A debate comes unexpectedly

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A debate comes unexpectedly

After two days, my friend unexpectedly arrived to inform me that one of the Shia scholars was expecting me for a debate concerning the Ahlus Sunnah and the Shia; which of the two is on the correct path. I could see that he was in a hurry. I wanted to confirm the matter and I asked him to tell me about what had happened. However, he only said: “Right now, there is a young man from the side of the Shia in front of the house waiting for us. There is no time for discussion now.”

I told him: This is not what we agreed upon. My admonition for you was that you should keep away from them. We did not agree that you would take me to them.

He replied: But you have to proclaim the truth! You need to expose their falsehood!

I told him: These people have perverted hearts. I surely know that they neither desire truth nor will they follow it if it is shown to them. Arguing with them is mere waste of time.

(But my friend insisted that I go with him saying that my debate with them would benefit him. So, I got dressed and went with them to the place of debate. We arrived there and I found myself in a large open square filled with people. It was like an academic symposium. At the front row of this courtyard was a man wearing a black turban and black robe. He was sitting on a sofa large enough to seat three people. Other people were sitting on the floor beneath him. I then realised that he was their leader who wanted to debate with me.)

The man stood up, welcomed me and made me sit beside him. He then started his speech thus:

We were discussing about the Imamah and how it is a fundamental aspect of the religion such that even the Prophets were not indifferent to it. It is a principle that should not be left for the generality of the people, to avoid differences in religion that can lead to mischief and corruption in the land.”

He then turned to me and said: Is it then reasonable that the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam should die and leave his ummah just like that without appointing for them a leader who would succeed the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam manage the affairs of the ummah and lead them to the land of safety?

Let me give you an example: Assume that a driver of a large bus that is full of people drove the bus from the beginning of a journey. He exerted all his energy to drive the bus throughout the desert until he arrived at the safe road. He then tired and wished to rest. Is it then reasonable that he should leave the bus there without appointing a skilled driver who would drive the bus to the land of safety? The answer is definitely no.

This then shows us that the matter of Imamah is a fundamental one that no Messenger should be indifferent to or leave for the masses to decide, thereby causing differences of opinions. Hence, there is no issue more important in the religion than Imamah; through which this religion can be preserved, differences can be averted and stability can be achieved.”

 

My response was in the following points:

One: All praise is due to Allah. Peace and blessings be upon the Messenger, his household and Companions. It is really shocking that in these days when people from all over the world are speaking and boasting about political, social and ideological freedoms they have achieved through principles such as ‘the right to elect their representatives in government’, we still see some of us citing logical reasons for necessity of ‘stipulating (and imposing) a leader’. I wonder how this argument can be logically supported, since it is fundamentally inimical to common sense.

The Muslim ummah is not a flock of sheep on which a shepherd must be imposed. This ummah is rather, by Allah’s blessing, the best of all nations. Allah honoured its sincere and believing members and made their affairs subject to mutual consultation among them. This is the perfect honour to the intellect with which Allah blessed the upright man who knows Allah, knows his religion and is aware of the welfare of his ummah.

When Allah describes the believers, He says:

وَ اَمْرُهُمْ شُوْرٰی بَیْنَهُمْ

And they (conduct) their affairs by mutual consultation.[1]

 

He further emphasised His honour for them by commanding His Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam to consult his followers. He says:

وَشَاوِرْهُمْ فِی الْاَمْرِ

And consult them in the affairs.[2]

 

The Messenger of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam is the keenest person when it comes to respecting the ummah’s right to choose whoever it deems suitable to lead it in matters of religious and worldly affairs, and whoever it sees suitable to lead it to safety.

That is why we find the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam leaving them without imposing any particular person on them because he trusted their ability in exercising their God-given right to choose the most suitable person to lead them. However, he taught his Companions radiya Llahu ‘anhum qualities that must be found in a suitable leader, and he alluded that these qualities are found in Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu, though he did not leave any specific instruction to appoint him as the leader after him.

The Messenger of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam was not a dictator who issued orders, imposed restrictions and rescinded people’s rights, abilities and their social, intellectual and political freedoms. He had great respect for the people and their rights.

