Q. Recently a document from a Shi’ah person was handed to me in Jamaa Masjid in Port of Spain. In it were claims that:
1. The Rasul appointed Imam Ali as his successor and their evidence was (Tirmidhi vol 2 page 298 and Bukhari vol 5 page 492.)
2. That the Rasul said he left two things to follow and you will never go astray and that was The Quran and his progeny (Ahulbayt) and their evidence was (Muslim vol 5 page 287, 268, 274 and Tirmidhi vol 2 page 209)
3.That the Rasul appointed 12 Imams to conduct the affairs of muslims until judgement day and their evidence was (Bukhari vol 9 page 250 and Muslim vol 4 page 482)
4. That the person admonished in surah Abasa was the Makkan chief and that the prophet could read and write and that Abu Talib was a pious muslim. (these had no evidence to back it up).
However I find these claims very disturbing. Please shed some light on these very serious claims.
A. With respect to the first point, there is no tradition in any book of Ahadith which states that the Rasool (S.A.S.) appointed Ali (R.A.) as his successor. What the Shias have done is that they have misused certain traditions and have applied their own concocted and fabricated ideas to some of these traditions which, in reality, are far from the understanding of the Hadith.
The incident in question which they have wrongfully used is one which occurred when the Prophet (S.A.S.) was undertaking the Tabuk expedition. In this regard, Imam Bukhari and Tirmizi, as well as other compilers of Ahadith have recorded that Allah’s apostle set out for Tabuk, appointing Ali as his deputy. Upon this Ali (R.A.) said, ‘O Messenger of Allah! Are you leaving me with women and children?’ The Messenger of Allah (S.A.S.) said to him, ‘Are you not pleased that you will be to me on the level as Haroon was to Moosa, except that there is no prophet hood after me’. (Tirmizi chapter of the virtues of Ali bin Abi Talib Arabic text Vol. 2 Pg. 213).
The Shias have used the Prophet’s statement ‘you are to me as Haroon was to Moosa’ to prove that Allah appointed Haroon as the helper, assistant, deputy and successor of Moosa among his people, and even made him a Prophet. Since Haroon was the leader of all Bani Israil, the situation of Ali (R.A.) was analogous.
This deduction and understanding of the Shias are totally wrong and a proper analysis of the hadith shows that it gives no such information as they (the Shias) have attributed.
The hadith simply shows that Ali (R.A) was chosen to be the deputy over the household in the absence of the Prophet (S.A.S.). This deputizing by the Prophet (S.A.S) was a practice which he adopted whenever he left the city of Madina. In this regard we see that when the Prophet (S.A.S.) went for the Khaibar expedition, he appointed Sab’ee bin Arfata Ghifari (R.A) as his deputy over Madina. On the occasion of the conquest of Makka, he deputed Abu Lubaba bin Abdul Munzir (R.A) as his deputy over Madina.
If it is said that Ali’s deputing meant that he became the Khalifa of all the Muslims, then the same can be said about those mentioned above who were also deputed to act on behalf of the prophet (S.A.S.) when he was out of the city of Madina. It is therefore wrong to use the above incident to prove the successor ship of Ali (R.A).
While refuting this idea of the Shias, the great Mufassir of the Holy Quran, Imam Al Qurtubi writes regarding the tradition which has been quoted, ‘There is no disagreement that Haroon died before Moosa, and (hence) Haroon did not become a successor to Moosa. Instead, the successor to Moosa was Yusha bin Noon (Joshua). As such, if the Prophet (S.A) wanted to grant Caliphate (and successorship) to Ali, he would have said, ‘you will be to me like Yusha (Joshua) was to Moosa. So when he did not say this, it is proven that he did not want that meaning, but he simply wanted to say to Ali that, ‘You are my deputy over my family in my life and my absence from my family, like Haroon was a deputy of Moosa over his people when he left to speak to his Lord’. (Tafseer Al Qurtubi).
This explanation of Imam Qurtubi clearly shows that on the basis of this statement of the Prophet (S.A), it will be totally impractical to prove Ali’s successor ship. As evident in many books, the reason is quite clear, that Haroon died before Moosa (A.S), so it cannot be said that Haroon was the successor of Moosa (A.S). The successor of Prophet Moosa (A.S) was in reality, Prophet Yusha (Joshua) and hence, if the Prophet (S.A) wanted to imply successorship, he would have likened Ali to Prophet Joshua rather than to Haroon.
On this issue, another point which the Shias have used to prove that Ali was specifically chosen for this job was the fact that the Prophet (S.A) used the statement for him, ‘You are to me like Haroon was to Moosa’. While holding this as a proof, they (the Shias) state that, ‘If the deputing of Ali was similar to that of other companions, then how such words and statements were not used for the deputing of others and was used for Ali alone’.
