The Shiite view on infallibility is challenged by the Muslim majority under the pretext of exaggeration (guluv). Shias are accused of exaggeration since they consider the Imams (a.s.) as infallible – i.e. individuals who do not err in any religious or worldly aspect from their birth till they depart from this world. The Muslims claim that the belief of infallibility has no place in Islam. The Imams (a.s.) including Ali b. Abi Talib (a.s.) were prone to making errors (Allah forbid).
1. Relation between Ali (a.s.) and truth
2. Text of the tradition as documented by Ahle Tasannun scholars
3. Consensus of scholars about the correctness of the tradition(a.s.)
4. Objections of some scholars and replies thereto(a.s.)
To say that infallibility has no place in Islam betrays a very poor understanding of the Holy Quran which has openly mooted it in several places for Allah and the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) as also ‘those vested with authority’ (Ulul Amr).
Also the concept of infallibility does not amount to exaggeration in religion. As evident in Allah’s warning to the Christians ‘guluv’ is taking someone as God. (Surah Nisa (4): 171). Everyone agrees that the Shias do not take the Imams (a.s.) as gods; rather, they consider them as divine representatives on the earth. Imams (a.s.) are the successors of divine Prophets (a.s.).
Back to TopRelation between Ali (a.s.) and truth
The most important tradition that defines the relationship between Ali b. Abi Talib (a.s.) and the truth is:
عَلِیٌّ مَعَ الحَقِّ وَ الحَقُّ مَعَ عَلِیٍّ
‘Ali is with the truth and the truth is with Ali.’
This is one among the many narrations which underlines the leadership, superiority and infallibility of Ali b. Abi Talib (a.s.).
There is another narration from the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) quoted by both the Shia as well as the Ahle Tasannun – Ali (a.s.) is with the Quran and the Quran is with Ali (a.s.).
عَلِیٌّ مَعَ القُرآنِ وَ القُرآنُ مَعَ عَلِیٍّ
Due to the fact that the report – ‘Ali is with the truth….’ –is more widely documented by the scholars of both sects and Shia scholars in particular quote it extensively in discussions with the Ahle Tasannun, we have analysed this tradition in detail.
Back to TopText of the tradition as documented by Ahle Tasannun scholars
- Khateeb-e-Baghdadi – in addition to his own chain – narrates on the authority of Abu Saabit – Abu Zarr’s slave: I was in the presence of Umm Salamah (r.a.) while she was remembering Ali (a.s.) and saying – I heard from the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) –
عَلِیٌّ مَعَ الحَقِّ وَ الحَقُّ مَعَ عَلِیٍّ لَن یَفتَرِقَا حَتّٰی یَرِدَا عَلَیَّ الحَوضِ
‘Ali is with the truth and the truth is with Ali, the two will not separate until they meet me at the Pond (of Kausar).’
- Tarikh-e-Baghdad vol. 14 p. 321
- Haisami has also quoted this report with his own chain as well as from Saad b. Abi Waqqas and he from Umm Salmah (r.a.).
- Majma al-Zawaid, vol. 7 p. 236
- Ibn Qutaibah Dainoori has quoted from Muhammad b. Abi Bakr (r.a.) that he was with his sister Ayesha and demanded from her whether she had not heard from the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.): Ali is with the truth….then why did she still rebel against him?
- Al-Imamah wa al-Siyasah vol. 1 p. 73
- Zamakhshari has quoted that Abu Saabit sought permission and came in the presence of Umm Salamah (r.a.). She said: Welcome O Abu Saabit! When the hearts of the people have turned in various directions, towards who have you turned?
Abu Saabit replied: Towards Ali (a.s.).
Umm Salmah (r.a.) replied: You have become successful. I swear by the one in whose hand is my life, I have heard the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) say –
عَلِیٌّ مَعَ الحَقِّ وَالقُرآنِ وَ القُرآنُ مَعَ عَلِیٍّ وَ لَن یَفتَرِقَا حَتّٰی یَرِدَا عَلَيَّ الحَوضِ
‘Ali is with the truth and the Quran and the Quran is with Ali and the two will not separate from each other until they meet me at the Pond.’
- Rabi al-Abraar, vol. 1 p. 828
- Tabaraani and other scholars have narrated from correct chains on the authority of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) who declared on the occasion of Ghadeer –
اَللّہُمَّ وَالِ مَن وَالَاہُ وَعَادِ مَن عَادَاہُ… وَادرِ الحَقَّ مَعَہٗ حَیثُ دَارَ
‘O Allah! Befriend the one who takes him (Ali (a.s.)) as a Master and take him as an enemy who takes him (Ali (a.s.)) as an enemy…and turn the truth with him wherever he turns.’
