By Qadi Bohlool Bahjat Âfandi
In this book we were content to quote only two verses of the Holy Quran, one of which has made it compulsory for the Muslims to love Ali (a.s.), his pure spouse Fatima Zahra (s.a.) and their two sons (a.s.). It is not possible to imagine anyone else possessing such a merit. The second verse has certified the purity and infallibility of the ‘Ahle Kisa’ (people of the cloak). They were five in all, Ali (a.s.) being one of them; that is, he was next to the holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.).
Whatever merits were present in the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.), the same should be expected to be present in Ali (a.s.). Such as the virtues of infallibility and inerrancy were parts of the personality of the holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.). It is such a merit that nothing greater is possible in human beings. Now let us consider the traditions of the holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.): Indeed one kind of the traditional proofs is the traditions of the Prophet (s.a.w.a.). We have mentioned the traditions that prove the superiority of Ali (a.s.) and are accepted by the Muslims. All the scholars have accepted their authenticity. But since it is not possible to quote all such traditions, we are content to quote only a few of them; mainly those recorded in the books of Sahih Muslim and Sahih Bukhari.
These traditions conclusively prove that Ali (a.s.) was the most superior personality of the Ummah. Also from the aspect of the art of argumentation, it is confirmed that a proof is not higher to the thing that it proves. Apart from this we have delved further into our study and quoted the discussion of Mamoon with the scholars of Baghdad.
In this discussion, Mamoon succeeded in proving the superiority of Ali (a.s.) to the scholars present in the assembly. It was age of religious Scholars and jurists of the Ahle Sunnat. Especially the period of Scholars like Abu Yusuf Muhammad bin Hasan Shaibani, Rafar, Shafei, Ahmad bin Hanbal etc, who were the 59 religious judges of their time and jurisprudence was developed by them.
Here, we would like to pose a query to rational and judicious people: On what proof has Allamah Nasafi based his assertion? Any claim without proof is nothing but dogmatism. What merit was not present in Ali (a.s.) that was found in some other person and that could make him superior to Ali (a.s.)? There was no such merit and reason and tradition both testify to it.
The statement of Allamah Nasafi that superiority of the Caliphs is in the order of succession, is a claim without proof and a dictum without evidence. Let us consider this in detail: Yes! We see that so and so is a learned person and such and such is Caliph while another one is a King.
As these qualities are obvious and can been seen and heard, you decide and pass a judgement on them. But to say that a certain person is superior to another is a difficult claim because if superiority denotes nearness to Allah and the reward of the hereafter, then only Allah is aware of such a person.
We human beings are not at all qualified to make such announcements (as it is beyond the scope of our limited knowledge). However if Allahand His Prophet (s.a.w.a.) have issued such statements in favour of a certain person, we have to believe in it. For in this case, it is the knowledge and assertion of Allah, and we are only acting upon it. If in case superiority implies the fulfilment of some deeds like sincere testimony to the oneness of God, fighting jihad for the sake of Allah and possessing extensive knowledge, piety and nearness to the Prophet (s.a.w.a.), then from all these aspects, we have proved that Ali (a.s.) was way ahead of the people of this Ummah. His good deeds were much higher than those of other Muslims. Traditions that are accepted and considered reliable by all scholars are presented by us for the readers.
The holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) said, “A single sword strike of Ali on the day of the ditch was superior to the combined worship acts of men and jinn 60 till the day of Qiyamat.” We have quoted this Hadith previously to prove our point but here we consider it a necessary duty to mention again.
Just as the Ahle Sunnat scholars read this treatise, they will raise objections and cry foul, “Fie on him! He has opposed the early scholars and refuted the Book of Aqaid (beliefs), falsified the statements of scholars and Mujtahids! O people, you can see that this person has become a ‘Rafidi’. He has denied the virtues and status of the Caliphs and not accepted their superiority.” Such allegations will be piled on me and accusations like, ‘O people do not believe a word of what he says because whatever the early scholars have stated must be accepted without reservation’, will fly fast and hard.
