Twenty-Third Verse

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The commentary of the word of Allah, the High:

 إِنَّ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَعَمِلُوا الصَّالِحَاتِ أُوْلَئِكَ هُمْ خَيْرُ الْبَرِيَّةِ

“(As for) those who believe and do good, surely they are the best of creatures.”[1]

In Ghaayah al-Maraam, the following traditions have been recorded from Sunni sources:

Tradition Five: al-A’mash from Atiyyah from al-Khudri, and al-Khateeb al-Khaarazmi has narrated from Jaaber, that when this verse was revealed, the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.) proclaimed, “Ali is the best of creatures.

And in the narration of Jaaber, “When the companions of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.) were together and Ali (a.s.) used to enter, they said, ‘Here comes the best of creatures.’[2]

Tradition Six:  Abu al-Moayyad Muwaffaq Ibn Ahmad in his book ‘al-Manaaqeb’ records, “Informed me the chief of the memorizers Abu Mansoor Shahrdaar Ibn Shahrwayh Ibn Shahrdaar al-Daylami through a letter that he wrote to me from Hamdaan from Abu al-Fath Abdaus Ibn Abdullah Ibn Abdaus al-Hamdaani from al-Shareef Abu Taalib al-Fadhl Ibn Muhammad Ibn Taaher al-Ja’fari (r.a.) in his house at the outskirts of Isfahaan from al-Shaikh al-Haafiz Abu Bakr Ibn Ahmad Ibn Moosa Ibn Muduwayh Ibn Faurak al-Isfahaani from Ahmad Ibn Muhammad al-Sari  from al-Mundhir Ibn Muhammad Ibn al-Mundhir from his father from his uncle al-Husain Ibn Saeed from his father from Ismaaeel Ibn Ziyaad al-Bazzaaz from Ibraahim Ibn Muhaajer from Yazeed Ibn Sharhabeel al-Ansaari – the scribe of Ali (a.s.) – who said, ‘I hear Ali (k.w.) say, ‘The Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.) informed me while he (s.a.w.a.) was reclining on my chest, ‘O Ali! Have you not heard the saying of Allah – the High (As for) those who believe and do good, surely they are the best of creatures? (It’s about) you and your Shias. Our promised place of meeting will be the Pond (of Kauthar). When the nations will be brought for accounting, you (and your Shias) will be called as unique.”[3]

Tradition Seven: Al-Jeeri narrates (directly – without the chain of narrators) on the authority of Ibn Abbas, who said, (The verse) “(As for) those who believe and do good, surely they are the best of creatures” is about Ali (a.s.) and his Shias.”[4]

Tradition Eight: In his book ‘Shawaahed al-Tanzeel’, Haakem Abu Ishaaq al-Haskaani records, “Informed us Abu Abdillah al-Haafez through his chain reaching to Yazeed Ibn Sharhabeel al-Ansaari – the scribe of Ali (a.s.) – who says, ‘I heard Ali (a.s.) say, ‘The Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.) was on his death-bed and was reclining on my chest, when he (s.a.w.a.) said, ‘O Ali! Have you not heard the saying of Allah – the High – (As for) those who believe and do good, surely they are the best of creatures? These are your Shias. Our promised place of meeting will be the Pond (of Kauthar). You (and your Shias) will be called as unique.[5]

Tradition Nine:  Moqaatel Ibn Sulaiman from al-Dhahaak from Ibn Abbas, who said, concerning His saying, “surely they are the best of creatures” ‘It was revealed in favour of Ali (a.s.) and his family (a.s.).’

