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Wednesday 3rd of March 2021
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The Imams call People to Islamic Unity

 

it is well known that the Household of the Prophet tried hard to preserve the rites of islam, to call Muslims to restore its glory, to unify their beliefs, and that they also strived to maintain the brotherhood of Islam and to remove malice and enmity from the hearts of the Muslims.
We cannot ignore imam Ali's dealings with his predecessors to the khilafah. He treated them with consideration although he believed that they had taken what was his right. He agreed with them and kept his peace with them, and refrained from expressing his opinion about his own right to the khilafah in public until after he had attained to it. Then he called together the remaining followers of the Prophet (those who were still alive and who had been present on the day of Ghadir when the Prophet had appointed All as his khalifah), so that they could bear witness to his appointment to the khilafah.

He never withheld his opinion about what was helpful or in the interests of Islam and the Muslims, and he often said:

I was afraid lest I should not help Islam and the Muslims, and that they would fail.

He said and did nothing against the position, power and authority of the khulafa', but kept himself to his house and remained silent, despite the fact that he saw what they were doing.

He acted thus for the sake of Islamic interests, up to the point where he was famous for his admirable qualitites. The second khalifah Umar ibn Khattab, said many times: "I would never encounter a difficulty without Abu al-Hasan being there to contribute to its solution."And "If it were not for 'Ali, Umar (himself) would have perished."

History cannot forget the way Imam Hasan (A.S.) dealt with Mu'awiyah. He made peace with him, because he realised that if he continued to fight, the light of the Qur'an and just government would be extinguished, and moreover the name of Islam would vanish for all time, the Divine shari'ah would be lost and the Imams that were to come would be obliterated. So he chose to protect the edifice of Islam and its name. For this reason, he made peace with Mu'awiyah, who was a resolute enemy of the religion and of Muslims, and who hated Imam Hasan and his followers. He knew that Mu'awiyah would deal unjustly with him and his companions, and, although he could have counted on his family and followers to fight for their rights and defend themselves, he believed that the highest interests of Islam were above all these things and more important than them.

It was for the same reason that the third Imam, Husayn, the Holy Martyr, rose up against the Banu Ummayah; for he realised that if they continued in their vicious ways without anyone taking arms against them and proclaiming their wicked intentions, they would eradicate Islam and its glory. Thus he wished to point out their oppression and iniquity for posterity, so as to expose their evil plans against the Prophet's religion. Naturally, events turned out as had been predicted. If it had not been for his holy campaign, Islam would have been recorded as a religion of the past, and it would have been thought a false religion.

In completing his holy campaign, following through and pursuing his sacred aim against iniquity and oppression, the Shi'a revive and remember the tragedy at Karbala every year and in various ways, as the Imams have commanded.
We should obtain a better and clearer understanding of how the Descendents of the Prophet tried hard to preserve the glory of Islam if we study the behaviour of Imam Zayn al-'Abidin towards the Umayyid kings, despite the fact that his family had been killed and that his reputation had been destroyed by them. He was continually despondent and heart-broken over the murder of his father and family by the Umayyids at Karbala, but, in spite of these things, he always prayed that the armies of the Muslims would be victorious, and secretly asked Allah to keep the Muslims in safety and to ensure the increase and glory of Islam. He propagated knowledge of Islam, and by means of prayer alone he taught his followers how they should ask Allah for victory for the Muslims. He said in his famous du'a' for the guardians of the frontiers of Islam:

O Allah! Send down peace upon Muhammad and his Family, increase their numbers, sharpen their swords, protect their homes, preserve their country, cause friendship to spread among them, improve their conduct, provide them with sustenance and the means of livelihood, help them, bestow on them patience, teach them the ways of cleverness...
(and then after calling for the wrath of Allah on the unbelievers)
OAllah! In this way strengthen the people of Islam, protect their lands, increase their property, let the soldiers of Islam be free from fighting that they might worship Thee privately.
Let nothing be worshipped over the whole of the earth but Thee. Let no-one prostrate himself before anyone but Thee.

Thus he continued his du'a' (it is one of his longest), telling of the duties of the Muslims armies, how they must behave and be of good character and have good equipment. It contains teachings on the Holy War (jihad), showing its purpose and its results, warning Muslims to keep clear of their enemies, instructing them how to deal with their attacks and defend themselves. It also contains instructions on their obligations, such as continual remembrance of Allah, avoidance of unlawful things and keeping the jihad pure for Allah.

Likewise, other Imams have dealt with the kings of their times, although they were being tortured and cruelly and severely maltreated by these kings with many kinds of suffering and pain. When they realised that an Islamic government was not going to be re-established, they tried their best to teach the religion to the people, pointing out to them the excellence of Islamic knowledge. No insurrection which happened either through some of their family or through others during these times was ordered by them; on the contrary, these were in opposition to their explicit orders, because they made the utmost effort to protect the government of Islam. No-one, not even the Abbasid khulafa' tried harder than them to protect it.

It is enough just to look at the advice of Imam Musa ibn Ja'far (A.S.) to his followers:

I charge you to obey your king and not to lose your strength through disobedience. If he is just, ask Allah to protect his life; if he is an oppressor, ask Allah to reform him. For your interests are identical with his interests. Verily, a just king is really like a father wish for him what you wish for yourselves, and do not wish for him what you do not wish for yourselves.

This is one of the best sayings on the subject of the protection of a king by his people: "wish for him what you wish for yourselves, and do not wish for him what you do not wish for yourselves.

Compare with this the great offence some writers who are contemporary with us have committed. They have spoken of the Shi'a as a hidden destructive group, as a band of revolutionaries and avengers. Now, it is correct that every Muslim who obeys the teachings of the Household should, from the moral point of view, despise oppression and oppressors, keep clear of them and their evil deeds, feel repugnance and contempt for them and their fellows and helpers and dislike them all. The Shi'a have had these feelings engrained in their souls from generation to generation. However, they are not rebels. Nor do they like to stir up trouble or foment insurrection against a rebellious government which says that it is an Islamic government, neither secretly nor openly.

The teachings of the Imams do not allow them suddenly to take the life of someone who is a Muslim, or to betray him, although his beliefs may differ from theirs. But, according to their teachings, a Muslim who professes tawhid and the nubuwwah of Mubammad (S.A.) is to be respected; his blood, his property and his family is secure. "It is not right to take the property of a Muslim except by his leave." All Muslims are brothers to each other, and to each of them belong the rights of brotherhood.

 

JUST SOCIAL SYSTEM

We have made you (the true Muslims) a balanced nation, so that you could be an example for mankind (Surah al-Baqarah, 2:142).

What the Qur`an expressly desires is that the Islamic society should be a model for all those who want to lead a healthy and happy life. It should be a living testimony for the exalted principle that the way to live a healthy life and secure justice and fair play is not closed to human beings. It is they themselves who should find it and follow it with consciousness, faith and persistence.

Society Man is a being that has for long been social and has been living a collective life. A group of persons living together is called society. Society may be defined as a group of individuals whose life is correlated with each other because they have common desires or common interests for the realization of which they work together.

The formation of such a group is sometimes accidental and sometimes intentional. In the former case it is technically called Accidental Society and in the latter Intentional Society.

Accidental society

Suppose you go out to see the museum or to have a walk in the public garden of your town. You find that there are many other people also who have come there for the same purpose. You and they practically form a group having a common object.

However, it is evident that the individuals forming such a group had no prior intention to form it. Every one of them left his house without having had any intention to do so. Such a group is called Accidental Society.

Intentional society

If you want to set up a social, financial, political or educational institution and you do not have the intellectual, physical and financial potentialities necessary to undertake such a project, you try to find some other persons who may co-operate with you in the undertaking. Thus a group or a small society comes into existence, whose members joins each other and work together with prior intention to do so. Such a group is called Intentional Society.

Characteristics of Accidental Society

In this type of society there is co-existence, but there is no co-operation except that of a very superficial nature and that too partial and of short duration.

In this sort of get-together the members of the group do not choose each other. That is why they do not consider it necessary to have any previous acquaintance with one another to be a member of that group. For example, a passenger of a bus, a train, an airplane or a ship normally does not feel any necessity at the time of purchasing his ticket to make inquiries about the moral character of other passengers, their views and their motives of journey. Normally such inquiries are not even possible. He and other passengers are interested only in using a particular means of transport for going from one place to another, and no deep and extensive acquaintance is required to achieve this end.

Characteristics of Intentional Society

This tie is. lasting within the limits of the objective of the society and continues to exist until the group is dissolved for one reason or the other.

As this type of society comes into existence with the intention of co-operation for the realization of a particular object, therefore, in this case co-existence is coupled with co-operation and mutual and reciprocal responsibility.

In this type of get-together members of the group select each other, and as the way of thinking and doing of each one of them affects the destiny of the others, they contemplate certain rules and criteria for the membership of their group.

The co-existence and co-operation between the members of the group and their mutual relations are based on the principles and rules accepted by each member consciously and afte.r careful study.

Members of the group work whole-heartedly for its growth and development.

A definite example of an intentional society is a family, which in its Islamic form is a model for every other such society. It has all the characteristics of an ideal intentional society, such as:

The husband and wife choose each other intentionally and willingly;

# With a view to lead a common life,

# With common responsibility,

# With reciprocal rights and obligations based on a definite social system accompanied by whole-hearted co-operation to secure a better and more developed life for themselves and their children.

Individual and society

Man is a gregarious and social being. There can be no

doubt that the conditions of his life depend on the conditions of the society in which he lives. But how and to what extent?

Is this dependence such that it does not in any way curtail the independence of an individual to mould his life according to his own choice?

Or is it such that it makes him absolutely subservient to his social environment?

Or is it neither this nor that but has some intermediate position?

These are three different views regarding the relation of an individual with his social environment. We propose to explain them further.

It is the individual who is important

According to this view, the main factor in moulding the life of every person is he himself and not the society, for the society is nothing but a collection of individuals, who have learnt by experience that their desires will be better fulfilled if they co-operate with one another, and consequent to this experience they have been attracted to collective life. Hence their incentive to lead a collective life is actually their interest in the fulfillment of their personal desires.

All the social systems have been devised by the individuals to safeguard their own interests. Hence everywhere the hand of the individual is uppermost and it is his desire and action that play the basic role.

The corruption of society also originates from the corruption of the individuals. If every individual reforms himself, the whole society will automatically be reformed.

It is the society which is important

According to this view the truth is diametrically opposite to what is maintained by those who say that it is the individual who is important. The exponents of this view hold that it is the society and the social man which are the material reality in this world and not an individual independent of others, for what we find on the face of the earth is only a collection of men mutually correlated and that is what is society. As in the world of nature every natural being is subservient to a general and universal system of nature and is not absolutely independent, similarly in the society an individual is only a part of it; such a part that follows the whole unhesitatingly and is governed by its over-all system. Even the ideas of an individual, his way of thinking, his desires, his aspirations and his will are only a reflection of his natural and social environment and the economic conditions of his society and class.

Those who hold that it is the society which is important, maintain that an individual is just like a cell in a living body. A cell cannot be independent of the whole body and its complex system, nor can it develop fully irrespective of the fact whether the whole body is in a healthy and sound state or not. Similarly an individual cannot be independent of the social system in which he lives. He will have to go the way towards which the powerful social and economic forces dominating the society will push him.

Some contemporary social schools have gone to such an extent in their reliance on the importance of society as explained above, that it appears as if man is a being totally dependent on society or his class and has perforce to follow the way shown to him by social and class environment without having the least possibility of exercising his own will and choice.

As the result of this view, the principle, that everybody should reform himself so that the whole society is reformed, gives place to another principle, which says that it is the social system which should be changed and reformed so that the individuals are automatically reformed.

It is the mixture of the individual and the society which is important

According to this view it is the mixture of the individual and the society which is important. The individual is a being who is neither fully independent of nor fully dependent on society. He has an intermediate position.

There is no doubt that the overall educational, economic and political system of the society leaves its impression on the individual, his ideas and his personality. It evokes certain desires. in him and suppresses certain others. It moulds his life and guides his will. Nevertheless its impact is not so strong as to make the individual totally subservient to his social environment. It is similar to the impact of the natural environment on him. Unlike other existing things man is not also totally subservient to his natural environment. In many cases he rules over nature, and using his self-consciousness and harnessing his latent inner forces tries to change his natural environment or to bring it under his control. He stands in the same relation to his social and class environment also. He does not completely submit to it. He tries to understand the sociological laws and with the help of his knowledge and his hidden powers tries to control and change his social environment to his own advantage. He is not always reconciled with the existing social system.

