By Qadi Bohlool Bahjat Âfandi
As is evident from our discussion, the superiority and caliphate of Ali bin Abi Talib (a s) was an established matter – but it’s a pity that this issue caused adverse consequences. Thus, when the Holy Prophet (saw) expired, while Ali bin Abi Talib (a s) was busy with the funeral arrangements, the event of Saqifah Bani Saaedah occurred and Caliphate was transferred to Abu Bakr, even though all the companions were aware of its adverse effects in the future. Thus Imam Muhammad Bukhari in Sahih Bukhari describes the events surrounding the last illness of the Messenger of Allah (saw) in the following words: Ibn Abbas said, “Thursday! What (a great calamity) took place on Thursday!” Then he started weeping till his tears moistened the gravels of the ground. Then he said, “On Thursday the illness of Allah’s Apostle was aggravated and he said, “Fetch me a pen and ink so that I may write something for you, after which you will never go astray.”
The people (present there) differed in this matter and people should not differ before a prophet. They said, “Allah’s Apostle is seriously sick.” The Prophet said, “Let me alone, as the state in which I am now, is better than what you are calling me for.” No one can deny the Hadith quoted above.
Many of the Sunni and Shia scholars have recorded this tradition and also commented upon it. The greatest commentator of Bukhari, Allamah Aini and the Commentator of Mishkat and Mirqat, Allamah Ali al-Qari, has written exegesis of this tradition. But they have not dared to comment upon its after effects and instead blindly followed their predecessors.
However we shall examine it in brief: This incident had such disastrous effects on the world of Islam that even today the minds of Muslims are not free from its impact. For if the Holy Prophet (saw) had indeed written a bequest specifying his chosen successor, the Muslim nation would not have been torn apart into sects till the day of Qiyamat.
They would have been safe from deviation. But Umar did not allow the Prophet (saw) to fulfil his wishes and said, “The intensity of fever have overcome the Prophet (s.a.) and Quran is sufficient for us.” Here we pose a question to Umar al-Khattab, “When Abu Bakr was writing the will to appoint you as the Caliph, why did you not say, ‘Quran is sufficient for us, there is no need to write anything else’?
But you dared to say this to the Holy Prophet (saw)?” The answer to this is clear: Umar was silent because Abu Bakr was going to appoint him the caliph whereas the Holy Prophet (saw) would have written the name of Ali (a s)!
But the courage of a scholar cannot bear such tragedies. Just as when Abu Bakr was appointed as the Caliph and Ali (a s) was informed of this, he rushed to the Mosque to prove his own claim for the successorship of the Prophet (saw) – all the companions expressed great regret and said, “O Abul Hasan! If at all we had been aware of this we would never have paid allegiance to anyone else.”
Hazrat Ali (a s) said, “Is it proper that leaving the purified mortal remains of the Prophet (saw), I rush for Caliphate? I had not imagined that even a single person of the Ummah considered us undeserving for caliphate.” After this incident, Abu Bakr was regretful for having accepted the Caliphate, but his coterie ensured that he does not forgo the Caliphate.
Ali (a s) did not pay allegiance to Abu Bakr and returned home. Bani Hashim also gathered in the house of Ali (a s). Thereafter, Umar bin Khattab came with a group of people at the door of Ali (a s) to demand allegiance for Abu Bakr. The partisans of Ali (a s) rejected his demands. Due to this Umar collected firewood. Hazrat Fatima Zahra (s.a.) asked, “O Umar! Would you burn down my house?” Zubair, a partisan of Ali (a s), attacked Umar and his companions with a sword. Umar ordered that Zubair be subdued. Salmah rushed to Zubair and snatched the sword from his hand. They dragged Ali (a s) to the mosque to pay allegiance to Abu Bakr. Here we shall only mention the most authentic narration of the Ahle Sunnat. If we intend to relate all the narrations, any conscientious scholar would require volcanic courage to defend it.
