The commentary of the word of Allah, the High:

 أَن تَقُولَ نَفْسٌ يَا حَسْرَتَى

علَى مَا فَرَّطتُ فِي جَنبِ اللهِ وَإِن كُنتُ لَمِنَ السَّاخِرِينَ

“Lest a soul should say: O woe to me for what I fell short in the side of Allah, and most surely I was of those who laughed to scorn.”[1]

In Ghaayah al-Maraam, after mentioning that there are three traditions from Sunni sources concerning this verse, he (r.a.) records them as follows:

Tradition One:  Muhammad Ibn Ibraheem – famous as Ibn Zainab al-No’maani – has narrated it from the Sunni sources that narrated unto us Muhammad Ibn Abdullah Ibn Muammar al-Tabaraani at Tabariyyah circa 333 A.H. (and this person was from the lovers of Yazeed Ibn Moaviyah and was an enemy of the Shiites) from his father from Ali Ibn Haashem from al-Hasan Ibn al-Sakan from Abd al-Razzaaq Ibn Hammaam from his father from Mina – the slave of Abd al-Rahmaan Ibn Awf from Jaaber Ibn Abdullah al-Ansaari, who narrates, “A delegation from the people of Yemen came to the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.). The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) said, ‘The people of Yemen have come to you crumbling.’ When they came to the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.), he (s.a.w.a.) said, “A people whose hearts are soft while belief has penetrated into their hearts. From them is the helped one, who will emerge amongst seventy thousand to help my heir and the heir of my successor, carrying swords in their hands.’ They asked, ‘O Messenger of Allah! Who is your successor?’ He (s.a.w.a.) replied, ‘He is the one whom Allah has said you to fasten unto him (a.s.). So, He –Mighty and Majestic be He – ordered, “And hold fast by the covenant of Allah all together and be not disunited…”[2]  They requested, ‘O Messenger of Allah! Explain unto us what is this covenant?’ He (s.a.w.a.) complied, ‘It is the saying of Allah except under a covenant with Allah and a covenant with men[3]. So the covenant with Allah is His Book and the covenant with men is my successor.’ They asked, ‘O Messenger of Allah! Who is your successor?’ He (s.a.w.a.) replied, ‘He is the about whom the verse ‘lest a soul should say: O woe to me! for what I fell short in the side of Allah’ descended.’ They enquired, ‘O Messenger of Allah! What is this side of Allah?’ He (s.a.w.a.) responded, ‘He is the one about whom Allah has said, And the day when the unjust one shall bite his hands saying: O! Would that I had taken a way with the Apostle[4]. He’s my successor and the path for those after me.’ They said, ‘O Messenger of Allah! By the One Who raised you with the truth! Show him unto us, for surely we are eager to meet him.He (s.a.w.a.) replied, ‘He is the one whom Allah has appointed as a sign for those who examine. For certainly, if you look at him like the ‘for him who has a heart or he gives ear and is a witness[5] you will know that he is your successor just as you recognize that I am your Prophet. Disturb your rows and study the faces carefully; the one towards whom your hearts yearn, then he is the one. For, Allah – Mighty and Majestic be He – says in His Book ‘therefore make the hearts of people yearn towards them[6] and towards his progeny (a.s.).’ So Abu Aamer al-Ash’ari from the Ashariyeen, Abu Ghurrah al-Khaulaani from the Khaulaaniyeen, Zibyaan, Uthman Ibn Qays, Ghurbah al-Dausi from the Dausiyeen and Laaheq Ibn Elaaqah stood up. They broke the rows and examined the faces carefully. They caught the hand of a stout man with scarce hair on his head and said, ‘Our hearts yearn for him, O Messenger of Allah!’ He (s.a.w.a.) retorted, ‘You are the chosen ones of Allah when you recognized the Messenger of Allah before you were introduced to him. How did you recognize that he is the one?’  They raised their voices, weeping and said, ‘O Messenger of Allah! We looked at the people but we did not look for them. But the moment we saw him, our hearts started trembling, then our selves gained contentment, our hearts started exploring, our eyes shed tears and our hearts rejoiced as if he was our father and we are his sons.’ The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) remarked, ‘but none knows its interpretation except Allah and those who are firmly rooted in knowledge[7] You are for him at a position due to which goodness has come to you foremost and you are distant from the fire.’  This group remained eminent till they were martyred with Ameerul Momineen (a.s.) in the battles of Jamal and Siffeen. They were martyred at Siffeen (may Allah be satisfied with them). The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) had given them glad tidings about Paradise and informed them that they will be martyred along with Ali Ibn Abi Taalib (a.s.).”[8]

