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Inserts / Messages
- Basic Education
- Interesting Articles
- Religious Lectures
- Wiladat Celebrations
- Questions about Iman
- Healthy Living
Saqifah, Ijma – A Controversy:
Sunni Muslims believe that the selection of Abu Bakr as the first Caliph was unanimous at the ijma or the general consensus. Shia Muslims disagree with that statement and note that there were only three individuals present at the Saqifah to elect the first caliph. The three individuals were Abu Bakr, Umar bin Khattab, and Abu Ubaida Bin Jarra. Since no other members of Muslim Umma was invited to Saqifah, Shias believe that it is very likely that a political conspiracy was hatched by these three persons even before the Holy Prophet (pbuh) was buried and while Imam Ali (a.s.) was busy giving final burial rites to the Holy Prophet (pbuh). Neither Imam Ali (a.s.) nor any of his Bani Hashim tribe members were invited to the ijma. Imam Ali (a.s.) was deliberately not informed about the meeting at Saqifah.
Shia -Sunni Disagreements Over Saqifah:
Sunni Muslims made up several vague arguments for rushing the process of selection of the first caliph and deliberately not inviting Imam Ali (a.s.) or many other learned scholars and companions of the Holy Prophet (pbuh). They argued that Abu Bakr was more experienced and was a companion of the Holy Prophet (pbuh) and hence he was selected. This argument is rebutted in the book, Peshawar Nights (p.182), with reference to Tabuk expedition. It is noted that when the Holy Prophet (pbuh) left for the Tabuk expedition, the hypocrites had secretly planned to revolt in Medina during his absence. Therefore, he appointed an experienced man, Imam Ali (a.s.), in Medina as his successor and caliph in order to control the situation even though Abu Bakr and Umar were present. Also, for the recitation of the verses of the Chapter Al Barra’s (Immunity) of the Holy Qur’an to the infidels of Mecca, the Holy Prophet (pbuh) called back the older Abu Bakr from his half-completed journey and instead sent young Imam Ali (a.s.) to perform this important task. Similarly, to guide the people of Yemen, Holy Prophet (pbuh) selected Imam Ali (a.s.) superseding Abu Bakr, Umar, and others. In short, if Holy Prophet (pbuh) trusted Imam Ali (a.s.) with such important missions over Abu Bakr and Umar, why wouldn’t the ijma select him for the caliphate?
Usama Bin Zaid who was appointed Commander-In-Chief of the Muslim Army by the Holy Prophet (pbuh) himself, while designating Abu Bakr and Umar to work as subordinate to Usama. When Usama learned that Abu Bakr had been appointed a caliph, he was upset and cried aloud, “With whose permission have you appointed a caliph? What was the significance of a handful of people, who, without consulting the companions, appointed a caliph?”.
Shia Scholars See No Justification:
Shia scholars argue that in 617 AD, Banu Quraysh enforced a boycott against the Banu Hashim. Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), along with his supporters from Banu Hashim, were totally cut off in a pass away from Mecca. All social relations with the Banu Hashim were also cut off and the Holy Prophet (pbuh) and his households were put to a state of imprisonment. Before the atrocities reached to its peak, many Muslims migrated to Ethiopia|Abyssinia (now Ethiopia). Abu Bakr, feeling distressed, left the holy prophet, his wife Khadija, and Imam Ali ibn Abi Talib (a.s.) to their own fate in Mecca, and set out for Yemen and then to Abyssinia for shelter. After about two years, when situation somewhat calmed down and he found relief for him in the hands of Quraysh, he returned to Mecca.
