`Ali’s Narrations Regarding the Sahabah

`Ali’s Reminiscence of the Sahabah and His Love and Affection Towards Them
October 23, 2015
Ahadith Relating to the Sahabah
October 23, 2015

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Ali’s Narrations Regarding the Sahabah

 

Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu was raised in the household of Nabi salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam from his early childhood days. He drank from both the ‘milk of nubuwwah’ and from the ‘cup of divine revelation’. He held an inimitable position with Nabi salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam; not only was he a noble Sahabi, but he was also Nabi’s salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam cousin. He was married to Fatimah radiya Llahu ‘anha, the pure and virtuous daughter of Nabi salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. He was the door to the city of knowledge and wisdom[1]. Nabi salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam once said to him:

 

أنت مني بمنزلة هارون من موسى إلاّ أنه لا نبي بعدي

You are to me the same as Harun was to Musa, except there will come no nabi after me.

 

Nabi salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam attested to his love for Allah Ta’ala and His Nabi salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, and vice versa. He spent a great deal of time with Nabi salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, and this allowed him the opportunity to listen and understand both the words of Nabi salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, and wahi (divine revelation) in a unique manner. Amicable and loved by all, ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu was one to only speak the truth. He acknowledged the rights and privileges of all, including Allah Ta’ala, His Nabi salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, and the Sahabah radiya Llahu ‘anhum. Often times, he would sing their praises by quoting verses of the Qur’an and ahadith that pertained to them; and, at times, he would even reminisce over those among them who had passed away. Imam al Tabarani narrates that ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu once said:

Fear Allah Ta’ala with regards to the Sahabah of Nabi salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam! This was his direct order!

 

Hereunder are but a few examples of statements made by ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu regarding the al khulafa’ al Rashidin radiya Llahu ‘anhum:

1. Muhammad ibn ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib radiya Llahu ‘anhuma said:

 

I said to my father: “Who is the best person after Nabi salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam?” He replied: “Abu Bakr.” “And then who?” I asked, he replied: “‘Umar.” Fearing he would say ‘Uthman’s name next I asked him: “And then you (of course)?” He said: “I am but an ordinary man from among the believers.”[2]

 

2. Abu Juhayfah radiya Llahu ‘anhu said:

I heard ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu say: “Shall I not inform you who the best person in this ummah is after Nabi salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam? It is Abu Bakr. Shall I not inform you who the best person is after Abu Bakr? It is ‘Umar.”[3]

 

3. ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu reported that Nabi salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam once said:

 

إن كلّ نبي أُعطي سبعة نجباء أو نقباء ، وأعطيت أنا أربعة عشر . قلنا : من هم ؟ قال أنا وابناي وجعفر وحمزة وأبو بكر وعمر ومصعب بن عمير وبلال وسليمان والمقداد وحذيفة وعمار وعبد الله بن مسعود

“Every Nabi was granted seven extraordinary or honourable people, but I was granted fourteen.” We asked ‘Ali: “Who are they?” He said: “Myself, my two sons (Hassan and Hussain), Jafar, Hamzah, Abu Bakr, ‘Umar, Mus’ab ibn ‘Umair, Bilal, Salman, Miqdad, Hudhayfah, ‘Ammar and ‘Abdullah ibn Mas’ud.”[4]

 

4. Ibn ‘Asakir narrates that Hassan al Basri rahimahu Llah once said:

 

When Sayyidina ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu arrived in Basrah to inquire about Talhah and his associates, ‘Abdullah ibn al Kawa’ — a leader from the Khawarij — and Qais ibn ‘Abbad, stood up and said: “Why have you come, O Amir al Mu’minin? Was it an instruction from the Rasul of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam? Or was it an obligation that the Rasul of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam asked you to fulfil? Or was it simply something you chose out of your own volition because of the ummah’s fragmentation and current state of affairs?” ‘Ali responded and said: “The truth is, by Allah, Nabi salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam was neither killed nor did he leave this world unexpectedly. He remained ill for such a period of time wherein the mu’addhin would call for salah and then Nabi salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam would direct Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu to lead the salah (knowing full well that I was present). One of his wives attempted to substitute Abu Bakr (with someone else); not only did Nabi salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam refuse, the mere suggestion infuriated him and he said:

 

أنتن صواحب يوسف ، مروا أبا بكر فليصل بالناس

You are like the companions of Yusuf ‘alayh al Salam![5] Put Abu Bakr forward, for he shall lead the salah.

