What are the proofs that Shia put forth about the claim that Hazrath Ali should have been the first caliph and how can these claims be answered?

It is possible to answer these claims under different headings:
1- O Messenger (you who convey and embody the Message in the best way)! Convey and make known in the clearest way all that has been sent down to you from your Lord. For, if you do not, you have not conveyed His Message and fulfilled the task of His Messengership. And God will certainly protect you from the people. (Al-Maidah Surah, 5:67) (1)
There is no implication in the verse to the caliphate of Hazrath Ali. As Shavkani says, the verse expresses generality. (2) In other words, it says, Whatever has been sent down to you, convey all of them. In fact, Hazrath Aisha said, Whoever says Muhammad has hidden something from what has been sent down to him will have been lying. and recited the verse above. (3)

This being the case, the Shia says that (4) the verse above proclaims the caliphate of Hazrath Ali. However, with this claim they accuse Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) of not performing his duty completely; because if the verse is meant how they understand it, then it means Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) passed away without announcing it.

2- While he was going on a campaign (to the Campaign of Tabuk in the narration of Suyuti) Prophet Muhammad left Hazrath Ali in his place. When Hazrath Ali said: Do you leave me with women and children? Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) answered: Wouldnt you like to be the example of Moses and Aaron with me? However, there will be no prophet after me. (5)

In the answer of the Prophet, there is a sign to the event of Moses going to the Mount Tor. Moses went to Mount Tor leaving his brother Aaron in his place. Aaron is also a prophet like his brother Moses.

It is reasonable to infer the high virtues of Ali from the above narration and no one opposes to this. However, it is a far-fetched evaluation to conclude, The first caliph should have been Hazrath Ali. For Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) also left some people other than Hazrath Ali in his place when he went to war. Abdullah b. Ummi Maktum is one of them. (6)

3- Bara b. Azib relates: In a military expedition, we rested in Gadir-i Hum. The call to the prayer was issued... After the prayer, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) held the hand of Hazrath Ali and said: Of whoever master I am, Ali is also the master of him. O My Lord, be a friend to whoever is a friend to him; and be an enemy to whoever is the enemy of him. (7)

Even if this narration is accepted as healthy, it is not possible to understand from here that Hazrath Ali should be the first caliph (8); because Hazrath Ali is surely one of the distinguished among Muslims. He bears the honor of being the lion of God with his courage. He possesses the rank of the Master of Closeness to God. Because of such distinguished qualities of his own, he has been the master of all Muslims all through the history. As Alusi puts it, if the Prophet had wanted to leave Hazrath Ali as the caliph in his place, he would have said, O people! This is the ruler of you after me. Listen to and obey him! (9) And such a command would surely have been fulfilled. Surely it cannot be thought that the Companions who love the Prophet so dearly as to say: May both my mother and father be sacrificed for you! would not have listened to the word of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) in such a significant issue. Likewise, the wish of Hazrath Abu Bakr: I recommend Hazrath Omar after me was realized and Muslims gave their oaths to Hazrath Omar. (10)

4- One of the narrations the Shia put forth as evidence to their claims: Before his passing while his illness deteriorated, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: Bring me a pen and a piece of paper; I will dictate a testament in order for you not to deviate. When Hazrath Omar said: The illness of the Prophet deteriorated. The book of God is enough for us. there emerged off-handed talks. Prophet Muhammad said, Go away from me. It is not appropriate to dispute in my presence. (11)

According to the claim of the Shia, the Prophet wanted to dictate that Hazrath Ali should succeed him and Hazrath Omar prevented this. (12) However, in the narration in question there is no implication to this. It is just compulsion to understand this verse in that way.

5- Say: I ask of you no wage for it (for conveying Gods Religion to you which will bring you this favor), but (I ask of you for) love for my near relatives (on account of my mission) (Ash-Shura Surah, 42:23) (13)

In another narration, upon the revelation of this verse, Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) was asked: O Messenger of God, who are your relatives that we should love? and he answered, Ali, Fatıma and their offspring. (14)

The Shia presents this verse as evidence to the love of the Family of the Prophet. While it is possible to accept this as an implicational meaning, there is no evidence to this in the open meaning of the verse.

