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  • 10/25/2011

Peshawar Nights: Doubts and complications regarding the "verse of guardianship" and their clarification


*Uthman mercilessly beat companions of Holy Prophet

*Ammar beaten by order of Uthman

*The hadith "all companions are like stars" applied also to Abu Dharr

*Ali bin Abu Talib's kindness and generosity

*Doubts and complications regarding the "verse of guardianship" and their clarification



Moreover, Uthman beat the companions who objected to his oppression. Among them was Abdullah Bin Mas'ud, who was a Hafiz, Qari (Qur'an reciter), treasurer of the public treasury, a scribe who recorded the revealed verses, and one of the chief companions of the Holy Prophet. He was held in high esteem by Abu Bakr and Umar, both of whom used to take counsel from him. Ibn Khaldun in his History commented that Caliph Umar insisted that Abdullah remain with him because he possessed complete knowledge of the Holy Qur'an and because the Prophet spoke highly of him. Ibn Abi'l-Hadid and others have written the same thing. Your ulema agree that when Uthman intended to compile the Holy Qur'an, he obtained all the copies from the scribes. He demanded the copy of the Holy Qur'an from Abdullah Bin Mas'ud also. Abdullah did not give it to him. Uthman himself went to his house and took the copy of the Holy Qur'an from him by force. Later, when Abdullah learned that, like other copies of the Holy Qur'an, his copy had been burnt, he was much aggrieved. In social and religious gatherings, he narrated the condemnatory hadith which he knew about Uthman. When this news reached Uthman, he had Ibn Mas'ud so severely beaten by his slaves that his teeth were broken, and he was confined to bed. After three days he succumbed to his injuries. Ibn Abi'l-Hadid writes in detail about these facts in Volume I, pages 67 and 226 of Sharh Nahju'l-Balagha (printed in Egypt) under "Ta'n VI," and goes on to say that Uthman went to see the ailing Abdullah. They talked together for some time. Uthman said, "O Abdu'r-Rahman! Pray to Allah for my forgiveness." Abdullah said, "I pray to Allah to take my right from you" (that is, that justice be done). When Abu Dharr, a close companion of the Holy Prophet, was banished to Rabba, Abdullah went to see him off. For this Abdullah was given forty lashes. So Abdullah insisted to Ammar Yasir that Uthman not be allowed to offer Abdullah's funeral prayers. Ammar Yasir agreed, and after Abdullah's death, he offered the funeral prayers along with a group of the companions. When Uthman learned of the funeral arrangement, he came to Abdullah's grave and asked Ammar why he had said the funeral prayers. He replied that he was constrained to do it because Abdullah had willed it.



Another example of Uthman's cruelty was his beating of Ammar Yasir. Ulema of both sects relate that when Umayyad oppression increased, some companions of the Prophet wrote to Uthman, asking him to relent. They said that if he continued to assist his cruel Umayyad Governors, he would not only be harming Islam, but he would himself be subjected to serious consequences. They asked Ammar Yasir to deliver the petition since Uthman himself had acknowledged Ammar's virtue. They had often heard Uthman say that the Prophet said that faith was blended with the flesh and blood of Ammar. So Ammar took the letter to Uthman. When he arrived, Uthman asked him, "Do you have business with me?" He replied: "I have no business of a personal nature. But a group of the Prophet's Companions has written in this letter some suggestions and advice for your welfare. They have sent them to you through me." After reading a few lines, Uthman threw the letter down. Ammar said: "It was not good of you. A letter from the companions of the Holy Prophet of Allah deserves respect. Why did you throw it on the ground? It would be proper for you to have read it and replied to it?" "You are lying!" Uthman shouted. Then he ordered his slaves to beat him, and Uthman himself kicked him in the stomach. He fell, unconscious; his relatives came and took him to the house of Ummu'l-Mu'minin Umm Salma (one of the Prophet's wives). From noon until midnight he remained unconscious. The tribes of Hudhail and Bani Makhzun turned against Uthman because of his cruelty to Abdullah Bin Mas'ud and Ammar Yasir.

Uthman was also cruel to Jandab Bin Junada, known as Abu Dharr Ghifari, one of the intimate companions of the Holy Prophet and a learned man. Great traditionists and historians of both sects have reported that this ninety-year-old man was unjustly exiled from place to place with utmost ignominy - from Medina to Syria, to Medina again, and then from Medina to the desert of Rabza.

