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Letter Exchange 7: Nomination of Ali and Refusal of Majority equals Failure of Prophet (SAW)

The following Queries were mailed to us by a fellow visitor, student and seeker of truth. Below is an article-version of the email exchange.

  1. Did Prophet Muhammad (SAW) nominate Ali (AS)? Shias narrate the incident of pen and paper where Rasool (SAW) wanted to write three things after which no Muslim will go astray. He (SAW) was however not allowed to write it according to the traditions. Shias claim that this was the written nomination for Ali (AS). Please comment. How can people stop the Prophet of Allah from fullfilling the command of Allah, which was to write down those things? We, the Sunnis believe the Prophet (SAW) did not nominate anyone, and left the choice to the consent of the people.
  2. Shias claim that Rasool (SAW) nominated Ali (AS) as the caliph. If this is true, then why did the Muslims disobey Rasool (SAW) and did not support Ali (AS) in the beginning for caliphate? I refuse to accept that every Muslim and Sahabi disobeyed prophet Muhammad (SAW) and turned renegade. How can majority or everyone be wrong? This only proves that Muhammad (SAW) was not a good teacher and failed in his mission to spread Islam.
  3. You believe that the Caliphs before Ali (AS) tampered with Islam and innovated things in Islam. Why didn't then Ali (AS) bring the original Islam back. After all, his caliphate came after the caliphate of the first three.


This is one of the most popular questions and has been answered time and time again. Please read the following articles and letters;

The narration you talk about is popularly known as the Tragedy of Thursday.

Sa'id b. Jubair reported from Ibn Abbas that he said: Thursday, and what about Thursday? Then tears began to flow until I saw them on his cheeks as it they were the strings of pearls. He (the narrator) said that Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) said: Bring me a shoulder blade and ink-pot (or tablet and inkpot), so that I write for you a document (by following which) you would never go astray. They said: Allah's Messenger (may peace upon him) is in the state of unconsciousness.
Sahih Muslim, Book 13, Hadith 4015

Narrated Ibn 'Abbas: When the time of the death of the Prophet approached while there were some men in the house, and among them was 'Umar bin Al-Khatttab, the Prophet said, "Come near let me write for you a writing after which you will never go astray." 'Umar said, "The Prophet is seriously ill, and you have the Quran, so Allah's Book is sufficient for us." The people in the house differed and disputed. Some of them said, "Come near so that Allah's Apostle may write for you a writing after which you will not go astray," while some of them said what 'Umar said. When they made much noise and differed greatly before the Prophet, he said to them, "Go away and leave me." Ibn 'Abbas used to say, "It was a great disaster that their difference and noise prevented Allah's Apostle from writing that writing for them.
Sahih Bukhari, Volume 9, Book 92, Hadith 468

The Prophet (SAW) wanted to write some things, after which Muslims will never go astray. He was however, not allowed to do so. You are right though, no man can stop the Prophet of Allah from carrying out the orders of Allah. Sunni Ahadith confirm that the Prophet (SAW) did indeed write some things later.

narrated by sai'd bin Jubair; ........They said: How is lie (Allah's Apostle)? Has he lost his consciousness? Try to learn from him (this point). He (the Holy Prophet) said: Leave me. I am better in the state (than the one in which you are engaged). I make a will about three things: Turn out the polytheists from the territory of Arabia; show hospitality to the (foreign) delegations as I used to show them hospitality. He (the narrator) said: He (Ibn Abbas) kept silent on the third point, or he (the narrator) said: But I forgot that.
Sahih Muslim, Book 13, Hadith 4014

.....They said, "Allah's Apostle is seriously sick.' The Prophet said, "Let me alone, as the state in which I am now, is better than what you are calling me for." The Prophet on his death-bed, gave three orders saying, "Expel the pagans from the Arabian Peninsula, respect and give gifts to the foreign delegates as you have seen me dealing with them." I forgot the third (order)"....
Sahih Bukhari, Volume 4, Book 52, Hadith 288

Thus the hadith point out that the Prophet later on did narrate three orders after which Muslims will never go astray.

You should note that the two orders which reach us are to expel the pagans from Arabia, and to be hospitable to foreign delegates. Can anyone tell me how following these two orders will never make any Muslim go astray? However, the bigger question is, why is the third order lost, or not remembered? How can something so important, which if followed would make all Muslims remain on the right path, not be remembered?

All the narrators tend to forget or emit on purpose, the third order. Shias assume it was regarding the successorship of Mawla Ali (AS), the similar announcement of Gadeer. Even if it wasn't, the pen and paper is not about Mawla Ali's successorship but about the disrespect to Muhammad Mustafa (SAW).

