Is there a hadith about Hz. Ali saying, "I am the city of knowledge and Ali is its gate"?

The Details of the Question
Is there a hadith about Hz. Ali saying, "I am the city of knowledge and Ali is its gate"?
The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

There are some scholars who say the statement, "I am the city of knowledge and Ali is its gate"is weak or reliable; there are also some scholars who say this statement does not belong to the Prophet (pbuh) and hence it is fabricated. However, it is not possible to regard this narration, which exists also in Ahl as-Sunnah resources, as non-existent. As a matter of fact, it is reported as a hadith. (al-Jamius-Saghir 1/415, Sawaiqul-Muhriqa 73; Tahdhibut-Tahdhib 6/320; Hakim, Mustadrak 3/126)

The hadith exists only in Tirmidhi's Sunan among Kutub as-Sitta books. The narration in Tirmidhi is as follows: “I am the house of wisdom and Ali is its gate." The narration in Uqayli, Tabarani, Ibn Adi and Hakim is as follows: "I am the city of knowledge and Ali is its gate. He who wants knowledge should come to the gate.”

The narration that Hz. Ali is the gate of the door of knowledge of the city of knowledge owned by the Prophet is disputable among hadith scholars but it is understood that such a hadith exists and that it is hasan though it does not reach the degree of soundness.  

It can be nothing but a subjective claim to state that caliphate belongs to Hz. Ali and his descendants by using a hadith out of its context and using it as a reference not directly but based on some signs and interpretations related to one of the most important and vital issues of the Islamic ummah. As a matter of fact, just Shiite scholars agree with it.

However, when it is considered that such a hadith exists, it is necessary to accept the greatness of Hz. Ali in terms of knowledge (ilm). It is a historical fact that he has an important place among the Companions. It is necessary to understand the ilm that Hz. Ali has as an understanding comprehending the deep meanings of the Quran and the Sunnah rather than an esoteric understanding that he knows ghayb. As a matter of fact, he himself approved it and said that he had nothing but the Book of Allah and the understanding (fahm) given to a Muslim. 

Therefore, the love toward Hz. Ali must not reach an extreme level that blinds eyes and deafens ears as it is seen in many groups. Muslims have to be consistent and moderate related to love and in all other issues.  

That Hz. Ali is the gate of the city of knowledge increases his virtues but this should not bring about a tendency to regard the other Companions inferior. Every Companion has superior virtues that belong to them and that do not exist in others.

To sum up, it is never appropriate to regard Hz. Ali as the most superior one among the Companions acting upon the narration above and similar ones without taking the other narrations into consideration. As a matter of fact, many statements praising other Companions especially the four caliphs were narrated from the Prophet (pbuh). It can be wrong to decree based on one or two narrations without taking the other narrations into consideration.

From this point of view, it is not appropriate to abandon this narration with the anxiety that it shows Hz. Ali as superior to the other caliphs; similarly, it is not appropriate to regard Hz. Ali as the most superior one among the Companions acting upon this narration only. It is necessary to evaluate every statement in its context.

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