Leave alone prophets, Ameerul Momineen (a.s.) is compared by Muslim to fallible companions and even there they believe the companions were worthier of caliphate than him!
While Ameerul Momineen (a.s.) is in fact superior to even the prophets and this is documented by Muslim scholars.
Ali (a.s.) – Nafs / Self of Prophet (s.a.w.a.)
The Noble Quran announces Ali (a.s.) as the Nafs / Self of the Prophet (s.a.w.a.).
This is evident from the verse of Mubahelah in Surah Aal Imran (3:61): Come let us call our sons and your sons and our women and your women and ourselves and yourselves..
By virtue of his selection as the ‘self’ of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.), Ameerul Momineen (a.s.) has achieved superiority over all creation except the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.). Since the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) is superior to all creation, his self (Ali a.s.) also achieves a similar status. By creation we mean the entire world of creation including but not limited to the divine prophets and messengers, angels, etc. with the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) being the sole exception.
Ali’s (a.s.) discusses his status vis-à-vis prophets
On the 20th of Month of Ramazan, when Ali (a.s.) was on his death bed following the attack by Ibn Muljim Muradi, he asked Imam Hasan (a.s.) to call in the Shias who had gathered at the door of his house.
When they entered, they surrounded his bed and wept silently.
Ali (a.s.): You may ask any question you like before I leave you, but your questions should be brief.
One of those present was Sa’sa’h Ibn Sawhan (r.a.). He asked Ali (a.s.):
Let me know who is superior, you or Adam.
Imam (a.s.): It is not proper for a man to praise himself, but according to the verse: ‘And as for the favor of your Lord, do announce (it),‘ I tell you that I am superior to Adam.
When asked why this was so, Ali (a.s.) explained that Adam had every means of mercy, comfort, and blessings for him in paradise. He was asked simply to abstain from the forbidden food. But he could not restrain himself, and he ate from the tree.
As a result, he was expelled from paradise. Allah did not forbid him (Ali (a.s.), from eating wheat (which, some say was the forbidden ‘tree’). But since Ali (a.s.) was not inclined towards this temporal world, he voluntarily refrained from eating wheat. (The point of Imam’s (a.s.) remark was that excellence of a man before Allah lies in piety and devotion, and that the height of piety lies in abstaining even from what is permissible.)
Sa’sa’h asked: Who is superior, you or Nuh?
Ali (a.s.) replied: I am superior. Nuh called his men to worship Allah, but they did not obey. Their shameful mistreatment was torture for him. He cursed them and invoked Allah: ‘O my Lord! Leave not on the earth a single person of the unjust ones.’
After the death of the Prophet, even though the people caused me extreme difficulty, I never cursed them. I suffered their torment with patience.
Sa’sa’h asked: Who is superior, you or Ibrahim (a.s.)?
Ali (a.s.) replied: ‘I am superior, for Abraham said:
‘My Lord! Show me how Thou givest life to the dead.’ He said: ‘What! do you not believe?’ He said: ‘Yes, but that my heart may be at ease.’ (Surah Baqarah (2):260)
My faith was such that I said: If the veil over the unseen were lifted, my faith would not increase.
Sa’as’ah asked: Who is superior, you or Moosa (a.s.)?
Imam (a.s.) replied: I am superior, for when Allah ordered Moosa (a.s.) to go to Egypt to invite Firaun to the truth, Moosa (a.s.) said:
My Lord! Surely I killed one of them, so I am afraid that they will slay me. And my brother Haroon, he is more eloquent of tongue than I. Therefore send him with me as an aide, to help me. Surely I fear that they will reject me. (Surah Qasas (28):33-34)
The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) ordered me, by the command of Allah, to go to Mecca and to recite the verses of the Chapter Bara’ah (Tauba / Chapter 9) from the top of the Kaaba to the Quraish infidels. I was not afraid, even though there were few people there who had not lost a near relative by my sword. Obeying his order, I performed my duty alone. I recited the verses ofBara’ah and returned.
Sa’as’ah asked: Who is superior, you or Isa (a.s.)?
Ali (a.s.) said: I am superior, for when Maryam became pregnant by the Grace of Allah, and the time of her delivery approached, a revelation was granted to her: Leave this Holy House for this is a House for prayers, not a place for the delivery of children.
Accordingly, she left the Holy House and went to the wilderness where she gave birth to Isa (a.s.).
But when my mother, Fatima bint Asad, felt labor pains within the precincts of the holy Kaaba, she clung to the wall and prayed to Allah in the name of that House and the builder of that House, to lessen her pain. Soon a fissure appeared in the wall, and my mother heard a mysterious voice telling her: O Fatima! Enter the House of the Kaaba. She went in, and I was born inside the Holy Kaaba.
- Al-Anwar al-Nomaniyyah v 1 p 27
The Nafs of the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) – Ameerul Momineen (a.s.) – was superior to all creation including the Ulul Azm prophets. But here we are debating with Muslims on Ali’s (a.s.) position among companions and wives many of whom were barely Muslims, if at all. Indeed, the Muslim nation has blundered by preferring others over Ali (a.s.) disregarding his stature in front of Allah and his superiority over the prophets.