allah's shelter from Allah's and His Prophet's wrath. Allah be my witness, I will not take wine again."

Then the following verse was revealed:

"O you who believe! Intoxicants and games of chance and (sacrificing to) stones set up and (divination by) arrows are only an uncleanness, the Shaitan's work; shun it therefore that you may be successful." (5:90)

Among the companions of the Holy Prophet there were good and bad men just as there are among other believers and Muslims. Those of them who tried to obey Allah and His Prophet reached an exalted rank. Those who followed their worldly aspirations were looked down upon by others. So those who fault the worldly companions do so with some reason.

The wicked actions of some of the sahaba which are recorded in the authentic books of your own ulama’ are also condemnable according to the evidence of the Holy Qur'an. The Shi’as condemn them on that basis. If there is a logical reply to this argument, we are ready to accept it.

Companions' breaking their pledge

Well-Wisher: It is astonishing that even after hearing their condemnable qualities (I have mentioned only a few out of a large number) you still ask me about their misdeeds! Now I should like to submit another example of their odious actions, which are recorded in all the books of both the sects: the breaking of their pledge. Allah has made it compulsory to keep one's promise. He says:

"And fulfill the covenant of Allah when you have made a covenant, and do not break the oaths after making them fast." (16:91)

And again Allah has called those who break a pledge the cursed ones. He says:

"And those who break the covenant of Allah after its confirmation and cut asunder that which Allah has ordered to be joined and make mischief in the land; (as for) those, upon them shall be a curse, and they shall have the evil issue of the abode. (13:25)

So it is clear both from the Qur'anic verses and from a large number of hadith that breaking a pledge is a great sin, particularly a pledge made with Allah and His Prophet. The seriousness of this offense was graver for the companions of the Holy Prophet.

Hafiz: What pledge with Muhammad did the companions break? How can it come under the target of the Qur'anic verses?

I think that if you consider the matter carefully you will admit that all these things are sheer concoctions of the Shi’as. The companions of the Holy Prophet were free from all such actions.

In the Holy Qur'an "Truthful Ones" refers to Muhammad and ‘Ali

Well-Wisher: I have told you repeatedly that the Shi’as are pledged to follow their leaders. Otherwise they cannot be Shi’as. The Holy Qur'an has given evidence of their leader's truthfulness. Your prominent ulama’, for instance, Imam Tha'labi and Jalalu'd-Din Suyuti in their Tafsir, Hafiz Abu Nu'aim Ispahani in his Ma Nazal mina'l-Qur'an fi ‘Ali, Khatib Khawarizmi in Manaqib, Sheikh Sulayman Balkhi Hanafi in Yanabiu'l-Mawadda, ch.39, narrating from Khawarizmi, Hafiz Abu Nu'aim and Hamwaini and Muhammad Ibn Yusuf Ganji Shafi'i in Kifayatu't-Talib, ch.62 - all of them have quoted from the history of the great scholar Muhaddith al-Sham that in the Holy verse

"O you who believe! be careful of (your duty to) Allah and be with the truthful ones." (9:119)

The “truthful ones” refers to Muhammad and ‘Ali. So the followers of this exalted family cannot be liars or forgers because he alone would tell lies or fabricate stories who has no true and strong reasons to fall back upon this cause.

What the Shi’as say has been written by your own ulama’. First you should object to your ulama’, who wrote these things. Had your ulama’ not written about the pledge-breaking of the sahaba in their authentic books, I would not have mentioned it in this meeting.

Hafiz: Who of the Sunni ulama’ has written that the sahaba broke the pledge? Simply vain talking won't do.

Well-Wisher: I am not merely talking. My argument is completely logical. The companions broke their pledge a number of times. They broke the fealty for which the Prophet of Allah had commanded them; the most important was the pledge and fealty at Ghadir al-Khum.

Ghadir Hadith and its nature

All the Shi’as and Sunni ulama’ acknowledge that, in the 10th of the Hijra year, the Prophet of Allah, returning from his last pilgrimage, gathered together all his companions at Ghadir al-Khum on the 18th of Dhi'l-Hijja. Some of those who had gone ahead were called back by order of the Holy Prophet and those who had lagged behind were awaited.

Most of your ulama’ and the historians and the Shi’as sources give the figure of 70,000 people there, and some of your other ulama’, for instance Tha'labi in his Tafsir, Sibt Ibn Jauzi in his Tadhkirat'u- Khasa'isi'l-Umma fi Ma'rifati'l-A'imma and others have written that there were 120,000 people gathered there.

