`Ali: A Counsellor and Advisor

`Ali: A Defender on All Fronts
October 23, 2015
`Ali’s Acknowledgement of the Previous Khulafa’
October 23, 2015

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‘Ali: A Counsellor and Advisor


High-ranking or otherwise, ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu would not shy away from offering people advice — even before being requested to do so — so as to assure Allah’s religion would remain in order. His valiant nature was such that he remained ever-ready to express his views with regards to matters that required consultation. He was an exemplary exhibition of the verse:


وَأَمْرُهُمْ شُورٰى بَيْنَهُمْ

And whose affair is (determined by) consultation among themselves…[1]


especially among the Sahabah radiya Llahu ‘anhum who regarded him as ‘the door to Nabi’s salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam city of knowledge.’


The following are a few examples which shed light on ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu as both a counsellor and advisor:

1. When Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu became the khalifah, and a faction within the Muslim ranks had apostatised, immediately, with his sword unsheathed, he headed for Dhu al Qassah[2]. ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu grabbed a hold of the reins of Abu Bakr’s radiya Llahu ‘anhu horse and said: “O khalifah of the Rasul of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam where are you headed? I will reiterate what Nabi salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said to you on the Day of Uhud, “O Abu Bakr! Put your sword away. Do not cause us any distress; for by Allah, if anything (bad) happens to you Islam will become structure-less.”[3]


2. Abu Bakr and ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhuma often used to seek ‘Ali’s radiya Llahu ‘anhu advice in political matters, and other general affairs. Imam al Tabari mentions that when the Persians amassed at Nahawand[4] to launch an attack against the Muslims, ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhu gathered the Muslims and sought their counsel whether or not he should go out (and confront the enemy). Some of the Muslims (including some from the Electoral Shura[5]) felt he should join the Muslims. He reiterated the question, to which ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu answered:


O Amir al Mu’minin! If you join (us) in fighting the people of Sham, the Romans will (also) set out and capture them. And if you join us against the people of Yemen, the people of Habashah will (also) set out and capture them. And, if you partake in the battle with us here, the Arabs will attack you from all angles; thereby causing you to focus more attention on the unguarded places you left behind more than those before you. Maintain (these soldiers) in their respective cities and write a letter to the people of Basrah advising them to divide themselves into three groups: the first should be grounded in their home territory (nearby their families), the second should remain close to those who have an agreement with the Muslims so as to make sure they do not fall back on their agreement, and the third group should proceed ahead and assist their brethren in Kufah; for if the Persians see you tomorrow they will surely say: “This is the chief of the Arabs…” and this will incite them even more! As for what you mentioned about them setting out against the Muslims, know very well that Allah Ta’ala detests their coming out more than you; and He is more capable (than you) to change that which He dislikes. With regards to their numbers, in the past, we never engaged (the enemy) based on numbers; rather, we fought on the basis of Allah’s Ta’ala support and assistance.


After hearing this, ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhu said: “This is the opinion I favour.”[6]


3. At times, ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhu would seek rulings from ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu pertaining to some of the more complex shar’i rulings. He was also his political advisor par excellence. In fact, Imam al Bukhari narrates in his Sahih on the authority of Ibn ‘Abbas radiya Llahu ‘anhu that ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhu said:

‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu is our most knowledgeable person with regards to legal and judicial matters and Ubay radiya Llahu ‘anhu is our most knowledgeable with regards to the Qur’an.


Muhibb al Tabari mentions in al Riyad al Nadirah on the authority of Abu Sa’id al Khudri radiya Llahu ‘anhu, who asked ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu a question. Thereafter, Abu Sa’id radiya Llahu ‘anhu remarked:

O Abu al Hassan (ref. to ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu)! I seek refuge with Allah Ta’ala from living amongst a people in which you are not present.[7]


Yahya ibn ‘Aqil rahimahu Llah said that whenever ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhu would ask ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu a question, and ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu would provide a solution for him, ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhu would say:

After you leave (this world) O ‘Ali, Allah Ta’ala will not keep me alive.[8]


