Moreover, on the crucial occasion of the declaration of his prophethood, no one supported Muhammad except Ali. Your eminent ulema, like Bukhari and Muslim, in their Sahihain, Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal in his Musnad, and many others, such as Ibn Abdi'l- Birr in Isti'ab, Volume III, page 32, Imam Abu Abdu'r-Rahman Nisa'i in Khasa'isu'l-Alawi, Sibt Ibn Jauzi in Tadhkira, page 63, Sheikh Sulayman Balkhi Hanafi in Yanabiu'l-Mawadda, Chapter 12, on the authority of Tirmidhi and Muslim, Muhammad bin Talha Shafi'i in Matalibu's-Su'ul, sub-chapter I, Ibn Abi'l-Hadid in Sharh Nahju'l-Balagha, Volume III, p. 258, Tirmidhi in Jam'-e-Tirmidhi, Volume II, page 314, Hamwaini in Fara'id, Mir Seyyed Ali Hamadani in Mawaddatu'l-Qurba, and even the fanatical Ibn Hajar in Sawa'iq-e-Muhriqa, and other prominent scholars have, with slight variation of words, related from Anas Bin Malik and others that "the Holy Prophet was ordained Prophet of Allah on Monday and Ali, declared his faith in him on Tuesday." It is also narrated that "The prophethood of Allah was declared on Monday and Ali offered prayers with the Holy Prophet on Tuesday." And again, "Ali was the first man who declared his faith in the Prophet." Also Tabari, Ibn Abi'l-Hadid, Tirmidhi, and others narrate from Ibn Abbas that "Ali was the first to offer prayers."
TRAINING OF ALI FROM CHILDHOOD BY THE HOLY PROPHET
I ask you to consider what your own learned theologian, Nuru'd-din Bin Sabbagh Maliki in his Fusulu'l-Muhimma, Chapter "Tarbiatu'n-Nabi," page 16, and Muhammad Bin Talha Shafi'i in his Matalibu's-Su'ul, Chapter 1, page 11, and others have reported. During a famine in Mecca, the Prophet told his uncle, Abbas, that the latter's brother, Abu Talib, had too many children and that his means of livelihood were narrow. Muhammad recommended that each of them ask Abu Talib for one child to support so that the heavy burden on him would be reduced. Abbas agreed. They went to Abu Talib with their offer, and he accepted. Abbas took Ja'far-e-Tayyar under his guardianship, and the Prophet took Ali. Maliki continues, "Ali remained continuously with the Holy Prophet until the latter was formally declared the Prophet of Allah." Ali declared his belief in him, and followed him as a prophet of Allah when Ali was only thirteen. He was the first male to accept Islam. The Prophet's wife Khadija was the only person to accept the Prophet before Ali. In the same chapter, Maliki reports that Ibn Abbas, Jabir Ibn Abdullah Ansari, Zaid Ibn Arqam, Muhammad Ibn Munkadar, and Rabi'atu'l-Mara'i said that the first person after Khadija who believed in the Prophet was Ali. He says that Ali referred to this fact, which has been narrated by your ulema. He said:
"Muhammad, the Prophet of Allah, is my brother and son of my uncle; Hamza, the chief of the martyrs, is my uncle; Fatima, the daughter of the Prophet, is my wife; and his daughter's two sons are my sons by Fatima. Who of you has shared such distinction as I have? I was the foremost in accepting Islam when I was only a child. The Prophet declared on the day of Ghadir-e-Khum that it was obligatory to accept me as your guide. (Then he said three times) 'Woe be to him who faces Allah tomorrow (on the Day of Judgement), if he has subjected me to cruelty.'" Muhammad Bin Talha Shafi'i in his Matalibu's-Su'ul, Part 1, Chapter 1, page 11, and many others of your learned men, have reported that these statements were in reply to Mu'awiya's letter to Ali, in which the former had boasted that his father was the chief of his tribe during the "time of ignorance," and that in Islam he (Mu'awiya) was the King. Mu'awiya also said that he was the "maternal uncle of the faithful," the "writer of the Wahi" (revelations), and a man of virtuous merits." After reading the letter, Ali said: "A man of his character - the son of the woman who chewed livers - boasts before me! (in reference to Mu'awiya's mother, Hind, who, after the Battle of Uhud, in a fit of rage, ripped open the dead body of Hamza, tore out his liver, and chewed it). Mu'awiya, even though he was bitterly opposed to Ali, could not deny these merits.