The Second Tumult
In this way, Abu Bakr occupied the Caliphate seat and at the time of his death appointed Umar bin Khattab for the caliphate. Indeed Abu Bakr was indebted to Umar for his support and thus wanted him to ascend the caliphate. This was a sort of understanding between these two caliphs.
Umar, who had not felt the necessity for the Holy Prophet (saw) to write a bequest, accepted the written will of Abu Bakr with all readiness! Abu Bakr died and Umar became the Caliph. Allamah Ibne Abde Rabb writes in the third volume of his book Iqdul Farid that at the time of his death the first caliph said, “I have committed some acts that I wish I had not done and I left out some actions that I wish I had performed them.
First: I did not ask the one who was deserving of Caliphate and appointed by the Prophet (s.a.w.a). If I had but asked him!
Second and third: I had defended so and so person. I wish I hadn’t. Fourth: I accepted the caliphate. I should have refused it! Fifth: I wish I hadn’t sent people to Fatima’s house to forcibly secure Ali’s allegiance. Sixth: I should have given Fadak to Fatimah and not confiscated it.”
The writer of this book Qadi Bahjat says, ‘We also wish that he hadn’t performed any of these acts. But the verdict regarding this matter is clear. Perhaps the Ahle Sunnat scholars and jurists are astonished at these statements! But instead of being astonished by such confessions, they should refer to the following important books for details: Sahih Bukhari, Ibne Khaldun, Iqdul Farid, Aghani, Daaeratul Ma’arif, etc. Yes! The matter will be clear if these books are studied carefully. Sincere research will lead us to the correct path. (Historical research will find its own way).
The Third Turmoil: The Six-Member Consultative Committee (Shura)
At the time of his death, the Second Caliph left the matter of Caliphate between six persons. Yes! This had to happen because whenever anyone strays away from his natural path, then it is necessary that their conditions will change for the worse and they will fall into trouble.
But with reference to this Shura, we shall present some explanation and derive conclusions from it. We shall prove that this was absolutely in contravention to Quran, hadith and Ijma. Please note! I request you to ponder deeply on this matter: It is very clear that the Second Caliph appointed such persons to the Shura to ensure that Hazrat Ali (a s) does not attain caliphate. Because Abdur Rahman bin Auf, for his worldly gains, despaired of Ali (a s) and sided with Uthman.
Sa’ad bin Abi Waqqaas was his cousin and held the same views. Since Talha bin Abdullah was from the Bani Tamim, he did not vote for Ali (a s). Finally Uthman considered himself the most deserving for the post!
Thus, from the members of Shura, Ali (a s) only had the support of Zubair. This situation has been elucidated by Amirul Momineen (a s) in Nahjul Balaghah using metaphors and similes. But we have heard the oft-mentioned traditions that the Second Caliph said, “If Ali hadn’t been there, Umar would have perished.” Notwithstanding his confession at Ghadeer Khum, “Without Ali, Umar did not take a decision. Congratulations to Abul Hasan! You have become my master and the master of all believing men and women.”
Astounding! Though he confesses that if Ali (a s) had not been present, he would have perished and in the absence of that lofty personality, Umar never took a decision, and even after accepting the fact that Ali (a s) was the master of all believers, Umar acted in a manner opposed to it.
What type of a contradictory behaviour is it and how terrible consequences emerged from it? There are such shameful pages of history that I am unable to quote them.
Yes! The result of this contradictory action was that Abdul Rehman in a gesture of flattery, appointed Uthman bin Affan to Caliphate! Masoor bin Mukhrema, the nephew (sister’s son) of Abdur Rahman, reports, “This time we had not imagined that anyone except Ali bin Abi Talib will be the Caliph. We were sure that the next day we will see Ali at the seat of Caliphate. But my uncle Abdur Rahman went from door to door and mobilized the support of people like Amr-e-Aas and Mughirah bin Shu’bah.
