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Imam Ali (a) & Knowledge

Posted by hasnain under Ahlul Bayt of Prophet (s), Food for Thought, Islam, Mahdi, Religion, Shia, Shiate, Thought Provoking Articles, inspiration


*”The world is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil, but because of those who look on and do nothing”* Albert

 Einstein19 September 09


It is unanimously believed that `Ali was the wisest among the people of his time. All people resorted to him learning from his rational and transmitted science. There are proofs testifying to what we have said:


First: `Ali ibn Abi-Talib was extremely clever and intelligent, having a hunger for knowledge. He was a constant company of the Holy Prophet, from childhood to the day the Messenger of Allah departed from this world, benefiting from the ocean of his knowledge. Evidently, the Holy Prophet (s.a) was superior to all human beings and his knowledge was above all. Naturally such an intelligent and clever student who accompanied such a perfect man and was hungry for knowledge on the one hand and the student’s interest in learning from childhood till the end of his life had made `Ali a student of high capacity who was walking in a path leading to the zenith of perfection on the other.[43]


Second: `Ali’s superiority over the people of his time is that God Almighty has said of him: “… and the retaining ear might retain it” (69:12). Tha`labi, a Sunni commentator, in interpreting the verse says: The Messenger of Allah said to `Ali: I called on God Almighty to make you a true example of this verse.


Abu-Nasir Hafi¨, the Shafi`ite, has related: The Messenger of Allah said to `Ali: God Almighty has ordered me to call you and teach you the knowledge so that you will retain it. The above mentioned verse was revealed on the same occasion. O `Ali, you have the hearing ear and are the retainer of knowledge.[44]


Third: `Ali’s superior knowledge is that the Messenger of Allah said, “`Ali is the most competent among you in relation to judgment.”


Evidently, passing a fair judgment requires an in-depth knowledge and full faith. Since `Ali was the most competent and qualified, his knowledge too was certainly above all.[45]


Bayhaqi quoted `Ali as having said: The Holy Prophet (s.a) gave me the mission to set out to Yemen for passing judgment among them. Being surprised by the order and its referring to me, I said: O Messenger of Allah! Do you assign me a judge while I am still too young not knowing


the principles of judgment! The Holy Prophet (s.a) put his hand on my chest, prayed for me and said: O Lord! Guide his hear, make his tongue steadfast in telling the truth. `Ali said: By the God who cleaves a grain in the earth, after this prayer, I did not pass any judgment between two persons in which there was a bit of doubt.[46]


Nasa’i, in his book of Sahih, and Ahmad ibn Hanbal, in Musnad, have reported `Ali as saying: When the Messenger of Allah sent me to Yemen for judgment among people and I was very young, I said to the Messenger of Allah: You are sending me to people among whom there are many differences and hostilities in relation to legal problems and I do not have experience in passing legal judgment. The Holy Prophet (s.a) said: God Almighty will guide you tongue in telling the truth and will keep your heart steadfast so that you will judge among people without having any doubt.[47]


Fourth: Salman Farsi reports: the Holy Prophet (s.a) has said: The most knowledgeable among my Ummah after me will be `Ali ibn Abi-Talib.[48]


Fifth: The eloquent of Khawarizm and `Abdullah ibn Mas`ud have reported the Holy Prophet (s.a) as saying: Wisdom has been divided into ten parts, none parts of which have been given to `Ali and the people have been given just one part of it.[49]


Sixth: Tirmidhi has quoted the Holy Prophet as saying: I am the city of knowledge and `Ali is its gate.[50]


Baghawi, in Sihah, has reported the Holy Prophet (s.a) as saying: I am a collection of wisdom and `Ali is the gate of it.[51]


Ibn `Abbas has quoted the Holy Prophet (s.a) as saying: I am the city of knowledge and `Ali the gate thereof. Therefore, anyone who wishes to enter it should go through its gate.[52]


Khawarizmi has quoted Ibn `Abbas on the authority of the Holy Prophet: I am the city of wisdom and `Ali is the gate thereof. Therefore, whoever longs for wisdom should enter the city through its gate.[53]


Seventh: Baghawi, in Sihah, has quoted Abil-Hamra’ on the authority of the Holy Prophet as saying: Whoever wishes to understand about the knowledge of Adam, the perception of Noah, the piety of John, and the power of Moses, should look at `Ali, for he has all the virtues of these men altogether.