Tradition Two: The author of ‘al-Manaaqeb al-Faakherah Fi al-Etrah al-Taaherah’ records, “It is narrated from Abu Bakr that the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.) informed, ‘I and you, O Ali, were created from the side of Allah – the High.’  He asked, ‘O Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.)! What is the side of Allah – the High?’ He (s.a.w.a.) replied, ‘A hidden secret and a treasured knowledge. Allah has not created anyone from it but us. So, whoever loves us has fulfilled the covenant of Allah and whoever hates us will say while breathing his last, O woe to me! for what I fell short in the side of Allah.[9]

Tradition Three:  Ibraheem al-Hamweeni – a celebrated Sunni scholar – vide his chain of narrators ending at Abu Ja’far Ibn Baabwayh narrates from his father from Sa’d Ibn Abdullah from Ahmad Ibn Muhammad Ibn Eesa from al-Abbas Ibn Ma’roof from Abdullah Ibn Abd al-Rahmaan al-Basri from Abi al-Moizz Hameed Ibn al-Muthannaa al-Ajali from Abu Baseer from Khaithamah al-Jo’fi who narrates that I heard Imam Abu Abdillah (al-Sadeq (a.s.)) say, “We are the side of Allah, we are His selected ones, we are His chosen ones, we are the recipients of the inheritances of the Prophets (a.s.), we are the trustees of Allah –Might and Majestic be He –, we are the proofs of Allah, we are the pillars of belief, we are the supports of Islam, we are Allah’s mercy upon His creatures, through us He opens and through us He seals, we are the Imams of guidance, we are the lamps of darkness, we  are the lighthouses, we are the foremost, we are the last, we are the knowledge elevated for the truth, whoever fastens unto us will join us and whoever lags behind will be destroyed, we are the handsome ones, we are  the chosen ones of Allah, we are the clear way and the straight path to Allah, we are bounty of Allah –Mighty and Majestic be He – upon His creatures, we are the paths, we are the mines of Prophethood, we are the place of Messengership, we are the places where angels frequent, we are the lamps for the one who seeks light  through us, we are the paths for the one who follows us, we are the guides to Paradise, we are the viaducts and the bridges over which whoever passes will not be overtaken and whoever lags behind will be destroyed, we are the greatest summit, through us Allah – Mighty and Majestic be He – causes mercy to descend, through us rains descend, we are the ones through whom divine chastisement is kept away from you. So whoever recognizes us, gains insight about us, recognizes our rights and takes our affair, he is from us and towards us.”[10]

Traditions from our sources are truly numerous. Some of these are as follows:

Ibn Baabwayh (r.a.) through his chains of narrators narrates from Abu Baseer from Imam Abu Abdillah (r.a.), who said, “Ameerul Momineen (a.s.) said, ‘I am the guide, I am the guided, I am the father of the orphans and the destitute, I am the spouse of the widows, I am the refuge of every weak and the security of every frightened person, I am the leader of the believers towards paradise, I am the strong rope of Allah, I am the reliable cord of Allah and the word of piety, I am the eye of Allah and His truthful tongue and His hand, I am the side of Allah about whom He says, ‘Lest a soul should say: O woe to me for what I fell short in the side of Allah’, I am the open hand of Allah with mercy and forgiveness on His servants, I am the door of Hittah, whoever recognizes me and recognizes my right then indeed he has recognized his Lord because I am the successor of His Prophet (s.a.w.a.) in His earth and His proof upon His creation. None shall deny this except the one who the refuter of Allah and His Messenger (s.a.w.a.).[11]

From Shaikh Tabarsi (r.a.) in al-Ehtejaaj in a lengthy tradition from Ameerul Momineen (a.s.), “Indeed, (Allah) – Majestic is His remembrance – has exceeded in the explanation and establishing the argument in His saying about His chosen ones and His successors, ‘Lest a soul should say: O woe to me for what I fell short in the side of Allah’ introducing to the creatures their closeness. Don’t you see that you say ‘so and so is on the side of so and so’ when you intend to show the proximity of one to another? Allah – Blessed and High be He – has used these codes in His Book and none is aware of them except Him, His Prophets (a.s.) and His Proofs (a.s.) in His earth for His knowledge about what the distorters will do in His Book; they will drop the names of His Proofs (a.s.) to confuse the Ummah in this regard so that it may help them in their falsehood. Hence, He kept codes in them and blinded their hearts and their eyes (intellects) that they may leave these and other things of the addresses which prove about what they will do in this regard.”[12]

