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Peshawar Nights:  Clear ahadith about the Caliphate of Ali

Fifth Session-part 1


Monday night, 27th Rajab, 1345 A.H.


*Hadith of Manzila narrated several times

*Aaron was the ordained successor of Moses

*Similarity between the affairs of Ali and Aaron

*Hadith of invitation to relatives and the Prophet's appointing Ali as his successor

*Clear ahadith about the Caliphate of Ali


Hafiz: From your eloquent talk last night, I conclude that you wanted to prove that Ali was the immediate successor of the Prophet, though in fact this hadith has only a specific significance. It was narrated during the journey of Tabuk. There is no proof that it has general significance.

Well-Wisher: In this hadith the word "Manzila" (Rank) is used in the general sense. The word showing exception clearly proves that the reference is of general significance. The Prophet named Ali along with the word "prophet" and described his Manzila using the phrase 'except that there shall be no prophet after me.' Most eminent ulema and authors have quoted the hadith from the Prophet, who is reported to have said to Ali. "Are you not content that you are to me as Aaron was to Moses except that there shall be no prophet after me?"

During his absence of forty days, Moses did not leave matters to the discretion of his followers. He appointed Aaron, the best man among the Isra'ilis, to act as his Caliph and successor. Similarly, the last prophet, whose religion is most perfect, had even greater reason to protect his people from the chaos of their free will. He preserved the code of religion so that it might not pass into the hands of the ignorant, those who would change it according to their whims. The ignorant people would depend on their own conjecture and create divisions in the matter of law. So, in this sacred hadith the Prophet says: "Ali is to me as Aaron was to Moses," confirming that Ali held the same levels of merit and authority as Aaron did. Ali was superior to the whole umma (community), and therefore the Prophet appointed him his helper and his successor.

Hafiz: What you have said about this hadith is above question. But if you just consider the matter carefully, you will admit that this hadith has no general significance. Its significance is confined to the Battle of Tabuk when the Prophet appointed Ali his Caliph for a fixed time.



Well-Wisher: You might have been justified in your remark if this hadith had been narrated at Tabuk only. But the Prophet repeated the same hadith on different occasions. It was narrated when brotherhood among different individuals among the muhajirs (refugees) was established in Mecca. It was also narrated in Medina when brotherhood was established between the Muhajirin and the Ansar. On each occasion the Prophet selected Ali as his brother, saying, "You are to me as Aaron was to Moses except that there shall be no prophet after me."

Hafiz: So far as I have observed, the hadith of Manzila was narrated only at the Battle of Tabuk. The Prophet left Ali in his place, which caused Ali to worry. The Prophet consoled him with these words. I think you have been misled.

Well-Wisher: No, I am not mistaken. Your own authentic books have narrated it. Among them are Mas'udi (a reliable reporter according to both sects) who writes in his Muruju'dh-Dhahab, Volume II, page 49, Halabi in Siratu'l-Halabiyya, Volume II, pages 26 and 120, Imam Abdu'r-Rahman Nisa'i in Khasa'isu'l-Alawiyya, page 19, Sibt Ibn Jauzi in his Tadhkira, pages 13-14, Sulayman Balkhi Hanafi in Yanabiu'l-Mawadda, chapter 9 and 17, and several others have narrated this hadith. They all say that, apart from the two occasions of establishing brotherhood, it has been narrated on many other occasions as well. Therefore, this hadith is not to be construed in a restricted sense or for a particular occasion only. Its general significance is an established fact. lt was through this hadith that the Holy Prophet declared on appropriate occasions Ali's succession after him. One of those occasions was the Battle of Tabuk.

Hafiz: How is it possible that the companions of the Prophet heard this hadith in its general sense, knowing that it meant the succession of Ali was willed by the Prophet and yet, after the death of the Prophet, they became hostile and accepted another man as caliph?