Bayhaqi has reported that the Holy Prophet (s.a) said: Whoever wishes to find out about Adam’s knowledge, Noah’s piety, Abraham’s friendliness, Moses’ power and Jesus’ worship, should look at `Ali, for he has all these virtues.[54]


In the book of al-Manaqib, the following is recorded: Harith A`war Hamdani has reported that the Holy Prophet who was among his companions says: I will soon show you Adam in his knowledge, Noah in his insight and Abraham in his friendliness. At this time, `Ali joined the Holy Prophet’s companions. Abu-Bakr who was present said: O Messenger of Allah! You have compared a man with three prophets, happy will be this man. Now let us know who this man is. The Holy Prophet (s.a) said: Do you not know him? Abu-Bakr said: No, messenger of Allah, for His messenger knows better. The Holy Prophet (s.a) said: That man is `Ali ibn Abi-Talib. Turning approvingly to `Ali, Abu-Bakr said: May you enjoy these virtues. O Abul-Hasan, is there anyone like you who has such a high position?[55]


`Ali has also been quoted as saying: By God, no single verse of the Qur’an was revealed whose occasion and place of revelation I did not know. Virtually, God Almighty has blessed me with an intelligent and knowing heart, and a guidance-seeking and asking tongue.[56]


`Abd al-Rahman Salmi has been reported as saying: By God, in the Quraysh tribe, I did not find anyone as knowledgeable as `Ali in relation to the Holy Qur’an.[57]


Abul-Bukhtari has also been reported as saying: I saw `Ali having the Holy Prophet’s woolen garment on, his turban on the head, his sword fasten to his side, wearing his ring and sitting on the pulpit of Kufah. Exposing his chest, `Ali said: Pose your questions to me before I depart from among you, for there is much knowledge within my chest. Then he emphatically said: This chest is the storage of knowledge and what I say to you is the knowledge I have derived from the mouth of the Holy Prophet (s.a). This knowledge is one which was revealed to the Holy Prophet who fed it to me because of his interest in me, that is to say I enjoyed from that special consciousness without seeing the angel of revelation. If I were given the position of judgment, I would issue religious decrees for the followers of Torah, Gospel, and the Psalms according to their own


books in a way that with God’s power, these books would be able to speak to you saying `Ali is speaking truthfully about what we contained and made you aware of. Then, each of those books would blame its followers, saying: Why do you not ponder on and adhere to what you are reading?[58]


On another day, `Ali attended the gathering of people saying: Pose your questions to me before you lose the opportunity when I am not among you. Ask the ways of heavens, for I know them better than those of the earth.[59]


Ahmad ibn Hanbal quoting the Messenger of Allah as saying to Fatimah: My daughter! Are you not pleased[60] for giving you in marriage to the most pioneer among my Ummah, the most knowledgeable of religion and the greatest of them in forbearance?[61]


Ibn `Abbas has quoted the Holy Prophet (s.a) as saying: Actually nine tenth of knowledge has been bestowed upon `Ali and by God `Ali shares the other one tenth of knowledge with all the people.[62]


`A’ishah has been quoted as saying: `Ali was the most knowledgeable in relation to the Holy Prophet’s tradition.[63]


Ibn `Abbas has been quoted as saying: In one of his sermons `Umar said: `Ali is the most knowledgeable of us in judgment and his insight is above us.[64]


Abu’l-Mu’ayyad, in his book of Manaqib, has reported on the authority of Ibn `Abbas that `Umar, once, delivered a speech in which he said, “`Ali is the most versed of all of us in judicature.”


Eighth: `Ali’s scientific supremacy is based on the fact that the fundamentals of all sciences go back to him, for he laid the foundations of religion, expressed the principle rules of Shari`ah and established the rational and transmitted sciences. As for jurisprudence, obviously the very fundamentals of Fiqh are attributed to him, for all the jurisprudents refer to him in problems related to Fiqh. As for attribution of Imamiyyah to `Ali, there is no room for argument, for the scholars and jurisprudents of Imamiyyah have derived their knowledge from `Ali and his infallible progeny. As for Hanafiyyah whose leader is Abu-Yusuf and Muhammad, they have derived their jurisprudence from Abu-Hanifah who is the student


of Imam Sadiq who was the student of his father, Imam Baqir who was the student of Imam Sajjad who learnt his knowledge from his father, Imam Husayn and he too from his father, Amir al-Mu’minin.