No shia has ever used the advantage of a forgotten order, to support the claim that caliphate was the right of Mawla Ali (AS). History itself is a witness for the fact, that Ali (AS) himself believed Abu Bakr usurped his right.

Anyhow, I will narrate another very interesting hadith from Sunni Sahihs and i will not interpret it or comment on it.

Aswad b. Yazid reported: It was mentioned before A'isha that will had been made (by the Holy Prophet) in favour of 'Ali (as the Prophet's first caliph), whereupon she said: When did he make will in his favour? I had been providing support to him (to the Holy Prophet) with my chest (or with my lap). He asked for a tray, when he fell in my lap (relaxing his body), and I did not realize that he had breathed his last. When did he make any will in his ('Ali's) favor?
Sahih Muslim Book 013, Number 4013

Anyone who knows about the hatred Ayesha bore in her heart towards Mawla Ali, specially after the event of Ifk, may get a more clearer picture of everything. I do not want to interpret this hadith my way, but the shocked reaction of Ayesha should highlight something "confidential" going on in the background. Why will a Sahabi of Rasool (SAW) lie or claim falsely about the will of Prophet (SAW) in favor of Ali (AS)? Can a Sahabi of Rasool (SAW) do that? There is smoke only where there is fire.

Narrated Abu Huraira: Allah's Apostle said, "Whoever obeys me, obeys Allah, and whoever disobeys me, disobeys Allah, and whoever obeys the ruler I appoint, obeys me, and whoever disobeys him, disobeys me."
Sahih Bukhari Volume 9, Book 89, Number 251

Which ruler did the Prophet (SAW) appoint? When did he appoint him? You should also note, that obedience to this ruler will be obedience to Rasool (SAW) himself. Does it also remind you of Mun kunto Mawla at Gadeer? You should note that disobedience to this ruler would mean disobedience to Rasool (SAW) himself. What if this appointed ruler ordered us to do something against Islam? Should we disobey Islam or should we disobey the Prophet (SAW) by disobeying this ruler? Thus who ever the Prophet (SAW) appointed, the Prophet (SAW) was sure he will always guide with Islam, towards Islam and will not sin and order to sin. The ruler is given a level of infallibility. Is there a chance that this ruler is Ali (AS)?

History is a witness that majorities have always been wrong. Nations of Lut (AS), Hud (AS), Nuh (AS), Saleh (AS) have all been destroyed, save a few. When Jesus was caught by the army, his closest friend, Paul, or later, ST. Paul, denied Jesus three times infront of him.

Say: The bad and the good are not equal, though the abundance of the bad may please you; so be careful of (your duty to) Allah, O men of understanding, that you may be successful.
Quran [5:100]

Allah has stated that the abundance will always be of the bad. We should not fall to peer pressure.

Most of the army of Talut drank the water.

So when Talut departed with the forces, he said: Surely Allah will try you with a river; whoever then drinks from it, he is not of me, and whoever does not taste of it, he is surely of me, except he who takes with his hand as much of it as fills the hand; but with the exception of a few of them they drank from it.
Quran [2:249]

In the absence of Musa (AS), the Ummah of Musa (AS), who had seen the miracles of Musa, the splitting of the red sea , most of them turned back into idolaters within 30 days;

And when We appointed a time of forty nights with Musa, then you took the calf (for a god) after him and you were unjust.
Quran [2:51]

Islam is not the biggest religion today. Christianity is much bigger. Does this make Islam wrong?

Certainly the creation of the heavens and the earth is greater than the creation of the men, but most people do not know
Quran [40:57]

Most people do not acknowledge the creation of this universe! Being a majority does not make you right. A thing practiced by everyone does not make it right.

If most of the people today, are addicted to alcohol, does it make alcohol permissible? The truth of a religion or a sect is never in it's numbers, but the arguments it put forwards and the signs it shows.

Thus everyone's rejection of the Mawlayiat, Imamat and Khilafat of Ali (AS) is not a proof in their favor. If Rasool (SAW) did choose Ali (AS), then anyone who goes against it, goes against his own self, even if that anyone consists of every single man from the whole Ummah.

Not everyone supported Abu Bakr. Not everyone forgot Gadeer. I would suggest you read about the start of shiaism.

I am quoting a list of sahabis and companions of prophet Muhammad (SAW) who opposed the caliphate of Abu bakr and sided with imam Ali after the event of Saqifah.

