‘Ali’s Performance of Salah Behind Abu Bakr
When beginning chapter two I promised to discuss two issues, viz. ‘Ali’s radiya Llahu ‘anhu immediate pledge and his performance of salah behind Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu. I have shed light on the former in the previous pages. Now I present before you the latter.
The Ahlus Sunnah wa l-Jama’ah unanimously agree that ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu would always offer his salah in congregation behind Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu. There is no need to prove this from a Sunni perspective for there are many historical evidences that support this view. However, for the satisfaction of the readers I shall present the comments of Ibn Kathir which he has recorded in his book al Bidayah wa al Nihayah:
قال ابن كثير وهذا حق فأن علي بن أبي طالب لم يفارق الصديق في وقت من الأوقات ولم ينقطع في صلوة من الصلوات خلفه.
Ibn Kathir states, “And this is the truth. For ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib had not detached himself from Abu Bakr at any given time, nor had he fallen short in following him in any of the salah.”
Similarly he states:
وهذا اللائق بعلي رضي الله عنه والذي يدل عليه الآثار من شهوده معه الصلوات وخروجه معه إلي ذي القصة.
And this is what is befitting of the profile of ‘Ali and is alluded to in many a narrations, i.e. his observance of salah with Abu Bakr and setting out with him to subdue the renegades in Dhu al Qissah.”
Many Shia scholars have touched upon this issue in their works. Ahead I present a few references in order to thoroughly elaborate upon this issue from the sources of both parties.
1. Maqbul Ahmed al Dehlawi has written a translation of the Qur’an with its commentary. A booklet of his has been attached at the end of this translation. Therein, on page 45, he writes:
پہر وہ(علی شیر خدا) اٹہے اور نماز کے قصد سے وضو فرماکر مسجد مین تشریف لاۓ اور ابوبکر کے پیچہے نماز مین کہڑے ہوگۓ
Then he arose, performed wudu with the intention of salah and proceeded to the Masjid and performed salah behind Abu Bakr.
2. Mirza Rafi’ Badhil has stated the very same in his well-known book Hamlah Haydari which is in poetic form. He states:
درآن صف ہم استاد شیر خدا
کشیدند صف اہل دین ازقفا
When the people of din formed rows behind Abu Bakr then ‘Ali, the lion of Allah, also joined them.
3. Mulla Baqir al Majlisi, the famous Shia Mujtahid of the eleventh century, has very emphatically written the following in his book Mir’at al ‘Uqul Sharh al Usul:
حضر المسجد وصلي خلف أبي بكر.
He came to the masjid and performed salah behind Abu Bakr.
4. Narration four:
ثم قام وتهيأ للصلوة وحضر المسجد ووقف خلف أبي بكر وصلي لنفسه.
He thereupon stood up, prepared for salah, came to the masjid, stood behind Abu Bakr and read his own salah.
5. The following is documented in al Ihtijaj of al Tabarsi:
قام وتهيأ للصلوة وصلي خلف أبي بكر.
He stood up, prepared for salah and read salah behind Abu Bakr.
6. Similarly Sheikh al Ta’ifah has conceded the following in his book Talkhis al Shafi:
وإن ادعي صلوة مظهر للإقتداء فذاك مسلم لأنه الظاهر
‘Ali’s overt performance of salah behind Abu Bakr is a well-accepted fact because it is obvious.
7. The following is written in the book of Sulaim ibn Qais:
وكان عليه الصلوة والسلام يصلي في المسجد الصلوات الخمس
‘Ali would perform his five times salah in the masjid.
- The words ‘would’ and ‘five times salah’ clearly suggest that he would always perform salah in the masjid.
- It should likewise be remembered that the house of ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu was adjacent to al Masjid al Nabawi; his house was east of the masjid. It would thus only be appropriate to assume that he performed all his salah in the masjid in the respective eras of all three khalifas, Abu Bakr, ‘Umar and ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhum. He would never have missed a salah in the masjid without a valid excuse recognised by the shari’ah. Hence the narration of Sulaim ibn Qais is in accordance with factuality.
A Doubt and its Elimination
The only answer the Shia have in response to these narrations and its likes is that ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu would overtly follow Abu Bakr, ‘Umar and ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhum in salah and would covertly intend to perform his own, i.e. he would perform his own salah even though he would ostensibly be standing behind them (bearing in mind that this applies to the salah of twenty four years).
Our rebuttal to this is as follows:
1. Through which divine unseen sources have you learnt that ‘Ali would only outwardly join the congregation and thereafter perform his own salah without following the Imam.