Well-Wisher: I have many references in support of my answer to your question, but the best response for this occasion is to consider the trials of Aaron in a very similar situation. The Holy Qur'an states that when Moses appointed Aaron his successor, he gathered round him the Bani Isra'il (according to some reports, 70,000 people). Moses emphasized that in his absence they should obey Aaron, his Caliph and successor. Moses then went up the mountain to be alone with Allah. Before a month passed, Samiri incited dissension among the Isra'ilis. He fashioned a golden calf and the Bani Isra'il, having left Aaron, gathered round the treacherous Samiri in large numbers. It had been only a short time before this that the same Bani Isra'il had heard Moses say that during his absence Aaron was to be his Caliph and that they should obey him. Nevertheless, 70,000 people followed Samiri. The Prophet Aaron loudly protested this action and forbade them from indulging in such sinful acts, but no one listened to him. The verse of Sura A'raf states that when Moses came back, Aaron said to him: "Son of my mother! Surely the people reckoned me weak and had well-nigh slain me..." (7:150)



The Bani Isra'il themselves heard the clear instruction from Moses, but when Moses went up to the mountain, Samiri seized his opportunity. He fashioned a golden calf and misguided the Bani Isra'il.



Similarly, after the death of the Prophet, some people who had heard him say that Ali was his successor, turned against Ali. Imam Ghazali referred to this fact in the beginning of his fourth treatise in Sirru'l-'Alamin. He states that some people returned to the state of their former ignorance. In this respect, there is great similarity between the situation of Aaron and that of Ali. Like many of your own great scholars and historians, Abu Muhammad Abdullah Bin Muslim Bin Qutayba Bahili Dinawari, the well-known Qazi of Dinawar, in his Al-Imama Wa Siyasa, Volume I, page 14, narrates in detail the events of Saqifa. He says that they threatened to burn down Ali's house and they forcibly took him to the mosque and threatened to kill him unless he swore allegiance to them. Ali went to the sacred grave of the Prophet and repeated the same words of the Holy Qur'an which Aaron spoke to Moses: "He (Aaron) said: Son of my mother! Surely the people reckoned me weak and had well-nigh slain me..." (7:150)

Nawab: When the succession of Ali had been established, why did the Prophet use words which only implied that sense? Why didn't he clearly announce that Ali was his successor, so that no objection could have been raised after him?

Well-Wisher: I told you that the Prophet expressed the truth in both ways. This is evident from your own books, which have recorded numerous hadith in this regard. Literary people know that allusion is more impressive than a mere statement, particularly when the allusion is so deep-rooted that it contains in it a world of meaning.

Nawab: You say that there are many clear hadith recorded by your ulema concerning the succession of Ali. Will you please tell us more about this? We are told that there is no hadith which proves Ali's succession.

Well-Wisher: There are many hadith concerning the caliphate in your own authentic books.



Of all the hadith concerning the vicegerency of Ali, the hadith of Invitation is the most important. On the day the Prophet proclaimed his prophethood, he also proclaimed that Ali was his successor. The ulema of your sect, including Imam Ahmad Bin Hanbal, Muwaffaq Bin Ahmad Khawarizmi, Abu Ja'far Muhammad Bin Jarir Tabari, Ibn Abi'l-Hadid Mu'tazali and a host of others have reported that when verse 214 of the Chapter Shu'ara: "And warn your nearest relations," (26:214) was revealed, the Prophet invited forty of the Quraish, to Abu Talib's house. He put before them a leg of goat, some bread, and a cup of milk. They laughed and said: "O Muhammad! you have not served enough food for even one man." The holy Prophet said: "Begin eating in the name of Allah." When they had eaten and were fully satisfied, they said to each other: "Muhammad has bewitched you with this food." The Prophet stood up among them and said: "O descendants of Abdu'l-Muttalib! Allah Almighty has sent me as a messenger to the whole of creation in general and to you in particular. I invite you to make two statements which are light and easy for the tongue, but on the scale of action they are heavy. If you make the two statements, you will be masters of the lands of the Arabs and the non-Arabs. Through them you will go to Paradise and will obtain immunity from Hell. These two expressions are: first, to bear witness to Allah's Oneness, and second, to bear witness to my prophethood. The one who first of all acknowledges my call and helps me in my mission is my brother, my helper, my heir, and my successor after me."

The Prophet repeated the last sentence three times, and each time none except Ali responded to him, saying, "I will aid and help you, O Prophet of Allah!" So the Prophet declared: "This Ali is my brother, and he is my successor and Caliph among you."



