Grief and Sorrow
How shouldn’t I be grieved? Or rather why shouln’t every Muslim sigh when looking into these realities, demonstrating the losses that befell the Muslims as a result of excluding al-’Imàm ‘Ali from the post of caliphate, for which the Messenger of Allah has designated, depriving the Ummah from his sagacious leadership and abundant sciences.
When any Muslim considers the matter without any fanaticism or prejudice, he will see him (‘Ali) to be the most knowledgeable man after the Messenger (s). History records and testifies that all the Sahàbah ‘ulamà’ have asked him the solution of the judicial questions for which they couldn’t find answers, and it is reported that ‘Umar ibn al-Khattàb said more than seventy times: “Had ‘Ali not been there, ‘Umar would have perished,”146 whereas he (A) has never asked anyone of them, at all.
Further, history admits that ‘Ali ibn Abi Tàlib was the bravest and strongest among the Sahàbah, and in many times the valorous among the Companions fled the fighting and battle-fields, while he resisted and took a firm stand throughout all the incidents and wars. A sufficient evidence would be the badge of honour granted to him by the Messenger of Allah (S) saying: “Verily I shall give my standard to a man who loves Allah and His Messenger and is loved by Allah and His Messenger, bearing down upon the enemy, not runaway, whose faith was put to test by Allah,”147 Each one of the Companions longed and desired to be the one meant by this tradition, but he (S) handed it to ‘Ali ibn Abi Tàlib.
To sum up, the traits of knowledge, power and bravery distinguishing al-’Imàm ‘Ali, being a fact known by all people, near and far, with no any dispute. Regardless of all the texts indicating his Imamah, expressly and allusively, the holy Qur’àn recognizes no one to be competent for leadership and Imamah except the bold, strong scholar (‘alim), Regarding the obligation of following the ‘ulamà’, Allah the Glorified and Exalted, said:."...Is then He Who guideth unto truth more worthy to be followed or he who himself goeth not aright unless he is guided? What then hath befallen you? How (ill) ye judge?" (10:35)
And as regards the obligation of the leadership of the valiant powerful scholar, the Almighty said: "...They said, "How can the kingdom be his, over us, whereas we are more rightful for it than he while he is not gifted with abundance of wealth." he said" "Verily, God hath chosen him over you and hath increased him abundantly in knowledge and physique; and verily, God granteth His kingdom unto whomso He pleaseth; God is Omniscient and All-Knowing."(2:247)
Allah — the Glorified — has increased al-’Imàm ‘Ali, other than all the Sahàbah, abundantly in knowledge, making him truly ‘the gate of the city of knowledge,’ and the sole reference for the Sahàbah after the demise of the Messenger of Allah (may Allah’s peace and benediction be upon him and his Progeny). And whenever the Companions felt unable to find a solution for any questin, they used to say: “No problem is there but to be solved by Abu al-?asan.”148
He increased him abundantly in physique, in a way he was the conquerring lion of Allah, and that his might and bravery became an example to be followed by all generations. This fact reached an extent that historians reported miracle-like stories, such as pulling out Khybar Gate, which twenty Companions failed to move later on149 and extracting the great Idol of Hubal,150 from over the roof of the Ka’bah, and shifting the huge rock which all the army stood unable to displace,151 beside other well-known narrations.
The Prophet (S) has, time and again, extolted his cousin ‘Ali manifesting his honour and virtues throughout all occasions, referring to his traits and merits. Once he said:
“This man (‘Ali) is my brother, and executor and successor after me; so you should adhere to and obey him.”152 Once again he said:
“Your position to me is exactly like that of Aaron to Moses, except that there is no prophet after me.”153
Another time he said:
“Whoever desires to live my life, and to die my death, and dwell the Land of the Leal (Paradise) with which my Lord promised me, he should follow the guide of ‘Ali ibn Abi Tàlib, as he would neither take you out of guidance nor bring you into misguidance (dalàlah).”154
Anyone following out the conduct (sirah) of the holy Messenger (may Allah’s peace and benediction be upon him and his Progeny), will verily realize that he was not satisfied with only disclosing sayings and traditions, but also his words were incarnated in his acts and deeds. This is evident through the fact that he never made anyone of the Sahàbah a commander over ‘Ali, though investing with authority some of them over others, as in the case of giving commandment to Abu Bakr and ‘Umar over ‘Amr ibn al-‘A? during the Battle of Dhàt al-Salàsil.155
Another example also, is when he made the young man, Usàmah ibn Zayd, a commander over all of them, within the battalion of Usàmah before his (S) death.
