Safar 5, 1330
I. Requesting the Ahadith Relevant to the Inheritance
Please narrate to us the hadith of inheritance as transmitted by Sunnis,
Safar 5, 1330
I. Ali is the Prophet’s Heir
There is no doubt that the Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him and his progeny, has left ‘Ali with a legacy of knowledge and wisdom as much as the Almighty permitted His prophets and wasis to inherit, so much so that the Messenger of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam has said: “I am the city of knowledge and Ali is its gate; therefore, whoever wishes to attain knowledge, let him approach through the gate.”1
He, peace be upon him and his progeny, has said: “I am the storehouse of wisdom, and ‘Ali is its door… ‘Ali is the gateway of my knowledge, the one who explains after me the Message with which I have been sent; loving him is indicative of genuine faith, and hating him is hypocrisy.”
According to Zaid ibn Abu ‘Awfah, he, peace be upon him and his progeny, has addressed ‘Ali thus: “You are my brother and heir;”2 whereupon ‘Ali inquired: “And what will you bequeath unto me?” He, peace be upon him and his progeny, answered: “Whatever Prophets before me used to bequeath.” In another hadith, he, peace be upon him and his progeny, according to Buraydah, has said: “The heir of my knowledge is ‘Ali.”3
Refer also to the hadith on the day of warning. During the lifetime of the Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him and his progeny, ‘Ali ‘alayh al Salam used to say: “By Allah, I am his brother, successor and cousin, and the heir of his knowledge; so, who is more worthy of all this other than myself?”4
Once ‘Ali was asked: “How did you come to inherit your cousin rather than your uncle?” He answered: “The Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him and his progeny, gathered the descendants of ‘Abdul Muttalib, who were quite a few, and each one of them had such an appetite that would consider tree trunks edible and would drink water though not potable, and he prepared for them a mudd of food (a dry measure approximately Tangier 46.61, about one and threequarters of a pound); yet they all ate till they were satisfied, while the food looked as if it was not touched.
Then he, peace be upon him and his progeny, said: ‘O descendants of ‘AbdulMuttalib! I have been sent to you in particular, and to all people in general; so, who among you pledges to be my brother, friend and heir?’ Nobody stood; so, I stood, though the youngest among the attendants, but he salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam told me to sit. He repeated his statement twice, and each time, I was the only one who stood up, and every time he would tell me to sit. On the third time, he shook hands with me; thus did I come to inherit my cousin instead of my uncle.’“5
According to alHakim’s Al Mustadrak,6 and to alThahbi’s Talkhis, who both testify to its authenticity, Qatham ibn al’Abbas was asked once: “How did ‘Ali come to inherit the Messenger of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam rather than your own selves?” He answered: “It is so due to his being the foremost among us in following him, and in keeping company with him more than anyone of us.”
It was well known that ‘Ali, rather than his uncle al’Abbas or any descendant of Hashim, was the heir of the Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him and his progeny. They accepted that as a fact, though they were informed of the reason why such inheritance was confined to ‘Ali alone, who was the Prophet’s cousin, rather than to al’Abbas, his uncle, or to any other uncle or relative of the Prophet, peace be upon him and his progeny. For this reason, they used to ask ‘Ali ‘alayh al Salam once and once Qatham, and the latter used to answer them as stated above in a way that is satisfactory to the understanding of those inquirers.
Otherwise, the answer would be that Allah, the Exalted and omniScient, looked upon the people of the earth and chose from among them Muhammad salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam and elevated him to be the Prophet, then He cast another look and selected ‘Ali and inspired to His Messenger, peace be upon him and his progeny, to take him as his heir and successor.
On page 125, Vol. 3, of Al Mustadrak, alHakim, having quoted Qatham stating the above, says: “The judge of judges [supreme judge, or grand mufti], Abul-Hassan Muhammad ibn Salih alHashimi, has told me that he once heard Abu ‘Umar the judge saying: ‘I heard Isma’il ibn Ishaq the judge, having been informed of what Qatham had said, saying that a man inherits another through either a blood relationship or sincere loyalty, and men of knowledge do not dispute the fact that [under normal circumstances] a cousin does not become the heir while the uncle [his father] is still alive.’