Allah describes him as follows:

 

لَقَدْ جَآءَكُمْ رَسُوْلٌ مِّنْ اَنْفُسِكُمْ عَزِیْزٌ عَلَیْهِ مَا عَنِتُّمْ حَرِیْصٌ عَلَیْكُمْ بِالْمُؤْمِنِیْنَ رَءُوْفٌ رَّحِیْمٌ

Certainly there has come unto you a Messenger (Muhammad salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) from among yourselves. It grieves him that you should receive any injury or difficulty. He is anxious over you; for the believers he is full of pity, kind, and merciful.[3]

 

The keen observer of the Prophet’s salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam character will realise that in most cases his instructions in matters affecting the ummah are based upon divine revelation. In the absence of divine revelation, he would resort to consulting his Companions radiya Llahu ‘anhum. Since there is no explicit evidence on succession in the Qur’an that would necessitate appointing a successor, the kind and compassionate Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam respected the right and intellectual capability of the ummah without interfering in this matter as the emperors and monarchs would do.

Two: The example cited by the lecturer concerning the driver and the bus is a distorted example. It suggests that the Messenger of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam left his followers as a flock of sheep who were incapable of understanding hence they required a shepherd to guide them.

The fact is that the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam left his ummah such that they were the best nation in terms of knowledge, understanding and morality. He left them with the knowledge that there were among them hundreds of potentially qualified and unique leaders who could lead them to safety. He left them, having confidence in their ability to select their own representative who would lead them in upholding Allah’s law, perpetuating His religion and managing their own worldly affairs. And he was proved absolutely right.

The Muslims were unanimous in selecting the best one among them, Abu Bakr al Siddiq radiya Llahu ‘anhu to lead them. He took a decisive stand against the apostates and defeated them. No other person was capable of doing what Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu did. If not for him – after Allah of course – only Allah knows the effect the crisis of apostasy would have had on Islam and the ummah.

Three: The Messenger of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam could have made a specific stipulation on Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu and had he done so, the entire ummah would have agreed to his selection, but after the selection of Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu who would qualify to exercise this prerogative till the Last Hour?

Emphasising the necessity of stipulating a successor tantamounts to calling for changing the Islamic Caliphate to the rule of fatalism in which the ummah will be deprived of its rights under a religious disguise akin to the Christians during the dark ages.

The Messenger of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam however, through Allah’s blessing, left the ummah’s rights untouched and made the concept of shura (consultation) the basis for selecting the Muslims’ leader. That is how the religion of Islam, from its inception – and through Allah’s injunctions and prophetic teachings – affirmed these political, intellectual and social rights that became known to Western nations only after seas of blood were shed and after ages of darkness and oppression. Westerners today are bragging about these rights. If they had turned to the guidance of Islam, they would have found greater freedom and honour that confirms Allah’s saying:

وَلَقَدْ کَرَّمْنَا بَنِیْٓ اٰدَمَ

And indeed We have honoured the children of Adam.[4]

 

Four: If Imamah was a fundamental aspect of religion, whose occupier must be stipulated – and we certainly know that Islam is an everlasting religion that will abide till the Last Hour – is it then reasonable that the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam would leave unmentioned the names of those who would be the leaders of the Muslims till the Last Hour?! If we assume that he had mentioned their names, is it then logical that such all-important information might have escaped us?

Then if the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam had mentioned a particular person as his successor, will those who came after him also have the right to appoint their successors? This would have caused unthinkable corruption. As then the ummah would become coercively ruled like a flock of sheep.

Therefore, however much the rejecters of the truth try to support their argument logically, they would never be able to convince anyone but fools.

If the Messenger of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam had ( as you claim ) explicitly mentioned his successor, would it be reasonable to assume that all his Companions radiya Llahu ‘anhum disobeyed him and held a meeting after his death to select their own leader? We certainly deem the Companions radiya Llahu ‘anhum far above being disobedient to the Prophet’s salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam clear command. Since they are the ones whom Allah is pleased with. Allah described them as believers, righteous, truthful and sincere. He made them the best community ever raised up for mankind and made them the best companions any Prophet could have. Our belief is that they are too righteous to disobey the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam for in their desire to please Allah and His Messenger salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam; they fought against their fathers, brothers and sons for the cause of Islam. They abandoned the material pursuits of this world for the hereafter and dedicated their souls to Allah’s pleasure.