 

When Nabi salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam passed away, we pondered over our affairs and decided to elect such an individual to administer our earthly affairs whom Nabi salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam was pleased with to regulate our religious affairs. Salah is a fundamental aspect of Islam; and Abu Bakr was upright and loyal. And so, we pledged our allegiance to him radiya Llahu ‘anhu, for he was most deserving of this position. No two of us differed (with this decision) and we neither objected nor did we behave seditiously towards him; we remained loyal to him and continued to uphold his honour. I fulfilled his due rights and acknowledged his right to be obeyed and followed. I served as a foot soldier in his army and would accept any proposition he proposed. I remained ever-ready (for battle) whenever he called. In his presence, I even executed the hudud (legal punishment) with my whip. When he passed away, ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhu followed in his footsteps. He oversaw, governed, and administered matters in the same manner as his predecessor. And so, we pledged our allegiance to him, for he was most deserving of this position. No two of us differed (with this decision) and we neither objected nor did we behave seditiously towards him; we remained loyal to him and continued to uphold his honour. I fulfilled his due rights and acknowledged his right to be obeyed and followed. I served as a foot soldier in his army and would accept whatever proposition he proposed. I remained ever-ready (for battle) whenever he called. In his presence, I even executed the hudud (punishment) with my whip. When he passed away, I began reminiscing about my (close) relationship (with Nabi salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam), my own virtues, and the fact that I was of the first (people) to embrace Islam. I was almost certain that they (the Muslims) would elect me (as his successor). ‘Abdul Rahman ibn ‘Awf radiya Llahu ‘anhu and I took an oath to listen and obey the person who was going to be elected as ‘Umar’s radiya Llahu ‘anhu successor. Not soon thereafter did I notice him (‘Abdul Rahman radiya Llahu ‘anhu) pledging his allegiance to ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu. After introspecting, I realised that the promise I made to obey the newly-elected successor was more important than my own desire of being the next khalifah. And so, we pledged our allegiance to ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu. I fulfilled his due rights and acknowledged his right to be obeyed and followed. I served as a foot soldier in his army and remained ever-ready (for battle) whenever he called. In his presence, I even executed the hudud (punishment) with my whip. Eventually, when he was martyred, I began introspecting (again); and no sooner did I realise that everyone had pledged their allegiance to me, the people of Makkah, Madinah, Kufah, and Basrah.[6]

 

In al Sawa’iq al Muhriqah fi Radd ‘ala Ahl al Bida’ wa al Zandaqah, Ibn Hajar al Haythami writes the following:

 

Al Bazzar narrates in his Musnad (with his chain of transmission) that ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib radiya Llahu ‘anhu (addressing a group of people) one day said: “Tell me, who do you think is the most courageous person?” The people exclaimed: “You!” He replied: “That is (partially) true; never have I duelled with anyone except that they were vanquished. But that alone does not make me the most courageous. So, I ask again: who is the most courageous?” They replied: “If that is the case, then we do not know! Please, you tell us!” He answered: “It is Abu Bakr. On the Day of Badr, we (the Sahabah radiya Llahu ‘anhum) decided to make a hut for Nabi salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam (to protect him salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam from the enemy). We asked around if anyone was willing to stand-guard by the hut so as to protect the Rasul of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. By Allah, not a single one of us was prepared to do so except Abu Bakr. With his sword unsheathed, Abu Bakr stood next to the blessed head of Nabi salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam; if anyone tried to attack (the hut) he would first have to go through Abu Bakr. This person (referring to Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu) is the most courageous. Once, I saw Nabi salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam being assaulted by the Quraysh. They were saying: “Are you the one who made (our) gods into one god?” By Allah, no one was brave enough to stand up to the Quraysh except Abu Bakr; he was the only one fending off the Quraysh and saying: “Woe unto all of you! Are you attacking a man for the (simple) reason that he says, ‘my Rabb is Allah’?” (The narrator continued) ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu lifted the mantle he was wearing and began crying until his beard was sodden with tears. Thereafter, ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu asked (everyone present): “Who do you think is better: the believer from the family of Firoun or Abu Bakr?” Everyone remained silent. ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu continued: “Why is nobody answering? By Allah, A sheer moment in the glorious life of Abu Bakr is better than a family member of Firoun becoming a believer. The latter, surreptitiously brings faith (in Allah Ta’ala) and conceals it (out of fear of Firoun), and the former (Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu), openly proclaims his faith (without fearing any ramifications from the Quraysh).”[7]

