By Qadi Bohlool Bahjat Âfandi
Let us now consider the traditional proofs:
Before the discussion on the traditional proofs, we quote some lines from the well-known book of Ahle Sunnat, Daairatul Ma’arif (Religious Encyclopaedia) to show that ‘the door of Ijtehad is closed’ is a claim unsubstantiated by proof.
Muhammad Wajdi, who had penned the 22 volumes of Daairatul Ma’arif writes in the third volume thus: “Ijtehad denotes the system of deriving the laws of Shariat according to the needs of a particular age. Therefore, it is necessary to have a Mujtahid in every period of time. In the early period of Islam, the scholars practiced Ijtehad from the first to the third century. They used to derive laws for every new problem that arose. In this venture, they did not heed the conflicting views of their contemporaries.
Later, however there descended upon the people of the Ummah sloth and carelessness in this regard. They failed to derive the laws of Shariat. Thus in order to conceal their defect, they invented the excuse of the closing of the door of Ijtehad and expressed their inability to do anything about it. Although according to verses of Quran and traditions of the holy Prophet (saw) the door of Ijtehad is open till the day of Qiyamat.”
It is thus evident that the verses of holy Quran and sayings of the Prophet (saw) authenticate Ijtehad, and the Islamic scholars have always acted upon it. This continued till the third century A.H. when the jurists and scholars, who were the stooges of tyrant rulers, saw in themselves no capability to derive the laws of Shariat and consequently, declared that the door of Ijtehad had closed. These people never opposed the Caliphs for fear of their life or a threat of monetary loss.
But when the successive generations arrived, they began to consider this as a religious command and did not oppose it. Though, extensive authentic traditions prove to the contrary (that is, the door of Ijtehad has not closed). The bida’t (innovation) of declaring the closure of the door of Ijtehad was initiated at the behest of Mutawakkil. At that time, the wretched Ummah has just heaved a sigh of relief from the oppression of Bani Umayyah when the yoke of the slavery of Bani Abbas was thrust upon its neck.
They also had to bear atrocities of Haroon, Mamoon and Mutawakkil. When Bani Abbas saw that Bani Umayyah were about to be finished and this would create a vacuum, wherein it was likely that people may incline toward the progeny of Fatimah (a.s.), they decided to seal the tongues of the truthful people by announcing that the door of Ijtehad has closed. In these circumstances, the Shia scholars remained aloof or practiced dissimulation to save themselves from this calamity, while some bold Ahle Sunnat Scholars were subjected to untold tribulations.
For example Malik Ibne Anas was instrumental in the expulsion of Muhammad Ibne Ibrahim,a descendant of Hasan al-Muthanna who was arrested and tortured on the orders of Caliph Mansur.Abu Hanifah was arrested and imprisoned at Anbar. He was tortured to the extent that he finally died at the hands of Rabee’, the personal bodyguard of Mansur. Ahmad Ibne Hanbal was also imprisoned and tortured by Motasim ibne Haroon. However, many of the Ahle Sunnat scholars preferred the patronage of tyrant rulers and to please their whims, issued religions decrees and continued to manage their affairs as they wished.
Most of the Ahle Sunnat scholars quoted these materialist scholars and refrained from quoting the Imams and guides (a.s.) who were the true successors of the holy Prophet (saw). Gradually this became an established practice and a time came when the Ahle Sunnat evolved into a distinct sect. Now the factors of bias on the basis of partisanship came into play. This led to untold controversies and finally resulted in the disunity of the Muslim Ummah. Thus causing all sorts of problems leading to ultimate decadence and destruction.
However, Taqaiyyah is one of the established principles of faith. It not only protected the lives and property of Muslims, but alone was instrumental in preserving the laws of Sharia. Thus we have proved by traditional arguments that the door of Ijtehad is still open. In the same way we shall be content to quote the verse of holy Quran that says: “Then ask the people of remembrance if you do not know.” The Muslims have been ordered to ask the ‘People of remembrance’ if they are unable to understand the law of Shariat. And this is an express command.
