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Hadith-e-Muwakhaat: Tradition of Brotherhood - Part 1

This tradition has been recorded by Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal from Zaid bin Awfa, the writer of Mishkat from Ibne Umar, by Tirmidhi from Ibn Abi Awfa, Abdullah bin Ahmad Hanbal from Saeed bin Jubair, Ahmad from Abu Huzaifah Yamani, Nawfal from Jabir bin Abdullah, Hamveeni from Ibne Abbas, Akrama from Ibne Abbas and Zaid bin Arqam, Saeed bin Musayyib and Abi Umamah from Jumee bin Umayr.

All the Shia and Sunni scholars have accepted the hadith of brotherhood. The writer of Mishkatul Anwaar and others, like the great Shaykh Muhiyuddin Arabi has certified it in his book Musamera. So much so that there hasn't been a single person to cast aspersions on this matter. The meaning of the hadith is as follows: At the time the holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) had established ties of brotherhood between the companions, Ali (a.s.) was seated near him. Ali (a.s.) said: O Messenger of Allah! You have made all the people brother of one or the other but you have not specified any person for my brotherhood?" The Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.) said:

"O Ali! You are my brother in this world and the hereafter." The tradition is worded as follows: "O Ali! You are my brother in the world and the hereafter. And you are my legatee and you are the one who would fulfill my promise and the one who would repay my debts." Let us now consider the effect of this hadith on the proof of the superiority of Hazrat Ali (a.s.).

Did the holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) announce this brotherhood from his own side or was it a divine command? Obviously it was by Allah's command because any announcement from the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) is not possible without Allah's permission."

"Nor does he speak out of desire. It is naught but revelation that is revealed." (Surah Najm: 3-4)

In the event of establishing brotherhood, does the person chosen for the brotherhood of the holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) has to be the most superior of the Ummah or it could be some inferior one? Indeed anyone chosen as the brother of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.) has to be the best of the creatures because the holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) had announced brotherhood among the companions, keeping in mind their compatibility and matching status. In this way it was necessary that Ali (a.s.) had to be the most superior of the Ummah.

Hadith Madinatul Ilm: Tradition of the City of Knowledge The Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.) said,

"I am the city of knowledge and Ali is its gate." None among the Ummah has rejected this hadith because it is well known and reliable among all Muslims and bears utmost importance in proving his superiority.

So, please note that the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.) said, "I am the city of knowledge and Ali is its gate." What is the importance of this prophetic saying? What was the aim of this lofty personality? Yes! It is well known that whenever a person intends to enter a city, he has to come through the door and any other alternative will be considered illegal. Likewise, the followers of Islam are in need of the knowledge and wisdom of the holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) for the good of their world and the hereafter. And the key to this gate of mercy is Ali ibne Abi Talib (a.s.). In this way, if anyone wishes to benefit from the knowledge and wisdom of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.), it is necessary that he make Ali (a.s.) the channel, because to enter a great town without going through the proper entrance is both difficult and illogical. Similarly it is senseless to derive any gain from the traditions of the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) without the medium of Amirul Momineen (a.s.). Yes! This is a general principle! Rationality and traditions do not contradict each other in proving this principle.

Thus there remains no scope to deny that Muslims are in need of Ali's knowledge and wisdom. Ali (a.s.) is the source of (explanation of) the Shariah as well as Marefat (Divine Recognition). Hadith-e-Zarbat: Tradition of the Sword-strike The Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.) said:

"A sword strike of Ali (a.s.) on the battle of Khandaq (ditch) was superior to the combined worship of men and jinns till the day of Qiyamat." Thus it is clear that on the day of recompense, the reward of the combined worship of all men and jinn will be one side and, leave alone the total deeds, a single sword strike of Ali (a.s.) on Amr ibne Abdawod will be more superior. If at all a little thought is given to the correctness of this hadith, everything will be clear.

Let us try to understand this tradition. The day of Khandaq (ditch) is referred in Quran as the day of the confederates (Ahzaab). All the polytheistic tribes joined hands with the infidels of Quraysh to wage a war against the holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.). The best warriors were gathered for this purpose. The holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) found it difficult to confront the great might and he ordered a ditch to be dug around Madinah. Well-known warriors and fighters were present among the infidels, the most famous being Amr ibne Abdawod.