As for Shafi`ites, they have derived their jurisprudence from Shafi`i and he from Muhammad ibn Hasan, the student of Abu-Hanifah and Malik. Therefore, the knowledge and sect of Shafi`i are attributed to these two persons.


As for Ahmad ibn Hanbal, the founder of Hanbaliyyah sect, he derived his knowledge from al-Shafi`i.


Malik, the founder of the Malikiyyah, benefited from Rabi`at-al-Ra’y who was the student of `Ikrimah and `Ikrimah from Ibn `Abbas who was the student of Amir al-Mu’minin.[65]


As for Khawarij, we should say that their leaders were the student of Imam `Ali.


The founder of syntax is Imam `Ali, too. In this relation, Imam `Ali said to Abu’l-Aswad Du’ali: All words are classified as three things: a noun, a verb or a preposition. The Imam then elaborated on their inflection.


As for the interpretation of the Qur’an (Tafsir), it is unquestionably attributed to Imam `Ali, because Ibn `Abbas was a student of Imam `Ali.[66]


Ibn `Abbas reported: Amir al-Mu’minin kept on speaking to me about the exegesis of the letter “b” in “Bismillah al-Rahman al-Rahim” from early night till morning; yet, the interpretation of the letter did not come to an end.


As for theology, beyond doubt `Ali is the founder of this science on which he has elaborated. `Ali used to speak about theology in his sermons delivered to people who, in turn, benefited from it. Scholars too referred to him for solving their scientific problems. Those who tried to learn this science were four groups; namely: Mu`tazilah, Ash`ariyyah, Shi`ah and Khawarij. The attribution of Shi`ism to `Ali is obvious and requires no explanation.


As for Khawarij, their scholars used to refer to Imam `Ali who was an authority for them.


As for Mu`tazilah, this group is scientifically related to their master, Wasil ibn `Ata’, who was the student of Abu-Hashim `Abdullah ibn Muhammad ibn al-Hanafiyyah. Abu-Hashim was the student of his father and his father was the student of his dignified father, Imam `Ali.


As for Ash`ariyyah, they were the students of Abu’l-Hasan `Ali ibn Abi-Bishr al-`Ash`ari who was the student of Abu-`Ali Al-Jiba’i who was one of the great leaders of Mu`tazilah.[67]


As for the spiritual path and intuition, all Sufis who have taken this path, attribute the Khirqah and other tools of this science to `Ali saying. So do the followers of futuwwah.[68] The valorous men of the time too have learnt the lesson of courage from `Ali to whom they are indebted, for on the day of battle of Uhud, Archangel Gabriel descended from the heavens crying out: There is no man (fata) more valorous than `Ali and no sword sharper than Dhu’l-Fiqar.[69] Moreover, one day, the Holy Prophet came out with happy mien and said to his companions: I am a valorous man, the son and brother of valorous men. The reason for my being valorous is that I am the master and leader of the Arabs. As for being the son of a valorous father, I am the son of Abraham (a.s), the friend of God, a prophet about whom God has said: “… a young man making mention of them, and he was called Abraham” (21:60). As for being the brother of a valorous man, I am the brother of `Ali about whom Gabriel said: There is no man more valorous than `Ali.[70]


As for eloquence, its founder was `Ali, for he had reached the zenith of this technique. It has been rightly said that `Ali’s words are above the words of all creatures and beneath those of the Creator. All orators have learnt eloquence from him.[71]


Ninth: The Holy Prophet’s companions learnt the principles of religion from `Ali alone, often referred to him for religious decrees and if they were faced with problems they would seek the solution from him alone.


`Ali used to correct wrong judgments passed by `Umar. One example is when `Umar ordered a pregnant woman who had committed adultery to be stoned, but Imam `Ali told him not to execute the sentence. When `Umar asked him for the reason, Imam `Ali said, “If this woman’s sin has been proven and she has to be stoned to death, what is the sin of the infant she has in her womb?