The Holy Prophet ordered a pulpit to be prepared. He mounted the pulpit and delivered a long sermon, a greater part of which contained the virtues and merits of the Commander of the Faithful. He recited most of the verses, which had been revealed in praise of ‘Ali and reminded the people of the Holy rank of the vicegerency of the Commander of the Faithful. Then the Holy Prophet said, "O you people! Have I not the greater claim than you have on your lives?" The reference is to the Holy verse

"The Prophet has a greater claim on the faithful than they have on themselves." (33:6)

The crowd with one voice shouted "Certainly, O messenger of Allah!" Then the Holy Prophet declared: "Of whomsoever I am the maula, (master) this ‘Ali is his maula." After this he raised his hand and prayed to Allah. "O Allah, be you a friend to him who is a friend to him (that is, ‘Ali) and be an enemy to him who is an enemy to him (‘Ali). Help him who helps him and forsake him who forsakes him.

Then a tent was pitched by order of the Holy Prophet who ordered the Commander of the Faithful, ‘Ali to sit in the tent. The whole umma was commanded to offer bai'at (allegiance) to ‘Ali. The Holy Prophet said that he gave this instruction in compliance with the command of Allah. The first one to offer allegiance on that day was ‘Umar. Then Abu Bakr, Uthman, Talha, and Zubair followed suit, and all these people continued offering allegiance for three days (i.e., while the Holy Prophet remained there).

Hafiz: Can you believe that an event of such importance occurred as claimed by you and that none of the prominent ulama’ have reported it?

Well-Wisher: I did not expect such a statement from you. The Ghadir al-Khum affair is as clear as day and no one but a bigoted and obstinate person would invite ignominy by denying such an event. This important matter has been recorded by all your pious ulama’ in their authentic books. I should like to mention here some of the names of the authors and their books so that you may know that all your eminent ulama’ have relied on this hadith.

1. Imam Fakhru'd-Din Razi - Tafsir al-Kabir Mafatihu'l-Ghaib.

2. Imam Ahmad Tha'labi - Tafsir al-Kashfu'l-Bayan.

3. Jalalu'd-Din Suyuti - Tafsir al-Durru'l-Manthur.

4. Abu'l-Hasan ‘Ali Ibn Ahmad Wahidi Nishapuri - Asbabu'n- Nuzul.

5. Muhammad Ibn Jarir Tabari - Tafsiru'l-Kabir.

6. Hafiz Abu Nu'aim Ispahani - Ma Nazal Mina'l-Qur'an fi ‘Ali and Hilyatu'l-Auliya.

7. Muhammad Ibn Isma'il Bukhari - Ta'rikh, Vol.1, p.375.

8. Muslim Ibn Hajjaj Nishapuri - Sahih, Vol.2, p.325.

9. Abu Dawud Sijistani - Sunan.

11. Hafiz Ibnu'l-Iqda - Kitabu'l-Wilaya.

12. Ibn Kathir Shafi'i Damishqi - Ta'rikh.

13. Imam Ahmad Ibn Hanbal - Vol.4, pp.281&371.

14. Abu Hamid Muhammad Ibn Muhammad Al-Ghazali - Sirru'l-Alamin.

15. Ibn Abdu'l-Birr - Isti'ab.

16. Muhammad Ibn Talha Shafi'i - Matalibu's-Su'ul, p.16.

17. Ibn Maghazili Faqih Shafi'i - Manaqib.

18. Nuru'-d-Din Ibn Sabbagh Maliki - Fusulu'l-Muhimma.

19. Husain Ibn Mas'ud Baghawi - Masabihu's-Sunna.

20. Abu'l-Mu'ayyid Muwafiq Ibn Ahmad Khatib Khawarizmi - Manaqib.

21. Majdu'd-Din Ibn Athir Muhammad Ibn Muhammad Shaibani -am'u'l-Usul.

22. Hafiz Abu Abdu'r-Rahman Ahmad Ibn ‘Ali Nisa'i - Khasa'isu'l-Alawi and Sunan.

23. Sulayman Balkhi Hanafi - Yanabiu'l-Mawadda, Ch. IV.

24. Shahabu'd-din Ahmad Ibn Hajar Makki - Sawa'iq Muhriqa and Kitabu'l-Manhu'l-Malakiyya, particularly Sawa'iq, Part 1, p.25. In spite of his extreme fanaticism, he says: "This is a true hadith; its veracity cannot be doubted. Verily it has been narrated by Tirmidhi, Nisa'i and Ahmad, and if studied, its sources are sound enough."

