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Mastership of Hazrat Ali (a.s.): The measure of belief

There exists a long-standing debate be­tween scholars and traditionalists as to what is the difference between ‘Islam’ (submission) and ‘Imaan’ (Belief)? Who is a Muslim? Who is a be­liever? What is the basic difference between a Muslim and a Believer? Some of the general differences cited are as follows:

1. A Muslim does not act according to his belief, while the believer acts as per the necessi­ties of the belief close to his heart.

2. A Muslim’s belief is only verbal and due to this apparent expression of faith he is called a Muslim though, in fact, he is a disbeliever. For example, a hypocrite. But, a believer possesses absolute faith from the depth of his heart. His words deeds are the interpreters of the feelings of his heart.

3. A Muslim will get the reward of his goods deeds in this world itself and in the hereafter; he will be devoid of any rewards. While a believer will be amply rewarded in both the worlds, this world as well as the hereafter.

Are only these three the basic differences between a Muslim and a believer or is there still a more important basic difference between them? In various parts and chapters of innumerable Sunni books, we find more basic differ­ences which are taken as standards to differenti­ate between a Muslim and a Believer. This basic difference is,, the belief in, and the acceptance of the Mastership and successor ship of Hazrat. Ali Ibn Abi Talib (a.s.) as the Caliph without doubt after the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.). If anyone does not belief in the mastership of Hazrat Ali (a.s.), he is automatically excluded from the group of believ­ers and will be deprived of the unaccountable re­wards of the hereafter. The basic condition of belief is the faith in Hazrat Ali (A.S.)’s Mastership itself.

Hafiz Muttaqi Hindi in Kanzul Ummal vol 6, Pg. 218 and Hafiz Ibn Asakir in Tareekhe Demeshqi have narrated a tradition from the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.):

“O Ali ! Islam is unclothed. Its covering is piety. Its hairs and wings are guidance. Its adornment is modesty, its popula­tion is guarding against evil. its standard is good deeds and its foundation is my love and the love of my progeny (Ahle Bait).” In this tradition, along with the previous three differences between a Muslim and a Be­liever, a fourth difference is also hinted at and that is, the love of the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) and his progeny must be in a believers heart while a non-believers heart is devoid of this divine bounty. In another tradition the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) addressed Hazrat Ali (a.s.) thus: “O Hazrat Ali (a.s.)! If you were not there, the believers would not be recognized after me.”  Thus, the gauge of distinction between a Muslim and a Believer is Hazrat Ali (a.s.)’s Mastership.

Some authentic traditions quote Hazrat Ali (a.s.) saying: “The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) said to me, O Ali! None will love you except a believer and none shall hate you except a hypocrite.”  This tradi­tion is found in reliable Sunni books like Sunan-e-Tirmidhi vol. 2, pg. 301; Sunan-e-Nisai, vol. 2, pg. 271; Sunan-e-Ibn Majah, pg. 12; Sahih Muslim in’Kitaabul Imaan.

On the basis of such traditions, many no­table companions of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) like Abu Saeed Khidri, Abuzar Ghaffari, Ibn Abbas, Jaabir Ibn Abdullah Ansari, Abdullah ibn Abbas etc. have said:

“During the time of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a), we recognised the hypocrites by their malice agains Hazrat Ali Ibn Abi Talib (a.s.).” (Sunnane  irmidhi, vol. 2, pg. 299; Mus-tadrak-us-Saheehain vol. 3, pg. 129; Taarekhe Baghdad; vol. 3, pg. 153; Al-Isteaab by Abu Amr, vol. 2, pg. 464; ‘Durrul Mansoor’ under the Qur­anic chapter of ‘Muhammad’).

The pious wife of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a), Ummul Momineen Umme-Salma, narrates a tradition that the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) came to my house. That very moment, Hazrat Ali (a.s.) also arrived. The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) advised about Hazrat Ali Ibn Abi Talib (a.s.) thus: “Listen care­fully and be a witness that if a servant of God con­stantly worships Him between the ‘Hajare Aswad’ and ‘Maqaame Ibrahim’ (A.S.) for more than two thousand years and meets God (dies) in such a way that his heart is devoid of Ali’s love, the Almighty will throw him in the hellfire on his face.”

(Manaqeb-e-Khaarazmi, pg. 52).

Many reliable Sunni authors have recorded this tradition in their books, narrating from, renowned companions like Umme Salmah, Jabir IbnAbdullah Ansari, Ali Ibn Abi Talib, Abdullah ibn Abbas, Amaainatul Baheli, etc. The narration by Jabir Ibn Abdullah Ansari is even more detailed and explanatory. The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) said to Hazrat Ali (a.s.) “O Ali, if somebody worships Allah all the time and is the best of worshippers, but nurses a doubt about you and your progeny, he will be in
hell.”

(Yanaabee-ul-Mawaddah, pg. 253 : Manaqeb – Al – Mur-tuzaweeyah. pg. 114)

The first tradition contains the word ‘mal­ice’, while the second has ‘doubt’. So we see that even having a doubt about the ‘mastership’ of Hazrat Ali (a.s.) will be the cause of entry in to hellfire. In the light of these traditions, the belief in and the acceptance of the successors of Hazrat Ali Ibn Abi Talib (a.s.) is very necessary. If some­body does not believe in their mastership and nurtures a grudge against them, none of his good deeds or actions will be accepted and he will be thrown in hell.

