Chapter Seven: Nasibi criticism leveled at Maula Ali (as) for adopting Taqiyyah


On page 40 (and on many other places), Mufti Khalid Mahmoood criticized Maula Ali (as) for not rising against the Sheikhain for his right of Caliphate and Fadak.
Taqiyyah Na Kijey, Page 40

Since Nawasib have been using this objection for centuries, allow us see if it was really in the interests of Islam if Maula Ali (as) would have started the war against Sheikhain at that stage.

Why Maula Ali (as) didn’t raise his Dhulfiqar against Sheikhain?

This has been a very common Nasibi argument, and is tactically used by the followers of Mu’awiya to mock the Shi’a. We should point out to these people Nasibi that Imam ‘Ali (as)’s decision not to take physical action was not due to his practicing Taqiyya (through fear of life) and neither was it because he loved the three khalifas. His decision was based on the following reasons as we have set out:

Reply One – It was Abu Bakr’s duty to return what was not his, not Imam Ali to demand it

Simple example. A man has a son and bequeaths his property to him he does openly in the presence of witnesses, (that include his uncle). If when the father dies his uncle seizes the property and claims it as his, places guard to guard the property. In such circumstances the uncle is the usurper the son is the aggrieved party. In such circumstances it is incumbent on the Uncle to RETURN the property to his nephew, not on the nephew to use force to take it back. When the uncle is in the wrong the onus is on him to put things right not the son to fight for his right.

Reply Two – Imam Ali did not want to cause open division and bloodshed

These Nawasib need to look at the situation at THAT particular time when Abu Bakr seized power. Allah (swt) declared clearly that Madina and its surrounding locality was FULL of munafiq (Surah Munafiqoon). Rasul (s) has stated that the sign of a munafiq is hatred of Imam ‘Ali. Hence Madina was full of Imam ‘Ali ‘s opponents who were looking for the excuse to harm him. Abu Bakr had full control of the State machinery. He was in power / had the army at his disposal etc. Had he risen at that time he along with the Shi’a would have been wiped out, on the excuse that it was right to do so to quell sedition.

Don’t forget we read in Tabari that Umar was prepared to set alight the house of Sayyida Fatima because men in her home had gathered in opposition to Abu Bakr. If Umar was so ruthless to not even care for the life of Sayyida Fatima(as) then he would have had no hesitation in killing her husband and her supporters.

At that time, Imam Ali had to think what was best for his followers; any opposition would have caused loss of life. Any action at that time would have caused major dissension and bloodshed, and Rasul (s) said:

“Your position to me is like the position of Aaron to Moses, except that there shall be no Prophet after me”
1. Sahih al-Bukhari, Arabic-English version, Traditions 5.56 and 5.700
2. Sahih Muslim, Arabic, section of virtues of Ali, v4, pp 1870-71
3. Sunan Ibn Majah, p12
4. Musnad Ahmad Ibn Hanbal, v1, p174
5. al-Khas’is, by al-Nisa’i, pp 15-16
6. Mushkil al-Athar, by al-Tahawi, v2, p309

The analogy that Prophet (PBUH) mentioned in the above tradition, became a reality after his demise. Most of companions (except few) became disloyal to Ali (as) after the death of Prophet (PBUH), turned against him, and preferred some other people to him. The majority of people disobeyed Ali (as), as their forefathers disobeyed Haroon (AS). They did not take lessons from the Quran and the history, and thus history repeated itself. The repetition of the history of the Children of Israel for Muslims was confirmed by Prophet (s).

Narrated Abu Sa’id al-Khudri:
The Prophet said, “You will follow the ways of those nations who were before you, span by span and cubit by cubit (i.e., inch by inch) so much so that even if they entered a hole of a mastigure (lizard), you would follow them.” We said, “O Allah’s Apostle! (Do you mean) the Jews and the Christians?” He said, “Whom else?”

Sahih al-Bukhari Hadith: 9.422

Think for a while… Why would the Prophet (a) compare his companions to the Jews and the Christians, knowing full well that the Jews and the Christians have mutilated and perverted the religion of Allah (swt)?

Because Allah (swt) had told him (s) that your companions will turn back, except the select few.