25. Muhammad Ibn Yazid Hafiz Ibn Maja Qazwini - Sunan.

26. Hafiz Abu Abdullah Muhammad Ibn Abdullah Hakim Nishapuri-Mustadrak.

27. Hafiz Sulayman Ibn Ahmad Tabrani - Ausat.

28. Ibn Athir Jazari - Usudu'l-Ghaiba.

29. Yusuf Sibt Ibn Jauzi - Tadhkiratu'l-Khasa'isu'l-Umma, p. 17.

30. Abu ‘Umar Ahmad Ibn Abd Rabbih - Iqdu'l-Farid.

31. Allama Samhudi - Jawahiru'l-Iqdain.

32. Ibn Taimiyya Ahmad Ibn Abdu'l-Halim - Minhaju's-Sunna.

33. Ibn Hajar Asqalani - Fathu'l-Bari and Tahdhibu't-Tahdhib.

34. Abdu'l-Qasim Muhammad Ibn ‘Umar Jarullah Zamakhshari - Rabiu'l-Abrar.

35. Abu Sa'id Sijistani - Kitabu'd-Darayab Fi hadithi'l-Wilaya.

36. Ubaidullah Ibn Abdullah Haskani - Du'atu'l-Huda Ila Ada Haqqi'l-Muwala.

37. Razin Ibn Mu'awiya Al-Abdari - Jam Bainu's-Sahihi's-Sitta.

38. Imam Fakhru'd-din Razi says in Kitabu'l-Arba'in that the whole Community unanimously confirms this hadith.

39. Muqibili - hadithu'l-Mutawatira.

40. Suyuti - Ta'rikhu'l-Khulafa.

41. Mir Sayyid ‘Ali Hamadani - Mawaddatu'l-Qurba.

42. Abul Fath Nazari - Khasa'es'u'l-Alavi

43. Khwaja Parsa Bukhari - Faslu'l-Khitab

44. Jamaluddin Shirazi - Kitabu'l-Araba'in

45. Abdul Ra'ufu'l-Manavi - Faizu'l-Qadir fi Sharh-i-Jame'u's-Saghir

46. Muhammad ibn Yusuf Ganji Shafi'i - Kifayatu't-Talib, Part. 1

47. Yahya Ibn Sharaf-Nauvi - Tehzibu'l-Asma wa'l-Lughat

48. Ibrahim ibn Muhammad Hamwaini - Fara'adu's-Simtoun

49. Qazi Fazlullah ibn Ruzhahan - Ibtalu'l-Batil

50. Shamsuddin Muhammad ibn Ahmad Sharbini - Siraju'l-Munir

51. Abul Fath Shahristani Shafi'i - Milal wa'n-Nihal

52. Hafiz Abu Bakr Khatib Baghdadi - Tarikh

53. Hafiz Ibn Asakir abul Qasim Damishqi - Tarikh-i-Kabir

54. Ibn Abi'l-Hadid Mutazali - Sharhe Nahju'l-Balagha

55. Ala'uddin Samnani -Urwatu'l-Wuthqah

56. Ibn Khaldun - Muqaddima

57. Molvi ‘Ali Muttaqi Hindi - Kanzu'l-Ummal

58. Shamsuddin Abul Khair Damishqi - Asnu Matalib

59. Syed Sharif Hanafi Jurjani - Sharh-i-Mawaqit

60. Nizamuddin Nishapuri - Tafsir-i-Ghara'ibu'l-Qur'an

Hadith of Ghadir related by Tabari, ibn Iqda and ibn Haddad

I have related the sources I could remember. But more than three hundred of your prominent ulama’ have narrated the hadith of Ghadir, the verses of baligh (preaching), kamalu'd-Din (perfection of religion), and the talk in the courtyard of the mosque, on the authority of more than one hundred companions of the Holy Prophet. If I were to relate the names of all these chroniclers, it would form a complete book. This much, however, is sufficient to prove that the hadith is unanimously accepted as true.

Some of your great ulama’ have written books on this topic. For instance, the well known commentator and historian of the fourth century hijri, Abu Ja'far Muhammad Ibn Jarir Tabari (died 310 A.H.), gives complete details of the hadith of Ghadir in his book Kitabu'l-Wilaya and has narrated it through seventy five chains of transmission.

Hafiz Abu'l-Abbas Ahmad Ibn Sa'id Abdu'r-Rahman Al-Kufi, popularly known as Ibn Iqda (died 333 A.H.), narrated this Holy hadith in his book Kitabu'l-Wilaya through 125 chains on the authority of 125 companions of the Holy Prophet.

Ibn Haddad Hafiz Abu'l-Qasim Haskani (died 492 A.H.), in his Kitabu'l-Wilaya, has narrated in detail the event of Ghadir along with the revelation of the verses of the Qur'an. In short, all your accredited scholars and high-ranking ulama’ (except a small number of fanatical opponents), quote the origin of this hadith from the Holy Prophet, who declared ‘Ali his vicegerent on the 18th of Dhu'l-Hijja in the year of his last pilgrimage.

