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The Silence of the Commander of the Faithful Alī (a)

Ghulam-Husayn Muharrami

Now, let us examine why after the event of Saqīfah and the commencement of Abūbakrs rule, Alī (a) did not insist on claiming his indisputable right, and why after obtaining certainty on the ineffectiveness of some months of arguments and proofs, he did not resort to armed struggle. In view of the fact that a number of the Prophets

#7779;) great Companions were his staunch supporters and that the common Muslims had also no opposition to him, it can be said in general that the Commander of the Faithful Alī (a) took into account the interest of Islam and the Muslims and preferred to keep silent. As he (a) says in his Khutbah ash-Shaqshaqiyyah,
ٰ ٰ . ٰ ٰ ٰ
I put a curtain against the caliphate and kept myself detached from it. Then I began to think whether I should assault or endure calmly the blinding darkness of tribulations wherein the grown-up are made feeble and the young grow old and the true believer acts under strain till he meets Allah (on his death). I found that endurance thereon was wiser. So I adopted patience although there was pricking in the eye and suffocation (of mortification) in the throat. I watched the plundering of my inheritance
Of course, keeping Alīs (a) speech in view, other secondary factors concerning his silence can be pointed out:

1. The Discord among Muslims
The Commander of the Faithful (a) says:
ٰ ٰ ٰ
When God took the soul of His Prophet, the Quraysh self-centeredly considered themselves superior to us and deprived uswho were the most deserving for the leadership of the ummahof our own rights. But I saw that patience and forbearance with respect to this affair is better than the dissension of Muslims and shedding of their blood. It is because the people then had newly embraced Islam and the religion was like a goatskin full of milk which has frothed and the least sluggishness and negligence would spoil it and the most trivial difference would turn it upside down.

2. The Danger Posed by the Apostates [murtaddīn]
After the demise of the Prophet

#7779;), a large number of the Arab tribes that had accepted Islam during the last years of the Prophets

#7779;) life turned back from the religion and became apostate, and this danger always seriously threatened Medina. As such, in order not to weaken the government in Medina in front of them, Alī (a) was forced to keep silent. Alī (a) says:
I swear by Allah that at that juncture it could not even be imagined that the Arabs would snatch the seat of the caliphate from the family and descendants of the Holy Holy Prophet (S)and that they would be swearing the oath of allegiance for the caliphate to a different person. At every stage, I kept myself aloof from that struggle of supremacy and power-politics till I found the heretics had openly taken to heresy and schism and were trying to undermine and ruin the religion preached by our Holy Prophet

#7779;). I felt afraid that, even after seeing and recognizing the evil, if I did not stand up to help Islam and the Muslims it would be a worse calamity to me than my losing authority and power over you, which was only a transient and short-lived affair. Therefore, when I stood up amidst the sweeping surge of innovations and schism the dark clouds of heresy dispersed, falsehood and schism were crushed and the religion was saved.
Imām al-Hasan (a) also writes in a letter to Muāwiyah: Since we were afraid that the hypocrites and the other Arab parties could render a blow to Islam, we ignored our right.
Even a number of those in whose heart faith had not entered, as testified by the Quran, and had accepted Islam out of compulsion, as demanded by their inner hypocrisy, they did not accept the guardianship [wilāyah] of the Commander of the Faithful (a). They even complained about this guardianship during the Prophets

#7779;) lifetime. On the commentary of the Quranic verse, An asker asked for a punishment bound to befall, Ṭabarsī has thus narrated from Imām aṣ-Ṣādiq (a):
After the event of Ghadīr Khumm, a nomadic Arab by the name of Numān ibn al-Ḥārith al-Fihrī came to the Holy Prophet (S)and said: You commanded us to testify that there is no deity but Allah and that you are the Messenger of Allah. You ordered us to perform jihād, fast, pray, and pay zakāh and we obeyed. But you are not satisfied with all this and you raised your cousin by your hand and imposed him upon us as our master by saying Alī is the master [mawlā] of whom I am mawlā. Is this imposition from Allah or from you? The Messenger of Allah

#7779;) said: By Allah who is the only deity! This is from Allah, the Mighty and the Glorious. On hearing this reply Numān ibn al-Ḥārith turned back and proceeded toward his she-camel saying: O Allah! If what Muḥammad said is correct then fling on us a stone from the sky and subject us to severe pain and torture. He had not reached his she-camel when Allah flung at him a stone which struck him on his head, penetrated his body and left him dead. It was on this occasion that Allah, the Exalted, caused to descend this verse.
In the event of Saqīfah, these people were also siding with the Quraysh. As narrated by Abū Mikhnaf, a number of nomadic Arabs, who had to the vicinity of Medina for transactions and were present in Medina during the demise of the Prophet

#7779;), had actual physical role in urging the people to pay allegiance to Abūbakr.