Now if we analyse the Quran; we read that Prophet Musa (as) became extremely upset when he heard that Bani Israel started worshipping the idol of a calf. He came back from Miqaat and grabbed Haroon (as) by his beard. Harun (as) replied in a distressed state:

(20:94) “O son of my mother, do not seize me by my beard or my head. Truly, I feared but you should say that I caused a division among the Bani-Isra’il and did not respect my word”

In the same way that Harun did not intervene at that particular time fearing further fragmentation amongst the Ummah, Imam Ali (as) also did not act as he did not want the Ummah to be at each others throats since the only beneficiaries would be the munafiqs who would exploit the situation and destroy Islam through internal deception.

Whilst the prophecy was going to be fulfilled it was the duty of Imam Ali (as) to ensure that no harm came to the Deen on account of any actions that he (as) took, he knew how fickle the people were and he had a fear that people mat turn their back on the religion altogether, a possibility he (as) could not entertain.  In this regard we have a tradition in Raudha tul Kafi, letter 454 that has been graded as ‘Muwathaq’ by Allamah Majlisi in Miraat al-Uqool, Volume 26 page 326: 

حميد بن زياد عن الحسن بن محمد الكندي عن غير واحد عن أبان بن عثمان عن الفضيل عن زرارة عن أبي جعفر عليه السلام قال : إن الناس لما صنعوا ما صنعوا إذ بايعوا أبا بكر لم يمنع أمير المؤمنين عليه السلام من أن يدعوا إلى نفسه إلا نظراً للناس وتخوفاً عليهم أن يرتدوا عن الإسلام فيعبدوا الأوثان ولا يشهدوا أن لا إله إلا الله وأن محمداً رسول الله صلى الله عليه وآله وكان الأحب إليه أن يقرهم على ما صنعوا من أن يرتدوا عن جميع الإسلام وإنما هلك الذين ركبوا ما ركبوا فأما من لم يصنع ذلك ودخل فيما دخل فيه الناس على غير علم ولا عداوة لأمير المؤمنين عليه السلام فإن ذلك لا يكفره ولا يخرجه من الإسلام ولذلك كتم علي عليه السلام أمره وبايع مكرهاً حيث لم يجد أعواناً.  .

 Humayd bin Ziyad from al-Hasan bin Muhammad al-Kindi from more than one from Aban bin Uthman from al-Fudhayl from Zurarah from Abu Ja’far [as] who said:
When the people did what they did- when they gave allegiance to Abu Bakr, nothing prevented Amir al-Mu’minin [as] from calling to himself (i.e. to rival them) except his fear for the people – that they would apostate from Islam, and begin worshipping the idols anew, and reject witnessing that there is no God but Allah, and that Muhammad is his messenger; and it was more beloved to him to acquiesce to what they had done rather than them apostatize from Islam in its entirety.
Verily, those who clambered upon this (opposing Ali for rulership) have been destroyed. As for the one who did not contribute anything to that (opposing Ali for rulership) and entered into what the people entered into without knowledge (about his status) nor enmity towards him then this act of his does not make him a disbeliever, and it does not remove him from Islam, and this is why Ali kept quiet about his matter (role), and gave allegiance while displeased when he did not find any supporters.


Reply Three -The wider situation meant it would have been disastrous to act

On a wider scale look at the situation at the time. We had hypocrites in Madina, and worse the threat of attack from the neighboring Christian Byzantine Empire. This was a very real danger since in 10 Hijri, Rasul (s) led the expedition of Tabuk to counter the Byzantine threat. On top of that in the Arabian Peninsula, Musalimah had risen up and declared himself a Prophet (s) and was making preparations to attack Madina. Had Imam Ali at this stage rose up, the Ummah would have been totally fragmented, Muslims would have been fighting each other and Musalimah the liar. What better time would there have been for the Byzantines to attack than when the Muslims were divided, fighting each other AND fighting Musalimah? At that time the Ummah would have been so weak on account of internal upheaval there would have been a real risk of the Byzantines invading and destroying the Muslim Ummah. In such circumstances Imam Ali had the interests of the Deen as priority, he did not want to trigger any event that might inflict harm to the Deen and its adherents. If anything this shows the greatness of the Imam that he was willing to sacrifice his right, if it meant a guarantee that the Deen and its adherents were protected from harm.