It will remain in force for the benefit of Muslim Community till the day of Qiyamat. How is it possible that during the early period of Islam anyone who was ignorant of Shariat has recourse to the religious scholars, whereas the same person is now prohibited from referring to the jurists? 68 Can anyone explain to us why this prohibition came into being? In the event of Ijtehad being proved as a necessity according to Quran and Hadith people followed it and knew it well. Then after the third century A.H. what Quranic verse or Hadith came to nullify this law?
It was nothing but the arrival of tyrant rulers at the helm of Islamic affairs! We said that in case a person is unaware of the law of Shariat it is incumbent on him to refer to an accomplished scholar.
A scholar who is the most learned of his time and capable of issuing religious decrees. But as we have said before, we are not capable of solving the problem of Ijtehad. We only request the people of this Ummah to ponder upon it for a moment without bias so that they benefit by it.
Those who wish to study this topic in detail may refer the books, ‘Al Aqdul Jayyed fi Ahkam al-Ijtehad wa Taqleed’ written by Allamah Dehlavi; this book has referred to the book Al Insaaf fil Ijtehad Wal Khilaf by Allamah Shah Waliullah, the wellknown Indian scholar. By referring to these books we can form an opinion about this matter.
In the course of our discussion we have only relied upon the writings of Ahle Sunnat scholars and have been content with it. Because our only aim here was to prove that Ali Ibne Abi Talib (a.s.) was the most superior person in the whole of Ummah. As per the rules of logical argumentation and debate, we have proved our claim with the help of authentic proofs and also fulfilled all the other necessary conditions.
Firstly by logical reasoning we proved our claim and then we also presented traditional proofs that alone are considered sufficient to prove an Islamic matter. And from the traditional proofs, we quoted only the most important ones and which were considered authentic by all religious scholars and well known to the majority of the people. We were content to quote only two verses of Quran and a few traditions that all Muslims are obliged to have faith in.
Though hundreds of traditions are present on this topic, we have been content to quote only some of them and refrained from presenting others. As the saying goes, “A clue is sufficient for the wise.”
After having proved conclusively that Ali (a.s.) was the most superior personality of the Ummah, next only to the holy Prophet (saw), we turn our discussion to the matter of Caliphate. It is such a serious problem that it has divided the Ummah and is the root cause of all the afflictions and controversies. We shall, to the best of our ability, examine this important matter in such a way that it can be understood by all.
The Problem of Caliphate
They object in the following manner: Firstly, from the beginning of Islamic Caliphate to the present age, more than a thousand years have passed. Many important and authentic scholars have graced these centuries and all of them have examined the matter carefully. Needless to mention that they were right from all aspects. Then why is there any need to raise these objections (against the Caliphs) and conduct dialogue?
But even if they were wrong, thousands of years have passed and tens of thousands researches conducted but they were not sufficient to solve the problem. From this aspect too, it is impossible to solve this great problem in a book as brief as this.
Reply: In spite of numerous studies in the past centuries, the problem has not been solved satisfactorily. It means they did not really intend to solve it. For, in order to solve a problem, we have to rid ourselves of bias, prejudice and enmity. And the scholars of Ahle Sunnat have not achieved this so far, because this problem is the chief cause of controversy in the Ummah.
The Muslims have trodden the way of controversy and hypocrisy on this issue and divided themselves into two major sects. Firstly: The present day Ahle Sunnat accepts the concept of Caliphate without any reservations.
Secondly: The Shias challenge this and have opposing beliefs. Due to this the rulers of both sects have succeeded in keeping the people of the Ummah divided. During the rule of Bani Umayyah, the conditions of caliphate were clear. That everyone was not allowed to express the truth is obvious on the dark pages of Islamic history. If anyone denies this, I can show that the chiefs of the tyrannical rule were from the tribes of Mu’awiyah, Ziyad and Hajjaj ibne Yusuf.