 He rode on a naked camel accompanied by his only daughter. He died in Rabza in penury and neglect. Your prominent ulema and historians, including, Ibn Sa'd, in his Tabaqat, Volume IV, page 168; Bukhari in Sahih, Kitab-e-Zakat; Ibn Abi'l-Hadid in his Sharhe Nahju'l-Balagha, Volume I, page 240 and Volume II, pages 375-87, Yaqubi in his History, Volume II, page 148; Abu'l-Hasan Ali Bin Husain Mas'udi, the famous traditionist and historian of the fourth century in his Muruju'dh-Dhahab, Volume I, page 438, and many others have recorded Uthman's cruelty. It has been widely reported how he mistreated the pure-hearted Abu Dharr, the loved one of the Holy Prophet, and also how Abdullah Bin Mas'ud, the hafiz and recorder of Wahi, who was given forty lashes because he bid farewell to Abu Dharr Ghifari. Insulting treatment was likewise shown to Ali for the same reason.

Hafiz: If torment was inflicted on Abu Dharr, it was because of unworthy officials. Caliph Uthman, who was very kind and soft-hearted, was unaware of these events.

Well-Wisher: Your defense of Caliph Uthman is contrary to facts. The anguish inflicted on Abu Dharr was due to the explicit orders of Uthman himself. To prove this fact, one need only refer to your own ulema. For instance, you may consult Ibn Athir's Nihaya, Volume I, and his Ta'rikh-e-Yaqubi, and particularly page 241 of Volume I of Sharhe Nahju'l-Balagha by Ibn Abi'l-Hadid. These scholars have recorded Uthman's letter to Mu'awiya. When Mu'awiya sent a malicious report against Abu Dharr from Syria, Uthman wrote to him, "Send Jundub (Abu Dharr) to me on an unsaddled camel, alone, with a harsh man driving it day and night." When he reached Medina, Abu Dharr's legs were bruised and bleeding. And yet your own ulema have recorded hadith saying that Abu Dharr was specifically mentioned by the Prophet as one whom all mankind must love. Hafiz Abu Nu'aim Isfahani in Hilyatu'l-Auliya, Volume I, page 172; Ibn Maja Qazwini in Sunan, Volume I; page 66; Sheikh Sulayman Balkhi Shafi'i in Yanabiu'l-Mawadda, Chapter 59, recording the fifth of forty hadith written in Sawa'iq Muhriqa by Ibn Hajar Makki as correct, having been taken from Tirmidhi and Hakim, as

narrated by Buraida, and he from his father; Ibn Hajar Asqalani in Isaba, Volume III, page 455; Tirmidhi in Sahih, Volume II, page 213; Ibn Abdi'l-Birr in Isti'ab, Volume II, page 557; Hakim in Mustadrak, Volume III, page 130; and Suyuti in Jam'u's-Saghir have recorded that the Holy Prophet said: "Allah has ordered me to love four people; and He has informed me that He also loves them." The people said, "O Prophet of Allah! Let us know their names." The Holy Prophet said, "They are Ali, Abu Dharr, Miqdad, and Salman." Would justice allow such loved ones of Allah to be treated so cruelly and call that treatment kindness?

Hafiz: Historians have reported that Abu Dharr was a disturbing figure. He carried on relentless propaganda in Syria in favor of Ali, drew the attention of the Syrians to Ali's rank, and said that he had heard the Holy Prophet saying that Ali was his successor. Because he called the others usurpers and said that Ali was the rightful caliph appointed by Allah, Caliph Uthman, to preserve unity and avoid disturbances, had to call him from Syria. If a man attempts to cause dissension among the people, it is the duty of the caliph to remove him from the area.

Well-Wisher: If a man speaks the truth, is it fair to exile him and torture him because he does so? Does Islam allow us to force old men to ride a thin, unsaddled camel, driven fiercely by a hot-tempered slave, without stopping for rest, so that he reaches his destination bruised and bloody? Does this indicate soft-heartedness? Apart from that, if Uthman wanted to maintain unity and avoid disturbances, why didn't he remove the miscreant Umayyads, like Marwan, who was cursed and banished by the Holy Prophet and the heretic, Walid, an exposed sinner who offered prayers while drunk and who vomited under the arch of the mosque? Why didn't he remove the corrupt politicians from his government, men who oppressed the people, who finally rebelled and murdered Uthman.