According to such consensus, ‘Ali inherited the Prophet’s knowledge rather than they.” As a matter of fact, chroniclers are sequential in narrating such a fact, especially through the sources of the purified progeny, and suffices us for proof is the Will and its clear texts, Wassalam.
- We have quoted this hadith and the couple before it in Letter No. 48 above. Refer in that Letter to ahadith number 9, 10 and 11, and do not overlook our comments.
- We have quoted the said hadith in Letter No. 32.
- Refer to it in Letter No. 68 above.
- This statement verbatim is confirmed as being ‘Ali’s. It is quoted by al Hakim on page 126, Vol. 3, of his Al Mustadrak through a narration endorsed by al Bukhari and Muslim. Al Thahbi, in his Talkhis al Mustadrak, has admitted the same.
- This hadith stands on firm grounds, and it is a lengthy one. It has been quoted by al Diya’ al Maqdisi in his Al Mukhtara, and by Ibn Jarir in his Tahthib al Athar. It is hadith number 6155 on page 408, Vol. 6, of Kanz al ’Ummal. It is also quoted by al Nisa’i on page 18 of his Al Khasa’is al ’Alawiyya, and it is transmitted by Ibn Abul-Hadid from al Tabari’s Tarikh near the end of the commentary on the “qasi’a” sermon, page 255, Vol. 3, of Sharh Nahjul Balaghah. Refer also to page 159, Vol. 1, of Imam Ahmed ibn Hanbal’s Musnad where you will find the same hadith conveying this meaning.
- It occurs on page 125 of its third volume. It is also quoted by Ibn Abu Shaybah, and it is hadith number 6084 on page 400, Vol. 6, of Kanz al ’Ummal.
‘Abdul Hussain has cited narrations which, he alleges, proves that ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu is the sole heir to the Prophet’s salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam knowledge which leads to the conclusion that only he is the Prophet’s salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam rightful successor. He had previously cited all these narrations and we have already discussed them at length. Ahlus Sunnah do not dispute the fact that ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu is an heir to the Prophet’s salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam knowledge. However, they accept that there are many other heirs to this tradition and it is not limited to ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu
Narrations 1, 2, 3 are essentially the same narration. They are merely variations of the same narration.
“I am the city of knowledge and ‘Ali is its door,”
“I am the abode of wisdom and ‘Ali is its door,”
“‘Ali is the door to my knowledge…”
We have already discussed this narration. There is no harm in mentioning some of the Hadith experts who considered this narration unreliable or even fabricated:
- Yahya ibn Sa’id al Qattan – (d. 198 A.H)
- Yahya ibn Ma’in – (d. 233 A.H) even though there are contrasting opinions attributed to him.
- Ahmed ibn Hanbal – (d. 241 A.H)
- Al Bukhari – (d. 256 A.H)
- Abu Zur’ah al Razi – (d. 264 A.H)
- Abu Hatim al Razi – (d. 277 A.H)
- Al Tirmidhi – (d. 279 A.H)
- Mutayyin – (d. 297 A.H)
- Al ‘Uqayli – (d. 322 A.H)
- Ibn Hibban – (d. 354 A.H)
- Ibn ‘Adi – (d. 365 A.H)
- Al Azdi – (d. 374 A.H)
- Al Daraqutni – (d. 380 A.H)
- Abu Bakr ibn al ‘Arabi – (d. 543 A.H)
- Ibn ‘Asakir – (d. 571 A. H)
- Ibn al Jawzi – (d. 597 A.H)
- Abu ‘Abdullah al Qurtubi – (d. 671)
- Al Nawawi – (d. 676 A.H)
- Ibn Daqiq al ‘Id – (d. 702 A.H)
- Ibn Taymiyyah – (d. 728 A.H)
- Al Dhahabi – (d. 748 A.H)
- Ibn Kathir – (d. 774 A.H)
- Nur al Din al Haythami – (d. 807 A.H)
- Al ‘Ajluni – (d. 1162 A.H)
- ‘Abdul Rahman al Mu’allimi – (d. 1386 A.H) 
This list is not exhaustive, though it serves the purpose of this discussion.
