Shattering the Mirage: A Response to ‘Abdul Hussain Sharaf al Din’s al Muraja’at: Letter 73 and 74

1.3 Tawthiq of a narrator on account of him being in the asanid of the book Kamil al Ziyarat
October 22, 2021
Conclusion
November 2, 2021

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Letter 73

 

Safar 13, 1330

 

I. Requesting an Explanation to our Rejection of ‘Ayesha’s Hadith

 

You are not one who deceives, cheats, or pretends, nor are you one who falsely charges someone. You are above being charged or accused as being as such. I, praise be to Allah, neither criticize nor disprove, nor do I look for someone’s faults nor shortcomings; truth is my pursuit. I cannot help asking you why you turn away from her [‘Ayesha’s] hadith, and your documented answer to this question is unavoidable.

Convey your message, and have no worry,

Let thy eyes be cooled, and be merry.

 

The argument I press in this regard is embedded in the meaning of this verse of the Holy Qur’an:

“Those who have concealed what We have revealed of clear signs and guidance after We had made them clear to mankind in the Book: these have been cursed by Allah and by those who curse (2:159)” …

 

Wassalam.

Sincerely,

S

 

Letter 74

 

Safar 14, 1330

 

I. Explaining Why We Reject her Hadith

II. Reason Confirms the Will

III. Her Claim that the Prophet Died on Her Chest is Refuted

 

1) You have, may Allah assist you, insisted that I should elaborate, and you have left me no option except doing just that. Due to the wealth of your knowledge, you know where we come from. Here lies the fountainhead of the will; here lies the battle-ground of explicit texts; here lies the annihilation of the khums, inheritance, and creed; here lies the cause of sedition; here lies the reason of discord; here lies the root of dissension…1 While fighting the Commander of the Faithful, she toured the lands, leading a huge army in order to usurp his government and put an end to his rule.

What happened has happened; I am no narrator of that;

So have good thoughts, and do not ask who, when or what.

 

To argue in support of denying the will to ‘Ali using her own statement, the most bitter of his enemies that she was, is an attempt not expected at all from any fair­minded person. And that was not the only incident that demonstrated her animosity towards ‘Ali ‘alayh al Salam. Denying the will to ‘Ali is much less significant than the Lesser Camel Battle2 and the Greater Camel Battle in which evil intentions surfaced and the curtain removed.

Likewise, her attitude was manifest even before going out to fight him, the man who was her own wali, and her Prophet’s wasi, till the news of his death reached her, whereupon she prostrated to thank God (for his martyrdom) and composed these lines:3

She laid down her rod, happy and pleased,

Her heart joyful, her mind eased;

As a traveller arrives home, of burdens relieved;

Never say ‘Ayesha, by Ali’s death, was grieved.

 

If you desire, I may quote for you of her hadith what proves to you that she was in remote error. She has said: “When the Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him and his progeny, became seriously sick, he went out dragging his feet, reclining on two persons; one of them was ‘Abbas ibn ‘Abdul­Muttalib and another man.”4

The narrator of this hadith comments adding: “I informed ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Abbas about what ‘Ayesha had said, and he responded to me saying, ‘Do you know the name of the man whom ‘Ayesha did not name?’ I said: ‘no.’ Ibn ‘Abbas said: ‘He was ‘Ali ibn Abu Talib.’ “The narrator continues to say that ‘Ayesha does not wish ‘Ali any good.”5

If she did not wish any good to a man with whom the Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him and his progeny, walked, how could she then be expected to feel good about mentioning the will which contains a great deal of good for ‘Ali?

On page 113, Vol. 6, of his Musnad, Imam Ahmed quotes ‘Ata’ ibn Yasar saying: “A man came and spoke ill of both ‘Ali and ‘Ammar to ‘Ayesha who responded by saying, ‘As regarding ‘Ali, I have nothing to say to defend him; but concerning ‘Ammar, I have heard the Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him and his progeny, say that whenever ‘Ammar had to opt between two options, he always chose the most reasonable of them.’”

Have you noticed that?! The mother of the believers warns about plotting against ‘Ammar due to the saying of the Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him and his progeny, “Whenever ‘Ammar had to opt between two options, he always chose the most reasonable of them,” while refraining from warning against plotting to harm ‘Ali who is the brother and successor of the Prophet, his Aaron and confidant, the most just among his nation, the foremost to believe in his message, the one whose merits are the most…!

As if she is not aware of his status in the eyes of Allah, the Exalted and Mighty, or his position in the heart of the Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him and his progeny, or his status in Islam, his great efforts for its promotion, and his handsome contributions. As if she never heard anything in the Book of Allah nor the Sunnah of His Messenger salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam in his praise, so that she would place him at par with ‘Ammar!

By Allah, my mind is perplexed when I consider her statement: “I have seen the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, while on my chest, ordering a wash-bowl to be brought to him; I hardly noticed how fast he collapsed and died; so, how could he have made a will to ‘Ali?” I do not know which aspect of her statement I should criticize, being scrutinized as a whole from various angles.

I wonder how anyone can presume that since his death took place the way she described, he could not have left a will. Did she think that a will is valid only at the time of death?! No, but it is the excuse of one who is fighting the irrefutable truth, whoever he or she may be, while Allah has said in His Glorious Book, addressing His revered Messenger salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam,

“It is prescribed unto you when death approaches someone to leave something good, a will (Qur’an, 2:180 and 5:106).”

 

Did the mother of the believers ever see him, peace be upon him and his progeny, going against the instructions of the Book of Allah or ignoring its injunctions? God forbid. She saw him following its guidance, adhering to its verses, rushing to obey its bidding and forbidding, reaching the ultimate end of adherence to all its injunctions.

There is no doubt in my mind that she must have heard him saying: “No believer who knows that he is leaving something behind him should sleep even two nights without having his will written,”6 or something in this meaning, for his instructions regarding the writing of wills have undoubtedly come from him.

It does not fit him or any other Prophet, blessings of Allah be upon all of them, to bid something without doing it himself, or forbid something while doing the opposite thereof; Allah is above selecting such individuals for conveying His message.

As regarding what Muslim and others have quoted ‘Ayesha saying: “The Messenger of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam left neither a dinar nor a dirham, neither a male nor a female camel, nor did he leave any will,” it is just like its previous “hadith.”

Yet it is not correct to assume that what she meant was that he salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam did not leave any will at all, but rather that he did not have possessions which required a will, for, indeed, he did not leave much of this world’s wares, the most ascetic person that he was. He joined his Lord, the Exalted and the Sublime, leaving a few outstanding debts,7 and a few items, in addition to things entrusted to him by other people which required a will [regarding who they belonged to].

He also left of his own possessions something that would help defray his debts, and the fulfillment of his promises, with a remnant that required being handed over to his heir. The proof for that is what Fatima al­Zahra’, peace be upon her, rightfully demanded of her father’s inheritance.8

 

2) The Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him and his progeny, left things which demanded a will, things which no other human being ever left. Suffices you that he left the upright religion of Allah, while still at the beginning of its growth and early inception, and that by itself demanded an heir more than did gold or silver, a house or a real estate, lands or cattle.

The entire nation became his orphans and widows, seeking refuge with his successor to take his place to fare with them and manage their religious and secular affairs. It is impossible that the Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him and his progeny, should have entrusted Allah’s religion, while still in its cradle, to inclinations and presumptions, or left the protection of its legislation to personal motives and interests, without a successor to look after religious as well as secular affairs, someone upon whom he could rely to represent him before the public.

He is above leaving his orphans, who inhabited spacious lands, like frightened cattle in a rainy winter night, without anyone to look after them. He is above abandoning the will especially after having received instructions in its regard from his Lord and thus strongly commanded his nation to do so. Reason does not listen to the claim that no will was made, even if such a claim comes from a highly respected person.

At the dawn of the Islamic era, the Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him and his progeny, made a will to ‘Ali ‘alayh al Salam even before his mission was publicized in Mecca, immediately following the revelation of the verse saying: “And warn your near kin (26:214),” as we explained in Letter 20. He continued repeating his will time and over again, emphasizing it through many covenants to which we had referred.

When he finally wished, while in his last hours, may I sacrifice my parents for his own sake, to write his will to ‘Ali ‘alayh al Salam to emphasize his previous verbal covenants, and to back his previous verbal statements in this regard, he, peace be upon him and his progeny, said: “Bring me some writing material so that I may write for you something to protect you against straying,” but they disputed, while no dispute is permitted in the presence of a Prophet, and said: “The Messenger of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam is delirious.’’9

It was then that he salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam realized, after they had made such a statement, that no trace would remain of his intended order, if implemented, other than dissension; therefore, he told them to clear his room, feeling satisfied with the verbal covenants which he had made to ‘Ali ‘alayh al Salam.

In spite of all this, however, he made three recommendations at the time of his death: that they should select ‘Ali as his successor; that they should turn the polytheists out of the Arabian peninsula; and that they should reward the envoys in the same way he salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam used to reward them. But the dictates of politics at that time did not permit the traditionists to narrate his first will, claiming that they had forgotten it.

Al ­Bukhari, at the conclusion of the hadith containing the charge that the Messenger of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam was delirious, said verbatim: “And his salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam will at the time of his death contained three instructions: to turn the polytheists out of the Arabian peninsula, to reward the envoys in the same way which he used to reward them…, and the third one was forgotten.”10 This is how Muslim puts it in his Sahih, and so do all other authors of sunan and musnads.

 

3) The claim of the mothers of believers that the Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him and his progeny, joined his Lord while being on her chest is opposed by the authenticated tradition stating that he salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam joined the Supreme Companion while being on the chest of his brother and friend (wali) ‘Ali ibn Abu Talib ‘alayh al Salam, according to all consecutively reported sahihs from the Imams of the purified progeny which are supported by Sunni sahihs, as is well­known to researchers, Wassalam.