Therefore, give her respite and delay her punishments, as to give birth to child. Punish this woman when the nursing period comes to an end.” `Umar complied with `Ali’s order saying: If `Ali were not here, `Umar would perish![72]


A woman, no more than six month pregnant was brought to `Umar. He ordered the woman to be stoned to death because of the sin she had committed. `Ali was informed of the affair and stopped his order. `Umar asked for the reason. `Ali said: God Almighty has said: “The bearing of him and the weaning of him was thirty months” (46:15). God Almighty has also said: “And the mothers should suckle their children for two whole years” (2:233). Therefore, if we deduct 24 months which is the period of suckling from thirty months, the remaining six months is the period of bearing. `Umar let that woman go saying: If `Ali were not here, `Umar would be perished.[73]


An insane woman who was pregnant, charged with adultery was brought to `Umar. He immediately ordered to stone her to death! `Ali was informed of the issue. He stopped `Umar saying: Have you not heard what the Messenger of Allah has ordered on this case? `Umar said: What is the order of the Messenger of Allah? `Ali said: The Messenger of Allah said: Several groups of people are exempt from duty; one who is insane till he becomes mentally healthy, another is a child until he reaches maturity, and the last one is one who is asleep until he wakes up. Hearing this, `Umar let the woman go and did not punish her.[74]


One day `Umar in his sermon said: Anyone who sets his daughter’s marriage portion more than what is normal, the excess will be returned to the public treasury! A woman from among those present rose up and objected to this, saying: Why do you deprive us of the blessing God has bestowed on us in the Holy Qur’an? God Almighty has said: “… and you have given one of them a heap of gold, then take not from if anything” (4:20). `Umar expressed regret for what he had uttered, saying: All people are wiser and more familiar with the religious precepts than `Umar, even the women behind the curtain.[75]


A woman charged with adultery was brought to `Umar. He immediately ordered the woman to be stoned to death! `Ali who was


present in that place before the execution of the order, said: Stop the order so that the crime will be investigated. Then, he turned to `Umar and said: Is this woman to be stoned to death on your order? `Umar said: Yes. Then, he recounted the woman’s admission of adultery. `Ali said: Perhaps you have been furious to her or you have intimidated her? `Umar said: Yes, the case is so. `Ali said: Have you not heard from the Messenger of Allah saying: Confession with torture is not valid and no punishment is carried out on a person who confesses in this way. Getting confession by intimidation, putting someone in prison, or chaining a person is not valid either. `Umar let that woman go immediately saying: No mother is able to give birth to a person like `Ali. Verily if `Ali were not here, `Umar would be perished.[76]


Abu’l-Mu’ayyad has reported that one day when `Umar was speaking to people, said: What will you do if we will persuade you from good to evil? He repeated this three times but received no answer. At that moment, `Ali rose up from among people, saying: In that case we will make you repent and restore justice. In other words, we will make you take back what you have said. Should you accept it, it will be better. `Umar said: And if I do not repent? `Ali said: We will then behead you with the sword of law. `Umar said: Thanks God, He has set a person among the Ummah who will rightfully guide us from deviations and will show us the right path.[77]


Sa`id ibn al-Musayyab has reported `Umar as having said: O Lord! Do not spare my life in relation to a complicated problem for whose solution `Ali is not alongside me so as to guide me to its solution, for among this Ummah there is no one except `Ali who can solve problems.[78]


Jabir has quoted `Umar as saying: There were eighteen merits for the Holy Prophet’s companions altogether and thirteen of them belonged solely to `Ali and he shared the other five with us.[79]


Ibn `Abbas has been reported as saying: Knowledge has been divided into six parts. Five parts have been allocated to `Ali and he shares the other part with us too. Nevertheless, he is wiser than all of us in the remaining one part.[80]


There are many narrations on `Ali’s superior knowledge which cannot be counted.


Tenth: Imam `Ali endeavored to collect the Qur’anic verses more than anyone else after the departure of the Holy Prophet (s.a).


Abul-Mu’ayyad has reported `Ali as saying, “After the departure of the Holy Prophet, I made a vow not to put on my cloak unless I will collect all the Qur’anic verses. As a result, I did not do anything except after doing so due to the great task I had undertaken.” `Ali taught the interpretation of the Holy Qur’an to people and Ibn `Abbas was distinguished among all for learning the interpretation of the Holy Qur’an.


