Assessing the allegation of cowardice against ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu

The merits of ‘Uthman, Dhu al Nurayn radiya Llahu ‘anhu
October 20, 2020
The Nikah of Umm Kulthum bint ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anha
October 20, 2020

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Assessing the allegation of cowardice against ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu

 

Regarding the conflict between ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu and Aisha radiya Llahu ‘anha, ‘Ammar ‘Ali rightfully states that there was only one confrontation and that these confrontations were not prompted by desire for wealth or worldly gain. Yet even though we are aware of the proverb:

 

الكذوب قد يصدق

A liar does speak the truth at times.

we have no clue why he did not lie at this juncture.

However, even though he is absolved of lying, he has intentionally ignored another reality. He says that it was not possible for ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu to wage jihad against the first three Khalifas as he had no supporters. It is agreed that one person alone cannot face an entire army and support is essential. So, if the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam avoided confrontation with the disbelievers until after he gained the support of the Ansar by migrating to Madinah then what excuse does ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu have for not waging war all by himself when he has made glorious claims about himself?

‘Allamah al Radi records the following in Nahj al Balaghah, which has the most sublime status in Shia literature:

 

قال أمير المؤمنين : إني والله لو لقيتُهم واحدا وهم طلاع الأرض كلَّها ما باليت ولا استوحشتُ ، وإني من ضلالتهم التي فيها والهدي الذي أنا عليه لعلى بصيرة من نفسي ، ويقين من ربي ، وإني إلى لقاء الله ولحسن ثوابه لمنتظر وراجٍ

‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu said: “Certainly by the oath of Allah, if I were to confront them all alone, and the entire earth was full of them, I would not be bothered nor would I feel any fear. And I have complete insight and conviction from my Rabb about the misguidance they are in and the guidance I am upon. And I am eager to meet my Rabb and I am hopeful of his handsome reward, anticipating it anxiously.”

 

What support and help does he require, one who cares less if the entire world were against him and he were confronting them all by himself?

Yes, if the Imams did not have control over their own lives then we could have said that not bothering or not fearing does not necessarily mean that he would not lose his life in the process. Therefore, it may have occurred to him that if I were to face them all by myself the chances of victory are far-fetched but if I am slain in the process then what is the benefit? The purpose of jihad is to elevate the din of Allah and if that cannot be accomplished then merely sacrificing one’s life has no real purpose.

 

‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu has control over his own life according to Shia

Since the Imam has control over his own life as al Kulayni has established and the Ithna ‘Ashariyyah (Twelvers) are unanimous upon this, then waging jihad all by himself against the enemy would have had such positive effects for the upliftment of din much greater than waging jihad along with supporters. If he was able to survive the attack of the enemy whilst being surrounded by his supporters then it is no great accomplishment, but if he prevailed all by himself it would have been the most supernatural feat.

Hindus are thrilled and easily swayed by phenomenal feats. If they had to observe such a feat, they would not hesitate to declare their faith all at once. Therefore, if ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu were to wage such a jihad once or twice only, the worst that could happen is that he would sustain wounds or lose consciousness but the impression that would have been created in the minds of people would have led friend and foe flocking into Islam. It would have outshone the achievements of the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam by far since the disbelievers knew that the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam was dependent on his forces whenever he faced them in battle and since it was a question of might and military strength, they also entertained thoughts of defeating him and they mustered the courage to confront him again and again.

If ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu fought those battles, then whatever was expected to be realised and achieved through Imam al Mahdi would have been achieved long before and the Ahlul Bayt would have been spared from the tribulations they faced.

But alas, not only did ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu shirk from waging war against the three Khalifas, he also could not face up to them and say to them even a little of the truth which the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said to Abu Jahal, Abu Lahab, Walid ibn ‘Utbah and Umayyah ibn Khalaf. Surprisingly, despite the Prophet’s salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam unparalleled bravery and courage, there is no similar narration highlighting these feats in any way. Moreover, the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam opposed the disbelievers all by himself and endured such persecution and hardship that ultimately compelled him to bid farewell to his land of origin. Yet, despite such cowardice ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu still remains the unparalleled hero.