 

Sincerely,

Sh

 

Footnotes:

  1. This agrees with Sunni books of traditions; so, refer to al Bukhari’s Sahih, his chapter on the households of the Prophet’s wives, his treatise on holy wars and traditions, page 125, Vol. 2, and you will find the details.
  2. The dissension of the Lesser Camel Battle took place in Basra five days before the end of Rabi’ ul-Thani, 36 A.H., before the arrival of the Commander of the Faithful ‘alayh al Salam there, when the city was attacked by the mother of believers [‘Ayesha] accompanied by Talhah and al Zubair. ‘Ali’s governor of Basra then was ‘Uthman ibn Hanif al Ansari. Forty supporters of ‘Ali ‘alayh al Salam were killed at its mosque, and seventy others elsewhere. ‘Uthman ibn Hanif, who was one of the most respectful sahabah, was taken captive, and his captors wanted to kill him but feared revenge from his brother Suhayl and the rest of the Ansar; so, they shaved his beard, moustache, eyebrows, and head; they beat him, imprisoned him, then they expelled him from Basra. They were fought by Hakim ibn Jablah, with a group of his tribe ‘Abd Qais, of whom he was chief. Hakim was a man of wisdom, discretion, and prestige, and he was followed by a group of Banu Rabi’a who refused to cease fighting till each and every one of them was martyrded, including Hakim, in addition to his most honourable son, his brave brother, and Basra fell in the hands of the invading army. When ‘Ali ‘alayh al Salam came, he had to face ‘Ayesha’s army, and so did the Greater Camel Battle take place. The details of both battles are preserved in books of history written by Ibn Jarir, Ibn al Athir, and in many others.
  3. As quoted by trustworthy chroniclers such as Abul-Faraj al Asfahani at the conclusion of his discussion of ‘Ali in his book Maqatil al Talibiyyin.
  4. As quoted by al Bukhari about her in his section on the Prophet’s salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam sickness and demise, page 62, Vol. 3, of his Sahih.
  5. This statement in particular, i.e. Ibn ‘Abbas saying that ‘Ayesha does not wish him any good, is left out by al Bukhari who stops his quotation at its preceding statements, following his customary habit in such situations, but many authors of books of tradition have quoted it through their authentic reporters. Consider what Ibn Sa’d records on page 29, Section Two, Vol. 2, of his Tabaqat, where he cites a chain of narrators including Ahmed ibn al Hajjaj, ‘Abdullah ibn Mubarak, Younus, Mu’ammar, al Zuhri, ‘Ubaidullah ibn Atbah ibn Mas’ud, whose sources end with Ibn ‘Abbas. Reporters of this hadith are considered trustworthy according to the consensus of scholars.
  6. As quoted by al Bukhari at the beginning of his treatise on wills in his Sahih, page 83, Vol. 2. It is also quoted by Muslim in his section on the record of the [Prophet’s] will, page 10, Vol. 2, of his Sahih.
  7. Mu’ammar quotes Qatadah saying that ‘Ali ‘alayh al Salam had taken care, on behalf of the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, of certain matters after his demise, most of which was a debt estimated at five hundred thousand dirhams; so, refer to this hadith on page 60, Vol. 4, of Kanz al ’Ummal, and it is hadith number 1170 among the ones which he narrates.
  8. As quoted by al Bukhari at the and of his chapter on Khaybar’s campaign in his Sahih, page 37, Vol. 2.
  9. This is quoted verbatim by Muhammad ibn Ismail al Bukhari in his section on generosity towards envoys in his book Al Jihad wal Siyar, page 118, Vol. 2, of his Sahih.
  10. Refer to it in the chapter dealing with rewarding the emissaries on page 118, Vol. 2, of Al Jihad wal Siyar.

 

Discussions

In the letter ascribed to the Sheikh al Azhar he addresses ‘Abdul Hussain stating that he considers him above suspicion of lying, pretence, or falsifying information. However, our experience thus far has revealed these to be the most accurate adjectives that could possibly describe the nature and content of their ‘correspondence’! The most recent proof for this is a simple comparison of what he had written in his previous correspondence with what he has written here.

He feigns that he is compelled to divulge the ‘facts’ on Aisha radiya Llahu ‘anha at the insistence of his interlocutor. The diligent reader will easily recognise the fact that the person he has described in this letter cannot possibly be regarded the Mother of the Believers, nor one who enjoys a special status or has any contribution standing to her credit.

Objectivity demands that Aisha radiya Llahu ‘anha be judged against the backdrop of all her virtues and merits. Whilst the absence of objectivity is evident throughout al Murajaat, this is one occasion where we witness an amplification of the lies, slander, and deliberate misrepresentation of facts. The nefarious attempt to tarnish her reputation through a series of distortions and misdirects is blatantly evident to anyone who reads those incidents without jaundiced eyes.

The entire argument in this round of correspondence is premised on an imaginary hostility between Aisha radiya Llahu ‘anha and ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu. An honest depiction of history, one that is consistent with reality, will deconstruct the lies and deceit which have long become the hallmark features of Al Murajaat.

 

The source of Fitnah

In his version of reality, Aisha’s radiya Llahu ‘anha denial of the Wasiyyah is consistent with what happened at Jamal. All of this has been prophecized he alleges; no less in Sahih al Bukhari, repeatedly. He accuses Aisha radiya Llahu ‘anha of sedition, discord, dissension, and raising an army against ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu. He holds her responsible for what he considers the usurpation of the seat of succession, and of that which resulted in what he believes to be the cause of the Prophet’s salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam inheritence not being distributed. These venomous allegations are a true reflection of the pent up rage that burns in the hearts of many of his creed. Whilst ‘Abdul Hussain’s iniquitous slander is an honest reflection of the indignation expected of the Twelver Shia, our task is to investigate what the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam really said.

One would only seek a selective version of this narration and ignore all other evidence if the objective is deception. It stands to reason that the most effective and objective method of determining what the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam meant by whatever he salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam actually said is to collect all the versions of that Hadith and determine his intent in light of the collective details. We begin with the narration which ‘Abdul Hussain alludes to, which is narrated by way of ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhuma with multiple chains. We shall reproduce these narrations for the purpose of comparison. The esteemed reader will not be surprised to learn of the lies which form the cornerstone of al Murajaat.

a. Malik — ‘Abdullah ibn Dinar — ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhuma said:

 

عن مالك، عن عبد الله بن دينار، عن عبد الله بن عمر، أنه قال رأيت رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم يشير إلى المشرق ويقول ‏ها إن الفتنة ها هنا إن الفتنة ها هنا من حيث يطلع قرن الشيطان

I saw the Messenger of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam pointing towards the East and saying, “The cause of Fitnah is here. The cause of Fitnah is there, from where the horn of Shaitan emerges.”[1]

 

b. Shu’ayb — al Zuhri — Salim ibn ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Umar — his father, ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhuma said:

 

شعيب عن الزهري، عن سالم بن عبد الله، أن عبد الله بن عمر رضى الله عنهما قال سمعت رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم يقول وهو على المنبر ‏ألا إن الفتنة ها هنا ـ يشير إلى المشرق من حيث يطلع قرن الشيطان ‏

I heard the Messenger of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam saying whilst on the pulpit, “The Fitnah [will emerge from] there—pointing towards the East—from where the horn of Shaitan emerges.”[2]

 

c. Sufyan ibn ‘Uyaynah — ‘Abdullah ibn Dinar — ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhuma said:

 

سفيان، عن عبد الله بن دينار، عن ابن عمر رضى الله عنهما ـ قال سمعت النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم يقول ‏الفتنة من ها هنا وأشار إلى المشرق‏.‏

I heard the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam saying, “Fitnah will emerge from there,” pointing towards the East.[3]

 

d. Ma’mar — al Zuhri — Salim ibn ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Umar — his father, ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhuma said:

 

عن معمر، عن الزهري، عن سالم عن أبيه عن النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم أنه قام إلى جنب المنبر فقال ‏الفتنة ها هنا الفتنة ها هنا من حيث يطلع قرن الشيطان ‏أو قال ‏قرن الشمس ‏

The Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam stood up beside the pulpit (and pointed with his finger towards the East) and said, “Fitnah [will emerge from] there! Fitnah [will emerge from] there, from where the horn of Shaitan emerges,” or he said, “… the side of the sun…”[4]

 

e. Layth — Nafi’ — ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhuma said:

 

ليث، عن نافع، عن ابن عمر رضى الله عنهما أنه سمع رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم وهو مستقبل المشرق يقول ‏ألا إن الفتنة ها هنا من حيث يطلع قرن الشيطان ‏

I heard the Messenger of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam—while he was facing the East—saying, “Verily! Fitnahs are [from] there, from where the horn of Shaitan emerges.”[5]

 

These narrations indicate nothing more than the fact that Fitnah will emerge from the East. There is absolutely no mention of the home of Aisha radiya Llahu ‘anha. ‘Abdul Hussain ignored all these narrations and singles out a version of this Hadith which mentions the house of Aisha radiya Llahu ‘anha—which is essentially the Prophet’s salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam house—for no reason other than to deceive unsuspecting readers.

The version whose wording he cites is an authentic narration, but has nothing to do with Aisha radiya Llahu ‘anha in anyway whatsoever. Anyone familiar with the geography of the Prophet’s salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam Masjid would be aware that his house—where he lived with Aisha radiya Llahu ‘anha—was towards the East, as the Qiblah is to the South. So, when ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Umar mentions the home of Aisha radiya Llahu ‘anha it serves no function other than to emphasize that he meant the East.

 

f. Juwayriyah — Nafi’ — ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhuma said:

 

جويرية، عن نافع، عن عبد الله رضى الله عنه قال قام النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم خطيبا فأشار نحو مسكن عائشة فقال ‏هنا الفتنة ـ ثلاثا ـ من حيث يطلع قرن الشيطان

The Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam stood up and delivered a sermon, and pointing in the direction of Aisha’s radiya Llahu ‘anha house, saying, “Fitnahs are [from] there—[repeating himself thrice]—from where the horn of Shaitan emerges.”[6]

 

g. ‘Ubaidullah ibn Sa’id narrates a similar narration, by way of Yahya al Qattan — ‘Ubaidullah ibn ‘Umar — Nafi’ — Ibn ‘ Likewise, ‘Ubaidullah ibn ‘Umar and Muhammad ibn al Muthanna both narrate from Yahya al Qattan with the same chain, only in this version it mentions the home of Hafsah radiya Llahu ‘anha instead of the home of Aisha radiya Llahu ‘anha.[7]

h. Waki’ narrates a similar narration to the ones above by way of ‘Ikrimah ibn ‘Ammar — Salim — his father, ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhuma.[8]

What is common in all these narrations is that the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam pointed in the direction of his house where he housed Aisha radiya Llahu ‘anha which is located towards the East. This is further confirmed by another version of this Hadith, also narrated by ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhuma

i. ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Awn — Nafi’ — Ibn ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhuma:

 

عن ابن عون، عن نافع، عن ابن عمر، قال ذكر النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم ‏اللهم بارك لنا في شامنا اللهم بارك لنا في يمننا قالوا وفي نجدنا‏.‏ قال اللهم بارك لنا في شامنا، اللهم بارك لنا في يمننا ‏قالوا يا رسول الله وفي نجدنا فأظنه قال في الثالثة ‏هناك الزلازل والفتن، وبها يطلع قرن الشيطان

The Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said, “O Allah! Bestow Your blessings on our Sham! O Allah! Bestow Your blessings on our Yemen.”

The People added, “And also on our Najd?”

He repeated, “O Allah! Bestow Your blessings on our Sham! O Allah! Bestow Your blessings on our Yemen.”

The people again added, “O Messenger of Allah! And also on our Najd?”

I think on the third time the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said, “There (in Najd) is the place of earthquakes and afflictions and from there emerges the horn of Shaitan!”[9]

 

In this Hadith the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam prayed for two regions, al Sham, which is located towards the north of Madinah, and Yemen, which is to the south. The region of al Najd is east of Madinah and beyond it is ‘Iraq. The Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam predicted that troubles would emerge from that region, and from Najd itself emerged Musaylamah the false-prophet. The Khawarij were based in the East. Most of the troubles which affected the Ummah originated from Najd, Iraq, or the areas beyond that in the East. The tragic incident of Karbala’ occurred in the East.

Were it the case that the home of Aisha radiya Llahu ‘anha was intended, then consider the damning consequences as this was effectively the Prophet’s salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam home. Furthermore, it is the home where he was most comfortable. The Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam spent a night at the home of each of his wives yet Saudah radiya Llahu ‘anha volunteered her night to Aisha radiya Llahu ‘anha.[10] Similarly, Fatimah radiya Llahu ‘anha suggested that the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam be nursed at the home of Aisha radiya Llahu ‘anha during his final illness.[11]

These sentiments about Aisha radiya Llahu ‘anha expressed in al Muraja’at are obvious symptoms of bigotry, a candid reflection of stubbornness in the face of truth. How else can the narrations of Abu Mas’ud al Badri and Abu Hurairah radiya Llahu ‘anhuma be accounted for after ‘Abdul Hussain’s erudition.