Hence, though the social changes have their own laws and trends and most of them are due to the factors working inside society as a whole, an appreciable amount of them takes place as a result of the ceaseless efforts of self-conscious and enthusiastic individuals also.

Thus neither the individual is exclusively important, nor the society and the social system. What is important is a mixture of the two.

An overall study of the Islamic teachings shows that they are based on this third view, viz, that of the real importance of a mixture of individual and society.

We find that the Islamic teachings stress, on the one hand, the responsibility of an individual in regard to self-making and environment-making, and on the other emphasize the inevitable effect of the social atmosphere in giving shape to the ideas, intentions, morals and actions of man to such an extent that it may be said that all men are largely interdependent in shaping their destiny.

That is why the Qur`an wants everybody to find and tread the path of righteousness and not to put up the corruption of environment as an excuse for his own deviation.

"When the angels take away the souls of those who are wronging themselves, they ask them: hi what circumstances were you2 They will say: We were oppressed in our land. (The angels) will say.' Was not Allah s earth vast enough for you to migrate2 It is they whose abode is hell. What a bad fate! .(Surah al-Nisa, 4:97).

Imam Ali (a.s) says very emphatically: "You people must not be deterred and discouraged by the paucity of those who are going on the right path .

At the same time man has been reminded that he should not be contented with his being on the right way himself and must not neglect his duty of improving his social environment. The fall of society leads to the ruin of the good and the bad alike.

Imam al-Baqir (a.s) says:

Then the wrath of Allah reaches its height. His retribution overtakes all. The virtuous are ruined along with the wicked, and the young in the house of their elders.

That is why a Muslim, while holding his individual responsibility, is a collectivist also. Whatever he seeks from Allah, he seeks for us' and not for me'. Look at the supplication we make to Allah in our daily prayers:

 

"You alone we worship and You alone we ask for help. Guide us to the straight path ".

 

Also look at the ritual blessing at the end of the prayers: "Peace be on us and on the virtuous bondmen of Allah ".

 The stress laid by Islam on exhortation to good' and restraining from evil' being the reciprocal responsibility of all the members of the society, whatever be their position, the drawing of attention to the deep effects of the purity and the pollution of the social environment and the emphasis on other factors touching faith and morality such as the economic conditions, are some other signs which clearly show that the doctrines and injunctions of Islam are based on the principle of the importance of a mixture of the individual and the society.

From what has been stated above briefly, we come to the following conclusions:

# Islamic society is an intentional and not -an accidental society. It has come into existence by the will of the people on the basis of the choice of a definite goal of life.

# It is a society all the systems and laws of which pay full heed both to the individual and to the relative role of his will and conscious choice as well as to the social system and the educational, political and economic conditions of the environment and their inevitable role in moulding and building the individual character.

In our opinion to pay attention to these two points is essential for the correct understanding of the social economic, moral and devotional teachings of Islam, and their difference from what is preached by other schools of thought.

SOCIAL SYSTEM

In every society, especially an intentional society, there always exists a sort of method or system which determines:

The general ways and customs of society;

· The way of its administration;

· Mutual relations of its members, and

· Thee relations of every member with the whole society;

· The rights and obligations arising out of these relations.

For an example take the case of a trading or an industrial concern. From the very beginning it is necessary that its aim, the method and the means of the realization of this aim, the way of the administration of the company, the functionaries responsible for the ~working of each section of it, the rights and powers of every share-holder, every office-bearer and the general body and all such other questions should be decided in advance, and that the company from its very establishment should work accordingly.

Is it possible that a company is established or run without deciding all these details? Obviously not. The same applies to a society also. From a small professional union to the world society every organization requires a system and fixed rules and regulations for its working.

The sum-total of the rules, the system and the basis according to which a society works, is called the social system.

JUST SOCIAL SYSTEM

We know that only a healthy and balanced body can continue to grow properly. Any kind of defect in the limbs or a system of the body will cause disturbance and weakness. If the temperature of the body goes above what is normal, the result will be high fever and a general crisis.

If its temperature goes below normal, weakness and some other kind of imbalance will ensue. The excessive increase or decrease in the degree of blood pressure, in the number of white and red globules, in the quantity of the vitamins necessary for the body - all these cause a sort of imbalance and some disease or other. One must combat strenuously these diseases (and imbalances) in order to bring about all round equilibrium, or otherwise be ready to decay and die. As we have seen, this kind of balance is necessary in human and spiritual matters also. Too much or too little satisfaction of the desires of man is injurious to his humanity.

Society

The strong mutual attachment of a group of individuals brings about the existence of a sort of social entity called society. Anyhow, its members retain their individual character and the independence of their will.

Like the physiological and human existence of an individual, the entity of society is also governed by certain laws, which of course, exclusively pertain to it. The survival of society depends on the existence of a social equilibrium in accordance with these laws.

If there exists all round justice in society, conditions will be favourable for its growth and development, and generally speaking, the evolutionary movement of society will be in conformity with the evolutionary course of the entire world. On the other hand, any kind of injustice will be a cause of disturbance, retrogression and decay of society.

It is one of the principal aims of Islam to establish justice and to bring about complete equilibrium in Islamic society.

The Qur'an says: "Indeed We sent Our Messengers with clear evidence and We revealed with them the Scriptures and the standard to show what was right and what was wrong, so that people might conduct themselves with fairness ~ (Surah al-Hadid, 57:25).

 

In order to know the factors which cause equilibrium in society, the following factors should be taken into consideration:

Equality of men We know that for the establishment of equilibrium it is necessary that every thing should be in its place. As all men are basically equal, Islam does not admit that any individual has any special position. All men have been born of one ancestor and have a common nature. The difference in rights on the basis of race, class, tribal attachments etc., which existed among certain nations, is totally denied by Islam. Islam declared its view on this subject at a time when social groupings, discrimination in position, difference in rights were considered to be natural and rational in the biggest civilized and eminent countries of the day. Islam does not believe that any particular group or class has been born for subjection and any other group for mastership. No group has been born dirty nor any other group for executive and administrative jobs. No groups has come into existence to have the status of the beasts while others enjoy human dignity, as was the religious, legal and social position under the out-dated systems of yore.

Islam officially proclaimed that:

· "All men are equal like the teeth of a comb

· "You are descendants of Adam and Adam was made of day.

"This nation of yours is one nation and I am your Lord. Therefore worship Me . (Surah al-Anbiya 21:92).

In fact all men are slaves of Allah and brothers of each other. They all form one group and belong to one class.

Legal Justice With that conception of divine cosmology which Islam has in regard to man, it is naturally necessary that among individuals there should exist a sort of unity, harmony and equality in the matter of basic legal rights. When it is not recognized that any particular position in society is reserved for any particular individual or group, none can claim that any high position or a superior job is his exclusive prerogative, nor can any one consider others to be destined to obey him and to do only menial work. Naturally for no particular group there exist any special rights or fixed privileges, nor for others lesser rights and privileges.

On the basis of this conception, justice does not mean the subjection and privation of the vast majority and the enjoyment of all the comforts of life by a particular class of individuals having the right of exploiting others for their own benefit. None has any special position and all are capable of developing their talents and showing their ability.

In this context justice means the provision of equal opportunities to all individuals to promote and show their talents, and to go forward upto the limit of their capacity.

Elimination of undue discrimination under Islamic conception If we look at man from a purely material angle, it is quite likely that we should arrive at a conclusion untenable intellectually and ideologically. For example, if we consider man only as a living being having various faculties of growth and reproduction and having certain physiological and biological characteristics culminating in a developed nervous system and brain, we will notice that there is a vast difference between various individuals from the point of view of their physical activity, colour of skin, power of muscles, shape of limbs, height, weight and the ability to do various physical jobs. If we define man as a tool-making being, we will find that all men are not alike in tool-making ability and manual skills. Similarly if we judge man and his human value by his power of production, we shall see that in this respect also there is a vast difference from individual to individual. On this basis, it may look to be a part of human nature that there should be a difference in the position and the legal rights of different individuals. This kind of philosophy leads us to the ancient system of grouping and paints discrimination in natural and rational colours.

But according to the divine view of Islam, humanity of man neither lies in his veins, skin or bones nor in the growth of his muscles, his working power or his toolmaking. It lies in the fact that man is a self-conscious being having independence of will and power of choice. On this basis all men are human beings possessing human values. Even from material point of view, what is important is that all men are made of clay, which is their common feature. Their nature is the same. According to this view the question of any human and natural discrimination does not arise.

Economic Justice As we have already learnt, basically ownership is concentrated in Allah. All the natural resources which can be exploited by man are as a principle Allah's property. All men have been created by Him and they live on His gifts. According to this' conception of cosmos, natural wealth is not the private property of anybody in society.

No particular group or class can claim its ownership and deprive others of its use or to reduce them to the status of serfs. All natural resources belong to Allah. They are for the benefit of all. Justice means that, in the words of the Qur'an, wherever a man finds his means of living or in the words of Imam Au (s.a.w), Whoever has a spark of life, he should have a right to acquire his sustenance

Social justice in financial matters means that all, yes all, should be able to get all the necessities of life.

Freedom of thinking and acquirement of knowledge We know that man is a being ready for evolution and moving forward. Hence the social position of an individual in society is represented by the opportunity that opens for him the way to evolution and development, and even protects and guides him on this way, so that he may attain his natural and human rights.

For example, man has the power of thinking and choosing. Therefore a just society is that which provides him the opportunity of exercising his free will, gives him freedom of thought and does not impose on him the will and desire of any particular class. Suppression of the freedom of thought in any way hampers evolution and deprives man of his innate and God-given right.

A just society gives man the right of making free and conscious choice. Man is not expected to make his choice with his eyes and ears closed nor under duress and pressure against the dictates of his conscience. The suppression of the right of choice is a deviation from the normal human course. It causes disequilibrium in society.

Anyhow, in regard to these questions it is a social necessity that guidance and constructive opportunities are provided to man to enable him to think rightly and make his choice rightly. But in providing this guidance there is a lurking danger which must carefully be avoided.

Guidance must be earnest and selfless. It should be provided for the service of man, to make his hidden capacities bloom, and not with a view to exploit him and mar his humanity.

Man has also the capability to learn and attain knowledge. Attainment of knowledge is his birth-right. A just society is that which provides an opportunity to everyone to gain literacy, to make higher studies and to acquire proficiency in skills and arts.

Profit is the result of work and all-round activity It is the right of every individual to profit by the natural resources. But that is possible only as the result of his exerting himself and doing work. Therefore, it is necessary that an opportunity of working and making some sort of useful effort should be provided to every individual, and everyone should be guided and trained to make full use of his intellectual, mental and practical creativeness, so that he may be engaged in constructive activity and may profit by the natural gifts as the result of his own efforts.

Privation is the result of encroachmentIt should not be forgotten that man is a social being, and an individual has to live with others in society. It is not the right of any one individual, but it is the right of all individuals that all possibilities of growth and development should be provided to them. Hence, the education of one must not be at the cost of keeping others uneducated, and the employment of some must not be at the cost of the unemployment of others. Similarly the enjoyment of the comforts of life by some should not be the cause of the privation of others.

It may be noted that according to the view held by Islam it is not because some individuals have secured their rights that others are deprived of theirs. It is, in fact, because of the transgression and excess of some individuals that others are deprived of their rights.

Imam Ali (a.s) has said: "I have never seen any hoarded money', without there being neglected rights' besides it.

He has also said: "No one remains hungry, except for the reason that some rich man has availed himself of too much. There can be no privation if everybody is satisfied with what is his due.

 

 

Ali's views on charity

    Ali was always extremely poor, yet he was as renowned for his charity as he was for his piety. Because he never owned any money or goods of his own, he had to be exempted from the Zakat, the obligatory alms tax levied on every male and female Muslim of means, but whenever his share of the "Ghanima" (booty) or "Fay" came into his hands, he immediately distributed it amongst the poor and destitute, giving not a proportion of it but all till nothing remained for himself or his family. His deeds of charity were on the lips of every one. 


