Question 1: If Imam Ali(as) was granted successorship by Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) then why Imam Ali did not fight (using sword) with the caliphs who became the head of state before him?
Answer: The successorship of Prophet Muhammad(pbuh) is not only limited in becoming the head of the Islamic state. Even though Abu Bakar and Umar became the head of state, Imam Ali(as) still was never deprived of the rights of successorship of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh).
There are many reasons why Imam Ali did not fight with these Caliphs. One reason that we would like to give explanation is the one from the Quran Surah Taaha, when Prophet Musa(pbuh) went for 40 nights to get the commands from Allah(swt).
He appointed a successor (Aaron) for his nation. Right after Prophet Musa left, the nation left the right path and forgot all the lessons of the Prophet.
We can read the dialogue between Prophet Musa(pbuh) and his successor in Quran 20:92-94
[Moses] said, “O Aaron, what prevented you, when you saw them going astray, So that you did not follow me? Did you then disobey my order? [Aaron] said, “O son of my mother, do not seize [me] by my beard or by my head.Indeed, I feared that you would say, ‘You caused division among the Children of Israel, and you did not observe my word.’ “
In the above verse we can see what the reason of the successor of Prophet Moses, the reason of Prophet Aaron is that if he fight with these people Prophet Moses is the one who would accuse him that he have divided them into groups.
We know of course that verbally Prophet Aaron tried his best to keep them on to straight path. Then the successor of Prophet Moses left no choice but to patiently wait for the Prophet’s return.
Imam Ali(as) had the same position to Prophet Muhammad(pbuh) as Aaron to Moses. Same thing we are saying about Imam Ali, the Imam did not fight with those people for the sake of Islam.
Imam Ali knew it that if he will fight with those people the religion of Islam and the newly formed Islamic state will easily be destroyed. There were lots of dangers against Islam during that period (Romans, Hypocrites etc.). That was not the proper time to use sword and also not in the interest or benefit of Muslim Ummah that Imam Ali should use sword against those people.
We know this reality that the tree of Islam was planted in Imam Ali’s home. Imam’s father Abu Talib gave protection to Islam. The Imam remained hungry, ate grass and leaves of trees to save Islam in (shaaba Abu Talib) Mecca. Then the Imam spent his whole life protecting Islam. He saved Islam from destruction by not fighting with those people after the death of Holy Prophet.
There is this story about two women who had dispute over one baby, each one claimed being the mother, to figure out who is the real mother of that baby, the order was issued to cut the baby into two pieces, the real mother came forward and said that it is fine with her to give the baby to the other woman but not to kill the baby (by cutting it into two pieces). This example fits on Imam Ali’s action that Imam saved Islam and sacrificed for the sake of survival of Islam.
Otherwise people would blame the Imam that he damaged Islam for his own power.
Imam Ali had the special instructions from Prophet Muhammad(pbuh) not to fight with those people for the sake of Islam. We can also see such instructions and advise of the Prophet to other companions (Link: The Prophet’s advised to some sahaba to be patient when the ruler will deprive them of their rights). The Holy Prophet advised them “be patient after me when your rights will be taken away, be patient until you see me at the pond of Kauthar.”
Imam Ali(as) showed his patience. However the Imam’s chosen action was to condemn those people. We wrote a special article about Imam Ali claimed for his own Caliphate and condemned those Caliphs before him.
Imam Ali remained patient and continue his duty as Caliph (Caliph is still a caliph regardless of being a head of the state of not) for the sake of Islam. We can see this reality wherein the people by themselves realized after the killing of third caliph, people themselves offered the government to the Imam.
Those fellows who were saying that Imam Ali did not fight with the caliphs as a proof that those caliphs were right, we would like to ask them. Would they declare those people wrong when Imam Ali(as) fought back with them?
We want to remind those fellows claiming that Abu Bakar, Umar and Uthman being on right path that is why Imam Ali did not fight with them that their theory goes against the narration in Sahih Muslim.
At the end, we would like to say that being the successor of the Prophet. The Imam played his role perfectly by preserving the orignal Islam with his teachings and giving strenght to Muslim Ummah with his patience.
Some people might bring objection here that if the Imam was against the fight among Muslims, then why did the Imam fought against Moawiya and (mother) Aisha?
We simply want to remind those fellows that Imam Ali did not start the war against these people. This is proven in the History of Islam that Moawiya bin Abu Sufyan and Aisha bint Abu Bakar became rebellious to the Imam and they started the war against Imam Ali.
Question 2: If we will consider the Shia point of view about Caliphate then we will have to consider many companions of the Prophet(pbuh) to be wrong, does it fit?
