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  • Before accepting Islam

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Saturday, February 2, 2013

Ali’s criticism of Caliphs

The sermon of Shiqshiqya and his other stands prove Caliphs’ deviations and perversions from the right path.
“Whenever Ali witnessed any wrong from Caliphs or any of their colleagues, he openly criticized them.”[1]
Here it must be asked how they can claim:
“History does not mention that His Eminence, Ali (a.s.) uttered a sentence or a word against the other Caliphs.”![2]
That which is worth noting in this debate are the social conditions so blindly and ignorantly prevailing on the people in those days that made totally impossible for any voice of criticism to rise against Caliphs. So to criticize was neither easy nor tolerable to the people. Such an environment gave a free hand to Caliphs without fearing any opposition.
As a result, the silence of Imam Ali (a.s.) was due to the conditions prevailing then. It should not be attributed to fear; or seeing eye-to-eye from the side of Imam Ali (a.s.).
Ibne Abil Hadeed writes in this regard:
“Ali had very painful matters at heart as regards the Caliphate. But the tyranny of Umar restrained him from expression to his feelings during the periods of Abu Bakr and Umar.”[3]
This was the reason for Ali’s silence, which was too hard and heavy to him. He saw the Caliphs going astray and deviated from the right path but the conditions forced him to keep quiet.

[1] Ali Muhammad Meer Jalili: Imam Ali (a.s.) wa Zamaamdaaraan (Imam Ali and the Rulers), Pg. 101
[2] Farooq Safizaada: Article quoted in Kayhan Farhangi, Issue 170, Azar 79, Pg. 80
[3] Yusuf Gholami: Pas az Ghuroob (After Sunset), Pg. 193, quoting from Sharh Nahjul Balagha, Vol. 9, Pg. 25


In any case:
“To oppose the government was not easy for Imam Ali (a.s.). In the early years, it was very hard to Ali. So he tried to take refuge in isolation to avoid face-to-face situation.
The fate of Saad bin Ubadah was a very painful example.
He did not give Bay’at to Abu Bakr. In the period of Abu Bakr or Umar news came that Jinns have killed him in Damascus.
Some sources[1] indicate that his murder was political.”[2]
In the same way:
“Opinion of Imam about Caliphate of the three Caliphs remained confined to himself. The stringent conditions deprived him of any freedom of expression. Caliphate of the first two (Abu Bakr and Umar) receded into the annals of history. As for the third (Uthman) again Ali did not find an opportunity to express his judgment.
The handicap was Imam’s soldiers in Kufa were those who had acknowledged the authority of Abu Bakr and Umar. So in their presence Imam could not speak freely. Only once he got the opportunity. He gave expression to his agonies suffered at the hands of those two. Then all of a sudden he stopped and shifted to some other subject.”[3]
“Although he had a multitude of political supporters during his own Caliphate mostly they had belief in competency of Abu Bakr and Umar. So it was difficult for him state the facts about them or do anything contrary to their attitude as it would have created difficulties for him.”[4]
In short it can be said that:
Amirul Momineen (a.s.) had to face insurmountable difficult conditions.
“Any change in political trend from the past two Caliphs was, for Ali, a change from a norm to which the people had become familiar and habituated for a quarter of a century. A multitude of people had come  

[1] Refer: Sharh Nahjul Balagha, Ibne Abil Hadeed, Vol. 17, Pg. 223
[2] Rasool Ja’faryan: Tarikh wa Seerah Siyasi Amir-e-Mominaan Ali Ibne Abi Talib (a.s.) [History and political biography of Ali (a.s.)], Pg. 17
[3] Ibid. Pg. 18
[4] Yusuf Gholami: Pas az Ghuroob (After Sunset), Pg. 239


under Ali’s banner because they were critics of Uthman as to why he was not following in the footsteps of Abu Bakr and Umar. (It shows how hard it would have been for Ali himself.)”[1]
Therefore before dwelling on analysis of Imam Ali’s (a.s.) speeches, it would be interesting to see the trend of the people:
“People of those days…came after Ali to persuade him to become Caliph. But they expected him to follow the track of Umar.”[2]
“Some people clearly told the Imam (a.s.) that he must act on the practice of the past Caliphs.”[3]
“Ezzat-al-Din Abu Hamid Motazalli has gone a step forward and says: People’s getting accustomed to Umar was the main reason for their opposition to Ali bin Abi Talib. Ebb and flow of their opposition kept playing for long, Sometimes it caused Ali’s anger and anguish. He used to ask whether the tradition of the Prophet was better or that of Umar?!...[4]
Ali himself says that innovation in religion had taken a deep and strong root. If I were to disclose the real ruling or decree of faith in such regard, people would have left me and dispersed from around me.
Imam Ali (a.s.) further says: I told the people that in the month of Ramadan except for daily prayers they must not come for any other congregation prayer and announced that praying collectively in recommended prayers is innovation.
Some soldiers who had fought under my command shouted: O, Muslims! Look, the tradition of Umar is altered. Ali wants us to give up recommended prayers of Ramadan.
So with such mentality of the people, Ali says that he feared mutiny.[5][6]

[1] Ibid. Pg. 240
[2] Rasool Ja’faryan: Tarikh wa Seerah Siyasi Amir-e-Mominaan Ali Ibne Abi Talib (a.s.) [History and political biography of Ali (a.s.)], Pg. 230
[3] Ibid. Pg. 232
[4] Quoting from: Daimul Islam, Vol. 1, Pg. 384, Nahjus Saada, Vol. 1, Pg. 229
[5] Quoting from: Rauza Kafi, Pgs. 58-63; Tarikhul Khulafa, Pg. 136
[6] Yusuf Gholami: Pas az Ghuroob (After Sunset), Pg. 240


Circumstances such as these also did not allow Ali to restore Fadak during his own rule.[1]
Anyway, from time to time at an opportunity whether short or long, Ali utilized to express his victimization and the tyranny done against him. Ibne al-Hadeed writes:
“Narrations that have reached us in continuity inform us about the situation of Ali. He has told something like this:
I have been oppressed since passing away of Prophet right till this day.”[2]
Historical documents show that the people were also exercising a severe force on Ali. When such an opinion prevails generally Imam Ali (a.s.) refers to them (Abu Bakr and Umar) with great circumspection. This widely disseminated opinion snatched from him the possibility of criticizing them openly.
To be acquainted with the necessity that forced Ali to accept the past as it preceded him refer to the third volume of this series.
A little attention to historical documents indicates the elements that existed during Ali’s Caliphate which impeded him to criticize or censure his predecessors, particularly Umar.
The following document, for example, shows the stringent conditions that ruled over Ali. From this, we can grasp the tight and narrow possibilities that were at Ali’s disposal:
Muawiyah in his letter to Ali writes:
“I have heard the news of your remembering them (Caliphs preceding Ali) with mercy and kindness. This could be either of the two reasons – to which there is no third. This might be due to dissimulation because you are afraid that your soldiers with whom you fight against me would desert you. And the second reason is what you say is false and wrong.
Also I have come to know that you have told your Shias who have gone perverted and astray: I have named my three sons: Abu Bakr, Umar and Uthman. So whenever you hear me send blessings on Imams of perversion you should know that I mean my sons.”[3]

[1] Refer: Sharh Nahjul Balagha, Ibne Abil Hadeed, Vol. 16, Pg. 231
[2] Ibne Abil Hadeed: Sharh Nahjul Balagha, Vol. 9, Pg. 306
[3] Muhammad Ismail Ansari Zanjani: Translation of Asraar Aale Muhammad, Pg. 435



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