This wrong assumption (by the shias) is easily put to rest by taking a simple look at the circumstances surrounding the Prophet’s statement. With respect to the expedition to Tabuk, many books of Ahadith have mentioned that the hypocrites were constantly in league with the Jews of Madina and were holding regular consultations against the Muslims. A band of twelve hypocrites built their own separate mosque as a center for carrying out their hostile activities and anti-Islamic propaganda for the impending battle, they started passing discouraging remarks.
The Messenger of Allah set out for Tabuk with an army of 30,000 men from Madina and he put Muhammad bin Maslamah Ansari in charge of Madina. The Prophet (S.A) had left behind Ali to look after his family. The hypocrites used this as an opportunity to spread false rumours about Ali. They implied that the Prophet gave little importance to Ali and therefore left him alone in Madina. When his patience ran out, he (Ali) hurried from Madina and having met the Prophet at ‘Jurf’ said, ‘The hypocrites are saying such and such about me and so I have come to you’. The Prophet (S.A) said, ‘They are liars. I have left you behind to look after my household, so go back’. In order to soothe his feelings, the Prophet further added, ‘You are to me as Haroon was to Moosa, except that there will be no Prophet after me’. Ali returned to Madina pacified and satisfied’. (Tareekh Al Islam)
As clearly mentioned here, one can see why such a statement was used by the Prophet (S.A) for Ali (R.A). As to why similar words were not used for other companions who were deputed? The answer is quite clear that the hypocrites did not spread this particular rumour except against Ali (R.A). It was this degrading rumour and Ali’s concern that caused the Prophet (S.A) to utter this statement to Ali (R.A).
With respect to the second point, the hadith has been incorrectly quoted. The correct translation of the tradition is, ‘Yazeed bin Hayaan narrates, ‘I and Haseen bin Saburah and Umar bin Muslim went to Zaid bin Arqam (R.A). When we sat with him, Haseen said, ‘O Zaid! You have achieved a great amount of goodness. You have seen the Prophet (S.A), you have heard his words, you accompanied him in battles and you performed Salaah behind him. You have certainly achieved a great amount of goodness, O Zaid. Please narrate to us, O Zaid! What you heard from the Prophet (S.A)?’ Upon this, Zaid bin Arqam (R.A) said, ‘O my nephew! By Allah my age has grown old and my time has come and I have forgotten some of the things which I have learnt from the Messenger of Allah. So whatever I narrate to you, accept it. And whatever I do not narrate to you, do not burden me (to narrate it). He then said, ‘One day the Prophet (S.A) stood among us delivering a sermon. He was standing close to a pond which was known as Khum and it was between Makka and Madina. He then praised Allah and glorified Him. He then advised (us) and reminded (us). He then said, ‘O people! Behold! I am a human being. It is near that the Messenger of my Lord may come (to me) and I would respond. I am leaving amongst you two heavy things. The first of them is the Book of Allah. In it there is guidance and light. So take the Book of Allah and hold fast to it’. So he urged them upon the Book of Allah and he awakened their desire for it. He then said, ‘And the people of my household (my Ahlul Bayt). I remind you in the name of Allah about my Ahlul Bayt, I remind you in the name of Allah about my Ahlul Bayt, I remind you in the name of Allah about my Ahlul Bayt’. After narrating this, Haseen said to Zaid bin Arqam (R.A), ‘And who are the Ahlul Bayt (who are the people of his household) O Zaid? Are his wives not from the Ahlul Bayt?’ Zaid said, ‘His wives are from his household, however, his Ahlul Bayt are those who cannot accept Sadaqah (Zakaat). (That is, it is haraam for them to accept it)’. Haseen asked, ‘And who are those?’ Zaid said, ‘They are the children of Ali, the children of Aqeel, the children of Ja’far and the children of Abbas’. Haseen said, ‘All of them, it is haraam for them to accept Sadaqah?’ He (Zaid) said, ‘Yes’. (Recorded by Imam Muslim in his Saheeh Vol.2 pg.279-Arabic text)
This is the tradition which describes the sermon at the pond of Khum and is well known to the shias as ‘the sermon at Ghadir Khum’. In it the Prophet (S.A) exhorted the believers in many ways and made special mention of two things which he considered to be heavy.
The reason he considered these two things to be heavy is due to the fact that they are two great things: (as mentioned by Imam Nawawi in his Commentary of Sahih Muslim).
From among the two things, the Prophet (S.A) indicated firstly to the Book of Allah and urged the believers to hold fast to it and practice upon it so that one will achieve the guidance and light contained in it. In this respect, he was reminding the believers to be mindful of the Holy Quran.
