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Venturing Beyond Reality and Reason

As for the remainder of Imam Baqir Sadr’s book, he tries to prove that the only solution to the problem of succession to the Prophet, upon whom be peace, was the nomination of ‘Ali. He also tries to show how everyone was aware of the issue. He presents more evidence to substantiate his claim.

He quotes from Ihtejaj, by the Shia historian Tabarsi, that, “One day Eban b. Taglah asked Imam Jahar as-Sadiq [the sixth Imam of the Shias], ‘May my life be sacrificed for you. Did any of the Companions of the Prophet stand against Abu Bakr and blame him for accepting the position of khalifah?’ He answered, ‘Yes, twelve of the Companions condemned his position as khalifah. From the Muhajireen there was Khalid b. Sa’id b. al-‘As, Salman al-Farsi, Abu Dharr al-Ghifari, Miqdad b. Aswad, Ammar Yasir and Baridah Aslami. And from the Ansar there was Abu al-Hatim b. Teyhan, ‘Uthman b. Haneef, Hazimah b. Thabit, Dhulshadatayn, ibn Abu Ka’ab and Abu Ayyub al-Ansari.’”7

Although the preceding quotation mentions condemnation of Abu Bakr’s khilafah, there is no mention in it of anyone espousing ‘Ali’s khilafah. Even if they did, it is amazing that ‘Ali himself kept quiet concerning his “divine right.”

Sadr also tries to portray the Companions of the Prophet, upon whom be peace, especially ‘Umar, as having political ambitions! The favorite incident quoted by Imam Sadr and other Shia scholars is one that took place a few days before the death of the Prophet Muhammad, upon whom be peace. He asked for paper and pen so that he might dictate something, after which they would never go astray. ‘Umar said that we have the Book of Allah with us and, furthermore, the Prophet is deeply afflicted with pain. At this point an argument took place over providing the pen and paper that the Prophet had asked for. The Prophet then asked them to leave the room.8

Imam Sadr argues that the Prophet had felt the danger that would threaten his mission after his death. He wanted to save the Muslims from future problems by leaving a will for ‘Ali. This incident is presented as the alleged proof that the Prophet was going to finalize ‘Ali’s khilafah. This is presented in such a manner, in Sadr’s book, that it leads the reader to believe that the Prophet, upon whom be peace, died immediately after this event, without having a chance to pronounce ‘Ali’s succession.

I am forced to make a few comments on this point.

First, it would be very strange to relate this incident to ‘Ali’s khilafah since, according to the Shia sources, his nomination had already been made public at Ghadir Khumm.

Second, if it was such an important announcement, why did not the Prophet, upon whom be peace, ask again for the paper and pen before his death? We know that Allah had already completed His religion (see the Qur’an, 5:3), so what could have been left out?

Third, this shows that when we look at an incident with biases, it is very easy to interpret it in favor of our particular view.

Fourth, if what the Prophet, upon whom be peace, had to say was to complete and protect Allah’s guidance, would it be right to assume that Allah did not make it possible for the Prophet to make the final will in favor of ‘Ali? This is to again consider world events as mere interactions of material forces, which excludes the Hand of Allah. If Allah had willed it, the Prophet could have lived not only a few more days but maybe a hundred more years, if that was necessary to complete this guidance from Allah!

Imam Sadr tries, in many ways, to prove the weakness and incapability of the Companions of the Prophet, upon whom be peace, to carry the message of Islam. He says that there were about twelve thousand Companions from whom a great number spent most of their time in the presence of the Prophet, yet there are only a few hundred ahadith that have been reported by them.9

A casual look at Sahih Muslim shows that it contains more than three thousand ahadith! And we know that Sahih Muslim is only one of the six standard Sunni collections of ahadith.

After reading the entire booklet, I became convinced that the claim of the Shia with respect to ‘Ali’s divine appointment as the successor of the Prophet Muhammad had no basis.

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7 Sadr, p. 68.

8 As quoted by Sadr, p. 19, from Masnad Ahmad, vol. 1, p. 300; Sahih Muslim, vol. 2, ch. Wasaya; Sahih al-Bukhari, vol. 1, ch. Solh.

9 Sadr, p. 35.