It is also a fact that the Caliph ‘Umar was the first among the companions to express his pleasure on this occasion. Seizing ‘Ali by the hand, he said: "Congratulations to you, ‘Ali! This morning has brought you a great blessing. You have become my maula (master) and the maula (master) of all believing men and believing women."

Gabriel's advice to ‘Umar

The Shafi'i jurist, Mir Sayyid ‘Ali Hamadani of the eighth-century hijri, one of the reliable scholars of your sect, writes in his book Mawaddatu'l-Qurba, Mawadda V that a large number of the companions have quoted Caliph ‘Umar in different places as having said: "The Prophet of Allah had made ‘Ali the master, the chief and the leader of the nation.

He announced in a public gathering that he (‘Ali) was our maula (master). After praying for his friends and cursing his enemies, he said O Allah! You are my witness. (That is, 'I have completed my duty of prophethood.')

On this occasion a handsome and sweet smelling youth was sitting beside me. He said to me, 'Verily, the Prophet of Allah has bound with a covenant which none but a hypocrite would break. So ‘Umar! Eschew breaking it.'

I told the Prophet of Allah that when he was speaking to the crowd, a handsome, sweet smelling youth was sitting beside me and that he told me such a thing. The Holy Prophet said, ' He was not of the progeny of Adam, but was Gabriel, (who had appeared in that form). He wanted to stress the point which I had announced about ‘Ali.'"

Now I should like to seek justice from you, was it proper for them to break the firm covenant with the Prophet of Allah within two months, to go back on their pledge of sacramental allegiance to ‘Ali, to set fire to his house, to draw swords against him, to insult him, to drag him to the mosque to force his allegiance?

Hafiz: I did not expect that a respectable and cultured Sayyid like you would attribute worldliness to the companions of the Holy Prophet. The Holy Prophet declared them the source of guidance for the Community when he said: "My companions are like stars; if you follow any one of them, you will be guided."

Hadith of "Following Companions" is unauthentic

Well-Wisher: First I should like you not to repeat the same thing time and again. You have just argued from the same hadith and I have given you its reply. The companions, like all others, were fallible. So when it is proved that they were not infallible, why should one wonder if, with proper evidence, worldliness is attributed to them?

Second, in order to clear your mind, I will again give you a reply, so that you may not rely on such hadith in the future. According to the research of your own eminent ulama’, this hadith is not reliable, as I have stated earlier.

Qazi Ayaz Maliki quotes from your own prominent ulama’ that since the narrators of this hadith include the names of the ignorant and uninformed Harith Ibn Qazwin and Hamza Ibn Abi Hamza Nasibi, who have been found to be liars; this hadith is not worth reporting. Also, Qazi Ayaz, in his Sharh al-Shifa and Baihaqi in his Kitab, have declared that this hadith is forged and have regarded its source as unreliable.

Some of companions were slaves to their wishes and turned against truth

Third, I never said anything rude; I say only what your own ulama’ have written. I advise you to read Fazil Taftazani's Sharh al-Maqasid, in which he states clearly that there are many instances of hostility among the Companions, which shows that some of them had become sinners and tyrants. So we see that people are not to be honored merely because they were companions of the Prophet. Real honor lies in their deeds and character.

If they did not belong to the hypocrites but were obedient and faithful to the Holy Prophet they are certainly to be revered and respected. We would apply the dust of their feet to our eyes.

So, you men of justice, do you claim that the many hadith in your own reliable books concerning fighting against Amiru'l-Mu'minin ‘Ali (such as the Holy Prophet saying: "fighting against ‘Ali is fighting against me," are all baseless? Or do you admit that these hadith are perfectly authentic?

Are they not recorded with reliable sources in the books of your own distinguished ulama’? We need not mention that these hadith are recorded by Shi’as ulama’ with perfect unanimity of opinion in all their books.

If you accept these hadith, you must acknowledge that many of the companions were transgressors and sinners, as was Mu'awiya. ‘Umar Ibn As, Abu Huraira, Samra Ibn Jundab, Talha, Zubair all of whom rose to fight against ‘Ali in fact rose against the Holy Prophet himself.

And since they fought against the Prophet, they certainly deviated from the right path. So, if we said that some of the companions were slaves to their desires, we were not wrong, because what we said was true. Besides this, we are not alone in holding that some of the companions were sinners, tyrants, and transgressors. We base our stand on the authority of your own great ulama’.

