The Holy Quran and Traditions that Prove the Caliphate and Imamate of the Twelve Imams (A.S.)
By: Sayyid Imdad Imam
From his book "Misbah-uz-Zulam", Roots of the Karbala’ Tragedy
According to a tradition of Ibn Abbas in the book, Nusoos, Nathal, a Jew came to the Messenger of Allah (S) and said, “I have a doubt. If you give me a satisfactory reply, I would become your follower.” And he asked, “Who is your successor?” The Holy Prophet (S) replied: “My successor and Caliph after me is Ali Ibn Abi Talib (a.s.). And after him, his two sons, Hasan (a.s.) and Husayn (a.s.) will be Caliphs. And there will be nine Imams after Husayn (a.s.).”
Then the Jew asked the Prophet to mention their names, the Prophet replied: “After Husayn, the nine Imams would be Ali Ibn Husayn, Muhammad Baqir, Ja’far as-Sadiq, Moosa Kazim, Ali Ibn Moosa, Muhammad Ibn Ali, Ali Ibn Muhammad, then Hasan Ibn Ali and the last Imam, the Proof of Allah, al-Mahdi. They are twelve and they all are Imams.”
Then the Jew asked, “What would be their status?” The Holy Prophet (S) said, “They shall be in Paradise with me.”
Hearing this, the Jew recited the Islamic creed and said, “No doubt, they all are true and I have read in the book of Prophet Moosa (a.s.) that the last Prophet would be born and his name would be Ahmad (S). There would be no prophethood after him and Imams would come from his progeny. This tradition is narrated from Shoba in Kashful Ghumma and Akhtab Khwarizmi, Hamuyi, Juwaini, Ibn Najjar, Salama Ibnal Akwa, Abdullah bin Ahmad have also quoted it in their respective books.
We should know that there are fourteen more traditions mentioned in Nusoos in which the Caliphate of the Twelve Shiite Imams is proved. A few traditions are mentioned below: According to Abu Saeed, he heard from the Messenger of Allah (S) that there would be twelve Imams after him. Nine Imams would descend from Imam Husayn (a.s.) and the last would be the Master of the Age (a.j.); it denotes Imam Mahdi (a.j.). Those who are inimical to him would regret it.
The same tradition is narrated from Ibn Masood and we know that the Holy Prophet (S) has given glad tidings of twelve Imams and the same information of nine Imams from the backbone of Imam Husayn (a.s.) is given and the ninth Imam would be Imam Mahdi (a.j.). Umar is also seen as a narrator of this tradition. He says, “We have also heard from the Messenger of Allah (S) that there would be twelve Imams after him and nine of them would be born from the loins of Imam Husayn (a.s.) and Imam Mahdi (a.j.) would be from them. One who believes in them would be loved by Allah and one who keep aloof from them would be aloof from Allah.”
The writer says, “It is regretful that at the time of Saqifah, Umar forgot this tradition. Readers should keep in mind that Caliphate is not separate from Imamate, like Jalebi (an Indian sweet meat) is never sold separately from its syrup. It was Umar who made Abu Bakr a Caliph. The fact is that if Umar had faith on the tradition narrated by him, His Eminence, Ali (a.s.) would have been the first Imam and there was no question of appointing Abu Bakr or anyone as a Caliph. This action of Umar informs us about the lack of his faith and belief.
The remaining traditions are of the same tenor. The writer restrains his pen to maintain brevity. Suffice it to say that all such traditions of the Messenger of Allah (S) prove the Caliphate and Imamate of the twelve Imams and are enough to refute the Sunni Caliphate. But divine help is required to understand the truth. Nothing is possible without good sense.
Verses of The Holy Quran Proving The Caliphate Of His Eminence, Imam Ali (A.S.)
We should know that traditions and verses of the Holy Quran prove the Caliphate of His Eminence, Ali (a.s.). There are so many verses of Quran that point to the Caliphate of His Eminence, Ali (a.s.) that the writer cannot include all of them in this book. The following is a brief summary of the verses concerning Imam Ali’s Caliphate: A verse of the Holy Quran states: “Say: I do not ask of you any reward for it but love for my near relatives”1
According to commentators of Quran, the near relatives mean Ali, Fatima, Hasan and Husayn (a.s.).2 The Quraish, Bani Hashim, Helpers (Ansar), Emigrants (Muhajireen) and others are not included in this. Only Ali, Fatima and Hasnain (a.s.) are included. According to this verse, these are the four divinely appointed persons, after the Prophet and nobody else can be more deserving of love.