All evidence indicates that the matter of Imamah is not a fundamental of religion. It is rather a welfare issue: Allah has given the ummah the right to appoint whoever they deem fit to represent them in upholding the religion, caring for the interests of the Muslims and directing their political affairs.

The foundations of the religion are things that are successively and indisputably well-known. They are clearly defined in the Qur’an, and the Messenger of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam noticeably focused on them in the Sunnah. These fundamentals can be summed up as follows:

Belief in the Oneness of Allah, His exclusive right to be worshipped and actualisation of the meaning of La ilaha illallah (there is no deity worthy of worshipped except Allah).

Exclusive obedience to the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam and actualization of the meaning Muhammad Rasulullah (that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah).

Belief in Allah, His Angels, His Books, His Messengers and in the Last Day; and belief in taqdir – its good and the bad. These are the pillars of faith, without which ones belief is not valid.

Performing of prayer, giving zakat, observing fast in the month of Ramadan and performing hajj, if one is able to do so. These are the practical pillars of Islam.

One will realise that Islam lays great emphasis and strongly focuses on these foundations. As for the issue of Imamah, I could hardly find any text that explicitly mentioned that it is one of the pillars of the religion.

Their leader responded: The doctor – referring to me – has spoken extensively to establish his belief. The summary of his argument is: The Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam left the responsibility of appointing the leader after his death to his ummah and in order to actualise the concept of shura.

But this is not true. Since the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam did stipulate that ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu should become the successor after him. There is ample proof for this. Before I mention these proofs, I would like to call the attention of the doctor to an important matter: Why is it that whenever you mention the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam you always say blessings and peace of Allah be upon him’ without including his family in the invocation? This is undoubtedly an incomplete invocation. For the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam had taught us to invoke blessing upon him and upon pure members of his household.

(The square was filled with a loud roar when their shaykh said this and the audience said in unison: “O Allah, send blessings on Muhammad and on the family of Muhammad.”)

I said smilingly: “O Allah, send blessings on Muhammad and the family of Muhammad and the Companions of Muhammad.”

Their leader angrily said: “Where did you get the addition “and the Companions of Muhammad” from. The invocation on the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam which he had himself taught us is: “O Allah, send blessings on Muhammad and on the family of Muhammad.”

(A loud roar once again rented the air and the audience repeated in unison: “O Allah, send blessings on Muhammad and on the family of Muhammad.”)

I proceeded: The matter does not deserve this fanaticism and unreasonableness. It is true that Allah commanded us to invoke blessings upon the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam through His injunction:

 

اِنَّ اللّٰهَ وَمَلٰئِکَتَه یُصَلُّوْنَ عَلَی النَّبِیِّ ؕ یٰاَیُّهَا الَّذِیْنَ اٰمَنُوْا صَلُّوْا عَلَیْهِ وَ سَلِّمُوْا تَسْلِیْمًا

Allah sends His salat (graces, honour, blessings, mercy) on the Prophet (Muhammad salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) and so do His angels. O you who believe! Send your salat on (ask Allah to bless) him (Muhammad salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) and invoke peace upon him.[5]

 

The Ahlus Sunnah believe that the most complete invocation for the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam is:

 

اللَّهُمَّ صَلِّ عَلٰى مُحَمَّدٍ، وَعَلٰى آلِ مُحَمَّدٍ، كَمَا صَلَّيْتَ عَلٰى إِبْرَاهِيْمَ وَعَلٰى آلِ إِبْرَاهِيْمَ، إِنَّكَ حَمِيْدٌ مَجِيْدٌ، اللَّهُمَّ بَارِكْ عَلٰى مُحَمَّدٍ، وَعَلٰى آلِ مُحَمَّدٍ، كَمَا بَارَكْتَ عَلٰى إِبْرَاهِيْمَ، وَعَلٰى آلِ إِبْرَاهِيْمَ، إِنَّكَ حَمِيْدٌ مَجِيْدٌ

O Allah, shower mercy upon Muhammad and the family of Muhammad, just as You have showered mercy upon Ibrahim and upon the family of Ibrahim. Verily, You are full of praise and majesty. O Allah, send blessings upon Muhammad and upon the family of Muhammad, just as You sent blessings upon Ibrahim and upon the family of Ibrahim. Verily, You are full of praise and majesty.