Narrated Ibn Abbass: .....And no doubt after the death of the Prophet we were informed that the Ansar disagreed with us and gathered in the shed of Bani Sa'da. 'Ali and Zubair and whoever was with them, opposed us, while the emigrants gathered with Abu Bakr.........
Sahih Bukhari, Volume 8, Book 82, Hadith 817

Following is a list of Companions of Prophet Muhammad (SAW), who after his (SAW) demise became the Shias of Ali (AS), refused to pay the oath of allegiance to Abu Bakr until Imam Ali did (allegedly as Sunnis theorize), sided with him during the battles of Jamal, Siffin, Nahrwan and other controversies;

� Abu Dharr al-Ghifari
� Ammar ibn Yasir
� Muhammad ibn Abi Bakr (son of Sahabi)
� Abdullah ibn Budayl
� Asbagh ibn Nubatah
� Uways al-Qarni
� Uthman ibn Hunaif
� Khuzayma ibn Thabit
� Malik al-Ashtar
� Sa'sa'ah ibn Suhan
� Maytham al-Tammar
� Abdullah ibn `Abbas
� al-Harith al-A'war al-Hamdani
� Mikhnaf ibn Sulaym
� Miqdad ibn Aswad
� Habib ibn Mazahir
� Zayd ibn Suhan
� Adi ibn Hatim
� Amr ibn al-Humq al-Khaza'i
� Abu al-Aswad al-Du'ali
� Sulayman ibn Surad
� Salman the Persian
� Kumayl ibn Ziyad
� Hisham ibn 'Utbah
� Hujr ibn Adi
� Abdullah ibn Hashim
� Jundab ibn Abdullah
Genesis of Shiaism,

Thus, there was a pocket of Muslims, who went with the Ahlulbayt, no matter how small that pocket maybe, it consisted of many notable and well known, well respected Sahabis of Prophet (SAW).

The majority's refusal to accept Ali (AS) as their Mawla doesn't represent the failure of Muhammad (SAW). Having a good teacher doesn't make you a good student. My class of mathematics is taught by a very able doctor. But we have high grade students and we have students who fail. It depends on a person that how much he makes good use of himself. The duty of the prophet was not to convert or convince the people to Islam, or guide the people. His duty was to convey the message only.

Nothing is (incumbent) on the Messenger but to deliver (the message), and Allah knows what you do openly and what you hide.
Quran [5:99]

But if they turn aside, We have not sent you (Muhammad) as a watcher over them; on you is only to deliver (the message); .....
Quran [42:48]

Surely you cannot guide whom you love, but Allah guides whom He pleases, and He knows best the followers of the right way....
Quran [28:56]

What! can you (Muhammad) then make the deaf to hear or guide the blind and him who is in clear error?
Quran [43:40]

With the completion of the Quran as it was revealed to Muhammad (SAW), he succeeded in his mission. His success is unparallel to such an extent, that no book other than the Quran is thought to be error free (in our eyes).

As I said earlier, the people of Musa (AS) started to worship idols after 30 days of his departure. Does this make Musa (AS) a bad prophet? People have a tendency to believe that if any companion of prophet (SAW) is bad or wrong, that makes the prophet a failure, thus they believe all companions were good. How do bad followers prove a non-efficient prophet?

Didn't prophet (SAW) eliminate tribalism and promoted Islamic brotherhood, but right after his death, before his burial, the Arab tribal system came in the foreground with utmost power?? Banu hashim vs Quraysh vs Umayyad etc!? Did not Abu Bakr claim that the caliphate can only be from the Quraysh, thus ignoring Islamic Brotherhood and giving rise to tribal racism?

....... He then said: One day Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) stood up to deliver sermon at a watering place known as Khumm situated between Mecca and Medina. He praised Allah, extolled Him and delivered the sermon and. exhorted (us) and said: Now to our purpose. O people, I am a human being. I am about to receive a messenger (the angel of death) from my Lord and I, in response to Allah's call, (would bid good-bye to you), but I am leaving among you two weighty things: the one being the Book of Allah in which there is right guidance and light, so hold fast to the Book of Allah and adhere to it. He exhorted (us) (to hold fast) to the Book of Allah and then said: The second are the members of my household I remind you (of your duties) to the members of my family. ........
Sahih Muslim Book 031, Number 5920

Prophet (SAW) had emphasized the importance of the ahlulbayt time and time again! In Quran, in Gadeer, in Mubahila.. if the people do not realize it, it is their fault!

Islam and Prophet (SAW) prohibited adultery, alcohol, robbery , murder etc. Did it mean that after his demise, there were no Islamic punishments ever practiced because everyone was good and obeyed him in totality, specially during the time of the caliphs, when most of the Shabas were alive? Infact, Islamic punishment were carried out during the time of Prophet Muhammad (SAW) as well as the time of the caliphs, which meant that companions and Muslims alike, there were some who consumed alcohol and some who did things prohibited by Islam.