Answer: First we have to consider the Islamic point of view of neither Shia nor Sunni, anything which fits to the Quran and Hadith then that is the standard. Second thing we should not try to recognize Islam by the personalities. This is not the right approach.
At the time of Battle of Siffin, some people told Imam Ali:
“it is hard for us to decide who is right and who is wrong. On one side you are one party, on the other side Moawiya who is a companion and many other companions are with him.”
Imam Ali (as) gave them a great formula. The Imam did not say that he is the Prophet’s cousin and son-in-law. What the Imam said was:
“Do not recognize HAQ (truth) with the personalities, first recognize HAQ (truth) with its criteria, then automatically you will know the righteous people (ahl e haqq).”
If we will consider the Sunni point of view about Caliphate the objections will be towards Allah(swt) and his Prophet directly. If we will consider the Shia point of view the objections will be towards to some companions.
In the light of above question, our Sunni brothers are trying to say that it is fine let the objection come on the Holy Prophet but it should not come on Sahaba (companions).
We mentioned above the story of Prophet Moses from Quran, that he appointed his successor on his nation and went away for 40 nights. His nation got diverted from the right path during his life time, why it is not possible for the nation of the Prophet of Islam to leave the truth after he died?
We all know many facts from the Quran and Hadith that not all of the companions of the Prophet follow the orders of the messenger of Allah(swt). We would like to share few examples here.
1). Quran (3:153)
”When you ran off precipitately and did not wait for any one, and the Messenger was calling you from your rear, so He gave you another sorrow instead of (your) sorrow, so that you might not grieve at what had escaped you, nor (at) what befell you; and Allah is aware of what you do.”
This verse talks about the Battle of Uhod wherein at the difficult situation in war the companions run away by leaving the Holy Prophet in danger. Sahih Al Bukhari testifies that only 12 people left with the Prophet, everybody else run away. Here is the link.
The history books from Sunni sources testiffied that Abu Bakar and Umar also run away in the Battle of Uhod.There is a narration in Bukhari (chapter Al Maghazi), Abdullah bin Omar testified about the third caliph Uthman, run away in the Battle of Uhod.
2). We all know about the Battle of Hunain which was fought after the Victory of Mecca at the end time of Prophet’s life. Again the companions left the Holy Prophet in danger and run away.
Quran talks about the Battle of Hunain (9:25)
“God has helped you on many occasions including the day of Hunayn (name of a place near Mecca). When you were happy with the number of your men who proved to be of no help to you and the whole vast earth seemed to have no place to hide you (from your enemies) and you turned back in retreat.”
Only few people remained with the Holy Prophet, everybody else run away. There are two long narrations in Bukahri stating about the Battle of Hunayn by Abu Qatadah, one in Chapter: Fighting for the Cause of Allah –Jihad, other in chapter: Military Expeditions led by the Prophet (pbuh) (Al-Maghaazi) both testify that Umar bin Khattab run away in the battle of Hunain.
We would like to mention here that it is not a light thing to run away from war with pagans by leaving the Holy Prophet in danger. We can read from the Quran verse of Surah Al Anfal (8:15-16)
”O you who believe! When you meet those who disbelieve marching for war, then turn not your backs to them, (Whoever deserts the believers) will incur the wrath of God and will dwell in hell, a terrible dwelling.”
3). We read in Quran in Surah Jumma’ah (62:11)
”When they see some merchandise or some sport, they rush towards it and leave you alone standing. Say, “(God’s rewards for good deeds) are better than merriment or merchandise; God is the best Sustainer“.
This happened during Friday prayer in Medina. The companions were in the mosque with the Holy Prophet offering their Friday prayer, outside the mosque the Caravan of trade came, the companions left the Holy Prophet(pbuh) during prayer and rushed to the Caravan.
4). We can read this hadith from Bukhari, there are many Hadiths in Bukhari and Muslim on this subject. But we will just paste one.
Narrated `Abdullah: The Prophet said, “I am your predecessor at the Lake-Fount (Kauthar) and some men amongst you will be brought to me, and when I will try to hand them some water, they will be pulled away from me by force whereupon I will say, ‘O Lord, my companions!’ Then the Almighty will say, ‘You do not know what they did after you left, they introduced new things into the religion after you.‘”
5). We want to give another hadith from Bukhari, Al-Bara bin `Azib one of the big name among the companions (in Bukhari there are lots of narrations from him) he admitted that they did innovations after the Holy Prophet.
6). We already gave some examples in our articles about Umar bin Khattab showing the proof that he changed the Sharia law, did not accepted the Quranic verses and changed the Sunnah of the Holy Prophet.
Please find the narration in Sahih Muslim how the great Companions were scared from Umar bin Khattab thats why they dont have the guts to object when Umar performed against the Quran and Sunnah.
