عَنْ عَائِشَةَ قَالَتْ دَخَلَ عَلِيُّ بْنُ اَبِي طَالِبٍ عَلَى اَبِي فِي مَرَضِهِ الَّذِي قَبَضَهُ اللهُ فِيهِ فَجَعَلَ يَنْظُرُ اِلَى عَلِيِّ بْنِ اَبِي طَالِبٍ فَمَا يَزِيغُ بَصَرُهُ عَنْهُ فَلَمَّا خَرَجَ عَلِيٌّؑ قُلْتُ يَا اَبَتِ رَاَيْتُكَ تَنْظُرُ اِلَى عَلِيِّ بْنِ اَبِي طَالِبٍؑ فَمَا يَزِيغُ بَصَرُكَ عَنْهُ قَالَ يَا بُنَيَّةِ اِنْ اَفْعَلُ هَذَا فَقَدْ سَمِعْتُ رَسُولَ اللهِ ص يَقُولُ النَّظَرُ اِلَى عَلِيِّ بْنِ اَبِي طَالِبٍ عِبَادَةٌ
Ayesha reports, “Ali Ibn Abi Talib (peace be upon him) visited my father (Abu Bakr) during the illness in which Allah caused him to die. He (Abu Bakr) kept on looking at Ali Ibn Abi Talib (peace be upon him) and did not take his eyes off him. When Ali (peace be upon him) went, I asked, ‘O father! I saw you looking at Ali Ibn Abi Talib (peace be upon him) and you did not take your eyes off him?” He replied, ‘O my daughter! If I did so (don’t blame me) because I heard the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him and his holy progeny) say, ‘Looking at the face of Ali Ibn Abi Talib (peace be upon him) is worship’.”
Among the Ahle Tasannun scholars, there were three brothers. All of them were learned and famous and each one of them had several books to his credit. They were all famous as Ibn Atheer al-Jazari and they were from the tribe of Banu Bakr. One of them had a book called as al-Nehaayah, which is a book on literature, comprising of general literary discussions and religious literary considerations. Now, let’s see how this writer tries to justify this tradition. He writes, “It is said that the meaning of this narration is that when Ali (peace be upon him) emerged to fight, people exclaimed, ‘There is no god but Allah, how noble is this youth! There is no god but Allah, how knowledgeable is this youth! There is no god but Allah, how honorable is this youth! There is no god but Allah, how pious is this youth! There is no god but Allah, how courageous is this youth! Since looking at Ali (peace be upon him) took the people towards monotheism, hence looking at his face was considered as worship.”
What he means to say that looking at Ali (peace be upon him) per se was not worship but since it led the people to monotheism, looking at him was worship.
Obviously, this justification is baseless and absurd. For, when Ali (peace be upon him) came out on the battlefield, his valor was apparent is obvious. But how his honor, knowledge, piety, etc. were known on the battlefield? For each trait there was a specific time and place!
In the above mentioned narration from Ayesha, when Ali (peace be upon him) came to Abu Bakr, the latter did not utter any statement of monotheism. Rather, he just kept staring at Ali (peace be upon him) and yet, justified his act by quoting the narration of the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him and his holy progeny). So, who understood the quote of the Prophet (peace be upon him and his holy progeny) more, Abu Bakr or the Banu Bakr?
One can easily deduce that the aim of Ibn al-Atheer was to somehow reduce the significance of looking at Ali Ibn Abi Talib (peace be upon him) per se and connect the worship to statements of monotheism!!
Lastly, what about the other companions? Did looking at their faces lead the people into another direction instead of monotheism?
Allah has set a seal upon their hearts, and on their ears and on their eyes is a covering!
1. Meah Manqebah, p. 151, Manqebah No. 84
2. Behaar al-Anwaar, vol. 26, p. 229, H. 11