Tradition Ten: The author of the book ‘al-Arbaeen’ has recorded this tradition and this is the twenty-eighth of the forty traditions. He says, “Informed us Abu Ali al-Hasan Ibn Ali Ibn al-Hasan al-Saffaar from Abu Amr Ibn Mahdi from Abu al-Abbas Ibn Uqdah from Muhammad Ibn Ahmad al-Qatwaani from Ibraheem Ibn Ja’far Ibn Abdullah Ibn Muhammad Ibn Muslim from Ibn al-Zubair from Jaaber Ibn Abdullah, who narrates, “We were with the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) when Ali Ibn Abi Taalib (a.s.) entered. The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) remarked, ‘Indeed my brother has come to you.’ Then, he (s.a.w.a.) turned towards the Ka’bah, struck it with his hand and said, ‘(I swear) by the One in Whose hand is my life! Surely, he and his Shias, they certainly are the successful ones on the Day of Judgement.’ He (s.a.w.a.) continued, ‘He is the first amongst you to believe in me, the most loyal of you for the covenant of Allah, the strongest of you in (following) Allah’s command, the most just of you amongst the subjects, the most equal of dividers amongst you and the greatest of you in merit before Allah.’  He said, ‘It was at this juncture that the verse ‘(As for) those who believe and do good, surely they are the best of creatures’ was revealed. Thereafter, whenever Ali (a.s.) used to enter, they would comment, ‘Indeed, the best of creatures has come!’[6]

Tradition Eleven:  Abu Noaim al-Isfahaani narrates directly from Tameem Ibn Jadhlam from Ibn Abbas (r.a.), “When this verse was revealed, the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.) stated, ‘These are you and your Shias. You and your Shias will come on the Day of Judgement, you will be satisfied (with your Lord) and (your Lord) will be satisfied with you, while your enemies will come wrathful and dragged.’[7]

These were some of the traditions narrated from their sources.

As for the traditions from our sources, then they are truly numerous in number. We shall mention only one over here as a token of blessing.

In Ghaayah al-Maraam, it is recorded from the al-Amaali of al-Shaikh al-Toosi (r.a.) his chain of narrators terminating at Yaqoob Ibn Maitham al-Tammaar, the slave of Imam Ali Ibn al-Husain (a.s.), who narrates, “I went to Imam Abu Ja’far (a.s.) and said to him (a.s.), ‘May I be held your ransom, O son of Allah’s Messenger (s.a.w.a.)! Surely, I found in the books of my father that verily Ali (a.s.) said to Abu Maitham, ‘Love the lover of the progeny of Muhammad (s.a.w.a.), even if they are transgressors and adulterers and hate the enemies of the progeny of Muhammad (s.a.w.a.), even if they fast and perform prayers. For surely, I have heard the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.) after reciting the verse ‘(As for) those who believe and do good, surely they are the best of creatures’, turn and say, ‘By Allah! They are your Shias, O Ali! Your promised meeting place with them is at the Pond (of Kauthar) tomorrow (after Resurrection) as handsome, unique ones.’  Imam Abu Ja’far said, ‘It is exactly like this with us in the Book of Ali (a.s.).’”[8]

I say: Abundant traditions from both sides prove that the most perfect and most complete application of the verse ‘(As for) those who believe and do good’, informing that ‘Surely, they are the best of creatures’ is our master Ameerul Momineen (a.s.). It will not be applicable for anybody but him (a.s.) save the one who is from his lovers and followers. So, the one who enjoys such a position is obviously the most proximate of creatures to Allah – the Allah – after His Messenger (s.a.w.a.). Hence, it is not permissible to give preference to other than him (a.s.) in being the Caliph of Allah and the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.). In fact, giving such a preference would be contrary to the confinement of the righteous believers in him (a.s.) and his followers.


Objection: Their being from his (a.s.) followers will not be contradict their preceding him (a.s.) in caliphate. For, this preference is permitted on account of the affairs delegated unto them for some foreseeable exigency.

Answer:  Whoever is aware of the incident of Saqeefah Bani Saaedah, the mode of attempts at extracting allegiance from him (a.s.) and his followers (a.s.), usurpation of the garden of Fadak, rejection of the testimony of our master Ameerul Momineen (a.s.) and those of Imam al-Hasan (a.s.) and Imam al-Husain (a.s.), attempts to burn down the house of Hazrat Fatemah (a.s.) and its inmates, the appointment of the second caliph by the first, the formation of the Consultative Council comprising of six members by the second caliph and all other similar events that transpired between them will know that their disagreement with our master Ameerul Momineen (a.s.) and vice-versa. These are incidents that are unanimously agreed upon by the Ummah; narratives and records of both the sides have elaborated upon them, although narrations of some incidents are more than others vis-à-vis some peculiarities.