Mu’awiyah used to severely punish all those who mentioned any virtue of Ali (a.s.). Whenever anyone related anything against Ali (a.s.), no matter how great an allegation, he was rewarded amply by Mu’awiyah. Thus, in that period, it was impossible to differentiate truth from falsehood. Only the ignoramuses would differ on this score.
Ziyad and Hajjaj were the worst characters in this regard. These two usurpers could never stand anyone having love and regard for Ali (a.s.). Such a person was invariably arrested and severely punished by them.
It is a fact that in this atrocious era, thousands of sincere people were falsely implicated and punished. Then, the love for Ali and his progeny (a.s.) was considered to be a great crime. Yes! Those people who know the condition of that age will agree with me.
Let me quote a few examples for the benefit of our readers so that they may get an idea of the gravity of the situation. First of all, we shall discuss the origin of caliphate. A group of companions, who did not pay allegiance to the first caliph in addition to all of the Bani Hashim, had gathered in the house of Ali ibne Abi Talib (a.s.).
They were threatened and forced by some people to Hashimites to give oath of allegiance. This was followed by the snatching of sword from Zubair and being smashed on a stone. There were disturbances, crowds, attacks, and the terror tactics used by them.
For further details, refer to the following: Chapter of Imamat and Khilafat of Ibne Khaldoon, discussion of caliphate in Iqdul Farid’s book, Sharh-o-Nahjil Balagha of Ibne Abil Hadeed, the volume on Politics and Imamat of Dinawari, the topic of ‘Caliphate’ in Daairatul Maa’rif, Al Bayaan wa Tabiin of Al-Jahiz, twelve volumes of Al-Aghani of Abul Faraj Isfahani, etc.
Numerous other ancient writings can be studied for details. By this you will agree to the opinion of this humble writer. A point to be stressed at this juncture is that only the writings of Ahle Sunnat scholars have been quoted herein to prove each point.
Books of Shia scholars are not used as proofs in our discussion. Also apart from these intrigues and plots and trampling of rights, were the causes of Battle of Jamal. Keeping this in mind that all this proves our assertion we leave it for the moment and begin the discussion of Umayyads. The horrible battle of Siffeen is before our eyes. We shall discuss it at the proper place but here we only mention a tragic incident of this battle.
After the martyrdom of Hazrat Ali bin Abi Talib (a.s.), Muawiyah gained absolute ruler ship over the Islamic Empire. He also usurped the titles of ‘Amirul Momineen’ and ‘Caliph’ for himself. There was not a single companion of the Holy Prophet (saw) who had not heard his words of infidelity and his imprecation for the Master of the Pious (a.s.). And the limit is that during that time not a single senior scholar dared to criticize his words of disbelief and oppose him! Yes! How was it possible to prove the right of Caliphate in that time? And who could dare to accomplish this?
One day Muawiyah invited Imam Hasan al-Mujtaba (a.s.) to the mosque so that people may hear some words of respect for Muawiyah from the tongue of Imam Hasan (a.s.)! Needless to mention that he failed miserably in his devilish attempts and Hasan al-Mujtaba (a.s.) never uttered such things. When Mu’awiyah found that his words were against his wishes, insultingly, he brought Imam Hasan (a.s.) from the pulpit in such a way that the respected head of Imam (a.s.) was hurt by the pillar of the mosque.
Finally, Imam Hasan (a.s.) was poisoned with special poison formulated by Mu’awiyah’s doctor, Ibne Aasaar. Hujr bin Adi and his comrade Amr bin Hamq Al- Khuzai along with five members of their family were buried alive due to their love and attachment for Ali (a.s.) and his progeny!