Abdullah Ibn Umar, the son of the Second Caliph, narrates a tradition from the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.): “Allah, the Almighty, will not accept anybody’s good deeds without the love of Hazrat Ali (A.S.).” (Dar Bahr-al-Manaqeb, pg. 125).

A similar tradition is narrated by Abuzar (r.a.) Hazrat Ali (a.s.) has also quoted the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) thus: “Nobody’s belief will be accepted by Allah without the love of Hazrat Ali (A.S.) and hatred towards his enemies.”

(ManaqebeKhaarazmi vol. 2, Keefayatul-Taalib, pg. 123)

Now, it is clear that the love of Hazrat Ali (A.S.) and acceptance of his Mastership is the foundation of belief and therefore in the grave, the enquiring angles, Nakeer-o-Munkar, will also ask about it along with other beliefs. Ibaaad Ibn Ibaad says that he went to Yunus Ibn Khabbaab and asked about the chastisement of the grave. He answered: “There is one secret in this ques­tion which the ‘Nasebis (enemies of Ahlebait) conceal.” I asked:
“What is that secret?” he replied: “In the grave, one will be asked ‘Who is your Imam and Master?’ If he replies ‘Ali’, he will be safe.”

(Tahzeeb-Al-Tahzeeb of Ibn Hajar Asqalaani, vol. II, pg. 439)

Not only the grave but in the hereafter, one will be asked about the Mastership of Hazrat Ali (a.s.) in different places. The grave is only the first stage. Accounting of actions will be done in the light of this belief. People will be divided in group and the decisions for the reward and punishment will be taken. Ibn Abbas narrates from the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.): “Whoever nurses a doubt concerning the Imamat and Mastership of Hazrat Ali (a.s.), he will be raised from the grave with a chain of fire around his neck”  (Manaqeb Ibn Maghazeli, pg. 18; Manaqeb Khaarazmi pg. 2290).

This tradition does not discuss about the enemies of Hazrat Ali (a.s.). It only mentions the fate of those who have doubt about his Imamat. Miqdad, the famous companion of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) narrates from him (s.a.w.a.): “The recognition of Muhammad’s progeny is the per­mit for passing the path of ‘Seraat’. The acceptance of the mastership of Muhammad’s progeny is security from divine chastisement.” 

(Al-Sawaeq, pg. 23, Al-Ithaaf, pg. 4; Al Rauz Al Azhar pg. 357).

A similar tradition is recorded in Tareekhe Baghdad, vol. 10 pg. 356 and Riyaazun Nazrrah,’ vol. 2, pg. 177 narrating from the first Capliph Abu Bakr.

Under the Quranic verses, “Stop them, they shall be asked” (Surah Saffat, 37: 24) and “Then, certainly you shall be asked that day about the bounty”. (Surah Takasur, 102 : 8). Abu Saeed Khidri and Ibn Abbas interpret it thus : “Stop them. They shall be asked about the Mastership of Hazrat Ali (A.S.)”. Yet, in another place Ibn Abbas says it is like this, “… they shall be asked about their confession of Ali’s mastership.”

(Al-Sawaaeq, pg. 147; Tazkeratul Khawaas, pg. 21; Arjahul Mataalib, pg. 63). Muttaqi Hindi records a tradition in his “Kanzul Ummal’, vol. 7, pg. 212, narrating from the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) via Ibn Abbas, “None can move a step forward on the day of judgement until and unless he is asked about four things:- About his time. Where did he spend it?

  1. About his body. How did he use it? About his wealth? From where did he obtain it and how did he spend it?
  2. About the love of us ‘Ahle Bait’. In other words, the belief in Hazrat Ali (a.s.)’s mastership and its confession is neces­sary for entering paradise and enjoying the luxu­ries of the next world because that is the founda­tion of belief. It is also the distinction between ‘Belief and ‘Hypocrisy! Huzaif Ibn Yamaan, Ibn Abbas and Ziad Ibn Mutraf narrate a tradition from the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.): “Whoever wishes to live and die like me and enter paradise, he should claim Ali and his progeny as his master and Leader.”

(Al Isaabah of Ibn Hajar, vol. 3, part I, pg- 20).

Huzaifa Ibn Yamaan’s tradition from Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) is still more explanatory, “… He should claim Ali as my successor after me without doubt”.  (Hulyatul Awliya of Abu Noaim, Vol. 1, pg. 86).

After all these sayings, verses, and clear ex­planatory traditions, one should not take the matter of Hazrat Ali (a.s.)’s mastership lightly or think it to be easy. We must entrench this faith deep into our hearts and make it stronger by each day, and train our children on the basis of this love and mastership. The bounty of Mastership which has been bestowed upon us by the Al­mighty, should be conveyed to others, thereby securing ourselves as well as the others from hell-fire. We pray to the Almighty to keep us attached to the progeny of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) till our last breath. We conclude our discussion by the  words of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.): “Train your children on three principles: Love of your Prophet (s.a.w.a.), Love of your Prophet (s.a.w.a.)’s progeny and Recitation of the Quran”

(Kanzul Ummal, vol. 8, pg. 278.)