'A beggar once received a ring while Ali lay prostrate on his prayer-mat.' There are confirmed traditions that the angel Gabriel appeared to the Holy Prophet at that time and revealed the following verse of the Quran:
"Your friend is only Allah and His Messenger and the Believers who observe prayers and charity. even in prostration when worshipping God alone."
(5:55)


    Another story relates how somebody presented 300 gold coins to the Holy Prophet who made a present of them to Ali. Ali immediately decided to give them away in three instalments of 100 pieces. On his way home, after finishing his night prayers, he saw a harlot, to whom he gave the first one hundred coins. Early next morning the whole town was gossiping about All's misplaced charity and how he had squandered money on a woman of ill repute. Returning home the next night, after prayers he met a man. who was to all intents and purposes a thief, yet he gave him the money. Again the people started to gossip. saying that this time All had given the money to a worthless and good-for-nothing person. On the third night he met a rich man to whom he gave the remainder of the money. At this the people again murmured against All saying that lie had wasted the money on a worthless miser. Now no money was left and All repaired to the Holy Prophet, to whom he related what had transpired. The Holy Prophet told Ali that the angel Gabriel had visited him and informed him that God had accepted Ali's charity on all the three occasions. The harlot after getting the money had given up prostitution and had resolved to lead a chaste life; the thief after getting the money had resolved to give up larceny and had entered into honest business, and the rich man had been so ashamed at receiving alms from someone as poor as Ali that he had decided to cease hoarding wealth and give all he possessed to the poor. 

    That Ali's charity had proved acceptable to the Almighty God was also revealed in the following Quranic Verse:

"Men, whom neither merchandise nor business diverts from the remembrance of Allah and the observance of the prayers and the giving of alms. They fear a day in which hearts and eyes will be agitated."
(24:37) 


    On another occasion as related by Tabrani, Wahidi in Tafseer-e-Kashaf page 286 and Suyuti in Dur-e-Mansoor Vol. I page 363, All had Dirhams (about rupees two and fifty paise), with a view to spending it in a manner most agreeable to God, he gave one Dir ham in charity at night in a hidden manner and one Dirham in the night openly and one Dirham in the daytime hiddenly and one Dirham openly. According to the same authority, God praised Ali in verse 274 of Sura Baqar approving all the four manners of his charity.

    Not only did Ali practise charity himself but he preached it to others. A great many of his sermons stress the importance of alms giving. In one of these he said, "Of the various meritorious acts of a Believer, one of the most acceptable is "Zakat". It behoves every one to give charity because from amongst the acts of worship this is the one most pleasing to God." In another sermon he emphasised that God had sent men in this world only to test them. When a man dies his relatives ask how much wealth .he has left, while the angels look to see how much he had given in charity, in the path of God. "O thou people! Send a part of your wealth in the way of God so that it may stand you in good stead in the next world. Do not leave your entire wealth here so as to be a source of annoyance to you (in the world to come)."

    Whenever Ali learned that someone was hungry or thirsty, without clothes or in debt, he would provide food, water, clothes and money for him. He would go to the houses of the sick, nurse them and give them money and medicines. Although Ali's shirts, wearing apparel and shoes were full of patches, yet he felt the greatest pleasure in providing others with clothes. Whenever Au used to visit the bazars of Kufa, he would help the travellers, the aged and the infirm. He was particularly kind to the elderly who could not support themselves and the widows who were left destitute. 

    Once All saw a woman who was carrying on her shoulders a waterskin which was too heavy a load for her feeble body. Ali took the load on to his own shoulder and accompanied her to her house. She had a number of children who awaited her arrival anxiously. In the course of talks, Ali came to know that her husband was a Kharijite who had fallen in a battle fighting against him (Ali). The widow tended the destitute children and earned her living by doing odd jobs and working for others. The next day Ali again repaired to the hut of the widow with a basketful of eatables. On his way towards her house, Ali met a number of people who wanted to carry the basket for him hut the Caliph refused to take any one's help saying, "You will share my burden today but who will be there to share it on the Day of Judgment. Thus carrying the basket on his shoulders the Caliph reached the widow's' house, knocked at her door and put the provisions before her. The poor woman was overjoyed and in great excitement said, "May God bless you. Let the Alimghty decide between me and Ali". At this Ali said, 

    "Either let me bake you some bread with this flour that I have brought you or you bake it and I will play with your children and try to cheer them up." The woman replied, "I will do the baking if you will light the oven for me." Ali, who had been distributing dates to the children immediately apologized for his discourtesy in not having offered to light the fire. When it flamed up and he felt the heat of the oven scorching his face, he said, "Taste the heat of his fire; imagine what punishment awaits one who has neglected the widows and orphans." In the meantime the next door neighborhood had come in and had recognized Ali as the Caliph. "Cursed be thou", she said, reprimanding the widow, "How dare you talk so insolently to the Commander of the Faithful?" The widow in great shame fell prostrate to the ground, begging forgiveness, but Ali said, "It is Ali who must feel ashamed at having neglected you."

 

 

 

The status of woman in the world-view of Islam

As for the first part, the holy Qur'an is not only a collection of laws. It does not contain merely a series of dry commands and laws without comment. It contains both laws and history, both exhortation and the interpretation of creation, and countless other subjects. Just as the Qur'an lays down rules of action in the form of law on some occasions, so it also comments upon existence and being. It explains the secrets of the creation of the earth and the sky, plants, animals and mankind, and the secret of life and death, greatness and suffering, growth and decline, wealth and poverty.

 

The Qur'an is not a treatise on philosophy, but it has explicitly expressed its views concerning the three basic topics of philosophy: the universe, mankind and society. Not only does the Qur'an teach its believers laws, and not only does it give exhortation and advice, but it also endows its followers with a special way of thinking, a particular world-view, by its interpretation of creation. The foundation of all Islamic commandments concerning social matters, for example, ownership, government, family rights, and so forth, is this same explanation which the Qur'an gives of creation and the things of the world.

 

One of the matters that have been commented on in the holy Qur'an is the subject of the creation of women and men. The Qur'an was not silent on this matter, and did not provide an opportunity for those who talk nonsence to put forth their own philosophies for laws concerning men and women, and then to accuse Islam of having a derogatory attitude towards women on the strength of their own theories. Islam has already laid down its views regarding women.

 

If we want to see what the view of the Qur'an is regarding the creation of woman and man, it is necessary to have a look at the question of their creation as it is treated in the Books of other religions. The Qur an also did not remain silent on this subject. We should see whether the Qur'an considers woman and man to be of one essence or two. In other words, whether woman and man have one nature and essence or two. The Qur'an most explicitly lays down in several مyمt (verses) that: We created women from the nature of man and from an essence the same as the essence of man. Concerning the first Adam, the Qur'an says: Who created you from one single soul, and created from it its mate, (Qur'an, 4:1). With regard to all men, the Qur'an says in several places: Allah created your mate from your own kind.

 

There is no trace in the Qur'an of what is found in some sacred books: that woman was created out of an inferior stock to that of man, that they gave woman the status of a parasite and of an inferior, or that the mate of the first Adam was created from one of the left-side parts of his body. Besides that, in Islam there is no derogatory view about woman as regards her nature and innate constitution.

 

Another of the contemptuous views that existed in the past and which have left their undesirable effects in world literature is that woman is the origin of sin, and that her existence is the source of sin and temptation. Woman is a small devil. They say in every sin or crime committed by man, woman had her hand. According to them man in himself is innocent of any sin: it is woman who drags him towards sin. They say Satan cannot find his way to man's being directly: it is only through woman that he can deceives man. Satan tempts woman, and woman tempts man. They say the first Adam, who was deceived by Satan and turned out of the Paradise of happiness, was deceived though woman. Satan tempted Eve, and Eve tempted Adam.

 

The Qur'an relates the story of the Paradise of Adam, but never says that Satan or a snake tempted Eve and she tempted Adam. Neither does the Qur'an describe Eve as the main person responsible, nor does it exonerate her from the sin. The Qur'an says: O Adam, inherit, thou and thy wife, the Garden, and eat of where you will (7:19). Wherever the Qur'an describes the matter of Satan's tempting, it uses the pronouns in the form of the dual (i.e., referring to two persons). It says

:فوسوس لهما الشيطان

Satan tempted both of them, (7:20).

فدليهما بغرور

So he led them both on by delusion, (7:22)  

و قاسمهما اني لكما لمن الناصحين

And he swore to both of them, "Truly, I am for you both a sincere adviser." (7:21)

In this way the Qur'an strongly refutes the misconception which was prevalent at that time and which is still found in certain quarters and among certain people of this world, and exonerates the female sex from the accusation that woman is the source of temptation and sin, and is half a devil.

 

Another contemptuous view which exists concerning woman is in the field of her spiritual ability. They say: "A woman cannot go to Heaven. A woman cannot traverse the spiritual and divine stages of enlightenment. A woman cannot attain proximity to God as can a man. The Qur'an, on the other hand, has made it explicitly clear in a large number of verses that reward in the life after death and nearness to God do not depend upon sex, but upon faith and deeds, whether they be of a woman or a man. For every great and pious man, the Qur'ain mentions a great and pious woman alongside him. The wives of Adam and Ibrahim (Abraham) and the mothers of Musa (Moses) and Isa (Jesus) are mentioned with great esteem. Although the Qur'an refers to the wives of Nuh(Noah) and Lut (Lot) as being unworthy of their husbands, it does not ignore the wife of Fir'awn (Pharaoh) as a woman of distinction under the control of a detestable man. It can be said that the Qur'an purposely seeks to keep a balance in its histories and the leading role in them is not confined to men.

 

About the mother of Musa, the Qur'an says: So we revealed to Moses' mother, "Suckle him, then, when thou fearest for him, cast him into the water, and do not fear, neither sorrow, for We shall return him to thee." (28:7)

About Maryam (Mary), the mother of Isa, the Qur'an says that she had attained such an elevated spiritual degree that the angels used to visit her in her prayer-niche and converse with her. Sustenance was supplied to her from an invisible source. She had attained so high a position of Divine favour that it completely astounded the prophet of that time, and exceeded his own degree. Zakariyya (the prophet) was dumb-founded when he looked upon her.

 

In the history of Islam itself there are many pious and distinguished women. There can be few men who are able to reach the high status of Khadijah,1 and no man except the Holy Prophet himself and Ali could attain the status of az-Zahra'.2 az- Zahra' excelled her sons, the Imams, and all the prophets as well, excepting the Seal of the Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.a.). Islam does not make any difference between man and woman in the journey from this world towards al-Haqq (the Truth, i.e., towards God). The only difference that Islam makes is in the journey from al-Haqq to this world, in returning to mankind and bearing the prophetic message, and here it recognizes man as being more suitable.

 

Another derogatory view that was held was in connection with sexual abstention and the sacredness of being single and celibate. As we know, in some religions, sexual intercourse is in its essence unclean. According to the followers of these religions only those who live all their life in celibacy can attain the stations of the spirit. One of the world's well-known religious leaders said:

"Root out the tree of marriage with the spade of virginity."

The same religious leaders allow marriage only as one evil to ward off a greater evil. In other words they maintain that, as the majority of people are unable to endure the hardship of remaining celibate and may loose self-control and thus become victims of perversion, indulging in sexual contact with numerous women, it is better that they should marry and not have sexual relations with more than one woman. The root cause of sexual abstention and celibacy is a feeling of aversion against the female sex. These people consider love of women to be one of the great moral depravities.

 

Islam has combatted fiercely against this superstition. It considers marriage to be sacred and celibacy to be impure. Islam considers love of women to be a part of prophetic morality, and says:

من اخلاق الانبيا حب النسا

 "Love of women is of the niorality of the prophets. The last Prophet used to say: "Three things are dear to me: perfume, women and prayer.

 

Bertrand Russell says:3 "In all codes of moral conduct there appears a kind of aversion to sexual relations except in Islam. Islam has ordained regulations and limitations with regard to this relationship for social reasons, but it has never considered it an abominable and unclean matter."

 

Another derogatory opinion held regarding women was that she is only a means for bringing man into existence, and that she was created for man.

