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  • 11/12/2011

Peshawar Nights: All knowledge was clearly visible to Ali

Tenth Session-part 2


*All knowledge was clearly visible to Ali

*Mu'awiya defending the position of Ali

*Umar's admission of his ignorance concerning difficult problems and his declaration that if Ali had not helped him his difficulties would not have been solved

*Ali was most suitable for the office of Caliphate

*Ali's "allegiance" to Caliphs was forced

*There should be no "blind faith" in religion

*Faith should be based on reason and honest inquiry



Abu'l-Mu'ayyid Mu'affaq Bin Ahmad Khawarizmi says in his Manaqib that one day Umar said to Ali Bin Abi Talib with some surprise: "How is it that if any question is asked of you, you give its answer without the least hesitation.?"

The Holy Imam opened his hand before him and said: "How many fingers do you see?"

Umar immediately said: "Five."

Ali said: "Why did you not ponder over it?"

Umar said: "There was no need to ponder since all five fingers were before my eyes."

Then Ali said: "Similarly, all the problems and issues of knowledge are clearly visible to me. I give their answers without pondering."

Now, gentlemen! Is it not due to prejudice that the teacher speaks such nonsense and misleads the uninformed youth. Does it seem likely that the man who possessed the deepest knowledge of all sciences and was the "gate of knowledge" of the Holy Prophet, would consult with Umar in order to solve his difficulties?



A hadith has just struck me. I put it before you as a further proof of my point. Ibn Hajar Makki, a scholar known for his intolerance writes in his Sawa'iq-e-Muhriqa, ch. II, Maqsad V, p. 110, under verse 14, that Imam Ahmad Bin Hanbal has reported and also Mir Seyyed Ali Hamadani in Mawaddatu'l-Qurba and Ibn Abi'l-Hadid in Sharh-e-Nahju'l-Balagha have recorded that a man asked Mu'awiya a question. Mu'awiya said: "Ask Ali about it since he is the most learned man." The Arab said: "I prefer your answer to Ali's answer."

Mu'awiya said: "You have uttered a very bad thing: you have rejected the man whom the Holy Prophet himself trained and to whom he said: 'You have the same relation to me as Aaron had to Moses, except that there shall be no prophet after me. Moreover, whenever Umar was entangled in some difficult matter, he asked Ali about it and sought his opinion.'"

This brings to mind the saying: "Virtue is that to which even the enemy bears witness."



In order to further support Ali's superiority to Umar, we quote what your prominent ulema have said. Nuru'd-din Bin Sabbagh Maliki in Fusulu'l-Muhimma; Muhammad Bin Talha Shafi'i in Matalibu's-Su'ul; Imam Ahmad Bin Hanbal in Musnad; Khatib Khawarizmi in Manaqib; Sulayman Balkhi Hanafi in Yanabiu'l-Mawadda, and many others have written that on seventy occasions Umar said "If Ali had not been there Umar would have been ruined."

Nuru'd-din Maliki in his Fusulu'l-Muhimma reports that once a man was brought to Umar. He was asked before the assembly of people: "How did you begin your morning?" He said: " I got up in the morning in this condition: I loved temptation and was averse to the right truth. I testified to the truth of the Jews and the Christians, believed in what I had not seen and in what had not yet been created."

Umar ordered that Ali be brought to him. When the matter was put before Amiru'l-Mu'minin, he said, "What the man has said is right. He says he loves temptation. He means by this wealth and children.

Allah says in the Holy Qur'an: 'And you know that your wealth and your children are a temptation.' (8:28) By aversion to the right he means death. The Qur'an says, 'And the stupor of death will come in truth.'(50:19)

By testifying to the truth of the Jews and Christians, he means what Allah says: 'The Jews said that the Christians were not on the right path and the Christians said that the Jews were not on the right path.' (2:113) That is, both the sects belie each other. So the Arab says that he agrees with them both, or that he rejects both of them.

He says that he believes in what he has not seen, meaning that he believes in Allah Almighty.

When he says that he believes in what has not yet been created, that is, not present, he refers to the Day of Judgement, which has not yet come into existence."

Then Umar said: "I seek Allah's shelter from the difficult situation in which Ali is not there to help me."

This anecdote has been narrated in a more elaborate and different form, by others like Muhammad Bin Ganji Shafi'i in Kifayatu't-Talib, ch.57, from Hudhaifa Bin Al-Yaman, who quoted it from Caliph Umar.