Secondly, he emphasized upon the believers to be mindful of their treatment towards the members of his household. He asked the believers to fear Allah in regards to their treatment of his household. In this statement, the Prophet (S.A) exhorted the believers to show respect to the Ahlul Bayt, to be kind towards them and to protect their rights. (As explained by Imam Nawawi in his commentary of Sahih Muslim)
Both of these precious advices are from among what the Sunni Muslims practice upon. It is essential to hold fast to the Holy Quran and it is also essential to show love, respect, and reverence to the entire family and household of the Prophet (S.A). And this is exactly what all Sunni Muslims have always done. As such, no one can ever claim that Muslims do not practice upon this tradition of the Prophet (S.A). It must be understood also, that there is absolutely no statement in this tradition which states that the Prophet (S.A) has left his Ahlul Bayt to be followed and that one will never go astray as long as he follows them.
This statement is not there, nor is there any indication to such understanding. As such, it is totally wrong for the Shias to deduce such an understanding from the above tradition. Muslims know very well that it is essential upon them to follow the teachings of the Holy Quran and to hold it as their guidance. They also know very well that the Holy Quran has commanded them to follow the teachings of the Prophet (S.A). As such, in this respect, they have no choice except to learn the teachings of the Prophet (S.A) from those who lived with him from among the Ahlul Bayt and other Sahabahs (R.A).
Muslims are therefore required to show love and respect to all the Companions of the Prophet (S.A) both Ahlul Bayt and non Ahlul Bayt. It is not permissible for them to show such exaggerated love to the Ahlul Bayt that it leads them to condemn all the other Sahabahs as the shias have done. Nor is it permissible for them to show such love for the Ahlul Bayt that they lift them to the status of the Prophets and infallible beings who have knowledge of the unseen and they are able to control the affairs of the world as the ‘twelver sect’ of the shias believe.
With respect to the third point ‘that Rasul appointed twelve Imams to conduct the affairs of the Muslims until the day of judgement’, this is a clear fabrication and a manifest concoction on the part of the shias. A deep look into their conduct shows that the teachings which they have invented are based on fabricated statements which they try to prove by misinterpreting and misunderstanding the traditions of the Prophet (S.A).
The Hadith in question which they have quoted is the hadith of Bukhari and Muslim which states that Jabir bin Samura (R.A) said, ‘I heard the Prophet ( S.A) saying there will be twelve rulers’. He then said a sentence which I did not hear. My father said, ‘All of them will be from the Quraish’. (Bukhari vol.9 pg.250)
Note that there is absolutely no mention of twelve Imams being appointed by the Rasool. And there is absolutely no mention about these Imams conducting the affairs of the Muslims until the day of judgement. The Prophet (S.A) simply informed the Companions that after his demise twelve leaders from among the Quraish will rule with justice and fairness. No one from among the Commentators of Ahadith has given any such explanation to this hadith indicating to the emergence of twelve Imams.
In fact, the great Commentator of Sahih Al Bukhari, Hafiz Ibn Hajar Asqalani has mentioned that this hadith refers to the time immediately after the Prophet (S.A) where twelve such Khalifas who would be deserving authority would rule with fairness and justice in accordance to the law of Allah. This period started from the Caliphate of Abu Bakr Siddiq (R.A) and ended at the Caliphate of Umar bin Abdul Azeez (A.R). During this period there were fourteen Khalifahs, however two of them were such that their authority were not sound and valid and it did not last long. They were Muawiya the son of Yazeed and Marwan the son of Hakam. Besides these two, the others were twelve righteous rulers who came one after the other and ruled with goodness. This period of the twelve rulers ended with Umar bin Abdul Azeez in the year 101 A.H. and after this a great amount of changes began to take place’. (Fathul Bari – Commentary of Sahih Al Bukhari Vol.13 pg.215)
With respect to the statement ‘that the person admonished in sura Abasa was the makkan chief’, this is totally wrong. All the great commentators of the Holy Quran like Ibn Jareer, Abu Yala, Ibn Abi Hatim, Ibn Katheer have narrated the traditions from a great number of sahabahs (companions) who have explained the cause of revelation for this sura (i.e. Abasa). They have explained that the companion Abdullah bin Umm Maktum (R.A.) was a blind man. It once happened that the Holy Prophet (S.A.S.) was engaged in a talk with the leaders of the Quraish about some Matters of belief when Abdullah bin Umm Makhtum arrived there. Imam Baghwi mentions that being blind and unable to see the surroundings, he did not realize that the Holy Prophet (S.A.S.) was occupied with the others. He, therefore, entered into the circle and called the Prophet (S.A.S.) repeatedly.
According to Hafiz ibn Katheer, Abdullah bin Umm Makhtum requested the Prophet to teach him a verse of the Quran and insisted an immediate enlightment on the question. On that occasion, the Prophet was occupied with the non believing leaders of Makka in the hope that they would embrace Islam. The leaders to whom the Prophet (S.A.S.) was speaking were Utbah bin Rabi’ah, Abu Jahl bin Hisham, Abbas (who did not accept Islam as yet).
