Leadership Qualities Are Not Imam Ali’s Prerogatives
This topic will address Sheikh Turi’s IMAM ALI’S UNDISPUTABLE LEADERSHIP QUALITIES, which was published in LEADERSHIP FRIDAY of November 15, 2013. The contents of that piece were similar with what Sheikh Turi tried to prove in the fifth and last subtopic of his article (Did The Prophet (S) Really Certify His Successor Before Demise?) to which I have been responding under different headings for quite some time now. Other than the fifth subtopic (EXTRAORDINARY VIRTUES OF IMAM ALI), I have written rebuttals of two to three articles on each subtopic of that piece by the Sheikh. I feel what I shall present here will cover any response I might have given to the fifth subtopic since, in both cases, (that of the fifth subtopic and of the new article), Sheikh Turi was saying one and the same thing – that the ‘extraordinary virtues’ and ‘leadership qualities’ of Imam Ali made him the most suitable for the Caliphate after the Messenger of Allah (SAW).
To prove IMAM ALI’S UNDISPUTABLE LEADERSHIP QUALITIES, Sheikh Turi quoted this hadeeth: “O Ali you hold in relation to me the same position as Haroon held in relation to Musa, except that there will be no prophet after me.”
The above hadeeth is authentic, narrated by Sa’ad bin Abi Waqqaas in Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 5, Book 59, Number 700.
Sheikh Turi quoted only part of the hadeeth. If one cites proof in support of a point, they should let their readers know the context in which it was made for the purposes of completeness and transparency. This is the fuller version of the hadeeth: “When the Prophet (SAW) was leaving for the Tabuk expedition, he left ‘Ali in charge of his household in Madeenah. ‘Ali said, ‘Are you leaving me among women and children? The Prophet (SAW) replied, ‘Would you not accept to be in the same position to me as Aaron was to Moses, except that there will be no prophet after me?”
This hadeeth is not proof for Ali’s right to Caliphate after the demise of the Messenger of Allah (SAW), since the analogy was based on Ali taking the position of Harun (AS) who, actually died before Musa (AS), so, he was never his successor.
Imam al-Qurtubi, has the following explanation concerning the hadeeth, in his Tafseer:
“There is no disagreement that Haroon died before Musa…and (Haroon) was not a successor after him (Musa), for the successor (to Musa) was Yusha bin Noon (i.e. Joshua), so if he (the Prophet) wanted by his saying (to grant Ali) the Caliphate, he would have said “you will be to me like Yusha was to Musa”, so when he didn’t say this it proved that he didn’t want that meaning, but he (simply) wanted that “you are my deputy over my family in my life and my absence from my family, like Haroon was deputy of Musa over his people when he left to speak to his Lord.””
Harun was the elder brother of Musa and did not succeed him as Caliph or Imam. Ali’s likeness to Harun was in his close relationship and having been considered as a minister or assistant. If the Prophet (SAW) had intended, by what he said, that Ali would succeed him as Caliph, he would have likened him to Yusha’, and not Harun.
When the Prophet (SAW) left Madinah for the Tabuk expedition he had 30,000 companions with him (the largest army that took part in an expedition during the Prophet’s lifetime, and it was his last). Although the Prophet (SAW) personally led the expedition, he entrusted command of the army to Abu Bakr (RA). According to another hadeeth, he (SAW) appointed Ibn Umm Maktum to act as his deputy in Madinah and Ali was charged with only the responsibility of his family members.
We read the following in Tareekh al-Islam:
“Expedition to Tabuk
“…The Munafiqoon were constantly in league with the Jews of al-Medinah and were holding regular consultations against the Muslims. A band of twelve Munafiqoon built their own separate mosque as a center for carrying out their hostile activities and anti-Islamic propaganda, and for creating a rift among the Muslims. When they saw the Muslims engaged in preparing for the impending battle, they started passing discouraging remarks…
“Islamic Army’s Departure
The Messenger of Allah set out for Tabuk with an army of 30,000 men from al-Medinah…and he put Muhammad bin Maslamah Ansari in charge of al-Medinah…The Prophet had left behind Ali to look after his family. The Munafiqoon used this as an opportunity to spread false rumors about Ali. They implied that the Prophet gave little importance to Ali and therefore left him alone in al-Medinah. When his patience ran out, he (Ali) hurried from al-Medinah and–joining the Prophet at al-Jurf–asked: “The Munafiqoon are saying such-and-such about me and so I have come to you.” The Prophet of Allah said: “They are liars. I have left you behind to look after my household, so go back.” In order to soothe his feelings, the Prophet further added: