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  • 10/23/2011

Peshawar Nights: Argument from the "Verse of Cave" and its reply

Fifth Session, part 5


*"People of the Remembrance" are the Ahle Muhammad, the descendants of the Holy Prophet

*Citation of a verse of the Holy Qur'an about the appointment of the four Caliphs, and a reply

*Argument from the "Verse of Cave" and its reply

*Facts about Abu Bakr's accompanying the Holy Prophet

*Barsisa Abid

*The sending down of peace was on the Prophet of Allah



The Ahle'dh-dhikr means the people of the Remembrance, Ali and the Holy Imams, his descendants, who are the equals of the Holy Qur'an. Sheikh Sulayman Balkhi Hanafi-in his Yanabiu'l-Mawadda, Chapter 39, quoting from the Tafsir-e-Kashfu'l-Bayan of Imam Tha'labi, narrates from Jabir Ibn Abdullah Ansari, who said: "Ali said: 'We descendants of the Holy Prophet are the people of the Remembrance.'" Since Dhikr, "Remembrance," is one of the names of the Holy Qur'an, this family contains the people of the Qur'an. As reported by your and our ulema, Ali said: "Ask me anything you like before I leave you. Ask me about the Holy Book (The Qur'an) since I know about every verse in it - whether it was revealed in the night or during the day, on a plain field or in the steep mountains. By Allah, no verse of the Holy Qur'an was revealed but I know about what it was revealed, where it was revealed, and about what person it was revealed. Allah Almighty has endowed me with an eloquent tongue and a wise mind."

Therefore, basing arguments upon verses of the Holy Qur'an should be in accordance with their authentic meaning and the interpretations given by those capable of reliable commentary. Otherwise, everyone would give his own interpretation of the verses of the Qur'an, according to his scope of knowledge and faith, and that would only result in differences of opinion and conflicting ideas. With this in mind, I ask you to cite your verses.



Sheikh: Allah clearly says in the Holy Qur'an, "Muhammad is the Apostle of Allah, and those who are with him are strong against unbelievers, (but) compassionate amongst each other. Thou wilt see them bow and prostrate themselves (in prayer), seeking grace from Allah and (His) good pleasure. On their faces are their marks, (being) the traces of their prostration." (48:29) First, this verse proves the superiority of Abu Bakr. Second, it vindicates the position of the four caliphs as opposed to the claim of the Shia sect that Ali was the first caliph. This verse unequivocally states that Ali was the fourth caliph.

Well-Wisher: Certainly this verse does not give any obvious indication about the mode of appointment of the caliphs or about the excellence of Abu Bakr. Therefore, you must point out at what place of the verse this meaning is concealed.

Sheikh: In the beginning of this verse, the phrase "those who are with him" refers to that great man who was with the Prophet on the 'Night of the Cave.' The order of succession in the caliphate is also apparent from this verse. "Those who are with him" means Abu Bakr, who accompanied the Prophet in the Cave of Thawr on the night of Hijra. The phrase "strong against unbelievers" means Umar Bin Khattab, who was very harsh with the unbelievers. The phrase "compassionate to each other" refers to Uthman Bin Affan, who was very kind. The phrase "on their faces are their marks, the traces of their prostration" refers to Ali. It is clear that Ali is the fourth Caliph, not the first, since Allah mentioned him in the fourth place.

Well-Wisher: I wonder how I should reply so that I may not be accused of self interest. No Qur'anic commentaries, including those of your great ulema have interpreted these words as you have. Had this verse been about the order of the caliphate, the first day after the death of the Prophet, when Ali, the Bani Hashim, and the distinguished companions of the Prophet raised objections and refused to swear allegiance to the Caliph, baseless arguments would not have been put forward.

They could have given a silencing reply by citing this holy verse there and then. Hence, it is clear that your interpretation is an afterthought. None of the great commentators of your sect, like Tabari, Imam Tha'labi, Fazil Nishapuri, Jalalu'd-Din Suyuti, Qazi Baidhawi, Jarullah Zamakhshari, Imam Fakhru'd-Din Razi, or others have interpreted it thus. I fail to understand how you derive this meaning. Where and by whom was such a meaning given? This verse, from the literary and technical point of view, also goes against what you say.

Sheikh: I never expected that you would stand so boldly in opposition to the obvious meaning of such a verse. Of course if you have anything to say against this you may let us know so that the real position may be established.