Now you understand why it was impossible for anyone to speak the truth! During the Umayyad rule, the renowned poet Farazdaq, was reprimanded and exiled. His crime: he had composed a poem (Qasidah) eulogizing the Purified Ahle Bayt (a.s.) Qambar, the 73 slave of Ali (a.s.) and a close companion of the people of Infallibility, was martyred at the hands of Hajjaj. At this juncture, I would like to present an example that would explain the mentality of the scholars of that age. By this we shall be able to get a slight inkling of the conditions prevalent in that period.
Shu’bah, the well-known scholar says: One day Hajjaj ordered me to present myself before him. In a state of extreme fright, I presented myself. As soon as Hajjaj saw me, he called a cruel executioner. When the executioner appeared, Hajjaj said to me, “O Shu’bah, I have heard that you say that Hasan and Husain are the progeny of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.). If you cannot prove your assertion from Quranic verses, I will have you executed.” Shu’bah was sure of his death and destruction and without any fear said, “Yes! I will prove this statement in the light of the glorious Quran.” Hajjaj said, “But you must not indicate the verse of Mubahela, you must use some other verses. I said, “All right, I will prove from other verses and I recited, And We gave to him Ishaq and Yaqoub; each did We guide, and Nuh did We guide before, and of his descendants, Dawood and Sulaiman and Ayub and Yusuf and Haroun; and thus do We reward those who do good (to others). And Zakariya and Yahya and Isa and Ilyas; everyone was of the good; (Surah An’aam:84-85) I said, “How many generations come between Nuh and Isa (a.s.)?” Hajjaj said, “So many that it is impossible to count them.” I said, “How many generations come between the Messenger of Allah (saw) and Hasan and Husain (a.s.)?”
Hajjaj understood what I meant and said, “As if I had never seen this verse in the Quran!” But despite accepting my argument, Hajjaj threatened to execute me and I escaped to Muwarun Nahr. There too the order to arrest and execute me was sent by Hajjaj. But I hid myself and escaped punishment.” Yes! The aim of relating this incident is to know the reality.
And who were the people who possessed the qualities of Caliphate? Was there no person who had such capabilities? Now let us study the period of Bani Abbas: This was a period of great Islamic scholarship and jurisprudence. Therefore it should have been a period of expounding of the realities. But what a pity! It proved to be worst for the Muslim Ummah wherein the worst types of evils and crimes were perpetrated.]
The members of the household of the Prophet (saw) were martyred through sword and poison, one by one! Those who harboured malice against the progeny of Ali (a.s.) were rewarded and valued. In the same way, truth-loving people were degraded and tortured and a great number of scholars were killed and terrorized as mentioned earlier. We shall mention all such atrocities at their appropriate places.
Let us revert to our discussion. We have said that the early scholars did not undertake to solve the problem of caliphate. We do not feel it is necessary to present all the proofs. From the origin of Islam to this day thirteen centuries have passed4 but it is still the main cause of differences and disunity. Please, for the sake of justice, is there anything more effective in causing divisions in the Ummah? It is only the matter of caliphate that has caused dissensions in the Ummah and wrecked havoc and unfortunately, it still continues.
As we said before, people will object that the 1000-year-old problem is not worth repeating.
4 This was when the book was written. Now, fourteen centuries have passed- Translator. Reply: This problem in the Ummah is like a wound that is always oozing blood and puss. Obviously, no matter how much you cover the wound, without proper medication, it will deteriorate and gradually become incurable.
Thus if one intends to cure a wound, one should use good medication, and for this, it is inevitable for the wound to be opened. Yes! Just as a closed wound is bereft of cure and medicine, in the same way, the problem of Imamat is a very dangerous wound and has shaken the very foundations of the unity of Ummah. If any of the sincere researchers do not address it impartially, it will remain in its state of incurableness and the foundations of unity that can strengthen Islam will be rendered weak.
Hence, we have made a firm determination that with the help of logical arguments and authentic books written by great scholars of Ahle Sunnat, we may study and arrive at a conclusion. And we pray to Allah for help and grace in this regard.
Translation from Persian: Syed Athar Husain Rizvi