Hafiz: How can you say that Abu Dharr spoke the truth? How do you know that what he said was based on correct knowledge and that he did not fabricate hadith in the name of the Holy Prophet ?

Well-Wisher: We say so because the Holy Prophet himself testified to Abu Dharr's veracity. Your own ulema have written that the Prophet said: "Abu Dharr among my people is like Jesus among the Bani Isra'il in truthfulness, devotion, and piety." Muhammad Bin Sa'd, one of the high-ranking ulema and traditionists of your sect, in Tabaqat, Volume IV, pages 167, 168; Ibn Abdu'l-Birr in Isti'ab, Volume I, Chapter of Jundab, page 84; Tirmidhi in Sahih, Volume II, page 221; Hakim in Mustadrak, Volume III, page 342; ibn Hajar in Isaba, Volume III, page 622 Muttaqi Hindi in Kanzu'l-Ummal, Volume VI, page 169; Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal in Musnad, Volume II, page 163 and 175; Ibn Abi'l-Hadid in Sharhe Nahju'l-Balagha, Volume I, page 241; from Mahidi; Hafiz Abu Nu'aim Isfahani in Hilyatu'l-Auliya and the author of Lisanu'l-Arab, on the basis of several authorities have related that the Holy Prophet said: "The earth has not borne nor has the sky covered, a man more truthful than Abu Dharr."

If the Holy Prophet confirms the truthfulness of a man, we can be certain that that man spoke the truth. Nor does Allah call that person his loved one who is a liar. If there were a single instance of Abu Dharr telling lies, the early ulema of your sect would have recorded it, as they have concerning Abu Huraira and others. The Prophet testified to his righteousness and also predicted his torture. Hafiz Abu Nu'aim Isfahani, in his Hilyatu'l-Auliya, Volume I, page 162, narrates from his own sources that Abu Dharr said that he was standing before the Prophet when the latter said to him: "'You are a pious man; soon after me you will suffer a calamity.' I asked: 'In the way of Allah?' He said, 'Yes in the way of Allah!' I said: 'I welcome Allah's command!'" Surely the suffering the venerable companion Abu Dharr endured in the desert by the order of Mu'awiya, Uthman, and their Bani Umayya was the same calamity predicted by the Holy Prophet.



I really wonder at your self-contradictory statements. On the one hand you narrate the hadith from the Prophet that "All my companions are like stars; if you follow any one of them, you will be rescued." On the other hand, when one of the most venerable companions of the Holy Prophet is tortured and dies in misery, you defend the offender! You should either disprove the statements of your own ulema, or admit that the attributes mentioned in the verse under consideration do not relate to those who brutalized the revered companions of the Holy Prophet.

Hafiz: Abu Dharr chose to go to Rabza of his own free will.

Well-Wisher: Such statements reflect attempts of your fanatical ulema to conceal the misdeeds of their elders. Abu Dharr's forced banishment to Rabza is commonly acknowledged. As an example, I will confine myself to quoting one narration, which has been recorded by Imam Ahmad Bin Hanbal in Musnad, Volume V page 156, Ibn Abi'l-Hadid in Sharhe Nahju'l-Balagha, Volume I, page 241, and Waqidi in his History from Abu'l-Aswad Du'ili.

Abu Dharr was asked about his journey to Rabna. Abu Dharr said that he was forcibly exiled and sent to the wilderness. He continued: "The Holy Prophet informed me about this. One day I fell asleep in the mosque. The Prophet came and asked me why I was sleeping in the mosque. I said that I fell asleep inadvertently. He asked me what I would do if I were banished from Medina. I said I would go to the holy land of Syria. He asked me what I would do if I were banished from there, too. I said I would come back to the mosque. He again asked me what I would do if I were turned out from here also. I said I would draw the sword and fight. He asked me if he should tell me something which would be to my benefit. When I said 'Yes,' he said to me: 'Go to whatever place they take you.' So I listened to what he said, and I obeyed him. After this Abu Dharr said, 'By Allah, when Uthman will go before Allah, he will stand a sinner regarding my case.'"