A number of similar incidents during the caliphate of Abu Bakr and Umar, both of whom were incapable of giving a correct answer. It was Ali who gave the reply. Particularly when the Jewish, Christian, and natural scientists scholars came and discussed difficult problems, it was only Ali who solved them.

According to your own ulema, like Bukhari and Muslim, each in his Sahih; Nishapuri in his Tafsir; Ibn Maghazili Faqih Shafi'i in Manaqib; Muhammad Bin Talha in Matalibu's-Su'ul, ch.4, pp. 13 and 18; Hafiz Ibn Hajar Asqalani (d.852 A.H.) in Tahdhibu't-Tahdhib (printed in Hyderabad Daccan), p.338; Qazi Fazlullah Ruzbahan Shirazi in Ibta'lu'l-Batil; Muhibu'd-din Tabari in Riyazu'n-Nazara, vol.II, p.39; Ibn Kathir in his Ta'rikh, vol. VII, p.369; Ibn Qutayba Dinawari (d.276 A.H.) in Ta'wil-e-Mukhtalafu'l-Hadith (printed in Egypt), pp.201-202; Muhammad Bin Yusuf Ganji Shafi'i (d. 658 A.H.) in Kifayatu't-Talib, ch. 57; Jalalu'd-din Suyuti in Ta'rikhu'l-Khulafa, p.66; Seyyed Mu'min Shablanji in Nuru'l-Absar, p.73; Nuru'd-din Ali Bin Abdullah Samhudi (d.911 A.H.) in Jawahiru'l-Iqdain; Al-Hajj Ahmad Afindi in Hidayatu'l-Murtab, pp.146 and 153; Muhammad Bin Ali As-Sabban in Ishafu'r-Raghibin, p.52; Yusuf Sibt Ibn Jauzi in Tadhkira Khawasu'l-Ummal, ch.6, p.37; Ibn Abi'l-Hadid (d.655 A.H.) in Sharh-e-Nahju'l-Balagha, vol.I; Mulla Ali Qushachi in Sharh-e-Tajrid, p.407; Akhtabu'l-Khutaba Khawarizmi in Manaqib, pp.48 and 60; even the intolerant Ibn Hajar Makki (d.973 A.H.) in Sawa'iq Muhriqa, p.78; Ibn Hajar Asqalani in Isaba, vol.II, p. 509 and Allama Ibn Qayyim Jauzia in Turuqu'l-Hikmiyya, pp.47 and 53 have recorded numerous cases showing that Umar referred intricate and complex problems, particularly the difficult problems of the King of Rome, to Amiru'l-Mu'minin.

Umar time and again referred cases to Ali for solution, and when he heard the decision, he repeatedly said: "I seek Allah's protection from that difficult situation in which Ali is not there to help me." Sometimes he said: "If Ali had not been there, Umar would have been ruined."

Ibn Maghazili Shafi'i in his Manaqib and Hamidi in his Jam'-e-Bainu's-Sahihain write that the caliphs took counsel with Ali in all matters and that he was the central figure who decided difficult religious and worldly questions. The caliphs carefully listened to his remarks and instructions and acted upon them.



Knowledge is the best criterion for preference. The Holy Qur'an clearly states: "Is he then who guides to the truth more worthy to be followed, or he who himself does not go aright unless he is guided? What then is the matter with you; how do you judge?" (10:35)

That is, one who possesses the best qualities of guidance must be the supreme leader of the people, not the one who is ignorant of the way of guidance and himself seeks guidance from others.

This verse is the most valid proof that a superior man cannot be made subordinate to the inferior one. The question of the caliphate, imamate, and the succession to the Holy Prophet come under the same principle. This is borne out by another verse which says: "Say: Are those who know and those who do not know alike?" (39:9)



Sheikh: We certainly agree that Ali possessed all the outstanding qualities you have mentioned. No one except the fanatical Kharijis has ever denied this fact. But this much also is acknowledged: Seyyed Ali himself voluntarily and gladly accepted the caliphate of the (first three) caliphs and admitted their superiority and their right to precede him. So what is the use of our worrying, after 1300 years, about their decision and fighting among ourselves as to why the community elected Abu Bakr, Umar, and Uthman.

So what is the harm if we are at peace and friendly with one another and admit what history has recorded and what your own ulema have also generally accepted: after the Holy Prophet, Abu Bakr, Umar, and Uthman successively occupied the caliphate. We should live together as brothers and jointly acknowledge Ali's superiority in knowledge and actions and his special relationship with the Holy Prophet. In the same way that our four schools of law are united, the Shias too should cooperate with us.