Abu Mas’ud al Badri radiya Llahu ‘anhu relates that the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said:

 

عن أبي مسعود يبلغ به النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم قال ‏من ها هنا جاءت الفتن نحو المشرق والجفاء وغلظ القلوب في الفدادين أهل الوبر عند أصول أذناب الإبل والبقر في ربيعة ومضر

The Fitnahs shall come from there, from the East. Lack of mercy and harsh-heartedness are characteristics of the rowdy bedouins who are busy with their camels and cows (and pay no attention to religion). Such are the tribes of Rabi’ah and Mudar.[12]

 

The version above is as it is narrated by Sufyan ibn ‘Uyayanah and identifies the East as the direction from which Fitnahs shall emerge. The original Arabic uses the past tense verb, thus drawing attention to the inevitable reality of these Fitnahs.

In other chapters, al Bukhari cites the version of this Hadith as narrated by Yahya al Qattan and Shu’bah ibn Hajjaj. Their version of the Hadith is worded with a slight difference from the one above. It is also narrated in Sahih Muslim by way of Mu’tamir.

 

عن أبي مسعود، قال وأشار النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم بيده نحو اليمن ‏الإيمان ها هنا مرتين ألا وإن القسوة وغلظ القلوب في الفدادين حيث يطلع قرنا الشيطان ربيعة ومضر

The Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam pointed with his hand towards Yemen and said twice, “Faith is there,” and then said, “Verily, callousness and harsh-heartedness are the qualities of the rowdy ones who are busy with their camels where the two horns of Shaitan will appear, namely, the tribes of Rabi’ah and Mudar.”[13]

 

This narration references the horns of Shaitan, the direction of the East. We will see with the next narration that there is no room left to deny that ‘Abdul Hussain’s comments were outright malicious and a complete distortion of facts.

Abu Hurairah radiya Llahu ‘anhu relates that the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said:

 

عن أبي هريرة أن رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم قال رأس الكفر نحو المشرق والفخر والخيلاء في أهل الخيل والإبل والفدادين أهل الوبر والسكينة في أهل الغنم ‏

The head of disbelief is towards the East. Boasting and pride is found among people who have horses and camels, the loud-voiced rowdy people of tents (the Bedouins). Tranquillity is with the people who have sheep.[14]

 

Could she have withheld the Wasiyyah?

It is not enough that the Munafiqun of old have hurled accusations against her. Anyone who has read al Muraja’at has witnessed yet another round of slanderous accusations whose consequences are more damning than the one of which she had been divinely acquitted. An objective onlooker would not hesitate in recognizing this as Allah’s mercy on Aisha radiya Llahu ‘anha as He continues to confer rewards upon her; even after her demise, by compensating her for these false accusations.

One of the most important narrations which the Shia rely on, the cornerstone of their argument on the infallibility of the Imams; Hadith al Kisa’,[15] the incident where the Messenger of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam took ‘Ali, Fatimah, Hassan, and Hussain under his cloak, is a narration which Aisha radiya Llahu ‘anha narrates.[16] Is Aisha radiya Llahu ‘anha the Mother of the Believers when she narrates Hadith al Kisa’, but the source of Fitnah and a conspiring devil when it comes to the Wasiyyah? What double-standards!

Similarly, ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Abbas radiya Llahu ‘anhuma, whose narration is cited in this letter of al Muraja’at, is the same person who narrates that on the morning of the Prophet’s salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam demise that no Wasiyyah was made,[17] and that ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu prohibited ‘Abbas radiya Llahu ‘anhu from even asking about Wasiyyah.[18] Is the narration of Ibn ‘Abbas radiya Llahu ‘anhu acceptable when it appears to incriminate Aisha radiya Llahu ‘anha; but lacks credibility when it acquits her of ‘Abdul Hussain’s allegations? We have already proven that ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu denied any such Wasiyyah. Considering that the behavior of ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu after the Prophet’s salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam demise is consistent with the account of Aisha radiya Llahu ‘anha; what more could be expected in the way of exonerating Aisha radiya Llahu ‘anha from the slanderous accusations of the Shia?

The allegation of Aisha radiya Llahu ‘anha withholding information about the Wasiyyah is hinged on the presumed necessary corollary of her withholding the name of ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu among those whom the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam leaned upon during his final illness.

The first presumption is that she deliberately withheld mentioning the name of ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu as one of those whom the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam took support from during his final illness. The second presumption is born out of a misconstrued statement which alleges a hostile relationship between Aisha radiya Llahu ‘anha and the Ahlul Bayt.[19]

Firstly, being the Prophet’s salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam wife means that she is already a member of Ahlul Bayt as far as we are concerned. Thus, the presumption of hostility between Aisha radiya Llahu ‘anha and Ahlul Bayt is preposterous from the perspective of Ahlus Sunnah. However, even if one were to proceed from the perspective of the Twelver Shia which excludes all the Prophet’s salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam wives, his other daughters, his other cousins, and restricts it to the line of ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu and Fatimah radiya Llahu ‘anha, and specific sons off theirs, Aisha’s radiya Llahu ‘anha  relationship with these members of Ahlul Bayt, at least those whom she encountered in her lifetime, does not reflect any underlying tension nor is it adversarial in the least as we shall demonstrate in our discussion.

 

Aisha’s radiya Llahu ‘anha role at Jamal

‘Abdul Hussain is not alone in accusing her of raising an army to usurp the Caliphate from ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu. This notion, albeit false, seems to have taken root in the minds of a number of people who merely glossed over the events that transpired.

Without getting into the intimate details we need to consider the following:

  1. A third force, inspired by ‘Abdullah ibn Saba’, was operating behind the scenes. Armed parties from Egypt and ‘Iraq descended upon Madinah with the aim of deposing ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu. The role of this third force cannot be underestimated.
  2. When ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu satisfactorily addressed their concerns, another conspiracy was set in motion: that he was attempting to have them killed.
  3. These aggrieved parties returned to Madinah, laid siege to ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu and eventually had him killed brutally.
  4. Allegiance was given to ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu, this was also recommended by Talhah, al Zubair and Aisha radiya Llahu ‘anhum.
  5. Aisha radiya Llahu ‘anha was in Makkah, whilst Talhah and al Zubair radiya Llahu ‘anhuma were in Madinah at the time of his murder.
  6. There was a general public expectation that ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu would deal with the murderers of ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu; however, there was no immediate action taken. Incidentally, many of the instigators were allowed to return, and some of them formed part of ‘Ali’s radiya Llahu ‘anhu administration and army.
  7. A significant number of Sahabah radiya Llahu ‘anhum were concerned with the delay on the part of ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu, suspicions began to emerge in some quarters as well if ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu had a role to play in what happened to ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu
  8. After nearly four months, Talhah, al Zubair, ‘Abdullah ibn al Zubair, and Aisha coalesced in Makkah and witnessed first-hand the public sentiment on the delay of dealing with the murderers of ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu. They agreed to take action with the aim of righting the wrongs and seeking vengeance and justice for the murder of ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu.
  9. They decided that Basrah was the best destination. They maintained their oath of allegiance with ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu but were on a vigilante mission. The elements of their army fell on a spectrum, their common goal was rebribution.
  10. When they reached Basrah fighting occurred and lives were lost, so Amir al Mu’minin, ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib radiya Llahu ‘anhu left Madinah for ‘Iraq to prevent them from further bloodshed and provoking any further violence having had no mandate to take action in the first place.

 

Bearing these 10 points in mind, any claim that she sought to fight ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu or even worse, to usurp his right to Caliphate, has absolutely no basis. The fighting that erupted and resulted on what was later known as the Battle of Jamal was not ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu against Aisha radiya Llahu ‘anha. On the contrary, it was a combination of the overzealous elements in both armies and the shrewd manipulations of the followers of ‘Abdullah ibn Saba’ that resulted in fighting. It was never the desire of Aisha radiya Llahu ‘anha nor Amir al Mu’minin radiya Llahu ‘anhu to have to battle it out. The mutual respect that was shown in the aftermath of this tragic incident confirms that neither party sought anything but to set the affairs straight and restore order; they went about doing it in different ways and ultimately ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu was in the right. Having the advantage of hindsight it is easy to explain this, but when viewed from the perspective of those who found themselves in the middle of a Fitnah the situation seems hazy. Add to this the fact that dubious accounts of these tragic events also exist, these accounts are retold by chroniclers who are found wanting in their academic integrity.

 

The cordial nature of their relationship

The final days in the life of the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam are replete with scenes of heartache and poignancy. One of his final encounters with his beloved daughter, the Queen of the women of Jannat, Fatimah radiya Llahu ‘anha, is related by none other than the Prophet’s salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam wife, Aisha radiya Llahu ‘anha.

 

1. Masruq narrates that the Mother of the Believers, Aisha radiya Llahu ‘anha relates:

 

عن مسروق حدثتني عائشة أم المؤمنين قالت إنا كنا أزواج النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم عنده جميعا لم تغادر منا واحدة فأقبلت فاطمة عليها السلام تمشي، لا والله ما تخفى مشيتها من مشية رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم فلما رآها رحب قال ‏مرحبا بابنتي ثم أجلسها عن يمينه أو عن شماله ثم سارها فبكت بكاء شديدا فلما رأى حزنها سارها الثانية إذا هي تضحك‏‏ فقلت لها أنا من بين نسائه خصك رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم بالسر من بيننا ثم أنت تبكين فلما قام رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم سألتها عما سارك قالت ما كنت لأفشي على رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم سره‏‏ فلما توفي قلت لها عزمت عليك بما لي عليك من الحق لما أخبرتني‏‏ قالت أما الآن فنعم‏‏ فأخبرتني قالت أما حين سارني في الأمر الأول فإنه أخبرني أن جبريل كان يعارضه بالقرآن كل سنة مرة وإنه قد عارضني به العام مرتين ولا أرى الأجل إلا قد اقترب فاتقي الله واصبري فإني نعم السلف أنا لك ‏قالت فبكيت بكائي الذي رأيت، فلما رأى جزعي سارني الثانية قال يا فاطمة ألا ترضين أن تكوني سيدة نساء المؤمنين أو سيدة نساء هذه الأمة‏

We, the wives of the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam were all sitting with the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam [during his final illness] and none of us had departed when Fatimah ‘alayha al Salam entered, and I swear by Allah, her manner of walking resembled that of the Messenger of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam exactly.

When he saw her, he welcomed her, saying, “Welcome, O my daughter!” Then he made her sit on his right or his left, and whispered something to her privately, whereupon she wept bitterly. When he noticed her sorrow, he again whispered something else to her, and her tears turned into laughter.

Among all the Prophet’s salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam wives I was the one who said to her, “The Messenger of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said something to you which makes you weep?”

When the Messenger of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam was not present, I asked her, “What did he confide to you?”

She responded saying, “I will not divulge the secret of the Messenger of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam.”

After he passed away I asked her, “I earnestly implore you by whatever right I have over you [as your step-mother], to tell me.”