If you consider the facts with an open mind, you will agree that Ali possessed the attributes of mercy and kindness to the highest degree. All historians, including, Ibn Abi'l-Hadid, report that when Ali assumed the caliphate, he did away with the abuses and innovations that had crept in. He removed the ungodly officials of the Bani Umayya, who had oppressed the provinces during the period of Uthman's caliphate. Selfish politicians advised him to postpone his decision about deposing officials until Ali was more firmly established in authority. The Holy Imam said: "I swear by Allah that I will not allow such sly deceptions. You insist that I use conciliatory measures, but you do not understand that as long as they remain in authority representing me, they would be perpetrating the same tyranny and outrage for which I shall be answerable in the divine court of justice. I cannot allow this injustice."

Ali's deposition of officials led to the hostility of power-hungry people, like Mu'awiya, and prepared the way for the battles of Jamal and Siffin. If Talha and Zubair had been appointed as governors, they would not have fomented disturbances at Basra and let the Battle of the Camel take place. His kindness and generosity extended to friends and enemies alike. Uthman had been very unkind to him (more so than Abu Bakr and Umar had been) but when insurgents enforced a blockade of Uthman's palace, cutting off water and food, he appealed to Ali for help. Ali sent his sons, Hasan and Husain, with water and bread. Ibn Abi'l-Hadid describes this incident in detail in Sharhe Nahju'l-Balagha. Caliph Uthman had a reputation for charity and benevolence, but it was only for his family, like Abu Sufyan, Hakam Bin Abi'l-As, and Marwan Bin Hakam. He showered money and gifts on them from the public treasury without religious sanction.

But the Commander of the Faithful, Ali never gave more than what was due, even to near relatives. His elder brother, Aqil, came to him and requested more money than he was usually given. Ali paid no heed to his request. Aqil insisted and said that since Ali was the Caliph and had sole authority over affairs, that his needs should be fulfilled. As a caution to his brother, Ali secretly heated a piece of iron and placed it near Aqil's body. He cried out like a man in intense agony, afraid he would be burned. Ali said: "Let mourners morn your death, O Aqil! You shrieked when an iron heated by man was brought near you, and yet you draw me toward that fire which Allah has created of His wrath. Is it proper that you should seek shelter from this ordinary pain, and that I should not protect myself from Hellfire?"



Even after subduing his enemy, Ali was kind. The cursed Marwan, son of the cursed Hakam, was Ali's fierce enemy. But when Ali overpowered Marwan in the Battle of Jamal, he pardoned him. Abdullah Bin Zubair was another bitter enemy. He abused Ali openly, and in Basra when Abdullah read his address before the people, he said: "Verily, Ali Bin Abu Talib is debased, mean, and stingy." (Allah forbid) But when the holy Imam won the Battle of Jamal and this wicked man was brought as a captive before him, Ali did not utter a harsh word against him. Ali turned his face from him and pardoned him.


The best example of Ali's compassion was his behavior towards A'yesha. The way she came face to face to fight him and railed at him would have enraged a lesser man. But when Ali defeated her, he treated her with dignity. He assigned to Muhammad Bin Abu Bakr, her brother, the duty of looking after her welfare. On his order, twenty strong women dressed as men escorted A'yesha to Medina. When she reached Medina, she expressed her gratitude to the women and the wives of the Prophet. She said that she would always remain grateful to him. She admitted that, although she had been harsh with him and had been responsible for such tumult, he had not uttered a word against her. She said she had only one complaint against him. She wondered why he had sent her to Medina escorted by men. The women slaves immediately removed their masculine garb. It became clear that this scheme was adopted for the purpose of protecting their property from bandits.

Another instance of Ali's compassion was his treatment of Mu'awiya in the Battle of Siffin. Mu'awiya's 12,000 soldiers had sealed off the Euphrates River. When Ali's army found that their expected supply of water had been intercepted, Ali sent a message to Mu'awiya saying that Mu'awiya should not seal off access to the water. Mu'awiya replied that he would deny them use of the water. Ali sent Malik Ashtar with a unit of cavalry. He pushed back Mu'awiya's army and secured access to the Euphrates. The companions said, "O Ali! Let us retaliate and deny them water, so that the enemy may die of thirst and the battle will be over." Ali said: "No! By Allah, I will not retaliate by following their example. Let their troops have access to the Euphrates."