Ibn Sa’d rahimahu Llah narrates on the authority of Sa’id ibn al Musayyib rahimahu Llah who said:

‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhu used to seek protection (with Allah Ta’ala) from a problem that should arise in such circumstances that ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu is not present (to assist).[9]


4. On one occasion, ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhu consulted ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu about taking part in the march towards the Roman Empire. He (‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu) said:


Allah Ta’ala has taken the responsibility for the followers of this religion to secure it from the enemy. He Ta’ala assisted and defended the faithful when they were few (in number) and unable to protect and defend themselves. He Ta’ala is Ever-Living and will never die! If you proceed towards the enemy and clash with them and, Allah Ta’ala forbid, fall into some trouble, there will be no place or refuge for the Muslims to return to other than their remote cities. Therefore, you should send an experienced man and send with him capable people who are well-intentioned. If Allah Ta’ala grants you victory, then this is what you desired. If otherwise, you can serve as a support for the people and you can act as recourse for the Muslims.[10]


5. Quoting Nahj al Balaghah, the book al Shia wa al Tashih records the following incident:


On another occasion, the khalifah ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhu sought the advice of ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib radiya Llahu ‘anhu whether he should — among others — go out and confront the Persians. ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu advised him against it and said: “The Arabs today, even though small in number are strong because of Islam and strong because of (their) unity. You should remain their leader and rotate the ‘mill’ (of government) with (the assistance of) the Arabs, and be their foundation. Avoid (direct) battle; for the Persians, if they see you tomorrow they will say: “This is the chief of Arabs. If we do away with him (today) we will be in peace.” In doing so, this will provoke them and they will be even more eager to attack you. As for what you mentioned with regards to their (large) numbers; in the past, we did not fight based on the strength of numbers; rather, we fought on the basis of Allah’s Ta’ala support and assistance.”[11]


6. One day, ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu approached ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu and said to him:


The people are behind me and they have made me to represent between you and themselves; but, by Allah, I do not know what to say to you. I know nothing (in this manner) which you do not know, nor can I lead you to any matter of which you are not aware. You certainly know what we know, we have not come to know anything before you which we can tell you; nor did we learn anything in secret which we should convey to you. You have seen as we have seen and you have heard as we have heard. You sat in the company of Nabi salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam just as we did. Ibn Abi Quhafah (Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu) and Ibn al Khattab (‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhu) were no more responsible for acting righteously than you; since you are, through kinship, nearer to Nabi salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam than both of them; and you also have a relationship with him salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam — through marriage of his daughters — which they do not hold. Fear Allah; for, by Allah, you are not being shown anything as if you are blind or being apprised of anything as if you are ignorant. The path is clear and the signposts of this din are (clearly) visible…”[12]


NEXT⇒ ‘Ali: A Defender on All Fronts

[1]  Surah al Shura: 38

[2]  One of the infamous tribes who withheld their zakat after the demise of Nabi salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam.

[3]  Ibn Athir: Al Kamil fi al Tarikh 2/264

[4]  Nahawand is an area close to Hamadan, in Iran. The ensuing battle resulted in a decisive victory for Muslims and was the eventual cause for the Sassanid Empire’s collapse. [translator’s note]

[5]  The Electoral Shura consisted of six individuals: ‘Ali, ‘Uthman, Talhah ibn ‘Ubaidullah, Sa’d ibn Abi Waqqas, ‘Abdul Rahman ibn ‘Auf, and Zubair ibn al ‘Awwam radiya Llahu ‘anhum. [translator’s note]

[6]  Al Tabari: Tarikh al Rusul 3/480

[7]  Muhibb al Tabari: Al Riyad al Nadirah 3/166

[8]  Op. cit. 3/166

[9]  Ibn Sa’d: Tabaqat ibn Sa’d 2/339

[10]Nahj al Balaghah 192

[11]  Musa al Musawi: Al Shia wa al Tashih p. 39

[12]  Ibn Athir: Al Kamil fi al Tarikh 2/522

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