The Holy Prophet (S.A.S.) disliked the intrusion, and showed his displeasure by turning aside from Abdullah ibn Umm Makhtum, thinking that he was a committed muslim who frequently visited him, and therefore, he could speak to him at another appropriate time. There was no harm in postponing the response to him. On the other hand, the Quraish leaders neither frequented the Holy Prophet’s company, nor could the word of Allah be conveyed to them at any time. At that particular moment, they were listening to the Holy Prophet’s discourse and there was hope that they would embrace the Islamic faith. But if the conversation was rashly interrupted, apparently they would have been deprived of the faith. In view of this situation, the Holy Prophet showed adverse reaction by turning aside from Abdullah ibn Umm Makhtum, and continued his discourse with the Quraish leaders. When the assembly ended, the verse of Sura Abasa was revealed to record Allah’s dislike for this attitude, and to give directions for the future. (Tafseer Ibn Katheer Vol. 6 Pg. 385-388, Ma’ariful Quran Vol. 8 Pg. 705).
This as well as all other explanations from the narrations of the sahabahs, shows that the person addressed in the Sura, in the verse ‘He frowned and turned his face’ refer to the Holy Prophet (S.A.S).
With respect to the claim of the shias that the prophet could read and write, this is also a false statement and contradicts the truth. The Holy Quran itself establishes the fact that the Prophet (S.A.S.) was ‘Nabi Al Ummi’ the unlettered Prophet’.
In this regard, the Holy Quran states in Sura Al A’raf (7) verse 157:
‘Those who follow the Messenger, the Ummi (unlettered) prophet whom they find written with them in the Torah and the Injil’. (7:157)
This verse speaks about the people who will be successful, as it ends with ‘these are the ones who are successful’ and states that these people are those who follow the last Prophet Muhammad (S.A.S.) who has been mentioned in previous scriptures.
While referring to the Prophet Muhammed (S.A.S.), Allah mentions that he is ‘An Nabiyul Ummi’. The Arabic word ‘Ummi’ means one who does not know the art of reading and writing and hence, it is normally translated as ‘unlettered’.
The Holy Quran has referred to the Arabs as ‘Ummiyyun’ (unlettered people), because the Arabs generally had very little to do with reading and writing. Being incapable of reading and writing is, obviously not a quality, rather it is an indication of imperfection. Nevertheless, no matter how unusual it may seem, the same sign of imperfection has come to serve the Holy Prophet (S.A.S.) as a sign of his perfection of the highest degree, taking in view the unparalled erudition and exemplary wisdom and learning preached and demonstrated by him.
In this respect, the Prophet (S.A.S.) also said, ‘we the Arabs are a nation who are Unlettered, we cannot read and we cannot write’. (Sahih Al Bukhari – Kitabus Sawm – Chapter of Fasting).
With respect to the statement that Abu Talib was a pious Muslim, this is also a false statement which has no truth in it.
All the scholars from the past and present have recorded in their authentic works that Abu Talib died as an Unbeliever.
There is no contention that Abu Talib was very kind and helpful to the Prophet (S.A.S.) and his mission, however authentic reports show that he died as an unbeliever.
In this regard Hafiz ibn Kathir has recorded the following in his famous book, Seeratun Nabi. He writes, ‘There is a most authentic hadith in Sahih Al Bukhari which states that when Abu Talib was dying, Allah’s Messenger visited him but Abu Jahl was there already. Allah’s Messenger said, “Uncle, say ‘La ilaha illalah’ and I shall intercede for you before Allah”. Abu Jahl and Abdullah ibn Abu Umayyah said, ‘Abu Talib, would you give up the religion of your fore fathers’? They did not cease, to speak to him till he spoke his last words (saying) ‘on the religion of Abdul Muttalib’. So, Allah’s Messenger said, ‘Unless I am disallowed, I will go on seeking forgiveness for you’. Then, this verse was revealed, ‘It is not for the Prophet and those who believe to ask forgiveness for the Mushrikeen, even though they may be near relatives, after it has become clear to them that they will be companions of the Hell fire’ (9:113).
And the other verse was also revealed, ‘Surely, you (O Prophet) cannot guide (anyone) whom you love’. (28:56). There is a similar hadith in Muslim. (Seeratun Nabi – Life of the Prophet Muhammad (S.A.S.) by Hafiz ibn Kathir Vol. 1 Pg. 211).
As we can see, all these statements made by the Shias are all fabricated and are totally false. This has been their attitude from the very beginning period of their emergence and it continues until today.
Be careful of their literature.
And Allah knows best.
Mufti Waseem Khan