Well-Wisher: Considering the grammatical construction of the verse, if we interpret its meaning as you have, it would either mean that Muhammad is Abu Bakr, Umar, Uthman, and Ali or that Abu Bakr, Umar, Uthman and Ali are Muhammad! Even beginning students know that this sort of interpretation is grammatically inaccurate. Besides, if this verse referred to the four caliphs, there would have been the conjunction "and" to coordinate words to give your meaning, but it is not so. All the commentators of your own sect say that this verse refers to all the believers. Moreover, the qualities enumerated in this verse apparently refer to one person only, who remained with the Prophet from the very beginning, and not to four persons. And if we say that one person was the Commander of the Faithful, Ali, it would be more appropriate according to common sense and hadith than naming any others.



Sheikh: It is strange that you claim that you do not indulge in misleading arguments, although your views are quite perverse. Allah says in the Holy Qur'an, "If you will not aid him, Allah certainly aided him when those who disbelieved expelled him, he being the second of the two, when they were both in the cave, when he said to his companion: 'Grieve not, surely Allah is with us.' So Allah sent down His tranquility upon him and strengthened him with hosts which you did not see..." (9:40)

First, this verse supports the previous verse and proves that the phrase "and those who are with him," refers to Abu Bakr who was with the Prophet in the cave on the night of the Hijra. Second, the fact that he was with the Holy Prophet is in itself a great proof of Abu Bakr's merit and his superiority to the whole umma. The Prophet could foretell that Abu Bakr was his successor, and that the existence of the Caliph after him was necessary. Therefore, he realized that he should protect Abu Bakr as he would his own. So, he took him with him so that Abu Bakr might not be caught by the enemy. Such treatment was not shown to any other Muslim. This clearly proves his right to the caliphate in preference to others.

Well-Wisher: If you would look at the verse more objectively, you would see that your conclusion is wrong.

Sheikh: Can you advance reasons against the conclusions that we have drawn?

Well-Wisher: I should like you to pass over this issue at the moment because speech breeds speech. Some biased people may interpret our comments with ill will. I do not wish to incite hatred. One might conclude that we wish to dishonor the caliphs, though the position of each individual is fixed, and it is not necessary to make useless interpretations.

Sheikh: You are being evasive. Be assured that reasonable argument does not breed contempt; it removes misunderstandings.

Well-Wisher: Since you have used the word "evasive," I am constrained to reply, so that you may know that I am not avoiding the issue. I wanted to maintain the propriety of our debate. I hope that you will not find fault with me. You made a thoughtless assertion that the Prophet knew that Abu Bakr would be his Caliph after him. Therefore, it was necessary for him to save his life, and so he took him with him.



Reply to your statement is simple. If Abu Bakr had been the only Caliph after the Prophet, such a view could be possible, but you believe in four caliphs. If this argument of yours is correct, and if it had been necessary for the Prophet to safeguard the life of the caliph, then the Prophet should have taken with him all four caliphs in Mecca. Why would he leave three others there, one of them in the perilous position of sleeping in the Prophet's bed, which was dangerous on a night when his enemies had gathered to murder him? According to Tabari (Part III of his History), Abu Bakr was not aware of the Prophet's movement from Mecca. When he went to Ali and asked him about the Prophet, he told him that the Prophet had gone to the cave. Ali told him that if he had any business with him, he should run up to him. Abu Bakr ran and met the Prophet on the way. So he accompanied him. This series of events indicates that the Prophet did not intend to take Abu Bakr with him. The latter accompanied him from the middle of the way without the Prophet's permission. According to other reports, Abu Bakr was taken on the journey for fear of his causing a disturbance and giving information to the enemy. Your own ulema have admitted this fact. For instance, Sheikh Abu'l-Qasim Bin Sabbagh, who is one of the well known ulema of your sect, writing in his Al-Nur wa'l-Burhan about the life of the Prophet, narrates from Muhammad Bin Ishaq, and he from Hasan Bin Thabit Ansari, that he went to Mecca to perform the Umra before the emigration of the Prophet. He saw that the Quraish unbelievers were railing at the Prophet's companions. The Prophet ordered Ali to sleep in his bed, and, fearing that Abu Bakr would disclose this fact to the unbelievers, the Prophet took Abu Bakr with him.

Finally, it would have been better if you had pointed out what evidence there is in this verse to show the superiority of Abu Bakr or whether accompanying the Prophet on a journey is proof that one is entitled to the caliphate.