Your own ulema, like Tabari, in his Ta'rikh, Ibn Abi'l-Hadid in Sharhe Nahju'l-Balagha, Sulayman Balkhi in Yanabiu'l-Mawadda, Chapter 51, Mas'udi in Muruju'dh-Dhahaba, and other historians have written in detail about the magnanimity of Ali. You may examine these accounts and then decide who is the likely referent of the verse, "And compassionate among themselves...." In the verse under consideration, Muhammad, the Prophet of Allah, is the subject, and what follows is its predicate. All those attributes are for the same person. To be with the Holy Prophet, to be vehement against the unbelievers on the battlefield and in learned discourses, to be compassionate to friends and foes - all these qualities refer to one who never left the Prophet or even thought of leaving him. That person is Ali Bin Abu Talib. I have already said earlier that the great scholar, Muhammad Bin Yusuf Ganji Shafi'i has written in his Kifayatu't-Talib that in this verse Allah praised Ali.

Sheikh: There are many replies to your statements, but you simply misinterpret the verse. The phrase "and those who are with him" is plural and cannot refer to one person only. If the attributes mentioned in the verse referred to one person only, why were the pronouns plural?

Well-Wisher: First, you say that there are many answers to my statement. If this were true, then why not mention them? Your silence is proof that there are not "many replies" to my statements. Second, what you just said is fallacious. You know that in both Arabic and other languages the use of the plural for the singular is common as an indication of respect. There are many examples of this usage in the Holy Qur'an, such as the verse: "Only Allah is your Friend and His Apostle and those who believe, those who perform the prayer and pay the poor-rate while they bow." (5:55) This verse is unanimously acknowledged to be in praise of Ali. Commentators and traditionists, such as Imam Fakhru'd-Din Razi in Tafsir Kabir, Volume III, page 431; Imam Abu Ishaq Tha'labi in his Kashfu'l-Bayan; Jarullah Zamakhshari in Tafsir Kashshaf, Volume I, page 422; Tabari in his Tafsir, Volume VI, page 186; Abu'l-Hasan Rammani in his Tafsir; Ibn Hawazin Nishapuri in his Tafsir; Ibn Sa'dun Qartabi in his Tafsir, Volume VI, page 221; Nasafi Hafiz in his Tafsir, page 496 (by way of commentary on Tafsir of Khazin Baghdadi); Fazil Nishapuri in Gharibu'l-Qur'an, Volume I, page 461; Abu'l-Hasan Wahidi in Asbabu'n-Nuzul, page 148; Hafiz Abu Bakr Jassas in Tafsir Ahkamu'l-Qur'an, page 542; Hafiz Abu Bakr Shirazi in Fima Nazala Mina'l-Qur'an Fi Amiru'l-Mu'minin; Abu Yusuf Sheikh Abdu's-Salam Qazwini in his Tafsir Kabir; Qazi Baidhawi in Anwaru't-Tanzil, Volume I, page 345; Jalalu'd-Din Suyuti in Durru'l-Mansur, Volume II, page 239; Qazi Shukani San'a'i in Tafsir Fathu'l-Qadir; Seyyed Muhammad Alusi in his Tafsir, Volume II, page 329; Hafiz Ibn Abi Shaiba Kufi in his Tafsir; Abu'l-Baraka in his Tafsir, Volume I, page 496; Hafiz Baghawi in Ma'alimu't-Tanzil; Imam Abu Abdu'r-Rahman Nisa'i in his Sahih; Muhammad Bin Talha Shafi'i in Matalibu's-Su'ul, page 31; Ibn Abi'l-Hadid in Sharhe Nahju'l-Balagha, Volume III, page 375; Khazin Ala'u'd-Din Baghdadi in his Tafsir, Volume I, page 496; Sulayman Hanafi in Yanabiu'l-Mawadda, page 212; Hafiz Abu Bakr Baihaqi in Kitab Musannaf; Razin Abdari in Jam' Bainu's-Siha Sitta; Ibn Asakir Damishqi in Ta'rikh Sham; Sibt Ibn Jauzi in Tadhkira, page 9; Qazi Azuda'iji in Mawaqif, page 276; Seyyed Sharif Jurjani in Sharhe Mawaqif; Ibn Sabbagh Maliki in Fusulu'l-Muhimma, page 123; Hafiz Abu Sa'd Sam'ani in Faza'ili's-Sahaba; Abu Ja'far Askafi in Nagzi'l-Uthmaniyya; Tibrani in Ausat; Ibn Maghazili Faqih Shafi'i in Manaqib; Muhammad bin Yusuf Ganji Shafi'i in Kifayatu't-Talib; Mulla Ali Qushachi in Sharhe Tajrid; Seyyed Muhammad Mu'min Shablanji in Nuru'l-Absar, page 77; Muhibu'd-Din Tabari in Riyazu'n-Nuzra, Volume II, page 247 as well as many others of your notable ulema all have narrated from Sadi, Mujahid Hasan Basri, A'mash, Atba Bin Hakim, Ghalib Ibn Abdullah, Qais Bin Rabi'a, Abaya Bin Rab'i, Abdullah Ibn Abbas, Abu Dharr Ghifari, Jabir Ibn Abdullah Ansari, Ammar, Abu Rafi', and Abdullah Bin Salam, and others acknowledge that this verse was revealed in praise of Ali. This verse refers to the time that Ali gave a ring to a beggar during ruku' (bowing in prayer). Here also the words are plural out of deference and respect to the rank of Wilaya (guardianship), and to prove that Ali was the Imam and successor to the Prophet. The emphasis of the word "innama," renders the meaning - the decision of Allah - final and fixed, i.e., the decision of Allah that the guardian of the believers should be Allah, His Prophet (Muhammad), and the believers who give charity while praying, the latter referring specifically to Ali.

