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Prohibition of Recording of Traditions
The Sunnis themselves have created a situation which has weakened their case. Umar disallowed the writing of traditions (Ahadith). This is a historical fact, not a story invented by any hostile Shi'ah. It is admitted by the European Orientalists also who are neither the Shi'ah nor the Sunnis. Even the most sympathetic Orientalists say that Umar disallowed the writing of traditions because of his fear that tradition would divert the attention of the people from the Qur'an, which he wanted to be the sole source of law. This is definitely a historical fact and not an allegation of the Shi'ites. During the days of Umar nobody could venture to write a Prophetic traditions and show his writing to others. Oral transmission of traditions was of course allowed. This situation continued till the time of Umar Ibn Abdul Aziz, who became Caliph in 99 A.H. and died in 101 A.H. He issued instructions that Prophetic traditions should be collected and put down in writing. Thus he changed Umar's policy. It is to be noted that immediately following Umar ibn Abdul Aziz's instructions those who were so far transmitting Prophetic traditions orally, undertook the work of writing them, but in the meanwhile a part of them had already been lost.
We know that the rules of Islamic law mentioned in the Qur'an are very brief. The Qur'an mostly mentions general rules only. For example, the Qur'an lays great stress on prayers. But still all that it says about them does not go beyond saying: "Establish prayers, prostrate and bow down." Even it has not been explained how prayers are to be offered. Similarly there are so many rites connected with pilgrimage. The Holy Prophet personally observed them. Had not the Prophetic traditions assumed the present practical form, the Muslims could not know anything about them. But the question is what opportunities the Holy Prophet had to enunciate all the Islamic injunctions. During his 13 years' stay in Makkah because of stern opposition and very tight situation there, the number of those who were converted to Islam could not probably exceed 400. People used to meet the Holy Prophet only secretly. Some 70 families which constituted half or even more than half of the total population of the Muslims, had to migrate to Ethiopia.
From this point of view Medina was a better place, but there the Holy Prophet had so many other commitments. Even if he worked like a whole-time teacher, during all these 23 years he did not have enough time at his disposal to impart all the teachings of Islam, especially in view of the fact that Islam is a complete code of human life particularly in our present age.
Use of Analogy
As a result of what they hold in this connection, the Sunnis had to face many practical difficulties in regard to the rules of Islamic law. They came across questions about which nothing was mentioned in the Qur'an. They checked the collections of traditions which they had, but there also they did not find the answer. What to do then? To solve the problem they resorted to analogy which means to extend on the basis of some existing similarity the rule of a text to a case not provided for in the Quran and the Sunnah. For example we say that the law says so in that case. As this case is some what similar to that, the same rule should apply to this case also. Possibly, in that case the Holy Prophet gave that particular order for such and such reason and as that reason exists in this case also, the same order should apply to it also.
As may be seen, the analogical deduction is based on possibilities only. The cases where Prophetic traditions were not available, were too many. The world of Islam greatly extended during the Abbasid period. Many countries were conquered. Consequently new problems arose everyday, the solution of which was not found in the Qur'an and the Sunnah. The result was that analogical deduction became a regular practice. The Sunnis were divided into two groups. The first group which included Ahmad ibn Hambal and
Malik ibn Anas, looked at analogical deduction with suspicion. It is said that Malik ibn Anas resorted to this process only in two cases. The other group which included Abu Hanifah made use of analogy on a too wide scale. Abu Hanifah used to say that the sayings attributed to the Holy Prophet were not reliable. He declared that he found only fifteen Prophetic traditions trustworthy. In all other cases he resorted to analogical
deduction. Shafi'i had a midway position. In some cases he relied on Prophetic traditions and in others he applied analogy, with the result that he produced a sort of hotchpotch code of law. It is said that Abu Hanifah made so much use of analogy because he was of Irani origin and the Iranians by nature tend to take much interest in mental exercises, and because he lived in Iraq which was far away from Medina, the centre of the traditionalists. Anyhow, he indulged too much in analogy.
A Sunni writer says that one day Abu Hanifah went to a barber. His beard had a mixture of black and grey hair but the number of the grey hair was not very large. He asked the barber to pull out the grey hair. The barber said: "If grey hair is pulled out, it tends to grow more copiously." Abu Hanifah said: "Then pull out the black hair, for my analogy says that in case grey hair grows copiously if it is pulled out, the same thing should happen in the case of black hair also." But the fact is that if there is any such rule, it applies to grey hair only, not to black hair. Anyhow, Abu Hanifah made similar deductions in the case of jurisprudence also.
Analogy From the Shi'ah Point of View
When we refer to the Shi'ah traditions we find that according to them the need of analogy is felt only because of the wrong notion that the Qur'an and the Sunnah are not enough to provide all the necessary rules of law. The fact is that this notion is totally wrong. We have received such a quantity of Prophetic traditions either directly or through the chosen descendants of the Holy Prophet, that if we refer to the principles laid down therein, we need not resort to analogical deduction at all. That is the spirit of Imamat from religious point of view.
Islam is not merely a creed or a doctrine. It cannot be said that after its ideology has been enunciated by its founder it only requires a government to implement that ideology. It is a complete code and that position of it must be kept in mind.
No Question of Election in the Presence of an Infallible Imam
From the viewpoint of leadership and rulership the position is that Imam Ali the Holy Prophet's successor who is as infallible as the Prophet himself and who has been designated by him to be his successor, cannot be placed at par with other people. His position is exceptional like that of the Prophet himself. Therefore in his case there is no room for any election, consultation or any other such thing. In the case of the Prophet nobody ever said that he was only the Messenger of Allah and the people were at liberty to choose him or anybody else to be their ruler. Everybody knew that as he was superhuman and had contact with the Divine world, in his presence there could be no question of any election or selection. After the Holy Prophet also there was no room for any such thing, for he had designated twelve successors to strengthen Islam during the next two or three centuries and to expound it in a way free from every error. In the presence of such persons capable of explaining all the injunctions of Islam, there could be no question of any election etc. Is it reasonable to choose someone else in the presence of a person absolutely infallible and extremely competent and learned in every sense of the word?
Furthermore, when Imam Ali had been appointed an Imam in the sense mentioned by us, worldly leadership was also naturally due to him. In fact the Holy Prophet designated Imam Ali to this assignment because Imam Ali was an Imam and infallible. Anyhow, the case is different during the occultation of the present Imam, for there exists no infallible Imam free to exercise his worldly authority. Similarly the case would have been different if the events of the early period of Islam had not taken place and. Imam Ali had become Caliph immediately after the Holy Prophet and had been succeeded by Imam Hasan, then by Imam Husayn and so on till the times of the last Imam. In this case there would have been no reason for occultation. After the demise of the last infallible Imam the question of rulership would have assumed a different shape. Then it could be asked how this question is to be solved. Is it or is it not necessary that a jurist fulfilling all the prerequisite conditions should be the ruler? Can people elect their ruler?
As such from the very beginning we should not regard the question of Imamat as a simple question of worldly government. It would be wrong to ask at this stage whether Islam wants a government based on nomination or a government based on election, and then to ask why the Shi'ah advocate a particular form of government. The question is not so simple. It must be admitted that in the presence of an infallible Imam, nobody else can have a claim to the rulership in the same way as in the presence of the Holy Prophet nobody else could be the ruler. The Holy Prophet had appointed Imam Ali the Imam and as such it was his privilege to be the ruler also. Besides, on several occasion the Holy Prophet made it clear that Imam Ali was to succeed him as the ruler of the Muslims. Anyhow, it is to be remembered that he made this nomination on the basis that Imam Ali was the Imam after him.
Question of Spiritual Wilayat:
Earlier I mentioned a point in which I believe persona and consider it to be a basic doctrine, though it might not be a cardinal principle of Shi'ism. The question is what the special characteristics of the Holy Prophet's position were? What was revealed to him, did it only confine to Divine injunctions; and the fundamental principles and collateral teachings of Islam? Was his knowledge confined to the realities of Islam, or was any other information also communicated to him by Allah? Is his excellence in regard to piety confined to his being infallible and immune from all errors? Almost the same questions arise in respect of the Imams also. Though they received no revelation from Allah, yet they received thorough knowledge of Islam, through the Holy Prophet and their knowledge was as free from the possibility of any error as that of the Holy Prophet himself. As regards piety, the Imams are also infallible.
Now the question is whether a Prophet or an Imam has besides these features some other. special features or qualities also reposed in his person. Besides religious knowledge what are the other branches of knowledge with which he is endowed? Is it true that the reports about the deeds performed by his Ummah (followers) are presented to the Holy Prophet, and similar reports are also presented to each Imam during his lifetime. Now the present Imam knows, hears and sees everything that happens in the world. He watches the deeds not of the Shi'ites only but of all people. In this respect there is no difference between a living and a dead Imam. As stated earlier, when you visit the grave of Imam Riza, and greet him, this action takes place as if you are calling on a person living in this world. When you greet the Imam, he hears you and looks at you. That is a manifestation of spiritual Wilayat.
We said earlier that the question of Wilayat is the point where mysticism and Shi'ism meet each other. Their ideas in this respect are very close. The mystics say that in every age there must exist a perfect man whom they call the qutb. The Shi'ah hold that in every age there must be an Imam and religious authority, who is a perfect man. As this question is not a matter of dispute between the Shi'ah and the Sunnis, we do not propose to dwell on it further at this stage. The disputed points are two, namely Imamat in the sense of expounding religion and Imamat in the sense of worldly leadership of the Muslims.
Importance of the Tradition of Thaqalayn
In regard to the question of Imamat, you should not ignore the importance of this tradition. If by chance you have to face a Sunni scholar or even a non-scholar, you should ask him whether the Holy Prophet did or did not utter such a sentence. If he says that he did not, you can put before him so many books of the Sunnis themselves. In fact the Sunni scholars cannot, and generally do not, deny the existence and veracity of such a tradition[29].
Then say to him: "The Holy Prophet has designated the Qur'an as the authority No. 1 and his 'descendants' as the authority No. 2. Now tell us who these descendants are."
