Imam Ali Ibn Abi Talib (AS): The most Oppressed Companion of the Noble Prophet (S)
By Sheikh Muhammad Mahmud Turi
In the name of Allah who states “… and your Lord creates and chooses whom He pleases, to choose is not theirs” Qur’an: 28:68.
May His everlasting peace and blessings be upon His noble servant our master Muhammad (S) and his immaculate progeny.
As mentioned in the last edition, Imam Ali was born in this sacred month of Rajab on the first of its great nights and in the holy Kaaba. Being the head of the prophet’s household, the Ummah was enjoined to love him and his family as the necessary reward for the prophetic guidance “… no reward do I ask of you for this except the love of those near of kin…” Shuura; 23.
Al-Tabarani related from Ibn Abbas that “no one shall be able to move from his place of reckoning on the day of Judgment until he has stated four things: how he spent his life and his wealth, where he got his wealth from and he shall also be asked about the love of the Ahlul – bait.
Allamah Ibn Hajar has narrated in Sawa’iq chapter 9 that the prophet (s) has said: Behold, this is Ali: he is with the Qur’an and the Qur’an is with him. They shall never part from each other until they come to me at the pool of Kauthar”.
Imam Muslim, Tirmizi, Musnad Ahmad, Mustadrak and Sawa’iq, have narrated the prophet (s) “The messenger of my Allah is about to come to me and I shall answer. I am leaving with you the two weighty things: the first is the book of Allah, in which you find guidance and enlightenment, and the people of my household. I remind you by Allah, of the people of my household, I remind you by Allah, of the people of my household. Behold! My Ahlul – bait are like the ark of Noah, whoever embarked in it was saved, and whoever turned away from it was drowned”.
It was narrated as recorded in Mustadrak and Kanzul ummal, that the prophet has said “whoever wishes to live and die like me, and to abide in the Garden of Eden after death should acknowledge Ali as his patron and follow Ahlul – bait after me, for they are my Ahlul-bait and they have been created out of the same clay, and were blessed with knowledge and understanding as myself. Woe unto those followers of mine who will deny their distinctions and who will disregard their relationship and affinity with me. My Allah never let them benefit from my intercession”.
On the occasion of farewell pilgrimage, when Imam Ali was sent to collect for deliverance and declaration on the great pilgrimage day, Abu – Bakr cried saying O messenger of Allah! Reveal something for me. The messenger answered “my lord ordered me that nobody can discharge my duty except myself or Ali”.
Al – Tabari has narrated as mentioned in Kanzul ummal, Volume: 6 page 153, when marrying out his daughter to Imam Ali, I gave you in marriage to the first one to adhere to Islam from my nation, he is also the most knowledgeable and most patient among them.
Ahmad bin Hanbal has said: “no one among the companions of the messenger of Allah had more virtues than Ali Ibn Abi Talib”.
Imam al – Nisa’i has written a prominent book – khasa’isu Ameerul mu’mineen – on the virtues of Imam Ali. On a visit to Damascus he was asked to produce any such virtues in respect of Mu’awiya out of envy. As he insisted on no single virtue was said about him by the noble messenger, they killed him at the spot!
The Sunnis chant – Karramallahu wajhahu – May Allah honor his face, different from other companions as the only companion that never served any being beside Allah the most high.
On the 18th day of Zilhajj, ten years after hijra, at the pool of Ghadeer, as pilgrims were returning back to their respective destinations, while holding his hand the prophet said in his respect.
“Do you witness that I have a prior right to and superior authority over all the faithful? They replied yes o messenger of Allah. There upon he said” Ali is the master of all those of whom I am master. O Allah! Love him who loves him and hate him who hates him, help him who hates him, help him who helps him, forsake him who forsakes him, and turn justice with him wherever he turns.
To cut it short, Imam al – Shafi’i said “I am surprised about a man whose virtues were kept secret by his enemies out of envy, and by his followers out of fear, but nevertheless, an enormous amount of them spread”.
With his unequalled virtues, he was highly envied and suffered lots of persecution along with his blessed family. Apparently, the shi’a believes that Imam was the greatest companion of the noble messenger (s). And no doubt, he could never be compared with any other in terms of the known leadership qualities at all.