Moreover, Hakim Abu'l-Qasim Haskani, one of your learned ulema, narrates from Abdu'r-Rahman Bin Auf, regarding the above verse of the ten Quraish who accepted Islam, that Ali was the foremost among them. Ahmad Bin Hanbal, Khatib Khawarizmi, and Sulayman Balkhi Hanafi narrate from Anas bin Malik that the Prophet said: "The angels blessed me and Ali for seven years, for during that time no voice proclaimed the oneness of Allah except mine and Ali's." Ibn Abi'l-Hadid Mu'tazali, in Sharh-e- Nahju'l-Balagha, Volume I, pages 373-5, recorded several hadith narrated through your scholars to the effect that Ali was the foremost of all others in the matter of Islam. After recording the various versions and narrations he concludes: "So the sum total of what we have stated is that Ali is the first of all men regarding Islam. The view contrary to it is rare and not worth our attention."
Imam Abu Abdu'r-Rahman Nisa'i, author of one of the six books of authentic hadith, has recorded in Khasa'isu'l-Alawi the first six hadith on this topic and has confirmed that the foremost person in Islam and the first to offer prayers with the Prophet was Ali. In addition, Sheikh Sulayman Balkhi Hanafi in Yanabiu'l-Mawadda, Chapter 12, recorded 31 hadith from Tirmidhi, Hamwaini, Ibn Maja, Ahmad bin Hanbal, Hafiz Abu Nu'aim, Imam Tha'labi, Ibn Maghazili, Abu'l-Muwayyid Khawarizmi, and Dailami, the conclusion of which is that Ali was the first in the entire Muslim community to have accepted Islam. Even the intolerant Ibn Hajar Makki has in Sawa'iq Muhriqa, Chapter 2, recorded hadith on the same issue, some of which have been accepted by Sulayman Balkhi Hanafi in his Yanabiu'l-Mawadda. Further, in Yanabiu'l-Mawadda, towards the close of chapter 12, he related from Ibn Zubair, Makki and he from Jabir Ibn Abdullah Ansari, a hadith about Ali's merits, which I would like to present here with your permission in order to conclude my argument. The Prophet said: "Allah Almighty chose me as a Prophet and revealed sacred scriptures to me. I said to Him, 'O Allah, My master, You sent Moses to Pharaoh, Moses asked you to make his brother, Aaron, his vizier to strengthen his hand, so that his words might be witnessed. Now I ask you, O Allah, that you appoint for me from among my family a vizier who may strengthen my hand. Make Ali my vizier and brother, infuse gallantry into his heart, and give him power over the enemy. Ali was the first person to believe in me and to witness my prophethood and the first person to declare the oneness of Allah along with me.' Afterward I continued to pray to Allah. Therefore, Ali is the chief of the successors. To follow him is a blessing; to die in obedience to him is martyrdom. His name appears in the Torah along with my name; his wife, the most truthful, is my daughter; his two sons, who are the chiefs of the Youth of Paradise, are my sons. After them all the Imams are vicegerents of Allah over His creation after the prophets; and they are the doors of knowledge among my people. He who follows them is rescued from Hellfire; he who follows them is guided to the right path; he who is endowed by Allah with love for them will surely be sent to Paradise. So, enlightened people, take heed."
I could quote similar hadith all night, all of which have been recorded by your own scholars. But I think this is enough. Ali alone associated with the Holy Prophet from childhood, and therefore it is fitting that we consider him the person referred to in the words "those who are with him," and not the one who accompanied the Prophet on a few days' journey.
ALI'S FAITH WHILE ONLY A CHILD
Hafiz: You have proven your point, and no one has ever denied that Ali was foremost in accepting Islam. But this fact does not qualify him as pre-eminent in comparison with other companions. True, the high caliphs professed faith in Islam years after Ali, but their faith was different from his and better. The reason is that Ali was only a child, and these people were mature. Obviously, the faith of older, wise men was superior to that of a child. In addition, Ali's faith was only blind following, and the faith of these people was based on reason. Faith acquired by reason is better than blind faith. Since a child, who is not under a religious obligation to perform duties, does not profess faith except by blind following, so Ali, who was only a child of thirteen, professed his faith only through blind following.