She replied, “Since you ask me now, then yes, [I will tell you since the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam has passed away].”

She said, “When he whispered to me the first time, he said that Jibril ‘alayh al Salam used to review the Qur’an with him once every year. He added, ‘But this year he reviewed it with me twice, and therefore I think that my death is imminent. So, have Taqwa, and be patient, for I am the best predecessor for you (in the Hereafter).’”

Fatimah ‘alayha al Salam added, “So I began to cry; as you witnessed. After the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam saw me in this sorrowful state, he confided the second secret to me saying, ‘O Fatimah! Will it not please you that you will be the Leader of all the believing women, or the Leader of all the women of this Ummah?’”[20]

 

Let us consider what this narration tells us:

i. That Fatimah radiya Llahu ‘anha visited the very house of the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam where he housed Aisha radiya Llahu ‘anha which ‘Abdul Hussain alleges is the source of Fitnah.

ii. Aisha radiya Llahu ‘anha did not withhold the merit of Fatimah radiya Llahu ‘anha and how her gait resembled that of the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. Furthermore, these narrations from Fatimah radiya Llahu ‘anha, and her merit of being the leader of women in Jannat are only known from the Hadith of Aisha radiya Llahu ‘anha. Aside from her narration we don’t have any other corroboration of these merits of Fatimah radiya Llahu ‘anha.

iii. Fatimah radiya Llahu ‘anha recognized that Aisha radiya Llahu ‘anha had rights over her.

iv. Fatimah radiya Llahu ‘anha trusted Aisha radiya Llahu ‘anha enough to later on reveal to her the details of the private conversation that the Messenger of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam with his daughter in his final illness. It further puts to rest any allegation of hostility between Aisha radiya Llahu ‘anha and those members of the Prophet’s salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam family who are accepted as Ahlul Bayt by the Twelver Shia.

v. Had Aisha radiya Llahu ‘anha withheld knowledge of any Wasiyyah it is improbable that Fatimah radiya Llahu ‘anha would confide in her. Fatimah radiya Llahu ‘anha confronted Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu on the matter of inheritence which has much less consequence in comparison to denying Wasiyyah to ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu, which happens to be at the core of Shia doctrine.

 

2. The Hadith al Kisa’ (Hadith of the Cloak) is one where both the Shia and Ahlus Sunnah agree on its authenticity even though they disagree on its purport. The intended meaning of this Hadith is not our immediate concern; rather it is the fact that the five ‘infallibles’ are mentioned favourably by Aisha radiya Llahu ‘anha, the “cause of all sedition,” in ‘Abdul Hussain’s words.

If she could bring herself to deny the Wasiyyah of one member of Ahlul Bayt because of ther alleged animosity towards the Ahlul Bayt, why would she cite this narration which establishes merit for these members of the Prophet’s salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam noble family?

Safiyyah bint Shaybah relates:

 

عن صفية بنت شيبة، قالت قالت عائشة خرج النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم غداة وعليه مرط مرحل من شعر أسود فجاء الحسن بن علي فأدخله ثم جاء الحسين فدخل معه ثم جاءت فاطمة فأدخلها ثم جاء علي فأدخله ثم قال ‏{‏ إنما يريد الله ليذهب عنكم الرجس أهل البيت ويطهركم تطهيرا‏}‏

Aisha radiya Llahu ‘anha reported that the Messenger of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam went out one morning wearing a black woven cloak made from camel’s hair which had the pattern of camel saddles on it. Soon Hassan ibn ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhuma aproached him so he covered him with it, and then came Hussain radiya Llahu ‘anhu and he covered him with it as well. Then when Fatimah radiya Llahu ‘anha approached and he took her under it as well, as he did when ‘Ali eventually came; thereafter he said:

Allah only intends to remove all defilement from you, O People of the Household, and purify you [in spirit] a thorough Purification.[21]

 

3. She recognized his excellence in knowledge and referred others to him on matters of the Shari’ah which she had limited knowledge on.

i. Shurayh ibn Hani’ relates:

 

عن شريح بن هانئ قال أتيت عائشة رضي الله عنها أسألها عن الخفين فقالت عليك بابن أبي طالب فاسأله فإنه كان يسافر مع رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم فأتيته فسألته فقال جعل رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم ثلاثة أيام ولياليهن للمسافر ويوما وليلة للمقيم‏

I came to Aisha radiya Llahu ‘anha to ask her about the Khuffayn (leather footgear).

She said, “Go to ibn Abi Talib [and ask him] as he used to travel with the Messenger of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam.”

So I went to him and asked him, and he said, “The Messenger of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam set a limit of three days and nights for the traveller and one day and night for one who is not travelling.”[22]

 

ii. Makhul relates:

 

عن مكحول، قال: سئلت عائشة في كم تصلي المرأة؟ فقالت: «ائت عليا فاسأله، ثم ارجع إلي» فأتى عليا فسأله، فقال: «في درع سابغ وخمار» فرجع إليها فأخبرها، فقالت: «صدق»

Aisha radiya Llahu ‘anha was asked how many garments does a woman pray in. She replied, “Go to ‘Ali and ask him, then come back to me.”

So he went to ‘Ali to ask him and he replied, “In a long outer cloak and a headcover.”

So the questioner went back to inform her and she responded, “He is correct.”[23]

 

4. Despite being “the most bitter of his enemies” she still nominated ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu as a potential successor to ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu. It doesn’t stand to reason that the person who attempted to usurp his government and put an end to his rule after the Prophet’s salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam demise would then instruct others to pledge allegiance to him.

Below is the account of al Ahnaf ibn Qais and his arrival in Hijaz in the midst of the Fitnah just before the murder of ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu. Al Ahnaf explicitly identifies ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu as the candidate that Aisha radiya Llahu ‘anha preferred for Caliphate after ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu:

 

عن الأحنف بن قيس قال: قدمنا المدينة ونحن نريد الحج فإنا لبمنازلنا نضع رحالنا إذ أتانا آت فقال قد فزعوا وقد اجتمعوا في المسجد فانطلقنا فإذا الناس مجتمعون على نفر في وسط المسجد وإذا علي والزبير وطلحة وسعد بن ابى وقاص وانا لكذلك إذ جاء عثمان بن عفان فقيل هذا عثمان قد جاء وعليه مليئة له صفراء قد قنع بها رأسه، فقال أهاهنا علي؟ قالوا نعم قال: أهاهنا الزبير قالوا نعم قال أهاهنا طلحة قالوا نعم قال أنشدكم بالله الذي لا إله إلا هو أتعلمون ان رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم قال من يبتع مربد بني فلان غفر الله له فابتعته بعشرين او بخمسه وعشرين ألفا فأتيت النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم فقلت يا رسول الله، قد ابتعته قال اجعله في مسجدنا وأجره لك قالوا اللهم نعم وذكر أشياء من هذا النوع قال الأحنف فلقيت طلحة والزبير فقلت من تأمراني به وترضيانه لي؟ فإني لا أرى هذا الرجل إلا مقتولا، قالا علي قلت: أتأمراني به وترضيانه لي قالا نعم فانطلقت حتى قدمت مكة فبينا نحن بها إذ أتانا قتل عثمان وبها عائشة أم المؤمنين فلقيتها فقلت من تأمريني أن أبايع قالت علي قلت تأمرينني به وترضينه لي قالت نعم فمررت على علي بالمدينة فبايعته ثم رجعت إلى أهلي بالبصرة ولا أرى الأمر إلا قد استقام

We came to Madinah on our way to perform Hajj. We had barely reached our resting places and we still dismounting and unpacking our baggage when a man approached us saying, “They have gathered in the mosque, something frightening is going to happen.” So off we went, and the people were gathered around a smaller group in the center of the Masjid, amongst them were ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu, as were Talhah, al Zubair, and Sa’d ibn Abi Waqqas radiya Llahu ‘anhum.

As we joined them, ‘Uthman ibn ‘Affan arrived.

“Here’s ‘Uthman,” someone said. “He’s arrived.”

He was wearing a length of yellow cloth of his and had covered his head with it.

“Is ‘Ali here?” he asked.

“Yes,” they replied.

“Is al Zubair here?” he asked.

“Yes,” they replied.

“Is Talhah here?” he asked.

“Yes,” they replied.

So ‘Uthman said, “I entreat you in Allah’s name, besides Whom there is no deity but He! Do you attest that the Messenger of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said, ‘Whoever buys the enclosure of such and such a tribe Allah will forgive him?’ After which I bought it for 20,000 or 25,000 dirhams. When I then came to the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam and said, ‘O Messenger of Allah! I bought it,’ and he replied, ‘Link it with our mosque, and the reward will be yours [in the Hereafter]!’”

They replied, “Allah be our witness! We certainly attest to this.”

He then mentioned other similar events.

Later, when I then met Talhah and al Zubair I asked them, “Whom do you command and wish me to give allegiance to? It is inevitable this man is going to be killed.”

They all replied, “[To] ‘Ali,” so I confirmed it a second time, “You command and wish me to give allegiance to him?’ and they responded, “Yes!”

So I set off and went to Makkah, and while we were there the news of ‘Uthman’s murder reached us.

Aisha radiya Llahu ‘anha, the Mother of the Believers, was there, and when I met her I asked, “Whom do you command me to give allegiance to?”

“[To]’Ali,” she replied.

I confirmed this with her again asking, “You command and wish me to give allegiance to him?” to which she replied, “Yes!”

Subsequently, I returned to ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu in Madinah and pledged my allegiance to him. I then returned to my people in Basrah, assuming the entire matter had been properly settled.[24]

 

Why would she lie about the Wasiyyah yet nominate him later, only to disagree with his policies later on. The reasoning found in al Muraja’at fails to account for these historical facts.

 

Did she rejoice at the death of ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu?

The allegation that she rejoiced when the news of ‘Ali’s radiya Llahu ‘anhu murder reached her is neither proven through reliable reports nor is it consistent with the other corroborated reports that establish an amiable relationship.

Despite the existence of such reports in books of history[25], they do not appear with any verifiable chain of transmission on the basis of which they can be objectively evaluated. One of the problems with some historical reports, especially those that provide details on a detailed historical event is the phenomenon of compound Isnads. A historian attempts to reconstruct the narrative from a series of individual reports without differentiating between the different versions especially when all sorts of narrators are involved. Reports about Aisha radiya Llahu ‘anha rejoicing were in circulation, but have never stood the test of academic rigour.

One such work that cites a chain of transmission for the specific details of the incident in question is Maqatil al Talibiyyin by Abu al Faraj Al Isfahani.[26] Whilst some questioned his academic integrity and accuse him of plagiarism[27]; we do not wish to pursue this line of reasoning as it appears that this chain of transmission exists elsewhere as well. Instead, we wish to draw attention to the actual chain of transmission that specifically mentions the alleged celebration of Aisha radiya Llahu ‘anha.

It is important to note that despite these chains of transmission appearing in other works, or the incident being mentioned in other works, the combination of the alleged incident that Aisha radiya Llahu ‘anha rejoiced at the news of ‘Ali’s radiya Llahu ‘anhu death is only cited with the chain of transmission in Maqatil al Talibiyyin. It follows that the discussion on this chain addresses all the citations.