At dawn, we heard that Uthman and not Ali (a s) had attained the Caliphate!” Inter alia, we can comment on the statement of Ghazali that he said: Justifying the deeds of the companions is necessary. But I say, “Justification or no justification –each character is recorded in history and we can simply refer to it. I don’t consider the beliefs of Ghazali to be an obstacle in the fulfilment of my duty to justify or run down someone’s deeds because history is itself the judge of the time.
On the Seat of Caliphate
After innumerable seditions and tragedies and through immense persuasion, Hazrat Amirul Momineen (a s), accepted the seat of Caliphate. But when one considers the importance of the Caliphate and Imamat of Ali (a s), he sees that all the opposing parties had come together to support the Caliphate of Ali (a s).
One of the points derived from the above discussion is that the persons who were the ardent supporters of Ali (a s) for Caliphate were Talha and Zubair. They had supported him with the hope that they shall be rewarded with the governorships of Kufa and Basra. But eventually, when their hopes dwindled, on the pretext of visiting Makkah, they left Madinah and came to Ayesha. Ayesha had also harboured animosity against Ali (a s), and thus these two succeeded to win her support, which culminated in the battle of Jamal that was the first armed conflict among the Muslims.
Battle of Jamal
Every action of a person is based on his inner feelings. But the most influential emotion is jealousy, a trait more dominant among women. Ayesha was Fatima Zahra’s (s.a.) stepmother and indeed, Ayesha did behave like one.
On this juncture we shall quote some portions from the books, Sahih Bukhari, Muslim and Tirmidhi.
In Sahih Bukhari and Muslim:
‘I have not been jealous of anyone like I was of Khadijah (a s)- Ayesha’
In Bukhari and Muslim:
‘I had not been jealous of any of the wives of the Prophet (saw) except Khadijah (a s). And I had not seen her. But the Prophet praised her often and I used to say to him, “It seems there is no one except Khadijah (a s) in the world.”- Ayesha”
The Sihah-e-Sittah (six books of Ahle Sunnat) has revealed the following from Urwah and Zubair, the nephew of Ayesha, who said, “I did not envy any woman like I envied Khadijah (a s).” “I did not feel jealous of any of the wives of the Prophet (saw) as much as I did of Khadijah (a s) though I did not see her. But the Prophet (saw) used to mention her very often, and whenever he slaughtered a sheep, he would distribute a part of it among the friends of Khadijah (a s). I sometimes said to him, “(You treat Khadijah (a s) in such a way) as if there is no woman on earth except her.”
The meaning of the Hadith is clear. Ayesha confesses that the jealousy and hatred she harboured for Khadijah (a s) was not for other wives of the Prophet (saw). This was because the Messenger of Allah (saw) never left the house without the mention of Khadijah (a s)’s praise. In retaliation, Ayesha told the Prophet (saw), “Khadijah (a s) was an aged woman, while Allah has bestowed you with better women in her stead.” This infuriated the Messenger of Allah (saw) and he retorted, “Allah has not given me better wives in lieu of Khadijah (a s).”
If I quote all the Hadith quoted in Jamiul Fawaid from Bukhari and Muslim and Al-Isabah from Imam Nisaai, the matter will be clear but we will be straying from our aim. Thus, a clue is sufficient for the wise. The above matter mentioned was an example of the fact that the emotion of jealousy and avarice, which is generally prevalent among women, was the cause of enmity between Ali (a s) and Ayesha. Thus, the first cause to instigate Ayesha for this undesirable event was her nephew Zubair.
But the second cause was even more serious. Zubair nursed a great ambition for rule; therefore he instigated Ayesha to serve him as his tool to fulfill his ambition and to establish another caliphate instead of the Caliphate of Ali (a s). When Ayesha heard the barking of the dogs at Hawwab, she became penitent and wanted to retract her steps but Zubair persuaded her to remain with them. He even told her that he would commit suicide if she returned. He also swore falsely that the name of that village was not Hawwab! Abdullah Ibne Zubair was so dominated his own father to such an extent that he even used to lead him in prayers.