It may be noted that the Sunnis make no difference between the Holy Prophet's descendants and others. They narrate Prophetic traditions more often on the authority of other companions than on the authority of Imam Ali. Even when they quote Imam Ali, they quote him as a transmitter of a Prophet's tradition, not as an authority.
The Tradition of Ghadir
As we have said, he who is the authority for a religion must also be the leader of that religion. Further, as far as leadership is concerned, the Holy Prophet expressly designated Imam Ali to that. The tradition of Ghadir is an instance of such a declaration. The Ghadir declaration was made by the Holy Prophet on the occasion of the farewell pilgrimage at a place called Ghadir al-Khum. This pilgrimage was the last Hajj performed by the Holy Prophet. In all probability he did not perform more than one Hajj after the conquest of Makkah, but he performed one 'Umrah before his farewell Pilgrimage. On the occasion of the farewell Pilgrimage he issued a general invitation to all the Muslims to attend that Hajj. When all of them assembled, he delivered sermons on different occasions in the Masjidul Haram, at Arafat, at Mina, outside Mina and at Ghadir al-Khum. After mentioning some other points at Ghadir al-Khum he finally mentioned a point which he greatly emphasized. In our opinion he made it the last point because of this verse which he recited there: "0 Messenger! Make known that which has been revealed to you from your Lord, for if you do it not, you will not have conveyed His message." (Surah al Ma'idah, 5:67).
The Holy Prophet mentioned many principles of Islam and collateral matters in his sermons which he delivered at Arafat, Mina and Masjidul Haram. On all these occasions he dealt with important matters. But at Ghadir al-Khum he made an announcement about which he said that if he did not make it, all that he had said would become void. Then he said: "Am I not closer to you than your own selves?" He was referring to a Qur'anic verse which says: "The Prophet is closer to the believers than their own selves." (Surah al Ahzab, 33:6 ).
He continued to say "Do I not have more authority over you than you yourselves have?" All those who were present said: "Yes, Messenger of Allah, you have." Then the Holy Prophet announced: "This Ali is the master (Maula) of him, whose master I am."
A comprehensive summary of the question of Ghadir was published a few years back at Mashhad in the form of a book by the Society for Publication of Islamic Truths. I have not yet read this book, but those friends of mine who have read it, say that it is a very good book, at least worth reading.
It will require too much space if we attempt to study all the sources of the tradition of Ghadir which we claim to be a mutawatir tradition or the tradition of Thaqalayn, the sources of which Mir Hamid Husayn, the author of the 'Abaqatul Anwar has traced in 400 pages of large size. While dealing with the crux of the problem of Imamat, we would like to make only a brief mention of the authorities on which the Shi'ah base their claim in this regard, although the question might need rather a more elaborate discussion.
[29] Some preachers have made a gross misuse of this tradition, for they invariably use it as a prelude to narrating the misfortunes of the Prophet's chosen descendants. One may think that when the Holy Prophet said that he was leaving two things behind him: the Qur'an and his descendants, what he meant was only that those two things were to be held in high respect and were not to be insulted at all. In fact what the Holy Prophet meant was that he was living behind two authorities to which all religious and social questions were to be referred. In the concluding part of this tradition the Holy Prophet has said: "So long as you adhere to them, you will not go astray." So the question is that of adherence. The Holy Prophet has declared his descendants equal with the Quran. He himself has said that the Qur'an was the major 'thaqal' and his descendants the minor 'thaqal'.

Chapter 5: Scholastic Study of Imamat
With a view to make clear the basis of the arguments which the Shi'ah scholars advance in support of their conception of Imamat and to show what others say in this respect, we deem it fit to reproduce with some explanatory remarks a passage written by Khwaja Nasiruddin Tusi. This passage is very precise and the Shi'ah and the Sunni scholars alike have been commenting on it since it was written.
You must have heard the name of a book, Tajrid, written by Khwaja Nasiruddin. A part of this book deals with logic and is called the logic of Tajrid. Another part of it deals with scholastic theology and discusses such questions as Monotheism, Prophethood, Imamat, the Hereafter etc. The tone of that section which discusses Monotheism is rather philosophical for in this section Khwaja Nasiruddin has followed the style of the philosophers. A commentary on both the parts of this book has been written by Allama Hilli, whose name also must be familiar to you. He was not only one of the greatest Shi'ah jurists but also one of the greatest jurists of Islam. In logic, scholastic theology, philosophy, mathematics etc, he was a pupil of Khwaja Nasiruddin. He learned jurisprudence from Muhaqqiq Hilli, the author of Sharaya, who was also one of the most distinguished Shi'ah jurists. Allama Hilli and Khwaja Nasiruddin are counted among the most talented scholars. Khwaja Nasiruddin is considered to be one of the world class mathematicians also. Recently newspapers have announced that some parts of the moon have been named after certain Iranian mathematicians, such as Umar Khayyam, Ibn Sina and Khwaja Nasiruddin, who centuries ago advanced some very sound theories about the moon. There is no doubt that Allama Hilli is a genius in his own field, that is jurisprudence. He is the author of many books, including one in two volumes named Tazkiratul Fuqaha. When one studies this book, one marvels at the mastery of its author.
Muhammad Qazwini says that when he was in Tehran he used to attend the lectures of Mirza Ashtiyani. Later when he went to Europe, and had a chance to meet several European scholars who were specialists in their subjects, he felt that Mirza Ashtiyani was a specialist in the real sense of the word.
The Tazkiratul Fuqaha is a book that deals not only with Shi'ah jurisprudence, but in regard to every rule of law it also mentions the opinion of the Sunni schools founded by the four Sunni Imams, namely Abu Hanifah, Shafi'i, Malik and Ahmad bin Hambal, as well as the verdicts of the most prominent jurists preceding the formation of these four Sunni schools. Dealing with every question, it says that Abu Hanifah says so, Shafi'i says so and we the Shi'ites hold such and such opinion. Sometimes he refutes an opinion. Sometimes, for example, he says that Shafi'i first said so and then changed his opinion and said so.
Shaykh Muhammad Taqi Qummi used to say that when it was decided to publish the Tazkirah, an expert of every Sunni school was called. These experts were astonished to find that Allama Hilli knew more than what they themselves knew about the teachings of their schools. Such an extraordinary man Allama Hilli was!
He compiled a commentary on the Tajrid. That part of it which deals with logic is known as al Jawharun Nazid. It is one of the best books on logic. The scholastic part of the book is named Kashful Murad and is now known by the name of Sharhut Tajrid. Both the parts of Allama Hilli's commentary on the Tajrid are quite brief in expression. That is why they have again been commented upon subsequently and explanatory notes written on them. Perhaps no book in the Muslim world ever attracted so much attention of the scholars as the Tajrid. This book has been refuted by some and supported by others. No other book has been furnished with so many commentaries and annotations as this book. The reason is that when Khwaja Nasiruddin wants to describe a question from the Shi'ah point of view, he touches it only briefly. In most cases he hurriedly refers to it and then passes away. In the concluding part of the book he has described the question of Imamat in a manner that has been approved by all Shi'ah scholars, and hence from his description of the question it is easy to understand how the Shi'ah scholars think about this subject.
The book which I have at my disposal at present is Mulla Ali Qushchi's commentary on the Tajrid. Mulla Ali Qushchi is an eminent Sunni scholar. Naturally he puts forward the Sunni point of view and in most cases refutes that of Khwaja Nasiruddin. Thus in this book the Sunni view has been reflected side by side with the view of Khwaja which of course is the Shi'ah view.
Definition of Imamat
The first thing to be mentioned about Imamat is its definition, about which there is no difference of opinion. It is said that Imamat is the general charge of the religious as well as the secular affairs.
Khwaja Nasiruddin uses a scholastic expression and says that the Imam is a Divine favour (Lutf). What he means is that like Prophethood the question of Imamat is also beyond human control. Hence an Imam cannot be selected by a human decision. Like a Prophet he is to be appointed by Divine ordinance. The only difference is that the Prophet has a direct contact with Allah, whereas an Imam is appointed by the Prophet on receiving Divine instructions.
Rational Argument of the Shi'ah
In this connection Khwaja Nasiruddin does not put forward more than one sentence. Anyhow the basis of the explanation given by the Shi'ah scholars is the same as mentioned by us earlier. They first advance a historical argument and say if Imam Ali's Imamat is proved, that of the other Imams' can be based on the authority of a declaration made by the preceding Imam. The Shi'ah scholars say that they know that Islam is the final religion and that it would not be followed by any other religion.
It is the most comprehensive religion and a complete code of human life. Then they put a question and ask whether the account of the Holy Prophet's life shows that he got enough opportunity to impart all the teachings of Islam to the people in general. When we study Islamic history we find that during the 23 years of his Prophethood he did not get such an opportunity. Although he did not miss any chance which he could avail of and taught many things to the people, yet in view of his special circumstances and his preoccupations in Makkah and Medina, it is certain that a period of 23 years was not enough for him to pronounce all the laws of Islam to all the people. At the same time it was also not possible for him to give in complete information about such a perfect religion. Therefore there must be one or more persons among the companions of the Holy Prophet who might have obtained complete knowledge of Islam from him and be in a position to explain the teachings of Islam after his demise exactly in the same manner as he himself would do, with the only difference that he received Divine revelation direct, whereas they were to acquire this knowledge through him.
The Shi'ah scholars say that the Sunnis do not acknowledge the existence of any person to whom all questions regarding Islam could be referred, which means that they regarded Islam as imperfect. That is the reason why they had to resort to the theory of analogy, which they have put forward because they say that in the case of the questions which have not been provided for in the Sunnah, they have no alternative but to compare one question with another and to depend on hypothetical similarities for the purpose of deducing rules of law. The Shi'ah naturally do not share such a view. Imam Ali in Nahjul Balagha has denounced such a view and so have all other Imams.
Imam Ali says: "Has Allah revealed an incomplete religion?" (Sermon 18). Does it need private judgement to complete? All the Imams have emphatically said that there is no question of Islam being imperfect and incomplete, and therefore no rule of law can be based on a personal opinion, a private judgement or conjecture.