Additionally, both Abu Bakr and Umar were sadly disappointed when Holy Prophet Mohammed (pbuh) did not give them the flag to lead an attack on Battle of Khyber but instead gave it to Imam Ali (a.s.), as the prophet (pbuh) had done in almost all the battles fought during his prophethood. Shia scholars major complaint was that the caliph selectors at Saqifah did neither pay any heed to the Holy Prophet (pbuh)’s forceful declaration in front of a large gathering of Muslims at Ghadeer-e- Khum, where he declared ” Mau Kunto Maulaho fa Haza Aliyun Maulaho” (To whomsoever I am the Master, Ali is the Master) , nor to the numerous statements made publicly by the Holy prophet (pbuh) during his life time. A few such statements are: “Ali is of me and I am of Ali”. “We are of one and the same light”. “Ali is to me what Aaron was to Moses”. “Ali’s flesh is my flesh and Ali’s blood is my blood”. “Ali is my brother in this world and hereinafter.” “I and Ali are fathers of this Muslim nation”. Ahl e Sunnah argue that Imam Ali (a.s.) was too young and too inexperienced to become the first caliph even though he was 33 years of age. As regards Imam Ali’s experience, his knowledge was as vast as that of the Holy Prophet (pbuh) who had publicly said ” I AM MADINATUL ILMI WA ALIYUN BABUHA” ( I am city of knowledge Ali is its gate). Imam Ali’s knowledge was not only limited to Islam. Once he said to the Chief Priest (Jalut) of the Jews in a Mosque in Medina, ” I know Torah and Gospel better than thou knowest them. The followers of Moses were divided into seventy-one sects, one of them is safe, the others are lost. The followers of Jesus are divided into seventy -two sects, one of them is safe and rest are lost. And the people of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) will be divided into seventy-three sects, one of them will be on the safe side and others will be lost.”
Imam Ali’s Refusal of Allegiance to Abu Bakr:
Most of the scholars, ulemas, and companions of Holy Prophet (pbuh) did not give their allegiance to Abu Bakr. These included not only Imam Ali (a.s.) but also eighteen persons who were prominent and distinguished companions of the Holy Prophet (pbuh). These included veterans such as Salman Farsi, Abu Dhar Gaffari, Ammar-e-Yasir, Sa’d Bin Ubaida, and Abdulla Bin Abbas.
Abu Bakr’s Era:
Shia sources claim that Imam Ali (a.s.) did not give his oath of allegiance to Abu Bakr at all even after the death of his wife, Fatimah (s.a.), in the year 633 AD. In Shia’s view, Imam Ali (a.s.) never fought in the Ridda wars which were prompted because the Muslims defied the caliphate of Abu Bakr by not paying taxes. In Sahih Bukahri, the daughter of Abu Bakr, wife of Holy Prophet Mohammed (pbuh), Aisha, narrates, after Fadak was taken away by Abu Bakr, Fatima (s.a.), the daughter of Allah’s last Apostle (pbuh), got angry and stopped speaking to Abu Bakr, and continued that attitude until she died.The narration also gives the reason for this anger: Abu Bakr refused to give Lady Fatima bint Mohammad (s.a.) her inheritance. The matter was put on trial where Abu Bakr was the judge. In the trial she gave her famous sermon wherein she asserted her own rights to Fadak, and the rights of her husband, Imam Ali ibn Abu Talib (a.s.), as successor to her father. Part of the sermon in which the Lady of Light, Fatima Zahra (s.a.) addressing the masses in Al-Masjid an-Nabawi, the site of the trial, she said: “Nevertheless, I see that you are inclined to easy living; dismissed he who is more worthy of guardianship (Imam Ali (a.s.)); you secluded yourselves with meekness and dismissed that which you accepted… Here it is! Bag it (leadership) and put it on the back of an ill she camel, which has a thin hump with everlasting disgrace, marked with the wrath of Allah”.
After the Fadak trial, Imam Ali’s (a.s.) house was burnt down in which his wife, Fatima Zahra (s.a.), sustained injuries causing her miscarriage and her eventual death. Abu Bakr had dispatched his nominator, Umar, to have Imam Ali (a.s.) swear the oath of allegiance but, Lady Fatima (s.a.) would not let him through the door so he forced his way into the house. Imam Ali ibn Abu Talib (a.s.) was put in ropes and dragged like a camel with a rope around his neck and every kind of cruelty and humiliation was leveled against him…
In light of the above noted facts and the Holy prophet’s numerous declarations and statements all pointing towards Imam Ali (a.s.) to be the rightful successor after his death, it is not logical, from Shia point of view, to believe that Imam Ali ibn Abu Talib (a.s.) gave the oath of allegiance to Abu Bakr, or to any other caliph.
Abu Bakr a few days before his death made an eloquent speech in which he insisted that there is no person better than Umar for succession after him. Soon after Abu Bakr’s death in 634AD, Umar became the 2nd caliph without any selection, election, or any kind of approval process by the Muslim Umma.
