Some Muslims accuse the Shias of exaggerating the position of Ameerul Momineen (a.s.) and the Imams (a.s.). They claim that the Shias have invented merits for the Imams (a.s.). In their view, the Imams (a.s.) lacked any special characteristics and raising their status amounts to innovation as, they claim that the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) himself was a mere mortal and lacked these merits – then how can the Imams (a.s.) possess such astonishing and amazing merits? As usual, they brand such titles for Ameerul Momineen Ali (a.s.) as Hand of Allah, Eye of Allah as polytheism (shirk).
We will reference a debate between a leading scholar of Islam to prove these merits for Ameerul Momineen (a.s.) and to establish beyond doubt that all Muslims acknowledge that the Imams (a.s.) with Ameerul Momineen (a.s.) in particular, possess these extraordinary merits and excellences, and these are not hollow claims and fabrications of the Shias.
Allamah Amini (r.a.) silences the critics
Allamah Amini(r.a.), the great scholar and author of the invaluable body of research Al-Ghadeer, attended a gathering during his journeys wherein one of the Sunni scholars challenged him.
Sunni scholar: You Shias exaggerate and elevate matters in the case of Ali b. Abi Talib (a.s. ). For example, you call him by the titles such as يَدُ الله (Hand of Allah) عَيْنُ الله (Eye of Allah), etc. To embellish a companion with such titles is not correct.
Allamah Amini (r.a.) without missing a beat countered: If Umar b. Khattab had described Ali (a.s.) with these titles, what would you have to say?
Sunni scholar: The saying of Umar would be sufficient proof for us.
Allamah Amini (r.a.) in the very gathering asked for an authentic Sunni book.They brought him the book as requested. Allamah Amini (r.a.) turned to the page where this narration was written:
A man, who was busy in circumambulating (tawaaf) the Holy Ka’bah, glanced at a woman in an undesirable manner. Ali b. Abi Talib (a.s.) saw him in this condition. He hit him with his hand and in this way sought to punish him. The man put his hand on his face and in a restless manner approached Umar b. Khattab with the intention of complaining against Ali b. Abi Talib (a.s.). He narrated the entire incident to Umar.
Umar replied: Certainly, the Eye of Allah saw and the Hand of Allah struck.
(The metaphor here is: The Eyes of Ali never err in what they see because the Eyes of Ali (a.s.) are the eyes which have been taught with the belief of Allah and such an eye can make no mistake. The hand of Ali (a.s.) does not move except to earn Allah’s satisfaction.)
When the Sunni scholar saw this tradition, he understood its implication and submitted to Allamah Amini (r.a.).
Indeed, just as terms like رُوْحُ الله (Soul of Allah) Prophet Isa (a.s.) underscore an honourable relationship (with Allah) and not with the implication that Allah has a soul, Hand of Allah يَدُ الله and Eye of Allah عَيْنُ الله are not to be taken literally and only highlight the position of the person embellished with the title.
Al-Nehaayah fi Ghareeb al-Hadith Wa al-Asar by Ibn Atheer, vol. 3 pg332
Al-Musannaf by Abdul Razzaq San’aani, vol.10 pg 410
Kanz al-Ummaal, vol. 5 pg 462
Tarikh Madinah Dimishq, vol. 17 pg 42
Jawaaher al-Matalib, vol. 1 pg199
Jaame al-Ahaadith, vol.26, p. 29
Jaame Moammir b. Raashid, vol. 1 pg 144
Lisan al-Arab vol 13 pg 309
Mudakhil fi al-loghat, Muhammad Abdul Wahid pg 49
Al Ambaa al-Mustataab by Ibn Sayyed al-Kul, pg 62 as narrated from Sharh Ehqaaq al-Haqq, vol. 8 pg 665 and vol31 page 498 and Zakhaaer al-Uqbaa pg 82
Simt al-Nujum al-Awali fi Anbaa al-Awaail, vol.2 pg28
Al-Riyaaz al-Nazarah, vol. 1 pg 247
Mukhtasar Tarikh Dimishq vol 3 pg 66
Al-Basaaer wa al-Zakhaaer, vol.1 pg 124 with slight variation