What are the evidences of Shia for their claim that Hz. Ali should have been the first caliph and how can these claims be answered?

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

It is possible to answer these claims under various headings.

1. “O Messenger. Proclaim the (message) which hath been sent to thee from thy Lord. If thou didst not, thou wouldst not have fulfilled and proclaimed His mission. And Allah will defend thee from men (who mean mischief).” (1)

There is nothing related to Hz. Ali’s caliphate in the verse. As Shawkani states, the verse is general. (2) That is, it says "Proclaim the (message) which has been sent to you from your Lord". As a matter of fact, Hz. Aisha said,

“If anyone said that Muhammad hid something from what was revealed to him, he would be lying” and recited the verse above. (3)

However, based on some weak and fabricated narrations, (4) Shia state that the verse above declares Hz. Ali’s caliphate. Thus, they accuse the Prophet of not fulfilling his duty properly with those claims. If the verse is as they understand it, it means that the Prophet died without conveying it.

2. When the Prophet set off for an expedition (to Tabuk according to the narration of Suyuti), the Prophet (pbuh) left Hz. Ali in Madinah as his deputy. Hz. Ali said, “Are you leaving me with women and children?” The Prophet replied as follows:

“Do you not want to be like the Prophet Musa (Moses) and Harun (Aaron) with me? However, there is no prophet after me.” (5)

The answer of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) indicates the Prophet Musa’s going to Mount Sinai. Musa went to Mount Sinai by leaving his brother Harun as his deputy. Harun is a prophet like his brother Musa.

It is perfectly reasonable to deduce Hz. Ali’s virtue from the above narration and nobody objects to it. However, it is a strained interpretation to conclude from the narration that “the first caliph should have been Hz. Ali”. When the Prophet went on other expeditions, he left others as his deputy. Abdullah b. Umm Maktum, who was visually impaired, was one of them. (6)

3. Bara b. Azib narrates: “We stopped at Ghadir Khum on an expedition. Call to prayer was announced. After the prayer, the Prophet held the hand of Hz. Ali and said,

‘If I am someone’s mawla, Ali is his mawla too. O Allah! Be a friend of his friend and an enemy of his enemy.’” (7)

Even if the narration is accepted as sound, it is not possible to understand the necessity of Hz. Ali’s being the first caliph. (8) For, Hz. Ali is truly one of the most distinguished one among Muslims. He has the title of the Lion of Allah due to his courage. He has the rank of the leadership of saints. He has been the master of all Muslims throughout history due to the distinguished features like them. As Alusi states, if the Prophet had wanted Hz. Ali to become the caliph after him, he would have said, “O people! He is your ruler and your commander after me. Listen to him and obey him.” (9) Such an order would have definitely been fulfilled. It is definitely unthinkable for the Companions, who said, “May my parents be sacrificed for you!” to the Prophet (pbuh) not to obey the Prophet’s order related to such a serious issue. As a matter of fact, When Hz. Abu Bakr said, “I advise Umar after me”, his request was fulfilled; the Muslims paid allegiance to Hz. Umar. (10)

4. One of the narrations Shia rely on is as follows:

“When the Prophet’s illness deteriorated before his death, he said,

‘Bring me a pen and paper, I will dictate my will so that you will not go astray after me.’ When Hz. Umar said,

“The Prophet’s illness deteriorated. Allah’s Book is sufficient for us”, people started to argue. The Prophet said,

“Go away from me. It does not fit you to argue in my presence.” (11)

According to the claim of the Shia, the Prophet wanted to dictate Hz. Ali’s name as his caliph but Hz. Umar prevented it. (12) However, there is no indication of it in the narration mentioned above. Evaluating the narration in that way is a strained interpretation.

5. “No reward do I ask of you for this except the love of those near of kin.” (13)

According to a narration, when the verse above was revealed, the Prophet was asked, “O Messenger of Allah! Who are your relatives that are necessary for us to love?” He said, “Ali, Fatima and their sons.” (14)

This verse above is mentioned by Shia as proof of love for Ahl al-Bayt. Although it is possible to accept it as an implied meaning, there is no indication of it in the clear meaning of the verse.