Yes, Talha and Zubair with Ayesha raised a standard of revolt against Ali (a s) at Basra. They were supported by Marwan and Utbah. The advices of Ali (a s) to refrain from confrontation fell on deaf ears. After the completion of proof, he became busy in fighting the enemies. And those who had sown the seed of dissension began to reap the fruits of defeat. Talha and Zubair were killed at the hands of the supporters of Ali (a s).
The lady (Ayesha) was sent back to her quarters with great regret after she had blatantly acted against the Quranic command (to the wives of the Prophet (saw)) “And stay in your houses. (Surah Ahzaab)” The incident will be presented in brief. But I consider it necessary to say that the scholars (of the Ahle Sunnat) remember the instigators of battle of Jamal with reverence.
It seems that not only that they in their historical life have given birth of insult and degradation, but they have even taught that in spite of these great evils, they do not consider them responsible for the crimes perpetrated by them. But we say that being in a group of companions neither washes his crimes nor erases his sins from his account of deeds.
Rather, since the companions were so near to the light of prophethood, they are more responsible for their crimes and sins. And in the beginning of this book we have mentioned this with many examples. It is very clear that as soon as Ayesha and Talha heard that people have revolted against Uthman and wanted to slay him, they began to instigate them more. When a group of people killed Uthman, Ayesha was in Makkah. She rushed to Madinah in joy. The moment she heard the news of the Caliphate of Ali (a s) she turned back to Makkah and gathered all the characters who harboured enmity against the Holy Prophet (saw) like Ya’la bin Munnabah, Abdullah bin Aamir, Sa’ad bin Aas, etc.
And it is again clear that whatever these people do will indeed be greater crimes. It is also obvious that if the battle of Jamal had not occurred, it was very likely that even the battles of Naharwan and Siffeen would not have taken place. Thus, opening the door of mischief, sowing the seeds of dissension in the Ummah, instigating and initiating controversies, fighting the Imam of the Muslims, creating disunity in the United Jamat (group), killing thousands of people, sending them to the gallows, etc., are all evil acts, regardless of the subject who has committed them.
They deserve curse and criticism and are inscribed in the pages of history as unpardonable sins and shall remain so till the day of Judgement. They shall always be condemned and castigated. Objection: The perpetrators of the battle of Jamal had repented and later, sought divine forgiveness. Reply: It is only Allah who can bestow forgiveness.
But the matter of forgiveness is related to the day of judgement. What we are concerned with is the sedition and insurrection that has actually occurred and clearly recorded in history. Objection: The people who caused the battle of Jamal were great companions, who waged wars alongside the Prophet (saw).
They have been remembered with praise and satisfaction in the Quran! Reply: The perpetrator of the battle of Naharwan, Harqoos bin Zuhair and his followers had some of the great companions, who were also present at the oath of Ridwan. Then why have they qualified for curse and criticism? But we shall gradually come to the conclusion that there was no difference whatsoever, between the perpetrators of the battles of Jamal, Naharwan and Siffeen. They all are equally accountable. Now let us move to the sequel of Battle of Jamal that is Siffeen.
Battle of Siffeen
The chief of the Kharijis was Harqoos bin Zuhair and they had gathered at Naharwan. Despite fighting so many battles prior to this one, Ali (a s) managed to mobilise his forces and routed the Kharijis. It’s a real pity that the refuge of Imamat and the strong pillar of the world of Islam found obstacles at every step. And these steps would have surely led to the prosperity of the
Muslims in this world as well as the hereafter. Unfortunately, it could not produce the results it should have. This is the reason that its bitter effects remain till date. A tragedy indeed!