Sheikh: Surely you will admit that your interpretation is not established since there are different views about it. Some say that it refers to the Ansar (helpers), some say that it is in praise of Ibadat Bin Samit, and some say that it refers to Abdullah Bin Salam.

Well-Wisher: It is indeed astonishing that scholars like you can contradict your own ulema. You take the view of a few ignorant and unreliable people whose reports are rejected. Your great men of learning have claimed unanimity on this point, men like Fazil Taftazani and Mulla Ali Qushachi, who says in Sharhe Tajrid: "According to the unanimous view of the commentators, this verse was revealed in praise of Ali, who, while in ruku' (bowing) in prayer, gave away his ring to a beggar."



Sheikh: In the course of your talk concerning this verse, you have tried to prove that Ali was the immediate successor of the Prophet, though the word "Wali" in this verse means "friend" or "loved one," and not "Imam" or "successor." If your view is accepted, that "Wali" means "successor" and "Imam," then according to the agreed-upon principle, it is not confined to one person, but others are included in it, Ali being one of them. Also in the verse, "Verily, verily your guardian is Allah, and His Prophet, and those who believe..." the use of the plural refers to people in general. To say that the plural form is an indication of respect is not justified without any valid reasoning, Qur'anic example, or other authority.

Well-Wisher: You have misconstrued the phrase "...your guardian...." "Wali" is singular, and "kum" (your) is plural, which refers to the people and does not imply the singular. Of course, "Wali" is for one person who is the guardian for the whole community in every age. Second, in the verse under consideration, where the plural is used, some of the fanatics have said that it cannot be interpreted as singular as in the verse "...those who establish prayer..." I replied to this objection earlier.

I said that eminent writers have often used the plural connoting the singular. You also claim the plural form in the verse refers to people in general. We say that according to the emphasis of the word "verily," the reference is to Ali, but we do not say that the reference is peculiar to him alone. Others of the holy family of the Prophet are included in it. According to authentic hadith, all the Imams of the progeny of the Prophet are included in this verse. Jarullah Zamakhshari writes in Kashshaf that this verse was revealed in particular in praise of Ali, but the plurals used in it mean that others also should follow him.

Sheikh: In this verse "Wali" definitely means "helper." If it meant guardian, which includes the rank of successor, then he should have been appointed to that office during the Prophet's life.

Well-Wisher: The rank of Ali is permanent. The grammatical construction of the sentence and the word "Wali" used as an attribute prove the permanent position of Ali. This fact is further supported by the Prophet declaring Ali his vicegerent on the journey of Tabuk and never withdrawing it. Our point of view is further strengthened by the hadith-e-Manzila (Hadith of Rank), which the Holy Prophet repeatedly narrated: "Ali is to me as Aaron was to Moses," which I have explained on previous nights. This in itself is another proof of Ali being the Wali (guardian) or vicegerent of the Holy Prophet during the Prophet's life and after his death.