 

‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu lived in fear and humiliation all his life according to the Shia

‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu never had even one opportunity in his life when he could proclaim the truth and endure hardship for the noble cause. Perhaps at the least he could have emigrated from Madinah and earned the rewards of emigration. Instead he remained in their midst like one of them and continued to perform salah behind them, listening to their sermons on Fridays and Eid celebrations. He even strengthened familial ties with them and passed his life in this manner. If not anything else, he could have at least avoided Taqiyyah as the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam avoided Taqiyyah.

Therefore, it is baseless to say that ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu did not wage jihad because he had no support. In fact, it is tantamount to disbelief in him as he said that he feared less even if the whole world confronted him and he was all alone. Added to this is that he was in control of his own life and his chances of prevailing were certain. How could ‘Ammar ‘Ali then say that he required support to wage jihad.

Similarly, if one were to page through Shia references one would find reports stating that all the Ansar of the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam remained loyal to ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu. Therefore, when he had the support of the Ansar and their progeny, why did he not wage jihad during the reign of the first three Khalifas.

The truth is that ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu whole-heartedly supported the first three Khalifas and he was loyal and devoted to them, especially the first two Khalifas, whom he continued to praise throughout his own reign as Khalifah, wherein he was not experiencing circumstances necessitating Taqiyyah. The majority of the Imamiyyah scholars maintain that Taqiyyah was prohibited upon him during his reign as the Khalifah as has been established previously. Similarly, the first three Khalifas were history by this time and who was ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu to fear dead people.

Considering all these facts, as well as the phenomenal bravery, courage and firm faith of ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu there is no other explanation other than stating that ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu considered their Caliphate legitimate and valid.

 

‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu could not stand up for Fatimah’s radiya Llahu ‘anha rights

Whilst ‘Ammar ‘Ali rightfully states that jihad is not waged for wealth and worldly matters, we would ask whether aiding the oppressed is part of Islam or not? And more so when the oppressed is none other than the beloved daughter of the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. If helping such an oppressed person not an essential Islamic duty? Despite his phenomenal ability, the support of the Ansar and their progenies, why then did he fail to help Fatimah radiya Llahu ‘anha? If she had forgiven her oppressors, then it would have been a different issue entirely but ‘Ammar ‘Ali says that she carried this grudge to her grave and refused to have anything to do with Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu. On the contrary if you insist that assisting the oppressed is a worldly matter and it has no relation with din then surely it would be prohibited to assist and there would be no reward for such an endeavour. In this situation, the objection of the Shia against the Sahabah for failing to support ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu is also futile.

However, we believe that ‘Ammar ‘Ali considers aiding the oppressed incumbent and regards it to be a part of Islam. This is because the Noble Qur’an as well as ahadith records of the Ahlus Sunnah, and Shia for that matter, are filled with reports of this nature. However, since criticism of the Sahabah is the objective, they must be criticised even if ‘Ali’s radiya Llahu ‘anhu position is compromised in the process.

Nevertheless, we are convinced that our discussion on Taqiyyah thus far would compel ‘Ammar ‘Ali to agree, even if not verbally, that ‘Ali’s radiya Llahu ‘anhu pledge of allegiance to the first three Khalifas and his silence on the issue of Fadak was on account of his belief that they were upon truth, and not Taqiyyah in any form.

As for what is to follow from here on, it will only give emphasis to what has been established thus far. It will impress on the minds of readers, who actually value ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu and acknowledge his true worth. Are they—who do not consider his association with the three Khalifas to be hypocritical but rather that it is was done seeking the pleasure of Allah—on truth or those who maintain that he lived in humiliation and suppression, deprived of his free will and choice, forced to observe double-standards and conceal the truth till the end? And despite knowing the implications of the following verse, he assimilated with the three Khalifas and the forces of falsehood, thereby obscuring the truth and concealing the truth despite being the flag-bearer of the cause of truth himself.

 

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