 

It is regarded an essential part of salah.

Our love for our Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam and members of his household is undeniable, and only those whose vision is obscured can deny it.

Their leader cuts in: Where then have you got the addition “and his Companions” This invocation is a religious matter. We should not add to it from our opinions and desires.

I said: May Allah guide you! Allah commanded His Messenger salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam to invoke blessing upon his Companions radiya Llahu ‘anhum and we are emulating him in doing so. Have you not heard the saying of Allah:

وَصَلِّ عَلَیْهِمْ إِنَّ صَلٰوتَكَ سَکَنٌ لَّهُمْ

And invoke blessings of Allah for them. Verily, your invocations are a source of comfort for them.[6]

 

Therefore, if the Messenger of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam had been commanded to invoke blessing upon his Companions radiya Llahu ‘anhum we – his followers – have greater reason to emulate him in that.

(There was some consternation in the audience. They could not agree that the Companions radiya Llahu ‘anhum deserved invocation of blessings since, in the creed of the Shia, the Prophet’s salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam Companions radiya Llahu ‘anhum are considered to be apostates.

I calmed the situation with this statement: The lecturer had promised that he would bring various proofs that indicate that the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam specifically mentioned ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu as his successor. I hope that he would kindly mention the most prominent of these proofs and their sources.

I would also like to call the attention of the lecturer to the rules of debate that demand that proofs presented should be authentic, clear, straight to the point and decisive. They should be evidence that explicitly supports your assertion that Imamah is a fundamental of the religion, and a fundamental does not need any exercising of personal judgment or deduction to be clarified. It should rather be as clear as the sun – in light of its proofs.

Their leader: The first evidence is the hadith of “Ghadir Khum”. This hadith in mentioned in your authorised books. This evidence alone is enough to establish the fact that the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam explicitly appointed ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu as his successor.

(At this point, I requested him to let me comment on the hadith after he finished quoting it.)

He continued: When the Messenger salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam was coming back from his farewell pilgrimage, the following verse was revealed to him on 18 Dhul Hijjah:

یٰاَیُّهَا الرَّسُوْلُ بَلِّغْ مَآ اُنْزِلَ اِلَیْكَ مِنْ رَّبِّكَؕ وَ اِنْ لَّمْ تَفْعَلْ فَمَا بَلَّغْتَ رِسَالَتَه ؕ وَاللّٰهُ یَعْصِمُكَ مِنَ النَّاسِ

O Messenger (Muhammad salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam)! Proclaim (the message) which has been sent down to you from your Rabb. And if you do not, then you have not conveyed His message. Allah will protect you from the people.[7]

 

The Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam then halted at a place called Ghadir Khum that lies between Makkah and al Madinah. He stopped there until those who were behind him caught up with him and those who had went ahead of him were called back. He then announced a congregational prayer. After he led them in zuhr salah, he addressed them. He said among other things: “Do you not know that I am closer to the believers than their own selves?” They said: “‘Yes!” He said: “Do you not know that I am closer to every believer than his own self?” They said: “Yes! O Messenger of Allah.” He then held ‘Ali’s radiya Llahu ‘anhu hand up and said: “O people! Allah is my friend and I am your friend. And whoever I am his friend then ‘Ali is also his friend. O Allah! Be a friend to he who is a friend of ‘Ali and be an enemy to he who is his enemy. Support whoever supports him and forsake whoever forsakes him. Love whoever loves him and hate whoever hates him.” He then said: “O Allah! Be my Witness!” And they did not depart from that place before Allah revealed the verse:

 

اَلْیَوْمَ اَكْمَلْتُ لَكُمْ دِیْنَكُمْ وَاَتْمَمْتُ عَلَیْكُمْ نِعْمَتِیْ وَرَضِیْتُ لَكُمُ الْاِسْلَامَ دِیْنًا

This day. I have perfected for you your religion, completed My favour upon you and have chosen for you Islam as your religion.[8]

 

The Messenger of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam then said: “Allah Akbar for perfecting the religion, completing the favour, and for being pleased with my messengership and for ‘Ali being the wali.”