There is a chapter in al-Kafi which is entitled: "There is nothing Permitted or Forbidden that is not provided in the Qur'an or the Sunnah". At least the general principles covering every rule of law, have been provided. All that is to be done is to apply these principles to the particular cases. That is what is meant by ijtihad from the Shi'ah point of view. In other words, there is an adequate number of general laws in Islam, and the mujtahid (jurist) has only to provide details in their light. In contrast the theory of analogy implies that the number of the general laws is inadequate and therefore rules of law must be deduced on a hypothetical basis.
The Shi'ah scholars say that both the Shi'ah and the Sunnis admit that during the 23 years of his Prophethood the Holy Prophet could not make known to the people all the rules of Islam even in a general manner. The Sunnis say that the Holy Prophet left the matter as it was and departed this life. But the Shi'ah hold that it was not so. In order to complete his mission he selected certain persons who were inviolable and made known all the truths of Islam to the first one of them, namely Imam Ali. All these persons were fully equipped and competent to answer any question put to them. Imam Ali often said that he would answer any question put to him regarding Islam.
Imam Means An Expert in Religious Matters
Let us now explain this point in modern language. The Shi'ah scholars say that those who deny the existence of Imams with all their characteristics, in reality belittle Islam. An expert invariably accompanies a technical equipment when it is sent somewhere. When a country like America or the Soviet Union dispatches a technical equipment like a phantom or a combat aircraft to a country the people of which are not conversant with that equipment, it always sends some experts also along with it. Of course in the case of such simple arms as the textiles experts are not required. Now what do you think about Islam which has come from Allah? Do you consider it to be a simple thing for which no experts are required or regard it as a complex equipment which when issued, is always accompanied by technical experts who train people at the receiving end till they become conversant with it.
An Imam means an expert in religious affairs - a real expert who does not make a mistake and does not fall into any error. The Holy Prophet brought Islam to the people. It was necessary that at least for some time Divine experts should be present among the people to acquaint them with it. The Holy Prophet appointed a competent person to undertake this responsibility. The Shi'ah scholars call this appointment a Divine favour, for it was beneficial for humanity. As humanity must proceed towards Allah, His benevolence requires that He should show His favour to it. Just as Prophethood is a Divine favour, similarly Imamat also is a Divine favour. This may be called a rational proof of Imamat, a cardinal principle of the Shi'ah creed.
Here the question of infallibility arises. The Shi'ah believe that an Imam is the custodian and protector of Islamic law. It is through him only that people can know Islam.[30] The Shi'ah believe that an Imam is as infallible as the Holy Prophet, whose infallibility is beyond all doubts. If we know for certain that the Holy Prophet has made a particular statement, we can never doubt its veracity. We can never say that the Holy Prophet has made a mistake. It is unimaginable that one sent by Allah for the guidance of the people needing guidance would ever make a mistake or commit a sin. A Prophet cannot disobey Allah knowingly and intentionally. For example, if Allah wants a Prophet to convey a certain message to the people, the Prophet cannot change it on the plea that it does not suit his personal interest. To do so would be against the very nature of Prophethood. If it is admitted that Imamat is something supplementary to Prophethood for the purpose of expounding religion, then it becomes certain that the existence of an Imam is a must, and that an Imam is infallible for the same reason for which a Prophet is infallible. If somebody says that the infallibility of an Imam is not so essential, because if an Imam makes a mistake, it is possible that some other person brings the mistakes to his notice, we would say that in that case that other person would again require somebody else to keep a watch on him, and so on. At the final end we would certainly need a protector of Islamic law who may be infallible. Further, should an Imam do something wrong, it would be the duty of others to guide him aright, while the people's duty is to follow him, not to guide him. These two things are not consistent with each other.
Divine Designation
The question of infallibility leads us to the question of Divine designation. The Shi'ah scholars say that Imamat is a favour of Allah, and as such it must exist. As this favour entails infallibility, an Imam must necessarily be infallible and for this very reason should be Divinely designated, for it is beyond the power of the people to determine who is infallible. As the people cannot choose a Prophet, they cannot choose an Imam
also. As a Prophet is appointed by Allah, similarly an Imam is also appointed by Him. The only difference is that a Prophet is recognized by means of the signs which he shows and the miracles which he works, whereas an Imam is introduced by the Prophet. That is what we meant by designation. An Imam is to be designated by the Prophet and not appointed by the choice of the people. Thus the Shi'ah scholars have advanced from the question of infallibility to that of designation. Now the fourth step is the Imamat of Ali.
Khwaja Nasiruddin says that infallibility and designation are the two characteristics which are applicable to Imam Ali only. There is no difference of opinion about the fact that the Holy Prophet did not designate any other person. It is not that we say that the Holy Prophet designated Imam Ali and others say that he designated someone else. In fact the question is whether he did or did not designate anybody. If he did, the designated person can be none but Imam Ali. All that we say is that the Holy Prophet must have designated someone to be an Imam after him, and if so, he cannot have designated anyone else, for no counter claim exists. The Sunnis deny the very designation. Even the caliphs did not claim to have been designated by the Holy Prophet. Their followers also make no such claim. Therefore this is not the point at issue.
The same is true of infallibility. Neither the caliphs claimed to be infallible, nor do their followers say that they were infallible. In contrast, the caliphs expressly confessed that they made mistakes. As we have already pointed out, according to the Sunni point of view the question of Imamat is exclusively tantamount to that of the administration of government. As such according to them the question of infallibility does not arise. The Sunnis believe that although the caliphs were not infallible and made many mistakes, they were irreproachable to the humanly possible extent and were quite fit to lead prayers. The Sunnis do not claim that the caliphs held any position higher than this. They report, as affirmed by Mulla Ali Qushchi, that Abu Bakr used to say that he had a Devil which seized him occasionally. He asked the people to guide him aright if they found him going astray. Umar on many occasions, some say on 70 occasions, admitted that he would have been ruined if there had not been Ali. It is not a disputable point between the Shi'ah and the Sunnis that he said so many a time. On numerous occasions it so happened that he issued a wrong order and Imam Ali pointed out his mistake which he admitted. As such neither the caliphs ever claimed that they were infallible, nor do others claim that they were so.
If the question of Imamat is considered from this high level, that is the level of Divine favour, infallibility and Divine ordination, nobody other than Imam Ali can claim to be on this level. This is the scholastic form of the question, and in this case we begin from the top. We have said that as Prophethood is indispensable and at the same time a Divine favour, so should be Imamat also. Now let us see whether in actual practice also it is so, and whether the Holy Prophet has or has not designated Imam Ali. For this purpose let us look into the texts.
In this connection there is one more point worth mentioning. The question is why we should after all adopt a scholastic method and should begin from the top. Why should we not begin from the bottom, and discuss the position as it actually exists? The scholastic theologians begin from the top and then gradually come down to the position as it exists on the ground. But in this case the question arises what we have to do with such points as to whether Imamat is a Divine favour, and if so, an Imam should naturally be infallible and designated. These should actually amount to prescribing a duty for Allah. Therefore we should better go after what actually exists. If it is proved that the Holy Prophet has made a designation, that is enough for us. It is not necessary to prove rationally that Imamat is a Divine favour and that an Imam must be infallible and designated. Let us see what arguments the Shi'ah have in this connection. It may be noted in this connection that the Sunnis either do not accept that such texts exist or interpret them differently. In many cases they do not deny the reports totally, but allege that they are isolated reports, not continuous or mutawatir.
Prophetic Texts Relating to Imamat of Imam Ali
Once the Holy Prophet addressing his companions said: "Greet Ali and address him as "Commander of the Faithful". He said so on the occasion of Ghadir, but somehow or other this sentence is reported separately from the event of Ghadir. The Sunnis do not accept this report as continuous one but the Shi'ah scholars have proved that it is so. The Tajrid does not make any further comment on this tradition which it describes as reliable though disconnected in its chain of transmission. Mulla Ali Qushchi says that this tradition cannot be accepted as continuous, and that it must be an isolated one, for it has been quoted only by some, not all. The books like the 'Abaqat and al-Ghadir have concentrated their efforts on proving that all the reports relating to Imam Ali's Imamat are continuous and mutawatir. In these two books, especially in al-Ghadir the transmitters of the tradition of Ghadir in every generation till the 14th century have been enumerated. It names more than 60 companions of the Holy Prophet who have reported this tradition. It is interesting to note that all these names have been collected from the Sunni books. Similarly this book mentions the transmitters of this tradition from among the successors of the companions. All these approximately belong to the first century. Then in the same way it names the transmitters of this tradition in every generation and every century. A special feature of al-Ghadir is that it has cited literary sources also in support of this tradition. While 'Abaqat and other books have only mentioned the names of those persons who transmitted it in each age and century. The poets in every age reflect the main ideas current among the people during that age. Had it been true that the event of Ghadir was invented in the fourth century, it would not have been mentioned in the verses composed by the poets of the first, the second and the third centuries. In every century we find that the question of Ghadir is a part of the literature of that century. Then how can we deny this tradition from historical point of view? We often go after men of letters to ascertain whether a subject existed over history. If it is found that many men of letters have referred to it in each century, it becomes certain that the idea has existed during their times. The author of the 'Abaqat has devoted a whole book to one single tradition and has critically examined all its transmitters. Seeing what a gorgeous bouquet he has arranged, one is filled with wonder.
There is another tradition which the Holy Prophet is reported to have pronounced addressing Imam Ali. He is reported to have said: "You will be the Caliph after me."
Besides these two there are several other such traditions too.
Sirah Ibn Hisham is a book written in the second century. Ibn Hisham himself probably belonged to the third century, but this book was originally written by Ibn Ishaq, who lived in the second century. It was later summarized by Ibn Hisham in whose authorship it has come down to us. This book which is considered to be reliable by the Sunnis, recounts two events which have not been mentioned by the Tajrid. Anyhow, the events are relevant and as such we reproduce them here.
The Event of the Day of Warning
One of these events relates to the Day of warning, a name taken from the Qur'anic verse revealed in the early days of Islam: "Warn your close relatives" (Surah ash-Shu'ara 26:214).