I say:  Consecutive traditions from both the sects prove the contents of the first tradition establish that the successor of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) is our master Ameerul Momineen (a.s.). In Ghaayah al-Maraam, he (r.a.) has mentioned more than fifty traditions in this context from Sunni sources.[13]

Succession in this tradition and in all other traditions is clearly about Caliphate of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.) in the position of Messengership which is his (s.a.w.a.) mastership and the greatest leadership. For, the delegation of Yemen had questioned him (s.a.w.a.) about his (s.a.w.a.) successor and his substitute in the affairs of Muslims and not about his (s.a.w.a.) successor in the spending of wealth and its like. His (s.a.w.a.) reply that he is the one for whom you are ordered to fasten unto and that about the verse ‘Lest a soul should say: O woe to me for what I fell short in the side of Allah’ is even clearer and apparent. Thus, there is no scope for the probability that succession is other than the issues pertaining to Caliphate and Imamate.

When this has become clear for you from the traditions of both the sects that the side of Allah in the noble verse is Ameerul Momineen (a.s.), it will become apparent for you the distinction of Imamate and Caliphate for him (a.s.).

Explanation:  The term ‘side of Allah’ is not applicable absolutely on any person except the one who is exclusively devoted to His closeness. This is essential because one who gains nearness to Him – the High – once through His obedience and then becomes distant from Him – the High – due to His disobedience cannot be the side of Allah and will not qualify for the usage of this term for him from the side of Allah – the High. In fact, it is apparent from the second tradition attributed to the first Caliph from Sunni sources that the most perfect levels of closeness and proximity with which the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) and Ali Ameerul Momineen (a.s.) are distinguished and are exclusively devoted essentially requires infallibility and absolute purity.

One who enjoys such a position cannot be compared to the side of the people, which is the first Caliph who was chosen, according to them, by the elite (اهل الحل و العقد) for Caliphate. Do you think that if the matter would come to a pass between the side of Allah and the side of people in the Caliphate of Allah – the High – and His Messenger (s.a.w.a.), will the side of people be preferred to the side of Allah – the High? No, never. So, it has become obvious that the noble verse proves the presence of the attribute and quality in our master Ameerul Momineen (a.s.). Caliphate and Imamate can never be separated from him (a.s.) and it is not allowed to give preference to other than him (a.s.) in Caliphate.

All this is without taking into consideration the other qualities and attributes mentioned in the aforementioned traditions. If these are considered, then the matter becomes even clearer and more apparent.

For, the proofs of the first tradition are extremely clear and manifest.

The second tradition establishes that he (a.s.) is the closest person to the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.) and that he (a.s.) is the best of creatures after him (s.a.w.a.). Hence, it’s known that there is no scope to prefer anybody else to him (a.s.) vis-à-vis the Caliphate from Allah – the High – and His Messenger (s.a.w.a.).

As for the third tradition, every statement mentioned in it is a proof and evidence for his (a.s.) Imamate, Caliphate and the Caliphate of the infallible Imams (a.s.) from his (a.s.) progeny. One cannot refuse to accept the tradition just because it is narrated from Imam Sadeq (a.s.) and not any other chain terminating at the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) because he (a.s.)’s word is accepted by the Ahle Sunnah.

[1] Surah Zumar (39): Verse 56

[2] Surah Aale Imran (3): Verse 103

[3] Surah Aale Imran (3): Verse 112

[4] Surah Furqan (25): Verse 27

[5] Surah Qaaf (50): Verse 37

[6] Surah Ibraheem (14): Verse 37

[7] Surah Aale Imraan (3): Verse 3

[8] Ghaayah al-Maraam, p. 341 narrating from al-Ghaibah of No’mani, pp. 39-41

[9] Ghaayah al-Maraam, p. 341

[10] Ghaayah al-Maraam, pp. 341-342

[11] Ghaayah al-Maraam, p. 342 narrating from al-Saduq (r.a.)

[12] Al-Ehtejaaj, vol. 1, p. 75; Ghaayah al-Maraam, p. 343

[13] Ghaayah al-Maraam, pp. 341-343