Amr jumped into the ditch with his horse and challenged the holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.). Ali ibne Abi Talib (a.s.) sought the permission of the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) but he did not immediately permit; just for the sake of testing his companions. Amr challenged again, tauntingly. The companions remained silent! Once again Ali (a.s.) requested the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) to allow him to accept the challenge of Amr. The Prophet (s.a.w.a.) again refused permission to check the reaction of other companions. In the meantime, Amr began to recite the war poems (Rajaz) in his own praise! After getting permission from the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.), Ali (a.s.) wore the Prophet's turban, tied the Prophet's sword to his waist and jumped in the battlefield in fury.

The Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.) said, "Faith personified is facing disbelief incarnate." Thus, faith and disbelief faced each other and the Lion of God slew Amr. Faith triumphed over infidelity.

"A single sword strike of Ali (a.s.) on the day of ditch is superior to the combined worship of Jinn and men till the day of Qiyamat." Yes! It was possible that if Ali's sword hadn't been there, Amr ibn Abdawod might have destroyed the foundation of nascent Islam. Of what use had been the combined worship acts of men and jinn? Thus they are right who give Ali (a.s.) the title, "The second founder of Islam."

But Alas! How sad! What happened in the Ummah was just the opposite. And this controversial behavior resulted in great calamities. Astonishing! Why did such a tragic situation develop? Apart from the traditions quoted, there are thousands of authentic traditions that are accepted by all Muslims and considered reliable by them. We do not see any need to quote all such ahadith, reports and verses. Rather the superiority of Ali (a.s.) is proved for all the Ummah. If at all we try to present all the traditions and Quranic verses in favor of the superiority of Ali (a.s.), even a book equal to the size of Qamoos Al-Lughat or Qamoos al-A'laam will not suffice. Rather a book of the size of Qamoos al-Uloom or a multi-volume book like Dairatul Ma'rif would be required. The apt name of such a book would be Al-Behrul Zakhair fi Khizril Jawahir. But the matter that we are discussing and one which we consider important is as follows: Ahmad bin Abde Rabb, a well-known and established scholar of Ahle-Sunnat, in the third volume of his book, Iqdul Farid, under the heading of "Discussion of Mamoon with the scholars of Baghdad regarding the superiority of Ali ibne Abi Talib (a.s.)," mentions as to how Mamoon, the Abbasid caliph, debated with the scholars of Baghdad regarding the superiority of Ali (a.s.).

Ibne Abde Rabb has recorded the complete debate in his book and this humble writer presents the gist of the same. Ibne Abde Rabb relates that Ishaq bin Ibrahim bin Ismail bin Hammad bin Zaid, who was among the well-known scholars and jurists of Baghdad, said, "One day Yahya bin Aksam, a judge of Haroon Rashid's time, came to my house and said, 'The caliph has ordered that forty scholars of Baghdad be selected for a debate and discussion on religious problems and Shariat. So could you suggest some names that I can note down?" Ismail bin Hamad says that I mentioned some names but Yahya only jotted down the scholars regarding whose caliber he was certain. At last forty names were listed. Yahya took their word to report at his house early the next morning. They arrived at Yahya's place and recited their morning prayers there. In reply to our question Yahya said, "The caliph has invited you forty gentlemen to discuss and debate an important matter." In due course we departed to the Caliph's palace and entered his presence and seated ourselves by his permission. Mamoon was dressed in a resplendent garment while the people wore black.

When we sat down, the caliph took off his turban and robe and ordered us to do the same so that we are comfortable. He ordered many kinds of luxuries to make us feel at ease. Thereafter, he asked us questions regarding the rules of Shariah and we replied to the questions accordingly. Finally, the caliph said, "The purpose of our calling you all here was not this; we have invited you to prove an important matter by discussion."

And he said, "I am Mamoon the Caliph, the follower of Islam and I consider Hazrat Ali to be the most superior among all creatures and most deserving of caliphate. I invite all of you to accept this belief and to express your opinion here."

