How did Imam Ali interact and deal with the three Caliphs? Part – 2


The previous part of this article identified two specific incidents related to the behavior and position of Imam Ali and his wife (Lady Fatima Al-Zahra) toward Abu Bakr and Omar, who were the first two Caliphs after the death of Prophet Mohammad. The first incident was in regarding the after math of the Door Incident and the attack of Abu Bakr and Omar along with their supporters on the house of Imam Ali. The second incident was the burial of Lady Fatima Al-Zahra, and how Abu Bakr, Omar and whomever took part in the attack on her house was denied being part of that ceremony and her grave being hidden until present day.

This part will uncover other incidents and events that affirm the negative position of Imam Ali and other members of Prophet Mohammad’s holy household toward the three Caliphs and their legitimacy as leaders.

  • Imam Ali never pledged allegiance to Abu Bakr.

Although majority of Sunni sources indicate that Imam Ali finally pledged allegiance to Abu Bakr, and he became one of the main supporters of the system, the reality is otherwise, as according to many companions and later on historians, Imam Ali never pledged allegiance to them and refused to present any sort of legitimacy.

According to unanimous narrations by both groups (Shia & Sunni), after the attack on Imam Ali’s House, the Imam was tied and dragged to the mosque, as he was asked forcefully to pledge allegiance to Abu Bakr. Imam Ali refused and he was threatened to be killed, but since they knew killing the Imam is literally impossible and would cause more harm to their purpose, they decided to use another method. According to historians, Omar and others pulled the Imam toward Abu Bakr and Abu Bakr came toward the Imam, Omar pulled the hand of Imam Ali and placed Abu Bakr’s hand on top it and shouted O’ everyone, Ali pledged to the new Caliph.

Therefore, even during this tense and sensitive moments, Imam Ali refused to give any kind legitimacy to the new system, as he refused to pledge his allegiance to Abu Bakr while saving the stability of his society.

  • Othman’s appointment to be the third Caliph.

The rejection of Imam Ali toward the conduct and legitimacy of Abu Bakr and Omar continued, as he abstained from interacting with them during their rule, and his intervention in the affairs of governance was only to secure the interests of Islam and prevent oppression upon innocent lives. However, once Omar was assassinated and it was clear that his days were numbered, he asked for the formation of a council with six prominent figures. Omar ordered the people of Medina to place these six figures in a room and give them three days to decided and choose from among themselves and if they don’t, they shall all be killed. The members of this council were:

  • Othman Ibn Affan
  • Imam Ali
  • Al-Zubair
  • Talha
  • Sa’ad Ibn Abi Waqas
  • Abdul Rahman Ibn Awf

According to narrations, the consensus of this council came to Imam Ali and Othman Ibn Affan, with the priority given to Imam Ali. However, Imam Ali was asked: will you accept the position of Caliph based on the traditions of Prophet Mohammad and conduct of the previous two Caliphs? Imam Ali replied: I accept the position only based on the traditions of Prophet Mohammad, and my own discretion and opinions. Therefore, the council refused his proposal and when Othman was asked the same question, he accepted the proposal and he was appointed the third Caliph after Abu Bakr and Omar.

The details and outcome of this council once again suggests that Imam Ali continued his rejection and negative position toward the two Caliphs and considered their conduct as illegitimate. Therefore, he proposed to accept the position based on the tradition of the Prophet and HIS OWN discretion, not he conduct and methodology of Abu Bakr and Omar.

  • The Shaqshaqia sermon.

This sermon is one of the speeches of Imam Ali that he gave during his Caliphate, which he expresses his opinion in a clear and direct approach toward the Caliphate of the three and how they extorted a right that was divinely his.

“Beware! By Allah, the son of Abu Quhafah (Abu Bakr) dressed himself with it (the caliphate) and he certainly knew that my position in relation to it was the same as the position of the axis in relation to the hand-mill. The flood water flows down from me and the bird cannot fly up to me. I put a curtain against the caliphate and kept myself detached from it.

Then I began to think whether I should assault or endure calmly the blinding darkness of tribulations wherein the grown up are made feeble and the young grow old and the true believer acts under strain till he meets Allah (on his death).

I found that endurance thereon was wiser. So I adopted patience although there was pricking in the eye and suffocation (of mortification) in the throat. I watched the plundering of my inheritance till the first one went his way but handed over the Caliphate to Ibn al-Khattab after himself.

It is strange that during his lifetime he wished to be released from the caliphate but he confirmed it for the other one after his death. No doubt these two shared its udders strictly among themselves. This one put the Caliphate in a tough enclosure where the utterance was haughty and the touch was rough. Mistakes were in plenty and so also the excuses therefore. One in contact with it was like the rider of an unruly camel. If he pulled up its rein the very nostril would be slit, but if he let it loose he would be thrown. Consequently, by Allah people got involved in recklessness, wickedness, unsteadiness and deviation.

Nevertheless, I remained patient despite length of period and stiffness of trial, till when he went his way (of death) he put the matter (of Caliphate) in a group and regarded me to be one of them. But good Heavens! What had I to do with this “consultation”? Where was any doubt about me with regard to the first of them that I was now considered akin to these ones? But I remained low when they were low and flew high when they flew high.

One of them turned against me because of his hatred and the other got inclined the other way due to his in-law relationship and this thing and that thing, till the third man of these people stood up with heaving breasts between his dung and fodder. With him his children of his grand-father, (Umayyah) also stood up swallowing up Allah’s wealth like a camel devouring the foliage of spring, till his rope broke down, his actions finished him and his gluttony brought him down prostrate”.


To be Continued


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