3. The Safety of the Progeny of the Holy Prophet (S)
The original inheritors of the Holy Prophet (S)and the upright adherents of the religion are the members of the Prophets

#7779;) family. They were the partner of the Quran, the second previous legacy of the Holy Prophet (S)and the interpreters of the religious laws, and they showed to the people the pristine and genuine Islam after the Prophets

#7779;) demise. Their extinction would be an irreparable loss. The Commander of the Faithful said:
Then, I looked and found that there is no supporter for me except my family [ahla baytī], so I refrained from thrusting them unto death.

The Concrete Political Formation of the Shīah after the Event of Saqīfah
Although Alī (a) distanced himself from the political scene with the formation of Saqīfah, the Shīah in the form of a particular group with a particular political orientation was formed after the event in Saqīfah and were collectively or individually defending the truthfulness of Alī (a). They first gathered in Fātimahs (a) house and refused to pay allegiance (to Abubakr) as they faced the onslaught of the Saqīfah architects. But since Alī (a) was not pleased to act violently against them for the sake of the preservation of Islam, he challenged them to a debate and argumentation. Barā ibn Āzib thus narrates: I missed the cases regarding Saqīfah. As I went to the Mosque of the Holy Prophet (S)[Masjid an-Nabī], I saw Miqdād, Ubādah ibn Ṣāmit, Salmān al-Fārsī, Abū Dharr, Ḥudhayfah, and Abūl-Haytham ibn Tayyihām were talking about the event that took place after the demise of the Prophet

#7779;). He went together to the house of Ubayy ibn Kab who said that his view is the same with whatever Ḥudhayfah would say.
Finally, on that Friday, the Shīah of Alī (a) went to the Prophets

#7779;) Mosque to debate with and condemn Abubakr. In this regard, Ṭabarsī thus narrates:
Abān ibn Taghlib asks Imām aṣ-Ṣādiq (a): May I be your ransom! When Abūbakr sat in the place of the Messenger of Allah

#7779;), was there anyone who protested? The Imām (a) said: Yes; there were twelve persons from among the Muhājirūn and the Anṣār such as Khālid ibn Saīd; Salmān al-Fārsī; Abū Dharr; Miqdād; Ammār; Buraydah Aslamī; Abūl-Haytham ibn Tayyihān; Sahl ibn Ḥanīf; Uthmān ibn Ḥanīf; Khuzaymah ibn Thābit Dhūsh-Shahadatayn; Ubayy ibn Kab; and Abū Ayyūb al-Anṣārī. They gathered in a certain place and discussed together the event in Saqīfah and were thinking of a solution. Some said: We shall go to the mosque and let Abūbakr come down from the pulpit. Some others did not agree with this idea, considering it unadvisable. They then came to Alī (a) and said: We will go and pull Abūbakr down from the pulpit. The Imām (a) said: They are many. Once you go ahead with this and act violently, they will come and say: You pay allegiance otherwise we shall kill you. Instead, you have to go to him and tell him what you have heard from the Messenger of Allah

#7779;) and this is all of the proof. They came to the mosque and the first person among them who spoke was Khālid ibn Saīd al-Umawī, saying: O Abūbakr! You are aware that after the Battle of Banū Naḍīr, the Holy Holy Prophet (S)said: You have to know and keep my will. After me, Alī shall be my caliph and successor among you. My Lord has thus ordered me. After him, Salmān stood up and made his famous statement in Persian language: Kardīd, nakardīd. After their argumentation, Abūbakr descended from the pulpit, went to his house and did not go out for three days until such time that Khālid ibn Walīd, Sālim Mawlā Abū Ḥudhayfah and Muadh ibn Jabal along with many others went to Abūbakrs house and gave him will power. Umar went along with this group to the mosque entrance and said: O Shīah and supporters of Alī! Be aware that if you would utter these words again, I will behead you.
Similarly, a number of those Shīah from among the Companions who, at the time of the Prophets

