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Was ‘Ali Violating the Prophet’s Command?

In both cases, that is, public or private nomination, we would have found ‘Ali to have been aware of this great task. When the Prophet, upon whom be peace, passed away, the question arose whether ‘Ali would fulfill this duty of becoming the Prophet’s successor or not. He would have known his responsibility to the Muslims. He would have known that he was divinely chosen for this task by Allah and His Prophet. He would have known that he would be asked on the Day of Judgment about his conduct regarding this matter. Did he fulfill his obligation or just sit quietly and leave everything to the turn of events?

Thus, the questions posed by Imam Sadr concerning the Prophet, upon whom be peace, may also hold true for ‘Ali himself! The fact that ‘Ali was alive and well, and quite capable of interfering in events at the time of the election, puts a great burden on his shoulders.

Without further discussion, it should be very clear that ‘Ali would not have kept quiet about this matter. He would have gone to the Muslims, especially Abu Bakr, and said, “O Abu Bakr, on such and such date, the Prophet, in private, chose me as his successor. Allah is my witness and I call for your resignation and demand that you all pledge your allegiance to me.”

And, of course, if ‘Ali’s nomination had been made public, as the Shias claim with their narration of Ghadir Khumm where ‘Umar supposedly pledged his allegiance to ‘Ali, it would have been easy for him to substantiate his claim of being the rightful successor.

We should, however, keep in mind that we are not talking about political rivals. Rather, we are talking about two noble men who sincerely loved Allah and His Prophet and to gain their pleasure they had sacrificed everything. Therefore, even if ‘Ali had no witness except Allah, surely Abu Bakr would not have doubted ‘Ali’s words about such a grave and important matter.

Now since Abu Bakr continued to be the khalifah, and did not give a pledge of allegiance to ‘Ali, this would imply, if the stories of his nomination were true, not only disobedience to him but also disobedience to Allah and His Messenger. This also means that if ‘Ali had taken the matter to Abu Bakr and he had refused to relinquish the office, the only way for ’Ali would have been to take over the khalifah by force. In which case, ‘Ali would have no cause to fear because he was a divinely appointed successor and, as such, Allah’s help would surely have come to him. Not only would he have ousted Abu Bakr but also strengthened Islam.

Certainly there is no historian, Shia or Sunni, who claims that this ever happened. In fact, ‘Ali was one of Abu Bakr’s closest advisors. This was owing to the fact that ‘Ali was respected for his knowledge and understanding of legal matters.

The above argument has been brought to the attention of Shia scholars. Their response is that since at the time Islam was weak and Muslims were divided, any such civil strife would have led to great bloodshed and perhaps an end to Islam. Therefore, ‘Ali kept quiet. But these scholars forget that it is Allah Who sent us Islam, and it is our duty to obey His commandments. The future is in His hands. The command to ‘Ali, according to the Shia, was to become the successor of the Prophet. For ‘Ali to speculate over the outcome would have been tantamount to putting his own judgment and wisdom over that of Allah, the All-Mighty, the All-Wise. And this, of course, ‘Ali would have never done.

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