 

These ideas can never be found in Islam. Islam most explicitly explains the basis of the final cause, it says quite clearly that the earth and the sky, the clouds and the winds, plants and animals have all been created for man. But it never says that woman was created for man. Islam says that man and woman were each created for the other :

  هن لباس لكم و انتم لباس لهن

  They are a vestment for you (man) and you are a vestment for them, (Qur'an, 2:187). If the Qur'an considered woman to be a means of making men and something created for them, it would certainly have kept this fact in view in its laws. As Islam, in its explanation of creation, does not have this opinion and does not consider woman to be a parasite on mane s existence, there is no trace or reflection of this idea in its special precepts regarding man and woman.

 

Another of the derogatory views held in the past was that women were considered an unavoidable and necessary evil. Many men, in spite of all the gains and advantages they had derived from women, regarded them contemptuously and considered them to be a source of misfortune and misery. The holy Qur'an makes a special mention of the fact that woman is a blessing for man and is a source of solace and comfort for his heart.

 

Yet another derogatory view was that woman played a very insignificant part in bringing offspring into the world. Arabs of the pre-Islamic age, and certain other peoples, considered women to be only a repository for the sperm of the man, which, according to them, was the real seed of the child, and they said that her part was to keep that seed safe and to nourish it. The Qur'an says in several verses that: "You were created from man and woman."

In other verses, which are analysed in the commentaries, the final answer has been given in a similar way.

 

From what has been said above, it is clear that both from a philosophical point of view, as well as from its explanation of the nature of creation, Islam does not hold any derogatory ideas concerning women; rather, it has seen to it that all the above mentioned derogatory views are discarded. Now it is appropriate to examine why there is an absence of identicalness in the rights of men and women.

 

1. Khadijah was the Holy Prophet's first and most dearly beloved wife. She was the first person to believe in his prophethood, and she proved a firm support for him in the first difficult years of his mission. (tr.) 

2. Fatimatu 'z-Zahra' was the Holy Prophet's daughter, the wife of Ali, and the mother of the second and third Imams, Hasan and Husayn. She is included by the Shi'ah, together with the Holy Prophet and the twelve Imams, among the fourteen immaculate ones, free from sin. (tr.) 

3. Translated from the Persian, reference untraced. (tr.)

 

 

 

BACKGROUND TO THE LIFE OF THE COMMANDER OF THE FAITHFUL

Introduction

(This part gives) an account of the Commander of the faithful, peace be on him, the first of the Imams of the believers, of the rulers (wulat) of the Muslims and of God's (appointed) successors in religion after the Apostle of God, the truthful one and the trusted one, Muhammad b. 'Abd Allah, the seal of the Prophets, blessings on him and his pure family. (He was) the brother of the Apostle of God and his paternal cousin, and his helper (wazir) in his affair, his son-in-law (being married) to his daughter, Fatima the chaste, mistress of the women of the universe. (The full name of) the Commander of the faithful is 'Ali b. Abi Talib b. 'Abd al-Muttalib b. Hashim b. 'Abd Manaf. (He was) the Lord of the testamentary trustees of authority (wasiyyin), the best of blessing and peace be on him. His kunya was Abu al-Hasan.

He was born in the Sacred House (i.e. the Ka'ba) in Mecca on Friday, the thirteenth day of the month of Rajab, thirty years after the Year of the Elephant (c.570). Nobody before or after him has ever been born in the House of God, the Most High. (It was a mark) of him being honoured by God, the Most High, may His name be exalted, and of his position being dignified in its greatness.

His mother was Fatima, daughter of Asad b. Hashim b. 'Abd Manaf, may God be pleased with her. She was like a mother to the Apostle of God, may God bless him and his family, and he (the Apostle) was brought up under her care.

He was grateful for her kindness and she was among the first to believe in him and she emigrated with him in the group of the emigrants. When she died, the Prophet shrouded her with his own shirt in order to protect her from the insects of the earth, and he laid her to rest in her grave in order that, through that, she might be protected from (the crushing pressure of) the narrow space within the grave. He dictated to her her last words (which were) the statement of the authority (wilaya) of her son, the Commander of the faithful, peace be on him, so that at the examination after burial, she would be able to reply with those words. He singled her out with this great favour because of her position with God, may He be magnified and exalted, and with him, peace be on him. The report of that is well known.

The Commander of the faithful, 'Ali b. Abi Talib, peace be on him, and his brothers were among the leading members of the second generation of descendants of Hashim. In this way he gained two marks of nobility, through his growing up under the care and education of the Apostle of God, may God bless him and his family. He was the first of the family of the House and of the Companions to believe in God and His Apostle. He was the first male whom the Prophet, may God bless him and his family, summoned to Islam and who answered. He never ceased to support the religion and to strive against the polytheists. He constantly defended the faith and fought against those who supported deviation (from the truth) and despotism. He spread the teachings of the sunna (the practice of the Prophet) and the Qur'an, judged with justice and enjoined (people) to do good.

He was with the Apostle of God, may God bless him and his family, twenty-three years after the (coming) of the (prophetic) mission. Of these, thirteen years were in Mecca before the emigration when he shared with him all the persecutions and bore most of his hardships. Then there were ten years in Medina after the emigration when he defended him against the polytheists and strove with him against the unbelievers. He protected him with his own life from the enemies of religion until the time God, the Exalted, took (the Prophet) to His heaven, raised him to the highest place in heaven and bestowed His blessings and peace on him and his family. On that day the Commander of the faithful, peace be on him, was thirty-three years of age.

On the day of the death of the Prophet, may God bless him and his family, the community differed over his Imamate. His Shi'a who were all the Banu Hashim, Salman, 'Ammar, Abu Dharr, al-Miqdad, Khuzayma b. Thabit - the man who is known as the possessor of two testimonies - Abu Ayyub al-Ansari, Jabir b. 'Abd Allah al-Ansari, Abu Said al-Khudri and people like them among the important emigrants and Ansar, (all these) maintained that he was the successor (khalifa) after the Apostle of God, may God bless him and his family, and the Imam. (They did this) because of his outstanding merit (fadl) above all mankind, through the fact that there were gathered in him the qualities of outstanding merit, judgement and perfection, such as him being the first of the community to enter the faith, his superiority over them in knowledge of the laws, his precedence over them in fighting (jihad) and the distinction which set him apart from them in the extent of his piety, asceticism and righteousness.

Furthermore he had been specially singled out by the Prophet from among (all) his relations because of (the qualities) which no other relation, apart from him, shared with the Prophet and because of the nomination (nass) of his authority (wilaya) by God, may God be magnified and exalted, in the Qur'an where He, may His name be exalted, says: Your authority (wali) is God and His Apostle and those believers who perform the prayer and pay alms (zakat) while they are bowing (in prayer). (v 55) It is known that no one except him paid alms while bowing (in prayer).

It has been established in language that wali means "the most appropriate for authority" (awla), without there being any opposition (to this definition). If the Commander of the faithful, peace be on him, was, by the stipulation of the Qur'an, more appropriate for authority among the people than themselves because of his being their war according to the textual nomination (nass) in the Clear Explanation (i.e. the Qur'an, tibyan). it was obviously necessary for all of them to obey him, just as obedience to God, the Most High, and obedience to His Apostle, peace be on him and his family, was required because of the information about their authority (wilaya) over creatures which is given in this verse with clear proof.

(Another reason for their support for the Commander of the faithful was) because of what the Prophet, may God bless him and his family, said on the day (of the assembly) at his house. He had especially gathered the Banu 'Abd al-Muttalib there in order to make the (following) solemn pledge: "Whoever helps me in this matter wi11 be my brother, my testamentary trustee (wasi), my helper (wazir), my heir and my successor after me." Then the Commander of the faithful, peace be on him, stood up before him among all the gathering of them, and on that day he was the youngest of them, and he said: "O Apostle of God, I will help you."

Then the Prophet, may God bless him and his family, said: "Sit down, you are my brother, my trustee, my helper, my inheritor and successor after me." This is a clear statement about the succession (after the Prophet).

In addition, there is also what (the Prophet), peace be on him and his family, said on the day of Ghadir Khumm. The community had gathered to listen to the sermon (in which he asked): "Am I not more appropriate for authority (awla) over you than yourselves?"

"Yes," they answered.

Then he spoke to them in an ordered manner without any interruption in his speech: "Whomsoever I am the authority over (mawla), 'Ali is also the authority over."

Thus he (the Prophet) required for him (Ali), through laying down obedience to him and his authority (over them), the same authority as he had over them, and which he made them acknowledge and which they did not deny. This is clear (evidence) of the nomination (nass) of him for the Imamate and for succession to his position.

Furthermore there is (the Prophet's), peace be on him and his family, statement to him at the time of setting out to Tabuk: "You are in the same position with respect to me as Aaron (Harun) was to Moses (Musa) except that there is no prophet after me." Thus he required him (to have) the office of helping (i.e. administering) and to be characterised by love and outstanding merit over everyone. (He also required) his deputising for him both during his life and after his death. The Qur'an gives evidence for all that coming to Aaron (Harun) from Moses, peace be on them, when God, may He be magnified and exalted, said in giving a report of what Moses, peace be on him, said: "Make Aaron, my brother, a helper for me from my family. Give me support through him and make him participate in my affair so that we may glorify You much and we may remember You frequently in that You have been a watcher over us. " (XX 29- 35) God, the Most Exalted said: "Your request is granted, Moses. " (XX 36) This (verse) confirmed that Aaron had a share with Moses in prophecy, and in helping in delivering the message and his support was strengthened through him by his aid. (Moses) also told him of deputising for him (when he said): "....Deputise for me among my people. Act for (their) benefit and do not follow the path of the corrupters. " (VII 142) This confirms his succession by the precise statement of revelation. Therefore when the Apostle of God, may God bless him and his family, gave all the ranks which Aaron had from Moses to the Commander of the faithful, peace be on him, in the same extent, except for prophecy, (all such things) were required of him as helping the Apostle, giving him support, outstanding merit and love, because these qualities were definitely required by that. Then by the clear statement there is his deputising for him during his life and "after the prophethood" which (gives evidence of his succession) by specification of the exception, (of Prophethood) when he excludes him from it by mentioning "after".

Proofs similar to these are so numerous that it would make the book unduly long to mention them all, (especially) as we have examined thoroughly the statement of the evidence for them in other places in our books. Praise be to God.

The Imamate of the Commander of the faithful, peace be on him, was for thirty years after the Prophet, may God bless him and his family. For twenty-four years and six months of these he was prevented from administering the laws (of the office) (and had to) exercise precautionary dissimulation (taqiyya) and withdrawal. For five years and six months of these, he was troubled by wars against the hypocrites, those who broke their pledges, the unjust and those who deviated (from the religion) and he was plagued by the seditions of those who had gone astray. In the same way the Apostle of God, may God bless him and his family, had been prevented from(administering) the laws (of his office) through fear and through being spied upon, and through being a fugitive and through being exiled, so that he had no power to fight the unbelievers and no means of defending the believers. Then he emigrated and for ten years after the emigration he remained making war on the unbelievers and being troubled by the hypocrites until the time that God, may His name be exalted, took him unto Himself and made him dwell in. the gardens of Paradise.

The death of the Commander of the faithful, peace be on him occurred before dawn of Friday, the twenty-first of the month of Ramadan, in the year 40 A.H. He was a victim of the sword. Ibn Muljam al-Muradi, may God curse him, killed him at the mosque of Kufa, which he had come out to in order to wake the people for the dawn prayer on the night of the nineteenth of the month of Ramadan. He had been lying in wait for him from the beginning of the night. When he (the Commander of the faithful) passed by him while the latter was hiding his design by feigning sleep amid a group of people who were asleep, he (Ibn Muljam) sprang out and struck him on the top of his head with his sword which was poisoned. He lingered through the day of the nineteenth and the night and day of the twentieth and the first third of the night of the twenty-first. Then he, peace be on him, died a martyr and met his Lord, Most High, as one who has been wronged. He, peace be on him, knew of that before its time and he told the people of it before its time. His two sons, al-Hasan and al-Husayn, peace be on them, performed (the tasks) of washing him and shrouding him according to his bequest. Then they carried him to al-Ghari at Najaf in Kufa and they buried him there. They removed the traces of the place of his burial according to his bequest which was made about that to both of them by him, because of what he, peace be on him, knew about the regime of the Umayyads (which would come) after him, and their hostile attitude towards him. (For he knew) the evil action and abuse to which they would be led by their wicked intentions if they had been able to know that (place). His grave, peace be on him, remained hidden until al-Sadiq Ja'far b. Muhammad, peace be on them, pointed it out during the 'Abbasid regime. For he visited it when he came to visit Abu Ja'far (al-Mansur) while the latter was in al-Hira. Then the Shi'a knew of it and they began from that time to make visitation to his (grave), peace be on him and on his pure offspring.