Till then the Holy Prophet had not begun to propagate Islam openly. As we know, at that time Imam Ali was still a boy, and lived in the Holy Prophet's house. That is itself an event. The Holy Prophet asked Imam Ali to arrange some food and invite the descendants of Hashim and Abdul Muttalib to it. Imam Ali prepared a meal of meat and arranged some milk as a dessert. After the guests had taken food, the Holy Prophet said: "I am a Prophet of Allah, raised by Him as such. If you accept what I say, you will be happy in this world and the Hereafter." As soon as the Holy Prophet's uncle, Abu Lahab heard these words, he was enraged, and said: "Have you invited us to tell us all this nonsense?" Abu Lahab raised so much hue and cry that the meeting ended in a fiasco.
The Holy Prophet asked Imam Ali to arrange another meeting. Imam Ali himself says that the number of the persons who attended the second meeting was more or less forty. The Prophet said to the audience: "Whosoever of you accepts my call first, he will be my legatee, vizir and successor." He made this announcement several times, but nobody responded. At last Imam Ali rose from his place and accepted the offer. The Holy Prophet said: "You will be my legatee, vizir and caliph after me."
Meeting of the Head of a Tribe With the Holy Prophet
This is another event found in the Sirah Ibn Hisham. It is still more significant. The Holy Prophet was still in Makkah. The Quraysh were not allowing him to propagate Islam. The situation was very tense. Anyhow, during the sacred months[31] the Quraysh stopped harassing the Holy Prophet or at least did not harass him to the extent of inflicting any bodily injury, although even during these months they did not allow him to pursue any activity connected with the propagation of Islam. Anyhow the Holy Prophet always took advantage of this temporary truce. He called upon various tribes who assembled at the 'Ukaz fair and at Arafat, (The pre-Islamic Arabs also performed Hajj, although they had their own style of it.) and invited them to Islam. While the Holy Prophet went round the tribes, Abu Lahab chased him, and contradicted and belied him. The head of a tribe was very shrewd. He talked with the Holy Prophet for a little while and they said to his people: "Had this man been of my tribe, I would have devoured the Arabs with his help." What he meant was that the Holy Prophet was so multi-talented that with his help all the Arabs could be subdued. Then that man turned to the Holy Prophet and said: "I and my people are ready to have faith in you provided you give us your word to appoint me or one of my people to be your successor." The Holy Prophet said: "It is not up to me to say who would succeed me. It is with Allah." This is an event mentioned in the books of the Sunnis.
The Tradition of Ghadir and Its Continuity
Another argument of the Shi'ah is the tradition of Ghadir. Khwaja Nasiruddin says that the Tradition of Ghadir is mutawatir. Mutawatir is a technical term. A tradition may either be mutawatir (continuous) or khabar wahid (isolated). An isolated tradition does not mean that it has been reported only by one person. It is a tradition which has not been reported in a convincing way. It is immaterial whether it has been reported by one person or by ten. For example, somebody says that he has heard such and such report from the radio. You think that he is right, but you still want to see what others say. If the report is confirmed by someone else, you are a little more convinced. When you see that many others say the same thing, you become sure that there is no chance that all of them may be telling a lie. The number of the reporters of a continuous tradition must be so large that there should be no possibility of their conspiring. In the above example it is possible that ten persons conspire to say that they have heard the particular report from the radio. Even 200 persons may combine. But there are cases in which there is no such possibility. For example, you go to South Africa and find a person saying that the radio has broadcast such and such report. Then you go to East Africa and again find some persons reporting the same thing. Then you go to West Africa and the same story is repeated. In this case you cannot say that all these persons have conspired to tell a lie. This is called tawatur or continuity. The Shi'ah claim that the tradition (hadith) of Ghadir has been reported by so many people that any conspiracy is out of question. For example in the case of the tradition of Ghadir we cannot say that 40 companions of the Holy Prophet had conspired to tell a lie, especially when we see that many of them were hostile to Imam Ali, or at least were not friendly with him. Had these reporters been of the type of Salman, Abuzar and Miqdad, who dearly loved and followed Imam Ali, it would have been possible to suspect that because of their excessive attachment to Imam Ali they combined to invent a story. The people like Qushchi allege that this tradition is an isolated report, but the Shi'ah say emphatically that it is continuous. According to this tradition, the Holy Prophet addressing the audience, said: "Do I not have more authority over you than you yourselves have?"[32] All said: "Yes, you have." Then he said: "This Ali is the master of him, whose master I am". The Holy Prophet wanted to affirm that Ali was as superior to others as he himself was.
There is another tradition, which is also continuous according to Khwaja Nasiruddin, but Mulla Ali Qushchi says that it is isolated, although even he does not deny its substance. Regarding this tradition also scholars like Mir Hamid Husayn, the author of the 'Abaqat and Allama Amini, the author of al-Ghadir have paid much attention. Mir Hamid Husayn has devoted one full book to it. This tradition is known as the tradition of Manzilat. The Holy Prophet is reported to have said to Imam Ali: "In relation to me you occupy the same position as Harun occupied in relation to Musa with the exception that there will be on prophet after me." The Holy Prophet said that when he was proceeding for the Tabuk operation, which was only a campaign, not a battle. It took place after the Battle of Mu'tah, which was the last battle fought by the Arabs against the Romans during the lifetime of the Holy Prophet. This battle took place to the east of Medina. Istambul (Constantinople) was the capital of the Eastern Roman Empire. Syria was also under the Romans. Brisk preparations were going on there to launch an attack against Medina. The Holy Prophet deemed it advisable to take troops up to the border of the Romans and he successfully accomplished that mission.[33]
The Holy Prophet, as the politicians put it, wanted to make a show of his power. The Muslims went up to the Roman border and then came back. In this expedition the Holy Prophet did not take Imam Ali with him. He left Ali as his successor in Medina. The Shi'ah scholars say that this action of the Holy Prophet shows that he knew that fighting was not going to take place. Naturally Imam Ali did not like the idea of being left behind. As he felt dejected, he said to the Holy Prophet: "Would you not take me with you? Do you leave me here with the women and the children?" The Holy Prophet said: "Do you not like to occupy the same position in relation to me as Harun occupied in relation to Musa, except that there would be no prophet after me?" The Holy Prophet meant to say that what ever relationship Harun bore to Musa, Imam Ali bore to him with the exception of Prophethood. Now let us refer to the Qur'an to find out what relationship existed between Harun and Musa. We find that the Quran reports that in the beginning of his mission Musa asked Allah:
"My Lord! Relieve my mind and ease my task for me; and elaborate my tongue, so that they may understand my saying. Appoint for me a Vazir from my folk, Harun, my brother. Strengthen my back with him. And let him share my task, so that we glorify you much, and much remember you." (Surah TaHa, 20:34).
The word Vazir is derived from the root, Vizr which means a burden or a responsibility. A Vazir is the person who relieves the burden of his master and shares his responsibility. Later this word, came into use in the sense of the minister of a king.
Hence, Prophet Musa asked Allah to appoint a person to help him and share his task. For this purpose he suggested the name of Harun.
At another place in the Qur'an we see that Prophet Musa says to Harun: "Harun, take my place among my people." (Surah al-A'raf, 7:142 ).
Thus we find that according to the Qur'an Harun was Musa's Vazir, his chief supporter, his partner in his task and his successor among his people. That was the relationship between Prophet Musa and Harun and the same should be the relationship between the Holy Prophet and Imam Ali. Had the Holy Prophet not said, "Except that there would be no prophet after me", We could say that the Holy Prophet had some particular likeness in mind, but when he excluded Prophethood, it became clear that this relationship existed in all other fields (of course social, not physical). It appears as if the Holy Prophet wanted to say to Imam Ali: You occupy the same position in relation to me as Harun occupied in relation to Musa in all Divinely appointed fields.
The answer which the Sunnis give to this argument is that they could accept this tradition, if it had been continuous, but it is an isolated one. But as we said earlier, the scholars like Mir Hamid Husayn have proved in their books that this tradition is continuous.
Question and Answer
Question: The impression which I have gathered from the foregoing discussion is that there exists to a certain extent a frontier between Imamat and the administration of government. You have (Ayatullah Mutahhari) said that Imamat involves certain duties and functions, and the administration of government is only one of them. I do not know what the other duties are which do not imply administration in any way. What so far we know of Islam shows that there is no frontier between this world and the Hereafter or between this worldly and the next worldly activities. The deeds relating to the Hereafter have a bearing on this worldly life and the deeds relating to this world are meant to improve and perfect social life and to help establishing a just system of government. We see that the Quran puts forward as a model the life of those whose devotional acts were directed to improving this worldly life and establishing just administration. It attaches greatest importance to Jihad. We find that all the efforts and the life style of the Imams were directed to regaining their right of rulership and administering the government. In this respect there was no difference between those who made open struggle and those who organized their campaign secretly in their prison or their hiding places. I am not aware of any duties other than the administration of government which can justify the institution of Imamat, for it is the administration of government alone which can justify all the activities relating to Imamat.
Answer: The question of frontier has been raised by you only. I never used this word and I do not think that it is proper to use it. As I have said the Shi'ah believe that the level of Imamat is higher than that of the government, which is only one of its functions., Another function which is of a higher level is the duty of an Imam to expound and explain Islam. Furthermore, an Imam is the infallible authority on religious laws. We say that one of the functions of the Holy Prophet was the administration of government. But the right to administer government was not given to him by the people. It was a right given to him by Allah, by virtue of his being superior to all other men. In other words the Holy Prophet ruled because he was the expounder of the Divine laws and had a spiritual contact with the hidden world. I never wanted to say that there was a frontier between this world and the Hereafter, nor did I mean to set apart the functions of an Imam and a ruler. I did not say that an Imam looks after those affairs of the people which relate to the Hereafter and a ruler looks after those affairs of the people which relate to this world. If I had said so, your criticism would have been justified. The Shi'ah have a theory. If it is proved, the question of rulership, is automatically settled.