 

The incident is narrated with the following chain:

i. Muhammad ibn al Hussain al Ushnani — Musa ibn ‘Abdur Rahman al Masruqi[28]‘Uthman ibn ‘Abdur RahmanIsmail ibn Rashid with a truncated Isnad.[29]

 

Ismail ibn Rashid

Firstly, this chain is interrupted. The exact number of missing links between the last narrator, Ismail ibn Rashid and the alleged eyewitnesses to the incident is a point of debate among Hadith experts. The interrupted chain though remains a point of consensus.

Ismail ibn Rashid is relatively unknown as a narrator of Hadith. He is only mentioned alongside his brothers as a set of quadruplets who all had Hadith interests. About Ismail, no further details are furnished in terms of his aptitude or his integrity as a narrator.[30]

Ibn Kathir seems to have found his narrations objectionable, in addition to the fact that there are clear Shia biases in his version of a number of historical events for which there is no external corroboration.[31]

‘Uthman ibn ‘Abdur Rahman

Moving on from the issues associated with Ismail ibn Rashid we are also faced with determining the identity of his student, ‘Uthman ibn ‘Abdur Rahman. Despite no clarification of which ‘Uthman ibn ‘Abdur Rahman the actual narrator in this chain in Maqatil al Talibiyyin is, we are confident that he is correctly identified as ‘Uthman ibn ‘Abdur Rahman al Tara’ifi.

Imam Muhammad ibn Jarir al Tabari relates some of the events leading upto the murder of ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu with a chain that links up with the chain of Abu al Faraj at: Musa ibn ‘Abdur Rahman al Masruqi[32]‘Uthman ibn ‘Abdur Rahman al Harrani al Tara’ifiIsmail ibn Rashid with a truncated isnad.

The same chain ‘Uthman ibn ‘Abdur Rahman al Tara’ifiIsmail ibn Rashid, appears elsewhere describing the murder of ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu. These are cited by Abu Nuaim Al Isfahani[33] and Ibn ‘Asakir[34] but without mention of Aisha radiya Llahu ‘anha.

‘Uthman ibn ‘Abdur Rahman al Harrani earned himself the nickname al Tara’ifi on account of him seeking out gossip stories as well as unsubstantiated stories of events that occurred, especially during the Fitnah.

In terms of his integrity as a narrator he was found to be honest by most accounts; there is no clear indication of him being deliberately unscrupulous when narrating. The experts believe that the problems in his narrations usually originate further up the isnad since he was known to have narrated from an abundance of unreliable sources.

Consequently, the narrations which he has transmitted from these types of sources tend to be in stark contrast to the well-established testimonial accounts of both the Prophetic reports as well as the details of the historical events that he relates.[35]

The ubiquitous deception in al Muraja’at holds up yet again; this time in the sense that the narration cited by ‘Abdul Hussain suffers from combinations of defects, any one of which was sufficient to caste aspersions on the authenticity of this narration.

Abu al Faraj al Isfahani follows up that narration with another which alleges that Aisha radiya Llahu ‘anha prostrated to Allah in gratitude upon the murder of ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu. The narration is cited with the following chain

ii. Muhammad ibn Hussain al Ushnani — Ahmed ibn Hazim — ‘Asim ibn ‘Amir and ‘Uthman ibn Abi Shaybah — Jarir —al A’mash — ‘Amr ibn Murrah — Abu al Bakhtari[36]

‘Asim ibn ‘Amir

‘Asim ibn ‘Amir is considered Majhul, and is known to be a Shia.[37]He is on record for having narrated a fabricated Hadith wherein it states that gazing upon ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu is a form of worship, in addition to the fact that Jarir is not listed as one of his teachers.[38]

‘Uthman ibn Abi Shaybah

‘Uthman ibn Abi Shaybah recanted his narration of this Hadith and al Daraqutni says that it has no basis and considers it a forgery.[39]

 

There is absolutely no shred of reliable evidence to indicate that she rejoiced at the occasion of ‘Ali’s radiya Llahu ‘anhu murder or that she prostrated in gratitude when the news of his death reached her. That is not to say that there were no ups and downs in their relationship. If we examine the nature of their relationship in the peak of the controversy it becomes evidently clear for any fair-minded person to realise that the allegations of her rejoicing are false and that she never withheld anything favourable about ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu.

As we alluded to in the paragraph above, their relationship was generally pleasant. Notwithstanding this there were times when there was some tension but this tended to be temporary.

  1. In the wake of the Battle of Jamal, upon her departure from Basrah, Aisha radiya Llahu ‘anha set the record straight about the nature of her relationship with ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu lest it be misconstrued. Consequently, ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu confirmed her description of the nature of their relationship.

 

وجهز علي عائشة بكل شيء ينبغي لها من مركب أو زاد أو متاع وأخرج معها كل من نجا ممن خرج معها إلا من أحب المقام، واختار لها أربعين امرأة من نساء أهل البصرة المعروفات وقال تجهز يا محمد فبلغها فلما كان اليوم الذي ترتحل فيه جاءها حتى وقف لها وحضر الناس فخرجت على الناس وودعوها وودعتهم وقالت يا بني تعتب بعضنا على بعض استبطاء واستزادة فلا يعتدن أحد منكم على أحد بشيء بلغه من ذلك إنه والله ما كان بيني وبين على في القديم إلا ما يكون بين المرأة وأحمائها وإنه عندي على معتبي من الاخيار  قال على يا ايها الناس صدقت والله وبرت ما كان بيني وبينها إلا ذلك وانها لزوجه نبيكم صلى الله عليه وسلم في الدنيا والآخرة وخرجت يوم السبت لغرة رجب سنة ست وثلاثين وشيعها علي أميالا وسرح بنيه معها يوما

‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu equipped Aisha radiya Llahu ‘anha with everything she needed in the form of conveyence, provisions, and other baggage. Additionally, and sent with her all those who had fought on her side and had survived, except for anyone who wished to stay behind. He also selected forty prominent Basran women to go with her.

He said, “Prepare [for the journey], O Muhammad! and see that she arrives.”

So when the day of her departure arrived he came to her, stood with her and bid her farewell. Since, the people were assembled there as well, she went out to them and they said their farewells to her and she to them, “My sons, some of us have criticized others saying they were too slow [in taking action] or excessive [in taking action]. But don’t let any of you use recent events against one another, or over anything you might hear about this [later on]. By Allah! There was never anything in the past between me and ‘Ali other than what usually happens between a woman and her male in-laws. In my opinion, he has shown himself to be one of the best of men, despite my criticism [against him in taking action].”

To which ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu commented, “O assembly of people, I swear by Allah, she has spoken the truth and proven her genuine goodwill. It is true, all there ever was between us is that [which she spoke of]. She’s the wife of your Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam in this world and the next.”

She departed on a Saturday, at the beginning of Rajab, in the year 36 AH. ‘Ali escorted her for a few miles and then appointed his sons to accompany her for a days journey.[40]

 

  1. She held fond memories of ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu and reminisced the manner in which he would express himself if he encountered something that pleased him. In holding on to those memories she continued to supplicate for him.

 

يرحم الله عليا إنه كان من كلامه لا يرى شيئا يعجبه إلا قال صدق الله ورسوله فيذهب أهل العراق يكذبون عليه ويزيدون عليه في الحديث‏.‏

May Allah have mercy on ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu! It was his habit, if he saw something he liked, to say: Allah and His Messenger spoke the truth. But the people of ‘Iraq fabricated lies against him and added words to what he said.[41]

 

It is necessary to take into account the context in which this was said; this is the tail end of a lengthy conversation wherein she queried the account of what had transpired between ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu and the Khawarij. Her responses are understood to indicate her approval of his policy radiya Llahu ‘anhu towards the Khawarij. She also confirms the fact that versions of events were embellished with untruths; this is especially true for some of the people of Iraq.

 

  1. She agreed to the request of al Hassan ibn ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhuma that he be buried in her home alongside his grandfather salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. This fact has even been attested to by the Shia scholar, Ibn Abi al Hadid, who considers this a noble gesture on her part.[42]

 

These are but a few incidents that dispel the conjecture around the nature of the relation between Aisha radiya Llahu ‘anha and the other members of the Ahlul Bayt. As a matter of immediate concern we can see that Aisha radiya Llahu ‘anha, if she indeed did not wish ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu any good, would not have even cited a single Hadith mentioning his merits, she would not have considered ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu as a nominee for Caliphate and she would have disapproved of his fighting the Khawarij.

Her disposition throughout appears to be consistent, the temporary period of tension emerging in the aftermath of the murder of ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu for which she initially felt justified yet later expressed her regret is something which ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu acknowledged and accepted. He reciprocated similar sentiments towards her. Bearing these facts in mind we can be sure that whatever ‘Abdul Hussain cited in the form of examples were either forgeries or were true events whose narrative he manipulated. Let us examine the line of argument presented in al Muraja’at.

 

Concealing ‘Ali’s radiya Llahu ‘anhu name out of hostility towards him?

The narration which ‘Abdul Hussain uses to establish an adversarial relationship between Aisha radiya Llahu ‘anha and ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu is as follows:

 

عن الزهري قال أخبرني عبيد الله بن عبد الله بن عتبة عن عائشة قالت مرض رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم في بيت ميمونة فاستأذن نساءه أن يمرض في بيتي فأذن له فخرج رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم معتمدا على العباس وعلى رجل آخر ورجلاه تخطان في الأرض. وقال عبيد الله فقال ابن عباس أتدري من ذلك الرجل هو علي بن أبي طالب ولكن عائشة لا تطيب له نفسا

Al Zuhri narrates from ‘Ubaidullah ibn ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Utbah that Aisha radiya Llahu ‘anha said:

“The Prophet’s salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam ailment became aggravated at the home of Maymunah so he sought permission from his wives to be nursed in my house. So they gave him the permission. Thereafter the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam exited with the support of ‘Abbas, and another man, and his legs were dragging on the ground.”

‘Ubaidullah (the narrator from Aisha radiya Llahu ‘anha) said, “‘Abdullah ibn ‘Abbas radiya Llahu ‘anhuma said to me, ‘Do you know who the other man was? He was ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib; but Aisha was not pleased with him’”[43]

 

Firstly, let is classify the elements of this narration and then proceed with our discussion on it.

 

A. The Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam was ill and sought permission to be nursed at the home of Aisha radiya Llahu ‘anha.

B. All the Prophet’s salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam wives consented that he be nursed at the home of Aisha radiya Llahu ‘anha.

C. Due to the severity of his illness he needed support to walk.

D. He salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam was supported on either side by two men whilst his feet dragged on the ground.

E. Aisha radiya Llahu ‘anha identifies one of them as al ‘Abbas radiya Llahu ‘anhu and does not name the other.

F. ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Abbas radiya Llahu ‘anhuma points out that it was ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu.

G. ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Abbas radiya Llahu ‘anhuma states that Aisha radiya Llahu ‘anha was not pleased with ‘

 

As far as being nursed at the home of Aisha radiya Llahu ‘anha is concerned, we have previously established that this was suggested by Fatimah radiya Llahu ‘anha.[44]

The elements of immediate concern are elements [E] & [G]

This particular incident is narrated by way of ‘Ubaidullah ibn ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Utbah wherein he relates it in the presence of Ibn ‘Abbas radiya Llahu ‘anhu. From ‘Ubaidullah ibn ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Utbah there are two primary narrators who relate this incident from him and are both reliable narrators:

 

i. Musa ibn Abi Aisha al Hamdani al Kufi[45] who mentions al ‘Abbas radiya Llahu ‘anhu as one of those who assisted [E] and without the statement of Ibn ‘Abbas radiya Llahu ‘anhuma about Aisha [G].