Eleventh: Imam `Ali had amazing merits and scientific perfection. One of the stories told is that two men who were co-travelers came to him. One of them had five loaves of bread and the other had three. They chose a place to sit down, test and have a meal. At this time, a third person came along and ate with them. After having the food, he gave eight Dirhams to them for the food he had eaten and left. The one who had five loaves of bread took five of the eight Dirhams and gave the rest to his co-traveler, but the latter considered this division as unjust and refused to take the three Dirhams. So they started quarreling. Therefore, they came to `Ali and informed him of the issue. Turning to one who had three loaves of bread, Amir al-Mu’minin said: Your co-traveler has been fair to you and has given you more than what you deserve. But the man insisted that he had not been given his due share, saying that the money should be divided equally between them. `Ali said: Now that you do not accept your co-traveler’s share, you must know that what is due to you is not more than one Dirham. The man being surprised said: Why? `Ali said: Each of you have eaten 2⅔ of a loaf of bread from the eight loaves. Therefore, out of three loaves of bread belonging to you has been eaten by the third person and out of the five loaves of bread belonging to your co-traveler, 2⅓ of the bread has been eaten by the third person. Therefore, the price of one third of the bread belonging to you eaten by the third person is no more than one Dirham. Hence what is due to you is only one Dirham.[81]


Another judgment passed by `Ali is about a woman who was riding on the back of another woman. A third woman arrived and prodded the woman who was giving the ride, spurring her to move more quickly. At this time, the woman on the top fell down on the ground


and lost her life. `Ali’s judgment was that two thirds of blood money had to be paid by the woman who was giving ride and the woman who had prodded her, for the woman’s death was because of their acts and annulled one third of blood money, for the woman killed had done a futile attempt and there was no compensation for it. This judgment passed at the time of the Holy Prophet (s.a) was approved by him.[82]


One of the other judgments passed by `Ali was about a slave girl jointly owned by two persons who had sexual intercourse with her during the period of purity. The slave girl became pregnant, so the case became dubious for them. As for the child, `Ali drew lot between them. This judgment too was approved by the Holy Prophet (s.a) who raised his hands in prayer, saying: Thanks God who has set among us Ahl al-Bayt a person acting according to the tradition of Prophet David. By David’s tradition, the Holy Prophet (s.a) meant divine inspiration.[83]


Another example of judgment passed by `Ali was when a cow had killed an ass. The owners of the two animals went to Abu-Bakr for judgment informing him of the case. Abu-Bakr said: An animal has killed another animal. So the owner of the killer animal does not have to pay anything! The two persons referred the case to `Umar who passed a judgment similar to that of Abu-Bakr. Then, they informed the case to `Ali who said: If the cow has gone to the place of the ass and has killed it, the owner of the cow has to pay the price of the ass to its owner and if the ass has gone to the place of the cow and it has killed the ass, the owner of the cow does not have to be compensated. Hearing this, the Holy Prophet said: Actually, `Ali ibn Abi-Talib has passed judgment among you based on God’s decree and there is no doubt about this judgment.[84]


One of the other judgments passed by `Ali is about two women who had a dispute over a child each claiming that the child belonged to her. They came to `Ali to offer a solution. `Ali first advised each of them to give up her baseless claim but they both insisted on what they said believing the other party’s claim to be false. To resolve this problem, `Ali ordered Qanbar to bring his sword. The two women said: What is the sword for? `Ali said: I will cut the child into two parts and give a half to each of you. At this point, one of the two women cried out


saying: O Amir al-Mu’minin! If you are supposed to cut the child into two parts, I will give up my claim. Give the child to this woman. `Ali found that the child belonged to her and the other woman’s claim was false. Therefore, he gave the child to his true mother and the other woman whose claim was false, took back her word and confessed the truth.[85]


One of the other judgments passed by `Ali is when a building collapsed on a group of people but two young boys survived and each of them claimed that the other was his slave. There was no witness in this relation either. To settle the dispute, they went to `Ali to find a solution for their problem. To discover the truth, `Ali ordered the two young boys to put their heads out of a window. Then he said to Qanbar: cut off the head of the slave. One of the two young boys pulled his head out of the window starting to run away but the other one remained in the same place. The one who had pulled his head out of the window confessed that he was the slave and the other was the master.[86]


Another example of the judgments passed by `Ali is about a man who had drunk wine at the time of Abu-Bakr. The man was brought to Abu-Bakr and admitted that he had drunken wine but he said he did not know that drinking wine was forbidden and it was unlawful, for he said he was living among people for whom drinking wine was lawful. Hearing this, Abu-Bakr was at a loss, not knowing how to carry out the punishment, for the problem was of an unknown nature to him. So he had to inform the problem to `Ali so as to find a solution for it.