Reply Four – Imam Ali was following the Sunnah of Rasul (s), desisting from actions that might be exploited by non Muslims

We read in Sahih al Bukhari Volume 6, Book 60, Number 428: Narrated Jabir bin ‘Abdullah:

We were in a Ghazwa (Sufyan once said, in an army) and a man from the emigrants kicked an Ansari man (on the buttocks with his foot). The Ansari man said, “O the Ansar! (Help!)” and the emigrant said. “O the emigrants! (Help!) Allah’s Apostle heard that and said, “What is this call for, which is characteristic of the period of ignorance?” They said, “O Allah’s Apostle! A man from the emigrants kicked one of the Ansar (on the buttocks with his foot).” Allah’s Apostle said, “Leave it (that call) as is a detestable thing.” ‘Abdullah bin Ubai heard that and said, ‘Have the (the emigrants) done so? By Allah, if we return Medina, surely, the more honorable will expel therefrom the meaner.” When this statement reached the Prophet. ‘Umar got up an, said, “O Allah’s Apostle! Let me chop off the head of this hypocrite (‘Abdullah bin Ubai)!” The Prophet said “Leave him, lest the people say that Muhammad kills his companions.” The Ansar were then more in number than the emigrants when the latter came to Medina, but later on the emigrant increased.

The reference makes it clear that a hypocrite was sitting in the midst of the Sahaba, Umar offered to have him killed, but Rasul (s) said “Leave him, lest the people say that Muhammad kills his companions; i.e. he (s) did not want his actions to be exploited / incorrectly interpreted by non Muslims. In the same way that Rasul (s) had spared the life of a hypocrite fearing that outside elements would exploit the situation, Imam Ali acted on the Sunnah of Rasul (s) refraining from lifting his sword as he was aware that outside elements would have picked up on this and painted a damaging image of Islam.

The true Imam thinks about consequences of actions both present and future. Imam Ali did not want to act in a manner that would be exploited by future non Muslim generations in a manner that would be detrimental to the Deen. Had Imam Ali raised his sword at that time then no doubt anti Muslim elements of that time and present would have exploited the situation to the max they would have said ‘Look, this is Islam, its all about power here we have the closest companions fighting not for religion but the throne of Muhammad (s)’

This portrayal would have created a very bad image of Islam, non-Muslims would have picked up on this and exploited it, and it would have repelled people away from Islam. If Rasul (s) refrained from lifting the sword against a munafiq fearing the perception of outsiders, then Imam Ali was fully within his rights when he refrained from raising his sword against Abu Bakr, to do so was the Sunnah of Rasul (s).

Azam Tariq’s objection on Imam Ali (as): ‘Why didn’t Ali (as) restore the actual teachings of Islam during his caliphate?’

Similarly, Azam Tariq al-Nasibi also took an opportunity to criticize Imam Ali bin Abi Talib (as) for not being able to change the practices of the previous caliphs that according to Shias were unIslamic. The Nasibi author asks, why Ali bin Abi Talib (as) accepted the caliphate, the objectives of which were not achievable by him?


Whilst the previous discussions shall suffice to answer this objection since the author has attacked us from a slightly different angle, we shall provide with further clarity, since the objection raised by the Nasibi author, often also disturbs the naïve Sunni.

We should ask the adherents of the Nasibi author to put the matter of caliphate aside and tell us ‘what are the objectives and responsibilities of Prophethood (Nabuwat)?’ No Nasibi can deny the fact that Harun (as) was a Prophet, yet he (as) witnessed his people committing the major sin of idol worship but adopted silence due to a fear of his own life as well as a fear of causing differences in his nation. Harun (as) was a prophet and the caliph of Musa (as) who remained silent watching this for forty days in the absence of Musa (as). The absurd interpretation of the Nasibi cult, would suggest that Harun (as) should have thrown away prophethood or caliphate! If Nawasib do not support this conjecture, then why do they object to Imam Ali bin Abi Talib (as) not trying to revive the actual teachings of Islam, that had been polluted by the previous caliphs? We know that the sole reason of their criticism is the Naisibism running through their veins.