This is considered the most sound version of this Hadith.[46] The versions of this node of the Hadith: Musa ibn Abi Aisha — ‘Ubaidullah — Aisha radiya Llahu ‘anha are much more consistent in the way they are worded.

 

ii. Muhammad ibn Muslim ibn Shihab al Zuhri

From Ibn Shihab al Zuhri there are a number varriations with different narrators:

  1. Salih ibn Kaysan

a. Ibrahim ibn Sa’d[47] — Mentioning al ‘Abbas radiya Llahu ‘anhu as one of those who assisted [E] and without the statement of Ibn ‘Abbas radiya Llahu ‘anhuma about Aisha [G].

 

  1. Yaqub ibn ‘Utbah

a. Muhammad ibn Ishaq

    • Yunus ibn Bukayr[48] — Mentioning [E] without mentioning [G].
    • Ziyad ibn ‘Abdullah al Bakka’i[49] — Mentioning al Fadl ibn ‘Abbas instead of al ‘Abbas radiya Llahu ‘anhuma without mentioning [G].

 

  1. Shu’ayb ibn Abi Hamzah

a. Abu al Yaman, Hakam ibn Nafi’[50] — Mentioning [E] without mentioning [G].

 

  1. ‘Uqayl ibn Khalid

a. Layth ibn Sa’d[51] — Mentioning [E] without mentioning [G].

 

  1. Sufyan ibn ‘Uyaynah

a. Muhammad ibn Mansur[52] — Mentioning [E] without mentioning [G].

b. Ahmed ibn Hanbal[53] — Mentioning [E] without mentioning [G].

c. Sahl ibn Abi Sahl[54] — Mentioning [E] without mentioning [G].

 

  1. Ma’mar ibn Rashid

a. ‘Abdullah ibn al Mubarak

    • Bishr ibn Muhammad[55] — Mentioning [E] without mentioning [G].
    • Suwaid ibn Nasr[56] — Mentioning [E] without mentioning [G].
    • Ahmed ibn al Hajjaj[57] — Mentioning al Fadl ibn ‘Abbas instead of al ‘Abbas radiya Llahu ‘anhuma and mentioning [G].

 

b. ‘Abdur Razzaq ibn Hammam al San’ani[58]

    • Ahmed ibn Hanbal[59] — Mentioning al Fadl ibn ‘Abbas instead of al ‘Abbas radiya Llahu ‘anhuma and mentioning [G].
    • Muhammad ibn Rafi’[60] — Mentioning al Fadl ibn ‘Abbas instead of al ‘Abbas radiya Llahu ‘anhuma without mentioning [G].
    • ‘Abd ibn Humaid[61] — Mentioning al Fadl ibn ‘Abbas instead of al ‘Abbas radiya Llahu ‘anhuma without mentioning [G].

 

c. ‘Abdul A’la

    • Ahmed ibn Hanbal[62] — Mentioning al ‘Abbas [E] as well as [G].

 

d. Hisham ibn Yusuf

    • Ibrahim Musa[63] — Mentioning al ‘Abbas [E] without the statement about Aisha [G].

 

  1. Yunus ibn Yazid al Ayli

a. ‘Abdullah ibn al Mubarak

    • Bishr ibn Muhammad[64] — Mentioning [E] without mentioning [G].
    • Suwaid ibn Nasr[65] — Mentioning [E] without mentioning [G].
    • Ahmed ibn al Hajjaj[66] — Mentioning al Fadl ibn ‘Abbas instead of al ‘Abbas radiya Llahu ‘anhuma and mentioning [G].

 

Having surveyed the spectrum of this narrations we can confidently state the following:

  1. Independently, any of these chains would satisfy the criteria of acceptance.
  2. However, when compared against each other, anomalies appear across some versions which might be attributed to an oversight on the part of a reliable narrator when it comes to a specific narration.
  3. The variations appear in the version narrated by the students of al Zuhri only.
  4. The variations occur within the following elements:
    • The identity of the man whom she names as having supported the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. some versions say al ‘Abbas radiya Llahu ‘anhu and another man, whilst other says al Fadl ibn ‘Abbas radiya Llahu ‘anhuma and another man.
    • Whether Ibn ‘Abbas radiya Llahu ‘anhuma said that she was not pleased with ‘Ali: A few versions include this statement whilst the majority of them do not include it. They merely state that he identified the other man as being ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu.
  5. The nodes of Ma’mar — al Zuhri and Yunus — al Zuhri are the only nodes of the Isnad to have these divergent versions combined, and they are the only nodes of the Isnad to cite the statement of Ibn ‘Abbas radiya Llahu ‘anhuma [G]. The narration from Ibn Ishaq does not mention [G].

 

Bearing these factors in mind, there are a number of possible routes that one could use to explain this narration.

a. The additional comment of Ibn ‘Abbas radiya Llahu ‘anhuma [G] can be considered anomalous as it only appears in versions of the Hadith which diverge from the main narrative on the identity of the person that Aisha radiya Llahu ‘anha names, i.e Al Fadl ibn ‘Abbas radiya Llahu ‘anhuma instead of al ‘Abbas radiya Llahu ‘anhu. Following this line of argument the following factors have significance:

  • Are the anomalies attributed to both Ma’mar and Yunus or are they those of Ma’mar alone? The anomalous version from Ibn al Mubarak is only narrated by Ahmed ibn Hajjaj, from Ibn al Mubarak, from both Ma’mar and Yunus. The other versions from Ibn al Mubarak do not mention these points
  • It could be that Ma’mar erred on occasion when narrating this Hadith, since some of the other narrators who relate this from him narrate the mainstream version.
  • It could also be that Ibn al Mubarak heard both versions differently, but when narrating them he would give the Isnad for both, but only the wording of one.
  • Either way, the divergent details will be considered anomalous.
  • This puts to rest the insinuation that al Bukhari deliberately redacted his version of the Hadith as is his alleged habit. On the contrary, what al Bukhari does is consistent with the methodology of Hadith critics before and after him.
  • A Hadith critic is required also to evaluate a narration according to multiple considerations. In addition to the continuity of the chain and reliability of the narrators, if they find a Hadith narrated from a common source, they can draw an inference about the accuracy of the report according to whether the report agrees with what others have narrated from that common source, or if it contradicts what others have narrated from him. In the case of inconsistent narrations, one draws an inference regarding what has been correctly transmitted from what is an unintended error through cross-examining the variations and observing what is common from what is inconsistent.

 

b. The variations from the students of al Zuhri could be reconciled by factoring other versions which are not narrated by way of al Zuhri wherein she names others who had undertaken the task of supporting the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. Considered from this perspective, there is a compelling reason why she could not recall exactly whom the other person was since there were more than one instance where the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam took the support of two men during his final illness.[67]

  • Al ‘Abbas and another man.
  • Al Fadl and another man.
  • Two men, one of them was Usamah.
  • Usamah and al Fadl.
  • Barirah and Nubah.
  • Al Fadl and Thawban.

 

c. The nature of the relationship between ‘Ali and Aisha radiya Llahu ‘anhuma described in this narration was no more than the assumption of Ibn ‘Abbas radiya Llahu ‘anhuma. Proceeding under this assumption we ought to be reminded of the real nature of their relationship as described in the events after Jamal. Even if it were to be conceded that she was not pleased with ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu as might be inferred from the assumption attibuted to Ibn ‘Abbas radiya Llahu ‘anhuma, would she deny his Wasiyyah to immediate succession simply because she did not like him? Let uss see what Ibn ‘Abbas radiya Llahu ‘anhuma has to say about the issue of Wasiyyah. Bear in mind that ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Abbas radiya Llahu ‘anhuma served as governor under ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib radiya Llahu ‘anhu and he was on the side of ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu during that Fitnah.

Arqam ibn Shurahbil relates:

 

عن الأرقم بن شرحبيل قال سافرت مع ابن عباس من المدينة إلى الشام فسألته أوصى لنبي ﷺ فذكر معناه وقال ما قضى رسول الله ﷺ الصلاة حتى ثقل جدا فخرج يهادى بين رجلين وإن رجليه لتخطان في الأرض فمات رسول الله ﷺ ولم يوص

I travelled with Ibn ‘Abbas radiya Llahu ‘anhuma from Madinah to al Sham, and [during that journey] I asked him, “Did the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam do Wasiyyah [in terms of succession]?”

So he mentioned something similar [to the narration preceding it which details the events prior to the demise of the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam and is similar to what Aisha radiya Llahu ‘anha related]

He said, “The Messenger salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam did not make up his prayer until his illness intensified tremendously. He went out holding on two men for support, whilst his legs dragged on the ground. The Messenger of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam departed from this world having not left behind any Wasiyyah.”[68]

 

Once again, Aisha radiya Llahu ‘anha stands vindicated against the mendacity of bigots. Had she been resentful towards ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu and allowed her feelings towards him to deny any Wasiyyah, why would ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Abbas radiya Llahu ‘anhuma deny any such Wasiyyah? Not only was he the cousin of ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu, but his supporter and defender during the Fitnah. The growing list of those who deny any Wasiyyah simply expunges the malicious allegations hurled against Aisha radiya Llahu ‘anha.

 

How could she defend ‘Ammar radiya Llahu ‘anhu yet refuse to defend ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu?

‘Abdul Hussain cites a narration by way of ‘Ata ibn Yasar from Aisha radiya Llahu ‘anha that a person spoke ill of ‘Ali and ‘Ammar radiya Llahu ‘anhuma in her presence so she avoided defending ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu but proceeded to defend ‘Ammar radiya Llahu ‘anhu.

 

عن حبيب بن أبي ثابت عن عطاء بن يسار قال جاء رجل فوقع في علي وفي عمار رضي الله تعالى عنهما عند عائشة فقالت أما علي فلست قائلة لك فيه شيئا وأما عمار فإني سمعت رسول الله ﷺ يقول لا يخير بين أمرين إلا اختار أرشدهما

Aisha was present when a man spoke disfavourably about ‘Ali and ‘Ammar radiya Llahu ‘anhuma so she said, “As far as ‘Ali is concerned I am not going to say anything about him, but in terms of ‘Ammar, I heard the Messenger of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam saying about ‘Ammar, “He is not given a choice between two matters, except that he chooses the one with more guidance in it.”[69]

 

The narration, at first glance and when stripped of its context, as has been the case in so many rounds of ‘correspondence’, might lend itself to the assumption that she avoided defending ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu. However, if carefully considered it is essentially in favour of ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu and is acknowledging her misjudgement in the events that led up to the battle of Jamal with the benefit of hindsight. The yardstick which she is using to determine the preponderance and primacy of ‘Ali’s radiya Llahu ‘anhu position in the events that transpired after his nomination as a Khalifah is the discretion and affiliation of ‘Ammar ibn Yasir radiya Llahu ‘anhu.