Ali, the first male who came to believe in the prophet's faith

 

At a time when a severe famine had broken out in Arabia, Abu Talib's financial condition was difficult; indeed unbearable. To reduce his uncle's financial problems, the Prophet took his son, Ali, to his own house and took care of him and raised him like an affectionate father. (1) He had great talent and peerless intelligence. He obeyed the Prophet most sincerely. He soon became quite aware of the Prophet's truthfulness, and, so when he was but ten years old, he accepted the Prophet's faith with perfect awareness, thus becoming the first male to adopt Islam and to believe in the divine faith of the Prophet. (2)

 

THE PRESENTATION OF RITUAL PRAYERS AS A RELIGIOUS DUTY

After monotheism, worshipping the One God, the first duty that became incumbent upon the Holy Prophet and his followers was the ritual prayer, which in fact demonstrates the significance of ritual prayer as the basis of man's relation to God and as a way of giving thanks for God's endless blessings. So the great leaders of Islam, especially the Holy Prophet of Islam, have laid great emphasis on ritual prayer, saying, Ritual prayer is the pillar of faith (3) and Anybody who disregards the ritual prayer will not enjoy our intercession with God on the Day of Judgment'. (4)

Almighty God described the nature of ritual prayers and the way to perform them through Gabriel to the Prophet, who taught it to Ali and Khadijah and also ordered congregational ritual prayers. (5)

Three Years Of Practical Propagation

For three whole years after the actualization of the prophetic mission of the Prophet, he propagated his faith in secret because the corrupt environment of Arabia, which had been polluted with idolatry and paganism for centuries, was by no means ready for the open propagation of Islam, which is perfect monotheism and opposed to any kind of polytheism.

In the beginning, the Prophet was faced with extremely difficult problems and obstacles that seemed to prevent him from achieving his divine goal - the propagation of Islam. Thus the Holy Prophet of Islam praised the One God before the eyes of the idolaters who worshipped numerous gods and whose worshipping assumed the form of whistling and clapping. He performed the ritual prayers, which included spiritual discourse and praise of Almighty God, Who has no partner nor any peer. The Prophet, accompanied by Ali and Khadija, went to the crowded places like the Masjid ul-Haram and Mana and performed the congregational ritual prayers before the eyes of the enemies of Islam and thus, through his practice, fought polytheistic faiths. (6)

Afif, a merchant of that time, has said, I had gone to Abbas, the son of Abdul Muttalib, on business, when suddenly I observed that a man entered the Masjid ul-Haram, looked up at the sky and the sun and stood praying in front of the Ka'aba. A little later, a woman and a boy came in and accompanied him in his prayer. I asked Abbas about that religion of which I had not yet heard! Abbas said, "This man is Muhammad (peace and the mercy of God be upon him and his descendants), the son of Abdullah. He believes that his God is the Creator of heavens and earth and that God has assigned him to guide people. For the time being his faith has no believers other than these three people. This woman you see is Khadijah, the daughter of Khuwalid, and this boy is Ali, the son of Abu Talib, who have accepted his faith '. (7)

In this way the Holy Prophet of Islam went on with his divine task until gradually the number of Muslims increased and, contrary to the ill-wishes of the opponents of Islam, this faith prevailed. When the atmosphere became suitable for the open propagation of Islam, the Prophet was divinely ordered to act accordingly.

 

THE INVITATION TO HIS RELATIVES AND THE FIRST MIRACLE

The propagation through practice of Islam by the Holy Prophet and the increase in the number of his followers paved the way for the open invitation of the people to Islam. God commanded the Holy Prophet of Islam to invite his close relatives. And warn your nearest relatives'(26:214).

In this way, backbiters could not say, Why do you not call your own relatives to worship the One God and warn them of God's severe punishment?' Moreover, the support of the relatives of the Prophet would help the promotion of Islam. So the Holy Prophet told Ali to prepare a meal and invite their relatives, who numbered about 40. After preparing the meal, Ali invited them. All the relatives of the Holy Prophet accepted the invitation and ate the meal prepared by the blessed hands of Ali. Although the food was not sufficient for even one person, all 40 people were full after eating that blessed food and, strangely enough, the food had not diminished at all. This amazed all of them but the obstinate Abu Lahab, who said without thinking, This is magic and charms'. The foolish man disregarded the fact that magic and charms cannot feed people!

On that day the Prophet said nothing about the matter. Perhaps his silence was due to the fact that he wanted them to realize the difference between a miracle' and magic' because if magic were the cause the guests would feel hungry after leaving the house of the Holy Prophet.

Since this gathering did not give any favourable result, the Holy Prophet invited them for the next day. Again the same reception was repeated and all were filled. Yet the food was not reduced even after the meal was over.

Then the Prophet said, 0 sons of Abdul Muttalib. God has assigned me to warn you of the painful torments of the wrongdoers and give you the good news of His reward to the pious believers. Become Muslims and follow me to achieve salvation. I swear by Almighty God that among all Arabs I do not know anyone who has brought his people anything better than what I have brought you. I have brought you prosperity and salvation both in this world and in the hereafter. The Gracious God has commanded me to call you all to worship Him. Now which one of you is willing to help me with the task? Anybody who announces his readiness to help me will be my brother, my successor, and the executor of my will'.

Nobody answered but Ali, who was the youngest. He stood up and said, "O Prophet of God. I am your assistant. I am your supporter".

The Prophet asked him to sit down. He repeated the same saying three times but no one except Ali replied to him. Then the Prophet pointed to Ali and said: "He is my brother, my successor and the executor of my will among you. Listen to him and obey him" (8) ~

It was on this very day that a number of people came to believe in the faith of the Holy Prophet of Islam,~ but ignorance and bigotry hindered some of his relatives from believing in his message. However, this gathering was effective in gaining support for the Holy Prophet.

In addition to the fact of the extraordinary event - 40 people being fed with a small amount of food - there is another remarkable point in this event - the remarks the Holy Prophet made about his cousin Ali on that day. They clearly prove the fact that Ali was the Prophet's righteous successor and Caliph, and thus we must regard Ali as the successor of the Holy Prophet of Islam.

Thus the way was paved for the public invitation of the people to Islam and open propagation of this divine faith. The Prophet demonstrated indefatigable perseverance in fulfilling this divine duty and did not stop his invaluable teachings, outreach and struggles for a single hour. It was then that the magnificent banner of Islam was hoisted and truth began to be promoted

Reports of his Priority in Belief in God and His Apostle and of his being the First of all Responsible Men in (Faith)

 

[Abu al-Jaysh al-Muzaffar b. Muhammad al-Balkhi informed me: Abu Bakr Muhammad b. Ahmad b. Abi Thalj informed us: Abu al-Hasan Ahmad b. (Muhammad b.) al-Qasim al-Barqi told us: 'Abd al-Rahman b. Salih al-Azdi told me: Asad b. 'Ubayda told us on the authority of Yahya b. 'Afif b. Qays, on the authority of his father ('Afif b. Qays), (1) who said:]

I was sitting with al-'Abbas b. 'Abd al-Muttalib, may God be pleased with him, in Mecca, before the affairs of the Prophet became known to the public. A man came and looked up towards the sky where the sun hovered above. He turned in the direction of the Ka'ba and stood to pray. Then a youth came and stood at his right and a woman came and stood behind them both. The man bowed, and the youth and the woman bowed. The man raised his hands and the youth and the woman raised their hands. Then he prostrated and they both prostrated.

"'Abbas!" I exclaimed, "it is a fantastic affair!"

"Indeed, it is a fantastic affair," replied al-'Abbas. "Do you know who that man is? He is Muhammad b. 'Abd Allah b. 'Abd al-Muttalib, my cousin. Do you know who that youth is? He is 'Ali b. Abi Talib, my cousin. Do you know who that woman is? She is Khadija, daughter of Khuwaylid. This cousin of mine (i.e. Muhammad) has told me that his Lord is the Lord of the heavens and the earth, Who has ordered him to carry out this religion (din) which he is practising. No, by God, there are not any on the face of the earth, who practise this religion except these three."

[Abu Hafs 'Umar b. Muhammad al-Sayrafi informed me: Muhammad b. Ahmad b. Abi Thalj told me on the authority of Ahmad b. Muhammad b. al-Qasim al-Barqi, on the authority of Abu Salih Sahl b. Salih - it was about the year 100 (A. H.) - who said I heard Abu al-Mu'ammar 'Abbad b. 'Abd al-Samad who said: I heard Anas b. Malik say:]

The Apostle of God, may God bless him and his family, said: "The angels bless me and 'Ali for seventy years, because (for a time) only 'Ali and I raised the testimony to heaven that there is no god but God and Muhammad is the Apostle of God."

[By the same chain of transmitters on the authority of Ahmad b. (Muhammad b.) al-Qasim al-Barqi: Ishaq told us: Nuh b. Qays told us: Sulayman b. 'Ali al-Hashimi Abu Fatima told us: I heard Muadha al-'Adawiyya say:]

I heard 'Ali b. Abi Talib say on the pulpit at Basra: "I am the greater testifier of truth (siddiq) for I believed before Abu Bakr believed; I became a Muslim before he became a Muslim."

[Abu Nasr Muhammad b. al-Husayn al-Muqri al-Basri al-Sayrawani informed: Abu Bakr Muhammad b. (Ahmad b.) Abi Thalj told us: Abu Muhammad al-Nawfali told us on the authority of Muhammad b. 'Abd al-Hamid, on the authority of 'Umar b. 'Abd al-Ghiffar al-Faqimi who said: Ibrahim b. Hayyan reported to me on the authority of Abu 'Abd Allah, retainer of Banu Hashim, on the authority of Abu Sukhayla, who said:]

I and 'Ammar went on the pilgrimage. We stopped at the house of Abu Dharr, may God be pleased with him, and stayed with him for three days. When the time of our departure was at hand, I said to him: "Abu Dharr, we consider that nothing except confusion has come over the people. What is your view?"

"Cleave to the Book and 'Ali b. Abi Talib," he replied, "then bear witness to the Apostle of God, may God bless him and his family, who said: "'Ali was the first to believe in me and will be the first to shake my hand in greetings on the Day of Resurrection. He is the greatest testifier of the truth (siddiq) and discerner of truth and falsehood. He is the chief of the believers and money is the chief cause of wrong-doing.' 

Al-Shaykh al-Mufid, may God be pleased with him, comments: The reports with this meaning are numerous as testimonies (of it) are bulky.

[Among such are the words of Khuzayma b. Thabit al-Ansari, the man who gave two testimonies, in what was reported to me by Abu 'Abd Allah Muhammad b. 'Imran al-Marzubani on the authority of Muhammad b. al-'Abbas who said:]

Muhammad b. Yazid al-Nahwi recited to us on the authority of Ibn 'A'isha (the words) of Khuzayma b. Thabit al-Ansari, may God be pleased with him:

I never thought that this affair would leave the clan of Hashim, and then within it (that) it would leave Abu Hasan (i.e. 'Ali).

Was he not the first to pray with their (i.e. the Muslims') Qibla (direction of prayer), and the most knowledgeable man in traditions and practice?

(Was he not) the last of men with whom the Prophet made a covenant (ahd), and the one whose helper was Gabriel in washing and shrouding (the body of the Prophet)?

He it is in whom there is what others are not distinguished by. There is not among the people the good which is in him.

What is it which makes you reject him, for we know him? Yet your pledge of allegiance is made through the greatest cheating..