It is obligatory on us to follow the early scholars in toto. What they did not say, does not qualify to be accepted by you because the door of Ijtehad is closed! And so on and so forth.” All the objections mentioned above shall be replied as follows:
Firstly: At the outset, I plead to all the Muslim brothers to forgo blind imitation and bias, and strive to analyse and research in a judicious manner.
Secondly: If they say, ‘This person has opposed and objected to the early scholars.’ We reply, ‘Statements of faith and belief are brought to us by the holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) and he brought them to us from the Almighty. No one could refute them. But what we have objected to is not received from the holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.), as proved by us many times. On the basis of this we have not dared to disprove them.
Thirdly: If they say: He had rejected and refuted the Book of Aqaid. In reply I say: The actual Islamic beliefs have been explained and expounded by the Holy Prophet (s.a.) and no one can deny and refute them because they were brought to us from the Creator of the Universe. However, whatever we have refuted 61was not brought by the Holy Prophet (s.a.).So our rejection does not amount to the rejection of Islamic beliefs.
Fourthly: If our objecting is deemed to be ‘Rafd’ (turning away) ( a derogatory term used for Shiism; Raafedi for Shias), we reply as follows: All those who were even slightly inclined to Ahle Bait (a.s.) were given the tag of ‘Rafidi’ by the cahoots of Bani Abbas and Bani Umayyah. This ignorant practice continues to this day. Such allegations were also heaped upon Imam Shafei, the well-known Sunni scholar. Even if it is proved correct, far from being a crime, ‘Rafd’ should be considered a great virtue.
The following report is quoted regarding Shafei: Sharif Noorudddin Ali Samhoodi in the book Jawahirul Aqdain writes: (I have quoted the text of the report and later quoted exactly the couplets of Imam Shafei).
The great Khwaja Sulayman Qandoozi has recorded on page 45 of Yanabinul Mawaddah the same. Baihaqi has quoted from Rabee Ibne Sulaiman that he said, “I said to Imam Shafei, ‘Some people could not stand to hear the praise of Ahle Bait (a.s.), and when they see one of us mention their virtues they say, “He is a Raafedi”. In reply Shafei recited the following couplets:
If in a gathering is a mention of Ali, his sons and Fatima.
Some people start talking about other characters instead.
Be sure that what they say is rubbish.
When Ali and his sons are remembered, these people mutter far-fetched reports.
And they say, “Beware these were the traditions of Raafedis.”
I dissociate myself from such people who consider the love of Fatimah ‘Raafediyat.
’Praise of my Lord on the progeny of the Prophet.
And his curse be on such ignorance. 62 Hafiz Jamaluddin has recorded the following couplets from Imam Shafei:
They said have you become a Raafedi and I said ‘No.’
Rafd is neither my religion nor my belief.
But I am devoted to the best of guides.
If love of the legatee of the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) is Rafd,
Then I am the greatest of Raafedi.
Similarly, Imam Fakhruddin Razi related from Imam Muzni that Imam Shafei composed the following couplets:
Always conceal that secret in such a way that you are not helpless in replying to the objections.
And I hide my love with the purity of my devotion, so that my belief and I are safe from them.
In the same way scholars like Baihaqi and Sahal bin Muhammad and Abde Rabb have related from Sulayman bin Qutaybah many other poems from Imam Shafai. Yes! This allegation is only due to hatred and bigotry of ignorance. Muslims who do not regard the Caliphs highly, are labelled as Raafedi and blamed for following an innovation (bida’t), while these people have never denied the genuine virtues of the Caliphs. These people consider every person on the basis of his true worth. On the other hand we have Mu’awiyah, who initiated the cursing of Ali (a.s.) from the pulpit of the Prophet (s.a.w.a.). This practice continued for seventy years. He himself cursed Ali (a.s.) and ordered all the people to do the same. He cursed the grandsons of the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) at the very tomb of their grandfather and this was witnessed by thousands of the companions of the Prophet (s.a.w.a.), who saw and heard it with their own eyes.
Seeing this vile act, the mother of the faithful, Umme Salama left the holy mausoleum in disgust! In spite of this, Mu’awiyah is not labelled as a Raafedi. Far from it! Mu’awiyah is bestowed the honorific of ‘Amirul Momineen’! He is remembered with respect and reverence! People used to pray behind him! While the books of history are replete with the misdeeds of this villainous character so that the coming generations could see what sort of a person he was.