Ibn Qutaybah (a celebrated Sunni historian) – in his work of history famous as ‘al-Imaamah wa al-Siyaasah’ – after his explanation of whatever he has mentioned declares that the traditions unanimously agree on these facts.[9]

He writes: Concerning the Mode of Extracting his (a.s.) Allegiance by Abu Bakr.  

“Abu Bakr realized that a group of people, who had refused to pay allegiance to him, were with Ali (k.w.). So, he sent Umar to them, who called out to them while they were in the house of Ali but they refused to come out. He (Umar) called for some firewood and screamed, ‘I swear by the One in Whose hands is Umar’s life! All of you come out or else I will burn down this house along with its inmates!!!’ He was told, ‘O Abu Hafs! Fatemah is in the house!’ He shot back, ‘So be it.’ They emerged from the house and paid allegiance except Ali. It is said that he (Ali) said, ‘I have promised that I will not come out. I will not put my robe on my shoulder till I collect the Quran.’ Fatemah (r.a.) stood at the door and said, ‘I  do not know a people that have come more evil than you. You have left the dead body of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.) in front of us and have cut your mutual affairs. Why do you seek to rule over us and don’t return unto us our right?’ Umar came to Abu Bakr and informed, ‘These dissenters will not pay allegiance to you.’ Abu Bakr said to his slave Qanfadh, ‘Fetch Ali near me.’ He went to Ali (a.s.), who asked, ‘What do you want?’ Qanfadh replied, ‘The caliph of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.) is calling you!’ Ali (a.s.) retorted, ‘How soon have you denied the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.)!’ The slave returned and conveyed the message. Abu Bakr wept for a long time. Umar said for the second time, ‘Don’t leave alone these dissenters of allegiance.’ Abu Bakr ordered Qanfadh again, ‘Return to him and say to him, ‘The chief of the faithful is calling you for allegiance.’ Qanfadh came to him and said what he was told to. (On hearing this), Ali (a.s.) exclaimed in a raised voice, ‘Glory be to Allah! He has claimed something for which he is not eligible.’ Qanfadh returned and conveyed the message. Again, Abu Bakr cried for a long time.

Now, Umar took a group of people with him till they reached the door of Fatemah (s.a.). They knocked at the door. When she (s.a.) heard their voices, she called out loudly, ‘O father! O Messenger of Allah! How are we suffering at the hands of the son of al-Khattaab (Umar) and the son of Abi Qahaafah (Abu Bakr) after you!’  When the people heard her voice and her crying, they went away crying; their hearts were almost torn to pieces and their livers cut into parts. Umar remained behind and a few other people were with him. They dragged out Ali (a.s.), brought him to Abu Bakr and ordered, ‘Pay allegiance to him!’ Ali (a.s.) retorted, ‘If I don’t, then what?’ Umar said, ‘Then, by Allah Who there is no god except Him, we will cut off your neck.’ Ali (a.s.) asked, ‘You will kill a slave of Allah and the brother of His Messenger (s.a.w.a.)?’ Umar replied, ‘As for being the slave of Allah, yes; but the brother of His Messenger (s.a.w.a.), no.’ All this while Abu Bakr was silent and did not speak. Umar turned to Abu Bakr and said, ‘Will you not command him vis-à-vis your affair?’ He replied, ‘I will not force him for anything in which Fatemah is on his side.’ Ali (a.s.) went to the grave of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.), crying, weeping and calling out, ‘O brother! Surely the people have rendered me weak and soon they will kill me.