But concerning ‘Ali ibn Abi Tàlib, he was never sent in a mission but only as a leader and commander. Once upon a time he (S) delegated two armies, giving the commandment of one of them to ‘Ali and the other to Khalid ibn al-Walid, saying to them: When being separated each one of you can undertake the commandment of his army, but when meeting together ‘Ali should be the commander of the whole army.
From the aforementioned, we conclude that ‘Ali being the wali (guardian) of the believers after the Prophet (S), and no one is entitled to outstrip him or be preferred to him. But unfortunately and with much regret, the Muslims have undergone a heavy loss, suffering much to the present time reaping the fruits of what they have sown. The latters have recognized the (ill) consequences of what was founded by the earliers.
Can anyone imagine a rightly-guided caliphate as that of ‘Ali ibn Abi Tàlib, had the Ummah followed the one chosen by Allah and His Messenger. ‘Ali was quite competent to lead the Ummah so symmetrically throughout thirty years, exactly in the same way as the Messenger of Allah led it with no little change. Whilst we see on the other hand that Abu Bakr and ‘Umar have changed everything, exerting their opinions against the texts in a way that their acts turned to be a sunnah to be followed. And when ‘Uthmàn came to power, he perverted more and more to the extent that he contradicted the Book of Allah and Sunnah of His Messenger and that of Abu Bakr and ‘Umar. This practice was disapproved by the Companions, and a violent people revolt was launched against him, taking away his life, and creating a great sedition amongst the Ummah, whose bad consequences could never grow sound till nowadays.
But on the other hand, ‘Ali ibn Abi Tàlib used to adhere to the Book of Allah and Sunnah of His Messenger, without a bit deviation from them. The best evidence for this being his refusing the post of caliphate when they stipulated that he should rule according to the Book of Allah and Sunnah of His Messenger, and sunnah of the Two Caliphs (Abu Bakr and ‘Umar).
One may wonder: Why should ‘Ali abide by the Book of Allah and Sunnah of His Messenger, while Abu Bakr and ‘Umar and ‘Uthmàn were obliged to exert their opinions (ijtihàd) and interpolation?
The reply for this being that the knowledge owned by ‘Ali was not possessed by any of them, and also the Messenger of Allah distinguished him with a thousand gates of knowledge, for every gate a thousand gates open,156 saying to him:
“O ‘Ali, you will verily demonstrate for my Ummah all that which they differed regarding it after me.”157
Whereas the caliphs were ignorant of a large number of the apparent precepts and rules of the Qur’àn, beside being unable to interpret it. Al-Bukhàri and Muslim are reported to have said in their Sahihs, in the chapter on Tayammum, that: A man questioned ‘Umar ibn al-Khattàb when he was a caliph, saying: O Amir al-Mu’minin, I found myself ritually impure and couldn’t find water (for bathing), so what should I do? ‘Umar said to him: Do not perform prayers!! Furthermore, he was unaware of the judgement concerning Kalàlah till the time of his death, keeping on saying: I wished I had asked the Messenger of Allah about its judgement, while it is stated in the holy Qur’àn. When ‘Umar, whom the Ahl al-Sunnah used to consider among the inspired men, be at this level of knowledge, so what about the others who added many a heresy into the religion of Allah with no knowledge, or guidance or illuminative book, but out of personal ijtihàdàt (exertions of opinion).
A question may be raised that: If this be the case why hasn’t al-’Imàm ‘Ali demonstrated for the Ummah the points of difference and dispute among them after the demise of the Messenger (S)?
The answer would be: Al-’Imàm ‘Ali has spared no effort in exposing and clarifying the problematic matters, with being the reference for the Sahàbah regarding whatever they couldn’t find a solution for. He used to come to them, elucidating and giving counsels, of which they would take that which be appropriate for them and not contradictory to their policy, neglecting whatever be other than this, and history be the best witness for our claim.
