Shattering the Mirage: A Response to ‘Abdul Hussain Sharaf al Din’s al Muraja’at: Letter 59 and 60

Shattering the Mirage: A Response to ‘Abdul Hussain Sharaf al Din’s al Muraja’at: Letter 57 and 58
July 11, 2018
Shattering the Mirage: A Response to ‘Abdul Hussain Sharaf al Din’s al Muraja’at: Letter 61 and 62
July 17, 2018

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Letter 59

 

Muharram 28, 1330

 

I. Truth Manifests

II. Evasion

 

1) I have never seen, in the past or in the present, anyone more gentle in his tone, more strong in his argument, than your own self. Now truth has manifested itself due to the proofs which you have brought forth, thus uncovering the mask of doubt, revealing the pleasant countenance of conviction.

No longer do we claim that the meaning of “wali” and “mawla” in hadith al­Ghadir is “foremost,” or that it implies the “supporter,” or the like, nor anything akin to what that man who asked for a sure torment had suggested; your view regarding the “mawla” stands on firm grounds, and is taken for granted.

 

2) I wish you agree to our interpretation of the said hadith which is endorsed by a group of learned ‘ulema, including imam Ibn Hajar in his Al Sawa’iq al Muhriqa, and al­Halabi in his Sirat. They argue that even if we agree that he (‘Ali) is the most worthy of imamate, the [Prophet’s] intention here is futuristic; otherwise, he would have become the Imam in spite of the presence of the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam [which is an impossible situation, since the Prophet, as long as he was alive, was the sole Imam­tr.], who did not mind the forthcoming of an Imam after him.

It is as though the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam had said: “‘Ali shall be the Imam as soon as he receives the oath of allegiance;” so, such a situation will not collide with the precedence of the three Imams; it thus safeguards the honour of the good ancestors, may Allah Almighty be pleased with them all.

 

Sincerely,

S

 

Letter 60

 

Muharram 30, 1330

 

I. Evasion Refuted

 

You have, may Allah support the truth through your person, asked us to be convinced that the gist of hadith al­Ghadir is that ‘Ali is the most worthy of imamate when and if the Muslims choose him as such and swear the oath of allegiance to him, hence his priority to which the hadith hints is futuristic, rather than immediate. In other words, such a priority will take place when and if it is forcibly taken, rather than being actual, so that it does not clash with the caliphate of the three Imams who preceded him [in ruling the Muslims].

We ask you in the light of the truth, the dignity of justice, the honour of fairness, and the logic of fair play, if you yourself are convinced of it so that we may follow suit and follow in your footsteps. Do you agree to give such an explanation yourself, or can it be attributed to you, so that we may follow in your footsteps and do as you do?

I do not think that you are convinced or pleased with a view such as this. I am convinced that you yourself wonder about anyone who would accept to derive such a meaning for this hadith when the text does not at all suggest it, nor can anyone conceive it as such; nay, it even challenges the wisdom and discretion of the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam…, astaghfir-Allah.

It neither agrees with his great deeds nor very serious statements made on the Ghadir Day, nor with the irrefutable proofs which we brought forth above, nor with what al­Harith ibn al­Nu’man al­Fahri understood, and what is emphasized by Allah and His Messenger, as well as all the companions.

Yet even the pending priority does not actually agree with the general meaning of this hadith, for it obviously does not necessitate that ‘Ali ‘alayh al Salam should not have been the mawla of the three caliphs, nor the mawla of anyone who died while being contemporary to any of them.

This is exactly the opposite of the conclusion driven home by the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam who asked: “Do I not have more authority over the believers than the believers themselves have?” and people answered him in the affirmative; then he salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said: “To whomsoever I have been the mawla (i.e. master of each and every Muslim individual, without any exception), ‘Ali is his mawla.”

So, as you see, nobody is made the exception [other than, of course, the person of the Prophet Himself.] implied in this statement; ‘Ali is indeed the mawla without any argument. Both Abu Bakr and ‘Umar, having heard the words of the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam on the Ghadir Day, said to ‘Ali:1 “You have, O son of Abu Talib, become the mawla of every believing man and woman,”thus admitting that he had become the master of every believing man and woman, generalizing the application to all believing men and women since the sun set on the Day of the Ghadir.

Once ‘Umar was asked: “Your conduct with ‘Ali is quite different from that of any other companion of the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam.” ‘Umar responded by saying: “Why, he is my mawla,” as stated by Dar Qutni on page 36 of Al Sawa’iq al Muhriqa.

He thus admitted that ‘Ali was his master, and he (Ali) had not been chosen to be a caliph yet, nor had he yet received the oath of allegiance from anyone. Consider how his (‘Umar’s) statement proved that ‘Ali was his mawla and the mawla of every believing man and woman right then, not by virtue of futurity, since the Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him and his progeny, on behalf of the Almighty Allah, conveyed the same on the Ghadir Day. ‘Umar once asked ‘Ali to arbitrate in a case brought forth before him involving two bedouins disputants.