In order to make the stance of Imam Ali (as) clear to the dim witted Nasibis, let us seek reliance on a tradition recorded by Imam Dhahabi:

When the government of Bani Abbas came, they started prayers before the sermon, thus people returned by saying: ‘the Sunnah has been changed, the Sunnah has been changed on the day of Eid’.
Siyar Alam an Nubla, Volume 9 page 56

Although the Bidah of having a sermon before the prayers was introduced by the rulers of Bani Ummayah, since the Bidah was implemented for many years, the people deemed it to be the correct form of Salat based on Islamic principles, and were not prepared to accept anything against that (Bidah). An attempt to change that Bidah introduced by the Bani Ummayah caused uproar among the Muslims and that too with the slogan ‘Sunnah has been changed’. This was only one example whilst there are many in the annals of history. For example we read that:

Abu Abdullah (as) said: ‘When the commander of believers (as) arrived in Kufa, he ordered Hassan bin Ali (as) to announce to the people that there is no prayer in congregation in the mosques during the month of Ramadan, hence Hassan bin Ali (as) announced that to the people as the commander of believers ordered him. When the people heard the announcment of Hassan bin Ali, they started shouting and saying: ‘O Umar, O Umar.’ When Hassan bin Ali returned to the commander of believers, he (Ali) asked: ‘What are these voices?’ He (Hassan) replied: ‘Oh commander of believers, the people are shouting ‘O Umar, O Umar.’ The commander of believers said: ‘Tell them to pray’.
Tahdeeb al-Ahkam, Volume 3 page 70

During His (as) caliphate, whenever Imam Ali bin Abi Talib (as) sought to revive the actual Sunnah by showing opposition to the decisions of previous caliphs, the majority of the people who had been the adherents of previous caliphs started to object and abandon Imam Ali (as). A similar kind of situation took place during the issue of allowing or disallowing the sale of Umahat al Aolad. Ibn Taymiyah records:

“It is proven through a Sahih chain that Ali stated: ‘About not selling the Umahat al-Aolad , me and Umar had similar views but now I am of the view that Umahat al-Aolad can be sold’. His arbitrator Obaid Salmani told him: ‘Your view, accompanied by Umar’s view is more liked by us than your separate view only”
Minhaj al-Sunnah, Volume 6 page 234

That is the reason that Imam of Nawasib Ibn Taymiyah has stated:

“Although Ali (ra) achieved caliphate he did not achieve the authority that had been achieved by the previous caliphs”
Minhaj al-Sunnah, Volume 3 page 249

Similarly, Shah Waliullah Dehalvi recorded:

“All such meanings concerning him (Ali), may Allah be pleased with him, did not create any inadequacies in his character because he strived effortlessly in establishing Deen, although this opportunity was not provided to him. However, his having embodied divine qualities as a distinguisher (between evil and good) is another issue altogether. And if this was indeed the case, his governance of principles concerning the specific caliphate would not have been any different.”
Izalatul Khifa, Volume 1 page 334 (Sohail Acedemy, Lahore)

These texts prove that Ali bin Abi Talib (as) made efforts to revive the original Sunnah during his rein. But in this endeavor, the people that posed hurdle were the ones who by that time had been used to of the practices introduced by the previous caliphs and deemed those innovations as the correct form of Islam. Had Imam Ali (as) used force to implement the actual practices amongst the people whose majority were the adherents of the previous caliphs, they would have mobilised against him (as) and this would have caused bloodshed on a massive scale, with hypocrites led by Muawiyah waiting to exploit such problems. Alhamdolillah, Imam Ali bin Abi Talib (as) with his wisdom deemed it his priority to first resolve external problems, and then focus on internal matters. It is indeed unfortunate, that the hypocrites didn’t give him that opportunity to resolve internal matters, and he (as) was martyred. Thus, external factors do matter in making attempts to promulgate even permissible things. We should hence remind our readers the following words recorded by Allamah Jalaluddin Suyuti in Al Itqan (Urdu), Volume 2, page 67:

“About the statement of Umar i.e “If I were not afraid of the fact that people may say that ‘Umar has added to the Qur’an extra verses, I would have written the Verse al-Rajm with my own hands” Abu Bakar Razi has written in his book ‘Al Burhan’: ‘The literal words of this statement prove that it is permissible [Jaiz] to write down those words in the Quran, and it was the fear of people which stopped Umar from this writing this in the Mushaf and sometimes it happens that obstacles appear between permissible things and since the writing the verse of stoning was permissible hence it is obvious that its recitation is also proven.”


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