 

Imam Ahmed, Abu Ya’la al Mowsili, and al Hakim al Nishapuri all narrate that ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib radiya Llahu ‘anhu said: “On the Day of Badr, Nabi salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said to Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu and I:

 

مع أحدكما جبريل ومع الآخر ميكائيل وإسرافيل ملك عظيم يشهد القتال أو قال يشهد الصفّ

One of you has the angel Jibril on your side, and the other has Mika’il; and Israfil, a great angel, will be present in the ranks alongside you, overseeing and assisting you (in battle).[8]

 

Dr. Musa al Musawi[9] writes in his book al Shia wa al Tashih:

 

… Let us see what Imam ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu himself has to say regarding ‘Umar ibn al Khattab radiya Llahu ‘anhu. (‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu says): “How great of a man was ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhu! He set the crooked straight; treated the ill; avoided strife at all costs; established the sunnah (of Nabi salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. He had very few shortcomings and left this world with a clean slate. He obeyed Allah Ta’ala and feared Him as He ought to be feared. When he died, he left everyone bewildered; and as such, people found themselves in different conditions: those already misguided had no hope of discovering the truth (i.e. after Umar’s radiya Llahu ‘anhu death), and those already on the straight path could no longer embrace his own faith with full conviction and certitude as before (i.e. after Umar’s radiya Llahu ‘anhu death).”[10]

 

‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu once mentioned that Nabi salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said:

 

اتقوا غضب عمر ، فإن الله يغضب إذا غضب

Beware of upsetting ‘Umar; lest it causes Allah Ta’ala to become upset![11]

 

The Sahabi Mughirah ibn Shu’bah radiya Llahu ‘anhu once said:

 

After ‘Umar was buried, I so desired to hear ‘Ali speak about ‘Umar, so I went to him. It so happened that one day, he came out (of his house), wiping his head and beard (he had just taken a shower), wearing a robe; I had no doubt in my mind that the news of ‘Umar’s radiya Llahu ‘anhu death reached him. He said: “May Allah’s Ta’ala infinite-mercy be with Ibn al Khattab! How truthful was Hantamah[12] when she said: “He (referring to ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhu) left this world after acquiring the best thereof and abstaining from its evils.” By Allah, this statement of hers was not something she thought up on her own accord; rather, it was divine intuition (directly) from Allah Ta’ala)!”[13]

 

Imam Ahmed narrates (with his chain of transmission) from Umm ‘Umar bint Hassan ibn Yazid ibn Abi al Ghusn[14]; who narrates from her father (Hassan) who said:

I entered the Grand Masjid — the masjid of Kufah — and ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu was delivering a sermon before the people. Three times, he exclaimed at the top of his voice:

O people! O people! O people! You have transgressed the limits with regards to ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu. We are unto each other just as Allah Ta’ala says in the Qur’an:

 

وَنَزَعْنَا مَا فِىْ صُدُوْرِهِمْ مِّنْ غِلٍّ إِخْوَانًا عَلٰى سُرُرٍ مُّتَقٰـبِلِيْنَ

