Last updateSat, 17 Feb 2018 3pm

Chpter One: Imamte

Imamate or caliphate means leadership. It has become a term for leading the Muslims after the demise of the Messenger of Allah (a.s), a term which nobody can deny because leadership is an instinctive need for any group of people. Muslims, Sunnis or Shi'ahs, disagreed with regand to how to appoint an imam, or a caliph, and what role he should assume. This is one of the most serious of their disagreements, and other disagreements are no more than a natural outcome of this great difference. This is so because Imamate, as viewed by the Shi'ahs, has to be supported by a text from the Messenger of Allah (a.s), and it is specifically relevant to the Twelve Imams from among the Ahl al-Bayt (a.s). Knowing the Islamic injunctions, following the departure from this world of theMessenger of Allah (a.s), is achieved only by referring to these Imams (a.s) or to accurate transmissions reported about them. When their statements disagree with those of others, what the Ahl al-Bayt (a.s) state must be accepted, since they are the safe custodians of the Sunnah of the Chosen One (al-Mustafa—Prophet Muhammad (a.s)).

With regand to Imamate, the Sunnis say that an imam is to be elected according to the principle of shura (mutual consultation), but they do not object if such an imam is appointed through the recommendation of an outgoing caliph to the one who would be his successor, as was the case with caliph Abu Bakr who recommended 'Umar to be his successor. Also, they permit caliphate to be taken by force, by the sword, as was the case with the Umayyad, 'Abbasid and Ottoman caliphates.


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As regarding learning the Islamic injunctions, it according to them is to be acquired by consulting what is "authentic" of what the sahabah had narrated, without making any distinction among these sahabah. They, thus, reganded all sahabah as equitable and trustworthy despite the fact that many of them became involved in both battles of the Camel and of Siffin, and they took part in killing each other on those and other occasions, something which places a question mark about the "equity" of many of them and raises many questions. You will review ample details about the "equity" of the sahabah in a chapter to come, by the Will of Allah.
Since the case is as such, since there are differences between the Shi'ahs and the Sunnis, and before we issue a verdict labeling a particular sect as "invalid" or preferring one method over another, we ought to take the time to look into the proofs and arguments of each party. We have dedicated our research for this purpose. We will be summarizing the texts which the Shi'ahs regand as proofs for upholding their Imamite sect as well as the rebuttal of the Sunnis of the same:

1) Proofs Confirming the Imamate of the Ahl al-Bayt (a.s)

2) Proofs Confirming the Number of Imams from among the Ahl al­Bayt (a.s)

3) Proofs Regarding the Appointment by the Prophet (a.s) of 'Ali ibn Abi Talib (a.s) [as his successor]


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1) Proofs Confirming the Imamate of the Ahl al-Bayt (a.s)
Texts quoted from the Messenger of Allah (a.s) referring to the Imamate, after his demise, of the nation's Ahl al-Bayt (a.s) are numerous; here are the most famous among them:

According to Muslim's relying on isnad1 which goes back to Zaid ibn Arqam, the Messenger of Allah (a.s), so Zaid narrated, said,

"0 people! I am a human upon whom the messenger of my Lord is about to call. I will surrender to the call, and I am leaving among you two weighty things: the first of them is the Book of Allah wherein there is guidance and nib-(illumination). So, take the Book of Allah, for in it there is guidance and there is n Or. Uphold the Book of Allah and adhere to it. And (the other are) my Ahl al-Bayt (a.s). I commend to you, in the Name of Allah, my Ahl al-Bayt (a.s); I commend to you, in the Name of Allah, my Ahl al­-Bayt (a.s); I commend to you, in the Name of Allah, my Ahl al-Bayt (a.s)."2

In al-Tirmidhi's Sahih, through isnc7d traced to Jabir ibn 'Abdullah [al-Ansari], the latter said, "I saw the Messenger of Allah (a.s) on the Day of 'Arafah when he performed his [last] pilgrimage. He was riding his she-camel al-Qaswa'. He delivered a sermon, and I heard him saying,

0 people! I have left among you that, so long as you uphold to it, you shall never stray: The Book of Allah and my
1 Isnad is a list of authorities who have transmitted a Hadith of a statement, action, or approbation of the Holy Prophet; its reliability determines the validity of a Hadith. The isnäd precedes the actual text (wan) and takes the form, "It has been related to me by A on the authority of B on the authority of C on the authority of D that the Holy Prophet said..."
2 Muslim's Sahih, in a chapter about the virtues of 'Ali (a.s), Vol. 5, p. 272, published by Dar Sädir, citing al-Nawawi's Sharh


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'itrah,my Ahl al-Bayt'." 1

Had there been only this hadith, it would have sufficed to prove the authenticity of the Shr ah sect which obligates clinging to the Ahl al-Bayt (a.s) in addition to clinging to the Glorious Book of Allah. We find in this hadith the order of the Messenger of Allah (a.s), as clearly as can be, that we should uphold the Ahl al-Bayt (a.s) after his demise, and that such upholding, in addition to adhering to the Glorious Qur'an, is the condition for one's salvation versus straying.