Imam Ghazali’s view about companions breaking the pledge taken on the day of Ghadir al-Khum

If you study Sirru'l-Alamin, compiled by Abu Hamid Muhammad Ibn Muhammad Ghazali Tusi, you would never object to what I say. I am, however, compelled to quote a portion of his fourth treatise in support of my statement.

He says: "Proof and reasoning became brighter, and there is unanimous accord among Muslims concerning the text of the address on the day of 'Ghadir al-Khum' that the Holy prophet said: 'Of whomsoever I am maula (master), ‘Ali is his maula (master).' Then ‘Umar immediately said, 'Congratulations to you, congratulations to you, O Abu'l-Hasan! You are my master and also the master of all faithful men and women.'"

This sort of congratulation clearly indicates the acknowledgment of the Holy Prophet's order, and acceptance of the leadership and caliphate of ‘Ali. But later on they were overpowered by their worldly desires. Love for power and authority deprived them of compassion. They took it upon themselves to appoint a caliph at Saqifa al-Bani Sa'dat. They wanted to raise the flag of their own ascendancy and to conquer territory so that their names might be preserved in history.

They were intoxicated with lust for power. They ignored the injunctions of the Holy Qur'an, and the orders of the Holy Prophet. They sold their religion for this world. What a bad bargain they made with Allah! When the Holy Prophet was on his death bed he asked for pen and ink so that he could clarify the issue of succession. (May God forgive my saying it), But ‘Umar said: "Leave this man. He is talking nonsense."

So when the Holy Qur'an and the hadith could not help them, they relied upon Ijma (consensus). But this is also void because Abbas, his descendants, ‘Ali, his wife and their descendants did not associate themselves with those who offered allegiance to Abu Bakr.

Similarly, the Saqifa men also refused allegiance to the Khazraji, and the Ansars rejected them also. Respected people! Please remember, the Shi’as do not claim anything except what your own fair ulama’ claim. But since you hate us, you find fault with what we say, however reasonable it might be. But you never criticize your own ulama’ as to why they have written such things although they have in fact revealed the truth and have stamped these realities on the pages of history.

Sheikh: Sirru'l-Alamin was not written by Imam Ghazali. His position was too lofty for him to write such a book, and notable ulama’ do not believe that this book was written by him.

Sirru'l-Alamin is Imam Ghazali's book

Well-Wisher: Many of your own ulama’ have admitted that this book was written by Imam Ghazali. Yusuf Sibt Ibn Jauzi was careful in his references to other scholars (and was also a fanatic in his religion).

In his Tadhkira Khawasu'l-Umma, p. 36, he argues from the same statement of Imam Ghazali in his Sirru'l-Alamin and quotes the same passage which I have quoted. Since no comments have been made regarding it, it shows first that he acknowledges this book to be written by Imam Ghazali.

Second, he also agrees with his views, which I have briefly cited, although he himself cited them in detail. If he had not agreed with them he would have commented on them. But of course your fanatical ulama’ when they come across such statements of prominent scholars and find themselves unable to reject them logically, either say that the book was not written by that author, or that it was an invention of the Shi’as. Or they sometimes even go so far as to say that these just men were all sinners and infidels.

Reference to ibn Iqda's status

There is evidence that many of your distinguished ulama’ were persecuted simply because they spoke the truth. Fanatical ulama’ and uninformed people of your sect considered it unlawful to read nonconformist books. The authors of such works were even put to death as was Hafiz Ibn Iqda Abu'l-Abbas Ahmad ibn Muhammad Ibn Sa'id Hamadani who died 303 A.H. He was one of your prominent ulama’. Many notable scholars of your own sect, like Dhahabi and Yafi'i, have acknowledged him and said that he had learned 300,000 hadith with their sources and that he was a man of great piety.

At public gatherings in Kufa and Baghdad in the third century A.H., he openly narrated the failings of the Sheikhs (Abu Bakr and ‘Umar.) People therefore called him Rafizi and refrained from quoting hadith from him. Ibn Kathir Dhahabi and Yafi'i write about him: "Sheikh Ibn Iqda sat in the Basra Mosque (a famous Mosque between Baghdad and Kazimain) and narrated the defects and shortcomings of the Sheikhs (Abu Bakr and ‘Umar) to the people.

For this reason the hadith reported by him have been rejected. Otherwise there is no doubt about his being a true and pious man." Al-Khatib Baghdadi also has praised him in his Ta'rikh but in the end he says: "Since he described the defects and failings of the Sheikhs, he was a Rafizi."

So you people should not be under the impression that it is only the Shi’as who expose the truth of these issues. Your own great ulama’ like Imam Ghazali and Ibn Iqda used to point out the flaws in the chief companions.