And We will remove whatever is in their breasts of resentment, (so they will be) brothers, on thrones facing each other.[15][16]

 

Al Nazzal ibn Sabrah al Hilali rahimahu Llah, a famous senior-ranking Tabi’i, says:

 

Once, we said to ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu: “O Amir al Mu’minin, tell us about ‘Uthman ibn ‘Affan radiya Llahu ‘anhu.” He replied: ‘He was that special individual, known as Dhu al Nurayn (the possessor of two lights) in the al Mala’ al ‘Ala (the Highest Heaven). He was the son-in-law of Nabi salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam for two of his daughters. Nabi salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam even guaranteed a house for him in Jannat.”[17]

 

NEXT⇒ ‘Ali’s Reminiscence of the Sahabah and His Love and Affection Towards Them


[1]  The author is making reference to a famous hadith in which Nabi salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam is reported to have said: “I am the city of knowledge and ‘Ali is its door. So whoever seeks knowledge let him approach it by his gate.” [translator’s note]

[2]Sahih al Bukhari

[3]  Al Bukhari’s version of this hadith has the following addition: “And if you will I can also inform you of the third best person.”

[4]Sunan al Tirmidhi

[5]  This hadith is making reference to Zulaikhah, the ‘Aziz of Egypt’s wife, in the time of Nabi Yusuf ‘alayh al Salam. The womenfolk during this time lambasted Zulaikhah for her infatuation with Nabi Yusuf ‘alayh al Salam (who was also her adopted son). After some time, she decided to prove to them how beautiful Nabi Yusuf ‘alayh al Salam really was; and in doing so, she would absolve herself from blame and the predicament she found herself in. One day, she decided to entertain and invite all the womenfolk of the town for a meal, but her actual intention behind this invitation was to showcase Nabi Yusuf’s ‘alayh al Salam beauty; thereby proving that they too, would have experienced the same feelings about him as she did.

As such, in the above-mentioned hadith, one of the wives of Nabi salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, namely, Sayyidah Aisha radiya Llahu ‘anha, attempted to substitute her father, Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu, with someone else to lead the salah; claiming that he has a soft-heart and an inaudible voice; and because of that, the people in salah (behind him) would be unable to hear him reciting. But her actual intention was to have someone else lead the prayer; fearing that people may begin speaking ill of her father on account of him leading the salah and taking charge of the Muslims’ affairs after the demise of Nabi salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. For this reason, Nabi salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam referred to his wives as “the companions of Yusuf”. [translator’s note]

[6]  Ibn ‘Asakir: Tarikh Dimashq, 2/352

Ibn Hajar al ‘Asqalani: Al Matalib al ‘Aliyah 4/294-296, after quoting this narration, Ibn Hajar remarks: “Al Busiri says that this has been narrated by Ishaq with an authentic chain of narration; and both Abu Dawood and Nasa’i also narrate it, albeit an abridged version.”

[7]  Ibn ‘Asakir also narrates that when Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu accepted Islam, he openly proclaimed his new faith and (immediately) began calling people to Allah Ta’ala and Nabi salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam.

[8]Al Sawa’iq al Muhriqah fi al Radd ‘ala Ahl al Bida’ wa al Zandaqah, p. 77

[9]  Dr. Musa al Musawi is a Shia who follows the doctrine of Imamah.

[10]  Musa al Musawi: Al Shia wa al Tashih p. 39, quoting from Nahj al Balaghah, 2/222

[11]  Al Daylami: Musnad al Firdows 1/94

[12]  Hantamah was the mother of ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhu. Her full name is Hantamah bint Hisham ibn al Mughirah. [translator’s note]

[13]  Ibn al Athir: Al Kamil fi al Tarikh 2/437

[14]  Umm ‘Umar bint Hassan was an old, truthful Muslimah.

[15]  Surah al Hijr: 47

[16]  Imam Ahmed ibn Hambal: Fada’il al Sahabah 1/453

[17]  Ibn ‘Asakir: Tarikh Dimashq p. 42-43

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