Ibn Abbas was asked about that verse. Before he answered, Said b. Jubayr, who was there, said “Aal-i Muhammad” Ibn Abbas said, “You have hurried up; Quraysh has no family with which the Prophet did not have any kinship. The meaning of the verse is “Take care of the right of kinship at least.” (15)

Ibn Kathir attracts attention to the following meaning in the interpretation of the verse: “If you do not help me, do not harass me because of the kinship between us at least.” (16)

The following comment of Ibn Kathir is worth mentioning:

The narration “What is meant by the verse is ‘Hz. Ali, Fatima and their sons’” has a weak chain of narrators. Besides, it is in a chapter that was revealed in Makkah. Fatima had no children in Makkah. She married Hz. Ali in the second year of the Migration after the Battle of Badr. However, not accepting the narration does not mean not loving Aal-i Muhammad. They came from a clean offspring, from the most honorable house in the world in terms of honor and lineage. (17)

Fakhruddin Razi attracts attention to the narrations

“My Ahl al-Bayt is like Noah’s Ark. The one who embarks it will be saved” and

“My Companions are like stars. You will attain guidance if you follow any of them” (18)

and makes the following comment:

“Now we are in the sea of ​​responsibility. Waves of doubt and lust are hitting us. Those who travel in the sea need two things:

1) A sound ship.
2) Luminous stars.

So, those who embark such a ship and look at the stars have a great hope of salvation. Ahl as-Sunnah have embarked the ship of Ahl al-Bayt love and have been sailing by looking at the stars of the Companions.” (19)

Ahl as-Sunnah does not have a problem of not loving Ahl al-Bayt. We pray for them in tashahhud of each prayer and we love them truly. (20) Names such as “Ali, Hasan, Husayn, Fatima...” are very common among Ahl as-Sunnah.


1. Al-Maida, 67.
2. Shawkani, Muhammad, Fathul-Qadir, Daru Ihyait-Turathil-Arabi, Beirut, nd. II, 59. See also Qurtubi, VI, 157.
3. Bukhari, Tafsir, 5/7; Shawkani, II, 59.
4. see Shawkani, II, 59-60.
5. Tirmidhi, Manaqib, 20; Suyuti, Jalaluddin, Tarihul-Khulafa, Darul-Kutubil-Ilmiyya, Beirut, 1988, p. 133.
6. see Hamidullah, Muhammad, İslamın Hukuk İlmine Yardımları, İst. 1962, pp. 142-143.
7. Ibnu Hanbal, IV, 281; Suyuti, Tarikhul-Hulafa, p. 134; Alusi, VI, 192-193.
8. see Onat, Hasan, Emeviler Devri Şii Hareketleri ve Günümüz Şiiliği, TDV. Yay. Ankara, 1993, p. 24.
9. Alusi, Abul-Fadl, Ruhul-Maani, Daru Ihyait-Turathil-Arabi, Beirut, 1985, VI, 195.
10. Suyuti, Tarikhul-Khulafa, p. 62-64.
11. Bukhari, Marda, 17; Muslim, Wasaya, 22; Ibn Hanbal, I, 325.
12. Naim, Ahmet, Tecrid-i Sarih Tercemesi ve Şerhi, Diyanet Yay. Ankara, 1982, I, 108. Ahmet Naim analyzes the narrations regarding the issue very well in this work. You can refer to it for more information.
13. ash-Shura, 23.
14. Baydawi, Qadi, Anwarut-Tanzil wa Asrarut-Tawil, Darul-Kutubil-Ilmiyya, Beirut, 1988, II, 362.
15. Qurtubi, XVI, 15-16; Ibnu Kathir, VII, 187; Suyuti, Durrul-Mansur, Darul-Maktabil- Ilmiyya, Beirut, 1990, V, 699.
16. Ibnu Kathir, VII, 187.
17. ibid. VII, 189.
18. Ajluni, I, 132.
19. Razi, XXVII, 167.
20. Razi, XXVII, 166.

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