- Mo’jam al-Awsat, vol. 5 p. 455 tradition 4,877
- Hakim Neshapuri, Tirmizi and other scholars have narrated with correct chains from the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) who said:
رَحِمَ اللہُ عَلِیّاً، اَللّہُمَّ اَدرِ الحَقَّ مَعَہٗ حَیثُ دَارَ
‘May Allah have mercy on Ali! O Allah. turn the truth with him (Ali) wherever he turns.’
- Al-Mustradrak alaa al-Sahihain, vol. 3 p.134, tradition 4,628
- Al Jaame al Saheeh of Tirmidhi, vol. 5 p. 592 tradition 3,724
- Muhammad Ibn Umar Raazi (some call him Fakhruddin) records in his Tafseer Mafaateeh al-Ghaib: Ali (a.s.) always recited بِسمِ اللہِ الرَّحمٰنِ الرَّحِیمِ loudly and this has been proved with a consecutive chain of narrators (tawaatur) that one who follows Ali (a.s.) in his religion, he is guided and successful. As the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) has mentioned with regards to this:
اَللّہُمَّ اَدرِ الحَقَّ مَعَہٗ حَیثُ دَار
O Allah turn the truth with him wherever he turns’
which is a clear and brilliant proof for this fact.
- Tafseer Mafaateeh al-Ghaib (also famous as Tafseer-e-Kabir), vol. 1 p. 205
- Hafiz Ghanji Shaafaee and Khwaarazmi have both quoted from Zaid’s chain that the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) praised Ali (a.s.) thus: Certainly truth is with you, truth is on your tongue, in your heart and between your eyes. Faith has been mixed with your flesh and blood as it has been mixed with my flesh and blood.
- Kifaayah al-Talib p. 265 Chapter 62
- Manaaqib al-Khaarazmi
- Abu Ya’la among others has narrated from Abu Saeed-e-Khudri’s chain that the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) declared while pointing towards Ali (a.s.): Truth is with him (Ali), truth is with him.
- Musnad-e-Abi Ya’ala vol 2 p. 318 trad 1,052
- Haitsami quotes from Umme Salmah (r.a.) with his own chain saying: Ali is on the truth, One who follows Ali and obeys him has indeed followed and obeyed truth. One who has abandoned Ali has indeed abandoned the truth. This is that promise which has been taken much earlier than today.
- Majma al-Zawaaid vol 7 p. 35
- A tradition espousing the same concept has been quoted by Umme Salmah (r.a.) through a correct chain wherein the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) declared: Ali is with the Quran and the Quran is with him. The two will not separate until they meet me at the Pond.
- Al-Mustradrak alaa al-Sahihain vol. 3 p.134, tradition 4,628
- Al-Jaame al-Sagheer, vol. 2, p.177 tradition 5,594
- Al-Sawaaeq al-Muhriqah pp. 71, 124
- Al-Mo’jam al-Awsat vol. 5 p. 455 tradition 4,877
Back to TopConsensus of scholars about the correctness of the tradition(a.s.)
Many scholars of the Ahle Tasannun have narrated this blessed tradition after deeming it correct on the count of chain. We have listed some of them over here:
- Al-Haakim al-Neshaburi in his book ‘Al-Mustadrak Alaa al-Sahihain’ has mentioned about it being Sahih.
- Zahabi – a contemporary of Ibn Taymiyyah – in his book ‘Talkhis al-Mustadrak’ mentions it as Sahih.
- Hafiz Tabaraani has accepted this tradition as reliable (Hasan).
- Abu Ya’laa Mosuli says that its narrators are all reliable and trustworthy without exception.
Back to TopObjections of some scholars and replies thereto
- Tirmizi who has documented the tradition in his book ‘Jaame al-Saheeh’ considers its chain as irregular and strange (ghareeb).
Nevertheless scholars of the Ahle Tasannun maintain that even the strange traditions of Tirmizi are a definite proof in a debate.
Also we must consider that Tirmizi probably considers it strange because it clashes with his own belief on the matter of Ali b. Abi Talib (a.s.) vis-à-vis other companions and wives.
- Haithami has recorded the tradition in Majma al-Zawaid with an observation regarding one of the narrators thus – The chain has one Saad b. Shoaib who I cannot identify, while the rest are correct.
Allamah Amini (r.a.) has answered Haithami’s objection thus: The person in question- Saad b. Shoaib who Haithami could not identify is none other than Saad b. Shoaib al-Hazrami. Due to the slight change in name, Haithami seems to have got confused about his identity. The Ahle Tasannun consider Saad b. Shoaib as reliable and trustworthy. For example, Shamsuddeen Ibrahim Jawzaani records, “He was a well-known, virtuous and honest person”.
The tradition clearly establishes a direct link between the truth and Ameerul Momineen Ali b. Abi Talib (a.s.). Between the two, Ali b. Abi Talib (a.s.) is the axis around which the truth has been commanded to revolve. There is no way out for the Muslims other than to acknowledge this fact and place Ali b. Abi Talib (a.s.) at a higher pedestal than wives and companions, who have also acknowledged this fact in favour of Ali (a.s.).