Recently, I was a bit confused by a Shia brother who tries to convert me to Shia. Please help me in understanding the following:
What is the real meaning of the Hadith of Ghadir where the prophet declared Ali to be “Maola” of people?
What is the Hadith of Jaberebne Samareh in Bukhari and Muslim refers to when he narrates that the prophet talked about 12 Amirs?
Is this Hadith which is from the sources of Ahlussunnat authentic? If yes does it mean anything other than what Shia believe:
Sheikh Sulayman Balkhi Hanafi in Yanabiu’l-Mawadda, ch.77, p.445 and Hamwaini in Fara’idu’s-Simtain report that Ibn Abbas said: “I heard the Holy Prophet saying: ‘ I and Ali, Hasan, Husain and nine of the descendants of Husain are completely pure and infallible.’
The first thing that we must remember interpreting any information narrated through Hadith is that it cannot, independently, make any additions to the corpus of essential beliefs and practices of Islam. The two independent sources of Islam are only the Qur’an and the Sunnah1 of the Prophet (pbuh), both of which have been transmitted over time through the complete consensus and verbal or practical perpetuation of each of the Muslim generations starting from the companions of the Prophet (pbuh) to the present times. Thus, all the beliefs, which are an essential part of the corpus of Islam are fully mentioned in the Qur’an, while all the practices of this significance are either based on the Qur’an or on the Sunnah of the Prophet (pbuh).
Secondly, it is also important to note that any sayings or actions of the Prophet (pbuh) reported in the various narratives of his sayings are generally reported without the background and the circumstances under which these sayings were said. In view of this fact, it can sometimes become extremely difficult for anyone to interpret the exact implication of these sayings with any degree of certainty.
In view of the aforementioned principles, it is necessary that, to be considered a part of the religious directives of the Prophet (pbuh), the information provided in the referred narratives must be based on the Qur’an. If, however, that is not the case, then either the narratives should be rejected as falsely ascribed to the Prophet (pbuh) or such an explanation should be sought for the information provided in them, which does not disturb or add to the basic corpus of Islam.
With these principles in mind, the first and the third cited narratives seem to be a display of the Prophet’s love and affection for Hadrat Ali and for his progeny respectively. In the first narrative, the Prophet (pbuh) has admonished the Muslims to respect and regard Ali (ra) as they would respect and regard him. In its spirit, it is a similar directive of the Prophet (pbuh) as his saying:
أصحابي لا تتخذوهم غرضا بعدي فمن أحبهم فبحبي أحبهم ومن أبغضهم فببغضي أبغضهم (مسند أحمد بن حنبل، رقم الحديث 16201)
Fear God with respect to my companions. Do not be disrespectful towards them after me. Remember that whoever loves them, loves me and whoever holds malice against them, holds malice against me.
In the same manner, the third narrative should also be seen as a show of the Prophet’s personal love and affection for his relatives. These directives cannot be taken as a permanent part of the Islamic beliefs merely on the basis of such sayings ascribed to the Prophet (pbuh), about which we cannot even be certain whether or not they have narrated the actual saying of the Prophet (pbuh) accurately.
Finally, as for the second cited narrative ascribed to the Prophet (pbuh), it had given the people information about the future. In this narrative, the Prophet (pbuh) had foretold that for a significant time after him – during which at least twelve leaders shall pass away – the political leadership of the Arabs would remain in the hands of people from Qureish.
I hope this helps.
July 28, 2002
- For the explanation of the word Sunnah, as used here, please refer to my earlier responses on the topic [↩]