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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 narrations, i.e. his observance of salah with Abu Bakr and setting out with him to subdue the renegades in Dhu al Qassah.”
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. The following is documented in Tafsir al-Qummi:
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 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 judgements are formulated. No rulings can be formulated upon hidden 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.”
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:
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.