This event of Ghadir Khum is therefore a sufficient proof that the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam did stipulate that ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu should be the leader after his death, for he said: “And whoever I am his wali, ‘Ali is also his wali.” And wali here means leader.

The Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam would not have stopped his Companions radiya Llahu ‘anhum and gathered them at Ghadir if not to clearly announce to them that ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu is the leader after him. It should also be noted that it was only after this announcement that Allah revealed the verse:

 

اَلْیَوْمَ اَكْمَلْتُ لَكُمْ دِیْنَكُمْ وَاَتْمَمْتُ عَلَیْكُمْ نِعْمَتِیْ وَرَضِیْتُ لَكُمُ الْاِسْلَامَ دِیْنًا

This day, I have perfected your religion for you, completed My favour upon you, and have chosen for you Islam as your religion.[9]

 

I commented: Our lecturer, in his presentation of his proof, insisted on merging different narrations that the listener would think that they are all part of single hadith and not different narrations that occurred on different occasions.

This merging actually contradicts the reality. It is nothing but a product of fantasy in order to satiate their desire. It can be disproved in the following points:

One: Regarding the verse:

یٰاَیُّهَا الرَّسُوْلُ بَلِّغْ مَآ اُنْزِلَ اِلَیْكَ مِنْ رَّبِّكَ ؕ وَ اِنْ لَّمْ تَفْعَلْ فَمَا بَلَّغْتَ رِسَالَتَه ؕ وَاللّٰهُ یَعْصِمُكَ مِنَ النَّاسِؕ

O Messenger (Muhammad salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam)! Proclaim (the message) which has been sent down to you from your Rabb. And if you do not, then you have not conveyed His message. Allah will protect you from mankind.[10]

 

The authentic narration concerning the reason for its revelation is that it was a habit of Allah’s Messenger salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam that whenever he set out for any of his battles, he would assign some of his Companions radiya Llahu ‘anhum to guard him against the enemy. This situation continued this way until one night Allah revealed this verse to him. He then stuck out his head from his tent and addressed his guards: “O people, you can go for Allah is protecting me.” After the revelation of this verse, the Messenger of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam never took a personal guard and relied on Allah alone for his protection.

It happened that one day a man came to the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam and told me: “Give me your sword so that I can inspect it.” The Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam gave the sword to him. The man wanted to kill the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam with the sword but his hand started shuddering and he dropped the sword. This was how Allah protected His Messenger salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam and prevented the man from carrying out his evil plan.

So what is clear from the above is that the verse was revealed in the night unto the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam while he was in his tent and on his bed. That is why Imam al Suyuti referred to the verse as the “nightly and bed-time verse”, inferring that it was revealed to the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam in the night, while he was on his bed.

If the scholars could be so accurate in pinpointing times of revelation of the verses, would it then be logical to think that they would forget to link it to the event of Ghadir – in spite of their close connection – as claimed by the lecturer?

Two: Regarding verse: 3 of Surah al Ma’idah, the authentic report concerning its revelation is that it was revealed on the Day of ‘Arafah during the Prophet’s salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam farewell pilgrimage, which was a Friday. This is the incontestable truth that all recognised scholars of the ummah agreed upon. It is supported by authentic narrations from collections of Bukhari, Muslim and others. Tariq ibn Shihab narrated: “The Jews said to ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhu: “You (i.e. Muslims) recite a verse, and had it been revealed to us, we would have taken the day of its revelation as a day of celebration.” ‘Umar said: “I know very well when and where it was revealed, and where Allah’s Messenger was when it was revealed. (It was revealed on) the day of ‘Arafah, and by Allah, I was at ‘Arafah.”

These narrations indicate that the verse was revealed on the day of ‘Arafah. It was also known that this took place days before the event of Ghadir. How could some people then claim that it was revealed at Ghadir while all authentic narrations and all recognized scholars agree that it was revealed days before the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam arrived at Ghadir?

The most astonishing part of the lecturer’s merging of narrations is the assertion that it was revealed immediately after the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam had specifically mentioned ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu as his successor. By Allah! He never did so and neither was the verse revealed at Ghadir Khum.

