Adapted from the book ‘Peshawar Nights’, the Sixth Session
The opponents of Shia, on account of their ignorance, claim that superiority among the companions of the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him and his progeny) is as per the sequence of their rule i.e. Imam Ali (peace be upon him) is superior but only after the previous three rulers. But is that the truth? Let us see what the Ahle Tasannun scholars have said in this regard.
At the onset, it is noteworthy to mention that all Muslims agree that superiority cannot be decided by our own views or outlook. The only way to ascertain it is through the Holy Quran and/or narrations of the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him and his progeny).
What is even more important to note here is that neither does the aforementioned order i.e. Imam Ali (peace be upon him) being 4th in the rank of superiority, have any mention in either the Holy Quran or traditions nor did it have any prevalence in early history of Islam.
Imam Ali (peace be upon him) excelled all other companions and the whole community in merit
We bring two narrations to prove the above point:
- Mir Syed Ali Hamadaani Shaafe’i has recorded many traditions in his book ‘Mawaddah al-Qurbah’, which support Imam Ali’s (peace be upon him) excellence. In vol. 7 he quotes Ibn Abbas that the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him and his progeny) said,
“The best of men of all the worlds in my era is Ali (peace be upon him).”
- Ibn Abi al-Hadeed in ‘Sharh-o-Nahj al-Balaaghah’, vol. 111, p. 40, says that Abu Ja’far al-Iskaafi, from among the chiefs of the Motazela sect, declared that Bishr Ibn Mu’tamar, Abu Musa, Ja’far Ibn Mubashshir and other scholars of Baghdad believed that,
“The most excellent person among all Muslims was Ali Ibn Abi Talib followed by his son Hasan, then his son Husain, after him Hamza and finally Ja’far Ibn Abi Talib (peace be upon all of them).”
Superiority of Imam Ali (peace be upon him) over the first three rulers
- Mir Syed Ali Hamedaani narrates in ‘Mawaddah al-Qurbah’, vol. 7 from Ahmad Ibn Muhammad al-Karzi Baghdadi, who said that he heard Abdullah Ibn Ahmad Ibn Hanbal who asked his father Ahmad Ibn Hanbal about the rank of the companions of the Prophet. The latter named Abu Bakr, Umar, and Usmaan and stopped. Abdullah then asked his father, “Where is the name of Ali Ibn Abi Talib?” His father (Ahmad Ibn Hanbal) replied,
“He belongs to the holy descendants of the Prophet (peace be upon him and his progeny). We cannot mention his name along with those people.”
- The Holy Quran in the verse of malediction (Aayah al-Mubaahelah) mentions Imam Ali (peace be upon him) as the Self (Nafs) of the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him and his progeny). Supporting this view, we find in the same Mawaddah al-Qurbah, vol. 7, a tradition narrated from none other than Abdullah Ibn Umar Ibn al-Khattab. He said that one day, while counting the names of the companions he named Abu Bakr, Umar and Usmaan. A man said, “O Aba Abd al-Rahman (i.e. Abdullah)! Why did you omit the name of Ali?” He replied:
“Ali (peace be upon him) is from the descendants of the Prophet. He cannot be included with anyone else. He is in the same category as the Prophet of Allah (peace be upon him and his progeny).”
In the light of the facts mentioned above and innumerable such narrations recorded in reliable books of Ahle Tasannun, it can be firmly concluded that not only was the faith of Imam Ali (peace be upon him) most superior but even comparing his faith to that of ordinary companions is grave injustice to the personality of this divinely appointed guide and Imam.