`Ali said: Send with him two trustworthy men to the group of Muhajir and Ansar making them swear by God if there is anyone to whom the verse on the prohibition of drinking wine had been recited or had reported the Holy Prophet as having said anything about this issue or not.


Should anyone bear witness that the wine-drinker knew about the unlawful nature of wine-drinking, give him punishment for wine drinking, otherwise make him repent and let him go, for he has not been aware of the unlawful nature of wine-drinking. Abu-Bakr carried out `Ali’s instruction. When inquiry was made, it was found out that the verse on the prohibition of drinking wine had not been recited to him. Therefore, they made him repent and let him go.[87]

One of the other reasons for `Ali’s superiority over other companions of the Holy Prophet is that Abu-Bakr was asked a question about the meaning of the word “abban” in “And fruits and herbage” (80:31). He helplessly said: If I say I do know what I really do not know of the book of Allah, which sky shall cast its shade on me and which earth shall give accommodation to me? As a matter of fact, I know the meaning of fakiha (fruits) but I have no idea of what the word “abban” means.

Being informed of what Abu-Bakr had said, `Ali said: Glory be to Allah. He is free from all defects. Did Abu-Bakr not know that the meaning of “abban” was herbage? The reason God has brought this word in His book is to remind His servants that not only He has prepared a provision for men and for cattle but the cattle enjoy a vital material too so that in this way the human life in eating fruits and his physical power in eating the meat of some of the animals are strengthened.[88]

Another story about `Ali’s supreme position is when Abu-Bakr was asked a question about the meaning of kalalah to which he said: I will express my opinion about it. If my feeling is near to the truth, it would be from divine grace and if I make a mistake, it would be from me and Satan. Being informed of this, Amir al-Mu’minin said: there is no room here for expressing one’s feeling. Is he not sure that kalalah is a term sometimes used for a full blood brother and at other times for half-brother?[89]

Another story based on `Ali’s superiority over the other companions of the Holy Prophet (s.a) is that a Jewish scholar came to Abu-Bakr, saying: Are you the caliph who succeeded the prophet of this nation? Abu-Bakr said: Yes! The Jewish scholar said: In Torah, we have it that the successors of the prophets are above their followers. Now, considering that you are the successor of the prophet of this Ummah, tell me where is God, in heaven or on earth? Abu-Bakr said: God is in heaven, placed on the throne. The Jewish scholar said: Therefore, He is not on the earth. In other words, He is in one place and is not in the other place.

Being helpless in answer, Abu-Bakr began to talk roughly to him saying: This saying of yours is that of an atheist. Get away from me or

I will have you killed! Being astonished and making fun of Islam, the Jewish scholar left the place. Meeting him on the way, `Ali said: I was informed of what passed between you and Abu-Bakr. The answer to your question is this: We believe that God Almighty is the determiner of all times and places. He is too powerful to be in one place and not in another place or in one time and not in another time. He exists in every place but not in the scope of proximity and His knowledge encompasses all objects. There is nothing outside His prudence and there is no being outside His domination or deprived from His Grace.

I will now inform you of what, one of your books, accepts as truth. Now that you are getting to know the truth, will you accept and believe it? The Jewish scholar said: Yes. `Ali said: Is it not in one of your books that one day when Moses (a.s) was sitting, suddenly an angel appeared to him from the east. Moses (a.s) said: Where do you come from? The angel said: I came from the presence of the Lord of universe. Then another angel came from the west and when Moses (a.s) asked: Where do you come from? The angel said: I came from god Almighty. Another angel came. Again Moses asked his: Where do you come from? He said: From the seventh heaven and from the presence of God Almighty. The fourth angel who came to the presence of Moses (a.s) said: I come from the seventh layer of the earth and from the presence of God Almighty. At this time, Moses (a.s) said: Glory be to God Almighty, for no place is depleting from His existence and no place is nearer to Him than another place. The Jewish scholar confirmed what he heard, saying: What you say is right and there is no doubt in it. I testify that being caliph and successor to the Holy Prophet is your indisputable right but another person has usurped it.[90]