Three: What really happened at Ghadir Khum – according to the authentic narration – is that the Messenger of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam after leading the people of Madinah to their way, passed by a water well called “Khum”. It was located at a place between Makkah and Madinah. According to his habit whenever he travelled, he would halt for rest at various places and wait for his Companions radiya Llahu ‘anhum who lagged behind. It was there that some people complained about ‘Ali’s radiya Llahu ‘anhu austerity, even though he was upon the truth.

The story about this complaint runs thus: When the Messenger of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam was going to Makkah for his farewell pilgrimage, he sent ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu to Yemen to collect the zakat. When he finished the collection of the zakat, he came to Makkah to join the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam in the pilgrimage, while the zakat he collected was still with him. Along the way, the people who were with him wanted to avail themselves of some of the zakat but he refused to give them because it was the property of the Muslim treasury. This firmness of his made things difficult for his companions. When they had the opportunity to meet the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam they complained to him.

The Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam saw that ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu was right, so he commended his action. In order to show the people that ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu was right to take the stand he took, he reminded the people of Allah and admonished them on the necessity of adhering to the Qur’an and the Sunnah. He then commanded them to treat members of his household – including ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu – with kindness.

In order to absolve ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu of any blame he said: “He to whom I am a friend, ‘Ali is also his friend.” To emphasise his praise for ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu he said: “O Allah! Be a friend to whoever befriends him and be an enemy to whoever takes him as an enemy.”

This is what happened at Ghadir Khum. ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu was the Prophet’s salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam appointee on the one-fifth of what is collected (khums) and he appropriated it duly and justly. So, the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam saw that his firmness was worthy of commendation and supplication.

As for the additions and exaggerations which some people spuriously added to the Prophet’s salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam statement such as: “O Allah, help those who help him, forsake those who forsake him and let the truth move with him wherever he moves”; they are fabricated additions that the scholars have not paid even the least attention to.

Four: The last part of the hadith quoted by the lecturer is totally fabricated. Nothing of it is authentic. It is not true that the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam held up ‘Ali’s radiya Llahu ‘anhu hand neither is it true that verse: 3 of Surah al Ma’idah was revealed on that occasion, nor is the statement: “Allahu Akbar for perfecting the religion…” authentic. These additions are lies and darkness upon darkness.

Five: In spite of the distortion of facts perpetrated by the lecturer, his drawing inference from the Prophet’s salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam statement: “He unto whom I am the friend, ‘Ali is also his friend”, as an indication of appointing ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu as the successor is totally incorrect.

This inference contradicts the Arabic language and contradicts the understanding of the Prophet’s salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam Companions, who are well-versed in the language. As none of them or any of the recognized authorities in Arabic language made such an inference. According to the Sunnah and the proper understanding of Arabic language, the word “mowla” means friend and supporter.

Six: Even if we have to agree – for the sake of argument – that the word mowla in the narration means “leader”, as the lecturer would have us believe, it does not constitute an explicit proof that ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu should be appointed the ruler after the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. An explicit proof for such a claim would be : “‘Ali is the Imam after me”, “‘Ali is the khalifah after me” or “none except ‘Ali should be my successor” or any similar unambiguous remark.

Since you have mentioned earlier that Imamah is a fundamental rule of your religion and fundamental rules of the religion can only be established through explicit proofs, this hadith cannot then be cited as the proof to back your claim for it is not explicit or precise.

The most we can infer from the hadith is that ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu should be loved and regarded a friend and this is what the Ahlus Sunnah wa l-Jama’ah do. They love ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu, invoke Allah’s pleasure upon him and regard him as the fourth of the rightly-guided caliphs.