One of them asked: “Is this man (‘Ali) to judge between us?” ‘Umar immediately leaped in rage, took the man by the neck and said to him: “Woe unto you! Do you know who this man is? He is your mawla, my mawla, and the mawla of all believers; whoever rejects him as the mawla is certainly not a Muslim,” as stated near the conclusion of Chapter 11 of Ibn Hajar’s Al Sawa’iq al Muhriqa. Those who have recorded this incident are quite a few.

You, may Allah support the truth through your person, are aware of the fact that had the philosophy of Ibn Hajar and his supporters regarding the Ghadir hadith been accepted, the Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him and his progeny, would have been proven to be tampering with his own mission and responsibility – we seek refuge with Allah against thinking in such a manner – hallucinating in his speeches and deeds – Allah is above letting His Messenger do that – without having, according to such a philosophy, any purpose in that awesome situation other than making an announcement that after ‘Ali had been elected as caliph, he would be most fit for it, and that, the theory goes on, nobody should monopolize it, for ‘Ali and all other companions, and Muslims in general, are in that respect equal. What characteristic did the Prophet, peace be upon him and his progeny, intend then and there to attribute to ‘Ali, and ‘Ali alone, from among all others who are well­known for their history in serving Islam, if such philosophy, O Muslims, is proven accurate?

As regarding their claim that had ‘Ali’s priority regarding the Imamate not been futuristic, he would have become then the Imam in spite of the presence of the Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him and his progeny, we say that such a claim is indeed quite odd; it is the watering down of the truth, an unmatched misrepresentation which ignores the covenants of all prophets, caliphs, kings and princes to their successors. It overlooks the meaning of the hadith: “You to me are like Aaron to Moses except there will be no prophet after me.”

It is an attempt to forget his statement, peace be upon him and his progeny, in the hadith relevant to his kin when he warned them saying, “Therefore, listen to him [to ‘Ali] and obey him,” and to other numerous texts in this meaning. Even if we suppose that due to the presence of the Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him and his progeny, ‘Ali’s priority of the imamate could not be effective immediately, then obviously it had to be effective after his demise, following the unanimously accepted rule of interpreting a statement the absolute truth of which is unattainable by its closest meanings. As regarding the honour of the good ancestors, it is safeguarded without forcing such an interpretation as we will explain if necessary, Wassalam.

 

Sincerely,

Sh

 

Footnotes

  1. This is quoted by Dar Qutni, as indicated near the conclusion of Section 5, Chapter One, of Al Sawa’iq al Muhriqa by Ibn Hajar; so, refer to page 26. It is also narrated by many traditionists, each from his own source, and in their own books of traditions. Ahmed has quoted something similar from ‘Umar of the ahadith narrated by al Bara’ ibn ‘Azib on page 281, Vol. 4, of his Musnad, which we have already quoted in Letter No. 54 above.
 

 

Discussions

It seems that ‘Abdul Hussain’s best attempt to convince his audience of his argument is through propaganda. Initially he allowed the character of the Sheikh al Azhar to resist and contest the reasoning; and now he portrays his character as having conceded to his opponent’s softer argument.

The reasoning provided by ‘Abdul Hussain does nott seem convincing to members of the Ahlul Bayt though.

Fudayl ibn Marzuq states:

 

عن الفضيل بن مرزوق قال سمعت الحسن بن الحسن يقول لرجل ممن يغلو فيهم ويحكم أحبونا لله فإن أطعنا الله فأحبونا وإن عصينا الله فأبغضونا. قال فقال له رجل إنكم قرابة رسول الله وأهل بيته فقال ويحك لو كان الله مانعا بقرابة من رسول الله أحدا بغير طاعة الله لنفع بذلك من هو أقرب إليه منا أبا وأما والله إني لأخاف أن يضاعف للعاصي منا العذاب ضعفين وإني لأرجو أن يؤتى المحسن منا أجره مرتين.ويلكم اتقوا الله وقولوا فينا الحق فإنه أبلغ فيما تريدون ونحن نرضى به منكم ثم قال لقد أساء بنا آباؤنا إن كان هذا الذي تقولون من دين الله ثم لم يطلعونا عليه ولم يرغِّبونا فيه. قال فقال له ألم يقل رسول الله ﷺ لعلي من كنت مولاه فعلي مولاه؟ فقال أما والله إن لو يعني بذلك الإمرة والسلطان لأفصح لهم بذلك كما أفصح لهم بالصلاة والزكاة وصيام رمضان وحج البيت. ولقال لهم أيها الناس هذا وليكم من بعدي. فإن أنصح الناس كان للناس رسول الله ﷺ ولو كان الأمر كما تقولون إن الله ورسوله ﷺ اختارا عليا لهذا الأمر والقيام بعد النبي ﷺ إن كان لأعظم الناس في ذلك خطأ وجرما إذ ترك ما أمره به رسول الله ﷺ أن يقوم فيه كما أمره أو يعذر فيه إلى الناس.

I heard Hassan ibn Hassan saying to a man who used to show excessive love to them, i.e. the Ahlul Bayt, “Woe unto you people! Love us (only) for the pleasure of Allah. If we are obedient to Allah, then love us. And if we are disobedient to Allah, then do not love us.”