Ali Asgher Razwy a 20th-century Shia Twelver scholar states in his book (The Restatement of History….): The second Khalifa, Umar bin Al- Khattab, lived in morbid fear, and expressed his utter hatred for Imam Ali ibn Abi Talib (a.s.), and never wanted him to become caliph of the Muslims. Once it was reported to him that some one said that after his (Umar’s ) death, he would acknowledge Imam Ali (a.s.) as the 3rd caliph. This greatly alarmed Umar, and he immediately warned the Muslims against doing so.
Selection of Uthman as Khalifa:
Umar, on his deathbed, appointed six Muhajireen as members of a panel which was to choose one out of themselves as the future khalifa of the Muslims. They were Imam Ali (a.s.), Uthman, Talha, Zubayr, Abdur Rahman bin Auf and Saad bin Abi Waqqas. Except Imam Ali (a.s.), all other members of the panel were capitalists, or rather, neo-capitalists. When they came from Mecca, they were penniless and homeless but within twelve years, i.e., from the death of Prophet Muhammad Mustafa (pbuh) in 632 to the death of Umar in 644, each of them, except Imam Ali (a.s.), had become filthy rich like Croesus. Between these two dates, they had accumulated immense wealth, and had become the richest men of their times. Imam Ali (a.s.) did not qualify as a member of this exclusive panel but Umar included him anyway. Apart from the fact that Imam Ali made his living as a gardener whereas his other five co-members lived on the revenues of their lands and estates, there was another gulf, even more unbridgeable, that separated him from them. In character, personality, temperament, attitudes, philosophy and outlook on life, Imam Ali (a.s.) and the rest of them were the antithesis of each other.
Umar summoned Abdur Rahman bin Auf and gave him directives in private to select a successor to be the next caliph. Abdur Rahman sensed and knew exactly whar Umar wanted him to do. Umar called Abu Talha, a commander, and told him: God has given honor to Islam through you “the Ansar” , and now you take your 50 armed men to watch the members of electoral committee, and do not let them disperse without choosing a khalifa which they must do in three days.
Abdur Rahman, being the key figure of the electoral committee, made himself a chairman of the committee. Imam Ali (a.s.) hesitated to accept Abdur Rahman as the chairman, and put a condition that he (Abdur Rahman) will not be a slave to his lusts, and that his decision will be taken only to win the pleasure of God and His Messanger. Abdur Rahman readily gave his pledge to do so.
Abdur Rahman held a series of meetings with all candidates to find a satisfactory solution of the problem but his efforts bore no fruits. The first two days ended in stalemate. On the third day, the choice of becoming khalifa was narrowed down to only two men, Imam Ali (a.s.) and Uthman bin Affan. Abdur Rahman consulted Amr bin Aas and developed a plan which will checkmate Imam Ali (a.s.).
On the following morning, Muslims assembled in the Mosque of the Holy Prophet in Madina, where Abdur Rahman made the announcement of the purpose of the gathering and called upon the Muslims to abide by the decision of the electoral committee which Umar had appointed. The situation turned tense, and every one became anxious to learn of the Committee’s decision. Abdur Rahman got up and held Imam Ali (a.s.) ‘s hand and posed the following question:
” If we give you charge of the government of the Muslims and put you in authority over their affairs, do you solemnly promise to act according to the Book of God, the Sunnah of His Apostle, and the precedents of Abu Bakr and Umar?”. Imam Ali replied: “I shall act according to the Book of God, and the Sunnah of His Apostle. As for following the precedents of Abu Bakr and Umar, I have a judgment of my own, and I am going to use it” .
Imam Ali (a.s.) knew just what would happen next. Abdur Rahman turned to Uthman, and repeated the same question to him. Uthman immediately agreed and thus became the third khalifa of Muslims. Imam Ali (a.s.) protested, and said to Abdur Rahman: “It is not the first time that you have deprived the heirs and children of Muhammad, the Apostle of God, of their rights through treachery. For this you are answerable to God. But for me it is better to put my trust in God Who Alone is Just, Fair, and Merciful”. Imam Ali (a.s.) thus declared publicly that precedents of Abu Bakr and Umar were not acceptable to him. Once Uthman approached Imam Ali (a.s.) to offer him some of his wealth, Imam Ali then told him, “by Allah, you have no right to give me any of it, nor do I have any right to take any of it.”