Ibn-i Abbas was asked about this verse. Before he answered, Said b. Cubayr who was present there said, The Family of the Prophet whereupon Ibn-i Abbas said, You hurried; because there is no family of Kuraysh with which Prophet Muhammad does not have a tie of relationship. The meaning of the verse is: At least take the right of relation into attention. (15)

In the explanation of the verse, Ibnu Kasir points out this meaning: If you do not help me, at least do not make me suffer for the sake of the relationship between us. (16)

This evaluation of his really shows a delicacy deserving attention: The evidence to prove that the intended meaning of the verse is Hadrat Ali, Fatıma and their offspring is weak. Moreover, the surah is among the Meccan surahs. In Mecca, however, Hazrath Fatima had no children. She had children after the War of Badr in the second year of the Hegira when she got married with Hazrath Ali. But it should not be misunderstood that not accepting this narration means not loving the family of the Prophet; because they came from a pure progeny, from the most honorable family upon earth in respect of honor, virtues, and lineage. (17)

Fahraddin-i Razi presents the narrations: Be it known that my Ahl-i Bayt (family) among you is like Noahs Ark. As those who boarded the Ark (at that time) attained salvation, so any person who loves my Ahl-i Bayt (now and on) shall attain salvation and My Ashab (Companions) are like celestial stars in the sky. A person who follows any one of them will attain salvation. (18) And he makes this evaluation: Now we are in the sea of responsibility. The waves of doubt and lust hit us. The one who sails in the sea needs two things:

1- A sound ship.
2- Stars that give off light.

Therefore, whoever gets on such a ship and sails looking at the stars has greater hope. Ahl-i Sunnah has embarked on the ship of affection for the Family of the Prophet and is sailing looking at the stars of Companions. (19)

Ahl-i Sunnah does not have a problem of not loving the Family of the Prophet. We pray for them in each sitting of every salat and love them dearly. (20) Among Ahl-i Sunnah, names like Ali, Hassan, Hussein, Fatıma are very common.

1- Al-Maidah Surah, 5:67
2- Şevkani, Muhammed, Fethu'l- Kadir, Daru İhyai't- Türasi'l- Arabi, Beyrut, ts. II, 59. Besides see Kurtubi, VI, 157
3- Buhari, Tefsir, 5/7; Şevkani, II, 59
4- See Şevkani, II, 59-60
5- Tirmizi, Menakıb, 20; Süyuti, Celaleddin, Tarihu'l Hulefa, Daru'l- Kütübi'l- İlmiyye, Beyrut, 1988, page 133
6- See Hamidullah, Muhammed, İslamın Hukuk İlmine Yardımları, Ist. 1962, page 142-143
7-Ibnu Hanbel, IV, 281; Suyuti, Tarihu'l- Hulefa, page 134; Alûsî, VI, 192-193
8-See Onat, Hasan, Emeviler Devri Şii Hareketleri ve Günümüz Şiiliği, TDV. Publication Ankara, 1993, page 24
9-Alûsî, Ebu'l-Fadl, Ruhu'l-Meani, Daru İhyai't-Türasi'l-Arabi, Beyrut, 1985, VI, 195
10-Süyuti, Tarihu'l - Hulefa, page 62-64
11-Bukhari, Merda, 17; Müslim, Vesaya, 22; İbnu Hanbel, I, 325
12-Naim, Ahmet, Tecrid-i Sarih Tercemesi ve Şerhi, Diyanet Yay. Ankara, 1982, I, 108.
Ahmad Naim analyses concerning narrations in a very good way here. For further information, this can be referred to.
13-Ash-Shura Surah, 42:23
14-Beydavî, Kadı, Envaru't-Tenzil ve Esraru't-Te'vil, Daru'l-Kütübi'l-İlmiyye, Beyrut, 1988, II, 362
15-Kurtubi, XVI, 15-16; İbnu Kesir, VII, 187; Süyuti, Dürrü'l- Mensur, Daru'l - Mektebi'l- İlmiyye, Beyrut, 1990, V, 699
16-Ibnu Kesir, VII, 187
17-Age. VII, 189
18-Aclûnî, I, 132
19-Razî, XXVII, 167
20-Razî, XXVII, 166

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