Well-Wisher: Such talk is really surprising coming from a learned man like you. I wonder how to refute such an argument. If I were to say that you adopt such a position out of malice, it would be against my disposition to attribute such a motive to a learned man. Let me put a question to you: was Ali's acceptance of Islam based on his personal wish or on the invitation of the Prophet?
Hafiz: Why do you take such a severe view of the way we talk since, when we have doubts, we must discuss them. In reply to your question, I admit that Ali accepted Islam at the invitation of the Holy Prophet.
Well-Wisher: When the Prophet invited Ali to accept Islam, did the former know a child is not bound by religious commitments?
If you say that he did not know it, you attribute ignorance to him, and if he did know it and invited Ali anyway, then his action was absurd. Obviously, to attribute absurdity to the Prophet is infidelity since a prophet is infallible. Allah says about him in the Holy Qur'an: (Nor does he speak out of desire. It is naught but revelation that is revealed.) (53:3-4)
The Prophet considered Ali a person worthy to be invited to accept Islam. Apart from this, youth does not necessarily preclude wisdom. Maturity is taken into consideration concerning discharge of religious obligations, but not for matters connected with wisdom. Faith is concerned with matters relating to wisdom and not religious laws. So Ali's faith during childhood is a virtue for him just as Allah tells us in the Holy Qur'an about Jesus in these words: (He said: Surely I am a servant of Allah; He has given me the Book and made me a prophet.) (19:30) Also in this chapter He says about Prophet Yahya: (...and We granted him wisdom while yet a child.) (19:12)
Seyyed Ali Humairi Yamani, (died 179 A.H.), points to the same fact in his couplets. He says: "Just as Yahya reached the rank of prophethood in his childhood, Ali, who was the successor of the Prophet and the father of his sons, was also ordained Vicegerent of Allah and guardian of the people while only a child."
Virtue and dignity bestowed by Allah do not depend on age. Wisdom and intelligence depend upon an inborn tendency. I am surprised by your comment since such arguments were made by the Nasibis and Kharijis at the instigation of the Umayyads. They denigrated Ali's faith as being mere blind adherence to what he was taught. Even your own scholars have acknowledged Ali's merit in this respect. Muhammad Bin Talha Shafi'i, Ibn Sabbagh Maliki, Ibn Abi'l-Hadid and others have quoted Ali's couplets.
In one of his couplets he says: "I was first and foremost among you in embracing Islam when I was only a small child." If Ali's faith at such a tender age had not been meritorious, the Prophet would not have characterized it as such. Sulayman Balkhi Hanafi in his Yanabiu'l-Mawadda, Chapter 55, page 202, narrates from Ahmad Bin Abdullah Shafi'i, quoting from the second Caliph, Umar Bin Khattab, who said, "Abu Bakr, Abu Ubaida Jarra, and a group of people were present in the company of the Prophet of Allah when he patted Ali on the shoulder and said: 'O Ali! You are the first and foremost among all believers and Muslims in embracing Islam. You are to me as Aaron was to Moses.'"
Also Imam Ahmad Ibn Hanbal narrates from Ibn Abbas, who said that he, Abu Bakr, Abu Ubaida Bin Jarra, and others were with the Prophet when he put his hand on Ali's shoulder and said: "You are foremost in faith in Islam among all the Muslims, and you are to me as Aaron was to Moses, O Ali! He who thinks he is my friend while he is your enemy is a liar."
Ibn Sabbagh Maliki records a similar hadith in Fusulu'l-Muhimma, p. 125, from Khasa'isu'l-Alawi as a narration of Abdullah bin Abbas, and Imam Abu Abdu'r-Rahman Nisa'i reports in Khasa'isu'l-Alawi that he said: "I have heard Umar bin Khattab saying 'Mention Ali's name with respect because I have heard the Prophet saying that Ali has three qualities. I (Umar) wished that I had only one of them because each of those qualities is dearer to me than anything in this world.'"
Ibn Sabbagh has narrated the following in addition to what others have recorded. The Holy Prophet said about Ali, "He who loves you loves me, and he who loves me, Allah loves him, and whomever Allah loves, He brings to Paradise. But he who is hostile to you is hostile to me, and he who is hostile to me, Allah is hostile to him and condemns him to Hell."
