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History Imam Ali

The answer cannot be given in a short letter. If you read the biography of Imam 'Ali (a.s.) you will easily understand why he did not feel like taking any action against his adversaries except to protest openly at every appropriate time. The situation at that time was such that a civil war in Madina would have meant the extinction of Islam in the whole of Arabia.

For example, if your child was abducted by someone who wanted to bring him up as his own son and you were sure that if you took any action against him he would kill the child, would you not wait for a suitable time for the return of the child instead of rushing headlong to that person and thus causing his death? And can anyone say that because the circumstances compelled you to keep quit at that time, you lost the right of the custody of your child and the abductor became its true father?

There is a story in the Old Testament, which says that two women came to the Prophet Sulaiman (a.s.) ''And the one woman said, 0 my Lord I and this woman dwell in one house; and I was delivered of a child with her in the house. And it came to pass the third day after that I was delivered, that this woman was delivered also: and we were together; there was no stranger with us in the house, save we two in the house And this woman's child died in the night; because she overlaid it. And when I rose in the morning to give my child suck, behold, it was not my son, which I did bear. And the other woman said: Nay; but the living is my son. Thus they spake before the king. Then said the king. The one saith, This is my son that liveth, and thy son is the dead: and the other saith, Nay; but
thy son is the dead, and my son is the living. And the king said, Bring me a sword. And they brought a sword before the king. And the king said, Divide the living child in two and give half to the one, and half to the other. Then spake the woman whose the living child was unto the king, for her bowels yearned upon her son, and she said, 0 my lord, give her the living child, and in no wise slay it: But the other said, her-it be neither mine nor thine, but divide it. Then the king answered and said. Give her the living child, and in no wise slay it; she is the mother thereof': (I Kings Ch, 3. verses 17-27).

(A similar case came up before 'Ali a.s., and he decided in the same way; finally he said "the solution of this case was revealed to Sulaiman (a.s.) and now I have decided it in the same way':) I think this episode sufficiently depicts the stand of 'Ali (a.s.) vis-a-vis his adversaries.
You have answered that question yourself. No Shi'a has ever said that those who usurped the caliphate were not blameworthy. In fact, "Tabarra" (keeping aloof) from the enemies of the Prophet and the Imams is one of the basic obligations of Shi'a.

Here is the translation of a part of a lecture of Amirul-Mu'minin 'Ali (a.s.) in which he describes the 3 "caliphs":
"By Allah, the son of Abu Qahafa (Abu Bakr) dressed himself with it (the caliphate) and he certainly knew that my position in relation to it was the same as the position of the axis in relation to the hand-mill. The flood water flows down from me and the bird cannot fly upto me. (Meaning that he was like a fountain head from which rivers of wisdom flow and nobody could aspire to rise to the heights of 'Ali's knowledge). But I closed eyes to the (usurpation of) caliphate and turned my face away from it. Then I began to think whether I should assault or endure calmly the blinding darkness of tribulations where-in the grown up are feebled and the young grow old and the true believer acts under strain till he meets Allah (on his death). (But after considering over the pros and cones) I arrived at the conclusion that endurance thereon was wiser. So I adopted patience although there was pricking in the eye and suffocation (of mortification) in the throat. I watched the plundering of my inheritance till the first one went his way but handed over the caliphate to Ibn Khattab after himself. Then he quoted A'isha's verse:-
"My days now are passed on the camel's back (in difficulty) while there were days (of ease) when I enjoyed the company ofJabir's brother Hayyan''.

"It is strange that during life-time he wished to get rid of the caliphate but he straightened its way for the other after his death. No doubt these two shared its (caliphate's) udder strictly among themselves. This one put the caliphate in a tough enclosure where the utterance was haughty and the touch was rough. Mistakes were in plenty and so also the excuses therefore. One in contact with it was like the rider of an unruly camel. If he pulled up its rein the very nostril would be slit, but if he let it loose he would be thrown. Consequently, by Allah, people got involved in recklessness, wickedness, unsteadiness and deviation. Nevertheless, I remained patient despite length of period and stiffness of trial, till when he went his way (of death) he put the matter (of caliphate) to a body and regarded me to be one of them. But good Heavens! what had I to do with this selection board? (I had nothing common with any of its members). Where was any doubt about me with regard to the first of them that I was now considered kin to these ones. But I remained low when they were low and flew high when they flew high. One of them (Talha or Sa'd) turned against me because of his hatred and the other (Abdul Rahman bin Auf) got inclined the other way due to his in-law relationship and this thing and that thing, till the third man of these people stood up with bloated stomach between his dung and fodder.