Khalifa Uthman’s Rule with Wide Spread Corruption:
When Uthman became khalifa, the happiness of Banu Umayya knew no limits. Life for them, they knew, would be all cream and peaches. Abu Sufyan, 90 year old and blind, visited the new khalifa and congratulated him on his selection. Abu Sufyan gave him the following advice:
“It is after a long time that khilafat has come to us. Now kick it around, like a ball, and use it to strengthen Banu Umayya. This new power which now you have in your hands, is every thing…..” Uthman loved his own clan, the Banu Umayya. The Umayyads were the arch-enemies of Islam, and they had fought against the Holy Prophet (pbuh) for more than two decades. Now suddenly, Uthman made them masters of the vast Muslim empire. Uthman opened the gates of public treasury to his relatives and friends. He gave them rich presents, vast estates, and high ranks and positions in the Government. He appointed his uncle Hakkam as collector of taxes, Hakam’s son, Marwan, as his prime Minister. His two sons-in-law received gifts of 300,000 to 600,000 dirhams from public treasury. Abdullah, his half-brother, whom the Prophet of Islam (pbuh) had ordered to be executed as an apostate, was appointed as Governor of Egypt, and Mu’awiyah, an enemy of Islam, Governor of Syria. All the Government appointees including governors were found abusing powers and plundering public treasury in every province of the Muslim empire.
The corruptions and mismanagement brought a lot of anger and dissatisfactions among the general public. Abu Dharr El-Ghafari, a companion of the Prophet (pbuh), protested against the widespread injustices and embezzlement of public funds. Khalifa Uthman banished him to Rebza Desert. Public dissatisfaction and anger gradually spread all over the khilaphat, including Medina. One day, a crowd of angry Muslims entered the palace, captured the Khalifa, and killed him, while his relatives like Marwan, and others, succeeded in escaping through a secret door.
Imam Ali (a.s.) Becomes 4th Khalifa:
After assassination of Uthman, the third Khalifa, in the year 656 AD, Imam Ali (a.s.) was offered to become the fourth khalifa. He first refused to become khalifa because his most vigorous supporters were rebels. However, when some notable companions of the Holy prophet (pbuh) and the residents of Medina urged him to accept the position, he finally agreed. After becoming the 4th khalifa, Imam Ali (a.s.) soon met with resistance from several factions, owing to his relative political inexperience. Imam Ali (a.s.) moved his capital from Medina to Kufa. The resulting conflict, which lasted from 656 AD until 661 AD, is known as the First Fitna (“civil war”). Mu’awiyah I, the governor of Syria, a relative of Uthman ibn al-Affan and Marwan I, wanted the murderers of Uthman arrested. Marwan I manipulated everyone and created conflict. Aisha, the wife of Holy Muhammad (pbuh), and Talhah and Al-Zubayr, two of the companions of Holy Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), went to Basra to tell Imam Ali (a.s.) to arrest the suspects who murdered Uthman. Marwan I and other people who wanted conflict manipulated everyone to fight. The two sides clashed at the Battle of the Camel in 656 AD, where Imam Ali (a.s.) won a decisive victory.
Following this battle, Imam Ali (a.s.) fought a battle against Mu’awiyah, known as the Battle of Siffin. The battle was almost won by Imam Ali (a.s.) when it was stopped suddenly before either side had achieved victory, as the two parties agreed to arbitrate their dispute. After the battle, Amr ibn al-As was appointed by Mu’awiyah as an arbitrator, and Imam Ali (a.s.) appointed Abu Musa Ashaari. Seven months later, in February 658, the two arbitrators met at Adhruh, about 10 miles northwest of Maan in Jordan. Amr ibn al-As convinced Abu Musa Ashaari that both Imam Ali (a.s.) and Mu’awiyah should step down and a new caliph be elected. Imam Ali (a.s.) and his supporters were stunned by the decision which had lowered the caliph, Imam Ali (a.s.), to the status of the rebellious Mu’awiyah I. Imam Ali (a.s.) was therefore outwitted by Mu’awiyah and Amr. Imam Ali (a.s.) refused to accept the verdict and found himself technically in breach of his pledge to abide by the arbitration. This put Imam Ali (a.s.) in a weak position even amongst his own supporters. The most vociferous opponents in Imam Ali’s (a.s.) camp were the very same people who had forced Imam Ali (a.s.) into the ceasefire. They broke away from Imam Ali’s (a.s.) force, rallying under the slogan, “arbitration belongs to God alone.” This group came to be known as the Kharijites (“those who leave”). In 659 AD, Imam Ali’s (a.s.) forces and the Kharijites met in the Battle of Nahrawan. Although Imam Ali (a.s.) won the battle, the Kharijites caused so much trouble that in both the early Sunni and the early Shia books Imam Ali (a.s.) said: “You should be beware of division because the one isolated from the group is a prey to Satan just as the one isolated from the flock of sheep is a prey to the wolf.”