During `Umar’s caliphate, Qudamah ibn Ma¨`un had drunken wine. When the issue was proved, `Umar decided to punish him. In defense of himself, Qudamah said: It is not fair to punish me, for God Almighty says: “On those who believe and do good, there is no blame for what they eat, when they are careful of their duty and believe and do good deed” (5:93). Therefore, I am not to be punished for the sin I have committed, for I am careful of my duty and a believer. `Umar gave up punishing him and let him go. Being informed of this affair, `Ali went to `Umar immediately, saying: this verse does not apply to Qudamah, for a man who is careful of his duty does not consider as lawful what is unlawful. If he believed in this verse, he would never commit such an act and would not consider it as a lawful act. Turning to `Umar, `Ali said: Send for him immediately and make him repent so as not to repeat it. If he repented, punish him, for punishment is not annulled with repentance. However, if he insisted on his words, kill him, for in this case he is not a Muslim anymore because of taking distance from the Islamic Ummah.

Being informed of `Ali’s judgment, `Umar decided to carry out the punishment but did not know the extent of punishment. `Ali said: One who drinks wine receives eighty lashes. Commenting on the philosophy behind this issue, `Ali said: One who drinks wine becomes drunk, will say something unfair, and slanders God and the messenger of God. Therefore, he has to be punished. So `Umar gave Qudamah eighty lashes making him give a pledge not to repeat it again.[91]

One of the other fair judgments passed by `Ali was when `Umar was informed that a woman had attended a gathering of strange men flirting with them. So he sent a group to her house to find the fact. Entering the woman’s house, the fact-finding group conveyed `Umar’s message to her. The woman who was shaking with fear left her house along with the caliph’s agents. On the way, she went into labor and aborted the fetus she had in her womb as a result of which it lost its life after a few moments. `Umar called the Holy Prophet’s companions asking about the fate of the dead infant. They unanimously said: As you decided to punish the woman for the wrong she had done, no responsibility is on you! Nevertheless, `Umar was not satisfied with their judgment, turned to `Ali asking: O Abul-Hasan, what is your judgment in this relation? `Ali answered: If this group have expressed their opinion without pondering to make you pleased they have undoubtedly misled you having passed a wrong judgment and if they have pondered on it, they have not thought of the truth of the problem. Now, listen carefully to me to make the case clear to you. The aborted infant has blood money which is on your charge, for it was because of your mistake that the woman aborted her child. `Umar said: By God,

among these people, it was you who have passed a fair judgment. Now, do not leave this place before you divide this blood money among Banu-`Adi (`Umar’s tribe) and give it to the heirs of the infant. `Ali divided the blood money among `Umar’s tribe and gave it to the next of kin.[92]

Another example of the judgments passed by `Ali was that an old man married a woman and after some time the woman became pregnant but the man claimed he had not had any intercourse with her saying: This is not my child. This happened under the caliphate of `Uthman. Not knowing how to find the truth, the caliph started to investigate the issue asking the woman: Have you been to bed with your husband and has he deflowered you? The woman said: No. `Uthman ordered to give punishment to the woman. Being informed of this, `Ali denounced the judgment, pursued the case with further precision and said: Perhaps the man has reached her without ingress and his semen has reached her. Therefore, `Ali asked: How was your intercourse? The man said: I came before defloration and my semen reached her vulva. `Ali said: This child belongs to the old man. My judgment is to punish this man for his denial.[93]

One of the other hard cases on which `Ali passed a fair judgment is as follows: A woman gave birth to a son having two heads, two bodies but one flank. This was a quite strange issue for the Holy Prophet’s companions, for they did not know whether this was one man or two men. To remove any ambiguity, they referred to `Ali for the answer. `Ali said: Take his sleeping and awakening into consideration. Wake him up after sleeping. If the two wake up at the same moment, they are one but if one is asleep and the other awake, they are two, hence two shares of inheritance must be given to them.[94]

Another story of `Ali’s judgment concerns a hermaphrodite. To distinguish the sex, `Ali ordered to count the hermaphrodite’s right and left ribs. In this way, `Ali passed a judgment and determined the sex of the creature, saying: It is a male not a female.[95]

One of the other merits of `Ali is his injunctions on rebels and outlaws. The Shafi`ite Imam says: I learnt the injunctions concerning the atheists from the Messenger of Allah and those concerning the rebels and outlaws from `Ali ibn Abi-Talib Abu-Talib.[96]



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