The fourth narration
“You are my brother and heir…”
This narration was shown to be unreliable and defective in our discussion under Letter 32. Again, ‘Abdul Hussain merely lifted the words of the narration which suit him and he ignores the rest of the narration. In it there is praise for so many of the Prophet’s salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam Companions, whom he referred previously to as:
Those who concealed their grudge, and hid their animosity, from the party of Pharaoh during the early epoch of Islam, worshippers of authority and domination who spent everything they possessed of might and means to hide the contributions of Ahlul Bayt and put out their light in every land.
If he is prepared to accept this narration, then he ought to retract his vile comments about the Sahabah radiya Llahu ‘anhum!
The narration, however, suffers from a series of flaws; the chain is interrupted, many narrators are unknown, and those who are known are weak and unreliable! Are these our ‘Sihah’ that he claims is evidence against us?
The fifth narration
The Hadith of Buraydah radiya Llahu ‘anhu will feature in the next round of ‘correspondence’. We shall discuss this narration there.
The sixth narration
He has cited what he refers to as the Hadith of the Day of Warning. We have previously pointed out the major flaws in this narration under the heading ‘The Hadith of Warning his closest kin.’
The seventh narration
“By Allah, I am his brother, successor and cousin, and the heir of his knowledge…”
This is a statement attributed to ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu. We have proven earlier that the chain of transmission for this report is unreliable. The details in the footnote are blatant lies. Al Hakim did not grade this authentic on the criteria of al Bukhari or Muslim, let alone both! Al Dhahabi did not ratify the authenticity of this narration in his Talkhis; on the contrary he remained silent. He did, however, declare it baseless in another work of his.
The eighth narration
This is actually the sixth narration which he has repeated. He quotes a selected part of the Hadith, creating the impression that it is a different narration, whereas it is the very Hadith of Day of Warning which he alluded to a few lines back.
The ninth narration
This is not a Prophetic Hadith. It is a declaration by Qutham ibn ‘Abbas radiya Llahu ‘anhuma which is contested in terms of its reliablity. It is only known by way of Abu Ishaq al Sabi’i, and from him there are two narrators: Zuhayr ibn Muawiyah and Sharik ibn ‘Abdullah al Nakha’i.
Abu Ishaq al Sabi’i is known for having suffered the loss of memory towards the end his life. As such, those who relate from him prior to the memory lapse are preferred over those who narrated from him towards the end of his life.
Zuhayr ibn Muawiyah is a reliable narrator but only took Hadith from Abu Ishaq towards the end of his life. Ahmed ibn Hanbal has criticized the narrations of Zuhayr from Abu Ishaq al Sabi’i specifically. Abu Zur’ah al Razi and Abu Hatim al Razi appear to share those reservations about the naration of Zuhayr from Abu Ishaq al Sabi’i.
Sharik ibn ‘Abdullah al Nakha’i took Hadith from Abu Ishaq early on, but his narrations were affected on account of weakness of memory, especially after being assigned the post of Qadi.
Some scholars considered this narration unreliable due to these factors, whereas those who accepted it understood it to mean inheritance in terms of knowledge. That does not mean that he was the exclusive heir of the Prophet; instead it refers to the fact that he was the most knowledgable from the Ahlul Bayt. This is consistant with the reasoning provided by Qutham ibn ‘Abbas radiya Llahu ‘anhuma.
‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu negated the allegation that he was given any exclusive knowledge. Abu Juhayfah relates:
عن الشعبي قال سمعت أبا جحيفة قال :سألت عليا رضى الله عنه هل عندكم شىء ما ليس في القرآن وقال مرة ما ليس عند الناس فقال والذي فلق الحب وبرأ النسمة ما عندنا إلا ما في القرآن إلا فهما يعطى رجل في كتابه وما في الصحيفة.قلت وما في الصحيفة قال العقل وفكاك الأسير وأن لا يقتل مسلم بكافر
I asked ‘Ali, “Have you got any (exclusive knowledge) apart from the Qur’an?”