Although Muslim and many other scholars of hadith from among the Sunnis have included this hadith in their Sahih and inusnad books, it is to my great amazement that I find most Sunnis not familiar with it. They deny it when they hear about it, as if it does not exist, saying that what is accurate in this regand is what Abil Hurayrah had said, that is, the Messenger of Allah (a.s) said, "I have left among you two things that will never let you stray so long as you adhere to them or act upon them: the Book of Allah and my Sunnah."2 Having investigated the source of this tradition, I found out that it was not recorded in any of the Sahih books. Al-Bukhari, al-Nisa'i, al-Dhahbi and others have labeled it as "weak (da 'if)"3. It is narrated by al-Hakim in his Mustadrak which, according to the consensus of Sunni scholars, is reganded as being less [in prestige] than the Sahih book of Muslim who stated it in this wording:

"...the Book of Allah and my 'itrah, my Ahl al-Bayt (a.s)."

Even if we suppose there is no difference between both narratives, we have to surrender to the fact that what is meant by the phrase "my Sunnah", as it exists in al-Hakim's narrative, is the Sunnah derived from the venue of the Household of the Prophet (a.s), not from that of others, as is quite obvious in Muslim's narrative. As for sticking to the narrative of al-Hakim wherein he says, "... the Book of Allah and my Sunnah," rejecting Muslim's version of "... the
1 Al-Tirmidhi, Sahih, Vol. 2, p. 308.
2 Al-Hakim, Al-Mustadrak, Vol. 1, p. 93.
3 Ibid.


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Book of Allah and my 'itrah,my Ahl al-Bayt (a.s)," this goes against not only the consensus of the Sunni scholars of hadith,who all regand the traditions narrated by Muslim with higher regards than those narrated by al-Hakim, it is also contrary to logic and reason because the word "Sunnah" by itself as narrated by al-Hakim does not convey a specific meaning, since all Islamic sects claim they follow the Sunnah of the Prophet (a.s). Moreover, there are many differences among these sects, and the reasons behind such differences are rendered to the differences in how the Prophet's Sunnah was transmitted to them, i.e. through various venues, the Sunnah which explains and complements the Holy Qur'an, the Sunnah the accuracy of which is agreed upon by all Islamic sects. Hence, the differences in the transmitted hadith led also to differences in interpreting the Qur'an. The Sunnah of the Prophet (a.s), therefore, became many Sunnah and the Muslims, accordingly, split into sects and groups which are said to number thirty-seven. So, which of these Sunnah is worthier of being followed? This question comes naturally to the mind of anyone who deeply discerns such differences. The above-quoted hadith came to respond to such differences so that the Muslims would not be left puzzled with regand to their Islamic faith following the departure from this world of the one who conveys it to them. This is why there have been sacred instructions by the Prophet (a.s) mandating that the purified Sunnah of the Prophet (a.s) must be derived from the venue of the Ahl al-Bayt (a.s) of the Prophet (a.s), those who are described by the Qur'an as tahir, Purified, a description which is quite clear and accepts no other meaning. Such a derivation, and only such a derivation, brings security against dissension and straying.

It is here that two questions are put forth. The picture can never be completely clear unless we answer them:

First: Who are "the Ahl al-Bayt (a.s)" to whom reference is made by the tradition cited above?

Second: Why did the said tradition specify the derivation [of the Islamic injunctions] only from the Ahl al-Bayt (a.s) rather than from all the sahabah, as the Sunnis advocate?


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In his Sahih, relying on the isnad of Safiyyah daughter of Shaybah, Muslim quotes the latter saying that 'A'ishah said,

"The Messenger of Allah (a.s) came out wearing an unsown garment of black [camel] hair. He brought al-Hasan ibn 'Ali (a.s) and let him in. Then al-Husain (a.s) came and he let him, too, in. Then Fatima (a.s) came in and he let her, too, in. Then 'Ali (a.s) came. He let him, too. Then he said [i.e. quoted the following verse], 'Surely Allah wishes to remove all abomination from you, 0 People of the House [of the Prophet] and to purify you with a perfect purification' (Qur'an, 33:33)." 1

Also in Muslim's Sahih we read the following:

"When this verse was revealed: 'Say: Come! Let us gather together our sons and your sons, our women and your women, ourselves and yourselves, then let us earnestly pray and invoke Allah's curse on the liars' (Qur'an, 3:61), the Messenger of Allah (a.s) called upon 'Ali (a.s), Fatima (a.s), al-Hasan (a.s) and al-Husain (a.s) then said, 'Lord! These are my Ahl al-Bayt'." 2

From both of these traditions, it is quite clear that the Ahl al-Bayt (a.s), during the lifetime of the Prophet (a.s), were: 'Ali (a.s), Fatima (a.s), and both their sons (a.s).

