How to defend Ali(ra) from the charges labeled against him

To defend ‘Ali radiyallahu ‘anhu from the charges labeled against him by the Kharijites that he was an unbeliever and unjust ruler, the Shi’ites will never be successful except if they follow the path of the Ahl as-Sunnah.  That is because if the Kharijitessay: we do not accept that he was a believer, but was rather an infidel and a wrongdoer – just like the Shi’ites say in respect of Abu Bakr and ‘Umar -, the Shi’ites cannot produce evidence to prove that ‘Ali was actually a believer and a just ruler except that evidence is indicative, in a more deserving manner, of the faith of Abu Bakr, ‘Umar and ‘Uthman.

If they bring as evidence the famous reports about ‘Ali’s early acceptance of Islam, his migration to Madina and his participation in battles with the Prophet sallallahu alaihi wa alihi wa sallam, then this has similarly been reported in respect of those three. Nay, reports about the acceptance of Islam in respect of Mu’awiyah and the Umayyad and ‘Abbasid caliphs are also enormous, as well as about their prayer, fasting and jihad against the unbelievers.  All these are reported through authentic channels.

So, if they claim that one of those three caliphs (Abu Bakr ‘Umar and ‘Uthman) was a hypocrite, the Kharijites also find it easy to have the same claim on ‘Ali.  And whatever thing they may regard to be evidence in their favour, a more deserving response should be used to counter it.

If they further resort to slander by saying that Abu Bakr and ‘Umar were hypocrites and were secretly enemies of the Messenger of Allah sallallahu alaihi wa alihi wa sallam, and that they have done all they could to distort and corrupt his religion, theKharijites can also say the same in respect of ‘Ali.  They will claim that he was envious of his cousin, had bitter enmity towards him, that he wanted to corrupt his religion, and that he had plans that he couldn’t execute during the lifetime of the Prophet himself or the lives of the three rightly guided caliphs.  But during the reign of the third caliph he had the right opportunity when he tried to kill him and, consequently he caused terrible strife and conflict within the Ummah, in which a great number of the companions of Muhammad were killed, all out of his hatred and enmity towards the Prophet.  The Kharijites may also claim that Ali was secretly in agreement with those who deified him or believed him to be a prophet, and that he was only pretending hypocritically to show that he was with the mainstream Muslims out of sheer taqiyyah. And that is why the Batinis were among his followers and they claim that they own his inner secrets and that the so-called batini ideology they hold originated from him[1].

If the Shi’ites will again try to affirm ‘Ali’s faith and his being just by claiming that the Qur’an has mentioned him explicitly, they should be made to know that the Qur’an is general in its nature, and its treatment of all believers is based on an equal level depending on the meaning of the general term that is used.  For example, the term mu’minun refers to all those who believe, the term muhajirun covers all the individuals, men and women who migrated from Makkah to Madina at the time of the Prophet, etc.  So one has no right to claim that a particular verse is referring to one individual – ‘Ali or any other person – only, so long as there is no explicit mention of his name.  Therefore, any verse the Shi’ites claim to be referring to ‘Ali in particular may be used by some other person to claim that it – or another more greater verse – actually refers to Abu Bakr and ‘Umar. Unsubstantiated claims without proof and evidence could be concocted by anyone, moreover, claims in favour of the virtues of Abu Bakr and ‘Umar are easier and more possible than in favour of any of the other sahabah.

But if they claim that his faith has been reported in many narratives, they should know that narratives in favour of those three caliphs are greater in number and are more popular.  If they claim that the narratives on ‘Ali are sound and authentic and reached the level of tawatur, we say that the tawatur in respect of the narratives concerning Abu Bakr, and ‘Umar is more sound and effective.  And if they insist that it was the sahabah who reported ‘Ali’s virtues, it is said to them that the reports of thesahabah in favour of Abu Bakr and ‘Umar are greater in number[2].

[1] See: Ibn Taimiyyah, ‘Minhaj as-Sunnah an-Nabawiyyah’ vol. 2 p. 62-64

[2] The author here follows the method used by Ibn Taimiyah in his Minhaj as-Sunnah.  It is important that the reader should carefully read between the lines in order to grasp the main import of the argument.  Sentiments should be kept aside. Neither Ibn Taimiyah nor our author here endorses the arguments of theKharijites against ‘Ali radiyallahu ‘anhu.  It is rather a simple logical hypothesis to call the Shi’ites to reason and see the gravity of vilifying and defaming the companions of the Prophet sallallahu alaihi wa alihi wa sallam, more especially Abu Bakr, ‘Umar and ‘Uthman.  None of them, including ‘Ali, was infallible.  So, if the Shi’ites will defame or rather condemn them to apostasy and unbelief ignoring their esteemed status with Allah and His Prophet, and the fact that the verses of the Qur’an that touch on their position and virtues did not mention any of them by name, but cover them all in a general manner by using terms that apply to either all the faithful at the time of revelation, or some of them for a specific reason or quality.  To claim that these verses only apply to one of them as against the rest is devoid of any substance.  And this is the bone of contention between the Shi’ites and the Muslim Ummah, for they accuse Abu Bakr, ‘Umar and ‘Uthman of kufr and apostasy despite the fact that the verses of the Qur’an and the hadiths of the Prophet that attest to the fact that all of them including ‘Ali, were faithful and sincere companions of the Prophet, were one and the same.  All of them were faithful Muslims, nay they were the best of the whole Ummah after the Prophetsallallahu alaihi wa alihi wa sallam.  On another side we find the unfair and false accusation of the Khawarij who rebelled against ‘Ali and declared him an unbeliever for accepting the arbitration that occurred between his party and that of Mu’awiyah.  To refute this false slander against ‘Ali it is necessary for one to use the same verses of the Qur’an and the hadiths of the Prophet and narratives in the sirah and history of the Prophet and the rightly guided caliphs after him which speak voluminously about the faith and uprightness of all of the companions of the Prophet.  Shi’ite reports contained in Shi’i sources alone cannot be of any help.  And it is a known fact that the verses of the Qur’an and hadiths of the Prophet do not refer to ‘Ali alone without Abu Bakr, ‘Umar and ‘Uthman radiyallahu ‘anhum. (Translator).

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