In such a condition, it seems unlikely that none of them should be selected as a Caliph and Umar should appoint one who is himself obliged by Allah to love these four personalities. Such a man would indeed be inferior to the four. Thus, to appoint such a person as Imam or Caliph over these excellent persons, informs of a great deviation. Obviously, Lady Fatima (s.a.), being a woman, cannot become a Caliph or Imam after the Messenger of Allah (S) and Hasan and Husayn (a.s.) were of a very young age. So it was necessary for His Eminence, Ali (a.s.) to get the position of Caliphate. But due to his personal enmity, Umar did not allow Ali (a.s.) to become a Caliph.
This was doubtlessly, the first mistake of Muslims as the writer has mentioned previously and it was a mistake due to which Islam had to face great losses and is still facing them. Divine will is supreme, but apparently Umar has committed such a mistake that its correction is impossible till Judgment Day. The verse of Surah Tahrim states: “And if you back up each other against him, then surely Allah it is Who is his Guardian, and Jibraeel and the believers that do good.”3
This verse shows that the guardian and helper of the Prophet is Allah, Jibraeel and ‘the believers that do good’, that is Ali (a.s.). The writer of Tafseer Majmaul Bayan says on page 423 that ‘believers that do good’ denotes Amirul Mo-mineen (a.s.) as stated by Mujahid in the book of Fasra Ahl-ul-Tanjeel through Sudair Sairafi and Abu Ja’far.
Mujahid says that the Holy Prophet (S) introduced His Eminence, Ali (a.s.) twice to his community. Once the Messenger of Allah (S) said: “Of whomsoever I am the master, this Ali is also his master.” And when this verse was revealed, the Prophet held Ali’s hand and said, “O people! He is the ‘believer who does good’” Asma binte Umais says, “I heard the Messenger of Allah (S) saying that Imam Ali Ibn Abi Talib (a.s.) is the ‘righteous believer.”
The writer says, “It is regretful that the ‘righteous believer’ should not be made Caliph, and instead, Abu Bakr is given this post. Abu Bakr, who like all Muslims, was inferior to His Eminence, Ali (a.s.), according to the above statement of Allah. Congratulate Umar for clearly opposing Allah’s command and making the superior as inferior! Not only this, he also harassed this superior much and went and burnt down his wife’s house4; hit the belly of his wife, causing miscarriage.5
Bravo, how a community showed regards to ‘righteous believer’! Without any doubt, such behavior can neither be justified from the aspect of reason nor from the aspect of religion, but it seems that Umar did not accord any precedence to the commands of Allah and Prophet, over his own discretion. If he had any regard for them, he would not have opposed His Eminence, Ali (a.s.) so much.
It is a farce that Ahlul Sunnat do not pay any attention to the harms of such an attitude of Umar. When I was also a Sunni, I also believed that every action of Umar was worth praise. Praise be to Allah, that He granted me good sense to know what is right and what is wrong and being freed from the deceit of priests, I became a true devotee of Ahlul Bayt (a.s.).
Today, I love the family of Prophet (S) as much as I hate their enemies. My Lord! Keep me firm on the love of family members of Prophet (S) and also on the enmity of the enemies of the Prophet’s progeny. O Allah! I do not ask for anything except that You keep me firm on faith and love of the family of Prophet (S) till I die.
“O you who believe! When you consult the Apostle, then offer something in charity before your consultation…”6
Tafseer Maalimut Tanzil, Tafseer Nishapuri, Tafseer Kabir Razi, Tafseer Muhiyuddin Ibn Arabi, traditions of Mishkat, Chapter of Merits of Ali (a.s.) and Tirmidhi prove that this verse of Surah Mujadila was revealed in the honor of His Eminence, Ali (a.s.). Scholars and commentator have widely related that this verse was in excellence of Imam Ali (a.s.) and it mentions such excellence as is not related to anyone else.
It is that the Holy Prophet (S) whispered some secrets to Amirul Momineen (a.s.) and kept them confidential by the command of Allah, which shows such affinity that it is not seen for anyone of the Prophet’s helpers and companions.
It is obvious that when Allah commanded that whosoever speaks secretly to the Messenger of Allah (S), he must give alms (Sadaqah), no one was able to fulfill this condition.