With him his cousins also stood up swallowing Allah's wealth like a camel devouring the foliage of spring, till the rope broke down, his (inglorious) action finished him and his gluttony brought him down prostate". (See the 3rd sermon ofNahjul-Balagha).

To understand the historical events alluded to in this sermon, see my booklet "Imamat".

And it is narrated from Imam Musa Al-Kazim (a.s.), in a long hadith, that five persons will receive the most maximum punishment in hell three from the previous Ummats, and two from this Ummat (community). (Vide Bihar-ul-Anwar of'Allamah Majlisi, (Vol. 3)) Imam Ja'far Sadiq (a.s.) said that there will be seven persons who will suffer extreme pun­ ishment: five from the previous Ummats, and two from this Ummat, one of them more evil than the other; (they will be) in a coffin of glass under a cleavage in the rivers of Fire':
The sentence ("Both the Sunni and the Shi'a sects agree that when allegiance was being taken from Muslims, 'Ali (a.s.) did not accept the authority of of Abu Bakr") is correct. The difference is about the later period, whether after the death of Hazrat Fatima (a.s.), 'Ali (a.s.) gave the oath of allegiance to Abu Bakr. The Sunnis claim, as mentioned in Bukhari, that he did. The Shi'as deny it.

I do not have time to go into detailed explanations. Suffice it to say that Bibi Fatima and Hazrat 'Ali (peace be on them) both were sinless and Ma'sum; and the verse of "Purity" confirms their freedom from every error and sin. As the Sunnis accept that Bibi Fatima did not allow her husband to give allegiance to Abu Bakr, it naturally means that she herself did not accept Abu Bakr. Not only that; they agree that she died angry with Abu Bakr and Umar; and told 'Ali (a.s.) not to allow them to attend her funeral.

Now, the question arises: Was her rejection of Abu Bakr right or wrong? It could not be wrong, because Fatima (a.s.) could not do any wrong. So, it was right; and that is why 'Ali (a.s.) too could not give allegiance to Abu Bakr.

Now, if 'Ali (a.s.) changed his stand after six months as the Sunnis claim, then the question arises: Which of his stands was correct? If, as explained above, his attitude during first six months was correct, then changing it would be wrong, an error and a sin. But 'Ali (a.s.) was free from all errors and sins.
Two other events show what attitude 'Ali had towards these persons. First: During the Shura, when 'Abdur Rahman ibn 'Awf offered Khilafat to 'Ali (a.s.) on the condition that 'Ali (a.s.) would follow (1) the Book of Allah, (2) the tradition of the Prophet and (3) the system of the two shaykhs (i.e., Abu Bakr and 'Umar), 'Ali (a.s.) refused to accept the 3rd condition (i.e., following the system of Abu Bakr and 'Umar). The same condition was put before 'Uthman, who at once agreed and was declared as the 3rd Khalifah. Had 'Ali (a.s.) agreed to that condition, it would have been tantamount to confirming their legitimacy. For 'Ali (a.s.) leaving his own chance of Khilafat was easier than showing that they were legal Khalifas.

Second: When Ibn Ziyad (Yazid's governor of Kufa) appointed 'Umar ibn Sa'd as commander of the army which was being sent to Karbala, he said to 'Umar ibn Sa'd to fight and kill Imam Husayn (a.s.) unless the Imam gives his allegiance to Yazid. To this, 'Umar ibn Sa'd replied: "Husayn will not give that allegiance because the heart (nafs) of his father is inside his chest:' What does it mean? It means that at least upto the year 61 A.H., friends and foes alike knew that Ali (a.s.) had not given allegiance to those Khalfas. Otherwise, Ibn Ziyad would not have remained silent.

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