Their leader: You can leave that one. There is another textual proof of explicit appointment of Imam ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu as the successor after the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. This proof is the ‘verse of Wilayah’. Allah says:

 

اِنَّمَا وَلِیُّكُمُ اللّٰهُ وَ رَسُوْلُه وَالَّذِیْنَ اٰمَنُوا الَّذِیْنَ یُقِیْمُوْنَ الصَّلٰوةَ وَیُؤْتُوْنَ الزَّکٰوةَ وَهُمْ رٰکِعُوْنَ﴿٥٥﴾ وَمَنْ یَّتَوَلَّ اللّٰهَ وَرَسُوْلَه وَ الَّذِیْنَ اٰمَنُوْا فَاِنَّ حِزْبَ اللّٰهِ هُمُ الْغٰلِبُوْنَ

Verily, your wali is none other than Allah, His Messenger, and the believers, who perform salah and give zakat, and are those who bow down in prostration. And whosoever takes Allah, His Messenger, and those who have believed, as friends, then the party of Allah will be the victorious.[11]

 

The scholars of tafsir all agreed that this verse is revealed in respect to ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu who while bowing in prayer, removed his ring and threw to a beggar who had asked him for some alms. So these verses were revealed on this occasion. In other words, the ‘Wilayah’ is exclusively meant for ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu after the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam because the verse was revealed in reference to his action.

I responded: This evidence is much weaker than the one before it. If we agree – for the sake of argument – that it is authentic, there is absolutely nothing in it that suggests that ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu was explicitly chosen as the Prophet’s successor. The verse and the narration concerning its revelation would rather apply to all believers.

‘Wilayah’ here means love and support, and does not, in any way, refer to who should be the khalifah and ruler. Even if we agree that it means rulership – which is of course an outrageous interpretation as far as the language is concerned – the words of the verse came in plural form. And this means that it is applicable to ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu and all other sincere believers.

Another point is that the story in itself, is questionable as far as chains of its narrators are concerned.

One other important point is that excessive external actions while one is in prayer, invalidates the salah . Salah in itself is an act of worship that needs total concentration. One engaged in prayer should not preoccupy oneself with other deeds, even if they are righteous. Since ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu is known as one of the leaders of the sincere, devoted and focused worshippers, his removing and tossing of the ring while in prayer is utterly unimaginable, given his status.

If we agree that the story was true, where then in the verse is the explicit mention of ‘Ali’s radiya Llahu ‘anhu right to rulership after the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam?

As you can see, there are different interpretations to the verse. There are some scholars – and they are in the majority – who are of the opinion that ‘Wilayah’ here means: love, friendship and support. And you interpreted it as “leadership”.

Also, the fact that a verse was revealed on a particular occasion does not prevent it being general in its application. Therefore, the verse is applicable to all Muslims who observe the things mentioned in the verse such as performing salah and giving alms.

The truth is very clear and as such this evidence is not suitable, implicitly or explicitly, to establish your claim that the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam appointed ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu as his immediate successor.

Their leader: Your scholars of tafsir opined that the verses were revealed in reference to ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu. And we do not know anyone who gave alms while in the state of bowing in prayer except him. The verses did support his action and explicitly stipulated his leadership. The verses only came in plural form – even though it was revealed in reference to the action of a single person – in order to encourage people to do righteous deeds to emulate their leader, ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu, whose prayer did not prevent him from giving to the poor and the destitute.

I responded: The hadith that mentioned that ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu gave away his ring as sadaqah while he was praying is fabricated according to the consensus of the erudite scholars[12], regardless of those who negligently mention it or write it in their books. Hence, you should not support what you regard as a fundamental aspect of your religion, which you give preference over salah, fasting, zakat and hajj, with a contrived and fabricated hadith.

The difference between you and I is the exact text of the verse, and the verse, in its text, contains nothing about ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu neither does it contain any allusion to his purported right to rulership after the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, The message of the verse is that friendship, alliance and support should be given only to Allah, His Messenger and to those who sincerely believe in him, perform salah, give zakat and worship Him with humility.

Their leader: You can ignore that one. There is another proof that explicitly stipulated ‘Ali’s radiya Llahu ‘anhu right to leadership. It is the hadith of manzilah (position), in which the Messenger of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said to ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu: “Are you not pleased that you are to me as Harun was to Musa? It is only that there is no Prophet after me. And I must not go without you being my successor.”

This hadith is authentic according to the opinion of your scholars. And the explicit mentioning of ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu as the successor is clear to everyone. The hadith affirmed that ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu occupied all positions that Prophet Harun ‘alayh al Salam occupied in relationship to Prophet Musa ‘alayh al Salam with the only exception of prophethood.