We believe that Imamat is next to Prophethood. As in the presence of a Prophet, the question of the rulership of anybody else does not arise, similarly in the presence of an Imam also this question does not arise. The question of the form of government in the modern sense arises only when we suppose that no Imam exists or when the Imam is in occultation as the position is during our times. Otherwise in the presence of an Imam of that level in which the Shi'ah believe, the position is quite clear.
Question: Which of the two reports according to Sunnis is isolated, the report relating to the Ghadir al-Khum or the report which you have quoted and according to which the Holy Prophet has said: "Greet Ali; he is your Amir"?
Answer: Perhaps even the Sunnis cannot deny the continuity of that part of the tradition of Ghadir which says: "Ali is the master of him whose master I am", although Mulla Ali Qushchi says that even this part is an isolated report.
Anyhow it has been reported by so many traditionalists that it is not possible to deny it.[34] A very large number of persons have even reported the first part of this tradition, which says: "Do I not have more authority over you than you yourselves have." The Shi'ah believe this part of the tradition also to be continuous. But as far as the other tradition: "Greet Ali and address him as the Commander of the Faithful" , is concerned, the Sunnis do not at all admit that it is a continuous report. Perhaps we also cannot prove that it is continuous. Anyhow that makes no difference. From our point of view the continuity of the following tradition, which is of basic importance, is obvious: The Holy Prophet said: 'Do I not have more authority over you than you yourselves have? The people said: "Yes, you have." Then the Holy Prophet said: "This Ali is the master of him, whose master I am. My God! be friendly to him who is friendly to Ali and be hostile to him who is hostile to Ali."
Furthermore, the Sunni scholars are not unanimous as to whether this tradition is continuous or isolated. Some say it is isolated and others admit that it is continuous, but say that it does not mean what the Shi'ah claim. The Holy Prophet has only said: "Whoever is my friend, let him be Ali's friend also." We say that it does not make sense that the Holy Prophet assembled people at Ghadir al-Khum only to ask them to make friends with Imam Ali, especially in view of the fact that he also added: "Do I not have more authority over you than you yourselves have." It also may be noted that the word Mawla is not used in the sense of friend.
Question: Was the verse: "This day have I perfected your religion for you and completed My favour to you, and have chosen Islam for you as religion" revealed after the event of Ghadir al-Khum?
Answer: No, it was revealed at Ghadir al-Khum.
[30] The Shi'ah attach great importance to the religious aspect of Imamat. As we said earlier in our times Imamat who mostly considered to be tantamount to the administration of government, but that was a wrong notion. Imamat is mostly a religious question and the administration of government is only a function which it involves. In a sense Imamat and administration of government are two terms which in certain respects overlap each other. But basically Imamat is one question and administration of government, although a part of the functions which an Imam should discharge, a different question. It is funny that during the period of occultation we talk about the administration of government, but keep quiet about the real significance of Imamat, which must not be considered to be equivalent to the administration of government. According to the terminology of the Shi'ah scholars an Imam is in charge of religious as well as secular affairs. Being in charge of religious affairs, he automatically holds the charge of worldly affairs also, just like the Holy Prophet, who being the religious head, was the head of the government too. If we suppose hypothetically that no Imam existed at any time or if we know that the Imam is in occultation, in both these cases no religious head would be present. Therefore in these cases the question would of course arise how should be the head of the government.
[31] The months of Zil Qa'dah, Zil Hijjah, Muharram and Rajab are the sacred months, during which fighting was kept suspended and vengeance was not sought. Routes were safe during these months and coming and going of persons and goods normal. An annual fair was also held at a Place near Makkah named 'Ukaz.
[32] The Holy Prophet referred to the following verse, "The Prophet has more authority over the believers than they themselves have." (Surah al Ahzab 33:6) Being a Prophet of Allah, the Holy Prophet had authority over the life, property and everything of the people. He had more authority over the people than the people themselves had. Of course he never exercised this authority for his own selfish ends. Allah appointed him the representative of the whole Muslim society and as such he had authority over the life and property of the Muslims on behalf of Muslim society as a whole.
[33] Last year we had a chance to go to Khayber. Till then we had no idea how far Khayber and Tabuk were from Medina by the direct route via Shusa. The whole distance was found to be exactly 600 kilometers. By the ancient routes the distance might have been greater. The distance between Medina and Khayber is 360 kilometers. We were really astonished by the courage and resolution of the Muslims who traversed this long distance with the poor means available to them at that time.
[34] The reason why it has been reported by a very large number of transmitters is that at that time the sayings of the Holy Prophet were only remembered and not written. Naturally the traditions containing Imam Ali's name could be remembered by more people than any other traditions.

Chapter 6: Imamat and the Verse regarding Despair of Unbelievers.
We have already discussed that the doctrine of Shi'ah regarding the question of Imamat is basically different from that of the Sunnis. Hence it is not correct to say that both the Shi'ah and the Sunnis believe in Imamat alike, and differ in regard to its conditions only. In fact the Imamat in which we believe is absolutely different from the Imamat in which the Sunnis believe. It is equally incorrect to put the question whether the Imam is to be designated by the Holy Prophet or elected by the people, for the Imam of the Shi'ah concept appointed by a Prophetic ordinance, is quite different from the Imam of the Sunni concept, who is appointed by consultation and election.
We have already discussed the various stages and the conditions of Imamat, and pointed out that the Shi'ah begin the consideration of this question from the top and then come down to the facts as they exist to make sure that their theory is not merely hypothetical. They ascertain if the Qur'an has said something in this respect and whether the Holy Prophet has actually designated someone to this high office.
First we intended to discuss the relevant points in the order in which they have been mentioned by Khwaja Nasiruddin, but as the Eid al-Ghadir (festival of Ghadir) is going to be celebrated shortly, we deem it better to explain first the verses connected with that occasion.
The Holy Qur'an says: "Today, the unbelievers have lost hope of ever harming your religion; so fear them not and have fear of Me! This day I have perfected your religion for you and completed My favour to you, and have chosen Islam as your religion." (Surah al Ma'ida 5:3).
The two parts of this verse begin with "this day". Both these parts are naturally interlinked with each other. In this verse this day may mean 'to-day' or may refer to some other day mentioned earlier. When we say that such and such person has arrived this day, that means that he has arrived today. Allah says that this day (we will explain afterwards which day) those who disbelieve are in despair of harming your religion. Having lost all hope of their success, they have stopped their hostile activities against Islam. So do not fear them. The next sentence is very astonishing. Instead, fear Me. It may be noted that the question involved is that of religion. Does Allah mean to say that 'the disbelievers can no longer do any harm to your religion. If any harm is to be done to it, it will be done by Me? We will explain later, what the verse actually means. Continuing Allah says: This day have I perfected your religion and completed my favour to you. In this part of the verse two words, perfected and completed have been used. These two words approximately mean the same thing, but with some difference.
Difference Between Perfection and Completion
A thing, the various parts of which should appear successively is called incomplete so long as its final part does not appear. When its last part appears, we say that it has been completed. A building is still incomplete even when its pillars have gone up and it has been roofed. It. is complete only when all parts of it get built up and it is finally fit for occupation. That is not the case with perfection. A thing may be called imperfect even when all its parts are complete, but not fully developed. A foetus is completed in the womb of its mother. In other words all its parts get built up. But even when it is delivered, it is not a perfect man. That means that it is not as mature as it should be. To become fully developed and mature is different from being complete. In fact the difference between completion and perfection is the same as between quantity and quality.
The Qur'an says: "This day I have completed for you your religion, and then adds: perfected My favour to you and chose for you Islam as a religion." In other words, Islam is now what Allah wanted it to be. Evidently the intention is not that Islam is still what it was, yet Allah has changed His view about it. What is meant is that now Islam, the chosen religion of Allah, has reached the stage of completion and perfection.
That is what the verse means. Now the question is to which day the phrase 'this day' refers. Which is the day on which according to the Qur'an , the religion of the Muslims was perfected and favour of Allah completed? That day on which such an extraordinary event took place must be a very important day. To this point both the Shi'ah and the Sunnis agree.
It is astonishing that the preceding and the following verses give no indication as to which day is that day. The context provides no verbal indication. In the preceding verses no important event has been mentioned, to which 'this day' may be referring. Very simple rules of law regarding the meat of certain animals, carrion, blood and pork have been mentioned in the verses immediately preceding this verse. Then all of a sudden the Quran says: This day the disbelievers have lost hope of ever harming your religion; so fear them not, fear Me. This day I have perfected your religion for you and completed My favour to you, and have chosen Islam for you as a religion. Then the Qur'an again turns to previous theme and says: But he who is forced to eat the forbidden meat by hunger, not by will to sin, for him Allah is forgiving, Merciful. These verses have been so placed that if the intervening verse is taken out, the other verses run smoothly and the subject matter is not disturbed. The subject of meat has been repeated at two or three other places in the Qur'an, but there this intervening verse is not found.
Which Day Is Meant By This Day?
Both the Shi'ah and the Sunni commentators of the Qur'an have tried to ascertain what 'this day' signifies. There are two ways of doing this.
One way is to find out its significance from the context and the other is to refer to history and tradition in order to find out on what occasion this verse was revealed. Those who have chosen the first course are indifferent to all that which history and the Sunnah say about the background of this verse. They look only to the substance of verse, and claim that it relates to the day on which the Holy Prophet was raised. According to them 'this day' means that day, not today.
It may also be mentioned that this verse belongs to the Surah al-Maidah, which is the fifth chapter of the Qur'an beginning with the following verse: "Believers stand by your contracts (obligations)". (Surah Ma'idah, 5:1).
All commentators of the Qur'an agree that this chapter is the last one revealed at Medina. It was revealed even later than the Surah an Nasr. It is true that one or two verses placed in other surahs were revealed subsequently, but not a complete surah. Thus the Surah al-Ma'idah is the last Surah revealed to the Holy Prophet.