Ali's declaring himself a Muslim even while he was still a boy establishes the excellence of his wisdom and merit, which no other Muslim can attain. Tabari in his Ta'rikh quotes from Muhammad Bin Sa'ad Bin Abi Waqqas, who said: "I asked my father whether Abu Bakr was the first of the Muslims. He said, 'No, more than fifty people embraced Islam before Abu Bakr; but he was superior to us as a Muslim.'" He also writes that Umar Bin Khattab embraced Islam after forty-five men and twenty-one women. "As for the foremost one in the matter of Islam and faith, it was Ali Bin Abi Talib."
ALI'S FAITH WAS PART OF HIS VERY NATURE
Besides the fact that Ali was foremost in embracing Islam, he possessed another merit, peculiar to him, and more important than his other merits: Ali's Islam derived from his nature, while that of others occurred only after previous unbelief. Unlike other Muslims and companions of the Prophet, Ali was never an unbeliever. Hafiz Abu Nu'aim Ispahani in his Ma Nazalu'l-Qur'an Fi Ali, and Mir Seyyed Ali Hamadani in Mawaddatu'l-Qurba narrate that Ibn Abbas said, "I swear by Allah that there was no one who had not worshipped idols before embracing Islam except Ali. He accepted Islam without having ever worshipped the idols."
Muhammad Bin Yusuf Ganji Shafi'i in his Kifayatu't-Talib, Chapter 24, quotes the Prophet as saying, "Those who took the lead in accepting faith in the oneness of Allah among the followers of the Prophets were three people who were never polytheists:
Ali Bin Abu Talib, the man in the Sura Ya Sin, and the believer of the people of Pharaoh. The Truthful Ones are Habib-e- Najjar, among the descendants of Ya Sin, Ezekiel among the descendants of Pharaoh, and Ali Bin Abu Talib, who excelled all of them." Mir Seyyed Ali Hamadani in Mawaddatu'l-Qurba, Mawadda 7, Khatib Khawarizmi in Manaqib, and Imam Tha'labi in his Tafsir narrate from the second Caliph, Umar Bin Khattab: "I bear witness that I heard the Prophet say, 'If the seven heavens were put in one balance and Ali's faith in the other, Ali's faith would surely outweigh the other.'"
The same point has been included in couplets composed by Sufyan bin Mus'ab bin Kufi as follows: "By Allah, I bear witness that the Prophet said to us: 'It should not remain unknown to anyone that if the faith of all those living on the earth were placed in one scale of the balance and that of Ali in the other scale, Ali's faith would outweigh the other.'"
ALI EXCELLED ALL OTHER COMPANIONS AND THE WHOLE COMMUNITY IN MERIT
Mir Seyyed Ali Hamadani Shafi'i has recorded many hadith in his Mawaddatu'l-Qurba, which supported Ali's excellence. In the seventh Mawadda he quotes from Ibn Abbas that the Holy Prophet said, "The best of men of all the worlds in my period is Ali."
Most of your fair-minded ulema have accepted the superiority of Ali. Ibn Abi'l-Hadid in his Sharh Nahju'l-Balagha, Volume 111, page 40, says that Abu Ja'far Iskafi, the chief of the Mu'tazilite sect, declared that Bashr Bin Mu'tamar, Abu Musa, Ja'far Bin Mubashshir, and other ulema of Baghdad believed that, "The most excellent person among all Muslims was Ali Bin Abu Talib, and after him his son Hasan, then his son Husain, after him Hamza, and after him Ja'far Bin Abi Talib." He goes on to say that his master Abu Abdullah Basri, Sheikh Abu'l-Qasim Balkhi, and Sheikh Abu'l-Hasan Khayyat had the same belief as Abu Ja'far Iskafi regarding the superiority of Ali. He explains the faith of the Mu'tazilite sect saying: "The best of the men after the Prophet of Allah, is the successor of the Prophet, the husband of Fatima, Ali; after him, his two sons, Hasan and Husain; after them, Hamza, and after him Ja'far (Tayyar).
Sheikh: If you knew the statements of the ulema in support of the excellence of Abu Bakr, you would not have made such remarks.