Phrased differently, her argument could read as follows: whilst both we and ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu had cause to act in the way that we did, objectively speaking only one party was correct in this unfortunate episode; and that happens to be the party to which ‘Ammar radiya Llahu ‘anhu aligned himself. After all, when presented with more than one option he will adopt the one closest to ultimate guidance. ‘Ammar radiya Llahu ‘anhu happened to be on the side of ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu.

 

How could the Prophet not have made a Wasiyyah?

‘Abdul Hussain makes the following arguments why he believes that it is not possible for the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam to have passed away without making a specific Wasiyyah.

  1. It is an obligation entrenched in the Qur’an.
  2. The Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam forbade anyone who had a Wasiyyah to make that he delay in doing so.
  3. It is inconceivable that the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam would not appoint his successor. How would the fledgling Muslim community survive without a successor appointed over them? If the Qur’an ordains Wasiyyah to protect the wealth of orphans and widows, why is it not rational to regard the Prophet’s salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam demise a greater reason for Wasiyyah since the entire Ummah was orphaned and widowed when it is their religion and their wealth that is at risk?
  4. The Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam had already appointed ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu as his successor in the early days, and he repeatedly did so verbally. However, those with ambition intervened and prevented the documentation of such a Wasiyyah.
  5. How could Aisha deny the Wasiyyah claiming that the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam passed away in her arms and she was unaware of any such Wasiyyah; when he salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam actually breathed his last whilst resting his head on the chest of ‘Ali? At least this is what is found in the Mutawatir accounts of the Shia.

 

To address these arguments let us approach them in sequence

To support his claim that it is religious obligation to do Wasiyyah ‘Abdul Hussain cites a verse from Surah al Baqarah but in his citation he redacts a part of the verse. Below is the verse in its entirety

 

كُتِبَ عَلَيْكُمْ إِذَا حَضَرَ أَحَدَكُمُ الْمَوْتُ إِن تَرَكَ خَيْرًا الْوَصِيَّةُ لِلْوَالِدَيْنِ وَالْأَقْرَبِينَ بِالْمَعْرُوفِ حَقًّا عَلَى الْمُتَّقِينَ

Prescribed for you, when death approaches any one of you and he leaves behind wealth, is that he make a will bequeathing to the parents and nearest relatives, in accordance with what is conventional; being an obligation upon the God-fearing.[70]

 

When this verse is cited in al Muraja’at it is manipulated with surgical precision, the verse is truncated at the word Wasiyyah. It is implied that leaving behind a Wasiyyah of any kind is a religious obligation. How could the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam have left this world without a will?

What is ignored is the fact that the verse deals with bequeathing wealth, specifically, before death approaches. In the early days of Islam there was no allocation of shares to the heirs of the deceased in a fixed formula. A persons estate would be distributed according to his Wasiyyah. It is in this context that the verse was revealed; Allah made it an obligation to stipulate how ones estate would be wound up. The obligation of this verse was later abrogated when the verses of inheritance in Surah al Nisa’ were revealed. The Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam then set a limit of one-third of the deceased estate for Wasiyyah to non-heirs.[71] This verse has absolutely nothing to do with the concept of Wasiyyah in terms of succession and leadership.

The word Khayr in the verse, which is translated as “goodness” in al Muraja’at, actually means wealth. This is how the verse was explained by ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu himself, and it is also the explanation provided by Aisha radiya Llahu ‘anha, ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Abbas radiya Llahu ‘anhuma, and Mujahid among many others.[72]

Next we examine the Hadith of Ibn ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhuma:

 

عن ابن عمر رضي الله عنه قال: قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم: «ما حق امرئ مسلم له شيء يوصى فيه يبيت ليلتين إلا ووصية مكتوبة عنده»[73]

The Messenger of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said, “It is the duty of a Muslim man who has something which is to be given as a Wasiyyah not to have it for two nights without having his will written regarding it.”

 

Again, this Hadith deals with wealth that is to be bequeathed to non-heirs and does not refer to succession. The Hadith itself indicates the voluntary nature of Wasiyyah and has no connection to the issue nomination. Notice the qualifying expression, “who has something which is to be given through Wasiyyah.”

The concept of Wasiyyah in the context of our discussions might conflate a number of factors in a single expression. The word Wasiyyah is understood to mean:

  1. Bequests of wealth
  2. Nomination of successor
  3. Parting advice

‘Abdul Hussain concedes that the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam did not leave behind wealth. This is in harmony with what Aisha radiya Llahu ‘anha relates:

عن عائشة قالت ما ترك رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم دينارا ولا درهما ولا شاة ولا بعيرا ولا أوصى بشىء‏

The Messenger of Allah did not leave behind a Dinar or a Dirham, or a sheep or a camel, and he did not leave any [specific] Wasiyyah.[74]

 

The negation of any Wasiyyah is qualified to a Wasiyyah for something specific in terms of wealth or nomination. Admittedly, understanding it in the context of wealth in this narration appears to be more appropriate.

This statement of hers is corroborated by ‘Amr ibn al Harith radiya Llahu ‘anhu, the Prophet’s salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam brother-in-law:

 

عن عمرو بن الحارث، قال ما ترك رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم دينارا ولا درهما ولا عبدا ولا أمة، إلا بغلته البيضاء التي كان يركبها، وسلاحه، وأرضا جعلها لابن السبيل صدقة‏.‏

The Messenger of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam left behind neither a Dinar nor a Dirham, nor a male slave nor a female slave, nor anything else except his white riding mule, his weapons and his land which he had given in charity to wayfarers.[75]

 

The context, however, for the other Hadith of Aisha radiya Llahu ‘anha is that at some point a rumour began to emerge that the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam made Wasiyyah for ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu to succeed him. She, along with others, was surprised at this notion since it was never known that the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam had made any such Wasiyyah for ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu despite having given many public advices:

  1. Wasiyyah about Salah,[76]
  2. Wasiyyah about slaves,[77]
  3. Wasiyyah about holding on to the Qur’an,[78]
  4. Wasiyyah about caring for Ahlul Bayt,[79]
  5. Wasiyyah about caring for the Ansar,[80]
  6. Wasiyyah about expelling the Polytheists from the Arabian Peninsula,[81]
  7. Wasiyyah to observe Taqwa,[82]
  8. Wasiyyah to remain united as a community and to obey those in authority,[83]
  9. Wasiyyah to hold firm on the Sunnah and on the way of the Rightly Guided Khalifas,[84]
  10. Wasiyyah warning about newly invented matters in religion,[85]
  11. Wasiyyah about holding a good opinion of Allah,[86]
  12. Wasiyyah for Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu to lead the prayer,[87]
  13. Wasiyyah for all doors leading to the Masjid be closed and only the door of Abu Bakr leading into the Masjid be open,[88]
  14. Wasiyyah for the army of Usamah to proceed.[89]

These are a brief list of some of the general things that the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam made Wasiyyah for during his final days and weeks. In all these public engagements not once did the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam make this alleged appointment. Afterwards, when he was being nursed it was in the home of Aisha radiya Llahu ‘anha, she was never absent such that he made any Wasiyyah that she was unaware of. During his final moments he salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam was with his wife and even there no Wasiyyah was made about ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu. Bearing this context we can correctly determine the intended meaning of what Aisha said as related by al Aswad:

 

عن الأسود، قال ذكروا عند عائشة أن عليا ـ رضى الله عنهما ـ كان وصيا‏.‏ فقالت متى أوصى إليه وقد كنت مسندته إلى صدري ـ أو قالت حجري ـ فدعا بالطست، فلقد انخنث في حجري، فما شعرت أنه قد مات، فمتى أوصى إليه

In a gathering where Aisha radiya Llahu ‘anha was present some people mentioned that ‘Ali had been appointed as the Prophet’s salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam successor by Wasiyyah.

Aisha radiya Llahu ‘anha said, “When did he salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam do Wasiyyah for him (‘Ali)? In his final moments I was holding him up and he was on my chest (or she said: in my lap) and he asked for a wash-basin and then collapsed while in that state, and I did not even perceive that he had breathed his last, so when did he appoint him by will?”[90]

 

This is also what ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Abbas radiya Llahu ‘anhuma was refering to in his conversation with Arqam ibn Shurahbil.[91]

As far as the discussions around the events of the Thursday prior to the Prophet’s salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam demise go, they will resurface in the course of the discussions. The details will be covered there.

We may now proceed to the argument that it was inconceivable that Allah’s Messenger salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam would not do Wasiyyah for ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu to lead the fledgling community.

In response to this line of reasoning we need to ask whether we believe that the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam fulfilled his obligations and saw his mission to its end in his lifetime? If we do believe that he salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam was successful in his mission and that he prepared an entire generation worthy of taking this religion forward, spreading the light of Islam in other lands and establishing the Law of Allah wherever they went.

The question is not whether the fledgling Muslim community would be able to function without Wasiyyah, it is whether a fledgling community could function without a leader. As far as the leader is concerned, the decision was left with the Ummah as to whom it would decide to lead it. As far as the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam is concerned, he made it clear whom he thought the most suited candidate was: he tasked him with leading the congregational prayer and ordered that all doors leading to the Masjid be sealed except his door.

Then we ask ourselves, had ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu been appointed what would he have done differently? Would he have held back the army of Usamah? Would he have let the recent converts who refused to pay Zakat carry on as they were? Would he let Musaylamah and his people in Najd carry on as they were? Would he not institute a written copy of the Qur’an, a Mushaf? Would he not want Allah’s religion to be established in Iraq, Persia, and Syria? Would he disapprove of the conquest of Jerusalem and the surrounding territories? Would he condemn the conquests of Egypt and North Africa? Which of the accomplishments or policies of the Khalifas before him did he oppose, or what would he have done differently?

We need to read the biographies of the Ahlul Bayt and see which of those military campaigns they participated in. We need to see how they were treated during the Caliphate of those before ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu.

Having established that the Ummah accomplished unimaginable feats during the Caliphate of those who preceded Sayyidina ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib radiya Llahu ‘anhu we put to rest the assertion that it was rationally impossible for the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam not to have appointed a successor.

We may now turn our attention to the claim that Wasiyyah had been done in the early days already. This contention has been dealt with in detail in our discussions on Letters 19/20/21/22.

The narrations that have been cited by ‘Abdul Hussain from Shia sources have not stood up to the test of academic rigour by their own standards, yet he repeatedly chants the mantra of “our Sahih Mutawatir reports prove the contrary.” For the very least, if he managed to cite authentic reports by his own standards it might provide some credibility to his arguments. The narrations about the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam passing away in the arms of ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu from his own sources have not been referenced. As far as the Sunni sources go, these narrations are only known by way of al Waqidi, whose status as a narrator has been discussed repeatedly. Regardless of what narrations he cites, it is an undisputed fact that the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam passed away in the home of Aisha radiya Llahu ‘anha, he is buried there, and al Hassan radiya Llahu ‘anhu also wished to be buried there. Why would Aisha radiya Llahu ‘anha not be present in her own home when the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam expressed his desire to be nursed in her home?

 

Was ‘Ali’s radiya Llahu ‘anhu succession compromised because she “withheld the Wasiyyah”?

It takes a great deal of arrogance to pin the entire denial of Wasiyyah on her and then to malign her in an attempt to recreate a narrative of history which is at odds with reality; a narrative where the Prophet’s salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam wishes are substituted with the contrived theology of ‘Abdullah ibn Saba’ and his myrmidons.