Sheikh: The evidence is there. First, the companionship of the Prophet and that Allah called him the Prophet's companion is in itself a qualification. Second, the Prophet himself said: "Verily, Allah is with us." Third, the sending down of tranquility upon him from Allah, as mentioned in this verse, is the most compelling proof of Abu Bakr's excellence. Therefore, all of these points taken together indicate his superiority to others regarding the caliphate.

Well-Wisher: No one hesitates to acknowledge the position of Abu Bakr, an elderly Muslim, one of the distinguished companions and the father of the wife of the Prophet. However, these reasons do not prove his superiority of the caliphate. If you try to prove your point with such statements before impartial men, you will be courting strong criticism. They will say that companionship with virtuous people is no proof of merit or superiority. For example, we often see that bad people accompany good ones, and hosts of infidels accompany Muslims on journeys. Perhaps you have forgotten what the Holy Qur'an says about the Prophet Yusuf (Joseph), who said: "O my two companions of the prison (I ask you): are many lords differing among themselves better, or Allah, the One, the Supreme?" (12:39)

Regarding this verse, commentators have said that when Joseph was taken to the prison, on the same day the King's cook and the wine bearer, both of whom were unbelievers, were also put into the prison with him. For five years these three men (both believers and unbelievers) lived together as companions. When preaching to them Joseph, called them his companions. Was this companionship of the Prophet ever made grounds for regarding the two infidels as virtuous or dignified? Did their companionship with the Prophet effect a change in their faith? The writings of the commentators and historians tell us that after five years of companionship, they were separated from each other in the same condition.

Another verse of the Qur'an states, "His companion said to him while disputing with him: 'Do you disbelieve in Him who created you from dust, then from a small seed, then He made you a perfect man?'" (18:37) Commentators agree that this verse refers to two brothers: one was a believer, whose name was Yahuda. The other was an unbeliever whose name was Bara'tus. This fact has also been reported in the Tafsir-e-Kabir by Imam Fakhru'd-Din Razi, who is one of your ulema. These two talked to each other, the details of which cannot be given here. Allah has, however, called both of them (believer and unbeliever) "companions." Did the unbeliever derive benefit from his companionship with the believer? Obviously not. Thus, companionship alone is no basis for claiming one's excellence. There are many examples in support of this view.



You also said that since the Prophet said to Abu Bakr, "Allah is with us," that this is proof of Abu Bakr's excellence and his right to the caliphate! You might reconsider your views. People might ask, for example, "Does Allah remain with the believers and saints only, and not with the unbelievers?" Do you know any place where Allah does not exist? Isn't Allah with everyone? Suppose a believer and an unbeliever are together in a congregation. The Qur'an says: "See you not that Allah knows whatever is in the heavens and whatever is in the earth? Nowhere is there a secret counsel between three (persons) but He is fourth of them, nor (between) five, but He is the sixth, nor less than that, nor more but He is with them wheresoever they may be." (58:7) According to this verse and according to common sense, Allah is with everyone.

Sheikh: The expression "Allah is with us" meant that they were Allah's dearly loved ones because they traveled in the way of Allah for the purpose of preserving His religion. Allah's blessings were with them.

Well-Wisher: But surely this expression does not prove that one possesses an eternal blessing. Allah Almighty looks at people's deeds. It has often happened that at one time, people performed good deeds and were recipients of mercy from Allah. Later they disobeyed Allah and were subjected to divine wrath. Satan, as you know, worshiped Allah for thousands of years and received kindness from Him. However, as soon as he disobeyed His Command, he was damned. The Holy Qur'an says: "He said: 'Then get out of it, for surely you are driven away. And surely upon you is a curse until the Day of Judgement.'" (15:34-35)

Excuse me, there is no harm in citing examples. My purpose is to clarify the point. History contains many examples of those who were close to Allah but who, after being tested, were cursed. Bal'am Bin Ba'ur, for example, a contemporary of Moses, became so close to Allah that Allah revealed to him the Ism-e-A'zam (the greatest name of Allah, through which anything sought for is immediately granted by Allah). He invoked Allah by means of the Ism-e-A'zam and caused Moses to suffer in the valley of Tia! But at the time of trial, Bal'am was overpowered by his love for the material world. He followed Satan and was condemned. Commentators have given detailed accounts of this event. Imam Fakhru'd-Din Razi in his Commentary, Part IV, page 463, has reported this matter from Ibn Abbas, Ibn Mas'ud, and Mujahid. Allah in the Holy Qur'an tells us: "And recite to them the narrative of him to whom We give Our revelations, but he withdraws himself from them; so Satan overtakes him, and he is of those who go astray." (7:175)