ALI'S FAITH SUPERIOR TO ABU BAKR'S
Well-Wisher: All the reliable Sunni ulema have acknowledged the superiority of Ali. For instance, you may refer Ibn Abi'l- Hadid Mu'tazali's Sharhe Nahju'l-Balagha, Volume 111, page 264, in which the same statement has been quoted from Jahiz that Abu Bakr's faith was superior to that of Ali. However, Abu Ja'far Askafi, one of the eminent ulema of the Mu'tazilite sect, rejected this claim, saying that Ali's faith was superior to Abu Bakr's and all other companions. Abu Ja'far said, "We do not deny the excellence of the companions, but certainly we do not consider any of them superior to Ali." Ali was of such an exalted rank that to mention his name along with other companions is unbecoming. In fact, the virtues of the companions cannot be compared with the sublime merits of Ali. Mir Seyyed Ali Hamadani narrates in his Mawadda VII from Ahmad Bin Muhammadu'l-Karzi Baghdadi, who said that he heard from Abdullah Bin Ahmad Bin Hanbal, who asked his father Ahmad Bin Hanbal about the rank of the companions of the Prophet. He named Abu Bakr, Umar, and Uthman and stopped. Abdullah then asked his father, "Where is the name of Ali Bin Abu Talib?" His father replied, "He belongs to the holy descendants of the Prophet. We cannot mention his name (being of such prominence) along with those people."
We see in the holy Qur'an that in the verse of Mubahila Ali is referred to as the 'self' of the Holy Prophet. There is a hadith in support of this view, which is recorded in the same Mawadda VII, narrated from Abdullah Bin Umar Bin Khattab. He said that one day while counting the names of the companions, he named Abu Bakr, Umar, and Uthman. A man said, "O Abu Abdu'r-Rahman! Why did you omit the name of Ali?" He replied: "Ali is one of the descendants of the Prophet. He cannot be included with anyone else. He is in the same category as the Prophet of Allah."
Let me relate another hadith from the same Mawadda. It is narrated from Jabir Bin Abdullah Ansari that one day in the presence of Muhajirs (Meccan emigrants living in Medina) and Ansars ("helpers" of Medina who received the Muslim emigrants into their community), that the Prophet said to Ali, "O Ali! If a man offers complete prayers to Allah, and then doubts that you and your family are superior to all other beings, his abode shall be Hell."
(After hearing this hadith, all those present, particularly Mr. Hafiz, showed repentance, lest they should be among the doubtful ones). I have referred to only a few hadith. Your choice seems to be to reject all these authentic hadith, which are recorded in your own books, or to acknowledge that Ali's faith was superior to that of all the companions, including Abu Bakr and Umar. I also ask you to consider the hadith (acknowledged by both sects) in which the Holy Prophet said on the occasion of Ghazawa-e-Ahzab (also known as the Battle of the Trench), when Ali killed Amru Ibn Abd-e-Wudd with one stroke of his sword: "One stroke of Ali in the Battle of Khandaq (the Trench) has earned more merit for him than the reward for good deeds of the whole community (jinn and men) until the Day of Judgement." If only one stroke of his sword was better in merit than the prayers of jinn and human beings combined, certainly his preeminence cannot be questioned by anyone except malicious fanatics.
ALI AS THE SELF OF THE HOLY PROPHET
Had there been no other proof of Ali's superiority to all the companions and to humanity at large, the verse of Mubahila is sufficient to prove his excellence. It refers to Ali as the 'self' of the Prophet. The Holy Prophet was admittedly superior to all of humanity from beginning to end. Hence, the word "anfusana" (ourselves) in the verse referring to Ali proves that he was also superior to all of humanity from beginning to end. Perhaps now you will admit that in the phrase "And those who are with him," the reference is to Ali. He was with the Prophet before anyone else from the beginning of Islam.
As to why Ali did not accompany the Prophet on the night of his migration from Mecca, it is clear that the Prophet entrusted Ali with more important duties. No one was as trustworthy as Ali. He was left behind to return to its owners the property entrusted to the Prophet. (Ali's second responsibility was to send members of the Prophet's family and other Muslims to Medina. And even though Ali was not with the Prophet in the cave that night, he performed a more important duty as he lay in the Prophet's bed.)
* Peshawar Nights, by Sultanu'l-Wa'izin Shirazi. Translated by Hamid Quinlan and Charles Ali Cambell.