7). The Prophet did not testify about Abu Bakar and told him “I don’t know what you will do after me.” (Ref: Muwatta Malik)
9). Please read the narration from Sahih al Bukhari.
He told to Imam Ali: “leave us alone, let us do what we want to do!”
We have mentioned only few proven facts from the Holy Quran, Bukhari and Muslim.
For more information please visit these links. It will help our reader to understand the answer of the above question.
The Holy Quran is filled with the stories about the previous prophets and their followers, narrating stories on how the followers of previous prophets did not obey properly to their prophets during the lifetime of the prophets and after them. But when it comes to the last Prophet (pbuh) our Sunni fellows become very emotional believing and trying their best to prove that all of the Companions were just and righteous.
Prophet Moses left his nation for 40 nights, his nation left his path and get involved into the severe wrong stuff during his life. Why is it not possible for Prophet Muhammad’s nation not to forget some of his messages?
Shias do not say that all the Companions suddenly left Islam. The diversion of some companions from the right path happened gradually and the real successor of the Holy Prophet, Imam Ali, was deprived of his right of Governance.
Question 3: We find the words of Imam Ali(as) in some books that says after the murder of third Caliph Uthman, when people offered Government to Imam Ali, the Imam said: “leave me alone, find someone else I am better for you to give advices, make your own Government.” Does it mean that the Imam do not feel himself to be fit for the Caliphate?
Answer: That is not the right conclusion!
Imam Ali(as) already rejected the Government when it was offered to him after the murder of the Second Caliph, Umar bin Khattab because there was a condition they put to it, that Imam must follow not only the laws of the Prophet(pbuh) but must also follow the laws of Abu Bakar and Umar. The Imam rejected it while Uthman accepted it and became the third Caliph.
Imam Ali(as) wanted to show the true Model of Islamic Caliph and wanted to impose all those standards of Islam. This is the reason why the Imam during his Caliphate dismissed all those governors including Moawiya who was ruling during the time of previous Caliphs. Imam Ali do not want these people to serve during his governance not even for one day, he does not want it to be part of the history.
When Imam Ali said to those people leave me alone, find someone else. It means the Imam wanted to make them realize that they put Imam Ali(as) in the corner from the beginning and for them to see the end result (the destruction) of what they did.
Another reason is that the Imam wanted them to give their oath voluntarily because the Imam have to impose strictly the criteria of Islamic Principles and he want to make sure that those people will not run away.
We can see that the two big names among the companions Talha and Zubair were included among those people who accepted Imam Ali as Caliph, but when the Imam did not give them any position in the government, they left the Imam and joined the opposite camp. They joined the Battle of JAMAL with Aisha (wife of the Prophet) against Imam Ali.
We would like to share the words of Molana Moudoodi, Sunni scholar, who wrote in his book, Khilafat o Malookiyat. He stated “Ali was the last hope who could bring Islam to its original shape, after the martyrdom of Ali (as) that last hope was gone forever.”
Please have a look at the separate article which showed the own words of the Imam on how the Imam claimed for his own Caliphate.
Question 4: We came to know that the Holy Prophet(pbuh) conducted the celebration of successorship at the place of Ghadir-e-Khum. Why it did not happen in Arafat during the last Hajj while everybody was present and in there the holy Prophet also delivered a long speech?
Answer: We believe that the Messenger of Allah always acted upon the revelation. The Messenger of Allah did all his actions and delivered his speeches according to the orders revealed to him. That is why we do not question his action of conducting the celebration of sucessorship in Ghadir-e-Khum.
However we can see the proofs that the Holy Prophet guided his nation towords Ahlulbait and very clearly said at the day of ARAFA “I am leaving two things for your guidance Quran and Ahlulbait”
Ghadir e Khum is a place near Mecca that was the point where pilgrims of different places had to say good bye to each other, and had to take different routes on the way to their homes. That is the place where the Holy Prophet conducted the ceremony of his successorship.
We can see the wisdom and philosophy behind Ghadir on why the holy Prophet conducted the celebration of his successorship on separate occasion, it is so that the people won’t mix it up and won’t forget about it. So that the companions will remember that the messenger of Allah stopped them on a very hot day for few hours. There he showed them and announced that “Anybody who acknowledge me as master, Ali is his master”.
We can see the proofs from Sunni books that Imam Ali claimed Ghadir for himself and asked the people to testify Ghadir.
Please find the proof from Nissaie.
Please find more questions and answer about Shia point of view on Caliphate in our next article (Part 2)
May Allah (swt) guide those who seek for truth and send blessings to holy Prophet Mohammad and his Ahlalbait.