Yes! To believe in the superiority of Ali (a.s.), which is proved beyond doubt, is not Rafd. No one could allege that following the truly superior personality is Rafd and innovation. But it’s a pity that this terrible bigotry is perpetrated in consonance with the wishes of people like Mu’awiyah and Marwan.
Fourthly: If they say: He has not accepted the virtues and status of the Caliphs. I would reply as follows: No one can deny the virtues and merits certified by the Almighty and His Prophet (s.a.w.a.). But, whatever has not been certified by Allah and His Prophet (s.a.w.a.) can be rejected and such rejection will not tantamount to be a folly. To consider a myth as reality is against justice.
Fifthly: If they say: He has not accepted the superiority of the Caliphs. I reply: We are not the first to do so because the first one to deny this was the Caliph himself. Thus, the Ahle Sunnat report that during the tenure of Abu Bakr ibne Qahafa, a few days after assuming the post of Caliphate he announced from the pulpit: “Excuse me from the responsibility of Caliphate. I am not the best of you while Ali is amongst you.”
Similarly on the day of Ghadeer, when Umar ibne Khattab heard the tradition of master ship he said, “Congratulations O, Ali! You have become my master and the master of all believing men and women.”
If we study the corpus of traditions, we shall find numerous such narrations. However, we must read them with an unprejudiced and unbiased mind.
Sixthly: If they say: Whatever has been uttered by the early scholars, must be accepted by the successive generations in toto. We reply: This is not correct because if it were necessary for the successive generations to accept the statements of their predecessors without any change, then why Abu Yusuf, the student of Abu Hanifah, did when he succeeded his teacher, issued his own decrees rejecting almost half the decrees of Abu Hanifah?
Similarly, when Muhammad bin Hasan Shaibani came a little after Abu Yusuf, he rejected most of the rulings of the latter. In the same way Abu Abdillah Shafei, who came fifty years after Abu Hanifah, refuted most of the laws of Abu Hanifah. For example, some scholars who came after him subsequently rejected Qiyas, which was considered valid by Abu Hanifah. For, these laws regarding whom no traditional proof existed were promulgated on the basis of conjecture.
And to accept them on the basis of conjecture is the prerogative of another Mujtahid.
Seventhly: They will say: The door of Ijtehad is now closed. In reply we say: a) Our intention is not to refute Ijtehad because it is against the rules of debate. That is, only we will refute a statement, which is not proved by concrete arguments. As we are not capable to fully do justice to Ijtehad and taqlid by this method we refrain from this.
b) The statement that the doors of Ijtehad are closed is not based on proof and argument.
Let us study this matter in more detail:
i) Let us clarify that to study this problem in a way deserved by it is beyond our capacity. Still we shall try to unravel the facts in the following paragraphs:
1) It is clear that every law in Islam must be supported with concrete evidence. And such a law cannot be denied by anyone.
2) It is also confirmed that two types of proofs frame an Islamic decree, reason and tradition. But a rational proof by itself cannot prove a law.
But here we will study this argument with some reasoning experience: Was Ijtehad necessary during the early period of Islam? If it was not necessary, then why did they make it compulsory? If it was necessary, then why after the first three centuries it began to be considered unnecessary or even impossible? How could the latter view be substantiated by proofs?
If they say: In the early period it was necessary to formulate the laws of Shariat through Ijtehad, but after that there was no need of it. In reply I say: The laws of Islam were complete in the life of the holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) as evident from the verse,
“This day I have perfected your religion.” (Surah Maidah: 3)
Then how is it that Ijtehad was required to frame the Islamic laws?
Now let us understand that Ijtehad was not needed to frame the Islamic laws. It was required for another purpose. Consider this statement: Laws that are derived on the basis of conjecture and Ijtehad are mutable with the passage of time. Yes, if the passage of forty or fifty years can subject to change a law derived by Ijtehad, why couldn’t laws formulated a thousand years ago remain unmodified? It is but a natural thing! However, we do not see the need to prove everything by logical proofs and it is not our duty to do so.
Translation from Persian: Syed Athar Husain Rizvi