Friends! Shari’ah is based on outward performance, upon which rulings and judgments are formulated. No rulings can be formulated upon interior intentions and covert agendas. In this instance as well it is only correct for us to judge upon what has reached us from the outward practices of ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu, for Allah alone is the knower of the secrets of hearts.
2. If the Shia protest that where is it clearly stated by ‘Ali that he said, “I followed this Imam.” Present before us evidence in which this is clearly mentioned.
We say to them, “What is the need for all these intricacies and complexities? Leave aside your biases for a while and reflect over the following aspects a little and the entire contention will be dispelled.”
- To claim that ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu would perform salah overtly with the congregation and would come home and then repeat it again requires evidence and cannot to be accepted verbatim, especially if you claim that this is what he did on a regular basis.
- Likewise, in order to prove that he would outwardly join the congregation and inwardly perform his own salah also requires evidence. Not forgetting that for this claim too, the specific clarification of ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu is required, as to what was really his practice in this regard. Without his direct words any interpretation of his actions is just a mere assumption which cannot aid in the least in justifying the claim and resolving the contention.
- Besides, if this was really the case then how can we ever rely upon anything done or said by ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu, because we would not succeed in differentiating between actions that he carried out because of temporary strategy, having a secret agenda or due a transient need and those that he done purely out of sincerity. This will result in the most preposterous of slanders against the personality of ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu. I, therefore, request my Shia brethren to come up with better answers and to refrain from such answers which portray the lion of Allah, ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu, to be two faced and a person with double standards.
- Similarly this would naturally imply that he had not performed salah for plus minus twenty four years in congregation. He would thus become a direct recipient of all those traditions in which warnings have been sounded for abandoning salah in congregation. All this is the aftermath of these interpretations, the Shia term these practices as Taqiyyah Mardiyah (preferred dissimulation).
- In the same vein, if he was practicing Taqiyyah in his salah all this time then what would the state of the rest his actions and devotions be, such as: proclamation of the shahadah, observance of fast in the month of Ramadan, Hajj, charity, striving in the path of Allah, enjoining good and forbidding evil. Was he practicing Taqiyyah in all these actions or was he sincere. Mull over this and decide for yourself.
Summary of Chapter Two
I have presented two issues in the second chapter from the books of the Shia and the Ahlus Sunnah. The Unity of ‘Ali and the Sahabah radiya Llahu ‘anhum in such significant affairs is concrete evidence of the religious brotherhood and mutual assistance that they displayed for the upliftment of the din of Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala. It is likewise categorical proof of the following as well:
- The religion of ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu and the rest of the Sahabah fraternity in general and Abu Bakr, ‘Umar and ‘Uthman in specific was one.
- They did not have diverse beliefs.
- Their practices were the same; not different.
- They had one Kalimah (proclamation of faith in specific words) and the words ‘‘Ali is the friend of Allah’ were not part of the Kalimah.
- There was only one Qur’an at that time; no one had an exclusive Qur’an (which was unique) for himself.
- They all would perform ablution in the same manner, and the ablution in which Masah (passing wet hands) over the feet instead of washing the feet did not exist.
- There was only one adhan in their times in which a third Shahadah did not feature after the first two.
- They would all perform salah in an identical way. They would not perform salah with their hands to their sides or upon a stone.
- In those blessed days the manner of sending salutations upon Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam was the same; they would not send salutations without the words ’بارك وسلم‘.
- They would hasten in breaking their fasts. Delaying was not their wont.
- Only one type of nikah was prevalent in that era; the nikah which was in compliance with the teachings of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. In other words, Mut’ah was not practiced.
In essence, they had uniformity in all that they believed and practiced. This is unequivocal evidence of their sincerity, honest interactions, compassion and reciprocal empathy. May Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala, grant us unity, love and understanding as well through the blessings of these pure souls.
 Al Bidayah wa al Nihayah, 5/249.
 Hamlah Haydari, 2/259.
 Mir’at al ‘Uqul Sharh al Usul, p. 388: chapter regarding the merits of Fatimah radiya Llahu ‘anha and the incident of Fadak.
 Tafsir al Qummi, p. 295: under the verse: and give your relatives.
 Al Ihtijaj p. 53: discussion around the dispute of ‘Ali, Abu Bakr and ‘Umar.
 Talkhis al Shafi, p. 354.
 The book of Sulaim ibn Qais al Hilali p. 224.Back to top