Or consider the case of Barsisa Abid, who originally worshipped Allah so much that he became Mustajabu'd-da'wa (one whose invocations are granted). However, when the time of trial came, he failed. Misled by Satan, he committed fornication with a girl, was sent to the gallows, and died an unbeliever. The Holy Qur'an refers to him in these words: "Like Satan when he says to man: 'Disbelieve,' but when he disbelieves, he says; 'I am surely quit of you; surely I fear Allah, the Lord of the worlds.' Therefore, the end of both of them is that they are both in the fire to abide therein, and that is the reward of the unjust." (59:16-17)

So if man has done good deeds at one time, it does not follow that his end will be good. It is for this reason that we are instructed to say in our invocation: "Let all our actions end in good."

Sheikh: I really didn't expect an honorable man like you to cite the examples of Satan, Bal'am-e-Ba'ur, and Barsisa.

Well-Wisher: Excuse me, I have already stated that there is no harm in citing examples. In fact, we must cite them in learned debates to prove facts. Let Allah be my witness: I never intended to defame anyone by citing these examples. My purpose is to prove my point.

Sheikh: This verse clearly proves Abu Bakr's excellence because it says: "So Allah sent down His tranquility upon him..." (9:40) The pronoun here refers to Abu Bakr, which proves his superiority.

WELL-Wisher: You have misunderstood it. The pronoun used after Sakina (peace) refers to the Prophet. Peace was sent to him and not to Abu Bakr, as is evident from the later sentence in which Allah says: "...and strengthened him with hosts which you did not see." (9:40) The fact is that the hosts of unseen angels were to aid the Prophet, not Abu Bakr.

Sheikh: I admit that the divine help was for the Prophet, but Abu Bakr, being in company of the Prophet, was not without blessings.



Well-Wisher: If the bestowal of divine blessings referred to two people, Arabic grammar would require that pronouns be used designating two people in all the phrases of this verse. But the pronouns refer to one person, the Prophet, and Allah's blessings were for him. If through him the bestowal had been intended for others as well, their names would have been mentioned. Hence, the sending down of peace in this verse is for the Prophet alone.

Sheikh: The Prophet of Allah was independent of the divine bestowal of peace. He did not need it because he was assured of divine blessings. Hence, the bestowal of peace was for Abu Bakr.

Well-Wisher: On what grounds do you say that the Prophet was independent of divine blessings? No person - Prophet, Imam, or saint - is independent of divine blessings. Perhaps you have forgotten what the Holy Qur'an says about the incident of Hunain.

"Then Allah sent down His tranquility upon His Apostle and upon the believers." The same thing has been said in chapter 48 (Fath) verse 26, of the Holy Qur'an. The believers are included after the Prophet in this verse, just as in the "verse of the cave." If Abu Bakr had been a believer who deserved the bestowal of peace, either the pronoun for two persons would have been used, or his name would have been mentioned separately. This matter is so clear that your own ulema admit that the pronoun connected with peace does not refer to Abu Bakr. You might consult Naqzu'l-Uthmaniyya, compiled by Sheikh Abu Ja'far Muhammad Bin Abdullah Iskafi, who is one of the prominent ulema and Sheikhs of the Mu'tazilites. That scholar completely refutes the absurdities of Abu Uthman Jahiz. Ibn Abi'l-Hadid also recorded some of those replies in his Sharh Nahju'l-Balagha, Volume III, pages 253-281. In addition, there is a phrase in this verse, the implication of which is contrary to your point. The Prophet said to Abu Bakr: "Fear you not." The phrase indicates that Abu Bakr was frightened. Was this fear praiseworthy or not? If it was, the Prophet would not prohibit anyone from doing a good deed. A vicegerent of Allah possesses certain qualities. The most important of them, as pointed out in the Holy Qur'an, is that he never fears the vicissitudes of life. He exercises patience and fortitude. The Holy Qur'an says: "Now surely the friends of Allah - they shall have no fear nor shall they grieve."(10:62)

Source: al-islam.org

Other Links:

Peshawar Nights: The position of Infallible Imams

Peshawar Nights: Discussion regarding Imamate

Peshawar Nights: The Sunni Ulemas condemnation of Abu Hanifa

Peshawar Nights: Authenticity of Hadith of Manzila from the usual sources

Peshawar Nights: Characteristics of Ali

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