Besides the Shia and Sunni ulema of Islam, many impartial historians of other nations have given the details of this feast. They had no religious bias, being neither Shias nor Sunnis. One of these writers is the nineteenth-century British historian and philosopher, Thomas Carlyle. In his "Heroes and Hero-worship" he described the details of the feast at Abu Talib's house. After the Prophet's statements, Ali stood and proclaimed his faith in the Prophet. Therefore, the caliphate was bestowed on him. Other European writers have confirmed this fact, including George Sale of England and Hashim, a Christian of Syria, in his Maqalatu'l-Islam, and Mr. John Davenport in his Muhammad and the Qur'an. All agree that the Prophet, immediately after the proclamation of his prophethood, called Ali his brother, helper, successor, and Caliph. Moreover, several hadith confirm that the Prophet emphasized this fact on many other occasions.



(1) Imam Ahmad Ibn Hanbal in his Musnad and Mir Seyyed Ali Hamadani Shafi'i in Mawaddati'l-Qurba towards the end of the fourth Mawadda, have recorded that the Holy Prophet said, "O Ali! You shall discharge responsibilities on my behalf, and you are my Vicegerent over my following."

(2) Imam Ahmad Ibn Hanbal in Musnad, Ibn Maghazili Faqih Shafi'i in Manaqib and Tha'labi in his Tafsir (commentary) have reported that the Holy Prophet said to Ali: "O Ali! You are my brother, successor, vicegerent, and the payer of my debt."

(3) Abu Qasim Husain Bin Muhammad (Raghib Ispahani) in Mahadhiratu'l-Udaba wa Muhawaratu'sh-Shu'ara wa'l-Balagha (printed in Amira-e-Shazafiyya, Seyyed Husain Afandi, 1326 A.H.), part II, page 213, quotes from Ibn Malik that the Prophet said: "Verily, my friend, helper, Vicegerent, and the choicest of men whom I am leaving behind, who will pay my debt and fulfill my promise, is Ali Bin Abu Talib."

(4) Mir Seyyed Ali Hamadani in Mawaddatu'l-Qurba, at the beginning of the sixth Mawadda, narrates from the second Caliph, Umar Bin Khattab, that when the Prophet established the relationship of brotherhood among the companions, he said: "This Ali is my brother in this world and in the Hereafter; he is my successor from among my kin and my Vicegerent among my umma; he is the heir of my knowledge and the payer of my debt; whatever he owes to me, I owe to him. His profit is my profit, and his loss is my loss; one who is his friend is my friend; one who is his enemy is my enemy."

(5) In the same Mawadda, he quotes a hadith from Anas bin Malik, which I have mentioned earlier. Toward its end he says that the Holy Prophet said, "He (Ali) is my Vicegerent and helper."

(6) Muhammad Bin Ganji Shafi'i quotes a hadith from Abu Dharr Ghifari in his book, Kifayatu't-Talib, that the Prophet said, "The flag of Ali, the commander of the believers, the leader of the bright-faced people, and my Vicegerent, will come to me at the Fountain of Kauthar."

(7) Baihaqi, Khatib Khawarizmi, and Ibn Maghazili Shafi'i write in their Manaqib that the Prophet said to Ali: "It is not proper that I depart from the people without you becoming my successor since you are the choicest of the believers after me."

(8) Imam Abu Abdu'r-Rahman Nisa'i, one of the Imams of the Six Books of Traditions, narrates in detail from Ibn Abbas the virtues of Ali in connection with hadith 23 in Khasa'isu'l-Alawi. After describing the rank of the prophet Aaron, the Holy Prophet said to Ali: "You are my Vicegerent after me for every believer."

This hadith and others in which the Holy Prophet used the phrase "after me" clearly prove that Ali was his immediate successor.

(9) There is the "Hadith of Creation," which has been narrated in different ways. Imam Bin Ahmad Ibn Hanbal in his Musnad, Mir Seyyed Ali Hamadani in Mawaddatu'l-Qurba, Ibn Maghazili Shafi'i in Manaqib, and Dailami in Firdaus have quoted the Prophet as saying: "I and Ali were created of the same Divine Light 14,000 years before Adam was created. From the loins of the Prophet Adam and through his holy progeny, the Light was inherited by Abdu'l-Muttalib, and from him it was divided and inherited by Abdullah, (father of the Prophet) and Abu Talib, (father of Ali). I was granted prophethood, and Ali was granted the caliphate."