Ishaq bin Ibrahim says, "I said: Caliph! Please tell us why you consider Ali (a.s.) most superior so that others may also know about it." Acceding to the request, Mamoon said, "O Ishaq! What factors prove superiority? In other words, what qualities are required to establish the preeminence of a person over another?" "Good deeds are very much necessary," replied Ishaq. "What was the best deed on the day the holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) invited people to Islam?" the Caliph asked. Ishaq said: "Sincerity in testimony is most superior for it had preference over Islam."

"It is correct," said the Caliph, "Wasn't Ali bin Abi Talib the foremost in accepting Islam?" Ishaq said, "Yes! But at that time he was not mature (baligh). The first matured person to accept Islam was Abu Bakr." Upon this, Mamoon said, "Did Ali accept Islam due to divine inspiration (ilhaam) or on the Prophet's invitation?"

Ishaq says, 'I became immersed in deep thought.' Mamoon said, "O Ishaq. You can't say that he accepted it by Ilham, because revelation had descended only upon the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.). You must say that Ali (a.s.) entered the fold of Islam upon invitation of the holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.)." The Caliph repeated, "Ishaq, did the holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) not impose a duty on a young child who was not yet capable of carrying it out?" Ishaq says: I again sunk into the ocean of thoughts while the caliph said, "Allah has said: And I am not of the Mutakallafeen. That is I do not impose duties on those who are incapable of fulfilling them. So it is clear that Ali (a.s.) entered the fold of Islam at an age when he was mature enough to bear responsibilities. Ishaq said: The caliph repeated the question, "O Ishaq! Have your scholars and jurists written and recorded traditions to prove the superiority of anyone in the way they have written about Ali (a.s.)?"

Ishaq said, "Traditions indicating the superiority of Ali (a.s.) easily outnumber others." Mamoon further said, "Are the traditions in support of the superiority of Abu Bakr comparable to the reports indicating the superiority of Ali (a.s.)?" Ishaq said, "No, they are not as much." The caliph again asked, "Are all the traditions in praise of Abu Bakr, Umar and Uthman put together equal to the merits of Ali (a.s.)?" "They are not equal," they confessed. On this juncture the caliph asked, "Do you read the Quran?"

"I do," said Ishaq. The caliph asked, "Have you not read Surah Hal Ataa (also called as Surah Dahr)?" Ishaq said, "I began to recite the surah till I reached, "And they give food out of love for Him to the poor and the orphan and the captive." (Verse 8) The Caliph asked, "O, Ishaq, regarding whom was this verse revealed?" Ishaq said, "For Ali ibn Abi Talib (a.s.)." Mamoon said, "Do you know the hadith of those who were given the glad tidings of Paradise?" "Yes, I know", he replied. Mamoon said, "Wouldn't a person who doubts this hadith become a disbeliever?" Ishaq said, "God forbid! He will not be a disbeliever because it is a solitary report." He said, "O Ishaq! What would happen to a person who doubts Surah Hal Ata?"

"He would become a disbeliever," Ishaq replied. Mamoon said, "Then how do you give preference to solitary doubtful report in comparison to a clear and manifest verse of the Holy Quran?" Ishaq says, 'I became silent'. The caliph asked another question, "Are you familiar with the Hadith-e-Tayr (Tradition of the roasted bird)?" He said, "Yes I know", and recited the hadith. Caliph asked, "Is this hadith authentic?" "It is authentic," they all replied in unison. He said, "O Ishaq, did the Almighty accept the Prophet's prayer?" I said, "God forbid! He did not reject it! He accepted it." Mamoon said, "In such an such event did the Almighty answer the Prophet's prayers and sent His most beloved creature to share the bird which was gifted to him? "Yes," replied Ishaq. Mamoon said, "O Ishaq! Who was sent in response to the prayer of the Prophet (s.a.w.s) to partake the roasted bird?" Ishaq said, "It was Ali (a.s.)." Again Mamoon asked, "O Ishaq! Did the Almighty and the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) know who the most superior person of the Ummah was?" "Yes, they were aware of it," replied Ishaq.

Adapted from: Analysis of the History of Aale Muhammad (pbuh)" by: "Qadi Bohlool Afandi"