Reference to Tabari's death

In every era of history there have been many instances of ulama’ who have been tortured or persecuted on account of their speaking or writing the truth. For instance the well known commentator and historian Muhammad Ibn Jarir Tabari, who was the pride of your ulama’, died in 310 A.H. in Baghdad.

But because the authorities feared a civil disturbance, they refused to allow his coffin to be taken out during the day. Perforce he was laid to rest in his own house during the night.

Nisa'i's murder

Another instance of persecution was Imam Abdu'r-Rahman Ahmad Ibn ‘Ali Nisa'i's murder. He was a dignified man and is regarded as one of the Imams of Sahih Sitta (Six Authentic Books). He belonged to the high-ranking ulama’ of your sect in the 3rd century A.H.

When he reached Damascus in 303 A.H., he saw that, because of the Bani Umayya, the residents of that place openly abused the name of Amiru'l-Mu'minin ‘Ali Ibn Abi Talib after every ritual prayer, particularly in the address of congregational prayers.

He was much grieved to see this and he decided to collect all the hadith of the Holy Prophet in praise of Amiru'l-Mu'minin with the chain of their sources, all of which he remembered. Accordingly, he wrote a book, Khasa'isu'l-Alawi, in support of the exalted position and virtues of ‘Ali. He used to read to the people from the pulpit the hadith from his book the praises of the Holy Imam.

One day when he was narrating the high merits of ‘Ali, a rowdy group of fanatics dragged him from the pulpit and beat him. They punched his testicles and, catching hold of his penis, dragged him out of the mosque and threw him into the street. As a result of these injuries he died after a few days. His body was taken to Mecca where he was laid to rest. These events are the consequence of enmity and ignorance.

Now I beg your pardon that I have been driven a little far from my point. What I meant was that the position of Wilaya (Vicegerency) of Amiru'l-Mu'minin was not recorded by the Shi’as ulama’ alone. Your own prominent ulama’ have also narrated that the Holy Prophet in the presence of 70,000 or 120,000 people, raised ‘Ali's hands and introduced him as Imam (leader and guide) of the people.

Sunnis' doubt about meaning of “maula”

Hafiz: Of course there is no doubt about the occasion and the text of this hadith, but at the same time it does not have the significance which your passionate eloquence suggests.

Apart from this, there are some doubts regarding the text of this hadith. For instance, the word "maula," you told us, means, "one who has a greater claim on others," although it is known that in this hadith "maula" means "lover, helper and friend."

The Prophet knew that ‘Ali had many enemies, and so he wanted to exhort the people that whomsoever he loved or was friend or helper to, ‘Ali also loved him and was his friend and helper. The reason he demanded allegiance from the people was that he did not want them to cause ‘Ali trouble.

Well-Wisher: I think you sometimes unnecessarily adopt the habits of your predecessors. If you would consider the facts carefully, the truth of this issue would become clear.

Hafiz: What are the facts which prove your point of view? Please let us know.

Meaning of “maula” as "guide," "master" in light of the verse “Ya ayyuha'r-rasul baligh”

Well-Wisher: The first proof is the Holy Qur'an and the revelation of the verse: "O Apostle! deliver that which has been revealed to you from your Lord; and if you do it not, then you have not delivered His message, and Allah will protect you from the people." (5.67)

Hafiz: How can you claim that this verse was revealed on that day and for this purpose?

Well-Wisher: All your reputable ulama’ have accepted it: Jalalu'd-din Suyuti: Durru'l-Mansur; vol. II, p. 298; Hafiz Ibn Abi Hatim Razi: Tafsir al-Ghadir; Hafiz Abu Ja'far Tabari: Kitabu'l-Wilaya; Hafiz Abu Abdullah Mahamili: Amali; Hafiz Abu Bakr Shirazi: Ma Nazala mina'l-Qur'an Fi Amiri'l-Mu'minin; Hafiz Abu Sa'id Sijistani: Kitabu'l-Wilaya; Hafiz Ibn Mardawiyya: Tafsir al-Ayah; Hafiz Abu'l-Qasim Haskani: Shawahidu't-Tanzil; Abu'l-Fatha Nazari: Khasa'isu'l-Alawi; Mu'inu'd-din Meibudi: Sharh al-Diwan;

Qazi Shekani: Fathu'l-Ghadir, vol. III, p. 57; Sayyid Jamalu'd-din Shirazi: Arba'in; Badru'd-din Hanafi: Umdatu'l-Qari Fi Sharh al-Sahih Bukhari, vol. 8, p. 584; Ahmad Tha'labi: Tafsir Kashfu'l-Bayan; Imam Fakhru'd-din Razi: Tafsir al-Kabir, vol. III, p. 636; Hafiz Abu Nu'aim Ispahani: Ma nazala mina'l-Qur'an Fi ‘Ali; Ibrahim Ibn Muhammad Hamwaini: Fara'idu's-Simtain; Nizamu'd-din Nishapuri: Tafsir, vol. VI, p. 170;