As perplexed as ‘Abdul Hussain alleges to be on account of her denial of the Wasiyyah, objective observers have an increased sense of bewilderment at how ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu is portrayed as a coward by the very individuals who consider him Ma’sum (infallible). How could an infallible Imam who was repeatedly nominated for succession just concede the divine appointment without a fight? How could he withhold his hand from al ‘Abbas when he wanted to pledge allegiance to him? Was he not the Wasi? How could he reproach al ‘Abbas for wanting to ask the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam about succession? Had the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam not just mentioned his appointment along with the Wasiyyah to remove the polytheists from the Arabian Peninsula and to receive envoys as he would. Whatever argument can be made against Aisha radiya Llahu ‘anha by the Shia, can also be made against ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu by the Khawarij and Nawasib. Fortunately, the narrative of the Ahlus Sunnah wa al Jama’ah vindicates both Aisha and ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhuma.

 

NEXT⇒ LETTER 75 and 76


[1] Sahih al Bukhari, Kitab Bad’ al Khalq, Hadith no: 3279.

[2] Sahih al Bukhari, Kitab al Manaqib, Hadith no: 3511.

[3] Sahih al Bukhari, Kitab al Talaq, Hadith no: 5296.

[4] Sahih al Bukhari, Kitab al Fitan, Hadith no: 7092.

[5] Sahih al Bukhari, Kitab al Fitan, Hadith no: 7093; Sahih Muslim, Kitab al Fitan, Hadith no: 2905.

[6] Sahih al Bukhari, Kitab al Khumus, Hadith no: 3104.

[7] Sahih Muslim, Kitab al Fitan, Hadith no: 2905 (46).

[8] Sahih Muslim, Kitab al Fitan, Hadith no: 2905 (48).

[9] Sahih al Bukhari, Kitab al Fitan, Hadith no: 7094.

[10] Sunan al Nasa’i, Kitab al Nikah, Hadith no: 3197.

[11] Al Tabaqat, vol. 2 pg. 232-233. This incident is narrated by way of Muhammad al Baqir.

[12] Sahih al Bukhari, Kitab al Manaqib, Hadith no: 3498.

[13] Sahih al Bukhari, Kitab al Maghazi, Hadith no: 4387 and Kitab al Talaq, Hadith no: 5303; Sahih Muslim, Kitab al Iman, Hadith no: 51

[14] Sahih al Bukhari, Kitab Bad’ al Khalq, Hadith no: 3301; Sahih Muslim, Kitab al Iman, Hadith no: 52

[15] This has been dealt with in part under our discussions on Letter 12.

[16] Sahih Muslim, Kitab Fada’il al Sahabah radiya Llahu ‘anhum, Hadith no: 2424.

[17] Musnad Ahmed, vol. 5 pg. 267, Hadith 3189.

[18] Sahih al Bukhari, Kitab al Isti’dhan, Hadith no: 6266.

[19] For the Twelver Shia this applies exclusively to the ‘Four Infallibles’ during this period: ‘Ali, Fatimah, Hassan, and Hussain radiya Llahu ‘anhum.

[20] Sahih al Bukhari, Kitab al Isti’dhan, Hadith no: 6286; Sahih Muslim, Kitab Fada’il al Sahabah, Hadith no: 2450.

[21] Sahih Muslim, Kitab Fada’il al Sahabah radiya Llahu ‘anhum, Hadith no: 2424.

[22] Sahih Muslim, Kitab al Taharah, Hadith no: 276.

[23] Musannaf ‘Abdur Razzaq, vol.3 pg. 128; Musannaf ibn Abi Shaybah, Hadith no. 6225.

[24] Tarikh al Tabari, vol. 4 pg. 497.

[25] Al Tabaqat, vol. 3 pg. 39; Tarikh al Tabari, vol. 5 pg. 150.

[26] Abu al Faraj ‘Ali ibn al Hussain ibn Muhammad ibn Ahmed ibn al Haytham al Umawi al Isfahani (284–356 A.H) an Umayyad Shia. He was known for his literary talents, a man of words, and an authority of prose and verse. Among his many works is one called Maqatil al Talibiyyin wherein he compiled the biographies, along with vivid details of those from the line of Abu Talib who were poisoned or slain, whether in battle, or by the Khawarij, Umayyads, or their ‘Abbasid cousins. This type of historical biographic literature was in vogue especially among Shia scholars. Abu al Faraj al Isfahani appears to have relied on many works of this genre as source material for his own work.

[27] Tarikh Baghdad, vol. 11 pgs. 398-400.

[28] Ibn Jarir al Tabari narrates from him in many places in a number of his works including his Tafsir and his Tarikh.

[29] Maqatil al Talibiyyin, pg. 42.

[30] Al Tarikh al Kabir, vol.1 pg.353 ; Al Jarh wa al Ta’dil, vol. 2 pg. 169.

[31] Al Bidayah wa al Nihayah, vol. 11 pg. 133.

[32] Tarikh al Tabari, vol. 5 pg. 159.

[33] Ma’rifat al Sahabah, vol. 1 pg. 83.

[34] Tarikh Dimashq, vol. 21 pg. 346.

[35] Al Tarikh al Kabir, vol.6 pg. 238 ; al Jarh wal Ta’dil, vol.6 pg.157; Tahdhib al Kamal, vol. 19 pgs 428-431, Mizan al I’tidal, vol.3 pg.45 ; al Kashif, vol.3 pg.390 bio. 3718 ; Taqrib al Tahdhib, bio. 4494.

[36] Maqatil al Talibiyyin, pg.42.

[37] Su’alat al Sulami li al Daraqutni, pg. 235.

[38] Tali Talkhis al Mutashabih, vol. 1 pg. 365.

[39] Ta’liqat al Daraqutni ‘ala al Majruhin, pg. 128.

[40] Tarikh al Tabari, vol. 4 pg. 544.

[41] Musnad Ahmed, vol. 2 pg. 86, Hadith no: 656.

[42] Tarikh Dimashq, vol. 13 pg. 289; Sharh Nahj al Balaghah, vol. 16 pg. 51.

[43] Musnad Ahmed, vol. 40 pg. 67, Hadith no: 24061.

[44] Al Tabaqat, vol. 2 pg. 232-233.

[45] Sahih al Bukhari, Kitab al Adhan, Hadith no: 687; Sahih Muslim, Kitab al Salah, Hadith no: 418 (90), Musnad Ahmed, vol. 43 pg. 233, Hadith no: 26137.

[46] Tuhfat al Ashraf, vol. 11 pg. 298.

[47] Al Tabaqat, vol. 2 pg. 178.

[48] Dala’il al Nubuwwah, vol. 7 pg. 169.

[49] Ibn Hisham, vol. 2 pg. 649.

[50] Sahih al Bukhari, Kitab al Wudu, Hadith no: 198.

[51] Sahih al Bukhari, Kitab al Maghazi, Hadith no: 4442; Sahih Muslim, Kitab al Salah, Hadith no: 418 (92).

[52] Sunan al Nasa’i al Kubra, Kitab Wafat al Nabi salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, Hadith no: 7251; Kitab ‘Ishrat al Nisa, Hadith no: 9083.

[53] Musnad Ahmed, vol. 40 pg. 123, Hadith no: 24103

[54] Sunan ibn Majah, Kitab al Jana’iz, Hadith no: 1618

[55] Sahih al Bukhari, Kitab al Tibb, Hadith no: 5714

[56] Sunan al Nasa’i al Kubra, Kitab Wafat al Nabi salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, Hadith no: 7246

[57] al Tabaqat, vol. 2 pg. 179

[58] Musannaf ‘Abdur Razzaq, vol. 5 pg.429; Hadith no: 9854

[59] Musnad Ahmed, vol. 43 pg. 86, Hadith no: 25914

[60] Sahih Muslim, Kitab al Salah, Hadith no: 418 (91)

[61] Sahih Muslim, Kitab al Salah, Hadith no: 418 (91)

[62] Musnad Ahmed, vol. 40 pg. 67, Hadith no: 24061

[63] Sahih al Bukhari, Kitab al Adhan, Hadith no: 665; Kitab al Hibah, Hadith no: 2588.

[64] Sahih al Bukhari, Kitab al Tibb, Hadith no: 5714.

[65] Sunan al Nasa’i al Kubra, Kitab Wafat al Nabi salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, Hadith no: 7246.

[66] Al Tabaqat, vol. 2 pg. 179.

[67] Fath al Bari, vol. 8 pg. 141.

[68] Musnad Ahmed, vol. 5 pg. 358, Hadith 3356.

[69] Musnad Ahmed, vol. 41 pg. 322, Hadith no: 24820; al Tirmidhi, Kitab al Manaqib, Hadith no. 3799; Ibn Majah, Kitab al Muqaddimah, Hadith no. 148; Sunan al Nasa’i al Kubra, Kitab al Manaqib, Hadith no. 8415. Some contemporaries have implied that there is a problem with the Hadith citing al ‘Uqayli that the combination in the chain Habib — ‘Ata has a number of inconsistencies and this might be one of them. It appears that the ‘Ata’ being spoken about there is ‘Ata ibn Abi Rabah, not ‘Ata ibn Yasar. The Hadith here is also corroborated by versions narrated by ‘Abdullah ibn Mas’ud radiya Llahu ‘anhu (Musnad Ahmed: Hadith no.3693).

[70] Surah al Baqarah: 180.

[71] al Durr al Manthur, vol 2 pgs. 161-165.

[72] Ibid.

[73] Sahih al Bukhari, Kitab al Wasaya, Hadith no: 2738; Sahih Muslim, Kitab al Wasiyyah, Hadith no: 1627.

[74] Sahih Muslim, Kitab al Wasiyyah, Hadith no: 1635.

[75] Sahih al Bukhari, Kitab al Maghazi, Hadith no: 4461.

[76] Musnad Ahmed, vol. 19 pg. 209, Hadith 12169; Ibn Majah, Kitab al Wasiyyah, hadith no: 2697.

[77] Ibid.

[78] Sahih al Bukhari, Kitab al Wasaya, Hadith no: 2740.

[79] Sahih Muslim, Hadith no: 2408.

[80] Sahih al Bukhari, Kitab Manaqib al Ansar , Hadith no: 3799; Sahih Muslim, Kitab al Fada’il, Hadith no: 2501.

[81] Sahih al Bukhari, Kitab al Maghazi, Hadith no: 4431; Sahih Muslim, Kitab al Wasiyyah, Hadith no: 1637.

[82] Abu Dawood, Kitab al Sunnah, Hadith no: 4607; al Tirmidhi, Abwab al ‘Ilm, Hadith no: 2676; Ibn Majah, Kitab al Muqaddimah, Hadith no: 42.

[83] Ibid.

[84] Ibid.

[85] Ibid.

[86] Dala’il al Nubuwwah, vol. 7 pg 204.

[87] Sahih al Bukhari, Kitab al Adhan, Hadith no: 678.

[88] Sahih al Bukhari, Kitab al Manaqib, Hadith no: 3654.

[89] Ibn Hisham; vol. 2 pg. 650.

[90] Sahih al Bukhari, Kitab al Wasaya, Hadith no: 2741; Sahih Muslim, Kitab al Wasiyyah, Hadith no: 1636.

[91] Musnad Ahmed, vol. 5 pg. 358, Hadith 3356.

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