But What About the Wives of the Prophet (a.s)?
In hisSahih, Muslim quotes Zaid ibn Arqam citing the Prophet (a.s) saying,

"Iam leaving with you two weighty things: one of them is the Book of Allah, the most Exalted, the most Great, and it

1 Muslim,Sahih, Vol. 5, p. 287, in a chapter dealing with the virtues of al-Hasan and al-Husain, published by Dar al-Sha'b.
2 Muslim, Sahih, Vol. 5, p. 268 (Dar al-Sha'b), in a chapter dealing with the virtues of Ali.

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is the Rope of Allah; whoever adheres to it is guided and whoever abandons it strays."

In the same tradition, people inquired whether his Ahl al-Bayt (a.s) included his wives. "No," said he,

"By Allah! A woman remains with the man for a period of tune, then he may divorce her, whereupon she returns to her father and people. His Ahl al-Bayt (a.s) come from his loins, his nearest in kin who are prohibited from taking charity after his demise." 1

To quote al-Tirmidhi's Sahih, where the compiler relies on the authority of 'Amr ibn Abu Salamah, who was raised by the Prophet (a.s), 'Amr said,

"When this verse was revealed: 'Surely Allah wishes to remove all abomination from you, 0 People of the House [of the Prophet] and to purify you with a perfect purification' (Qur'an, 33:33)' at the house of Umm Salamah, the Prophet (a.s) called upon Fatima (a.s), Hasan (a.s) and Husain (a.s). He put a garment over them while 'Ali (a.s) was behind him. He placed the garment over them all then supplicated thus: 'Lord! These are my Ahl al-Bayt (a.s); so, do remove abomination from them and purify them with a perfect purification.' Umm Salamah asked him, 'May I be included with them, 0 Prophet of Allah?' He said, 'Stay where you are, and you are in goodness." 2

In his Musnad, [imam] Ahmed [ibn Hanbal] quotes Umm Salamah saying,

"The Messenger of Allah (a.s) said to Fatima (a.s): 'Bring me your husband and both sons.' She brought them in. He put a garment made in Fadak then put his hand on them and said, 'Lord! These are the Progeny of Mubammed; so,

1 Muslim, Sahih Vol. 5, p. 274.
2 Al-Tirmidhi, Sahih Vol. 2, p. 209.

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let Your salutations and blessings be upon Mubammed and the Progeny of Mubammed; surely You are the Praised

One, the most Glorified.' I lifted the garment in order to join them, but he pulled it from my hand and said, 'You are in goodness." 1

Despite the clarity of the previous proofs in identifying who the Ahl al-Bayt (a.s) are, some people oppose it and base their argument on the following verses from Surat al-Ahzab (Chapter 33 of the Holy Qur'an), claiming that the term "the Ahl al-Bayt (a.s)" includes the wives of the Prophet (a.s):

O Prophet! Say to your consorts: "If you desire the life of this world, and its glitter, then come! I will provide for your enjoyment and set you free in a handsome manner. But if you seek Allah and His Prophet, and the abode of the hereafter, truly Allah has prepared a great rewand for the well-doers from among you." 0 consorts of the Prophet! If any of you were guilty of evident unseemly conduct, the punishment would be doubled to her, and that is easy for Allah. But any of you who is devout in the service of Allah and His Prophet, and does righteous deeds, to her We shall grant a rewand twice as much and We have prepared a generous sustenance for her. 0 consorts of the Prophet! You are not like any (other) women: If you fear (Allah), do not be too complaisant of speech, lest one in whose heart there is a disease should be moved with desire: But speak a speech (that is) just. And stay in your houses, do not make a dazzling display, like that in the former times of ignorance, establish regular prayer and give regular charity, and obey Allah and His Prophet. And Allah only wishes to remove all abomination from you, you members of the family, and to make you pure and spotless. (Qur'an, 33:28-33)

As is quite clear, the argument of those who say that "the Ahl al‑
1 Ahmed, Musnad,Vol. 6, p. 306.