Sayyid Shahabu'd-din Alusi Baghdadi: Ruhu'l-Ma'ani, vol. II, p. 348; Nuru'd-din Ibn Sabbagh Maliki: Fusulu'l-Muhimma, p. 27; ‘Ali Ibn Ahmad Wahidi: Asbabu'n-Nuzul, p. 150; Muhammad Ibn Talha Shafi'i: Matalibu's-Su'ul, p. 16; Mir Sayyid ‘Ali Hamadani Shafi'i: Mawadda V from Mawaddatu'l-Qurba; Sheikh Sulayman Balkhi Hanafi: Yanabiu'l-Mawadda, ch. 39.

In short, as far as I know, thirty of your leading ulama’ have written in their authentic books and in their own commentaries that this Holy verse was revealed on the day of Ghadir al-Khum in regard to Amiru'l-Mu'minin ‘Ali.

Even Qazi Fazl Ibn Ruzbahan, despite all his ill will and fanaticism, writes: "Verily it is proved in our authentic Sahih that when this verse was revealed, the Prophet of Allah holding ‘Ali by the hand, said: 'To whomsoever I am the maula (master), this ‘Ali is also his maula.'"

It is, however, very surprising the same perverted Qazi in Kashf Ghumma gives a strange report from Razi Ibn Abdullah: "In the days of the Holy Prophet we used to read this verse thus: 'O our Prophet (Muhammad) deliver what has been sent down to you from your Lord, that is, ‘Ali is the master of the believers. If you do not, then you have not delivered His message.'"

Also Suyuti in his Durru'l-Mansur from Ibn Mardawiyya, Ibn Asakir and Ibn Abi Hatim from Abu Sa'id Khadiri, Abdullah Ibn Mas'ud (one of the writers of Wahi - revelations) and Qazi Shukani in Tafsir al-Fathu'l-Ghadir narrate that in the day of the Holy Prophet they also recited that verse in that very way.

In short, the warning contained in this verse says: "If you do it not then (it will be as if) you have not delivered His message (at all)..." shows that the message which the Holy Prophet had been ordered to deliver was of great importance. It was in fact essential to the completion of Prophethood itself.

Therefore, the issue in question was surely the matter of the imamate, the conferring of authority on one who would guide the people according to the tenets of Islam after the death of the Holy Prophet.

Revelation of verse "This day have I perfected for you your religion." at Ghadir al-Khum

The second circumstance which proves my point is the revelation of the verse:

"This day have I perfected for you your religion and completed my favor on you and chosen for you Islam for a religion." (5:3)

Hafiz: But it is an admitted fact that this verse was revealed on the day of Arafa, and no one of the ulama’ has claimed that it was revealed on the day of Ghadir.

Well-Wisher: I ask you not to make undue haste in denying this fact.

Of course, I admit that some of your ulama’ have said that this verse was revealed on the day of Arafa, but a large number of your reputable ulama’ have also said that it was revealed on the day of Ghadir. Also some of your ulama’ hold the view that perhaps this verse was revealed twice, once at the close of the day of Arafa and then again on the day of Ghadir.

Accordingly, Sibt Ibn Jauzi says in his Khawasu'l-Umma, p. 18: "It is probable that this verse was revealed twice, once on the day of Arafa and once on the day of Ghadir al-Khum, just as the verse: 'In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful' was revealed twice, once in Mecca and then again in Medina."

Your trustworthy scholars, such as Jalalu'd-din Suyuti in Durru'l-Mansur, vol. II, p. 256 and Itqan, vol. I, p. 31; Imamu'l-Mufassirin Tha'labi in Kashfu'l-Bayan; Hafiz Abu Nu'aim Ispahani in Ma Nusala Mina'l-Qur'an Fi ‘Ali; Abu'l-Fatha Nazari in Khasa'isu'l-Alawi; Ibn Kathir Shami in Tafsir, vol. II, p. 41, following Hafiz Ibn Mardawiyya: Muhammad Ibn Jarir Tabari, scholar, commentator and historian of the 3rd century A.H. in Tafsir al-Kitabu'l-Wilaya; Hafiz Abu'l-Qasim Haskani in Shawahid-ut-Tanzil;

Sibt Ibn Jauzi in Tadhkira al-Khawasu'l-Umma, p. 18; Abu Ishaq Hamwaini in Fara'id-us-Simtain, ch. XII; Abu Sa'id Sijistani in Kitabu'l-Wilaya; Al-Khatib al-Baghdadi in Ta'rikh al-Baghdad, vol. VIII, p. 290; Ibn Maghazili Faqih Shafi'i in Manaqib, ch. XIV and Maqtalu'l-Husain, ch. IV, all have written that on the day of Ghadir al-Khum the Holy Prophet appointed ‘Ali by divine order to the rank of wilaya (Vicegerent).

He told the people whatever he was ordained to say about ‘Ali and raised his hands so high that the white of both his armpits was visible. He addressed the people thus: "Salute ‘Ali because he is the amir (lord) of the believers. The whole Community complied with his order. They had not yet departed from one another when the aforesaid verse was revealed."

The Holy Prophet was highly pleased with the revelation of this verse. So, addressing the people, he said: "Allah is Great, He who has perfected for them their religion and has completed His favor on them and is satisfied with my Prophethood and ‘Ali's vicegerency after me."

Imam Haskani and Imam Ahmad Ibn Hanbal have given the complete details of this event. If you, respected people, would leave behind your preconceived ideas on this matter, you would understand the Holy verse and hadith, which show that the word "maula" means "wali" (master) i.e., one having authority over all others.

If "maula" or "wali" did not mean "one who has a greater claim on others," the latter phrase "after me" would be meaningless. And this sentence, which the Holy Prophet repeatedly uttered from his sacred tongue, proves that "maula" and "wali" mean "one who has greater claim on all others," because he said that rank in particular was granted to ‘Ali after him.

Third, you might consider the circumstances. In that hot desert, where there was no protection for the travellers, the Holy Prophet gathered the whole umma. People sat in the shade of the camels, with their feet covered, in the scorching heat of the sun. In these conditions the Prophet delivered a long address, which Khawarizmi and Ibn Mardawiyya in their Manaqib, and Tabari in his Kitabu'l-Wilaya and others have narrated.

Does it make sense to think that the Prophet would require thousands of his followers to spend three days in the blazing desert to swear allegiance to ‘Ali merely to indicate that ‘Ali was their friend? In fact there was no one in the whole Community who did not already know the close association between the Holy Prophet and ‘Ali or had not heard about him (as I have already pointed out earlier). The revelation of the

Qur'anic verse in question for the second time, particularly in different circumstances and with such serious instructions that people might be put to great inconvenience and suspense, could not simply mean that they should be friends of ‘Ali. Either the Holy Prophet's performance was meant to indicate great significance or it was frivolous. And certainly the Holy Prophet is free from all frivolous actions.

It is reasonable to conclude therefore, that these arrangements were made not merely to indicate that people should befriend ‘Ali. The event, in fact, marked the completion of the Prophet's message: the establishment of the Imamate, the source of the umma's guidance after the death of the Prophet.

Sibt ibn Jauzi's view about the meaning of "maula"

Some of your reputable ulama’ have acknowledged that the primary meaning of "maula" is "master." Among them is Sibt Ibn Jauzi, who after giving ten meanings of the word in his Tadhkira al-Khawas, ch. II, p. 20, says that none of them except the tenth one corresponds with what the Holy Prophet meant to say.

He says: "The hadith specifically means obedience; so the tenth meaning is correct, and it means 'mastery over others.' Hence, the hadith means 'of whomever I am the 'maula' (master) ‘Ali is also his 'maula' (master).'"

In the book Maraju'l-Bahrain Hafiz Abdu'l-Faraj Yahya Ibn Sa'id Saqafi interprets it in the same way. He narrates this hadith with his own sources from his leaders, who said that the Holy Prophet, holding ‘Ali by the hand, said: "Of whomsoever I am 'wali' or master over himself, ‘Ali is also his 'wali' or master over himself."

Sibt Ibn Jauzi says, "The saying of the Holy Prophet that ‘Ali has authority or is the master over the selves of all the believers clearly proves the Imamate or vicegerency of ‘Ali and that obedience to him is obligatory."

View of ibn Talha Shafi'i about the meaning of maula

Muhammad Ibn Talha Shafi'i in his Matalibu's-Su'ul in the middle of Part V, ch. 1, p. 16, says that the word maula has many meanings, for instance: "master," "helper," "successor," "truthful one," and "leader." He then says that this Holy hadith furnishes an inner interpretation to the verse of Mubahala. (3.61)

In it Allah Almighty has called ‘Ali the 'self' of the Holy Prophet. There was no separation between the self of the Holy Prophet and the self of ‘Ali since He combined the two with the pronoun referring to the Holy Prophet.