We never deny the excellence of Ali's knowledge and character, but you should admit that in regard to the questions of age, political astuteness, patience and calm, in the face of the enemy Abu Bakr was definitely superior to Ali. It was for this reason that, through the unanimous verdict of the community, he occupied the seat of the caliphate. Ali was young at that time and had not the capacity to shoulder the responsibilities of the caliphate. Even 25 years later, when he assumed the caliphate, many disturbances took place only because he was not an able politician.



Well-Wisher: First, you have said that Amiru'l-Mu'minin voluntarily offered allegiance to the three caliphs. A story comes to mind which is appropriate for this discussion. In the old days the highways of Iran were hazardous, and pilgrims to the holy shrines faced hardships during their journeys. A certain caravan fell into the clutches of robbers, who stole the people's property. When they were dividing the booty among themselves, the shroud of a pilgrim fell into the hands of an old robber. He said: "Gentlemen pilgrims! Whose shroud is this?" A pilgrim said: "It is mine." The robber said: "I have no shroud with me, so please give it to me so that it may be lawful to me." The pilgrim said: "All my property is yours, but return this shroud to me, since I am at the last stage of my life and have taken great pains for the preparation of this dress for me for the Hereafter. This is my cherished wealth."

The robber emphatically insisted on his demand, but the pilgrim repeated the same thing, that he would not give up that right of his to anyone. The robber, drawing his sword, began to strike the pilgrim about his head and face and said that he would go on hitting him until he surrendered the shroud to him and said: "It is lawful."

The poor old pilgrim was so beaten that he began shouting: "Sir! Lawful! Lawful! Lawful! more lawful than one's mother's milk!"

I hope you will forgive me. But I wanted to draw your attention to what I wish to explain. Perhaps you have forgotten what I have proved on previous nights. I cited authentic historical records, which Ibn Abi'l-Hadid, Jauhari, Tabari, Baladhuri, Ibn Qutayba, Mas'udi, and others of your ulema have verified, that they threatened to burn down Ali's House, he was dragged to the mosque and was ordered with a sword at his throat: "Swear allegiance, otherwise you will be beheaded."

Is this an example of voluntary allegiance?



Second, I have said earlier that we should not have "blind faith" in the fundamentals of religion. You say that since history tells us that the four caliphs became rulers, we should follow our elders and have faith in them. But common sense and hadith tell us that faith in principle should be based on reason.

I repeat again that your and our historians have written that after the death of the Holy Prophet, the community was divided into two sects. One sect said that Abu Bakr should be followed and the other sect believed that Ali should be followed. The Holy Prophet said: "To obey Ali is to obey me; and to disobey Ali is to disobey me." Therefore obedience to Ali was, according to the order of the Holy Prophet, compulsory. So it was the duty of every individual of our two sects to listen to the arguments of the two sides and to choose the right course.



My faith in Allah is based on wisdom. I have studied books of various sects and religions. I accept the fact that Muhammad was the last Prophet based on reasoning and not on blindly following my elders. Similarly, I have deeply studied hundreds of books of both the sects, particularly those of the Sunni sect in which there are clear arguments to prove the Imamate and Caliphate of Amiru'l-Mu'minin. You people cast only a cursory glance at the verses and hadith in praise of Ali and then make ridiculous interpretations of them.

Third, you say that we should accept the historical order of the caliphs: Abu Bakr, Umar, Uthman, and Hazrat Ali. But this is absurd. Man's superiority to animals is due to his knowledge and wisdom. So we cannot blindly follow our elders.

According to your own prominent ulema, Ali's superiority in knowledge has been fully established. Therefore, the right of his priority as caliph must also be acknowledged. Since he was the "Gate of Knowledge" of the Holy Prophet, deviation from his is deviation from guidance.

We admit that after the death of the Holy Prophet, Abu Bakr was caliph for two years and three months, followed by Umar for ten years, and Uthman for twelve years. But these facts do not eliminate the proper place of reason and hadith. History cannot deprive the "Gate of Knowledge" of the Holy Prophet of his right.

Firdaus Dailami, Abu Nu'aim Ispahani, Muhammad Bin Ishaq Muttalabi, author of the book Maghazi, Hakim, Hamwaini, Khatib Khawarizmi and Ibn Maghazili report either from Ibn Abbas, or Sa'id Khadiri, or Ibn Mas'ud, all of whom quote the Holy Prophet as saying: "They shall be questioned about the wilaya (vicegerency) of Ali Bin Abi Talib."

Source: al-islam.org

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