Martyrdom and Destruction:
Efforts to destroy this rebellious group became the cause of Imam’s martyrdom and a tragedy and destruction for the Muslim Ummah. A woman named Qatama, who lived in Kufa helped a
Kharjiite, Abdur Rahman bin Muljim, who attacked Ali (a s) with a poisoned sword while he was praying at the Kufa mosque. Ali (a s) succumbed to his injury after two days and the Muslim nation was immersed in untold calamities.
Although we have already proved the superiority and caliphate of Ali (a s), here we shall only mention two points: After the Holy Prophet (saw), Ali (a s) was the greatest leader of the Muslims. At the time of his martyrdom he was years old. During the lifetime of Hazrat Fatima Zahra (s.a.), he did not have another wife.
Hasan, Husain, Mohsin (stillborn), Zainab and Umme Kulsoom were born from her. After the demise of Hazrat Fatima (s.a.) Ali (a s) married a few women. The first of them was Yamama, daughter of Zainab bint Jahsh, daughter of Prophet (s.a.). Ali (a s) married her according to the bequest of Fatima Zahra (s.a.). The second wife of Ali (a s) was Asma binte Umais and third, Ummul Baneen the mother of Hazrat Abbas (a s).
The fourth one was a lady of Bani Hanifa who became the mother of Muhammad Ibne Hanafiya. Apart from the children of Fatima Zahra (s.a.), Hazrat Abbas (a s) and Muhammad Ibne Hanafiya became famous. Ali ibn Abi Talib (a s) was the father of Ummah because the Messenger of Allah (saw) had said:
“O Ali I and you are the fathers of this Ummah.” Yes! Just as Ali (a s) is the father of the Ummah in the same way he was the master of all rational and traditional sciences. Thus Ibne Abil Hadeed says that if we see all the sciences and knowledge that are extant in this blessed Ummah, we will realize that they have been shaped and developed by Ali (a s).
For example: The science of exegesis, jurisprudence, principles of Islamic law, grammar, syntax, etymology, poetry, algebra, geometry, etc. were available in the personality of Ali (a s). Nahjul Balaghah is a prime witness to the eloquence of Ali (a s) and the collection of his poetry indicates his excellence in literature. Amirul Momineen (a s) possessed such knowledge that was not found in anyone else – Ilme Jafr that was the sole prerogative of Ali (a s) and his respected descendants (Imams).
The books Durrul Maknoon by the doyen of Sufis Shaikh Muhyuddin Arabi and Durrul Munazzam by Shaykh Kamaluddin Shafei have mentioned that knowledge was especially reserved for the Aale Muhammad and the heirs of Imamat till Hazrat Qaem (a s). It is not our aim to discuss it over here. To obtain the treasure of sciences, it is sufficient to say that Ali (a s) said: “If I want, I can load 70 camels with the exegesis of Surah Fatiha.” And also said: “Ask me! Before you lose me. ”
It is clear that if after the passing away of the Holy Prophet (saw) if the political conditions had favoured Ali (a s) and if there hadn’t been such terrible obstacles, the Muslim Ummah would have scaled heights of righteousness and accomplishment.
Ali, the great, who had single-handedly slain half the enemies at Badr, who alone did not flee in Uhud, on the day of ditch (Khandaq) who alone released the Muslims from fear and dread of Amr ibne Abdawod, whose each stroke was more valuable than the combined worship acts of men and jinn, who uprooted the gate of the fort when there was a general feeling of despair among Muslims at Khaibar, etc.
The achievements of this noble personality are so many that they cannot be enumerated. He bestowed Islam with splendour and firmness. Is it proper that such a versatile personality should be forced to sit in gloom and inactivity for a long period of twenty-five years? How true was Ali’s (a s) refrain,
“Every grudge that the Quraish harboured against the Holy Prophet (saw) was avenged from me and after me it will continue against my progeny. What did I have against the Quraish except that I killed them on the command of Allah and His Messenger (saw)? Is it the reward of obeying Allah and His Messenger (saw)?” How nice it would be if people begin to think on these lines!
Translation from Persian: Syed Athar Husain Rizvi