Umar said to Abu Bakr, ‘Let’s go to Fatemah (s.a.) because we have earned her wrath.’ They both sought the permission to meet her but she refused them permission to meet her. Then, they both came to Ali (a.s.) and talked to him. So, he (a.s.) brought them to her. When the two sat in front of her, she turned away and faced the wall. They did salaam to her but she did not answer. Abu Bakr spoke, ‘O beloved of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.)! By Allah! The relatives of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.) are dearer to me than my relatives. Verily, you are dearer to me than my daughter Aayeshah. The day your father died, I wished even I had died and did not desire to live after him!! Do you think that after knowing you, recognizing your excellence and your honour, I will deprive you of your right and your inheritance from the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.) but for the fact that I have heard your father the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.) say, ‘We (Prophets) don’t leave behind inheritance. Whatever we leave is charity.’

She (s.a.) said, ‘In your view, if I relate a tradition to both of you from the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.), you will acknowledge it and act upon it?’ They both said, ‘Yes’.  She warned, ‘I caution you both about Allah. Have you not heard the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.) say, ‘Fatemah’s satisfaction is my satisfaction and Fatemah’s wrath is my wrath; so, whoever loves my daughter Fatemah, then indeed he has loved me and whoever seeks to make Fatemah happy, then indeed he has made me happy. Whoever makes her angry has made me angry’?  They said, ‘Yes, we have heard this from the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.).’  She (s.a.) said, ‘Verily, I hold Allah and His angels as witnesses that both of you have made me angry and you did not make happy. If I meet the Prophet (s.a.w.a.), I will surely complain to him about you two.’

Abu Bakr said, ‘I seek refuge in Allah – the High – from his anger and your anger, O Fatemah!’ Thereafter, Abu Bakr cried to the extent that soon he would be annihilated, while Fatemah (s.a.) insisted, ‘By Allah! I certainly curse you in every prayer that I pray.

He (Abu Bakr) came out crying. People gathered around him. Abu Bakr said to them, ‘Each one of you sleeps embracing his wife and happy with his family. You have left me in this lurch. I am not in need of your allegiance. Leave alone my allegiance.’

They said, ‘O Caliph of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.)! This affair will not be firm. You are more knowledgeable than us about it, lest the religion does not survive at all.’ He said, ‘By Allah1 But for this and what I fear the softening of this rope, I would not have slept in the night while for me there was allegiance of even a single Muslim after what I heard and saw from Fatemah (s.a.).’

He (Ibn Qutaybah) writes, ‘Ali (k.w.) did not pay allegiance till the death of Fatemah (s.a.). She did not live for more than seventy-five nights after the demise of her father. When she expired, Ali called for Abu Bakr saying, ‘Come to me’. When Abu Bakr came, the Bani Hashim were with Ali. After praising Allah and glorifying Him, Ali said, ‘O Abu Bakr! We neither refused to pay allegiance to you as a refutation of your excellence nor to contend against you. But we believe that we have a right in this affair which you have oppressed.’ Thereafter, Ali mentioned his proximity to the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.) and continued to do so till Abu Bakr cried. Then Abu Bakr said, ‘Surely, the close relations of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.) are dearer to me than my own close relations. Verily, by Allah, I will not leave an affair I have seen the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.) perform except that I will perform it too, Allah willing.’ Ali said, ‘Your promised meeting time will be tomorrow in the main mosque, Allah willing.

When Abu Bakr came out, he met Moghairah Ibn Sho’bah, who advised him, ‘O Abu Bakr! Why don’t you meet Abbas (the Prophet’s uncle) and offer him some part of this affair (caliphate) and to his progeny? If Abbas is with you, this will be a great argument in your favour against Ali and the Bani Hashim.’