Harun ‘alayh al Salam was Musa’s ‘alayh al Salam minister and companion, and he was his deputy when he was away. This is clearly supported by the text of the Qur’an that tells us that Musa ‘alayh al Salam said:

 

وَاجْعَلْ لِّیْ وَزِیْرًا مِّنْ اَهْلِیْ ﴿٢٩﴾ هٰرُوْنَ اَخِیْ ﴿٣٠﴾ اشْدُدْ بِهٓ اَزْرِیْ ﴿٣١﴾ وَ اَشْرِكْهُ فِیْٓ اَمْرِیْ

And appoint for me a helper from my family, Harun, my brother. Increase my strength with him, and let him share my task (of conveying Allah’s message and prophethood).[13]

 

And Allah answered his supplication with His words:

 

قَالَ قَدْ اُوْتِیْتَ سُؤْلَكَ یٰمُوْسٰی

Allah said: You are granted your request, O Musa![14]

 

The Prophet’s salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam statement: “And I must not go without you being my successor.” is therefore, the greatest proof of explicit appointment of ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu as the Prophet’s salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam successor.

My response: The version of the above narration that is regarded as authentic by our scholars is the Prophet’s salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam statement: “Are you not pleased that you are to me as Harun is to Musa? It is only that there is no Prophet after me.”[15]

But your statement: “And I must not go without you being my successor”, is falsely attributed to the Messenger of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. It is not at all authentic neither should it be cited as proof.

The hadith in all its authentic narrations is connected to a famous story. The Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam was heading to Tabuk to fight in the way of Allah and he commanded all the people to go out with him. He assigned ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib radiya Llahu ‘anhu to stay behind and take care of the women and children, and no one else among the men stayed behind except the hypocrites, those with excuse and the infirm.

‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu – out of his love for jihad and the Prophet’s salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam company – wept and complained of being assigned to care for women and children. The Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam then said those words in order to comfort him and to show him that his requesting him to stay behind was not because he did not want to keep his company – as the hypocrites claimed – but out of his strong confidence in him. This is the story about the Hadith of manzilah, and it does not entail any stipulation of ‘Ali’s radiya Llahu ‘anhu leadership.

As for your statement that this hadith conferred on ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu all the positions of Harun ‘alayh al Salam except the prophethood and your claim that the hadith implies that ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu should be the Prophet’s salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam successor and the most qualified person to be the leader after him, the hadith indicates none of these claims because of the following reasons:

One: Harun ‘alayh al Salam died during the lifetime of Prophet Musa ‘alayh al Salam, so he did not succeed him in leadership. It was Yusha’ ibn Nun ‘alayh al Salam who succeeded him. This is indisputable.

Two: Prophet Musa ‘alayh al Salam only appointed Prophet Harun ‘alayh al Salam to stand in for him as the leader of the Jewish nation when he alone went into seclusion for the worship of his Rabb. As for the case of Prophet Muhammad salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam he went in the company of all his Companions radiya Llahu ‘anhum and he only appointed ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu to take care of the women and children.

Three: The Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam had on different occasions assigned a number of his Companions radiya Llahu ‘anhum to manage the affairs of Madinah when he was absent. This indicates that he did not assign ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu each time he was out of Madinah, and as such the hadith cannot be cited as an explicit proof that ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu should obligatorily be regarded as the Prophet’s salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam successor during his lifetime and after his death.

Four: The Prophet’s salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam statement to ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu for a specific reason, which was to soothe the heart of ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu for being left behind to take care of women and children.

 

NEXT⇒ An Important Observation


[1] Surah al Shura: 38

[2] Surah Al ‘Imran: 159

[3] Surah al Taubah: 128

[4] Surah al Isra: 70

[5] Surah al Ahzab: 56

[6] Surah al Taubah: 103

[7] Surah al Ma’idah: 67

[8] Surah al Ma’idah: 3

[9] Surah al Ma’idah: 3

[10] Surah al Ma’idah: 67

[11] Surah al Ma’idah: 55-56

[12] lbn Taymiyyah declared this in his book Daqa’iq al Tafsir vol. 1 pg. 104

[13] Surah Taha: 29-32

[14] Surah Taha: 36

[15]  This hadith is narrated by al Bukhari (3706), and Muslim (2404)

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