While dealing with the Iraqis, Imam Ali (a.s.) found it hard to build a disciplined army and effective state institutions to exert control over his areas and as a result later spent a lot of time fighting the Kharijites. Imam Ali (a.s.) was assassinated by Kharijites in 661 AD. On the 19th of Ramadan 40 AH, while praying in the Great Mosque of Kufa, Imam Ali (a.s.) was attacked by the Kharijite Abd-al-Rahman ibn Muljam. He was wounded by ibn Muljam’s poison-coated sword while prostrating in the Fajr prayer.
Imam Ali (a.s.), who lived 59 years, spent all his life in inspiring the Muslim Ummah to practice the pillars of Islam, give charity, and be humble, truthful, patient, and obedient, specifically to parents and elderly. Those who possessed these qualities will be rewarded by Allah the Almighty, see the Quran verse 33:35. From his marriage with the Lady of Light Fatima Zahra (s.a.), he had five children, Al-Hasan, Al-Husain, Zainab, Umm Kulthum, and Mohsin.
United Nations Comments on NAHJ AL- BALAGHA
Un Secretariat, the Committee on Human Rights in New York under the chairmanship of the Secretary General Kofi Annan issued, in 2002 AD the historic resolution.
“The Caliph Ali ibn Abi Talib is considered the fairest governor who appeared during human history (After Prophet Muhammad)”. UN declaration was based on document of 160 pages in English. UN was specifically impressed with Quotations and Letters in Nahj al- Balagha, specifically by content of Letter No 53 which Caliph Ali ibn Abi Talib (a.s.) wrote to his governor Malik ibn Ashtar describing in detail the rules of governance, more importantly the emphasis on just and fair treatment with minorities like Christian and Jews.
For this reason, the World Organizations for Human Rights called the rulers of the world to follow the example of his sound and humanitarian method in ruling which revealed the spirit of social justice and peace,.
The United Nations has advised Arab countries to take Ali ibn Abi Talib (a.s.) as an example in establishing a regime based on justice and democracy and encouraging knowledge
The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in its 2002 Arab Human Development Report distributed around the world, listed six sayings of Imam Ali (a.s.) about local governance.
1. He who appointed himself Imam (ruler) of the people must begin by teaching himself before teaching others. His teachings of others must be first by setting an example rather than with his words, for he who begins by teaching and educating himself is more worthy of respect than he who teaches and educates others”
2. “Your concern with developing the land should be greater than your concern for collecting taxes, for the latter can only be by developing, whereas he who seeks revenue without development destroys the country and the people”
3. “Seek the company of learned and wise in search of solving the problems of your country and the righteousness of your people.”
4. ” No good can come out in keeping silent to the government or in speaking out of ignorance.”
5. The righteous are men of virtue, whose logic is straightforward , whose dress is unostentatious, whose path is modest, whose actions are many to the needy, and who re undeterred by difficulties.”
6.” Choose the best among your people to administer justice among them. Choose someone who does not easily give up , who is unruffled by enmities, someone who will not persist in wrong doing , who will not hesitate to pursue right once he knows it, someone whose heart knows no greed, who will not be satisfied with a minimum of explanation without seeking the maximum of understanding, who will be the most steadfast when doubt is cast, who will be the least impatient in correcting the opponent, the most patient in pursuing the truth, the most stern in meting out judgment, someone who is unaffected by flattery and not swayed by temptation and these are but few.”
Ref: UN Arab Human Development Report 2002.
Next week – The Third Holy Imam Hasan (a.s.) in Part #3
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