#7779;) demise, were on a mission outside Medina, such as Khālid ibn Saīd and his two brothers, Abān and Amrū, protested against Abūbakr after their return from their place of mission. As a sign of protest, all the three brothers did not continue their function which was collection of zakāh, saying: We shall not work for someone else after the Prophet

In addressing Alī (a), Khālid ibn Saīd said: Come forward so that I could pay my allegiance to you as you are the most deserving person in the position of Muhammad

Throughout the 25 years of the three caliphs rule, The Shīah from among the Companions were always introducing Alī (a) as the caliph and commander of the faithful in truth. Abd Allāh ibn Masūd used to say, Based on the injunction of the Quran, there are four caliphs, viz. Ādam (Adam), Dāwūd (David), Hārūn (Aaron), and Alī.
Ḥudhayfah also used to say: Anyone who wants to witness the Commander of the Faithful in truth shall meet Alī.
Ḥārith ibn Khazraj, the standard-bearer of the Anṣār in the battles of the Prophet

#7779;), used to narrate that the Holy Holy Prophet (S)said to Alī (a): The inhabitants of the heavens have called you Commander of the Faithful [Amīr al-Muminīn].
Yaqūbī writes:
After the six-man council proposed by Umar and the selection of Uthmān, some were showing inclination toward Alī and speaking against Uthmān. A certain person thus narrates: I entered the Mosque of the Prophet [Masjid an-Nabī]. I saw a man sitting on his two knees so impatiently as if he was shouldering the entire world, and while being taken by them, he was addressing the people: How surprising the Quraysh are! They took out the caliphate from the family of the Prophet while among this family was the first believer, cousin of the Messenger of Allah, the most learned and knowledgeable of people about the religion of God, and most insightful of people to the right course and the Straight Path [Siraṭ al-Mustaqīm]. They took the caliphate from the Imām of guidance, the guided [mahdī], pure [ṭāhir] and chaste [naqī], and their objective was not for the reformation of the ummah and religiosity. They rather preferred the world to the hereafter. The narrator says: I approached and asked him: May Allah be merciful to you! Who are you? And who is the person you are talking about? He said: I am Miqdād ibn Amrū and that person (I am referring to) is Alī ibn Abī Ṭālib. I said: You stage an uprising and I will help you. Miqdād said: My son, this work cannot be done by just one or two persons.
During the caliphate of Uthmān, Abū Dharr al-Ghaffārī also used to stand by the door of the Mosque of the Holy Prophet (S)and say: Anyone who knows me has recognized me and anyone who does not know me should then know that I am Jundab ibn Junādah, Abū Dharr al-Ghaffārī Muhammad

#7779;) is the inheritor of the knowledge of Ādam (Adam) (a) and all virtues of the prophets (a), and Alī ibn Abī Ṭālib (a) is the successor of Muhammad

#7779;) and the inheritor of his knowledge. O confounded and wandering ummah after the Prophet

#7779;)! Be aware that if you would have made superior the person who had been made superior by God and have fixed the wilāyah [guardianship] on the family of your Prophet, blessings from above and below will be bestowed on you and every matter you would want the information about which will be obtained from them from the Book of Allah and the Sunnah of the Prophet. But now, you did something else, you would see the consequences of what you have done.
Yes, the group of the first Shīah and its formation had been initiated by the great Companions of the Prophet

#7779;), and through these same Shīah from the Companions that Shīism was transferred to the next generation of the Tābiūn [Followers]. And it was the result of their efforts that at the end of the rule of Uthmān, from the political perspective, the ground for Alīs (a) caliphate was paved.

1. Hadrat Alī (a) overlooked his right and kept silent for the sake and interest of Islam. Keeping in view his statements in this regard, the following factors can be identified:
a. The discord among Muslims;
b. The danger posed by the apostates [murtaddīn]; and
c. The safety of the progeny of the Prophet (a).
2. After the event of Saqīfah, Shīah was formed as a special group with a particular political orientation, and they individually and collectively defended the truthfulness of Alī (a).
They gathered in the house of Fātimah (a), interpolated Abūbakr in the mosque, and for the period of 25 years, they used to persistently introduce Alī (a) as the rightful caliph to the people.

1. List the reasons for the silence of the Commander of the Faithful (a).
2. After the event of Saqīfah, at what stage were the Shīah in?

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