 

Moreover, on the crucial occasion of the declaration of his prophethood, no one supported Muhammad except Ali. Your eminent ulema, like Bukhari and Muslim, in their Sahihain, Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal in his Musnad, and many others, such as Ibn Abdi'l-Birr in Isti'ab, Volume III, page 32, Imam Abu Abdu'r-Rahman Nisa'i in Khasa'isu'l-Alawi, Sibt Ibn Jauzi in Tadhkira, page 63, Sheikh Sulayman Balkhi Hanafi in Yanabiu'l-Mawadda, Chapter 12, on the authority of Tirmidhi and Muslim, Muhammad bin Talha Shafi'i in Matalibu's-Su'ul, sub-chapter I, Ibn Abi'l-Hadid in Sharh Nahju'l-Balagha, Volume III, p. 258, Tirmidhi in

Jam'-e-Tirmidhi, Volume II, page 314, Hamwaini in Fara'id, Mir Seyyed Ali Hamadani in Mawaddatu'l-Qurba, and even the fanatical Ibn Hajar in Sawa'iq-e-Muhriqa, and other prominent scholars have, with slight variation of words, related from Anas Bin Malik and others that "the Holy Prophet was ordained Prophet of Allah on Monday and Ali, declared his faith in him on Tuesday." It is also narrated that "The prophethood of Allah was declared on Monday and Ali offered prayers with the Holy Prophet on Tuesday." And again, "Ali was the first man who declared his faith in the Prophet." Also Tabari, Ibn Abi'l-Hadid, Tirmidhi, and others narrate from Ibn Abbas that "Ali was the first to offer prayers."

TRAINING OF ALI FROM CHILDHOOD BY THE HOLY PROPHET

I ask you to consider what your own learned theologian, Nuru'd-din Bin Sabbagh Maliki in his Fusulu'l-Muhimma, Chapter "Tarbiatu'n-Nabi," page 16, and Muhammad Bin Talha Shafi'i in his Matalibu's-Su'ul, Chapter 1, page 11, and others have reported. During a famine in Mecca, the Prophet told his uncle, Abbas, that the latter's brother, Abu Talib, had too many children and that his means of livelihood were narrow. Muhammad recommended that each of them ask Abu Talib for one child to support so that the heavy burden on him would be reduced. Abbas agreed. They went to Abu Talib with their offer, and he accepted. Abbas took Ja'far-e-Tayyar under his guardianship, and the Prophet took Ali. Maliki continues, "Ali remained continuously with the Holy Prophet until the latter was formally declared the Prophet of Allah." Ali declared his belief in him, and followed him as a prophet of Allah when Ali was only thirteen. He was the first male to accept Islam. The Prophet's wife Khadija was the only person to accept the Prophet before Ali. In the same chapter, Maliki reports that Ibn Abbas, Jabir Ibn Abdullah Ansari, Zaid Ibn Arqam, Muhammad Ibn Munkadar, and Rabi'atu'l-Mara'i said that the first person after Khadija who believed in the Prophet was Ali. He says that Ali referred to this fact, which has been narrated by your ulema. He said: "Muhammad, the Prophet of Allah, is my brother and son of my uncle; Hamza, the chief of the martyrs, is my uncle; Fatima, the daughter of the Prophet, is my wife; and his daughter's two sons are my sons by Fatima. Who of you has shared such distinction as I have? I was the foremost in accepting Islam when I was only a child. The Prophet declared on the day of Ghadir-e-Khum that it was obligatory to accept me as your guide. (Then he said three times) 'Woe be to him who faces Allah tomorrow (on the Day of Judgement), if he has subjected me to cruelty.'" Muhammad Bin Talha Shafi'i in his Matalibu's-Su'ul, Part 1, Chapter 1, page 11, and many others of your learned men, have reported that these statements were in reply to Mu'awiya's letter to Ali, in which the former had boasted that his father was the chief of his tribe during the "time of ignorance," and that in Islam he (Mu'awiya) was the King. Mu'awiya also said that he was the "maternal uncle of the faithful," the "writer of the Wahi" (revelations), and a man of virtuous merits." After reading the letter, Ali said: "A man of his character - the son of the woman who chewed livers - boasts before me! (in reference to Mu'awiya's mother, Hind, who, after the Battle of Uhud, in a fit of rage, ripped open the dead body of Hamza, tore out his liver, and chewed it). Mu'awiya, even though he was bitterly opposed to Ali, could not deny these merits.

Moreover, Hakim Abu'l-Qasim Haskani, one of your learned ulema, narrates from Abdu'r-Rahman Bin Auf, regarding the above verse of the ten Quraish who accepted Islam, that Ali was the foremost among them. Ahmad Bin Hanbal, Khatib Khawarizmi, and Sulayman Balkhi Hanafi narrate from Anas bin Malik that the Prophet said: "The angels blessed me and Ali for seven years, for during that time no voice proclaimed the oneness of Allah except mine and Ali's." Ibn Abi'l-Hadid Mu'tazali, in Sharh-e-Nahju'l-Balagha, Volume I, pages 373-5, recorded several hadith narrated through your scholars to the effect that Ali was the foremost of all others in the matter of Islam. After recording the various versions and narrations he concludes: "So the sum total of what we have stated is that Ali is the first of all men regarding Islam. The view contrary to it is rare and not worth our attention."

Imam Abu Abdu'r-Rahman Nisa'i, author of one of the six books of authentic hadith, has recorded in Khasa'isu'l-Alawi the first six hadith on this topic and has confirmed that the foremost person in Islam and the first to offer prayers with the Prophet was Ali. In addition, Sheikh Sulayman Balkhi Hanafi in Yanabiu'l-Mawadda, Chapter 12, recorded 31 hadith from Tirmidhi, Hamwaini, Ibn Maja, Ahmad bin Hanbal, Hafiz Abu Nu'aim, Imam Tha'labi, Ibn Maghazili, Abu'l-Muwayyid Khawarizmi, and Dailami, the conclusion of which is that Ali was the first in the entire Muslim community to have accepted Islam. Even the intolerant Ibn Hajar Makki has in Sawa'iq Muhriqa, Chapter 2, recorded hadith on the same issue, some of which have been accepted by Sulayman Balkhi Hanafi in his Yanabiu'l-Mawadda. Further, in Yanabiu'l-Mawadda, towards the close of chapter 12, he related from Ibn Zubair, Makki and he from Jabir Ibn Abdullah Ansari, a hadith about Ali's merits, which I would like to present here with your permission in order to conclude my argument. The Prophet said: "Allah Almighty chose me as a Prophet and revealed sacred scriptures to me. I said to Him, 'O Allah, My master, You sent Moses to Pharaoh, Moses asked you to make his brother, Aaron, his vizier to strengthen his hand, so that his words might be witnessed. Now I ask you, O Allah, that you appoint for me from among my family a vizier who may strengthen my hand. Make Ali my vizier and brother, infuse gallantry into his heart, and give him power over the enemy. Ali was the first person to believe in me and to witness my prophethood and the first person to declare the oneness of Allah along with me.' Afterward I continued to pray to Allah. Therefore, Ali is the chief of the successors. To follow him is a blessing; to die in obedience to him is martyrdom. His name appears in the Torah along with my name; his wife, the most truthful, is my daughter; his two sons, who are the chiefs of the Youth of Paradise, are my sons. After them all the Imams are vicegerents of Allah over His creation after the prophets; and they are the doors of knowledge among my people. He who follows them is rescued from Hellfire; he who follows them is guided to the right path; he who is endowed by Allah with love for them will surely be sent to Paradise. So, enlightened people, take heed."

I could quote similar hadith all night, all of which have been recorded by your own scholars. But I think this is enough. Ali alone associated with the Holy Prophet from childhood, and therefore it is fitting that we consider him the person referred to in the words "those who are with him," and not the one who accompanied the Prophet on a few days' journey.

 

ALI'S FAITH WHILE ONLY A CHILD

Hafiz: You have proven your point, and no one has ever denied that Ali was foremost in accepting Islam. But this fact does not qualify him as pre-eminent in comparison with other companions. True, the high caliphs professed faith in Islam years after Ali, but their faith was different from his and better. The reason is that Ali was only a child, and these people were mature. Obviously, the faith of older, wise men was superior to that of a child. In addition, Ali's faith was only blind following, and the faith of these people was based on reason. Faith acquired by reason is better than blind faith. Since a child, who is not under a religious obligation to perform duties, does not profess faith except by blind following, so Ali, who was only a child of thirteen, professed his faith only through blind following.

Well-Wisher: Such talk is really surprising coming from a learned man like you. I wonder how to refute such an argument. If I were to say that you adopt such a position out of malice, it would be against my disposition to attribute such a motive to a learned man. Let me put a question to you: was Ali's acceptance of Islam based on his personal wish or on the invitation of the Prophet?

Hafiz: Why do you take such a severe view of the way we talk since, when we have doubts, we must discuss them. In reply to your question, I admit that Ali accepted Islam at the invitation of the Holy Prophet.

Well-Wisher: When the Prophet invited Ali to accept Islam, did the former know a child is not bound by religious commitments? If you say that he did not know it, you attribute ignorance to him, and if he did know it and invited Ali anyway, then his action was absurd. Obviously, to attribute absurdity to the Prophet is infidelity since a prophet is infallible. Allah says about him in the Holy Qur'an: "Nor does he speak out of desire. It is naught but revelation that is revealed." (53:3-4)

The Prophet considered Ali a person worthy to be invited to accept Islam. Apart from this, youth does not necessarily preclude wisdom. Maturity is taken into consideration concerning discharge of religious obligations, but not for matters connected with wisdom. Faith is concerned with matters relating to wisdom and not religious laws. So Ali's faith during childhood is a virtue for him just as Allah tells us in the Holy Qur'an about Jesus in these words: "He said: Surely I am a servant of Allah; He has given me the Book and made me a prophet." (19:30) Also in this chapter He says about Prophet Yahya: "...and We granted him wisdom while yet a child." (19:12)

Seyyed Ali Humairi Yamani, (died 179 A.H.), points to the same fact in his couplets. He says: "Just as Yahya reached the rank of prophethood in his childhood, Ali, who was the successor of the Prophet and the father of his sons, was also ordained Vicegerent of Allah and guardian of the people while only a child."

Virtue and dignity bestowed by Allah do not depend on age. Wisdom and intelligence depend upon an inborn tendency. I am surprised by your comment since such arguments were made by the Nasibis and Kharijis at the instigation of the Umayyads. They denigrated Ali's faith as being mere blind adherence to what he was taught. Even your own scholars have acknowledged Ali's merit in this respect. Muhammad Bin Talha Shafi'i, Ibn Sabbagh Maliki, Ibn Abi'l-Hadid and others have quoted Ali's couplets. In one of his couplets he says: "I was first and foremost among you in embracing Islam when I was only a small child." If Ali's faith at such a tender age had not been meritorious, the Prophet would not have characterized it as such. Sulayman Balkhi Hanafi in his Yanabiu'l-Mawadda, Chapter 55, page 202, narrates from Ahmad Bin Abdullah Shafi'i, quoting from the second Caliph, Umar Bin Khattab, who said, "Abu Bakr, Abu Ubaida Jarra, and a group of people were present in the company of the Prophet of Allah when he patted Ali on the shoulder and said: 'O Ali! You are the first and foremost among all believers and Muslims in embracing Islam. You are to me as Aaron was to Moses.'"

Also Imam Ahmad Ibn Hanbal narrates from Ibn Abbas, who said that he, Abu Bakr, Abu Ubaida Bin Jarra, and others were with the Prophet when he put his hand on Ali's shoulder and said: "You are foremost in faith in Islam among all the Muslims, and you are to me as Aaron was to Moses, O Ali! He who thinks he is my friend while he is your enemy is a liar."

Ibn Sabbagh Maliki records a similar hadith in Fusulu'l-Muhimma, p. 125, from Khasa'isu'l-Alawi as a narration of Abdullah bin Abbas, and Imam Abu Abdu'r-Rahman Nisa'i reports in Khasa'isu'l-Alawi that he said: "I have heard Umar bin Khattab saying 'Mention Ali's name with respect because I have heard the Prophet saying that Ali has three qualities. I (Umar) wished that I had only one of them because each of those qualities is dearer to me than anything in this world.'"

Ibn Sabbagh has narrated the following in addition to what others have recorded. The Holy Prophet said about Ali, "He who loves you loves me, and he who loves me, Allah loves him, and whomever Allah loves, He brings to Paradise. But he who is hostile to you is hostile to me, and he who is hostile to me, Allah is hostile to him and condemns him to Hell."

Ali's declaring himself a Muslim even while he was still a boy establishes the excellence of his wisdom and merit, which no other Muslim can attain. Tabari in his Ta'rikh quotes from Muhammad Bin Sa'ad Bin Abi Waqqas, who said: "I asked my father whether Abu Bakr was the first of the Muslims. He said, 'No, more than fifty people embraced Islam before Abu Bakr; but he was superior to us as a Muslim.'" He also writes that Umar Bin Khattab embraced Islam after forty-five men and twenty-one women. "As for the foremost one in the matter of Islam and faith, it was Ali Bin Abi Talib."