Various Views Regarding What is Meant by 'This Day'
(i) The Day the Holy Prophet was Raised
We have said that according to some people this day means that day, not this day. The question is what that indicates? They say that as this day has been described as the day on which Allah chose Islam as His religion for people. Naturally this day should be the day on which Islam commenced. But this argument is based on the words: I chose Islam for you as a religion. It could be valid had these words not been preceded by the sentence which says: This day I have completed for you your religion and perfected My favour to you. The day Islam was incepted is the day of the beginning of Allah's favour, not the day of its perfection. Hence 'this day' cannot be the day on which the Holy Prophet was raised to Prophethood.
(ii) The Day of the Conquest of Makkah
Another possibility is that 'this day' means the day of the conquest of Makkah. This is also a mere possibility without any evidence in support of it. It is argued that another day of great importance in the history of Islam is the day when Makkah was conquered, as on that day the following verses were revealed: "Surely Allah has given you a signal victory, so that Allah may forgive you of your sin, that which is past and that which is to come." (Surah al-Fatah, 48:1-2).
There is no doubt that 'that day' was of great importance. In the Arabian Peninsula Makkah spiritually had a unique position. Since the attack on the Ka'bah by the People of the Elephant and their defeat in an astonishing manner, all Arabs held the Ka'bah in great reverence and regard it as the most sacred place of worship. Following this event the Quraysh felt proud of themselves. They said that the Ka'bah was so sacred that a formidable army attacking it was afflicted by a celestial catastrophe and annihilated to the last man. The Quraysh believed that the event showed their importance. It had a psychological impact on other Arabs also, who began to respect and obey the Quraysh.
Since that time the Arabs had begun to believe that no body could overpower them and seize the Ka'bah. But against all their calculations and expectations the Holy Prophet conquered Makkah easily without any bloodshed. During that operation nobody received the slightest injury. Perhaps the Holy Prophet had this point in view besides the sanctity of Makkah when he took special care of ensuring that Makkah was occupied without any bloodshed. If fighting had taken place somewhere else, and a hundred Muslims had been killed, nobody would have attributed the loss to any special cause. But had the Muslims suffered any loss on the occasion of Conquest of Makkah, the pagans would have said: "Look, the companions of Muhammad have had the same fate as the People of the Elephant." So the Holy Prophet arranged the things in such a way that there were no casualties on either side. Only Khalid bin Walid killed out of malice two or three persons in the outskirts of Makkah, where a few persons were showing resistance. When the Holy Prophet heard the news, he denounced Khalid's action and said: "Allah, I do not hold myself answerable for what he has done. I am not happy with his action."
This was the reason why from psychological point of view the Conquest of Makkah produced an extraordinary impact on the people of Arabia. They were tremendously impressed by the fact that the Holy Prophet was able to occupy Makkah and that too without suffering any loss. Consequently other people of the Arabian Peninsula also surrendered themselves. They began to come to Medina in large number and embraced Islam.
The Holy Quran says: "Those who spent and fought before the victory are not upon a, level with the rest of you. Such are greater in rank than those who spent and fought afterwards." (Surah al Hadid, 57:10)
As before the Conquest of Makkah the Muslims were still a small community, they performed all good deeds because of their strong faith. But after the conquest the situation underwent a change. People were pouring in and embracing Islam. Anyhow, their Islam did not have the same value as the Islam of those who embraced it before the conquest. Therefore there is no doubt that the Conquest of Makkah was a great victory of Islam. We also do not dispute this fact.
As we have said, some people hold that it is the day of the conquest to which Islam has attached so much importance and said: "This day those who disbelieve are in despair of ever harming your religion; so fear them not and have fear of Me! This day have I perfected your religion for you and completed My favour to you, and have chosen Islam for you as a religion."
But as we have pointed out there is nothing in the text or in history to prove that this verse refers to the Conquest of Makkah. Further, a part of this verse does not support the contention of these people. The words, 'I have perfected your religion for you and completed My favour to you, show that by then everything about religion had been revealed and nothing was left unsaid, but we know for certain many religious instructions were revealed subsequent to the Conquest of Makkah. This position does not tally with the words, I have completed My favour to you. When somebody says that he has completed a building, he does not refer to a building that is still incomplete. Many verses of the Qur'an, including those of the Surah al-Ma'idah, which is a lengthy surah, and contains a good number of rules of law, were revealed after the Conquest of Makkah. How can this verse which is a part of the Surah al-Maidah relate to the Conquest of Makkah which took place in the eight year of the Hijra while this surah was revealed towards the end of the tenth year. Even if we say that the verse under review alone was revealed on the occasion of the Conquest of Makkah, the perfection of Divine favour still does not tally with this event.
There is another difficulty in interpreting 'this day' by the day of the Conquest of Makkah. The verse says: This day the unbelievers lost hope of harming your religion. Now the question is whether it is a fact that the disbelievers lost every hope of resisting Islam on the day of the Conquest of Makkah. It is true that the Conquest of Makkah was a victory of far reaching effect, but is it also a fact that the disbelievers on that day lost every hope that Islam would ever be vanquished? That does not seem to be the case.
(iii) Recitation of Surah al-Baraat by Imam Ali
There is another day which is regarded very important, and so it was. It is said that 'this day' possibly means the day on which the Surah al-Bara'at was recited by Imam Ali at Mina in 9 A.H. The conquest of Makkah was a military victory. It established Islam as a military force and even as a moral power. But the Holy Prophet still lived under the terms of the Peace Treaty which he had concluded with the infidels. Under this treaty the disbelievers had the right of entering Makkah, circumambulating Ka'bah and even of participating in the Hajj ceremonies. The Muslims performed Hajj according to Islamic law and the disbelievers performed it according to their own rites. In 9 A.H. Surah Bara'at was revealed. At that time it was decided that Imam Ali should go to Mina, and recite this Surah there, publicly proclaiming that thenceforth the pagans had no right to take part in the Hajj ceremonies, which were an exclusive privilege of the Muslims.
Generally it is said that the Holy Prophet first dispatched Abu Bakr at the head of the Hajj caravan. He was still on his way when the verse banning pilgrimage to Makkah by the pagans was revealed. There is a difference of opinion among the commentators of the Quran as to whether Abu Bakr took Surah Baraat with him or he went only as the Amir of Hajj. In any case it is unanimously held by the Shi'ah ad the Sunnis and is considered to be a point of excellence going in favour of Imam Ali, that the Holy Prophet on his own personal camel sent him to Mina as his special envoy. The Holy Prophet said to him: "You must go because I have been Divinely instructed that this surah is to be recited by none except you or someone related to you". Imam Ali proceeded and met Abu Bakr while he was still on his way. The story goes that Abu Bakr was in a tent when the Holy Prophet's special camel uttered a loud cry. Abu Bakr, who was familiar with this cry, came out to find that Imam Ali had come. He was set aback, and thought that there must be something very important. He said to Imam Ali: "Is there any special news?" Imam Ali said: "I have been detailed to recite Surah Bara'at to the people." Abu Bakr said: "Has anything been revealed against me?" "No", said Imam Ali. Here there is again some difference of opinion. The Sunnis say that Imam Ali proceeded on his way and recited the surah according to his plan. In the mean-time Abu Bakr continued his journey, though he had lost one of his assignments. But the Shi'ah believe, and many of the Sunnis also as mentioned in al-Mizan the commentary on the Qur'an that Abu Bakr returned from there, called on the Holy Prophet and said: "Messenger of Allah, has anything been revealed in this surah against me?" The Holy Prophet said: "No".
The day on which Surah Bara'at was proclaimed, was an extraordinary day for the Muslims, because on that day the infidels were debarred from taking part in Hajj ceremonies and entering the holy precincts. It was made clear to them that they could no longer be allowed to lead a polytheistic life. Islam does not tolerate polytheism.
It accepts co-existence with Judaism, Christianity and Zoroastrianism, but not with paganism. Some people say that perhaps 'this day' means the day on which surah Bara'at was revealed. In reply to them it may be said that this presumption is not in consonance with the words of the Quran which says: I have completed My favour to you, for many religious instructions were received subsequently. This day must be one of the last days of the Holy Prophet's lifetime after which no fresh religious instructions should have been received.[35]
These explanations of 'this day' have no textual indication or historical evidence to support them.
Shi'ah Explanation
In this connection there is another explanation about which the Shi'ah claim that it is supported by the contents of the verses in question as well as history. Therefore let us consider this explanation in two parts. First let us see what history says and then what the Quranic verses say.
(i) If we consider this question from historical point of view, we can find a great deal of evidence in favour of our explanation. Most of the books written on this subject emphasize that history and traditions both agree that the following Qur'anic verse was revealed at Ghadir al-Khum: This day the unbelievers have lost hope of ever harming your religion; so fear them not and have fear of Me! This day I have perfected your religion for you and completed My favour to you; and have chosen for you Islam as a religion. The research work, al-Ghadir has proved this point. Apart from the books of traditions, the books of history also tell us the same story. The History of Ya'qubi is one of the oldest and the most reliable books on Islamic history, and is regarded as authentic both by the Shi'ah and the Sunnis. It consists of two volumes both of which have been translated into Persian by the late Dr. Ayati. The book is superb and was written in the early third century, apparently during the period between the end of Mamun's reign and the early period of that of Mutawakkil. This book which is a book of history, not of tradition, is one of those books which have mentioned the event of Ghadir al-Khum. Many other books including those written by the Sunnis also have mentioned this incident.
As the tradition says, when the Holy Prophet returning from his farewell pilgrimage[36] reached a place situated near Juhfah[37] and known as Ghadir al-Khum he asked the caravan to halt and announced that he wanted to talk to the people on a subject. Then he ordered that a pulpit be arranged for him.
Accordingly a raised platform of pack saddles etc. was prepared. The Holy Prophet mounted it and talked in detail. He said: "Do I not have more authority over you than yourselves?" All those present said: "Yes, you have." Then the Holy Prophet said: "This Ali is the master of him whose master I am." This was the occasion when this Qur'anic verse was revealed: This day the unbelievers lost all hope of ever harming your religion; so fear them not and have fear of Me! This day I have perfected your religion for you and completed My favour to you.
If we want to discuss this question from historical point of view, we should study those books which have mentioned this event, especially those written by the Sunnis. Quotations from these books can be found in the books like al-Ghadir, which was published in Mashhad a few years back and is an excellent worth-reading summary of this question.
The argument of the Shi'ah is based on the historical background of this verse. They say that they find that the phrase, 'this day' does not mean today. Then what day does it mean? When a reference is made to the occasion for the revelation of this verse, it is found that not one or two but tens of continuous reports say that this verse was revealed at Ghadir al-Khum on the day the Holy Prophet appointed Imam Ali as his successor.
(ii) Internal Evidence Existing In the Verse
In the verse itself there are internal indications which corroborate what is confirmed by history. The verse in question says: This day unbelievers lost all hope of ever harming your religion. Let us compare this verse to a number of other verses which warned the Muslims and said that the believers including the People of the Book and others were always intriguing against them and loved to turn them away from their religion: "Many of the people of the Book long to make you disbelievers after your belief, through envy on their own account." (Surah al-Baqarah, 2:109)
Thus we see that while several other verses of the Quran say that the disbelievers long to destroy the religion of the Muslims, the verse under discussion says that now they have lost all hope of harming it and their hostile activities against the Muslims have come to an end. So fear them not and have fear of Me. Allah says: Have fear of Me. What does that mean? Is Allah an enemy of His own religion? No. This verse stipulates the same basic principle regarding Allah's favour that has been mentioned in so many other verses. One such verse says: "Allah does not change the condition of a people until they change what is in their hearts." (Surah ar-Ra'd, 13:11) Giving the reason for this another verse says: "That is because Allah never withdrawn the grace He has bestowed on any people until they first change that which is in their hearts." (Surah al-Anfal, 8:53)
Allah says that He does not withdraw any favour bestowed by Him on a people unless they themselves by their own doings want it to be withdrawn. This is one of the basic principles mentioned in the Qur'an.
Specific (Mohkamat) and Ambiguous (Mutashabihat) Verse
In connection with this verse it appears to be necessary to mention a point which may be found useful on many occasions. As a tradition says, some verses of the Qur'an explain some other verses. The Quran is a Book which is manifest and manifesting. It itself says that its verses are of two types: specific and ambiguous. It calls the specific verses the mother verses, which is of course a queer expression: "Allah is He who revealed the Book to you, some of its verses are specific and they are the mother of the Book, and others ambiguous." (Surah Ale Imran, 3:7).
The ambiguous verses are those which can be interpreted in different ways, while a specific verse can be interpreted only in one way. The Qur'an calls the specific verses mother verses because with their help the ambiguous verses can be interpreted. In case we come across a verse of the Qur'an which can be interpreted in several ways, we have no right to fix its meaning. We should refer to other verses to find out how it can best be expounded. An ambiguous (Mutashabih) verse does not mean a vague or an unintelligible verse. It only means a verse that can be interpreted in more than one ways resembling each other.
For example there are several verses in the Qur'an relating to Absolute Divine Will which state that everything depends on the Will and Pleasure of Allah. They make no exception.
One of such verses is the following verse which is ambiguous for this very reason: "(Muhammad) Say: 0 Lord! Owner of sovereignty! You bestow sovereignty on whomsoever you Will and withdraw sovereignty from whomsoever You Will. You exalt whomsoever You Will and You abase whomsoever You Will. In Your Hand is all that is good. No doubt You are able to do everything." (Surah Ale Imran, 3:26).
This verse is ambiguous or mutashabih because it can be interpreted in more than one ways. It says only that everything depends on the Will of Allah. This is possible in two way: One way is to say that Allah's Will is absolutely unconditional. Some people have interpreted this verse in that way and have inferred from it the wrong conclusion that it is possible that in the presence of all the conditions conducive to honour, disgrace appears and similarly it is possible that all the conditions conducive to humiliation are followed by honour and power. According to them, success in this world and the Hereafter has no pre-requisite conditions, for everything depends on the Will of Allah. As a result it is possible that a people or an individual attains complete success in his worldly affairs without any pre-requisite conditions or fails utterly without any tangible reason. Similarly a people may be taken to the peak of Paradise or to the lowest level of Hell for absolutely no reason. Unfortunately some Muslims called Asharites have drawn this conclusion from this verse. They say that it would not be something impossible if the Holy Prophet goes to Hell or Abu Jahl goes to Heaven. But this is a wrong interpretation of the verse, which only says that everything depends on the Will of Allah, but is silent as to how this Will on which success and failure, honour and disgrace depend, actually operates. That is why it can be interpreted in several ways.
But when we refer to other verses of the Qur'an, they serve as its mother verses and explain what this verse actually signifies. For example one verse expressly says: That is because Allah never changes the grace He has bestowed on any people until they first change that which is in their hearts. Another verse says: Surely Allah changes not the condition of a people until they change that which is in their hearts. Each of these two verses says something which the other verse does not say. The second verse says that Allah does not change the condition of a people whether it is good or bad, unless they themselves take action to change it. Otherwise Allah neither withdraws His favour nor disfavour. Only people themselves change their condition. The first verse is not concerned with the unhappy condition. It talks only of Allah's grace. But it mentions an additional point. It says: That is because Allah never changes... Allah is not such as to withdraw His grace from any people for no reason, because that would be against His wisdom, His perfection and His Divinity. These are the mother verses in relation to the verse under discussion. The verses relating to Allah's Will say only that everything depends on His Will. Other verses explain how this Will operates and what law it has. This point has been expressed in the Qur'an at several places in the form of a firm principle. According to it those who are grateful to Allah for His bounties, that is those who put them to a proper use, will continue to enjoy them, but those who are ungrateful and abuse His bounties, will be deprived of them.
So the verse, This day the unbelievers have lost all hope of ever harming your religion; so fear them not, and have fear of Me, means that the unbelievers do no longer pose any threat to the Muslim world. 'Have fear of Me.' means: be afraid of yourselves, for if there is any danger now, that lies in your being ungrateful to Allah and not taking full advantage of His bounties. Should the Muslim not act properly, the law is bound to come into force against them. Surely Allah does not change the condition of a people until they change that which is in their hearts. Henceforward no danger from outside threatens Muslim society, but danger from inside does threaten it.
Question and Answer
Question: We absolutely agree with you that Imamat is a supreme leadership that covers this worldly as well as the next worldly affairs. The arguments advanced by you show that it was the exclusive right of Imam Ali to assume this leadership. Then why did he decline to do so when people offered to take their allegiance to him after the assassination of Uthman?
Answer: This question has been discussed in the book, Khilafat and Wilayat which has been published lately. The answer to your question is clear from what Imam Ali, the
Commander of the Faithful, himself said. When people came to him to pledge their allegiance to him, he said: "Leave me alone and look for somebody else, for we are looking forward to a many-sided situation." It is a wonderful expression! What he
meant was that the situation was complicated, and it was necessary to study it from various angels. He continued to say: "The atmosphere is overcast and the route has changed beyond recognition." In the end he said: "If I rule over you, I would follow the way I know and would not act as you want."
What Imam Ali said shows that he fully realized that since the time of the Holy Prophet the situation had deteriorated a great deal and undergone a complete change. Imam Ali made his position quite clear. He wanted the people to give him an undertaking that they would follow him because it was that what the pledging of their allegiance meant. He did not say that his Khilafat would be void if they would not pledge their allegiance to him. He wanted them to make a sincere promise that they would give him an unflinching support and follow his dictates.
All Shi'ah and Sunni historians agree that Umar appointed a six-member council for the selection of his successor. Imam Ali himself was one of its members. Three members of this council withdrew in favour of three others. Zubayr withdrew in favour of Imam Ali; Talhah in favour of Uthman and Sa'd ibn Waqqas in favour of Abdur Rahman ibn 'Awf. Out of the three remaining persons Abdur Rahman said that he was not a candidate. Now two persons remained. The choice was with Abdur Rahman. Whomsoever he selected, he would become the Caliph. First he came to Imam Ali and said: "I am ready to pledge my allegiance to you provided you give me a word that you would act according to Allah's Book, His Prophet's Sunnah and the policy pursued by Abu Bakr and Umar." Imam Ali said: "I am willing to accept the condition that I would follow Allah's Book and His Prophet's Sunnah (path), but leave aside the policy of Abu Bakr and Umar." Then Abdur Rahman went to Uthman and said the same thing to him. Uthman willingly agreed to act according to Allah's Book, His Prophet's Sunnah and the policy followed by Abu Bakr and Umar. Although Uthman readily promised to follow the policy of Abu Bakr and Umar, but as Muhammad Taqi Shari'ati has pointed out, he actually did not act accordingly. If we make a comparison, we will find that Imam Ali behaved exactly like the Holy Prophet. His conduct was closer to that of the Shaykhayn (Abu Bakr and Umar) also, as far as they followed the Holy Prophet's style. Imam Ali did not accept the condition that he would act as the Shaykhayn acted, because to do so would have meant the endorsement of their deviations also, and as such he could not oppose those deviations any more. For example, disparity and discrimination between the Muhajirs (immigrants) and the Ansar (helpers) was introduced during Umar's time. Imam Ali was severely against this policy. Has he said that he would follow the policy pursued by Abu Bakr and Umar, he would have been compelled to affirm the actions taken during Umar's time. Imam Ali did not want to tell a lie nor could he go back on his word. That was the reason why he said that he did not want to become the Caliph.
We know that Abu Bakr and Umar had some deviations. Still after Umar's death Imam Ali was not willing to make a promise that he would act as Abu Bakr and Umar did. As such it was but natural that after Uthman's death when the condition had immensely deteriorated, and in his own words the future was many-sided, Imam Ali told those who wanted him to act as they desired, that if he took over the government, he would do what he himself deemed correct not what they wanted.
These words of Imam Ali do not mean that he rejected the offer of government. He only explained his position.
Question: We find that the Qur'an has laid great stress on the question of unity. How did it happen that in spite of its importance the question of Imam Ali's Imamat was not expressly mentioned in the Quran, nor did the Holy Prophet refer to this subject on as many occasions as he should normally have?
Answer: Here two points have been raised. The first point is: Why has this question not been expressly mentioned in the Qur'an? The other point is whether the Holy Prophet has or has not referred to this subject on several occasions and whether the Holy Qur'an has or has not mentioned this subject at several places. As far as the second point is concerned. We say that it is a historical question. Even many of the Sunnis admit that the Holy Prophet referred to it on several occasions, not only at Ghadir al-Khum, but other places also. The details are in the books on the question of Imamat. On the occasion of Tabuk addressing Imam Ali, he said: "You are to me what Harun was to Musa, although there will be no prophet after me." On the occasion of the Battle of Khayber he affirmed Imam Ali's position by saying: "I will give the flag tomorrow to a man who loves Allah and His Prophet and whom Allah and His Prophet love." Even during the early period of Islam addressing the Quraysh he said: "Whosoever of you pledges his allegiance to me first, he will be my legatee and Vazir (according to a report he said: will be my legatee, Vazir and caliph)." Such a person was Imam Ali only.
The same case is with the Qur'an. This question has been mentioned not only at one or two but at several places. The only question is why the Qur'an has not mentioned Imam Ali by name. Incidentally this question has been dealt with in the book, Khilafat and Wilayat also. As we believe that there has been no alteration in the Qur'an and nothing has been added to it or subtracted from it, we are sure that Imam Ali's name has not been mentioned any where in it.
Two reasons of it have been given. One of them, which has been fully explained in Muhammad Taqi Shari'ati's book is that the Qur'an has its own style. It always deals with such subjects in the form of a principle, and not as an individual case. This is in itself a merit of the Qur'an. When the verse, Today I have completed your religion for you, was revealed, the unbelievers were disappointed because they were always saying that so long as that man (Prophet) was alive, nothing could be done, but as soon as he died everything would be finished. But their last hope was foiled when they saw that the Holy Prophet had taken a step to ensure the continued existence of his community and had appointed a successor of him.
Another point which the Sunni writers also have mentioned is that during the last days of his life the Holy Prophet was worried about the future of his followers and had that fear which has been expressed in the Qur'an by the words, 'And have fear of Me'. According to a report which the Sunnis have also related, Abu Muzayhabah, a slave of 'Ayisha, says: "During the last days of the Holy Prophet's life once I saw him coming out of his room and going towards the Baqi graveyard at midnight. I said to myself that I would not leave him alone. So I followed him. From a long distance I saw him praying for the forgiveness of Allah for those who were buried in the Baqi'. I heard him saying what meant: "You are fortunate to have gone away and achieved salvation. Bad times are imminent like pieces of dark night." This report shows that the Holy Prophet visualized the impending ugly events, the dispute about Khilafat being one of them no doubt.
In reply to the question why the Qur'an has not mentioned Imam Ali's name, two explanations have been given: Firstly it is the special style of the Qur'an to describe various problems in the form of principles; and secondly the Holy Prophet and Almighty Allah did not like to mention his name expressly because they knew that in any case the question of Khilafat was going to be distorted and misinterpreted out of selfishness. As Prophetic sayings have been misinterpreted, so a Qur'anic verse expressly naming Imam Ali also would have been misinterpreted. The Holy Prophet said: "This Ali is the master of him whose master I am." Can there be any thing more express than this?
Anyhow there is a lot of difference between violating an express saying of the Holy Prophet and violating a verse naming Imam Ali on the day very next to the demise of the Prophet. That is why I have quoted the following event in my preface to the book, Khilafat and Wilayat:
A Jew with a view to upbraid the Muslims for the ugly events of the early period of Islam once during his caliphate said to Imam Ali: "As soon as you buried your Prophet you began to quarrel about him." The Imam gave a wonderful reply. He said: "We were not at variance with him. We disagreed only about the instructions we received from him. But your feet were still wet with sea-water, when you said to your Prophet: "Appoint for us a deity similar to the deities our opponents have." Thereupon your Prophet said: "Surely you are an ignorant people." So there is much difference between what happened to the Muslims, and what happened to the Jews. In other words, the Muslims did not differ about the Prophet himself. They differed about the meaning and significance of his instructions only. Hence what they did could be explained away by saying that they misunderstood what the Holy Prophet had said. (Though actually that was not the case).
Anyhow, there is a great deal of difference between misunderstanding or misinterpreting a saying of the Prophet and between ignoring or altering an express verse of the Qur'an.
Question: The above question may be expressed in this way. It is true that the Qur'an must lay down principles only. But the principle of succession and government in Islam is certainly of great importance. A name may not be mentioned by the Qur'an. But the procedure must have been laid down in very clear terms. For example it could be revealed to the Holy Prophet that he should designate his successor, and that successor also should designate his successor, and so on till the end. Similarly it should also have been laid down clearly whether the question of succession is to be decided by designation or election. In short, the question of succession should not have been left vague, because it is not such a simple question for Islam which is a religion that has come to rule. The problem is not whether the name of Imam Ali should have been mentioned or not. But in view of the difference of opinion in regard to the method of succession and the form of government it was necessary that a clear procedure was laid down. At least it could be revealed to the Holy Prophet that it was his duty to designate his successor. Even in that case the people might not have agreed as to who was the successor. But it would have been clear that the Holy Prophet himself had appointed his successor and that there was no question of any sort of election by the Muslims. Similarly there was another question, whether the Holy Prophet's direct successor should nominate his successor or the next Imam, or should leave the question to the choice of the people. As far as I know this problem also has been left vague in the Quran. In any case no procedure has been expressly laid down.
The second point is that some time back I read a book relating to the system of government in Islam. In that book many sayings of Imam Ali and others were quoted, all to the effect that the question of Khilafat depended upon the Muslims and that it was up to them to express their opinion about it. For example Imam Ali said on various occasions: "A Caliph was to be appointed by the Muslims and selected by the people concerned." He also said that the question of Khilafat was not to be decided by him, and it was up to the Muslims to hold consultation and express their opinion about it. In this book many arguments have been collected in support of the view that the questions of government was an elective question and no individual was authorized to designate his successor. What is your opinion in this regard?
The third point is: If we presume that the twelve Imams have succeeded one another, what is the permanent procedure now for the appointment of the head of Muslim society? Does there a Divine ordinance exist in this respect? Will the future appointments be based on the principle of election or some other principle? Was it stipulated that the twelve infallible Imams would be appointed by a Divine ordinance and then, for example, during the occultation of the twelfth Imam, election would be held. Has it been expressly laid down anywhere? Is it our own inference that a qualified mujtahid fulfilling all the necessary conditions should be the head of the government during the occultation of the twelfth Imam? In fact the Qur'an should have given a constitutional law to the Muslims directing them that the first twelve Imams following the Holy Prophet would be appointed by a Divine ordinance and then the Muslims would be free to elect their ruler, or it should have been expressly said that then the jurist of the Muslims would be their ruler. But, anyhow the issue remains unsolved since the death of the eleventh Imam, and has caused dissension and disputes. How is this problem to be resolved from our point of view?
Answer: We have already dealt with some of these points, but you have again turned the question of Imamat into a question of the government only. As we have already pointed out the question of Imamat is different from that of government and the question of government in the presence of an Imam is exactly like that in the presence of the Prophet. In other words both the cases involve a situation governed by a special law. Just as the question as to who should be the head of the State does not arise during the lifetime of the Prophet, similarly in the presence of an Imam of those characteristics in which the Shi'ah believe, this question is only secondary and hypothetical.
The questions of the form of government can be considered only with reference to the times when no Imam is present, for we do not have any time when no Imam is in existence; but there can be a time when no Imam is present, and that is why we do not deny the significance of the Qur'anic verse saying that the affairs of the Muslims are settled by consultation. But obviously only those affairs are to be settled by consultation which are not covered by any Divine law or command, not those in respect of which some Qur'anic ordinance, or instruction exists.
As for the points mentioned in the book, Government in Islam, I have not studied this book thoroughly. Anyhow, this book has unfortunately been unilateral to a great extent. It has produced only a certain set of arguments and totally missed the arguments going contrary to them. This is a big defect, for one should give all the arguments and then should see which of them are stronger and more reliable.
Another defect of this book is that many quotations in it have been taken out of their context. I have not made a thorough study of the book, but those who have made, say that the heads and tails of many sentences reproduced in this book, have been cut off, with a result that their meanings have been distorted. If these missing parts were added to these sentences, they would have quite a different significance. Furthermore, no Imam is present, regarding which there is no dispute.
[35] The first part of the book, Khilafat and Wilayat, which has recently been published, contains Muhammad Taqi Shari'ati's lectures which he delivered at Husayniyah Irshad some four years ago. In his lectures he dealt with the same subject with which I am dealing. Therefore the two books maybe considered to be supplementary to each other.
[36] The Holy Prophet performed his farewell pilgrimage during th6 last year of his life, some two months before his demise. He died on 28 Safar or according to the Sunnis on 12 Rabi'ul Awwal. He reached Ghadir al-Khum on 18th Zil Hijjah, that is two months and 10 days before his demise or two months and 24 days according to what the Sunnis say.
[37] Some of you might have been to Juhfah. I visited the place during my second Hajj journey. Our visit to Medina was delayed. So we took an opportunity to visit Jaddah. There is some difference in the juristic opinion whether or not one can assume the ritual state of ihram at jaddah. Actually it may be said that this is not a juristic difference but a geographical one. The ritual state of ihram can be assumed from any point lying parallel to any of the miqats. A man who is well-versed in the geography of Arabia, may be able to say definitely whether or not Jaddah fulfils this condition. In the beginning we ourselves did not believe that it did, but later when we obtained maps of Arabia in Makkah and Medina, we found that Jaddah was parallel to one of the miqats, provided those maps were accurate. If those who proceed from Jaddah to Makkah, want to assume the ritual state of ihram from one of the actual miqats, they come from Jaddah to Juhfah, which lies on the way to Medina and is the miqat of the people of Syria. Ghadir al-Khum is situated near Juhfah. It is the place at which the Muslims returning from Makkah after performing pilgrimage disperse. Some go to Medina and others to their respective places.

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