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Bayt (a.s)" is a term which includes the wives of the Prophet (a.s) is based on "... And Allah only wishes to remove all abomination from you, you members of the family, and to make you pure and spotless" falling in the same verse a portion of which deals with the wives of the Prophet (a.s).

This claim can be refuted from many angles; here are some of them:

1. The revelation of Qur'anic verses in reference to threatening the wives of the Prophet (a.s) that they could be divorced followed by the Will of Allah to purify the Ahl al-Bayt (a.s) with a perfect purification does not necessarily mean that on both occasions, the wives of the Prophet (a.s) are implied simply because there are many verses in the Holy Qur'an of this sort containing two different issues. The reason why they both fall in the same verse is perhaps due to their coincidently took place at the same time. One such an example is derived from these verses:

"Forbidden to you (for food) are: dead meat, blood, the flesh of swine and that on which a name other than that of Allah has been invoked, that which has been killed by strangling, or by a violent blow, or by a headlong fall, or by being gored to death, that which has been (partly) eaten by a wild animal, unless you are able to slaughter it (in due way), that which is sacrificed on stone (altars). The division (of meat) by raffling with arrows is also (forbidden): That is impiety. This Day those who reject faith have given up all hope of your religion: Yet do not fear them, but fear Me. This Day I have perfected your religion for you, completed My favor upon you, and have chosen Islam for you as your religion" (Qur'an, 5:3).

You find in this verse how the subject revolving round the perfecting of the creed falls in the middle of the subject dealing with prohibitive foods!

2. What underscores the fact that the wives of the Prophet (a.s) are not included in the meaning of this verse is that the subject relevant


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to the wives of the Prophet (a.s) came in an Arabic pronoun specifically relevant to a group of females, whereas when the topicshifted to the purification of the Ahl al-Bayt (a.s), the pronoun changed to one relevant to a group of males.

3. The previously quoted authentic traditions recorded in the ,Salril1 books of both Muslim and al-Tirmidhi, as well as in Ahmed's Musnad and in others all prove unequivocally that the wives of the Prophet (a.s) are not included among the Ahl al-Bayt (a.s). When Umm Salamah, may Allah be pleased with her, asked the Prophet (a.s), "May I be included with them, 0 Prophet of Allah?" He said to her, "Stay where you are, and you are in goodness." In Muslim's narrative, people inquired whether his wives were among his Ahl al­Bayt (a.s), and the answer came in the negative.

4. In the tradition of the two weighty things (Thagalayn) which Muslim, Ahmed and others narrate, the Prophet (a.s) is cited as having said,

"0 people! I am leaving among you two things which, so long as you uphold them [both simultaneously], you shall never stray: the Book of Allah and my my Ahl al­Bayt."

It is quite clear that they have to be followed [with regand to all religious and secular issues]. If we suppose, just for the sake of debating, that the wives of the Prophet (a.s) are the ones meant, or implied, in this tradition, in what way will the Muslims uphold them after the demise of the Messenger of Allah (a.s), bearing in mind that they were obliged to remain in their homes? How would one answer this question, knowing that they all lived in one and the same century? If one says that upholding them means citing the traditions from them, we would respond by saying that among them are those who did not narrate one single tradition!

The "abomination" [rijs] which occurs in the verse saying, "... And Allah only wishes to remove all abomination from you, you members of the family, and to make you pure and spotless" means


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linguistically something filthy: a reference to sinning, while taharah (cleanliness) linguistically connotes piety. The meaning of the will of the Almighty, Praised and Glorified is He, to remove abomination from them, is to clear them of any sin and to raise their status above committing anything which points out to shortcomings in them. A sin, no matter how minor, is indicative of a flaw in the person who commits it. This means that Allah Almighty wanted to purify the Ahl al-Bayt (a.s) from committing any sin, minor or major, and this is nothing but a proof of Infallibility and, hence, purification.

As regarding what is said that the meaning of "purification" in this verse is merely an indication of religious piety, that is, their own avoidance of committing what Allah has prohibited them from committing while acting upon His Commandments, this claim is rejected because "purification" in such a sense is not relevant only to the Ahl al-Bayt (a.s) but to all Muslims. The Muslims are all obliged to act upon the injunctions of their creed:

"Allah does not desire to put any handship on you but to purify you, and so that He may complete His favor on you, perhaps you will be grateful" (Qur'an, 5:6).

Thus, if we agree that those regarding whom this verse was revealed are infallible, we will find out that the wives of the Prophet (a.s) are not among them because they are not infallible, let alone the fact that nobody, be he from the early generations or from the latter ones, made such a claim, knowing fully well that the Prophet (a.s) threatened to divorce them and made other threats against some of them as you will see in a chapter to come.

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