Sheikh: If we were to give due consideration to the matter, we would admit that this verse does not refer to Ali. His rank is above that which we want to prove from this verse. It does not prove any excellence for him, it rather lowers his position.

Well-Wisher: Neither you nor I - none of the community - including the great companions of the Prophet, have any right to interfere with the real interpretation of the verses. Qur'anic verses are not revealed according to our wishes. If some people interpret their meaning based on mere opinion or point out the occasion on which they were revealed, they are certainly irreligious. For example, followers of Abu Bakr say that according to the hadith narrated by the notorious forger Akrama, this verse was revealed about Abu Bakr. Can you tell us how this verse lowers the position of Ali?

Sheikh: One of the characteristics of the dignity of the rank of Ali is that while offering prayers he never diverted his attention to any other object. Ali was once wounded in battle. Arrows had lodged in his body, and it was not possible to take them out without inflicting intense pain. But when he stood in prayer, the arrows were taken out, and because he was engrossed in his worship of Allah, he felt no pain. If while praying, he gave away a ring to a beggar, there was a great flaw in his prayer. How could a man be so engrossed in Allah's mercy and at the same time remove his attention from Allah in response to the voice of a beggar?

Moreover, in the performance of every good deed and for payment of the poor-rate, an intention is obligatory. While performing the prayer, one's attention must be towards Allah alone. How is it possible that his intention deviated from the prayer and turned toward a created being? Since we consider Ali's rank to be very high, we do not accept your interpretation. And if he did give anything to a beggar, it was certainly not during the prayer, since ruku' (bowing down) means humble submission before Allah.

Well-Wisher: You have learned well how to recite, but you have missed the way to invocation. This objection is weaker than a spider's web. First, Ali's action does not in any way lower his rank. In fact, to give attention to the beggar to give him charity, is a source of excellence. In this case, he combined his bodily and spiritual prayer with a material prayer. Both prayers were in the way of Allah. Dear fellows! The distraction which weakens prayer is one which is conceived with selfish notions. Attention towards another prayer, while performing a particular prayer, is a sign of excellence. For instance, if during the ritual prayer, one weeps for the dearest of his relations, his prayer will be invalidated. But if he weeps in his extreme love for Him, or in fear of Him, then it is a sign of excellence.

You said ruku' (bowing down) means sincere submission to Allah. This meaning may be appropriate for some occasions. But if you say that bowing down in prayer, which is definite and compulsory, carries the same literal sense, learned men would scoff at you. You also tried to exclude or ignore the verse's clear meaning. You gave a figurative meaning to it, even though you know that the term describes a required action of the ritual prayer, which is bowing down with our palms reaching the two knees. And this fact has been acknowledged by your prominent ulema, as I have stated earlier. Fazil Qushachi, in his Sharhe Tajrid, explains the views of the commentators in general that Ali, while bowing down in prayer, gave the ring to the beggar. Leaving all things aside, please tell us whether this verse was revealed in praise or in condemnation?

Sheikh: Obviously it was in praise.

Well-Wisher: So when the ulema of both sects have said that this verse was revealed in praise of Ali, and that it contains the commendation Allah, why would you make frivolous objections, agreeing with the fanatical Kharijis, whose views have been thrust into your pure mind from childhood? Why don't you acknowledge this fact?

Sheikh: Excuse me! Since you are an eloquent speaker, you often use allusions and references which may create in uninformed minds ideas that may produce unhappy results. It would be better if you refrained from such talk.

Well-Wisher: In my talk there is nothing but reality. Allah be my witness, I never intended to use allusions or indirect references. There is no need for that. Whatever I wish to say, I say clearly. Please tell me what allusion you mean.

Sheikh: A short while ago during your talk in connection with the verse under consideration, you said that the attributes mentioned therein are peculiar to Ali Bin Abu Talib, who, from the beginning to the end of his life, had never any doubt in his faith. In this way you imply that others were guilty of apostasy. Had the great caliphs or the companions any doubt in their faith? Assuredly the companions, like Ali, never doubted the truth of Islam. Never for a moment did they deviate from the Prophet's teaching.

Well-Wisher: First, I never used the words you just used. Second, you know that to prove something for someone does not disprove the same thing for someone else. Third, although you are trying to criticize me, I think others have no such thing in mind. Allah be my witness, I have not made any indirect reference to anything, nor have I thought of doing so. And if anything occurred to your mind, you might have asked me about it privately.

Sheikh: The manner of your talking shows that there is some point on which you are silent. I ask you to let us know what you have in mind and to give authentic references for what you say.

Well-Wisher: It is you who have created such things in our minds; you insist that the issue be discussed. Again, I ask you to ignore this matter and not insist on it.

Sheikh: If there was anything unmannerly, it is finished. Now you have no choice but to reply. If you will not give a clear reply, either in the affirmative or in the negative, then I will be obliged to conclude that what you said was baseless.

Well-Wisher: There is nothing unmannerly in my remarks, but since you insist, I have no choice but to reveal the truth. Your great ulema agree that the Prophet's companions whose faith was not yet perfect often entertained doubts. Some of them maintained that doubt and apostasy. Some verses of the Holy Qur'an were revealed in their condemnation. For instance, there were the munafiqin (hypocrites) in whose condemnation a full chapter of the Holy Qur'an was revealed. But such questions should not be discussed openly. I again ask you to refrain from pursuing this topic.

Sheikh: You mean that the great caliphs were among those who had doubts.

Well-Wisher: If my reply causes an unfortunate reaction among uninformed people, you are responsible. You have just said, "You say this or you say that." But again, it is your own ulema who have recorded these facts.

Sheikh: On which topic have they written, and on what occasion did caliphs express their doubt, and who were the persons who doubted? Please let us know.

Well-Wisher: Many people had serous doubts but returned to their original faith. Some of them persisted in their doubt. Ibn Maghazili Shafi'i, in his Manaqib, and Hafiz Abu Abdullah Muhammad Bin Abi Nasr Hamidi in his Jam' Bainu's-Sahihain-e-Bukhari, and Muslim write: "Umar Bin Khattab said, 'I never doubted the prophethood of Muhammad as I did on the day of Hudaibiyya.'" This statement shows that he doubted Muhammad's prophethood more than once.

Nawab: Excuse me. What was the occasion in Hudaibiyya which prompted doubt about the Prophet?

Well-Wisher: The Prophet saw one night in a dream that he went to Mecca with his companions to perform the Umra. Next morning, when he related the dream to his companions, they asked him to interpret it. The Prophet said, "Allah willing, we shall go to Mecca and fulfill this performance." But he did not specify the time for it. With the intention of visiting the House of Allah, the Prophet set out with his companions toward Mecca the same year. When they reached Hudaibiyya (a well near Mecca), the Quraish came there and prevented them from moving forward. Since the Prophet had not gone there prepared to fight, he offered to make peace with them. A treaty was signed and the Prophet returned to Medina. On this occasion, Umar had doubts. He went to the Prophet and said: "Are you not the Prophet of Allah and a truthful man? Did you not tell us that you would go to Mecca and perform the Umra and have your head shaved and beard trimmed? Why have you now failed to do this?"

The Holy Prophet asked him whether he had fixed the time for that or if he had told them that he would go there in the same year. Umar admitted that the Prophet had not specified a time. The Prophet said that what he had told them was correct and, Allah willing, they would go to Mecca in the future and the dream would be realized. Of course the time for the fulfillment of the interpretation, be it sooner or later, depends upon Allah's will. Then for confirmation of the statement of the Holy Prophet, Gabriel appeared and revealed the following verse of the Qur'an: "Indeed Allah has fulfilled for His prophet the vision with truth (that) certainly you will enter the sacred Mosque, if Allah pleases, in security, with shaved head, (some) with their hair shortened, without fear; for He knew you knew not and He had ordained besides this a near victory." S.48, V.27. Victory, here, means the conquest of Khaibar. This was, in short, the event of Hudaibiyya, which was in fact a test for the faithful and for the wavering people.

At this stage there followed a discussion of whether to continue the discussions, in view of the schedule of the Sunni visitors from Afghanistan as well as Well-Wisher, the outcome of which was a decision to continue.

Source: al-islam.org

Other Links:

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

Peshawar Nights: Clear ahadith about the Caliphate of Ali

Peshawar Nights: Characteristics of the Companions

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