The man said to Hassan, “You are related to the Messenger of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam and from his family!”

Hassan said, “Woe unto you! If Allah were to prevent anyone from not worshipping Allah on account of his familial relationship with the Messenger of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, then those that are paternally and maternally closer to him than us would (also) benefit. By Allah, I fear that a sinner from among us will be given double punishment. Still, I hope that a good-doer among us will be given his reward twice. Woe unto you! Fear Allah and speak the truth about us, for this is closer to what you (actually) desire. We are well-pleased if that comes from you.”

He continued saying, “If what you people are saying (about us) is considered to be a part of Allah’s religion – and our forefathers neither informed us about it nor encouraged us – then surely they have wronged us!”

The man said to him, “Did the Messenger of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam not say to ‘Ali, “Whoever considers me his Mawla, ‘Ali is his Mawla?’”

Hassan replied, “Certainly! By Allah, if the Messenger of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam intended by it governance and authority he would have stated it unequivocally. The Messenger salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam was most eloquent, and most sincere to all Muslims. He would have stated [emphatically], ‘O people! This is the one in authority and the one deputed to carry out your affairs, so listen to him and obey.’

By Allah, if Allah and His Messenger salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam chose ‘Ali for this matter [succession after the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam] and appointed him to implement it for the Muslims after him, then ‘Ali disregards the command of Allah and His Messenger salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, he would be the first one responsible for disregarding the Allah’s and His Messengers instruction.”[1]

 

His ensuing arguments are premised on the term Mawla meaning successor. Scholars of Ahlus Sunnah have always maintained that it does not mean successor. They might engage in a discussion—under the presumption that it meant successor—that it refers to his eventual Khilafah and not immediate appointment. The reasoning in their argument is formidable. If we were to pursue this line of reasoning—assuming that the term Mawla means successor—the character of ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu suddenly appears inconsistent.

He is brave and strong against the Khawarij, but meek and timid in front of Abu Bakr? Let us not forget that the initial disappointment expressed by ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu for not being included in the consultation about who would succeed the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam was shared by Zubair radiya Llahu ‘anhu; why did they not mention the Hadith of Ghadir at this instance? Why would ‘Ali cite this Hadith when arguing with the Khawarij after he was already the Khalifah; when it would have been more appropriate for him to have raised this objection when Abu Bakr ‘usurped’ his post?

The narration that he cites about the congratulatory process is unreliable. appearing in the chain is Ali ibn Zaid ibn Judan, who is unreliable as we have repeatedly pointed out.[2]

The second narration about ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhu intervening is also unreliable.[3] Appearing in this chain is Hussain al Ashqar. We have also repeated pointed out that he is severely criticized and unreliable.[4] Furthermore, in this narration the chain is interrupted between Salim ibn Abi al Ja’d and ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhu.

Let us reflect on ‘Abdul Huayn’s reasoning when he cites the Hadith, “Does it not please you that you will be unto me as Harun was to Musa?” to prove that ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu is the immediate successor.

Let us begin by establishing the facts, then exploring the plausiblity of his reasoning. The Hadith about Harun ‘alayh al Salam and Musa ‘alayh al Salam refers to the incident at Tabuk, which preceded the Prophet’s salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam Hajj. Now let us assume that this refered to Khilafah. Let us momentarily ignore the fact that Harun ‘alayh al Salam predeceased Musa ‘alayh al Salam as that would take us back to discussions which we have already dealt with.[5] Proceding under this assumption, we find that ‘Abdul Hussain argues that the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam was instructed to announce ‘Ali’s radiya Llahu ‘anhu appointment or risk failing to convey; Ayat al Tabligh. This verse would be redundant if the Hadith at Tabuk refered to Khilafah. The converse is also true: if this verse actually means what ‘Abdul Hussain says it means; the only reasonable conclusion is that the Hadith at Tabuk did not refer to Khilafah after the Prophet’s salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam demise. Rather it meant, minor Khilafah during his absence.

If we establish that the Hadith at Tabuk does not refer to Khilafah, it is pointless citing it here to prove ‘Ali’s radiya Llahu ‘anhu immediate succession since the exclusion of his Khilafah during the Prophet’s salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam lifetime—after announcing that he is the Mawla—limits the timeframe of his being a Mawla. If it could be delayed during the Prophet’s salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam time, it is equally plausible that it be delayed during the Khilafah of the three who preceded him radiya Llahu ‘anhum.

We reiterate: this line of reasoning is purely for the purpose of exploring the consequences if the term Mawla meant leadership. We have already proven that it does not refer to leadership. Instead it refers to friendship, solidarity, and support.

 

NEXT⇒ Letter 61 and 62


[1] Al I’tiqad wa al Hidayah by al Bayhaqi, pg. 232-233

[2] See our discussions on Letter 16

[3] Tarikh Dimashq, vol. 42 pg. 235

[4] See our discussions on Letter. 10

[5] See our discussions on Letters: 26, 30

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