(Once he said…apart from what the people have?)
‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu replied, “By Him Who cause the grain split and created the soul, we have nothing except what is in the Qur’an. Other than that it is the understanding of His Book which He may gift any man with; and what is written on this scroll!”‘
I asked, “What is written in this scroll?”
He replied, “(The rules of) ‘Aql [bloodmoney], ransoming of captives, and that a Muslim should not be killed (in Qisas) for killing a disbeliever.”
If it is a question of ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu being the Prophet’s salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam heir in knowledge, why is it that the Ahlus Sunnah narrate more narrations from ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu than what appears in the Shia collections?
If we take Musnad Ahmed only, there are more than 800 narrations that are transmitted by way of ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib radiya Llahu ‘anhu. This collection of Hadith, alone, exceeds the number of narrations transmitted by the Shia collectively in their primary sources by way of ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu! If ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu was the sole heir to the Prophet’s salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam knowledge, how is it that Musnad Ahmed comprises of close to 30000 narrations. ‘Ali’s radiya Llahu ‘anhu narrations in Musnad Ahmed account for roughly three-percent of all the narrations found in it. If it were argued that this is due to prejudice; a simple comparison with the narrations of ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhu in Musnad Ahmed – which do not exceed 320 narrations in the entire Musnad – dismisses any allegation that this was a result of prejudice.
Let ‘Abdul Hussain bring those narrations – which he alleges are Mutawatir – in this regard. We can only hope that they are nothing like the forty narrations he cited in Letter 60; those were unreliable even by Shia standards!
 See the discussions under Letter. 48
 Kashf al Khafa, vol. 1 pg. 235
 ‘Ilal Ahmed ibn Hanbal, vol. 3 pg. 9; al Jarh wal Ta’dil, vol. 6 pg. 99
 ‘Ilal al Marrudhi, (308); al Muntakhab (120)
 Al ‘Ilal al Kabir by al Tirmidhi, (699)
 Al Du’afa’, vol. 1 pg. 519
 Al Jarh wal Ta’dil, vol. 8 pg. 22
 Jami’ al Tirmidhi, Hadith no: 3723; al ‘Ilal al Kabir, (699)
 Tarikh Dimashq, vol. 42 pg. 381
 Al Du’afa’, vol. 3 pg.149
 Al Majruhin, vol. 1 pg. 151, vol. 2 pg. 94
 Al Kamil, vol. 2 pg. 341, vol. 5 pg. 67
 Al Bidayah wa al Nihayah, vol. 11 pg. 96
 Al ‘Ilal, vol. 3 pg. 248
 Ahkam al Qur’an, vol. 3 pg. 1114
 Tarikh Dimashq, vol. 42 pg. 380
 Al Mawdu’at, vol.1 pg. 353, 355
 Al Jami’ li Ahkam al Qur’an, vol. 9 pg. 336
 Tahdhib al Asma wa al Lughat, vol. 1 pg. 248
 Al Maqasid al Hassanah, pg. 97
 Minhaj al Sunnah, vol. 7 pg. 515-522
 Talkhis al Mustadrak, vol. 3 pg. 126; Tarikh al Islam, vol. 18 pg. 268
 Jami’ al Masanid, Musnad ibn ‘Abbas radiya Llahu ‘anhuma (1940)
 Majma’ al Zawa’id, vol. 9 pg. 114
 Kashf al Khafa’, vol. 1 pg. 235
 Hashiyat al Fawa’id al Majmu’ah, pg. 349
 Narration no. 4
 Letter 64
 See discussions on Letter 20
 See discussions on Letter 34; Narration no.15
 Mizan al I’tidal, vol. 3 pg. 255
 Al Mustadrak, vol. 3 pg. 125
 Al Taqrib, bio. 5065
 Al Jarh wal Ta’dil, vol. 3 pg. 588; Tahdhib al Kamal, vol. 9 pg. 424
 See discussions under Letter 22
 Sahih al Bukhari, Kitab al Diyat, Hadith no: 6903