(10) Hafiz Abu Ja'far Muhammad Bin Jarir Tabari (d.310 A.H.) writes in his Kitabu'l-Wilaya that the Prophet said in the beginning of his renowned address at Ghadir-e-Khum: "The angel Gabriel has conveyed Allah's command to me that I stop at this place and inform the people that Ali Bin Abu Talib is my brother, my successor, my Caliph (Vicegerent) after me. O men! Allah has made Ali your Wali (guardian), and Imam (guide). Obedience to him is obligatory on each one of you; his command is supreme; his utterance is truth; curse be on him who opposes him; Allah's mercy be on him who befriends him."

(11) Sheikh Sulayman Balkhi in Yanabiu'l-Mawadda reports from the Manaqib of Ahmad, and he from Ibn Abbas, a hadith which describes many of Ali's merits. I quote all of it. Ibn Abbas reports that the Prophet said: "O Ali, you are the bearer of my knowledge, my Wali and friend, my successor, the heir of my knowledge, and my Caliph. You are the trustee of the heritage of all the preceding prophets. You are the confidant of Allah on this earth and Allah's proof for the whole of creation. You are a pillar of Iman (faith) and the guardian of Islam. You are a lamp in darkness, a light of guidance, and for the people of the world you are a raised standard. O Ali! He who follows you is delivered; he who disobeys you will perish; you are the luminous way, and a straight path; you are the leader of pure men, and the head of the believers; to whomsoever I am Master (Maula), you are also his Master (Maula), and I am the Master of every believer (man or woman). Only he is your friend who is born of lawful wedlock. Allah did not transport me to the heavens to speak with me without telling me, 'O Muhammad! Convey my salutation to Ali and tell him that he is the Imam of my friends and the Light of worshippers.' Congratulations to you, O Ali, on this marvelous excellence."

(12) Abu Mu'ayyid Muwafiqu'd-Din, the best orator of Khawarizm, in his Faza'il of the Commander of the Faithful, printed in 1313 A.H., Chapter XIX, page 240, quotes the sources who reported that the Prophet said: "When I reached Sidratu'l-Muntaha ('the farthest Lote Tree,' the highest station during the Mi'raj), I was addressed thus: 'O Muhammad! When you tested the people, whom did you find the most obedient?' I said 'Ali.' Allah then said, 'You have told the truth, Muhammad!' Further, He said, 'Have you selected a Vicegerent who will convey your knowledge to the people, and teach my servants from My Book those things which they do not know?' I said, 'O Allah! Whomever you select, I will select.' He said, 'I have selected Ali for you. I make him your Vicegerent and successor.' And He furnished Ali with His knowledge and forbearance. He is the Commander of the Faithful whom no one can equal in rank among his predecessors or successors."

There are many such hadith in your authentic books. Some of your just ulema, like Nizzam Basri, have acknowledged this fact. Salahu'd-Din Safdi in his Wafa Bi'l-Wafiyya, in connection with the account of Ibrahim Bin Sayyar Bin Hani Basri, known as Nizzam Mu'tazali, says: "The Prophet of Allah confirmed the Imamate of Ali and appointed him the Imam (Guide). The companions of the Prophet were also fully aware of it, but Umar, for the sake of Abu Bakr, covered the Imamate of Ali with a curtain."

It is clear from your own books, hadith, and Qur'anic commentaries that Ali occupied the highest position of virtue. Khatib Khawarizmi reports from Ibn Abbas in Manaqib, Muhammad Bin Yusuf Ganji Shafi'i in his Kifayatu't-Talib, Sibt Ibn Jauzi in his Tadhkira, Ibn Sabbagh Maliki in Fusulu'l-Mawadda, Sulayman Balkhi Hanafi in Yanabiu'l-Mawadda and Mir Seyyed Ali Hamadani in Mawaddatu'l-Qurba, Mawadda V, quotation from the second Caliph, Umar Bin Khattab - all confirming with slight variations of words - that the Prophet said: "If all the trees were pens, if the seas were ink, if all the jinn and men were recorders - even then the virtues of Ali Bin Abu Talib could not be enumerated."

Source: al-islam.org

Other Links:

Peshawar Nights: Third Session-part 5

Peshawar Nights: Third Session-part 6

Peshawar Nights: Martyrdom of Shahid-e Thalis

Peshawar Nights: The position of Infallible Imams

Peshawar Nights: Discussion regarding Imamate

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