As a result, Abu Bakr, Umar and Abu Obaidah went to meet Abbas (r.a.). Abu Bakr praised and glorified Allah and said, ‘Surely Allah raised Muhammad (s.a.w.a.) as a Prophet and a guardian for the believers. Then, Allah – the High – obliged with his position amongst the most dominant of us till Allah chose for him what was with him. Then, He has left for the people their affair that they may choose as per their welfare, based on consensus and not on disagreements. So, they chose me as a guardian upon them and a caretaker for their affairs. Praise is due to Allah that I fear neither weakness nor confusion nor cowardice. My grace is not but from Allah – the High, the Great – I rely on Him and I turn to Him. Defaming accusations are constantly reaching me who are talking against what the general consensus of the Muslims. They are taking you as a cover. So, beware lest you become an obstacle in this path. Enter into what the general public has entered or defend them for what they have inclined for. And we have come so that we may give you a share in this affair, for you as well as your progeny after you since you are the uncle of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.). The people hold you and your companions in high esteem. The affair may turn away from you and your messengers from the Bani Abd al-Muttalib. Surely, the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.) was from us and from you.’

Then Umar spoke, ‘Yes, by Allah, another thing is that we have not come to you because we need you. But what we dislike is that the accusations should come from you in a matter agreed upon by the masses lest the talks become serious about you and about them. So, look at yourselves and your masses.’

Then, Abbas spoke. After praising Allah and glorifying Him, he said, ‘Surely, Allah raised Muhammad (s.a.w.a.) – as you think – as a Prophet and as a guardian for the believers. Allah obliged with his position amongst the most dominant of us till He chose what was with Him. Thereafter, He has left the affair of the people unto them that they most choose for themselves, in line with the truth, not inclining away from it due to their deviated desires. If you demand (allegiance) on account of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.), you have snatched our right. If you demand on account of the believers, it would not be obligatory since we are averse to it. Whatever you are offering me, if it is your right, we are not in need of it. And if it is the right of the believers, then you don’t have the right to rule over them. And if it is our right, then we are not satisfied with you (taking) even a small portion of it. As for your saying that the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.) is from us and from you, then indeed he (s.a.w.a.) was from a tree whose branches we are while you are merely its neighbours.’

Abu Bakr went to the holy mosque. He met the people and insisted for Ali like he had apologized before him. Then Ali stood up and glorified the right of Abu Bakr, mentioned his virtues and priority and went ahead to pay allegiance to him!! The people turned to Ali and said, ‘O Abul Hasan! You have done the right thing. Excellent!’

When the allegiance for Abu Bakr was completed, for three days he stood before the people excusing himself before them (from caliphate) and offering his resignation, saying, ‘I have released you from my allegiance. Is there anyone who dislikes (my allegiance) or who hates? Ali was the first among the people to stand up and say, ‘By Allah! We will never ever release you nor allow you to resign! Indeed, the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.) had proposed you for the unity of our religion. Who can keep you away for the justification of our world?’”

End of the statement of Ibn Qutaybah.

Before this, he writes:

“Then, Ali (k.w.) was brought before Abu Bakr while he was saying, ‘I am the servant of Allah and the brother of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.).’ He was told, ‘Pay allegiance to Abu Bakr!’ He shot back, ‘I am more eligible for this position than you. I will not pay allegiance to you while it is you who ought to pay allegiance to me. You have snatched this affair (of caliphate) from the Ansaar and you argued against them on the basis of your close relations to the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.). Now, you are usurping this very right from us Ahle Bait (a.s.). Did you not claim before the Ansaar that you deserve this affair (of caliphate) more than them as Muhammad (s.a.w.a.) was from you? Consequently, they gave you leadership and handed over to you the chieftainship. Now, when it is argued against you like you had argued against the Ansaar, we are closer and more proximate to the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.) in life as well as death, then be just if you are believers. Otherwise, bring in oppression while you know.’

Umar said to him, ‘You will not be left till you pay allegiance.’ Ali frowned at him, ‘Milk the cow for yourself as much as you can and support him (Abu Bakr) him today so that he returns it (caliphate) to you tomorrow. By Allah! O Umar, I will not accept your word and will not pay allegiance to him.’ Abu Bakr said to him, ‘If you don’t pay allegiance, I will not force you.’