His Eminence, Ali (a.s.) fulfilled the condition inspite of difficult circumstances due to lack of affluence, and thus this verse was revealed.
His Eminence, Ali (a.s.) says that “this verse proves my excellence over all the Muslims, because whatever I did was not accomplished by anyone else. That is, I gave ten dirhams in alms to be have a confidential conversation with the Messenger of Allah (S). After that the Almighty Allah abrogated the above verse after ten days.”
Umar says, “How I wish that Allah had granted me this honor! We should know that this secret talk took place during the Taif expedition. Only speaking to Ali (a.s.) in this manner shows that Allah did not consider anyone else eligible for Imamate. It is a matter of great surprise that knowing such excellence of Imam Ali (a.s.), Umar did not allow him to become a Caliph. Rather, he put so many restrictions that Ali (a.s.) should not become the Caliph even after his (Umar’s) death! Bravo! This is called ‘confession of excellence’!
We should know that there are many verses in Quran that prove immediate successorship of Imam Ali (a.s.). Some of them are as follows: “And most surely, I am most Forgiving to him who repents and believes and does good, then continues to follow the right direction.”7
“…then as for those in whose hearts there is perversity, they follow the part of it which is allegorical, seeking to mislead, and seeking to give in (their own) interpretation, but none knows its interpretation except Allah, and those who are firmly rooted in knowledge, say: We believe in it, it is all from our Lord, and none do mind except those having understanding.”8
“Come, let us call our sons and your sons and our women and your women and our near people and your near people, then let us be earnest in prayer, and pray for the curse of Allah on the liars.”9
“Or do they envy the people for what Allah has given them of His grace? But indeed We have given to Ibrahim’s children the Book and the wisdom, and We have given them a grand kingdom.”10
“Only Allah is your Wali and His Apostle and those who believe, those who keep up prayers and pray the poor-rate while they bow.”11
“…and that the retaining ear, might retain it.”12
“…and if they had referred it to the Apostle and to those in authority among them, those among them who can search out the knowledge of it would have known it…”13
“He said: Surely I will make you an Imam of men.”14
“Allah only desires to keep away the uncleanness from you. O people of the house! And to purify you a (thorough) purifying.”15
“This day have those who disbelieve despaired of your religion, so fear them not, and fear Me. This day have I perfected for you, your religion and completed My favor on you and chosen for you Islam as a religion.”16
“O Apostle! Deliver what has been revealed to you from your Lord, and if you do it not then you have not delivered His message, and Allah will protect you from the people, surely Allah will not guide the unbelieving people.”17
Apart from these, there are many other verses that prove the excellence of Ahlul Bayt (a.s.) over believers and from this aspect the excellence of His Eminence, Ali (a.s.) is proved to all the Muslims. It is a heavy argument for the Caliphate of His Eminence, Ali (a.s.).
Without any doubt, the superior one always remains superior and in no circumstances does he become inferior. The inferior can in no case obtain precedence over the superior. Thus, to consider Abu Bakr as superior to His Eminence, Ali (a.s.) is impossible from the aspect of reason as well as Islamic texts.
It was necessary to consider the superiority of Imam Ali (a.s.) to Abu Bakr at the time of appointing Abu Bakr as Caliph. But his selfish motives made Umar forget every superiority and inferiority. Making Abu Bakr a Caliph was a hasty affair; rather under the pretext of Abu Bakr, he himself became a Caliph.
1. Surah Shura 42:23
2. Ref. Tafseer Baidhawi, Maalimut Tanzeel, Tafseer Muhiyuddin Ibne Arabi, Kashshaf, Tafseer Nishapuri and Tafseer Kabir Razi, Vol. 7, Pg. 406.
3. Surah Tahrim 66:4
4. Ref. the Biography of Abu Fida.
5. Ref. Al-Milal Wan-Nihal of Shahristani, Pg. 20.
6. Surah Mujadila 58:12
7. Surah Taha 20:82
8. Surah Aale Imran 3:6
9. Surah Aale Imran 3:61
10. Surah Nisa 4:54
11. Surah Maidah 5:55
12. Surah Haqqah 69:12
13. Surah Nisa 4:83
14. Surah Baqarah 2:124
15. Surah Ahzab 33:33
16. Surah Maidah 5:3
17. Surah Maidah 5:67