As demonstrated in the story of children of Israel, they asked their prophet to appoint for them a king with whom to fight in the cause of Allah. The prophet warned them of consequence of betrayal to which they assured strict compliance! However after the king was appointed on the criteria of knowledge and brevity they abandoned the command:
“Their prophet said to them; Allah hath appointed Talut as king over you. They said; how can he exercise authority over us when we are better fitted than he to exercise authority, and he is not even gifted, with wealth in abundance? He said Allah has chosen him above you, and has gifted him abundantly with knowledge and bodily prowess; Allah granteth His authority to whom He pleaseth; Allah is all – embracing, and He knoweth all things” Baqara: 247.
Looking at the two criteria we may ask did any of the prophet’s companion compare with Imam Ali (as)?
“Say; are those who know and those who do not know alike? Q39:9. In a well-known tradition, the prophet said “I am the city of knowledge and Ali is its gate”.
Abu Bakr has said, may Allah never put me in a predicament that Abul Hasan cannot solve” just as Umar has repeatedly said’ if it was not for Ali, Umar would have perished. Ibn Abbas has said on the other hand “my knowledge and the knowledge of the companions of Muhammad (s) is but a drop in seven seas if compared with Ali’s knowledge” thus imam Ali has said about himself “ask me before you lose me. By Allah, if you could ask me about anything that could happen up to the Day of Judgment, I will tell you about it. Ask me about the book of Allah, because by Allah there is no Qur’anic verse that I did not know whether it was revealed during the night or the day, or whether it was revealed on a plain or a mountain” Al-Isti’ab, volume, 3 page, 39.
“Is he then who guides to the truth more worthy to be followed or he who himself does not go aright unless he is guided? What then is the matter with you, how do you judge? Q10:35.
The great role Imam has played in defense of Islam and Muslims is generally acknowledged by all. Statistically Imam was believed to have killed more number of enemies than those killed by other companions put together. Did any of the companions compared to him in Badr, Uhud, Hunain and Khandaq among others?
After the non – tactical retreats of the prominent companions in Khaibar, the prophet said “Tomorrow I will give my flag to a man who loves Allah and His messenger, ever going forward and never retreating, Allah had tested his heart with the faith” on that very day the messenger handed over the flag to Imam Ali in whose hands Allah gave the victory.
Virtually, knowledge, brevity, piety and other ethical values were basically the laid down criteria for leadership in Islam and categorically, the Imam compared to non in these qualities.
Out of envy others tried their best by fabricating a number of sayings likened with the noble messenger and the Ahlul bait – members of his family.
For example, why could not Imam Ali narrate more with his young age, exceptionally gifted talent and retentive memory? And above all being the gate of the city of knowledge and wisdom as repeatedly pronounced by the noble messenger? This is the case with his wife Fatima (as), the great daughter of the prophet who could not narrate but few of her father’s sayings? So also her children described as leaders of paradise by the messenger? However, others transmitted thousands of the prophetic sayings including late converts that accepted Islam few years to the demise of the messenger!
It was from such fabrication as well that his parents were thrown to hell. Although they loved the prophet and gave him utmost protection for which the messenger described the year of Abu Talib’s death which coincided with that of his wife Khadija as the year of sorrow!
His wife Fatima was martyred before his eyes at the age of eighteen in Medina. After a very long persecution, the Imam was finally assassinated in Ramadan forty years after hijra while leading the Morning Prayer. And his children were mercilessly martyred one after the other by the Umayyad respectively!
The Imam was greatly hated by many including companions for one reason or the other. It was on the basis of that enmity some disallowed the prophetic will to reach his umma! In Bukhari’s, Ibn Abbas narrated that the prophet was in his last moment and many people had gathered in his house at that time. The prophet said “I want write a will for you so that you will never go astray after me”.
Some people said “the prophet is affected by pain. We have the Qur’an with us; the book of Allah is sufficient for us” people gathered in the house started opposing one another on this point. When the noise increased, the prophet ordered the people to leave him alone.
The questions we may ask include; why was the prophet not allowed to write his will? And what would the prophet write if he were allowed? Could we relate the oft – related sayings of the prophet on his pure progeny as would be the will?
In relation to this Abdullahi Ibn Abbas described deterring the messenger of Allah from writing his will as the greatest calamity that has befallen the ummah. And no doubt, the perpetrators must pay expensively being the cause for the misguidance and confusion witnessed today.
Wassalamu alaikum warahmatullah