Abu Ubaidah al-Jarraah said to Ali (k.w.), ‘O cousin! You are young in age and these are the elders of your nation. You don’t have experience and knowledge of the affairs like they have. I think Abu Bakr will be stronger, more forbearing and proficient than you in this affair (of caliphate). Hand over this affair to Abu Bakr. If you live and survive longer, then you are more qualified and rightful for this affair due to your excellences, your religion, you knowledge, your understanding, your precedence (in accepting Islam), your genealogy and your being the son-in-law (of the Prophet (s.a.w.a.)).’

Ali (k.w.) said, ‘(Fear) Allah, (fear) Allah, O Emigrants! Don’t remove the authority of Muhammad (s.a.w.a.) amongst the Arabs from his household and the floor of his house to your houses and the floors of your houses. You are keeping away his (s.a.w.a.) family from its position amongst the people and its right. By Allah, O Emigrants! We are definitely more deserving of the people for it (caliphate) since we are the Ahle Bait (a.s.). We are more deserving for this affair than you because the reader of Allah’s Book is amongst us, the one with profound knowledge in Allah’s religion, the knower of the traditions of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.), the informed one of the affairs of the subjects, the one who will dispel from them the harmful things, the one who will distribute amongst them justly. Surely, he is from us. So, don’t follow your desires lest you deviate from the path of Allah and become even more distant from the truth.’

On hearing this sermon, Bushair Ibn Sa’d al-Ansaari said, ‘O Ali! Had the Ansaar heard these words from you before paying allegiance to Abu Bakr, they would never have disagreed upon you.’”

He writes, “At night, Ali (k.w.) went to the assembly of the Ansaar, accompanied by Fatemah (s.a.), the daughter of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.), on an animal, soliciting support from them. But they replied, ‘O daughter of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.)! We have already paid allegiance to this man. Had your husband and your cousin approached us before Abu Bakr, we would not have turned him down.’ Ali (a.s.) retorted, ‘Should have I left the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.) in the house without burying him and coming out of the house to dispute about his authority?  Fatemah (s.a.) approved, ‘Abul Hasan (a.s.) did not do anything except what was appropriate. Whatever they did, Allah will reckon with them and question them![10]

When you are aware as to what transpired between them and our master Ameerul Momineen (a.s.), it will become extremely clear for you that the there is no scope for the theory of agreement with them and delegating the affair to them; as it will become clear for you that his supposed allegiance and that of his followers at the hands of Abu Bakr was naught but on account of force and coercion. So there is no question of unanimity or consensus on the allegiance of Abu Bakr.

More than this one is shocked at the learned historian as to how he claims after mentioning all these details that Ali (a.s.) has paid allegiance at the hands of Abu Bakr on his own volition; as is apparent from the last part of his quote concerning the mode Ali’s (a.s.) allegiance with Abu Bakr.

I wish I had known as to what was the basis of the denial and refutation of Umar that Ali (a.s.) was the brother of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.) despite the incident of his (a.s.) brotherhood with the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.) being clearer than daylight and more apparent than yesterday. The traditions of both the sects are consecutive that the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.) has taken Ali (a.s.) as his brother.[11]

[1] Surah Bayyinah (98): Verse 7

[2] Ghaayah al-Maraam, p. 327

[3] Ghaayah al-Maraam, p. 327 narrating from Manaaqeb al-Khaarazmi , p. 265

[4] Ghaayah al-Maraam, p. 327

[5] Ghaayah al-Maraam, p. 327 narrating from Shawaahed al-Tanzeel

[6] Ghaayah al-Maraam, p. 327

[7] Ibid

[8] Ghaayah al-Maraam, p. 327 narrating from al-Amaali of Shaikh al-Toosi (r.a.), vol. 2, p. 418, Session 14

[9] Al-Imaamah wa al-Siyaasah pp. 12-15 printed at al-Maktabah al-Tejaariyah al-Kubra (Egypt).

[10] Al-Imaamah wa al-Siyaasah, pp. 18-22, 1378 A.H. Edition

[11] Ghaayah al-Maraam, pp. 478-491

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