The truth lies in that: Had ‘Ali ibn Abi Tàlib and the Imams among his sons not been there, it would have been impossible for people to realize whatever is related to their religion. But people, as the Qur’àn informed us, never like truth, so they followed their desires inventing new madhàhib (schools of thought) versus the Ahl al-Bayt Imams, who were kept under strict surveillance by the time governments, which would never grant them freedom of movement and direct contact with people.
‘Ali used to assume the pulpit and address the people: Ask me before you loose me. Sufficient be for him is the valuable book Nahj al-balàghah that ‘Ali left for us, and the knowledge left by Ahl al-Bayt Imams (A) which filled the East and the West, the fact testified by Sunni and Shi’i leaders (imàms) of Muslims.
Returning to the topic, I would say: Based on this, had it been destined for ‘Ali to have the lead of the Ummah for thirty years in accordance with the sirah (conduct) of the Messenger (S), Islam would have prevailed everywhere, and creed (‘aqidah) would have penetrated hearts of people much more and in a deeper way, and no minor or major sedition, nor Karbala and Ashura’ would have been there. Further, if we imagine the Ummah being led by the Eleven Imams after ‘Ali, who were determined by text (na??) from the Messenger of Allah (S), and whose lives extended for three centuries, no homeland would be left on the earth for other than Muslims, and the world today would be different of what it actually is, and our life would be humane in its true sense, but Allah, the Exalted, said:
"Alif Lam Meem. What! Do people imagine that they will be left off on (their) saying: "We believe!" and they will not be tried?" (29:1,2)
And verily the Islamic Ummah failed the trial as did the previous nations, as emphasized by the Messenger of Allah,158 through many occasions, and confirmed by the holy Qur’àn through numerous verses.159
146. Manaqib al-Khwàrazmi, p. 48; al-’Isti‘àb, Vol. III, p. 39; Tadhkirat al-Sibt, p. 87; Matàlib al-sa’ul, p. 13; Tafsir al-Naysàburi, on Surat al-’Ahqàf; Fayd al-Qadir, Vol. IV, p. 357.
147. Sahih al-Bukhàri, Vol. IV, pp. 5, 12, and Vol. V, pp. 76, 77; Sahih Muslim, Vol. VII, p. 121, “bàb fadà’il Ali ibn Abi Tàlib.”
148. Manàqib al-Khwàrazmi, p. 58; Tadhkirat al-Sibt, p. 87; Ibn al-Maghàzili, Tarjumat ‘Ali, p. 79.
149, 150, 151. Sharh al-Nahj, Ibn Abi al-Hadid, in the introduction.
152. Ta'rikh al-Tabari, Vol. II, p. 319; Ta'rikh Ibn al-'Athir, Vol. II, p. 62.
153. Sahih Muslim, Vol. VII, p. 120; Sahih al-Bukhàri, "bàb fadà'il 'Ali".
154. Mustadrak al-Hàkim, Vol. III, p. 128; al-Mu'jam al-kabir, al-Tabaràni.
155. Al-Sirah al-Halabiyyah, Ghazwat Dhàt al-Salàsil; Tabaqàt Ibn Sa'd, beside others who referred to this Ghazwah (invasion).
156. Kanz al-'ummàl, Vol. VI, p. 392, hadith No. 6009, Hilyat al-'awliyà'; Yanàbi' al-mawaddah, pp. 73, 74; Ta'rikh Dimashq of Ibn 'Asàkir, Vol. II, p. 483.
157. Mustadrak al-Hàkim, Vol. III, p. 122; Ibn 'Asàkir, op. cit., Vol. II, p. 488.
158. Like the hadith: Hold on to the sunnah of the Jews and that of the Christians, and abide by it in a way that even when they enter a hole of a lizard, you should enter it." This hadith is reported by al-Bukhàri, and a reference to it was made previously. And also like the hadith al-hawd (pond) in which the Messenger of Allah (S) says: "I never believe anyone of them to be delivered but those who are like abandoned cattle (very few)."
159. As in the holy verse: "...Therefore if he dieth or be slain, will ye turn upon your heels?" (3:144). And also the verse: "And shall say (out) the Apostle (that Day) "O my lord! Verily my people have held this Qur'àn as a vain forsaken thing!" (25:30).
Adapted from the book: "To Be With the Truthful" by: "Muhammad al-Tijani al-Samawi"
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