ALI'S FAITH WAS PART OF HIS VERY NATURE

Besides the fact that Ali was foremost in embracing Islam, he possessed another merit, peculiar to him, and more important than his other merits: Ali's Islam derived from his nature, while that of others occurred only after previous unbelief. Unlike other Muslims and companions of the Prophet, Ali was never an unbeliever. Hafiz Abu Nu'aim Ispahani in his Ma Nazalu'l-Qur'an Fi Ali, and Mir Seyyed Ali Hamadani in Mawaddatu'l-Qurba narrate that Ibn Abbas said, "I swear by Allah that there was no one who had not worshipped idols before embracing Islam except Ali. He accepted Islam without having ever worshipped the idols."

Muhammad Bin Yusuf Ganji Shafi'i in his Kifayatu't-Talib, Chapter 24, quotes the Prophet as saying, "Those who took the lead in accepting faith in the oneness of Allah among the followers of the Prophets were three people who were never polytheists: Ali Bin Abu Talib, the man in the Sura Ya Sin, and the believer of the people of Pharaoh. The Truthful Ones are Habib-e-Najjar, among the descendants of Ya Sin, Ezekiel among the descendants of Pharaoh, and Ali Bin Abu Talib, who excelled all of them." Mir Seyyed Ali Hamadani in Mawaddatu'l-Qurba, Mawadda 7, Khatib Khawarizmi in Manaqib, and Imam Tha'labi in his Tafsir narrate from the second Caliph, Umar Bin Khattab: "I bear witness that I heard the Prophet say, 'If the seven heavens were put in one balance and Ali's faith in the other, Ali's faith would surely outweigh the other.'"

The same point has been included in couplets composed by Sufyan bin Mus'ab bin Kufi as follows: "By Allah, I bear witness that the Prophet said to us: 'It should not remain unknown to anyone that if the faith of all those living on the earth were placed in one scale of the balance and that of Ali in the other scale, Ali's faith would outweigh the other.'"

ALI EXCELLED ALL OTHER COMPANIONS AND THE WHOLE COMMUNITY IN MERIT

Mir Seyyed Ali Hamadani Shafi'i has recorded many hadith in his Mawaddatu'l-Qurba, which supported Ali's excellence. In the seventh Mawadda he quotes from Ibn Abbas that the Holy Prophet said, "The best of men of all the worlds in my period is Ali."

Most of your fair-minded ulema have accepted the superiority of Ali. Ibn Abi'l-Hadid in his Sharh Nahju'l-Balagha, Volume 111, page 40, says that Abu Ja'far Iskafi, the chief of the Mu'tazilite sect, declared that Bashr Bin Mu'tamar, Abu Musa, Ja'far Bin Mubashshir, and other ulema of Baghdad believed that, "The most excellent person among all Muslims was Ali Bin Abu Talib, and after him his son Hasan, then his son Husain, after him Hamza, and after him Ja'far Bin Abi Talib." He goes on to say that his master Abu Abdullah Basri, Sheikh Abu'l-Qasim Balkhi, and Sheikh Abu'l-Hasan Khayyat had the same belief as Abu Ja'far Iskafi regarding the superiority of Ali. He explains the faith of the Mu'tazilite sect saying: "The best of the men after the Prophet of Allah, is the successor of the Prophet, the husband of Fatima, Ali; after him, his two sons, Hasan and Husain; after them, Hamza, and after him Ja'far (Tayyar).

Sheikh: If you knew the statements of the ulema in support of the excellence of Abu Bakr, you would not have made such remarks.

ALI'S FAITH SUPERIOR TO ABU BAKR'S

Well-Wisher: All the reliable Sunni ulema have acknowledged the superiority of Ali. For instance, you may refer Ibn Abi'l-Hadid Mu'tazali's Sharhe Nahju'l-Balagha, Volume 111, page 264, in which the same statement has been quoted from Jahiz that Abu Bakr's faith was superior to that of Ali. However, Abu Ja'far Askafi, one of the eminent ulema of the Mu'tazilite sect, rejected this claim, saying that Ali's faith was superior to Abu Bakr's and all other companions. Abu Ja'far said, "We do not deny the excellence of the companions, but certainly we do not consider any of them superior to Ali." Ali was of such an exalted rank that to mention his name along with other companions is unbecoming. In fact, the virtues of the companions cannot be compared with the sublime merits of Ali. Mir Seyyed Ali Hamadani narrates in his Mawadda VII from Ahmad Bin Muhammadu'l-Karzi Baghdadi, who said that he heard from Abdullah Bin Ahmad Bin Hanbal, who asked his father Ahmad Bin Hanbal about the rank of the companions of the Prophet. He named Abu Bakr, Umar, and Uthman and stopped. Abdullah then asked his father, "Where is the name of Ali Bin Abu Talib?" His father replied, "He belongs to the holy descendants of the Prophet. We cannot mention his name (being of such prominence) along with those people."

We see in the holy Qur'an that in the verse of Mubahila Ali is referred to as the 'self' of the Holy Prophet. There is a hadith in support of this view, which is recorded in the same Mawadda VII, narrated from Abdullah Bin Umar Bin Khattab. He said that one day while counting the names of the companions, he named Abu Bakr, Umar, and Uthman. A man said, "O Abu Abdu'r-Rahman! Why did you omit the name of Ali?" He replied: "Ali is one of the descendants of the Prophet. He cannot be included with anyone else. He is in the same category as the Prophet of Allah."

Let me relate another hadith from the same Mawadda. It is narrated from Jabir Bin Abdullah Ansari that one day in the presence of Muhajirs (Meccan emigrants living in Medina) and Ansars ("helpers" of Medina who received the Muslim emigrants into their community), that the Prophet said to Ali, "O Ali! If a man offers complete prayers to Allah, and then doubts that you and your family are superior to all other beings, his abode shall be Hell."

(After hearing this hadith, all those present, particularly Mr. Hafiz, showed repentance, lest they should be among the doubtful ones). I have referred to only a few hadith. Your choice seems to be to reject all these authentic hadith, which are recorded in your own books, or to acknowledge that Ali's faith was superior to that of all the companions, including Abu Bakr and Umar. I also ask you to consider the hadith (acknowledged by both sects) in which the Holy Prophet said on the occasion of Ghazawa-e-Ahzab (also known as the Battle of the Trench), when Ali killed Amru Ibn Abd-e-Wudd with one stroke of his sword: "One stroke of Ali in the Battle of Khandaq (the Trench) has earned more merit for him than the reward for good deeds of the whole community (jinn and men) until the Day of Judgement." If only one stroke of his sword was better in merit than the prayers of jinn and human beings combined, certainly his preeminence cannot be questioned by anyone except malicious fanatics.

ALI AS THE SELF OF THE HOLY PROPHET

Had there been no other proof of Ali's superiority to all the companions and to humanity at large, the verse of Mubahila is sufficient to prove his excellence. It refers to Ali as the 'self' of the Prophet. The Holy Prophet was admittedly superior to all of humanity from beginning to end. Hence, the word "anfusana" (ourselves) in the verse referring to Ali proves that he was also superior to all of humanity from beginning to end. Perhaps now you will admit that in the phrase "And those who are with him," the reference is to Ali. He was with the Prophet before anyone else from the beginning of Islam.

As to why Ali did not accompany the Prophet on the night of his migration from Mecca, it is clear that the Prophet entrusted Ali with more important duties. No one was as trustworthy as Ali. He was left behind to return to its owners the property entrusted to the Prophet. (Ali's second responsibility was to send members of the Prophet's family and other Muslims to Medina. And even though Ali was not with the Prophet in the cave that night, he performed a more important duty as he lay in the Prophet's bed.)

 

Mohammed's Hijret to Medeenah: He is followed by Aly

 

 

WHEN the Koraysh infidels saw that the cause of the prophet gained ground daily, and that all their plots to overthrow it availed nothing, and when they were informed of Mohammed's league with the Ansârees, (Allied converts of Medeenah) they assembled at Dâr-ul-Nedvah to deliberate what was to be done. They had an old custom of assembling at this place for consultation whenever any calamity befel them, and no one under forty years of age was admitted into the council of Dâr-uI-Nedvah. Here forty of the old Koraysh chiefs now met, and Shaytân, the accursed, in the form of an old man, attempted to enter. The doorkeeper stopped him, and demanded who he was. He replied that he was an old man of the tribe of Nejd, and added, you have need of my experience; on hearing that you were assembling to overthrow this man, I came to give my advice on the subject. The door keeper told him to enter. It is related that Shaytân four times assumed a human shape, but to return.

When the members of the council had taken their seats, Abujahl introduced the business by saying, O ye Koraysh, among all the Arab tribes there are none more noble than ourselves. We are the people of the house of God, and twice a year men come to us on pilgrimage from the utmost bounds of the earth, and they all honor us. We are in the house, and no one can molest or injure us. Such has always been our state, till Mohamnied-bin-Abdullah grew up among us. We called him Ameen, for his probity, calmness and truth, but when he arrived at maturity, and was in great esteem among us, he proclaimed himself the prophet of God, and affirms that he receives communications from heaven. Next he imputed to us stupidity, reviled and degraded our gods, corrupted our youth, and sowed division among our people. He declares that our departed ancestors are in fire, than which nothing can concern us more. In reference to him I have matured a certain plan. What is it? inquired the council. Abujahl continued, Let us send a man to kill him secretly, and if the Benee Hashim demand the price of blood, we will a the ransom tenfold. This is a miserable plan, said Shaytân. Why'? they inquired. Because, he resumed, whoever slays Mohammed will certainly be put to death, and who of you will consent to be killed on this account? When Mohammed is slain, the Benee Hâshim and their patrons of the tribe of Khuzah, will retaliate and never consent that the slayer of Mohammed should walk the earth. From this cause, in the sacred place there will be fighting among you till you all kill one another.

Several members of the council now proposed to build a prison in such a manner that no one could approach Mohammed, who should be shut up in it, and food thrown in to him through an aperture till he died. This plan, said Shaytân, is worse than the other, for as the Benee Hâshim will never consent to such a thing, at the season of pilgrimage they will appeal to the assembled Arab tribes, and procure his release. Have you another plan? concluded Shaytân. Atabah, Shaybah, and Abusufeeân answered, We will expel him from our country and attend to the worship of our own gods. Another tradition says they proposed to bind Mohammed upon a furious camel, and enrage the animal by piercing him with spears, that he might rush away and tear his rider to pieces among the mountains. This project is worse than either of the others, said Shaytân. If Mohammed leaves your country alive, as he is more beautiful and eloquent than any other man, by the sweetness of his tongue, and the plausibility of his address, he will deceive all the Arab tribes, and bringing against you such armies of horse and foot as you cannot withstand, will annihilate you.

Being now at their wits' end, they said to Shaytân, O Shaykh, what is your advice in this matter? My scheme, said he, is that from every tribe agreeing in your object, you select one or more persons, and bring over one man of the Benee Hâshim to join you, and let the whole company thus appointed take their weapons and all at once smite him to death, that his blood may be so widely diffused that the Benee Hâshim will be utterly unable to demand satisfaction for it, because they cannot oppose all the tribes. Should they require the price of blood, then pay them the ransom three-fold. We will give ten ransoms, rejoined the council; adding, The shaykh of Nejd has proposed the right plan. Shaykh Toosee says Abujahl offered this scheme, and that it was approved by Shaytân; whichever way it was, this plan was agreed on, and the council broke up. Of the Benee Hàshim, Abulaheb was brought into this plot. The Most High then communicated this verse, warning the prophet, "And call to mind when the unbelievers plotted against thee, that they might either detain thee in bonds, or put thee to death, or expel thee from the city; and they plotted against thee: but God laid a plot against them; and God is the best layer of plots." (Surah 8:30) Having made the arrangement to rush into Mohammed's house at night and kill him, they came to the sacred mesjid, and whistled and clapped their hands and jumped about the Kabah. At night the party came to assassinate the prophet, but Abulaheb would not consent to their entering till the next morning, saying, There are women and children here, and I am not sure some mistake may not occur.