And when they see merchandise or sport they break up for It, and leave you (Muhammad) standing (in prayers alone). Say: What is with Allah is better than sport and (better) than merchandise, and Allah is the best of Sustainers.
Quran [62:11]

(And when they see some merchandise or some amusement, they disperse headlong to it, and leave you standing.) meaning, on the Minbar, delivering the Khutbah. Several of the Tabi`in said this, such as Abu Al-`Aliyah, Al-Hasan, Zayd bin Aslam and Qatadah. Muqatil bin Hayyan said that the caravan belonged to Dihyah bin Khalifah before he became a Muslim, and there were drums accompanying it.So they rushed to the caravan and left Allah's Messenger standing on the Minbar. Only a few remained, according to the authentic Hadith that Imam Ahmad recorded that Jabir said, "Once, a caravan arrived at Al-Madinah while Allah's Messenger was giving a Khutbah. So, the people left, and only twelve men remained with the Messenger. Then Allah sent down this Ayah;
Tafsir Ibne Kathir, Tafsir of Surah 62, Verse 11

Surah Jummah was revealed because during Friday prayers, the people (companions) of prophet left the Friday prayers in between and go participate in a caravan which had just arrived.

When you ran off precipitately and did not wait for any one, and the Messenger was calling you from your rear, so He gave you another sorrow instead of (your) sorrow, so that you might not grieve at what had escaped you, nor (at) what befell you; and Allah is aware of what you do.
Quran [3:153]

Translated from Arabic: Ibn Hajar published from Kalib he said: Umar gave a speech on Friday and he read surah al-imran until he reached the verse "those that turned their backs from among you when the two parties met".. He said, it was the day of Uhud, we were beaten so I ran until I climbed the mountain..and the people were saying "Muhammad has been killed" so I said.."nobody says muhammad had been killed or I will kill him"

Click below for scanned page:
Al Darul Manthur Fi Al Tafseer Bil Masoor (Arabic), By Imam Jalaludin Suyuti, page 88

The Companions used to leave the Prophet (SAW) behind and run away in battles, deserting him.

To conclude the whole scenario of Arabia at prophet's (SAW) demise, I will just say that the attitude was such that 50 years after the death of prophet Muhammad (SAW), "Muslims" killed his grandson Hussain and arrested his (SAW) grand daughters at Kerbala!

I cannot tell you why the majority of the companions did not go back to the Ahlulbayt, or why they did not go along with Ali (AS). All I can say is that majority is never right! What is right is Allah, Quran and his Prophet (SAW), and if they tell us to go to the Ahlulbayt, then you cannot expect us to leave the ahlulbayt, no matter if the world around us denounces them.

If your criteria of judging the success of Prophet Muhammad (SAW) is the quality of all of his companions, then Muhammad (SAW) might not be successful. Fortunately, Quran's criteria is different to yours. If the message has been delivered, Muhammad (SAW) is successfully. If the announcement at Gadeer is made, Muhammad (SAW) fulfilled his duty. The ball is now in the court of the people, the companions.

I will not discuss which caliph and companion, innovated what in Islam. Sunni history is full of such incidents and nothing is hidden from the eyes of historians, regarding this matter.

Narrated Anas: The Prophet said, "Some of my companions will come to me at my Lake Fount, and after I recognize them, they will then be taken away from me, whereupon I will say, 'My companions!' Then it will be said, 'You do not know what they innovated (new things) in the religion after you."
Sahih Bukhari, Volume 8, Book 76, Hadith 584

So we get to know that;

I wonder who these companions are? Who ever they are, their existence and their innovation has been prophesized by the Prophet (SAW) himself.

Not going into that matter, but coming back to why did not Ali (AS) take reverse actions in order to restore original Islam, and if he did, then why did he not succeed, or did he!

Firstly, the caliphate of Abu Bakr, Umer and Usman were for 27 years. Mawla Ali's caliphate lasted for 3 years. Today, interest is intermingled with our system in Pakistan for decades now. Can you, if made the president of Pakistan today, remove interest totally from it's roots from our system, that too in a short span of 3 years? I think we both have our answer.

Secondly, Mawla Ali's caliphate met with a deadly blow with the battle of Jamal. Mawla ali's reign started with the wife of the prophet (SAW) fighting against the caliph of time, which divided the people too much to be united afterwards. In a short span of 3 years, Mawla Ali had to put off the rebellion of Ayesha at Basra, fight off Mawiya (the cursed) at Siffin and deal with the threat of Khwarijs at nahrwan. A time arrived when people loyal to Mawla ali wouldn't come out of their houses to fight for him! Do you expect him to stabilize Islam and restore it to its originality in 3 years, with 3 wars, with the majority of Islamic empire falling to Mawiya and with his own men being disloyal to him? I do not think so.

i hope this will help.

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