When the Koraysh had completed their plot for killing the prophet, Jibrâeel descended and gave him information of the matter, and communicated to him the divine command to flee to Medeenah. Mohammed called Aly, and imparted to him the tidings of Jibrâeel, and added, The Most High commands me to-night to escape to the cave of Soor. Sleep to-night in my place, that it may not be known I have gone. The commander of the faithful inquired, O prophet of God, will your safety be secured by my sleeping in your place? On being answered in the affirmative, Aly laughed, thanked God for the privilege of exposing his own life to save that of the prophet, and fell in adoration, and this was the first prostration of thanksgiving that was made in islâm. Aly laid the side of his face on the ground, and when he raised his head, he said, Go wherever God has commanded you; let me be your sacrifice. Order what you please, and on my life I will do it, and in this and in every other matter I supplicate grace of God. The prophet replied, God will conform you to my likeness: then sleep on my carpet, and put my Hazrem cloak over you. Know, Aly, that the Most High tries his friends in proportion to their faith and their rank, therefore the trials and calamities of prophets are greater than all others, and those most like them receive the next degree of trial. O brother, God has tried you, and lie tries me on your account, as He tried Ibrâheein, the Friend, and his son Ismaeel. It is more grievous to me thus to expose you to the daggers of my enemies, than it was for Ibrâheein to lay down Ismaeel to slay him. Your perfect readiness to be exposed is greater than Ismaeel's voluntary submissiveness to the knife of his affectionate father. Endure faithfully, O brother, for the mercy of God is nigh those that do well.

Mohammed and Aly having mutually embraced each other, with flowing tears parted, and Jibrâeel led the prophet out of the house which the Koraysh had already surrounded. The prophet recited this verse: "And we have set a bar before them, and a bar behind them; and we have covered them with darkness; wherefore they shall not see." (Surah 36:8) The Most High had sent a sleep upon them, so they did not perceive the prophet's departure; and he cast a handful of dust at them, saying, Ugly be your faces! doing thus by your own prophet. One tradition says they were awake, and God covered their eyes that they did not see. Jibrâeel now directed the prophet to go to Mount Soor, and conceal himself in the cave. Meanwhile Aly was lying in Mohammed's place and cloak. In that period the houses of Mekkah were without doors, and the walls were low. The Koraysh infidels therefore saw Aly, and mistaking him for the prophet, threw stones at him. Both sheeahs and sunnees relate that the following verse was communicated in commendation of Aly on the night he exposed his life to save that of the prophet: "There is also a man who selleth his soul for the sake of those things which are pleasing unto God." (Surah 2:203) Some traditions declare that God sent Jibrâeel and Meekâeel to protect Aly.

When the prophet was departing for the cave of Soor, he met Abubekr and took him along, through fear of his doing harm, or for some other reason. Hind-bin-Abyhâlah also went with Mohammed, who, on arriving at the cave, retained Abubekr and sent back Hind on some business. Another tradition is, that Abubekr saw Mohammed departing, and pursued him, who, apprehending it was one of the Koraysh, hastened on, but struck his blessed foot against a stone and bruised it. He was much troubled at being pursued, till at length Abubekr came up and the prophet took him along from sheer necessity.

When morning dawned, the Koraysh infidels drew their swords and ran upon the commander of the faithful, Khâlid-bin-Valeed being in advance of the rest. That lion of God, Aly, leaped up, and seizing Khâlid by the arm, wrung it so that he bellowed like a camel. He then caught the sword of Khâlid, and presented so bold a front to his assailants, that they all fled. When he had driven them out and they knew it was Aly, they said to him, We have nothing to do with you, where is Mohammed? He replied, You did not commit him to me: you wished to expel him, and he has gone away of himself.

One tradition says that the Koraysh not finding Mohammed, beat Aly till his body was black, chained and locked him up, and set a woman to watch him while they pursued after Mohammed. Aly then heard voices at which his sorrows fled, his chains fell off, the door opened and he came out. Another tradition says they hit Aly with a stone and waked him, on which he said, Why do you so? when, recognizing his voice, they said, We have nothing to do with this poor fellow beguiled by Mohammed. Aly retorted with the boast that if a part of his understanding were divided among all the idiots and lunatics of the world, they would all become intelligent; and if the same were done with his strength and valor, all the weak and cowardly would become champions, and added that he would kill all his assailants if he had not been forbidden to do so. Mohammed afterwards speaking to him of his bold dealing with his assailants, assured him that God made his voice so loud that all the Hoorees of paradise heard him, and importuned the Most High to make them Aly's wives. He replied they should be divided between Aly and his followers.

The Koraysh finding that the prophet had escaped them, sent parties in all directions after him. Abujahl ordered it to be proclaimed about Mekkah, that whoever would produce Mohammed or show where he was, he, Abujahl, would give such person a reward of one hundred camels. At last they sent for Abukarez of Khazauh, whose profession was that of tracing people, which he was able to do with the greatest certainty. They said to him, If you do us the favor we seek, we shall always be under obligation to you. Find out the track of Mohammed, and where he has gone, that we may pursue him. Abukarez soon made the first discovery, and said, This is the track of Mohammed's foot, and is the sister of that imprinted in the place of Ibrâheem; that is, the foot of the prophet is like that of Ibrâheem-Khaleel. And here, continued the searcher, is the track of another who has gone with Mohammed: this must be either Abukâhafah, or his son Abubekr.

Abukarez led the pursuers to the cave, where they saw that, by divine command and the miraculous power of the prophet, a spider had woven its web over the entrance, and a pair of doves, or, as one tradition has it, of partridges, had built a nest there and laid an egg. On seeing these things, they said, Mohammed came here, but did not enter the cave. If he had entered, the spider's web would have been torn, and the birds would not have settled here. He has either gone up to heaven, or down into the earth. God had sent an angel, who stood in the entrance and said to the Koraysh, There is no one in this cave, disperse among these defiles. Other accounts say that Mohammed called a tree, which blocked up the entrance; or again, that the passage was very narrow, and having opened to admit Mohammed, returned again to its impassable size. These accounts proceed to say that Abubekr was so much alarmed at the approach of the Koraysh, that he wished to go and join them, being with them in heart, and a man stooping down with his face towards the cave, Abubekr exclaimed, We are discovered. No, said Mohammed, the man would not have done thus if he had seen us. The prophet then miraculously opened a passage through the side of the cave, and showed Abubekr a ship ready to waft them away should the Koraysh enter.

It is related that the prophet remained three days in the cave, during which time Aly made arrangements for his journey to Medeenah, and carried him food and water. Three camels being provided for Mohammed, Abubekr, and a guide, the prophet left the commander of the faithful to settle his accounts with the Koraysh, for formerly much property had been entrusted to him for safe keeping, and his fidelity had acquired him the title of Ameen, the True. Pilgrims also, who came to Mekkah, trusted him in like manner, which was continued after his assumption of the prophetical office. Mohammed at parting directed Aly to go morning and evening to Abtah, and there cry with a loud voice, Whoever has any trust in the hands of Mohammed, let him come to me and receive it. Restore these trusts publicly, said Mohammed. I constitute you my khaleefah with my daughter Fâtimah, and commit you both to God. Get camels ready to carry yourself and wife, and your mother Fâtimah, and all the Benee Hâshim who wish to accompany you. The prophet gave him other charges, and ordered him to start immediately for Medeenah on the receipt of a letter he should receive from him. Mohammed then departed for Medeenah.

Abdullah-bin-Areekat pasturing his sheep near the cave, the prophet said to him, If I should trust my head to you, would you protect me and take me safely by some by-road to Medeenah? I knew, replied Abdullah, from the signs of the spider's web and the doves' nest, that you were a prophet. I have believed in you, and will protect and attend you wherever you go, and on my life, will convey you safely to Medeenah by a way in which no one shall see you. They then departed for Medeenah.

Shaykh Toosee relates that on Wednesday night, the first of the month of Rabeei-ul-evvel, in the thirteenth year of the prophetship, Mohammed fled to the cave, and Aly slept in his place, and on the fourth night of the month, he started for Medeenah, performing many miracles on his way thither, as was stated in the chapter on miracles. The same authority relates that the prophet, on his arrival at Medeenah, alighted at a place called Kubâ, near the tribe of Benee-Amerbin-Auf. Abubekr said to him, Enter Medeenah, for the people expect you. He replied, I will not enter the city till my brother Aly and my daughter Fâtimah arrive; and Abubekr, after still urging him in vain, left him and entered the city. 

The Demise of Abu-Talib

 

It is related that after the Benee Hâshim had lived four years, by another account three years, and by another still two years, in the defile, the Most High sent a worm against that cursed league of the Koraysh, which they had placed in the Kabah, and utterly cleared the parchment of every word except the name of God which was written on it. Jibrâeel communicated this fact to the prophet, who reported it to Abutâlib. At these celestial tidings, the chieftain dressed and started for the Kabah, where he found the Koraysh chiefs assembled. On seeing Abutâlib, they said to one another, He is now reduced to the necessity of surrendering Mohammed to us. At his approach they rose and treated him with the greatest deference and respect, and said, We perceive you have come to unite your counsels with ours and deliver your nephew to us. No, indeed! said Abutâlib, I come for no such purpose; but my nephew, who never lies, has assured me that the Most High has sent a worm that has totally effaced your cursed league, and obliterated the tyrannical and unjust compact into which you entered, and that nothing remains on the parchment but the name of God. Produce it now: if Mohammed's declarations herein prove true, then fear God, and turn from your oppressive and unmerciful doings: if what he has asserted is false, I will deliver him to you, and if you please put him to death. They agreed that this was an equitable proposition, and bringing the parchment from the Kàbah, they found the seals perfect, but when they opened the instrument, it appeared in just the state Mohammed had described. The Koraysh hung their heads, while Abutâlib warmly exhorted them to fear God and leave off their tyranny. Several of them now rose and declared they were heartily sick of the league, and it was agreed to tear the sheet on which it had been written, notwithstanding Abujahl's efforts to have it reestablished.

The Benee Hâshim now left the fastness, and returned to their houses, and two months after this event, Abutâlib fell sick. When the prophet visited him and saw he was soon to depart, he said, O my uncle, you brought me up in infancy, assisted me in manhood, and supplied my wants in my orphan state. May God, on my account, grant you the best rewards. I ask one word from you that my eyes may be enlightened. The object of the prophet in this was, that it might be publicly known that Abutâlib was a Musulmân, though he had not openly professed islam, that he might more effectually serve Mohammed. Abutâlib now repeated the kalemah or creed, declared his faith in islam, and after committing to Mohammed the relics of the prophets, and the covenant of Ibrâheem, departed to the eternal God. The prophet attended his remains to the tomb, and wept, saying, 0 my uncle, your kindred kindness has been unceasing, may God give you a good reward I It is well known that Abutâlib's death occurred in the tenth year of Mo. hammned's prophetical mission. Thirty-five days after that melancholy event, or, according to some, three days afterwards, Khadeejah departed to the holy world. By these calamities, one speedily following the other, the prophet was grievously afflicted. Both of these individuals had been his vizeers, assistants, and helpers in promoting islam, and were his companions in most pressing adversities.

It is related that the death of Abutâlib occurred on the twenty- sixth of the month of Rejeb, in the last part of the tenth year of the prophetical mission of Mohammed, and Khadeejah dying three days afterwards, the prophet named that the year of grief. When Khadeejah was near her departure to the eternal world, the prophet visited her and said, To me it is a heavy burden to see you thus, but when you arrive among your fellow-wives give them my salutation. Who are they? She inquired. He replied, Maryam, the daughter of Imràn, Kulsoom, the sister of Moosâ, and Aseeah the wife of Faroun, all of whom, with yourself, will be my wives in paradise. May the union be blessed, added Khadeejah.

It is well known that Khadeejah was sixty-five years old when she died. The prophet buried her at Hajoon. He entered the grave himself to lay her in it. After the death of Abutâlib, Jibrâeel descended and directed Mohammed to depart out of Mekkah, for no one was left able to defend him from the Koraysh, who were becoming more exasperated against him. Accordingly he left the city, and repaired to a mountain near Mekkah, called Hajoon. Before this he had preached publicly, and in private houses, sometimes, however, being unable to appear without having obtained the protection of a powerful man. In this, the tenth year of his mission, he married Auyeshah, the daughter of Abubekr, and Soodah, the daughter of Zamah.

 

 

 

 


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2011-07-23 15:53:44